Joe's New Jersey Racquetball: Blog 2006
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2007 Blogs

12/28/07 Happy Birthday to Me.
36 today. Lack of caffennie and lack of sleep sure got me in a bad mood with one bad headache to boot, but a trip to Best Buy sure helped things. I had a 300 GB external hard drive that died months ago, so I thought man I lost a ton of video. Luckily I read on a forum that all it needed was a new enclosure and it worked. So besides video of my family, a whole bunch of racquetball video was saved. I also got a 1 TB hard drive as a gift. Can't wait to put that puppy in.

The Rutgers Winter break is winding down and I managed to do some programming stuff like the audit, a new video section, and some cleaning up, but...it would be great to do this for a living, even a meager one. One of my favorite proverbs states, "Talk doesn't cook rice." So I'll keep executing my plans and learning more stuff in '08. Have a great and safe new year.

I've also had my fill of cookies and other junk. So looking forward to losing some weight and working hard for what's left of the season.

12/16/07 Hit the Focus Wall at the NJO.
Phew I had a hard time adjusting to Tournament mentality again. My first match was in the B's against Marc from Hillsborough and when I lost the first game. I realized how long it's been and how much trouble I was in. Also the ball flew out the opening a couple times which not only cost me points, it cost me focus. I finally got my head into the game and won game two and kept that momentum into the third game. I had to really chip away and hang in there.

The second round in B's was against the #2 seed and I wasted too many points on my returns of his half lob to my backhand. He capitalized time and time again on his third shot opportunities with easy kills in the front court to rake in the points, but every time he played hard I was able to punish him. Lost in straight games, but had my focus.

My last match in the C's went to three games and by then I was looking at my racquet and couldn't form a coherent thought. If my mind where a car, it was sputtering on empty and then just died on the side of the road with the hazards flashing. Afterward, I thought it out and realized I didn't stop at the rest stops and refuel–once. Too many divisions, not enough physical toughness, and not enough energy.

Saturday night for B Doubles, Felix Ruiz and I passed a round by default and we played into the State Singles Champions. On about the second point, my partner pulls a hamstring and he's all but out of commission. My legs were pretty much shot too, but I managed to fire the jets to get one shot in the front court after Aimee Ruiz told me, "You need to be the runner." I helped seal our fate in game one with poor returns and just being out of gas. I should be able to eat defensive serves to my forehand for breakfast! We put up more of a fight in the second game, but we lost.

I think playing more than Doubles and Singles is setting me for failure rather than success. It's kind of a loser's mentality. "I'm just going to lose in the first round anyway, so might as well get more playing time in." So I'm probably going to stick to one singles and one doubles division from now on.

12/06/07 Psyched for the New Jersey Open at Woodbridge
Besides Caillou, Kipper, and Noddy my son has been interested in watching me play racquetball (Daddy Ball). Of course the videos are a couple of years old, so it's painful to watch. It's was real easy to think I was better than that, but video removes all those ideas--fast! Often I think why the hell did I do that? God was that my backhand? To think I spent all that time entering A's and B's at Classic. When I see C's and D's were better fits.

"Experience is harsh teacher, she gives the test first the lesson afterward." Vernon Sanders Law.

So I entered three divisions: B Doubles (w/Felix Ruiz), B Singles, and C Singles. C's was a tough decision, but after seeing a guy who won States C's a couple of years ago again in C's those thoughts quickly evaporated--I want to face him! I hope my focus and skills have improved to finally hold my own in the draw. No guilt (I paid my entry fees), no holding back, and no mercy. Checkout the draws tonight at NJ Racquetball.

11/21/07 Subscription Section Almost Done.
The last few pieces are falling into place for the subscription section. Over the years a lot of people have subscribed to the Rutgers Racquetball Listserv (214) and I know a lot of them are inactive. So I'll be sending an email to everyone with a link to answer a few questions and maybe create a member area account. I plan to do a lot of things with the Member Area, at the top of the list is submitting scores, editing profiles, and scheduling league matches. Also want to finally make a move with my other site gotracquetball.com.

