Saturday, May 31, 2008

Leafs looking for a coach? Why not a GM first?

According to this article, the Leafs have begun contacting candidates for the vacant head coach position. Now, they also have a vacant GM position and normally, you'd fill the GM position and let him pick his own coach, but they haven't named a GM. It's possible that they are close to hiring the GM but just haven't announced it yet, but in that case, it wouldn't be Fletcher doing the search for the coach, it would be the new GM.

This only makes sense to me if they have decided that they will not have a new GM chosen before the start of next season. Fletcher can continue as interim GM until then, but they still need a coach. It seems unlikely that they will hire a new GM midway through the season, so Fletcher may continue as the interim GM for a year (though he's already said he wouldn't be here that long), and then next off-season they will hire a full-time GM. Hey, whaddaya know, Brian Burke is only under contract with the Ducks for one more year!

I don't know why the Toronto media is portraying Burke like the saviour of the Leafs. It's not like he put the Stanley Cup-winning Ducks together, that was mostly Bryan Murray's doing. Other than the one season with the Ducks, he's never seen the Cup finals as a GM.

Bottom line: I don't know what the hell the Leafs are doing. What else is new.

Irony of the day

Running out in the rain to turn the sprinkler off.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dentistry is weird

The man sits me down in a chair, sticks a needle in my mouth, holds it there for about an hour and a half, then takes it out and waits. After a few minutes, he starts to drill. When it start hurting, he gives me another needle, waits a few minutes, and continues drilling. Again it starts hurting and again he gives me a needle. Finally, after he's drilled away half my tooth, he tells me that I'm going to have to come back again so he can give me more needles and drill some more, just enough to take the root out and kill the tooth. Then I pay for this service, with the knowledge that I'll have to pay more when I come in for the nerve-ripping-out ceremony.

After forty minutes of needles, pain and discomfort, all of which I paid for, and the promise that I have to come back for more, what do I say to him?

"Thank you."

Wonderland responds

I wrote an email to Canada's Wonderland about the Gatorade incident, and here's their response:

Thank you for contacting Canada's Wonderland. We appreciate your feedback and I have forwarded it on to our Security for their consideration. Our No Outside Food Policy has been in effect for the past Season and was instituted by our new Parent company, Cedar Fair. This is a policy that they enforce in all of their Parks with exception to water and individual portion snacks, as well as any dietary required foods.

In regards to your concerns regarding our metal detecting protocol, I have spoken with the Managers of our Loss Prevention department and relayed your concerns for them to review. Please rest assured that we have never had an incident of a prohibited weapon getting in beyond our metal detectors.

If you should have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

How the other half lives

Last summer, I was the captain of one of the iAnywhere Mobilizers, one of two Sybase softball teams. We had a crappy 3-19 season, but stepped up a bit in the tournament, winning 2 out of 5.

This year, I couldn't get enough players to put together a Mobilizers team, so I ended up joining the Sybase Sluggers in the A division. We've done pretty well so far (2-2 after four games), and I've been getting better in each game. On Tuesday night, I only made a couple of plays in the outfield, but I didn't blow any, and I even had three hits. And for the first time this season, I didn't have to ice my shoulder after the game and still felt fine the next day. Some interesting differences from last year to this year:

  • Date of our first win: May 22 (game 2)
    Last year: July 4 (game 11)

  • Date of our second win: May 27 (game 3)
    Last year: Aug 21 (game 18)

  • Number of games where we scored over 20 runs: 1 (out of 4)
    Last year: 1 (out of 22)

  • Number of games where we scored 10 or fewer runs: 1 (out of 4)
    Last year: 13 (out of 22)

  • Number of games where we gave up less than 5 runs: 2 (out of 4)
    Last year: 1 (out of 22)

  • Number of games where we gave up 20 or more runs: 1 (out of 4)
    Last year: 10 (out of 22)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Gatorade Incident?

We went to Canada's Wonderland today for the first time this year. Only one new ride this year, the monstrous roller coaster "Behemoth" which we will not be going on. It's about the same height as the Superman coaster at Darien Lake which I've ridden once, and that's just too high for me. Feel free to call me a chicken, you're right.

First off, to the slimy piece-of-shit scumbag who stole my son's Transformers baseball cap while we were riding the go-karts, you could have gotten your own at Zellers for under $10. You made an eight-year-old cry — I hope you enjoy the hat.

"I wish I had a camera phone" moment: Walking past the "holy crap is this ever slow" swan ride, and seeing a little girl, maybe four, sitting in the front of the swan enjoying herself while her father sat in the back, pecking away on his Blackberry.

