It wasn’t Me!


Aug 19 – It wasn’t Me! – Honest! A headline in the Beaver “Oakville man arrested following low-speed E-bike chase”. While Big Red has been out and about town, I must reinforce that this culprit was not yours truly. You can read the article if you want confirmation, but I think I am smart enough to understand the unlikelihood of eluding persistent law enforcement pursuit on an e-bike, modified or not.

The outcome of such silliness can be extremely serious as the charges reported by the Beaver indicate. Mr. “X” of Oakville has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, failing to stop for a police officer, operating a motor vehicle without insurance, failing to properly wear a helmet, and operating a vehicle on a sidewalk amongst other traffic related offences. Yikes!

CNE – is it just me or is the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) significantly underwhelming in its presence this year. It has been running for the better part of a week and so far has been somewhat of a non event. That is despite the continuing promotion of the almost Octogenarian “Amazing Kreskin” as a star entertainer on this years version. Maybe that is saying something if your star attraction is a 79 year old mind reader who as best as I can tell has almost disappeared from the public eye. Cool weather does not help the allure (neither would wet or broiling hot) and as it stands, I have no real desire to make the tour, unless I decide to head down on the final weekend to watch the air show. Even that is a long shot.

Seems that all was not running smoothly as one of my office colleagues took his family down on the weekend and never made it in. The story is that one of the parade horses was acting up, lost his “jockey”, escaped on the street and attacked said colleagues car – adding some major dents and shattered glass (his kids were apparently in the car and fortunately, no one was hurt). His comment is who do I go after for damages – the horse – the rider – the CNE – Toronto? Best answer – go after them all.

Office move – local – Difficult as it may be to believe, I am still sorting stuff out after my home office move. How can I move into a much bigger room, add more storage shelves / space and still be getting stressed about where to put stuff? I thought it would be so easy, camera stuff goes here, computer stuff goes there, general office supplies and stuff goes here and all other miscellaneous goes there. I sort of forgot about all my hockey stuff – pictures, awards (oh yeah – tons of those!), manuals, coach and trainer materials, tournament stuff and so on and so on and so on! Then there are the GK pics, My CT die cast collection and who knows what else. Like my camera backdrops and stands. Somehow I seem to have more stuff and less space in a bigger room than I had before. Something(s) have got to go – Do I really need copies of the OMHA Manual of Operations going back to the late 90s?

First Pitch!! – another of those wonderful baseball anachronisms that nobody normally gives a hoot about unless it is someone really famous or interesting and even then it has marginal value – have them just wave to the crowd instead of looking like a total gomer and wasting time. Don’t know if this link will work but you can easily search for Miss Texas and first pitch and you will likely find it all over YouTube. It was so bad that even MLB put it on the shared video section of their site – I suppose for comic relief. That and the one from 50 Cent in New York. Anyone need a better reason to dump this?

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Spotty appearance at best


Aug 18 – spotty appearance at best. Actually it was good to get back to work today – a Monday no less – for a bit of a rest. I took off Thursday and Friday as I have 2013 and 2014 holidays to burn and we were looking after the GKs for the two days. Mistake! Where do 2 and 4 year olds get their energy and why can’t 63 year olds tap the same source? At the same time, home renos continue as we try to get bedroom 4, formerly office redone into bedroom 3. Tie that into Saturday with a shower faucet to fix and then a return match with the GKs at their house as Shaun and Becky were off to celebrate their 6th anniversary with a 15 k run. Not sure I understand that concept. Then add in Sunday with painting prep, sanding, filling, door planning, linen closet redo and drapery rods down and the list just keeps on coming.

Your Jays and My Tigers – are competing for the best imitation of a toboggan on a ski slope. Apparently neither one really wishes to make it to the post season. Both have dropped from extended first place sojourns. Both have skidded out of Wild Card slots and both are not seeing their “strengths” be strong. The tigers cornered the market on Cy Young winners – who can’t seem to win games with their arms and the Jays thought they had a murderers row line-up but can’t seem to win games with their bats. What’s wrong with both pictures.

Toronto is streaking at 3-7 for their last 10 and 7.5 games out of first and I think four games out of a wild card spot.

Detroit is not much better at 4-6, only 1.5 out of first and now 0.5 games out of a Wild Card slot.

Union Station – at least part of 1 phase is partially complete as the new south Platform for Line 1 (Yonge – University) was opened this morning. Only some of the track access points were accessible so the daily scrum is still on and was actually worse this morning as people were trying to figure out where to go with a bunch of “suits” standing around looking pleased with themselves, a number of folks yelling directions, TV Crews there for news bites and lousy signage. I suppose it will get better. While I have not seen a schematic, from what I could see of the non accessible access points for the south side it looks like there will be overall improved access from Union station, if and when, they actually get stuff done.