11/21/07 Selling EQP.COM? Maybe for the right offer.
Been getting some emails lately about selling eqp.com. It started at $1,000. A couple of days ago it was $4,000. I've seen other eqp dot something sites going for $7,000. Believe a .COM is worth a lot more than that. So am I opposed to selling my site? No, but I have no interest in four digits either. $10,000 would get a person to the table. To let go of eqp.com would really hurt, but if I can use the money to make improvements to my business then why not?

My Real Self11/11/07 The Guy I Want No One to See.
The Joe Delgado you see at the left (standing right) is the guy I want no one to see at a tournament, especially an opponent. It's my real-self. The afraid, shy guy, who was made fun of in Grammer and High School. I guess after a long break (got cold) and not focusing on my game, the competitve Joe went on vacation for the next three games.

It happens I guess. I often have a short memory for most things, but I want this picture and I want to focus on things that happened and make sure that they never happen again. I've been placing third or fourth at Hillsborough for a long time, I really wanted to break into the top two this time around. I can take losing, I can't take losing without giving my best.

11/04/07 A Simple Moment
It hasn't happened in a while, but this afternoon at the park with my family I had a moment when everything seemed to pass in slow motion. Jason was on a swing being pushed by my wife and I sat on a swing opposite them. He was laughing as my wife pushed him and the sky finally broke it's grey overcast and changed hues of orange with the setting sun. The park was empty except for us and I was reminded of how simple things can be. How simple they should be.

10/19/07 Conflicting Passions
Started reading a new book it doesn't have to do with Mental Toughness or Racquetball. It's actually Business and Investing. It's "Why We Want You Rich" by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki. Been giving Business and Investing a lot of thought lately and why after so many years of never really going for it. I might not be taking the best opportunities for success.

In one of the chapters, Robert wrote "the only difference between an amateur and a professional is the love of the game." I saw the truth to that pretty quickly. For example, I love racquetball, but I'm not ready to go off live tournament to tournament (I'll starve to death), quit my job, and practice for hours and days on end. At 35, I think that ship sailed and I love my family more. I also love to string, write, program computers, web sites, and play video games. There's more than one piece missing from each one and it's hard to be passionate when other needs go unmet.

Anyway working to meet those needs and plan a couple of moves ahead for certain projects. There's always a self-esteem conflict going on, but planning things out helps even the score.

10/19/07 Physical Toughness Suffering Part II. 231 lbs.
I stepped on a scale today before playing and it didn't balance out until 231. That's about fifteen pounds over for me and even that was pushing it. Gotta stop eating a lot of crap snacks and soda. I also want to cut out more of the fast food and candy. I notice the difference on the court and last week I pulled something in my right calf, so I still favored it a bit tonight, but at least I'm not limping. So need to pull out of this downward spiral and put some work off the court.

10/10/07 The Ultimate Cop-out
The Intramurals sign-up was last night at Cook and even though I don't have the time to participate, some players have told me they are too good to play since it's normally a bunch of begineers. Yeah there are some begineers and some that are not, but to think they are automatically going to win is just arrogance. I know with most of my past tournaments I've been playing B & A and losing in the first round, so I also thought I was too good to play C's, but until I take something home might as well go for it. I wonder if they think they are too good for tournaments as well.

9/28/07 All by myself
With my wife starting a new job, I've been picking up my son from day care before heading out to the courts. I get there about 7:00 right when all my friends are leaving. So I scramble to get somebody to play with, but get to meet some new students and bring them into Racquetball.

9/21/07 Good Semester for Racquetball
Andrew, Cesar, Eddie, Jeff, two Joes, and Mike are some of the new students I've met so far at Rutgers on the courts. I guess all are pretty new to the sport and have a long road ahead of them for learning proper footwork, mechanics, and strategy, but I don't mind. It keeps the court full and gives me a chance to impart some of my knowledge and skills. Yeah it'll be easy to fall back and say I need to prepare for this season and play better people, but growing the sport is more important to me.

Bill Serafin always told me that I was in a good position to grow the sport. It's kind of a revoling door, students come in they learn how to play and they eventually move on. My job is not to lament about old friends now gone, but to make new ones and help encourage them to play better racquetball and to have the self-confidence to achieve their goals both on the court and in life.

