Monday, February 27, 2006

Attempting to be the squeaky wheel

I mentioned in a previous post that I wrote a letter (email, actually) to Brad Watters, the President of the Toronto Rock, regarding the announcers at the skills competition last Friday, and I got a response today. Here's my original letter, and his reply:

Hi Mr. Watters... this is my sixth year as a Rock season ticket holder - in that time I've missed only one home game. For most of that time, we've had to put up with Two for the Show as the "hosts". They were OK musicians, but as announcers, they're simply annoying. But they only show up on the Jumbotron or PA now and again, so I can put up with that.

However, at the skills competition tonight, they were an embarrassment to this city, the Rock organization, and the NLL. These guys treated the skills competition, which featured the best lacrosse players in the world, like it was the Pizza Pizza relay or scooter race or something. Kaleb Toth has been a star in the NLL for years - he even played for the Rock - and they didn't pronounce his name properly. Tracey Kelusky has also been an NLL star for several years, and one of the guys had to check the sheet to see what team he played for. It was painfully obvious that these guys do not follow the game, and other than Steve Toll, had no idea who any of these people were.

I think it would have been far better if Bruce Barker was brought down from the broadcast booth at halftime to call the skills competition from the floor. There's a guy who knows a thing or two about announcing, and even more importantly, he follows the game. He knows who the players are, he knows what teams they play for, he knows what teams they used to play for -- hell, he could probably tell you what teams half of them play for in the summer leagues.

I have been looking forward to the All-Star Game all season - I just hope that these two guys don't make a mockery of it like they did the skills competition tonight. These guys have always given me the impression that they are out there because they are paid to be out there, but don't give a crap about lacrosse. Please do us all a favour and get rid of them.

Graeme Perrow

P.S. In case it wasn't obvious from my comments above, I also wanted to say how happy I am that Bruce Barker is back in the booth for the Rock. Good job in getting him back.

Here's Mr. Watters' response:

Thanks for your feedback. It was a confusing and complicated game for us to run. I would let you know that Bruce Barker wasnt available to do it.

All the best

Brad Watters

Pretty lame-ass reply, if you ask me.


The Dilbert Blog today contained an article on coincidences, and numerous people have written in comments containins some pretty amazing ones. I've got one too:

Gail and I got married in October of 1995, and honeymooned in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. One of the day trips we took was a bus trip from Ocho Rios to the Blue Mountains, approximately four hours away. Once there, we took a bus to the top of a mountain, then biked down. Halfway down the mountain, the tour stopped at a little place for lunch. Gail went to the washroom while I sat at a picnic table - another couple from the tour was already sitting there. When Gail came back, she and the woman already at the table recognized each other - they had gone to high school together in Woodstock. Not only that, but they were on their honeymoon too - they got married the same day that we did, and they were staying in Ocho Rios, in the resort right next to ours. So not only did we get married on the same day, but we chose adjacent resorts in Ocho Rios, and then chose the same bus tour on the same day, but after all that, we didn't run into each other until I chose to share their table for lunch.

I love stuff like that.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

All-Star Weekend

This was the All-Star weekend in the NLL. Friday night was the inaugural "Hall of Fame Game", where 5 people were inducted into the newly-formed indoor lacrosse hall of fame, which is currently an entity but not a building. The inductees were Russ Cline and Chris Fritz, the founders of the league that eventually morphed into the NLL, the legendary players Paul and Gary Gait, and the late Les Bartley, who was coach and GM of the Rock for 4 of their 5 championships (and coached Buffalo to 3 championships as well). The induction ceremony (which I missed because of crappy traffic on the QEW) was followed by the Toronto-Philadelphia game, which the Rock won in their second straight home overtime thriller. Very streaky game - with the Rock up 3-1, Philly scored 5 in a row, then Toronto scored 6 in a row, then Philly scored another 5 in a row, then Toronto got 2 to tie it up, and then Aaron Wilson scored the winner a few minutes into OT. The Rock, after an 0-4 start, are now 5-4 and are no longer last in the East!

At halftime, they had the skills competition, which featured four players for each of three events. The accuracy competition had players shooting four balls on Rock backup goalie John Preece from maybe 30 feet out - Gavin Prout was the only one to score (twice), and won that one. Then they had the hardest shot competition, won by John Grant with a shot at 151 km/h, although at least half of the shots weren't registered on the radar gun. The players were moving forwards at the time, so the gun kept picking up the players movement - the player would fire a bullet into the net, and the gun would register "8". Then they'd fire another shot, and the gun would say "145".

