Tuesday, May 31, 2005

NHL Lockout over?

There are rumours that the NHL lockout may be close to over - that the owners and players are close to reaching a deal, possibly as early as this week. I'll believe it when I see it, but I guess that's good news. Good to see they're finally taking my advice. I said months ago that (at least) two things would have to happen before any kind of deal gets done.

First, the two sides have to meet regularly for significant periods of time - none of this "we met for 3 hours on Tuesday, and we're meeting again for another 3 hours in two weeks" crap. It has to be at least a few times a week, every week. If they need a day or two to converse with their constituents or whatever, fine, that makes sense, but as long as the lockout continues, negotiating the new CBA should be a full-time job for both sides. They had a couple of marathon sessions (14-16 hours each) a couple of weeks ago, and I don't think that would have happened if they were still at the "We must have a cap" / "We refuse to have a cap" stage. They must really be talking.

Second, both sides need to, pardon my French, shut the fuck up with regards to the press. When the press conferences after the meetings are longer than the meetings themselves, that's not good. The press does not need to know the details of every meeting, every proposal, every counterproposal, etc. Just get in the room, shut the doors, and don't say anything to the press until the deal is done. This seems to have started once the season was cancelled - the entire press release after a meeting was "We had a good meeting, and we're meeting again tomorrow". That's it. Now, maybe that's because once the season was officially cancelled, people lost interest in the negotiations, but regardless, the information coming out of the negitiations is way less than it was before the cancellation, and I think that's a good thing. Ignore the press, get a deal done, and then let the press analyze the hell out of it.

I heard a bit of an interview this morning with Bryan McCabe, the Leafs' player rep, who said that the players may have to accept less than what they were offered in February. Boy, would that be too bad. Sorry Bryan, but the lowest paid player in the NHL makes significantly more than I do, and I make pretty good money. I find it very hard to feel sorry for the players when they're talking about how to divvy up that many millions of dollars. The owners are obviously millionaires as well, but they all had to pony up a significant amount of money to buy the team in the first place, and none of them became a millionaire through owning an NHL team. They are all business people, who have taken a considerable risk with this investment. The players are getting paid mega-bucks to play a game.

Anyway, on a lighter note, a big Happy Birthday to my little munchkin! My son Nicholas turns 3 today. We bought him a scooter and a little T-ball thing that can also toss balls into the air, for batting practice. I'm looking forward to trying it out (with Nicholas!) in the backyard. Busy week though - we may not have a chance. Ryan starts soccer tonight, I have baseball tomorrow night, I have my first of four guitar lessons on Thursday night, and then we head up to Sundridge on Friday to help Gail's dad move into his new place.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Ironic news item of the day

Pill ruins women's sex drive

How ironic is this? The drug that allows you to have sex without worrying about unwanted pregnancy is the very thing that makes you not want sex anyway.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Star Wars questions

So I've seen RotS twice now, and I have a couple of questions. These are the kind of questions that nitpickers like me notice. If you haven't seen the movie, you may not want to read this, as there are spoilers.

  • In RotJ, Leia says that she remembers stuff about her mother - "Just images really. Feelings... She was very beautiful, kind, but sad." Then Luke says "I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her." How does Leia have memories of her mother when Luke has none? They both "knew" her for the same amount of time before she died - minutes. Perhaps Leia is sensing her mother through the Force, but Luke is arguably more gifted in the Force than Leia, so why can't he feel anything?
  • Leia is adopted by Senator Bail Organa. In Episodes IV-VI, she's referred to as "Princess" Leia. Where did the "Princess" part come from? It kind of looked like Organa's wife was the same person as the Queen of Naboo in AotC, but according to the credits on imdb.com, that actress didn't appear in RotS.
  • Yoda and Obi-Wan decide to split the twins up to keep them hidden from the Sith. So why wouldn't he change Luke's name from Skywalker?
  • (This is a question from AotC that never got answered in Revenge of the Sith) Jango Fett says that he was recruited for the cloning project by "a man named Tyranus", who we later find out is Count Dooku. Yet, Dooku is amassing a huge droid army. When the clone army appears, he has no idea where the Republic got such an army. Unless this was all part of Darth Sidious' plot to start a war, and Dooku is pretending not to know where the clone army came from. Just thought of that.