Sounds corny, I know, but I firmly believe if you quit on a court you're going to quit on other parts of your life as well. Mental Toughness is a skill that permeates all of life. It's also good shot selection practice for me, since they get to a lot of shots and I find msyelf setting up shots a lot more often to break open the court instead of just hitting hard all the time.

9/10/07 Physical Toughness Suffering
I played a couple of times since my well-rested, in the Zone, games at Hillsborough and it's been a sharp decline in performance. I can easily blame lack of sleep, a poor bed, poor orthodics, and a poor diet. Ultimately it's a lack of conditioning and fitness that brought everything else down. So I'm going to hit the gym at least one day per week and start lifting some weights again. I also want to work on my stomach and develop my core.

For a couple of years, I thought playing racquetball was enough, it's not. I often didn't want to work out because I'll be sore for racquetball, but I should know better. It's time to get back to work. I also saw the benefits of being well rested for a tournament, so gone are the days of "tuning-up" before an event.

9/01/07 God I missed Racquetball Sooooo Bad!!!
The past two weeks have been painful with the gym closed there's been no other recourse except to come home and cut grass. I was saved today by Tina over at Hillsborough who invited me over to play some doubles. Luckily Karen and Jason went to a friend's house for the day, so I savored every moment I played and a strange thing happened. I didn't drop a single game. I partnered up with Ben, John, and Tina and walked away with all W's. There were some close games and some serious come backs, but it just all snapepd into place.

I kept my focus pretty well too. I guess writing the article helped solidfy my mental toughness. Maybe I just got lucky and this was my day to be in the Zone. Any which way it's sliced I'll take it. Nice to see that Tina is Head Sponsored as well, I told her if she needs a partner for Doubles to count me in.

8/26/07 No Racquetball News?
I don't even know how long it has been since the last listserv post I put together. It's one of those things, if you don't have a routine it never gets done, but I'm not entirely sure why I was doing it. What do I gain? What do the readers' gain?

I guess, I also got afraid of writing the wrong thing and offending certain people. Well if I censor what's going on then I lose something more valuable, my integrity. So I lost interest from that regard as well. Keeping people informed is one thing, there's plenty of people doing that, adding something honest and worth reading is a lot more difficult.

So I'm working on some articles. One of them needs to be re-framed a bit or else it'll go on forever and the last thing I want to do is write a book for the web. I want to increase my site traffic to over twenty hits per day. Right now it hovers about ten. I see some jumps after a post in Meet and Play, but if there's nothing new or of value why would they come back?

8/20/07 Two Weeks Off
Well it's nearing the end of Summer and the courts at Rutgers close down for a couple of weeks. I could use the forced vacation to organize some things and hang out with the family. A couple of updates, my partner and I came back and crushed our doubles rivals in straight games. I think it was due to a concise game plan. The week after...we split games and I was distracted and maybe a bit over confident. Anyway I could use the break and recharge before next season starts up.

8/02/07 Serious Focus Breakdown
Don't know what it was...putting an extra hour into a project at work, poor sleep, work problems, etc., but I accidentally hit my friend and doubles partner in the goggles with a racquet. It was the third 21-point game, I knew, I was off my game, tired, and just a mess on the court. I called for my friend to take a shot and I changed my mind and took a swing without thinking and caught him in the goggles. They cracked and I gave him a small cut on his forehead. Biggest mistake I made on a racquetball court and I'm still apologizing to him about it.

It made me realize my focus limits and that I still often play lazy (not thinking) and step right into my opponent's game plan. To help, I started reading "Winning Ugly Mental Warfare in Tennis" by Brad Gilbert. So far it's been a fun read and I like Gilbert's writing style. His description of how McEnroe looked when he was losing to Gilbert was priceless. I'll let you know how it turns out and we'll have a rematch next Wednesday.

7/18/07 Want to do something in Flash so bad!!
Been watching some pretty good video tutorials I purchased from Learn Flash.com and each one gets me even more itchy to do something. Just not sure what! I'm starting to see how things are done and why, so my mind is going nuts trying to piece something useful together. Grrrr.