The third competition was for the most creative breakaway, which the players had a lot of fun with. Jonas Derks (the eventual winner) started off by throwing his stick into the air a couple of times, then scored. Mark Steenhuis just kind of spun his stick around, and was kind of boring. John Tavares attempted a shot over the net, off the back board, and then tried to score on the rebound, but he missed the net. John Grant tried a neat one - throw the stick in the air, take his jersey off, catch the stick and score, although he didn't throw the stick high enough, and had to catch the stick on a bounce.

The skills competition was pretty cool, but it could have (and should have) been much better - the problem was the announcers. It was the same Two for the Show guys that have been the Rock announcers for a few years, but it was painfully obvious that they don't follow lacrosse at all. They pronounced a couple of names wrong, they had to check their sheet to see what team some of them played for, and generally treated this event like the silly little events they normally run at halftime - the Pizza Pizza relay, the Mazda scooter competition, or whatever. These are the best fucking lacrosse players in the world - they deserve an announcer that actually cares about their sport, and has at least done some research. Bruce Barker, who fits that bill very well, was sitting upstairs during the halftime show - I think he should have been on the floor for this competition, and I actually wrote a letter to Brad Watters, President of the Toronto Rock, telling him this.

Then yesterday was the All-Star Game, won by the West, 14-13. I expected the East to dominate, but Anthony Cosmo and Dallas Eliuk both played very well in goal for the West. Only 2 penalties in the entire game (not unexpected), and a rather low intensity level (also not unexpected), but there were some pretty hard hits and scrambles for loose balls. There were also a few things you wouldn't see in a regular game - Mark Steenhuis spun the stick around like in the trick shot competition from the previous day, but did an even better job during the game. Twice, a player from the east would get the ball, then toss his entire stick (with the ball) to another player who would shoot. I think the first time it was Tavares tossing to Doyle, and the second was Grant tossing to Tavares, but the plan didn't work either time. It looked like the players were having fun, and we all enjoyed the game.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Spaghetti dinner

Gail's spaghetti dinner and silent auction was held last night at Ryan's school. I say "Gail's" because she's the chair of the school council that ran the event, and has thought about little else for a couple of weeks. It was kind of a one-woman show last year -- Gail's council co-chair, Paul, did all the stuff for the auction, and Gail pretty much did everything else. It wasn't like that so much this year -- the council divvied up the responsibilities a little more evenly, so Gail was kind of the fore-person and was in charge of communications, and Paul did the auction again, but other people were responsible for the catering, desserts, decorations, entertainment, raffles, and other stuff. They had about 440 tickets sold, and something like 160 items at the auction, and ended up raising between $8000 and $9000, all of which will go towards music programs and instruments and stuff for the school.

A rousing success, as was last year's event, which allowed them to purchase a scoreboard for the gym. The scoreboard also has some advertising panels on it, so local businesses pay to have signs there, which brings in even more money going forward.

A good time was had by, well, most. They had comment cards available (which Gail collected), and I took a look at two of them this morning - one gave the event a 5/5, saying that the food was good and hot (which was a problem last year), and everything was great. The other one (obviously written by a student) gave a 1/5, and said that the waiter got their drink order wrong, took too long, tried to steal their bread, and some other negative comment I can't remember. Oh well, you can't please everyone. We all had fun, anyway. My sister came as well, and was very helpful in keeping me from throttling Nicholas, who decided numerous times that a crowded gymnasium with over 400 people in it (plus tables, chairs and lots of food and breakable auction items), was a good place to spin around, dance, swing your coat around and generally play. As I've said before, whoever invented the phrase "the terrible twos" didn't have a three-year-old.

I bid on a few items -- Raptors tickets, a nice pair of sunglasses, gift certificates for green fees at local golf courses, and one or two other things I don't remember, but just ended up with 2 sets of green fees, so I'll take my dad golfing in the spring. Ryan purchased the opportunity to be "secretary for a 1/2 day", so he gets to sit in the office and talk on the PA, do morning announcements, stuff like that. He'll love it.

