Retraction Required!


Dec 18 – Retraction Required. It seems that I “miswrote” in My December 15th post. I implied that it took the concentrated efforts of both GKs to bring down the big fella in the Red and White suit who guards my front door. Apparently it was the mighty Miss Lily on her own who was responsible for initiating Santa’s face plant and dismemberment as Ben was otherwise occupied at the time. I should have known.

Torrents in Turmoil – After the Swedish police raided The Pirate Bay offices / Server farm, it seems almost all of the peer sharing / torrent community is in disarray.

In addition to The Pirate Bay primary site being down (the so called shadows were not really up), EZTV had also beat a hasty retreat and was offline as well as others. Even the “Old Pirate Bay, surfaced by a “competitor” as homage to the King did not really work either.

For some folks (nameless) who have an excessive appetite for downloads and stockpiling media, this is traumatic. Where to find that season and series ending episode of Sons of Anarchy????? (I did) or to look for those best seller epubs? Funny how something that once meant nothing, then becomes essential creates havoc if it suddenly and unexpectedly disappears. Some Band-Aid measures are in place but will these anchors of the torrent world return? Only the Shadow knows and he’s not talking.

No spoilers – In preparation for the Holiday Veg Season, I was stockpiling some viewing opportunities for my Man Office until said Swedish raid threw a bit of a wrench into things. With some creative sleuthing, I have several items back on track including the full final season of SOA as I have not watched any since the end of last season with the two bodies on the floor. Don’t think I have enough “quality” material to see my through though as I dipped into Downton Abbey and watched their episodes up to the break as well as the same for The Walking dead. Two of my favs.

If I get desperate, I do have the full breaking Bad library, Season 2 to date of Reign, from Day 1 of The Good Wife and some other junk that Jane watches so I guess between that, football and hockey, I may survive.

What I have noticed is that many if not all of these “cable” shows that have become widespread and many very successful have adopted the “Mid Season Break” approach to their scheduling, After 8 episodes or less they are going on hiatus for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couples of months before finishing off what are normally abbreviated seasons anyway when compared to the “normal” 22 – 26 episodes of the network offerings. Another way to mess with my head and routines.

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Beware the Ides of December


Dec 15 – Beware the Ides of December. That means the last month of the year is half gone, Christmas is 10 days away and we are less than a week away from the shortest day of the year. A busy time.

Moorehead Xmas – one checkbox down as kudos to Colleen and whoever her little helpers were in hosting the annual Moorehead Christmas get together. Lot of food, beverage and good times with folks we unfortunately don’t get to see that often. Nice of Stephen to drop in and visit with us to represent the Flint / Doug and Marilyn / David & Nancy branch of the “Clan”. While the highlight of the day is always the “mystery” gift exchange and theft event, there was a close second as Jerry commented on how tasty the “beef” hors d’oeuvres were (except that unbeknownst to the savvy palate from Sarnia – it was lamb!).

The gift exchange went well, despite my efforts as MC / Marshall / Arbitrator with some classy gifts, some other gifts, devious steals and a mystery video guest video link from Thailand who had a pair of elephant pants on offer. These quickly hit the steal max and I am not sure if that was before or after the video link with Cameron kacked when his phone battery pooched.

Note to self – next year bring my own cards so the decks actually have all the cards in them instead of two “partial” decks where a couple people ended up at the end (prime position) simply because the cards they drew were not in the other deck!

The meal was great other than the beets which I studiously avoided and it would have been even better if we did not have to wait through a record length grace from the patriarch who must have been watching marathon Billy Graham crusades in preparation for what should have been a simple task. (Rub a dub dub. Thanks for the grub. Amen!)

That was Sunday’s big event. Friday night and Saturday, yours truly had to slave over a hot stove making his world famous caramel popcorn. Two double batches for snacking on Sunday plus eight tins to give away as parting gifts to the relatives. The word was – no popcorn – don’t bother showing up. They really treasure me.

Just to stay in shape we got to look after the GKs on Saturday as well. Both kids were great but are always a bundle of energy even if Grandpa and Grandma are not. The only way to bribe them is with milk and cookies and their favourite item – popsicles, because we make them sit and eat at their little table which gives us old folks a breather.

We also need to remember to hide all of the animated Christmas stuffed animals / Santas / Trees etc., especially the newest Rudolph as I think they played it and sang along to it several hundred times – see video if this link works to my Facebook page.. Those are the times when you hate the long lasting Energizer Bunny with a passion.

We also narrowly averted tragedy as my 6 foot Santa had a bit of a miscue when “dancing” with the GKs. There was a loud “crash” closely followed by two kids rushing in to exclaim that Santa was down and it was an “accident”! No harm, no foul, the tough old red suited guy kept singing and shaking even though he had done a full face plant was laying stretched out on the floor and had suffered a traumatic thoracic injury as his upper body had fully separated from his legs. Open back of suit – reassemble – stand back up – and good to go. Tactfully suggested to the dynamic duo that they not tug on his arms when dancing.