7/14/07 Never going back.
About a year ago, I made a couple of changes in my equipment. I went to a smaller grip and the heaviest racquet in the Head line, the Metallix 190. Well yesterday, I played with my old friend and mentor, Mike T. It's been a while, so I wanted to play well for him. When I first started racquetball he mentored me and showed me the ropes. He also stopped by to give me some racquets to restring. One of them was the Head Megablast 185 with 3 and 7/8 grip. Exactly like the racquet I gave up and heavier than the racquet I started my Head Sponsorship with. I let him use my Metallix and he beat me all the while I was thinking "YUCK!" to think I thought this at some point was good for me.

I couldn't wait to switch back and pretty sure I convinced Mike T. to go out and get a Metallix 190 for himself. At 41 lbs. with Ashaway Power Kill string. I'm very happy with the results.

7/01/07 Change in Plans
Today was a deadline for having ELO rankings fixed on my website, but I've spend the past few days blocked. I've had this happen enough to realize there's fundamentally something wrong with my plan and my "muse" won't let me go forward until it's fixed. So I kept what I needed and reworked it tonight into something that'll be a lot more flexible going forward. In the plan there's going to be current, previous, and overall stats for each summary profile. Also information about the last match for each player for easy reference.

6/29/07 Sometimes it's Hard to Accept Critisism
One of the things I look forward to attending these NJAR meetings is the chance to play racquetball afterwards with stronger players. After the last one at Woodbridge, I got into a doubles game with Jon Panno, Nancy Luyando, and I think Mary from Woodbridge as my partner. Afterward I asked for some advice. Mary told me to anticipate more and start moving before my opponent hit his shot, which kind of leads into what Jon told me, which I wasn't ready to accept.

He said I wasn't looking back at my opponent taking his shot. I was floored...I mean, I play with guys who look seem locked on the front wall and they often get hit in the ass for it. To think for a second, I was in that category...shook my ego. Anyway Wednesday I made an effort to focus more on my opponent's shot and to anticipate where the ball is going. I was able to get to more shots and hit offensively most of the time, unfortunately I some times guessed wrong and lost some easy points. Overall both are great habits to keep and thanks to Jon and Mary. Wednesday was great. I was focused, fast, and relaxed enough to hit hard or with control.

6/27/07 What does it mean to be a Professional?
Just when I thought things at work had changed, it keeps on taking a steeper nose dive. I've been suffering from allergies (don't think it's a sinus infection) and my Son has had colds, fevers, and stuff from day care, so I've been taking sick days because I haven't been feeling well or he hasn't, etc. Anyway I got a written repreimand a couple of days ago about taking too many sick days and taking a zero-day notice vacation day. I thought I was doing the right thing and not taking a sick-day, which a lot of other people have been abusing far worse than me. I mean there's a person who seems to take every single Friday as a sick day. I also love people that say "I'm going to sick this morning, but this afternoon I plan to be in." 9 times out of 10, they are out the whole day.

To keep the morale of the Department going downward, they let two people go yesterday saying their positions are being dropped due to budget cuts. The Dept. also has a new director who's rumored to be making about 50% more than the previous one, so it's too easy to infer what happened. One of the people let go has a family memeber with medical issues, so not sure how insurance is going to work for them. I know sometimes there has to be a hard line in business or whatever, but certain trends just seem stupid to me.

I'm sure some hard-liners wouldn't think twice about outsourcing jobs overseas to save a couple of bucks or yelling at people to get more "work" out of them. Yet the funny things is they expect loyalty in return? They get all concerned when it suits their interests.

It's easy to be all high and mighty about it, since I don't have a business per se. It's also easy to think, "I would do things differently..." I seriously would like the chance, seems like a trend to bottom-line everything and forget that people have families they are supporting, etc. I think most people can perform if they are given the tools, the motivation, a clear goal, and ownership of a process. If not, then there's a job or personal problem that needs repair. It's the petty gossip, politics, and distractions that breeds problems and my Dept. is full of them.

Jason's 2nd5/25/07 Jason's Second Birthday
Two birthday parties down one to go for my Son's second birthday. The picture at left was from the first at my parents. He jumped into the "Terrible Two's" and everything is "mine", "no", and basically being off the wall if he doesn't get his way, but He also gives hugs, kisses, and pats you when he thinks you're hurt. It's a new adjustment stage for us, since it's no longer what we assume he wants, each day he makes what he wants a little clearer and a little louder..