WTF moment: Going through security at the front gate. We had a backpack with some snacks and a bottle or two of water, Gail's mom had a water bottle and a thermos of coffee, and the boys were each carrying a bottle of Gatorade (all of the bottles were plastic). The security lady said that the water bottles were OK, but the Gatorade bottles were not allowed. Gail asked if the problem was that it was Gatorade rather than water and she said no, they're just not allowed to let Gatorade (or pop) bottles in. They were the same kind of bottle, though a little bigger (750 mL rather than 500 mL), so what's the difference? What makes a Gatorade bottle more dangerous than a water bottle? Perhaps it's because they don't want people bringing their own stuff in, so that if they are hungry or thirsty, they are forced to buy food and beverages in the park. Again, I understand this, but why wouldn't that apply to bottled water? They sell bottled water inside the park as well, so I don't understand the logic of this rule either. And it's not enforced — we bring snacks (grapes, oranges, carrots, celery sticks, juice boxes) almost every time we go to the park, and security has never said a word until the Gatorade incident today. Another example of someone in authority making a rule that makes no sense, and everyone else blindly accepting and enforcing it.

After we confirmed the rule with the security lady a couple of times ("you're saying we can't bring a Gatorade bottle in but we can bring a water bottle in, and it has nothing to do with the contents of the bottle?"), I took the bottles and was going to walk them back to the van. The security lady quietly told us to stuff them in the bottom of the backback and go ahead.

And finally, if the keys in my pocket set off the metal detector, she never mentioned it. If they didn't, why is the metal detector there? We've had questions about Wonderland security a couple of times before, and I'm in the process of writing an email to Wonderland guest services to that effect.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NHL Final prediction

We're down to one series left. Just when it looked like we'd have two sweeps in the conference finals, the Flyers and Stars each decided to make a series of it, though Dallas had slightly more success than Philly did. In the end though, as the Emperor said in Return of the Jedi, everything has proceeded as I have foreseen. Well, almost everything. I'm 10-4 in my NHL series predictions this year, with only the big one left. This one is hard though — will Detroit's experience overcome the Crosby and Malkin show?

Pittsburgh has had a pretty easy time of it in the playoffs so far, winning two series in 5 and sweeping Ottawa (though Detroit has only lost two more games than the Penguins), but Detroit is a more formidable opponent, so I'm going to pick Pittsburgh in six.

Note also one of my predictions from last year. I picked Ottawa to beat Pittsburgh in the first round (they did), but I added a postscript: "...though I don't think I'd want to play Pittsburgh in next year's playoffs." This year, Pittsburgh and Ottawa met again in the first round this year, and Ottawa got smoked in four straight. Just sayin'.

Update: Jim Kelley also says Pittsburgh in six, so I'm in good company. Now, he's analyzed the shit out of this series, and he arguably has more hockey knowledge than I do (being in the Hall of freakin' Fame), but still.

Hey man, I'm freakin' out

Today at work, I listened to Look What I Did by Joe Walsh, a double album of his greatest hits. In terms of big radio hits, there ain't much — "Life's Been Good", "Rocky Mountain Way", "Walk Away", "Life of Illusion", and "Funk #49" are about it. Those songs are all really good, and "Life's Been Good" contains one of my favourite lyrics ever: "I can't complain, but sometimes I still do". That one simple line just seems to capture the feelings of the vast majority of society, myself included.

Apart from those songs, most of the rest of the collection is, to be blunt, either boring or just plain crap. Walsh is a talented guitarist, but has a really weird voice, and writes some very odd lyrics. Occasionally his voice works for a song, but other times I wonder if it wouldn't have been a better song if he'd gotten someone else to sing it.

Walsh also has a strange sense of humour. Songs like "Ordinary Average Guy", "Life's Been Good", and "Shut Up" among others have funny lyrics, he's got album titles like The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get, and who else would write a song called "I.L.B.T.'s" — which stands for "I Like Big Tits"? After listening to some of these songs, I started to wonder whether it's really his sense of humour, or if he was just high or drunk or both during most of the time that these songs were written.

Even his songs as part of the Eagles weren't that good — on the classic album Hotel California, the only song Walsh sings is my least favourite track, "Pretty Maids All In A Row" (though he co-wrote "Life in the Fast Lane"). The latest album Long Road out of Eden contains some excellent songs, but the only one that Walsh sings is "Last Good Time In Town", which seems really out of place.