All in all a memorable weekend and with a business dinner out tonight, not sure this will get posted – but it did!

 

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Not a Man Cave


Dec 8 – I took Friday off to stretch out my weekend and to try to start burning my 2014 holidays since I did not get to use all of my 2013 stockpile. The only problem with that, is that it makes it much harder to get up and head off to the office Monday morning. The only good news is a guessed right on the GO train doors roulette game and managed to get on first and get a seat. I guess it is also ticket quota week / month as the GO Police were on checking tickets and PRESTO Pass “taps”. Normally the morning express train does not get checked as it is usually crowded with a bunch of Standing Room Only people who are already in a foul mood without ticket checkers pushing through. In any event, they almost did not get to me as a lady in the quad ahead of me got nailed and dragged out the “I can’t find my card” story, claiming she just noticed it was gone that morning when she went to tap. Could not see if she got the initial “warning” or full pop ticket but it didn’t impact me. Some of the SRO people near me looked a little antsy but we rolled into Union and they escaped without being checked.

Strange coincidence that last night I went to organize my stuff for the morning and could not find my passes. Did a bit of a panic search until I remembered I had taken them out and left them on the desk in my office on Thursday night. Good habit or bad, I try to prep the night before as I am not necessarily the sharpest knife in the drawer bright and early in the morning!

Rogers – At least until the New Year when they change their fee structure, the Hockey Night In Canada concept is working just fine for me. Friday night I think I had five games to choose from that a) meant I did not have to watch the Leafs and b) let me watch Detroit versus New York (neither a Canadian Team but still on HNIC). Big 3 – 2 win for my Wings after going down 2 – 0 in the first, coming back to tie in the second and go on to win 3 – 2 with a goal in the third and hanging in despite two back to back and basically consecutive 5 on 3 situations. The first probably deserved, the second a brutal call against them based on an Oscar deserving embellishment performance by Martin St Louis who clearly got away with one. Hopefully that is reviewed by the Ivory Tower boys and he gets whacked in the wallet for it.

Regardless, that made quite a “nail biter” third period for Wings fans and just showed how somehow the guys are pulling off some big wins, despite an injury list that could roster a pretty good team on its own.

Cherry – With the remote handy, I must admit I checked in on the Buds early on to make sure I did not miss Coaches Corner. Rather a tame performance and very noticeable that the cutback in time to 5 minutes has impacted both the quality of the content and the attitudes of both Don and Ron. It seems now that what little that is covered is rushed and both guys are super time conscious and not happy with it at all. The message seems to be that the head honchos are killing this by inches and you have to wonder if they are simply trying to get Grapes to quit and walk away in frustration – Caution – Spin Doctors at work! Could very easily happen and in the not too distant future. I think this is / was a great property for HNIC and they are ruining it. At his age, Don likely won’t be around or want to do this much longer so why not take advantage of what appeals and milk this while they can? How many people tuned in over the sad sack years just to catch the Don and Ron show, not to watch the pathetic on ice performances.

Not a Man Cave – It’s a Man Office. Got all my electronics setup so the 51″” plasma is hooked to the receiver is linked to the HD Cable box and BluRay and is daisy-chained into the USB Media drive. Just to make sure I was comfortable I moved my one recliner in so that I could do the real Couch Potato routine. Only challenge now is that I now have 4 remotes on the go – HD box / receiver / TV / BluRay. I had this great Logitech Harmony universal remote sitting there just waiting for this moment of truth but it seems to have wandered away.

I misspoke! I have one other minor issue. We bought a small “Bar” fridge over the weekend (on sale at CT) on the premise of using it to retire the old energy guzzling beer fridge in the basement. I was thinking of surreptitiously “sneaking” it upstairs to the Man Office but have come to the sad conclusion that I have run out of room. I could ditch one of the tall “pantry” cabinets and do some rearranging! Have to ponder on that option for a while. TBD.

Note: there is some discussion that I am withdrawing from society and becoming a recluse. The consensus seems to be good riddance!

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Funny how it works


Dec 4 – Funny how it works – We have news setting us up to expect bad news for Gordie and it turns out to be a bit of a false alarm but another great, the very classy, Jean Béliveau passes away. Not a big Habs fan but I think anyone watching hockey at the time had a lot of respect and admiration for #4 as both a very good hockey player and a classy guy. Another one gone.