The road's not often easy, but I do love him and would do anything for him. Battery of pills for the sinius infection are working. Hopefully I'm back to playing next week. Why does he have a pink cake with the words "Welcome home" on it? My Dad is pretty weird, so I have no idea.

5/23/07 Another Sinus Infection
Last couple of days haven't been fun. Got another sinus infection and went to my Primary and my ENT. I'm just looking for relief and with my allergies on top of all this it hasn't been easy playing with my Son. Yesterday I stayed home from work again and that could of been a mistake since Jason had me up since 5:30. My wife wasn't feeling well either, so I took on the brunt of things. I was looking for my camera to post some pictures of Jason who turned two on the 13th, but I don't know where it is.

Been playing Quake 2, yes I know it's ten years old, with Marv and we're almost done. Having Leigh and Marv come over for some computer games was always pretty cool. Glad Marv and I are keeping our skills sharp. Of course, there's my best friend Otto who helepd with the Net Party in Intervue Digest. I just need to update my computers to keep him interested..

5/02/07 I guess I have grown as a Player
Bill Serafin sent me someone who wanted racquetball lessons. At first, I thought me? Lessons? What? So I thought I would at least meet the guy and play a few games and introduce him to some people at Rutgers in New Brunswick (NJ). Over the years, I've shown some people how to play for free and until I get some more experience and AMPro Certified that's fine. We played a few games and some were pretty close. He's been playing for about as long as I have, maybe a bit longer.

It was an interesting comparison. I can see I had a better understanding of the game and was also stronger in my serve consistency, court position, and shot selection. I can see problems in his relocation out of the service box, his pendulum serve, not bending his knees (my problem too), hitting shots too hard. Anyway I didn't beat him every game, but I saw his weaknesses and offered some advice. Overall, I'm glad I did it. Normally I'm on bottom rung, so nice to see I climbed up a few.

4/19/07 A Thursday night at Cook!
Yep I played on a Thursday night. Not supposed to happen based on my wife's work schedule, but since she's waiting to start another job. I'm taking advantage. I saw some people I haven't seen in a while like: Abe, Don, Nick, Sean, and T-Jay. Alex, Dave, and Joel were there too, but it hasn't been that long since we played. I needed the break. It was great to catch up, play some racquetball, and talk about the next league.

4/15/07 Racquetball News Posted!
I sent out some racquetball news that's been building up and one of the short blurbs was to talk about the delay and what's been going on. Everything is fine, I finished that "Power of an Hour" book and really working on internalizing it. The book proposed some common-sense advice to using "focus" to accomplish things in business and in life. As I wrote a while back, lack of focus is my biggest weakness. Often during a match, a project, or even a video game I can catch my focus wandering.

To that end, I started using a CPAP (Constant Postivie Airway Pressure) machine for my sleep apnea. Also attacked my spending and got rid of some channels from cable, redundant phone line, calling features I don't need. Anyway I hope you like the upcoming changes around here and thanks for your support.

3/28/07 Why did I play bad at Busch? That damn "Running Joe" Strategy!
It was baffled why I was playing so bad tonight. Nothing felt crisp, my legs felt like cement, my head was totally out of focus. I limped along tonight playing different people at the ladder, but my performance was sub-par at best. After I dropped Roger off at his dorm and on the way home it dawned on me. I've been playing Alex Rtischev (Back to back B Finalist of my Leagues) in three game marathon matches Friday and again on Monday! I won both [(9), 12, and 2] and [8, (12), and 8.]. As you can see the margin is getting smaller.

Alex told me in the locker room about a strategy he named "Running Joe!" Basically a variation of his attrition strategy that has paid off against other opponents. The name pretty much says it all. Hit shots to get me deep and then work the front court, so I need to run up. Gotta say it works and it helps keep me running at full tilt most of the time. But the brick wall is coming up fast. Don't know how much I can dig up. I have at least ten years on him, so if another challenge does come. I hope Intramural Soccer and other stuff got him tired too.