Another interesting list - people who have hands, arms, or legs cut off by light sabers:

  1. Dude at cantina - arm (ANH)
  2. Luke - hand (TESB)
  3. Darth Vader - hand (RotJ)
  4. Anakin - arm (AotC)
  5. Count Dooku - both hands (RotS)
  6. Mace Windu - hand (RotS)
  7. Anakin - both legs (RotS)

Strange that Anakin has the same hand cut off twice - once in AotC by Dooku, and then again in RotJ by Luke.


My stelcoball.com site was hacked again the other day. A few weeks ago, someone at Gail's work (who plays on my team) went to the web site and got a virus warning, so he told Gail about it. I went to the site myself and got no warnings, but I did notice a very small box on the screen. I downloaded the index.php file and found that someone had added one line of php code to that page - adding a 0-byte width 0-byte height iframe. (This line also had a misspelled option - "frameboarder=0", which is probably the reason that I saw the box in the first place.) I don't know why I never got any virus warnings, but I removed that line and re-uploaded the file. Well, when I logged on again after tonight's game, I noticed a little box on the screen again. Once again, I downloaded index.php, removed the line, and uploaded it again. I'll have to keep checking that.

I really should contact my ISP, considering the same thing happened to my nllpool.com site a few months ago, as well as perrow.ca. Jeff told me about virus warnings he was getting on nllpool.com, and I saw the same little box on the main page of perrow.ca another time.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

What an awesome movie! Not too unexpected that I would like it, considering I'm a bit of a Star Wars geek, but it really was a great movie, much better than The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Partially because Jar Jar Binks said almost nothing, but mainly because there was lots of action, great special effects, and plenty of tie-ins with the original trilogy. The story didn't get too silly (like The Phantom Menace), nor too political (like Attack of the Clones). Since everyone knows how it ends, I won't give away anything by stating that Chancellor Palpatine becomes the Emperor - I really liked how they did the "transformation", particularly with the voices. Palpatine had his "friendly old man" voice, while Darth Sidious had his "evil Emperor" voice, and they gradually merged together.

One plot point still confuses me though. In Attack of the Clones, Jango Fett, the "model" for the clones, states that he was recruited for the project by "a man called Tyrannus", and later on, we discover that Count Dooku is Darth Tyrannus. But then, when the clone army shows up to take on Dooku's droid army, Dooku has no idea where the army came from, and mentions that he doesn't know how the Republic could have gotten an army that big.

Anyway, I'm going to see it again next week - iAnywhere is renting a theater in Waterloo for all engineering employees. I can bring a guest too, so Gail's coming too. It'll probably be out on DVD by Christmas, and I'm sure I'll be purchasing it then.

Update:Forgot to mention one thing about Revenge of the Sith - the scenes with Padme and Anakin expressing their love for one another are rather painful. Roger Ebert said "To say that George Lucas cannot write a love scene is an understatement; greeting cards have expressed more passion." and as usual, he's right.

Softball season

I played in my first softball game of the season last night. I've been playing in a Stelco league for about 10 years now - Gail used to play too, but hasn't since she was pregnant with Ryan. I threw the first pitch of the season! I went 3-4 at the plate with one cheap little foul out to third base, and three hits to exactly the same place - right between 1st and 2nd. Two went for doubles, and the other was a triple because the fielder bobbled the ball. I played OK in the field - one inning in centre field, two at shortstop (only booted the ball once!), and I sat for one. We only played 5 innings because the teams are going to be shuffled around, so this was just an exhibition game. In fact, we only played 4 1/2, since we were the away team and we lost.

I'm not having as much fun in this league as I used to. Because it's a Stelco league, and Stelco hasn't hired all that many people in a number of years, there haven't been many new players, other than friends and relatives of existing players. As a result, I, at 35, am one of the youngest people in the league. There are probably more retired people than people under 40.

Another issue is that many of the players in the league use the league as an excuse to just go drinking. I enjoy a beer after the game as much as anyone, but half the league just wants to sit in the parking lot after the game and drink beer, and then drive home. Since I always drive to the game, I limit myself to one beer at the bar afterwards. Craig (the convener) is cracking down on drinking in the parking lot though, since he's been warned that if the police catch anyone in the league drinking there, the league will be shut down permanently. Why we don't all just go to the bar right after the game is beyond me - my team does, but the rest of the league doesn't show up for at least an hour, if they show up at all. If you want to drink after the game, fine, but I thought that the idea of picking a bar that we all go to was for socialization after the game. I end up socializing with my own team - which is fine, my team is full of cool people - but we never see half the league there.