My former guitar teacher is a huge Joe Walsh fan, and every now and again I'll give this CD a listen, thinking "maybe I'll give it another chance", but I keep coming to the same conclusion: Joe Walsh is a pretty good guitar player who wrote a couple of great songs, a few decent ones, and a whole bunch of dreck.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Third round pick results

Pittsburgh over Philly and Detroit over Dallas

Nailed 'em both.

NLL final

I'm going to stick with my previous statement that nobody will stop the Bandits, and predict a Buffalo championship. Championship game MVP is a tough one... I think I will say Steenhuis

Nailed 'em both.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Canadian Sports Personalities - Best and Worst

I read an article on another blog on the best Canadian non-hockey sports announcers. There were also specific articles on the hockey people and the anchor desk people. I thought I'd put together my own list of Canadian sports announcers, writers and broadcasters, good and bad. These are in no particular order.


  • Bob McCown — simply the best. Host of Prime Time Sports on the FAN 590, one of my favourite podcasts and according to Bob, "the country's most listened-to sports talk presentation". Says what he thinks, doesn't care if he offends anyone, doesn't (usually) pull punches during interviews, knows his stuff inside and out, and he's funny too.
  • Stephen Brunt — he writes for the Globe and Mail, which I don't read, so I only know him from his appearances on Prime Time Sports, but he's very knowledgable. And he's from Hamilton.
  • Jim Kelley — writes for, and also appears on Prime Time Sports. He's in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a writer, and for good reason. He knows more than just hockey though. He, Brunt, and McCown make PTS the best sports show there is.
  • Dan Shulman — Used to do play-by-play for the Blue Jays. Smart guy, and just an all-around great broadcaster. So good, ESPN grabbed him and hasn't let go.
  • Rob Faulds — I didn't like him much when I first heard him on Jays telecasts, but he used to host Prime Time Sports when McCown was away, and I grew to respect him. Listening to him on the radio doesn't feel like listening to the radio, it feels like talking sports over a couple of beers with your buddy.
  • Jennifer Hedger — smart, knows her stuff, and easy on the eyes. Married to Sean McCormick (see the worst list below), but nobody's perfect.
  • Eliot Friedman — another former guest host on Prime Time Sports, but haven't heard him for a while. Works on HNIC, though I think he's underused there.
  • Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth — Cheek called every single Blue Jays game, including pre- and post-season, from their first day in 1977 until 2004, a streak of over 4,300 consecutive games. I grew up listening to him and Jerry calling Jays games on the radio.
  • Don Chevrier and Buck Martinez — called Jays games on TV in the 80's and 90's. Buck went on to manage the Jays, and I was disappointed when he didn't return to the broadcast booth afterwards.
  • Jay Onrait — host of SportsCentre on TSN. Not particularly insightful, since he's just reporting the sports news, but he's pretty funny. The last couple of years, he's done a real-time blog on trade deadline day which was very funny.


  • Mike Toth — I used to really hate this guy, but he's growing on me. Now I only hate him a little bit. He hosts Prime Time Sports when Bob McCown is away, and he's OK, but I prefer when Rob Faulds used to guest-host.
  • Sean McCormick — they call him The Dude. Or perhaps he calls himself that. Just seems a little too full of himself.
  • Michael Landsberg — speaking of full of himself...
  • Warren Sawkiw — did Jays broadcasts for a year after Tom Cheek passed away, then they fired him. Haven't seen him since. Didn't seem to add much to the broadcast, and had too much of a "golly gee whiz, I'm in the big league!" air about him.
  • Don Cherry — very entertaining and I enjoy watching Coach's Corner because of him, but what an idiot. Thinks that any hockey game without a fight is a waste of time. Thinks that wearing helmets and visors to protect your head and face makes you a pussy. Hey Don, the truth is that it just makes you smart.
  • Nick Kypreos — thinks along Don Cherry's lines. He was a goon when he played, and thinks that players who don't know one end of the stick from the other but are great fighters make a valuable contribution. News flash Nick — the '94 Rangers would have won the Cup even without you. He's so pro-player anti-owners it's not funny, which was particularly annoying during the lockout.
  • Fergie Olver and Tony Kubek — both worked for the Jays in the '80s. To be honest, I don't remember what it was I didn't like about these guys, I just remember that when watching a game on TV where these guys were broadcasting, I'd turn the sound down on the TV and turn the radio on. I do remember that Fergie also hosted a kids game show called Just Like Mom where kids and their moms competed as a team against other kids and their moms. Fergie's wife was the co-host.