Sports Withdrawal – with all the around home activity it seems that Jane and I have not been out watching as much stuff as we usually do and like to do. Ball schedules have been cut back although we may have a London visit in early September (if it does not conflict with some of my other plans). Our only recent forays have been to Ben’s soccer games and while it is great watching Ben (7 goals in his final game – wit limited playing time as he was being “held back” possible out of concern for the other squad) four year old soccer is not my idea of an exciting event to watch. But, when you are desperate – any port in a storm.

Can’t be – Apparently Jumpstart is having a Christmas Gift Basket sale in the “Hub” tomorrow! Christmas for Pete Sakes – it’s August. We still have to suffer through back to school, Thanksgiving and Halloween before I want to even here about that. Besides, it’s summer! Although the recent weather may argue that. It almost felt like fall when I fired up Big Red this morning. Don’t even want to think about that at all.

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Missed a week or two


Aug 11 – Missed a week or two. Summer is too nice a time to spend it in front of a computer – at least not any more than I have too. Besides, we have had a lot on the go as we work our way through the current “room redo” project. Some of the past activities may make it into a future post.

The plan is to work our way around the four bedrooms on the second floor doing moves, touch up and painting / decorating as we go. This is after replacing all of our second floor windows and redoing the main bath (other than the tub/shower faucet that was replaced less than two years ago when we redid the bathroom and it has now decided to dispense hot water only. Major P.I.T.A as we now need to cut it all out and replace it! Will never buy Uberhaus faucets again!).

Fun! Wow! So far we have emptied bedroom #2, done the repaint there and moved my office out of bedroom #4 (by size) into #2 and have now started on #4 (ceiling painted, walls touched up). #4 needs inside window framing done and walls painted and new light fixture before moving on to #3. The opportunities never end.

Blue Jays / Tigers – watched yesterday afternoon and last night’s 19 inning endurance match between two teams that are busy trying to knock each other out of the play-offs. Even though they are still in first in their division, Detroit is not that far up and the Wild Card calcs are a slippery slope. In some respects the whole series was an exciting one to watch as almost everything “weird” or unlikely that could happen did. Leads lost, closers not closing, hitters not hitting, calls challenged and over-ruled and so on.

However, my you heard it here first, is about 19 innings / 7 hour ball games. As a purist I would say you can’t change the game. As a practical person I say you have to. Yesterday was ridiculous and not good for the teams, players, umpires, spectators, fans, viewers, facilities or media. A marathon like this really serves no purpose and poses a lot of negatives and potential risks.

While I decry the use of a shootout in hockey, you can make a good argument for it on the above fronts and the same applies to baseball.

Pick an arbitrary “overtime” cut-off (4 hours? 14 innings or whatever). Then, have a Home Run “Bat Off”.

Set the rules:

  • Each team brings in their batting practice pitcher to pitch to their guy.
  • Each batter gets 5 pitches – most home runs wins
  • If tied – each team has to switch batters
  • Each team has to use three different batters before they can repeat.
  • If still tied after three batters it is sudden death – one pitch at a time and anyone can bat.

Modify these rules any way you want but I bet a lot more fans would stay to see the “suspense”

Bullpens and schedules don’t get disrupted and injuries risked

Networks don’t totally screw up programming and,

Everyone seems to like a “Tater” contest, the same way they seem to like shootouts.

Just Sayin’.

 

 

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Herding Urchins!


Jul 30 – Big day tomorrow as I will be assisting in herding 800+ urchins in pursuing athletic endeavours. It is our annual Jump Start Games Day. I think this our 11th year where we bring out a bunch of under-privileged kids from the GTA for a day of fun and games, a BBQ lunch, ice cream treats and a parting gift backpack full of a bunch of school supplies. I have become the acknowledged Kick Ball / Soccer Baseball specialist and have run this event for years. A fun, but tiring day, so it is highly unlikely that I will be doing any posting tomorrow. A break in my recent streak of regular drivel. Besides that I have a work related social event tomorrow that will further mess up my already hectic schedule.