I did look into a men's league in Waterdown a few years ago, but you had to be 35 to join, and I was only 31 or 32 at the time. Maybe next year I'll look into that again.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Rock are Champions

It wasn't pretty, but the Rock are NLL Champions once again. The first half of the game was back and forth, with no team having more than a two-goal lead, and the lead changed hands several times. The Rock went on a four-goal run to lead 10-6 at the half. Arizona, as expected, did not give up, and clawed their way back to 12-11 before the Rock went on a 5 goal run to put the game away. Colin Doyle was named game MVP with 5 goals and 3 assists. I can't really argue with those numbers, though I think Bob Watson played an awesome game in goal, and made lots of amazing stops. I would have given Whipper the MVP award, but as I said, Doyle was also deserving.

As recently as last year, I was not Colin Doyle's biggest fan. He's great offensively, and always works hard, but was a bit of a hot-dogger, and tended to embellish hits a little too often. This year, though, he's really impressed me. Maybe he's not getting pounded near the net as much, because the defenders also need to worry about Josh Sanderson now, so he doesn't get as pissed off as he used to. Anyway, as I said he's a hard worker, and he's not selfish - the team means everything to him. He says that all the time in interviews, and you can really tell that he means it by his play on the floor. AND he stands completely still during the national anthem, and actually sings along, which impressed the hell out of me the first time I saw it.

Anyway, nice job boys! Five championships in seven years is damned impressive. This one was for Les.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Check out my auctions!

I officially became an eBay seller last week. I've got a stack of old CDs that I never listen to anymore, so I figured I'd try to sell them on eBay. I'll probably also sell the Montreal Express jersey that I bought a few weeks ago, which ended up being too small.

I started off small - just listing one CD, and I'll wait until it sells and gets shipped and everything before I do any more, in case I learn any tips from that one. I chose Robbie Robertson's Storyville CD, and I've already got one bid (of $1). This isn't a huge money-making venture, but it's kind of fun. However, I did see that one of the other CDs I chose to sell (Salty Dog's Every Dog Has Its Day) seems to be out of print, and rather rare, so that might be cool.

Search for auctions by eBay ID 'scotch_pie', and contribute to my "New (Larger) Montreal Express Jersey" fund!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

NLL Awards

Colin Doyle was named league MVP this year (actually, "Hummer Most Valuable Player"). I would have voted for Josh Sanderson, myself, but I can't say that Doyle is a bad choice, seeing as how he led the league in scoring. Amazingly, Doyle is the first person not named Gait or Tavares to lead the league in scoring since 1990. Unbelievable.

Steve Dietrich was named goalie of the year ("Acquis Goaltender of the Year") - another good choice, though I think I would have voted for Whipper.

This Saturday is the "2005 Edge NLL Championship Game". What's up with all these corporate sponsors? Part of me doesn't like the sell-out idea, but mostly, it's probably a good thing for the league. Brings in money, and more sponsors means more advertising, and more advertising means more potential fans, and more potential fans means a better league.

What's next? The Toronto "Q107 Toronto's Best" Rock?

The big hockey loss

No, I don't mean that Canada lost in the IIHF World Hockey Championships. In fact, they won today. The loss is the thousands of hockey fans around North America, of which I am one, who are slowly losing interest in hockey thanks to the lockout.

I grew up a Leaf fan, and loved to watch Leaf games with my dad as long as I can remember. When the Leafs won their first round playoff series in about 1986, I even painted my hair blue before going to school. (Some friends said they were going to as well, but chickened out, saying that they meant the second round. Whatever.) I lost interest in university for some reason, but then started getting back into it in the mid-90's, and became a rabid Leaf fan once again a year or two after that. When the lockout first started, I was quite distraught - how was I going to make it through the winter with no hockey?! I have lacrosse, which I loved even more than hockey even before the lockout, but that's only 16 weeks plus playoffs (and that ends two days from now). Gradually, I discovered that I would survive just fine without hockey. I missed it, no question, but not as much as I thought I would. Right now, we'd be into the second round of the playoffs, the time of year that I thought I'd really miss hockey, but, meh, not really. The Jays are playing well and as I mentioned in a previous entry, I'm more excited about baseball this year than I have been in a few years, so lacrosse got me through the winter, and baseball will get me through the summer.