A bit of both

  • Pierre McGuire — Most of the time, he's fine, though he talks really quickly. (I do too, but I'm not a professional broadcaster.) He knows the fine points of hockey very well. However, when he gets excited about something, he talks a mile a minute and STARTS TO YELL. Then I can't listen to him anymore.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Them cops is smart

I'm watching an episode of CSI: New York. On the show, someone is blogging, and the police are trying to find out where he's blogging from. One of them comes up with the following bit of brilliance:

I'll create a GUI interface using Visual Basic. It might give us an IP address.

Gail and I both literally laughed out loud. Even better, a few minutes later the same person is seen manipulating a smoothly scrolling 3-D detailed map of NYC. Sure, you can throw one of those together in minutes with VB.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NLL Championship prediction

There is only one game left in the NLL season. It'll be in Buffalo, but we're going up north this weekend so I won't be going. Luckily, the game is televised, so I plan on watching it at my parents' place on Saturday night.

I went 1-1 in my second round predictions, slightly better than the 1-3 in the first round, so I'm 2-4 overall. Buffalo beat New York as I predicted, even though Mark Steenhuis did not learn how to pass the ball, only getting a single assist. Didn't matter much though, since he scored seven, and John "ageless" Tavares had 10 assists to go with his two goals. It was an intense game as I predicted as well, with each team racking up 65 minutes in penalties.

I got the Calgary-Portland game wrong, though I did wonder if Dan Dawson could carry Portland for another game, and with five goals and five assists, I guess the answer is "yes".

I'm going to stick with my previous statement that nobody will stop the Bandits, and predict a Buffalo championship. Championship game MVP is a tough one — Tavares is always a good bet and Mike Accursi has been great since returning to the Bandits, but I think I will say Steenhuis.

As for league MVP, which will be announced tomorrow, it's a no-brainer. Athan Iannucci beat Gary Gait's goal-scoring record by 10, and over a 16 game season that's pretty significant, especially for a player in only his second season in the league. It's possible that this year was a fluke (like Brady Anderson hitting 50 home runs, though that was more likely chemically-induced), but I think this guy's the real deal. It would not surprise me if in ten years, we'll be saying Iannucci's name in the same breath as names like Gait, Tavares, Marechek, and Veltman as one of the best in league history.

The new lawnmower smell

After a couple of years of frustration with my old lawn mower, I finally bit the bullet and bought a new one. The old one was a gas mower, but over the last couple of years, it got quite difficult to start. I got tired of yanking on the starter cord over and over, almost putting my shoulder out, only to have to borrow my neighbour's mower to get the job done. It had a side chute, and I bought a side bagger attachment for it, which was OK, but I really wanted a rear-bagger.

I read somewhere earlier this year that an old two-stroke lawnmower dumps as much pollution into the air in one hour as the average car does over a 600 km trip. Since I had changed the oil in that mower exactly once in the eleven years that I owned it, I suspect it was probably even worse than that (and that probably explains the engine trouble I had with it too). So I did a bit of research, and although the newer four-stroke engines are much more efficient and less polluting than the old ones, I decided to go electric. The one I bought was a cordless model from Canadian Tire (Yardworks 24V, 20" — sorry, couldn't find a functional link), so I have the advantage of electric (no emissions, no gas or oil, instant start) with no extension cord to drag around. I charged the battery overnight and then cut the lawn on Sunday.

My dad always had gas mowers, and as I said mine was gas as well. In fact, I've only used an electric mower once in my life, when mowing my neighbour's lawn back when I was a teenager — and that one time I used it I ran over his extension cord and cut it in half. So when I started this new one by pressing a button and holding down a bar rather than yanking on the starter cord, I was very excited. It's quieter than the old mower, though not by much. The mower itself is very light, but the battery is a monster. I was worried that it would be heavier and harder to push around because of that, but it wasn't noticeably different. Being able to adjust the height of the mower with one lever rather than one per wheel is very nice. There's also a battery level meter which is kind of hard to see, and even a drink holder that will probably never be used.

The battery can be easily removed from the mower, which is good since the mower lives in the shed which has no electricity. According to some online reviews, I will probably have to charge the battery about once a month or so, and I'm supposed to charge it up every couple of weeks in the winter as well. Right now I'm all gung ho to do just that, but we'll see next winter. I was all set to empty and clean the humidifier every week or so last winter, and I think I did it twice.