I am a big fan of the Canadian Tire’s Jump Start charity and the support it gives to help kids participate in sports (of any kind – including hockey). There are Jump Start Chapters across the country with CT Dealers and our Retailers taking an active role. For more information or for anyone interested in getting involved or making a contribution, check out the web site at http://jumpstart.canadiantire.ca/en/

The ongoing kids helped “counter” on the site is now up over 775,000 since the foundation started. The Jump Start Games as an activity were started by our Petroleum Team as a “Fun in the Sun” event for 100 participants at Eglinton Park, just down the street from the office. It has grown to include the 800+ kids in our event, outgrown the local joint and moved up to Aurora. There are other similar events now being held in other parts of the country. Hope we get good weather for tomorrow up in Aurora – warm and dry but not a scorcher.

Commonwealth Games – has been something of a snoozefest – at least my impression so far. The coverage has seemed to pick up a bit but is nowhere near as all encompassing as the Olympics where the front page of or lead story on all media always seemed to be an Olympic story. As an example, neither the Globe or Star is running a “Medals Board” unless it is intermittent or well buried and I missed it. I had to go to the CBC News site to find one as I guess the peoples’ post is almost obliged to carry one.

Political Correctness – When I looked at the complete list of countries participating in the Commonwealth Games, two things jumped out at me.

First – I had not even heard of several of these countries and do not have a clue where they are. As someone who considers themselves as being reasonably well informed, this came as a somewhat rude awakening. Not surprisingly, some of these “new” countries are 0 – 0 – 0 in the medal count and will likely stay there. It has been awhile for me since “Geography” class and I would like to find one of those old atlases and compare it to today. Some parts of the world would be unrecognizable.

Second – and probably more of an “AHA”, a glaring omission. With the Union Jack and casual commentary around Great Britain, it was always simply categorized that GB or the British Isles is made up of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Looking at the participating countries, England – Check, Scotland – Check, Wales – Check. Ireland does not show up but Northern Ireland does. The Irish Free State as a declared republic as in the Republic of Ireland does not consider itself to be a member and has not participated in the Commonwealth (British Empire) Games since 1950. Does that mean a bunch of definitions need to change and the flag is wrong with the combination of St. Andrew’s Cross (Scotland), St. George’s Cross (England) and St. Patrick’s Cross (Ireland). Poor old Wales is not represented. Should St. Paddy get the heave ho if they are not a player?

Free – As noted yesterday I did surpass the magic “40” one way trips marker on GO Transit for the month. Essentially, that means I ride free for the rest of July. Big Deal! It also means I have already paid for 40 trips.

Date/Time

Time

Service Provider

Location Name

Transaction Type

Amount

Balance

Loyalty Month

Loyalty Trip Number

Loyalty Step

Loyalty Discount

07/29/2014

05:19 PM

GoTransit

Union Station Rail

e-Purse Fare Payment

$0.00

$214.64

Jul – 2014

41

3

$7.00

The five trips I will save at full pop ($7) would have cost $35 as single fare tickets. Unfortunately that’s like the shopper saying I saved $100 because these two items were on sale for half price!

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Lots of Work Days


 

Jul 29 – July is a long working month because of the way the calendar falls and only 8 week-end days. More bad news is that I did not take holidays so there was a lot of back and forth on the GO Train. The good news is that this is when PRESTO deals kick in. After 35 trips, my normal $6.50 one way trip drops to $0.85 cents a ride, a $6.15 discount over the standard full fare. After 40 which I hit this morning, I think I ride free. Will have to check that tomorrow, but here is my morning trip data. The normal PRESTO discount is 10% off of a full fare so I pay $6.30 instead of $7.00.

Date/Time

Time

Service Provider

Location Name

Transaction Type

Amount

Balance

Loyalty Month

Loyalty Trip Number

Loyalty Step

Loyalty Discount

07/29/2014

06:44 AM

GoTransit

Clarkson GO Station Rail

e-Purse Fare Payment

$0.85

$214.64

Jul – 2014

40

2

$6.15

 

I do wish they still had the feature from the old monthly pass which let you take one passenger with you for free when you travelled on weekends. I used that a fair amount. No can do with PRESTO.

Game of Thrones – Buzz is on for GoT Season 5 as a number of new characters were introduced at Comic-Con. All the favourites are back so this arguably just replaces cast members who were killed off (popular in this series) in the headcount. The HBO show has been nominated for 19 Emmys which must have the conventional networks green with envy. I hope they win a bunch as this is one of my favourite shows. Unfortunately it will likely soon come to an end as the TV version is catching up to George R. R. Martin’s writing as he seems to take forever to crank out one of his 1,000 page tomes.

Now if only HBO realizes they have another gem in “The Newsroom” and changes their plans to cancel this show after its upcoming third season. I got a number of people hooked on it and now they will be out of luck.