The Race Card

The other day, Bryant Gumbel said this on his HBO sports show:

Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t care about them and won’t watch them... Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention... So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.

What a moron. He's right - there are far less black athletes at the winter games than the summer games, but there's a logical (and rather obvious) reason for that. These are winter events, primarily dominated by northern countries - the Nordic countries, Europe, Russia. Not a lot of black people there. It's not a global conspiracy to keep black people out, so why play the race card here? And implying that the world's greatest athletes must be black is just plain racist. I think it's funny that he goes on to mention March Madness, a college basketball tournament in which at least 80% of the players are black. Has anyone complained about the lack of white players in that tournament?

I'm rather surprised that this hasn't been a bigger thing in the media. If a white reporter had said that he doesn't like the March Madness tournament (or the NBA, or the NFL) because of the lack of white players, it would be front page news across North America and he'd be fired on the spot. Yet, Gumbel makes a patently racist statement and insults every athlete participating in the Games, and not only doesn't get much media coverage, but doesn't get fired. Apparently the president of HBO was interviewed yesterday and defended Gumbel*. I don't get it.

* - Sorry, I looked around for a link to this interview but couldn't find one. Bob McCown mentioned this on Prime Time Sports yesterday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dilbert is teh funny

I got a real kick out of today's Dilbert . Kind of reminds me of the one a bunch of years ago where the boss is having network trouble (and you can clearly see the network cable unplugged from the wall). Dilbert tells him that it's a token ring network, and the token must have fallen out. The last panel shows Wally telling Dilbert "You are the wind beneath my wings", while the pointy-haired boss is on his knees looking under his desk for the token. Classic.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


OK, fun's over, everyone outta the pool. Gail has discovered my blog. She mentioned it the other night at dinner, though we talked about it for approximately 15 seconds before being interrupted, probably by some piece of wisdom from Nicholas ("Look, I put my fork in my chocolate milk! That's hil-air-ious"). I've already gone through and deleted all the articles about my sexual exploits with the Toronto Rock cheerleaders, so I think I'm safe. :-)

As I mentioned in a previous article, my blog was never a secret from my beloved wife; I just never made a point of mentioning it, because I figured she'd ask why ("I dunno"), and what kind of stuff do I write about ("just stuff"), and my answers would probably be rather disappointing - to me, if not to her.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

When I was your age, television was called "books"

One of the DVDs I got for Christmas is one I am surprised it took me this long to get - one of my all-time favourite movies, The Princess Bride. There are a staggering number of great quotes in that movie:

Inigo: Let me explain - no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Vizzini: He didn't fall? Inconcievable!
Inigo: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Miracle Max: True love is the greatest thing in the world! Except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato, where the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomatoes are ripe. They're so perky. I love that.

Humperdinck: Tyrone, you know how much I love to watch you work, but I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to blame for it. I'm swamped!
Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything.

Inigo: I do not suppose you could speed things up?
Westley: If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do.
Inigo: I could do that. I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you.
Westley: That does put a damper on our relationship.

Westley: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

Inigo: That's a miracle pill?
Valerie: The chocolate makes it go down easier. But you have to wait fifteen minutes for full potency. And he shouldn't go in swimming after for at least, what?
Miracle Max: An hour. A good hour.

...and of course, the classic:

Inigo: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Thanks to IMDB for some of the quotes that I couldn't quite remember exactly.

Sportsmanship at the Olympics

I love the Olympics, particularly the winter ones. A lot of people say this, and it's absolutely true -- nobody gives a damn about luge, bobsled, or cross-country skiing at any other time, but during the Olympics, we're all glued to it. Same in the summer - am I ever likely to sit and watch a swimming or gymnastics competition outside of the Olympics? Not a chance, and yet during the Olympics, I have no problem watching that stuff -- actually, I really enjoy watching Olympic gymnastics. The combination of grace and strength is amazing.

A couple of things about the Games so far - an American hockey player has been complaining about the Canadian women's hockey team "running up" the score in their first two games, saying that it was disrespectful to the other teams. Hogwash. The Italian coach said before the game that he was hoping to keep the goal differential to "under 20" (and they did - the final score was 16-0). They knew they were playing a powerhouse team, and fully expected to be blown away. At the same time, Canada is playing to win the Gold, and one of the factors if there are ties in the standings is goal differential, so it's in their best interest to score as many goals as they can. Personally, I think that not playing to the best of your ability and just passing the puck around, trying not to score would be more disrespectful, essentially telling the other team "not only are you not going to win, but we're not even going to bother trying".