Update: One thing I didn't think about — if your gas mower runs out of gas when you're halfway done, you can just put more gas in it. You may need to run to the gas station. But if your battery dies halfway through, you're stuck. Nothing to do but wait. This didn't actually happen to me (the battery died just as I was finishing), but I hadn't thought about it before.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Seeing Eye speaks

I had a dream last night. In my dream, I saw Cliff Fletcher announcing that Ken Hitchcock was the next GM of the Leafs. I don't have dreams about sports very often; heck, I don't have dreams that I remember all that often, so I'm taking this as a sign. Note that this was literally a dream — I'm not saying that I hope it happens, just that I dreamed it would.

I know Hitchcock is currently the coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the Seeing Eye just tells the future; it doesn't explain it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Third round picks

The second round is now over, and I went 2-2 in my predictions. I got the Pittsburgh series winner right, but they took out the Rangers in 5, not the 6 or 7 I said, and I thought Montreal was for real and Philly wasn't, turned out to be the other way around. I'm now 8-4 overall this year.

Third round:

  • Pittsburgh over Philly
  • Detroit over Dallas

Monday, May 05, 2008

NLL Second Round Picks

OK, so my hockey predictions (8-4 after 2 rounds) are slightly better than my lacrosse predictions (1-3 after one round). As I said as I updated the previous post, I nailed the Buffalo game completely, and was totally wrong on the other three. Since there are only three games left, the best I can do is 4-3, so let's try for that:

  • Buffalo over New York — The one word that best describes Darris Kilgour is intensity. If there's anyone who can get his team fired up, it's Darris, whether that's through an inspiring speech or just being afraid that if you don't step up your game he'll beat the snot out of you. Bob McMahon just doesn't have that kind of presence. Anyway, they've been getting great goaltending from both Thompson and Montour, and if Steenhuis can learn that passing the ball is a good thing, I don't see New York, or anyone from the west, stopping the Bandits.
  • Calgary over Portland — Dan Dawson has the ability to carry a team for one game, and since this is single-game elimination, that's a big deal. But he did that in the win over San Jose — can he do it two games in a row? Calgary played well enough to make it to the playoffs without Tracey Kelusky for most of the season. But he's back now, and if there's one goalie whose name isn't Bob Watson that I want between the pipes in a critical game, it's Chugger.

One more thing I need to say: I've never been a big fan of Billy Dee Smith. He generally takes too many dumb penalties and I haven't yet forgiven him for the nasty cross-check to Colin Doyle's head about five years ago. But he played a great game in Buffalo on Friday. The Bandits in general played smart, stayed out of the box (an old nemesis of theirs — stupid penalties have cost the Bandits a number of games over the last few years), and Smith played a hard but smart game and even scored a couple. A few people on the lacrosse message boards have talked about Smith in the past as a good solid player with a bad reputation, but I never saw it. On Friday I did.

I'm also wondering if John Tavares will retire after this season if Buffalo wins it all. He's still playing at a high enough level that he doesn't have to, but he may want to retire before he gets to be one of those players who still hangs on and doesn't want to admit that their playing days are over even though they are a shadow of their former selves. Jim Veltman could probably have played another year, but he wanted to retire before he became that guy that should have retired, and Tom Marechek and Gary and Paul Gait all did the same thing. It would be kind of too bad if Tavares does retire after this year, since Veltman, Gary Gait, and Marechek all had the whole "final season" celebration thing, and Tavares deserves that as well. It would be too bad for the fans if he finished the season and then just didn't come back.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Cool Tool:

I found a very cool site called through Lifehacker this morning, just when I needed it. I needed to send a fax yesterday, but I was at home and I don't have a fax machine. I have a modem for my computer upstairs, but it's not connected to the phone line (it may not even be physically installed anymore), and I don't know if I have any fax software. I did a quick google search on free email-to-fax services, and found very little, so I was planning on waiting until Monday and just sending it from work. And then I read a posting on Lifehacker called " Adds Free, Simple Faxing". I checked it out, and it's just what I need.

There is no registration and they don't ask for your email address. You just create a "drop" and you can add files to the drop by uploading them, emailing them, or faxing them (you print off a special cover page and make that the first page of the fax, then fax it to and they figure out which drop it's for and add a pdf to that drop). Once you've got a drop, you can email it or fax it out, or you can give the address to other people and they can see the files from there. It's private in that there is no directory of drops anywhere and no way to search, so to get to the drop, you have to know the name of it.

There are no fees for any of this (though you can upgrade for $10 to get 1 GB of storage, otherwise each drop is limited to 100 MB), and no advertising on the web site, so I'm not sure how they make any money at this, but it's very slick.