Common Disease – cancellation. It seems all of my shows are coming to an end. GoT will run out of books. The Newsroom already announced as kaput after Season 3. Mad Men wrapping this season and Sons of Anarchy announced as heading into their final season this fall. From my earlier announced viewing list of off-beat shows, this only leaves Vikings (fate unknown) and Downton Abbey – ditto. This fall I am going to be desperate for new content and so far have not heard any glowing recco’s on new series.

Hard to find – Dummy Knobs – After 25+ years, one of the items we are dealing with in our bedroom / office refresh is “knobs”. All of our bedrooms except the master have double door closets with “Dummy Knobs” on the outside. I.e., there is a screw through the back of the door that the knobs on the outside simply thread on to. No latch mechanism – just a single knob with a threaded hole. Some fool did not take these off during the last paint job so they need to be replaced. Seemed to me to be a simple item, but not so. Seems that dummy knobs are in short supply and ones I have found have two screw holes in the outside collar, just like a regular passage set that you screw to the door instead of threading into the normal knob on the other side. Guess it is cheaper to produce these from one mold instead of have two separate castings. What a pain – but we are progressing.

I have had a challenging knob week. Not only the “dummy knobs” above, but I had to replace the passage set into the room as well. I had a spare “matching” passage set in my “door hardware supply bin” picked up from some CT sale and figured I was home free. Only problem was that the latch was too short – it look like it was about ½” too short. Dummy me, bought a new but not matching one that said it would fit the dimensions but before I opened it I read where it said it was adjustable so I figured my other one must be as well. Of course – no instructions, could not bother with Google 101 so I sat down with it and tried to figure out how something that simple could be adjustable. Finally, I figured out that if you removed the spacer that the know pushed back, you could thread the pins throught one hole and at the end notch and “voila” it now fit. So, I slapped that sucker on and now have a different spare door knob! Should have known this but nothing is ever easy.

The saga continues.

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Rain, rain, and more rain


Jul 28 – Rain, rain, and more rain. We were out in Burlington last night guarding the grand kids and around 6:45 ish a light rain started to fall that gradually escalated to full on thunder, lightning, hail and rain. I thought it would let up by this morning so I could sally forth on Big Red, but no such luck. I had to go umbrella hunting (finally finding a big black golf umbrella in the garage) and was back riding the bus. Missed my morning ride and My Tim Hortons ladies probably have a left over LDD and wondering where the “biker” went?

Garage Sales – good reminder of why not to have them. Our friends had the thankless job of clearing out and trying to dispose of a lifetime’s accumulation of a very nice 90+ year old Mom who has moved from her house to a care facility. The challenge is what do you do with all the “stuff”. Based on the age and in some cases “condition” no one wants it and while it may in many cases have sentimental value, the harsh reality is that it has zero or negative monetary value as you have to get rid of it. Full credit to them they scheduled a three day garage / yard / estate sale where everything had to go – including having the house up for sale as well (hopefully one of the “suggested” offers came through for them yesterday but the whole thing is a challenging undertaking when customers come in and argue about being willing to give you a nickel instead of a quarter for that two headed horse candle holder.

Some items sell well as pieces of furniture or “antique” glassware or knickknacks but other items that one would think should sell easily simply sit there staring you in the face.

I would expect trying to find a purchaser for the wire framed rug beater was not going to happen (I think they gave it away as a prize) but you couldn’t give away the hand painted china or porcelain (sorry not an expert) tea cup and saucer sets that graced every “old ladies” home / buffet that I have ever seen. Of course, they are no good to me as a) they only hold one sip, not even a gulp and b) I can’t get even my finger through the hole in the handle.

One has to be sorely tempted to call 1-800-Dumpster to solve this challenge but you don’t casually dispose of a life’s mementos that way. Anyway Jane and I went up to Waterloo on Saturday to lend our morale support (no I did not buy anything – I have my own house full of trash and treasure I need to worry about without adding to it). We did however make a little side excursion to the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market.

St. Jacobs – Farmers Market on Saturday – Be Afraid. Be very afraid. The place was a swarm of people, all of them doing their best to get in your way and impede your process. Probably just as well as it slows down the cash burn as you can go nuts there. Forget the Arts and Crafts, by the time you get all your fruits and veggies, where the big concept is “Two for” – don’t just buy one (in fact, one reject refused to sell me a single basket of blueberries, I had to buy two or no sale – so there was no sale and a couple of less than polite words) you have already blown a bundle. Then add in the meats, cheeses, fudge, horse radish and you are easily north of a C Note. Trust me – I was there.