Major kudos to the Norwegian cross-country skiing coach who gave a Canadian skier a new pole during the race when the Canadian's pole broke. The Canadians ended up winning a Silver medal, while the Norwegians finished fourth. That's the embodiment of the "Olympic spirit" and good sportsmanship right there. Funny part: the coach said that it was no big deal, but that he wouldn't have done it for the Swedes.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Everyone's a critic

I went to my buddy Jeff's place last night to hang out - Gail and the kids are up north visiting Gail's dad, so I'm solo this weekend. It was Jeff's birthday yesterday, so a bunch of us went out for dinner, then went back to Jeff's place to relax in the hot tub, then catch the Rock game on TV.

While watching the game, I'm not exactly sure how it came up, but someone, either Steve or Lynda, made the point that one shouldn't criticize something if he or she can't come up with something better. Kerri mentioned a similar policy at work - if you're going to complain about something, you must have a better solution. I wholeheartedly disagree with this. Just because you personally cannot do a better job, that does not mean that you cannot criticize something or someone.

If this were true, then there only four people alive who would be "allowed" to criticize George W. Bush in his role as President - former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. And yet millions of people all over the world criticize him every day.

This comes up in the lacrosse message board that I belong to all the time - people criticize the refs, and then someone who maybe refs minor league lacrosse, or knows an NLL ref or something asks "Do you know how hard reffing is? Could you do better?" No, I couldn't, and that's totally irrelevant.

A lot of art critics can't paint to save their lives. Many music critics can't sing. People who suck at sports criticize athletes with far more talent than they have all the time. I don't need to be able to replace someone in order to criticize them.

Friday, February 10, 2006

OT Thriller!

Wotta game! The Rock only get 6 shots in the entire first quarter and by partway through the second, are down 5-1. Then they claw their way back into it, finally tying the game at 10 with six minutes left in the 4th, and winning it 24 seconds into overtime. Matt Shearer scored the last three goals of the game, Aaron Wilson got 4 goals (including Toronto's first three), and Jimmy Veltman and Dan Ladouceur both played excellent games.

The offense just wasn't there at all in the first quarter, and really didn't get it together all game. Both goalies were amazing, and Toronto's defense played really well.

Some of the people I go to lacrosse games with hate overtime - one even said she wouldn't care if Rochester scored, just as long as the game ended. I don't get that. I love overtime - even the first Rock game of this year, which the Rock lost in overtime. Everyone plays their hardest, knowing the next goal wins - I find it very exciting. When they scored the winner tonight, the whole stadium stood up at once, as if they'd just won the championship.

A 3-4 record isn't anything to write home about, but they play the expansion (and winless) Edmonton Rush tomorrow night, so here's hoping they hit .500 and never look back.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Gambling again

So now there's a gambling scandal in the NHL. Not as bad as the Pete Rose thing, but still bad. This time, we have a former player involved in betting and possible money laundering and other stuff. The NHL has already stated that there is no evidence indicating that anyone involved was betting on hockey, which is the big difference between this and the Pete Rose case. Ever since Rose was banned from baseball (and therefore the Hall of Fame), I've been of the opinion that he should be reinstated, since there is no evidence that he threw games or ever bet against the team he was managing.

If you want to simply follow the letter of the law, then the case is closed. Baseball players, coaches, managers, etc. are prohibited by Major League Baseball from betting on baseball games. Rose has admitted that he did bet on baseball while manager of the Cincinatti Reds, so he's done. But perhaps we shouldn't look at the letter of the law - perhaps the question should be: is this a just rule? I've always thought that unless you are betting against your own team and/or throwing games, then betting on baseball should not be prohibited. However, after listening to some comments on the radio today, I think I've changed my mind. The rule is just, and Pete Rose should be banned from baseball. Here's why.