World Juniors – Looks like I have lined up a ticket to the Championship game on Monday January 5th at the ACC. Now the only question is – “Who will be playing?”. The chirping already is that the Canadian Team is not strong enough to make the Gold Medal game. All of the international (especially Europe / Scandinavian junior programs are good and thinking is that goaltending wins this tournament. Does that mean it could be a full on European final? Guess we will have to wait and see.

GO becomes SRO – For the last couple of days, my morning commute has been Standing Room Only. I could pass on my 7:03 Express and take the 7:13 Milk Run but that adds a half hour delay to my office arrival and is not something I would be thrilled about. I guess the increased traffic could be a function of both concerns about possible “winter” road conditions and an increase of public transit use? Supposedly the expansion of trains and platforms to accommodate 12 car trains was aimed at addressing this but I don’t see it so far. In any case I am not a big fan of “standing” from Clarkson to Union. The way I look at it I pay the same as everyone else so where is my seat?

Videography – The reconstruction of the video viewing options in my new office is underway to take advantage of the new TV. Location has been established as on the outside wall sitting on my barrister bookcase between my two “pantry” storage cupboards. OK so far except for what the issue of what I am now going to do with my Sid the Kid sweater and autographed picture that was hanging in that place of honour? A number of supporting electronic component cast members have been scavenged from various sources, primarily my main floor projector setup that will need revitalization after I get done with the current office plan.

So, let’s see, the coaxial cable goes from the wall outlet into the Cogeco HiDef Set-top box. The HDMI output from the Set-top box goes to the cable/sat HDMI input on the Receiver. The BluRay player HDMI output goes into the BD HDMI Input on the Receiver. The Portable Drive media drive USB cable plugs into the BluRay USB Input. The Receiver HDMI OUT goes to the TV HDMI 1 Input feed and all should be good. That leaves available HDMI input feeds on the Receiver and an HDMI/DVI input on the TV in case I want to wire in my computer to a 51″ monitor! Plus that still leaves various component and composite feeds on the Receiver and the TV, and the TV USB. Now I just need to grab some speaker wire (The Source) and wire up speakers – judiciously selected from the assorted ones I have scattered around the house from various component reincarnations. Then “hopefully” I will be good to go! So much to do, so little time.

Xmas Box Day – We all got the CTC employee Christmas Box Wednesday and of course Andrew had to come over for the ceremonial opening and to scam whatever he could from the contents. Besides some culinary content that is not “normal” stuff – most scammed by Andrew, the two key features of the Box are always the “selected gift” plus my favourite the Limited Edition CTC die cast scale model vehicle. The “selected gift” can be hit or miss in terms of personal appeal but the vehicle always wins for me.

This year there were sort of two gifts, a red and black checked “Olympic” tagged car / throw blanket and a fold up cooler bag with interesting fold out metal handles to make carrying those heavy cold beers beverages easier.

The vehicle is a scale version of the now famous CTC “Ice Truck” prominently featured in CTC advertising for vehicle batteries and part of award winning creative.

While not a retro item as per usual, it is kind of “cool” or apparently “sick” as the contemporary idiom.

The truck will get added to my collection once I find somewhere to put it. Along with the Video Redesign, I may have to revisit my overall display options with all of the “stuff” I seem to be accumulating.

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Mr. Hockey – Say it ain’t so!


Dec 2Mr. Hockey – Say it ain’t so! But, it looks like Gordie may be fighting his last battle after another major stroke Monday that benched him in the ICU as I type.

For me, if he does not rally, this will be the end of an era as #9 was my childhood sports hero (flogging those Neilson Jersey Milk chocolate bars) while I was growing up and playing pond hockey on the farm in South Western Ontario. Those were the days of the Original Six – long before the first expansion was even a glimmer in the capitalists’ eyes. The era of the day in and day out hard core coaches (Sid Abel – his former line mate) before the Howe, Delvecchio and Ullman (the youngsters) line with Terry in Goal and Pronovost and Terrible Ted in the line-up. Up against the Punch, Billy Muzz Toe and Milts of the world. The Gordie Howe Hat Trick the memorable centre ice KO of Leapin’ Lou Fontinato (the supposed toughest, tough guy) and any number of other highlights are all part of the memories. The last time I saw him in person had to be in the mid to late 80’s when I was at the NHL Awards in Toronto and had a chance to talk with both Gordie and that upstart Brantford boy for a few minutes. Both of them were kind enough to sign my program and I hope I still have it somewhere – I think I know where.

Add guys like Maurice “The Rocket” and the “Gumper” and others and they were all household names that lived vicariously by the thousands in outdoor rinks across the country where every kid had their favourite, knew all their stats (as well as most of the other 119 players in the league) and whether they were in boots or skates choreographed every move the way their “hero” did it, although it often did not turn out so well. Unfortunately the everyday superstars of that era are almost gone now and this world is a lesser place without them. Hang in there Mr. Hockey!