I am hoping the lockout gets resolved and we have a real NHL season this fall, but right now, I almost don't care. If the NHL completely vanishes, I'm sure another league will pop up to take its place. That would be a real shame though - all the history of the NHL will be lost.

I just cannot get interested in the World championships though. Maybe it's because Canada has been a powerhouse in international hockey for a few years so it's not unlikely that they'll win it all, but it's more that this seems like a made-up tournament. It's not the Olympics, it's not the Canada Cup (or is it? The Canada Cup tournament hasn't existed for years, but I don't know what replaced it), it's yet another world championship, similar to the World Cup of Hockey they had in the fall, which I wasn't all that interested in either. It just seems like (a) a cash grab for the promoters, and (b) something to do for a bunch of bored currently-unemployed hockey players.

Do I hope Canada wins? Sure, but I doubt I'll watch the final game even if they're in it, and if they don't win, I won't lose any sleep over it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Haaaapy Anniversary

Today is the 5-year anniversary of my laser eye surgery. It was a lot of money ($1000/eye), but it was definitely worth it. I now have better than 20:20 vision, and have had zero side effects. I've heard of people who have problems seeing at night, or other things like that, but I've had no problems at all.

You'd think that my insurance company would be willing to pay for at least part of the surgery, since I will no longer be making $200/year claims for new glasses or contacts, but no such luck. Gail's looked into it, as have my other almost-blind friends Faisal and Jeff, and none of them is a candidate for the surgery. Of course, all of them have far worse eyesight than I did (I was about -4 to -5 in each eye; Gail is -15 in one and -13 in the other). Faisal has talked about corneal replacement, though it's kind of experimental now. Gail has also been told that this is an option for her, but not until she's about 50 (though I don't remember why).

The NLL has announced expansion (yet again) - Edmonton and Portland will have teams next year. The last time the NLL had two consecutive years with exactly the same teams was 1992 and 1993: the list of changes is here. I'm not sure how I feel about this - expansion is good, though I'm not sure that there's enough NLL-caliber talent out there to fill up two more rosters. The constant changing of teams may also indicate instability in the league, which is the last thing potential investors would want. Then again, the league just got two more investors in the Edmonton and Portland ownership groups, so they're obviously OK with it. The strange thing is that commissioner Jim Jennings has stated that the league was primarily interested in joint ownership with NHL teams, and then they grant franchises to two non-NHL-related owners. He did say that potential owners must not only pay the franchise fee ($3 million, I think $1.5 million), but must also have about $10 million in cash available, to avoid another Vancouver, so I guess even if the new owners aren't involved in the NHL, they have buckets of money, so that's a good thing.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Wild Thornberrys Movie

We rented The Wild Thornberrys Movie the other day for the kids, and watched it tonight. Pretty good movie - the kids liked it, and it was entertaining enough for us too. It's obviously from the same people who do the Rugrats, which I don't like, but the potty humour was minimal in this one (other than the wedgie dance, which was actually kind of funny). Interesting fact: the voice of Donnie Thornberry, the "jungle kid", is done by Flea, bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Blockbuster has this new "no late fees" policy now - if your movie is late, they don't charge late fees. However, if you keep the movie more than a week after the due date, they charge you the full price of the movie (minus the rental charge), so you've just bought it. So, on your rental receipt, for each movie, it says "keep it and pay just $x more". For example, we rented National Treasure the other night (entertaining, if completely implausible), and the receipt said that for just $24 extra (or thereabouts, I can't remember exactly), we could keep it. For the Thornberrys movie, the receipt said that we have to pay $3.00 more to keep the movie. Since it cost about $3.99 to rent it in the first place, it comes down to this: if we think we might ever rent this movie again, it's cheaper just to keep it now and pay the $3. Sounds kind of like one of those fast food specials, where a burger and fries costs $5.50, but the burger-fries-drink combo costs $4.99, so it's cheaper to get the drink and throw it away than not to get it at all.

Cool clock

This is a really cool, um, calendar/clock, I suppose you'd call it.

Found it on Wil Wheaton's blog, which I read every day. He's an interesting guy, that Wil, and not just because he used to be on Star Trek: TNG, which is probably my all-time favourite TV show. He's a techie (OK, a geek) like me, and actually created his whole web site (and blog) himself, unlike me. (I created my perrow.ca site and most of nllpool.com myself, but nllpool.com/blog is an installation of Movable Type, stelcoball.com is an installation of geeklog, and this blog obviously comes from blogspot.com.)