In 2004, Rose admitted (after 15 years of denial) that he did indeed bet on baseball games involving the Reds, which he was managing at the time. Perhaps he never bet against the Reds, but he also did not bet for the Reds in each and every game. It's possible that in the late stages of a season, when the playoff hopes were gone, he'd bet on the Reds to win a game, and not bet on them to win the next game. This could make him do whatever he could to win the first game, possibly at the expense of the second. Maybe he rearranges when pitchers are starting, or brings in more relief pitchers or pinch hitters than he normally would, to ensure that game 1 is a win. If there were no bets, he might do things differently to save players for the next game, but if he didn't bet on the next game, his judgement, and therefore his decisions, will not be the same. This is not exactly throwing game 2, but it's close, and damn near impossible to prove. This is what Rose critics mean when they say he compromised the integrity of the game.

Another thing I'd never considered is that when a rich person gets involved in gambling, it's not unlikely that he may meet some "connected" people, i.e. the mob. If he needs a loan, or is otherwise indebted to the mob for whatever reason, they may force him to throw games as part of repaying said debts. This could happen even if you're not betting on your own sport - if a baseball player (who's not allowed to bet on baseball) gets involved with the mob while betting on football, the same thing could happen.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig has stated on numerous occasions that Rose will not be reinstated as long as he's commissioner, so Pete may have to wait until a new commissioner is elected to try for reinstatement again. Good luck Pete, but I wouldn't hold my breath.


A few of us at work use MS Messenger, and one of the things that messenger allows you to do is add a "tagline", a single short line of text that is displayed after your user name. Usually these are blank, though a few of us put little amusing things in there now and again. In the last week or two, one of my colleagues started putting in haikus, so a few others have been doing it too. It's kinda fun. In our case, they're mostly sports-related. Here's mine for today:

Great news for the Leafs
Aki Berg is returning
The Cup is ours now

I kind of liked the first one I did too:

Haiku can be tough
You have to count syllables
This one is wrong

Monday, February 06, 2006

All Steves, all the time

Ever notice how a lot of great guitar players are named Steve? Steve Howe (Yes), Steve Vai, Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Steve Lukather (Toto), Steve Morse (now with Deep Purple), Steve Hackett (Genesis), Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), and the late Steve Clark (Def Leppard) and Stevie Ray Vaughan. You got a few Jimmys too (Hendrix, Page, Vaughan), a couple of Erics (Clapton, Johnson), three Adrians (Vandenburg from Whitesnake, Belew from King Crimson, and Smith from Iron Maiden), and even a guy named Vivian (Campbell, from both Def Leppard and Whitesnake) but still it seems like an inordinate number of Steves.

Look around for great guitar players named Graeme, and you'll be looking for a while. In fact, look around for anyone remotely famous named Graeme (with that spelling), and you'll find exactly two - a composer named Graeme Revell, who's done lots of movie soundtracks, and Graeme MacKay, who does political cartoons for the Hamilton Spectator. Maybe someday I'll join that list, though as what, I don't know.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Pandora update

Pandora 2.1 has been released, and it has some fancy new stuff. You can add songs to your "favourites" list, which is available online (mine is here). Note that I just started updating this today, so there are very few songs there right now. There are other fancy things like an RSS feed to the most popular songs / artists.

Hmmm... the Pandora computer must be on an 80's thing today. I've already heard songs from Whitesnake, Loverboy, and Honeymoon Suite.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Why bad food is sometimes good

WARNING: Extreme Geek Alert!

I've been working through a weird issue with the database engine - sometimes, when trying to read a blob, I'd get a debug assertion, indicating that a condition that should never happen has happened. After looking it over for most of today, I found that the file number of the file it's trying to read from was 61453. I assumed that this was just some garbage semi-random value, but the more I looked at it, I realized that it was exactly the same value every time. Repeatability in debugging is a very good thing. On a whim, I converted this value to hex: 0xf00d.

When Windows allocates memory, it fills the memory buffer with the hex values 0xbaadf00d, so that it's obvious that this memory has been allocated but not yet used. The fact that this value was 0xf00d was a strong indication that the value was simply never set. A few more minutes of debugging and I found the problem.

Say all the nasty things about Windows that you want, but it would have taken a lot longer to find this problem on Unix. Unix doesn't fill allocated memory with anything, so if I were to run the same test there, sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn't, and the repeatability would be much lower, thereby making the problem harder to solve.

\/\/ind0wz r00lz!!!!1!!1!1!

(Not really, I just put that there for John-the-Mac-boy's benefit.)