They do have great stuff but apparently the trick is to go on a Thursday when all the raging lunatics are away at work so things are more genteel. I am going to have to do that, as I could have a field day with all the great stuff they have available (I’m talking food – I don’t do arts and crafts). However, Saturday we had just taken a break from the garage sale so we did not spend a lot of time there.

Office moves – The home office transition continues. What a pain in the lower back. I am now to the point where I have to disassemble my desk / PC set-up so I could go dark for hopefully a very short period. I actually could stay live on my notebook, but I am now contemplating whether to setup the workspace as primary for the notebook with the desktop relegated to back-up or stick with the conventional. I have essentially migrated all of my programs to the notebook except my Adobe Suite (Adobe licencing support can be real D…..s) and I haven’t loaded FrontPage as I am trying to decide if I should retire it. The problem there is that it is the only web authoring package I am familiar with and it is the base for both my site and the FSMT web site. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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Three in a row!


July 25 – Hooray it’s Friday! And not a moment too soon. Not sure what the weekend will bring but there is an extensive “to do” list waiting for yours truly. Most of that is centered around the ongoing 2nd floor shuffle. Bedroom 1 is now ready for me to move my office out of bedroom 2 so that bedroom 2 can go under the hammer, saw, brush and roller. Looked around my office at all the “stuff” last night and figured that this is going to be painful. What goes – my hockey pics, resources and awards, my Sport Oakville stuff, my photo gear, my (several) computers and stuff, my CT model car collection. . . . Like I said – it is going to be painful!

Prognostications – are always fun. The resurgent Blue Jays are heading into New York on an upbeat having taken 3 of 4 from the Beantowners and lifting the hopes of the faithful yet again. Lurking in the shadows of Gotham is the fact that they have lost the last fifteen straight in the den of the pin striped Yanks. Fearless Carnac is predicting that they cannot (and won’t) get swept again, ’cause if they do, they are done. Forget the division and forget the wild cards they can just mail it in if they get broomed out of the Big Apple.

Good idea – different approaches. While I have no idea if they was any collusion in this happening, or if one saw the other do it and decided they had to as well, I support the program that both local minor hockey groups have started this year to organize the “equipping” of the entry level initiation / Timbit players. There are a number of benefits to this approach.

Even though both associations have arranged an equipment plan with “fittings” by Corbett’s, major Kudos go to the Hornets as apparently they are folding the cost into the standard registration fee while their cross town colleagues at the MOHA offer the equipment packages as an additional cost option. Having said that, it is only fair to add that the per player registration fee has been reduced for the initiation age group. This may be based on an “ice efficiency” cost calculation as historically, more of the “little” guys have been placed on the ice per hour than for the older age groups (cross ice program and practice structure).

Regardless, subject to the quality of the equipment provided, going for the full meal deal with all base protective equipment plus stick, skates and helmet, fitted for the player for $99 is a great deal. I know that in the dark ages when I was involved, the first few weeks of Timbit hockey were always “interesting”. Kids would be brought in decked out in big brothers hand me downs or equipment sale stuff that clearly did not fit. Skates were a big issue as many were way to big as parents wanted to get “a couple years” out of them and wondered why little Billy was sliding around the ice on his ankles. Sticks were often way off as well with adult sticks either cut down with the balance way off or left too long so the budding Geordie Howe could not handle it.

Morale of this story is that properly fitted and decent quality equipment is fundamental to the game and essential to contribute to your son or daughter being able to learn and enjoy. Newbies – take advantage of the offer and go for the full packager.

Interesting poster note proclaiming “NHL themed teams”. Curious to see what that means – “Timbits gone? Colour Schemes only/ Licenced logos? As long as it is fun for the little guys – who cares, as long as Tim Hortons who have been very avid and positive supporters for many years are not getting short-changed.

Already – it seems like the kids just got out of school and already we are being swamped with back to school sales – supplies, clothes, technology – everyone has something that kids have to have to go back to school. In our case it is not a back to school – it is an off to school. Ben’s life of leisure as a frivolous carefree kid is over as he starts through the endless journey of a regimented life – he starts school this September! Another one of those hard to believe indications of how time flies. It seems like only yesterday we became grandparents with the little critter coming home from the hospital.

Already 2 – It seems like hockey is just over and we are already getting interest and requests to register for the 2015 version of the Frank Sabatino Memorial Tournament (FSMT). This will be the 14th annual version of this tournament and while it is great news that it is earning the type of reputation that draws this type of interest so early, it is just July! Come on folks – let us enjoy some more of the summer before we get too embroiled in the minor hockey world once again. But – if you are interested, check it out at www.fsmt.ca .

Burlington – cement – just got the emergency call out for help on the bat phone. Definitely a story here!

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