3/15/07 Over did it.
Been sick off and on for about two weeks now. Last week was just not feeling well and then this week throat hurts, coughing, got pink eye, etc. Jason and the wife are also sick, so it's been bouncing around. Jason doesn't know the courtesy to turn and cough or sneeze, so sometimes I get a good spray of germs. So been home from work and when I can actually see clearly I try to do some work.

2/24/07 What am I doing?
It's a simple question that I thought I had an answer for. I help promote racquetball in the State of New Jersey. That's true enough. I have the site, the listserv, the RSS feed, take care of the NJAR and the former organization the NJRF. Been pretty freaking busy promoting racquetball and using up a lot of free-time. Before Racquetball I was into reading, writing, my Intervue Digest website, application and game programming, etc. I'm starting to miss those over avenues of expression, but more importantly I'm not doing anything for my bottom line.

A guy I play racquetball with asked me recently if I wanted to do some web work on the side. I said sure. He asked me how much I wanted. I said as much as possible. Somehow it came up that I would do better work for more pay. I guess, he was taken aback like I would do shoddy work for low pay--definetely not. If he wants my A game, I expect an A level rate. Hell, I don't often bring my "A game" for my own stuff or even work.

With the end of the NJRF, the time is right for a reassessment of my time and to put some things out on the table. I'm in favor of helping the NJAR, but we don't have the friendship I had with the NJRF under Bill Serafin. Anyway I love racquetball and do plan to support it, but I need to pursue things that'll also help my family out as well.

1/17/07 My Ultimate Weakness…Focus.
Anyway going through the “Power of an Hour” book during lunch at work and I’m up to page 45. It dawned on me that everything in my life from family to work to racquetball to my business is suffering from the same underlying problem. Focus.

Often I sit down at my computer to work on a project and my attention is interrupted, thoughts of doing something else come into play, and the time I allocated to the task is wasted. I play an opponent and my mind is not focused, it’s almost like a dial tone, I react to things and take shots that just setting my opponent up time and time again. I don’t move to return serve or cover a shot. There’s a disconnect between what I’m doing and what else I should be doing. Finally, whatever time I have with my family is often polluted by other things I haven’t done yet. Easily to realize how this is impacting my life, my goals, my sport, and my relationships.

Anyway so I’ve been focusing myself on my tasks and not allowing my mind to wander so much. I think yesterday while playing racquetball I turned to the back wall to catch my breath and think. I forced myself while looking at my strings, “Think about the game. What do I need to do?” Sometimes it worked and I think the effort is better than the dial tone I normally have.

There was one serve return which was a lob that came off the right wall into my backhand. It was slow enough for me to say, “What’s the shot? Pinch!” To my surprise the pinch came out exactly and my opponent was out of position and missed it. I used to write a great deal and I miss the focus I used to have. So I’m going to work to get it back.

Funny thing is when I looked back at my CAP (Competative Adjective Profile) from 2003 in the New Mental Toughness for Sports Book. Under Focus...I had a +9 out of +10 as a self-rating. Wow! I should go on America Idol and get knocked down a few pegs. It should be one of my weakest, would say +4 or even lower.

Also believe that Dario Mas--Cuban Hall of Fame Racquetball Player and founder of DARA from Delaware--told me the same thing once "keep focused".

12/29/06 One Golden Day is better than None
I was supposed to have two golden days during my week off from Rutgers, but the wife had other plans. So it came down to one day and I think I made the best of it. The seven month battle for ASP/PHP/ASPX and MySQL and SQL Server has been settled once and for all. PHP and MySQL won. It was a bittersweet victory.

I'm going to miss using XML/XSLT and the idea of using classes in ASPX really sounded cool, but I want this up early next year and I already have a pretty solid member area that I can build on in PHP. MySQL is pretty easy to use from within PHP, so I'm not settling on everything. Anyway look forward to having something done by 1/2/07. You guys might be surprised by an actual deadline. I've wasted a lot of time being unprepared, unfocused, and being pulled in too many directions to count. So one direction, one target, and one deadline. I listened to a webinar about the "Power of an Hour" by Dave Lakham. I ordered his book and look forward to really implementing it. I need some serious goal setting help. Happy New Year!


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