Decisions, decisions, decisions – I have the new TV situated in my office so now I have to make a number of setup decisions.

I am not going to go for another HiDef cable box so either I use my standard box (not) for this TN or move my projector cable box up to this TV and go back to standard on the projector (probably best bet as projector is not really that HiDef anyway. That means I will also move my receiver and DVD up as well and bring the old receiver out of retirement for the projector and go composite feed. I need to move the DVD up as it has the inputs that support hanging a portable drive off to watch those populous downloads as well as the RJ45/WiFi for streaming off of the network.

I seem to be spending all my time setting up my toys and very little time playing with them.

More Vehicles – Tomorrow we get our annual Gift Boxes from Canadian Tire and a staple in that box is the annual limited edition scale die cast vehicle in CT Triangle garb. As I am in my 20th year (scary), this will be my 19th Christmas vehicle plus I have picked up a number of different ones “here and there” over the years as well. With assorted other items, these vehicles are creating display and “dusting” problems that need to be addressed. Burglars please ignore but since I have left most in their original packaging, it appears that the collection (according to Ebay), may be worth a good chunk of change. That will give Shaun and Andrew something to fight over when they are no longer of interest to me.

Wanted – New Calendar – 2014 is coming to a close and I need a new calendar for the office. I have a Longo’s calendar (and kudos to them for issuing one), but it is pretty wimpy after having my Red Wings on the wall all year (thanks Jerry – even though March was screwed up). I really need a “manly” calendar not a bunch of recipes!

 

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Cyber Monday!


Dec 1 – Cyber Monday – After Red Thursday, Black Friday and Lowest price of the Year sales on Saturday and Sunday and whatever colours are being ascribed to those dates. What a gong show. What started out as a big Black Friday sale in the US around their Thanksgiving weekend has turned into a Multiday / Multi National / Multi Industry frenzy.

While not willing to admit that I have been stricken by the frenzy bug (I did not get up at 3:00 AM to line up anywhere, I did wander up the street on Friday and snag a 4 T WD Desktop external USB 3.0 drive to consolidate my “stuff”. 4 Terabytes ! Yikes. I wanted the Seagate 5 T but it was OOS. Even so, this whole storage situations has gotten out of control – at least for me. Since I have a streaming Media device on one TV, A USB access port on my projector DVD and my basic computer drive space concerns, I now have an insane amount of local storage – let alone whatever “clouds” I have floating overhead,

New WD External desktop     4.0 T
Toshiba External portable    2.0 T
Toshiba External portable    1.0 T
Old Seagate External desktop    2.0 T
WD External Portable         1.0 T
D-Link NAS RAID        0.5 T
Homemade portable        0.4 T
Ole Desktop internal        1.0 T
My Notebook internal        0.5 T
Jane’s notebook internal    0.5 T

Total (forget the USB Keys)    12.9 T

My name is Wayne and I am a Storaholic! I think this total compares favourably with NASA.

Another TV? – Other than the WD Drive, I did breakdown and order a 51″ Samsung TV online last night as a precursor to cyber Monday. It is a Samsung, which I like and plasma which is cheaper but I am not the one to hyper-ventilate about super critical and sharp colours as I don’t see the distinction anyway. We ordered from Canadian Tire on my MasterCard so besides the great overall price, I will earn a bunch of e-Canadian Tire ‘Money’ and enjoy my employee discount At $399 gross, it was just too hard to turn down. Now besides having it as a backup for our current Samsung, I have to figure out how to set it up in my new office so that it is watchable without seeming like I am in front row seats at a movie theatre.

Kids Party – You know that the Christmas season is in full countdown mode when the parties start. Last Saturday was the Canadian Tire kids party which is a very nice event for taking the youngsters to. Those of us with “overage” kids can take two other relatives and that works just fine for Ben and Lily. Ben has been to several and I think this was Lily’s second. The bouncy castles were a big hit and a good time was had by all (other than I could not talk Ben into going on to the Roller Coaster – Wimp!).

Interesting and with declared bias, the two of them were very well behaved, waited in line when they had to, unlike a number of the other kids whose parents just stood there and watched their little hellions misbehave without making any effort to manage the situation. Thumbs down to them – but not a surprise.

The “Hammer” – There is no joy in the Hammer today as both the Marauders and the Tiger Cats got to their big dances this weekend and came away as finalists, not champions. I watched the last half of the Vanier Cup and it was a very entertaining second half, but I forgot all about the gray Cup as I was busy counting my Terabytes and watching the NFL. My Steelers get waxed and the Pack takes down Brady. Who would a thunk that the Bills won as well.

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Call-Ups – Say it ain’t so!


Nov 24 – Back to work on a “balmy” Monday compared to some of the sub-zero weather we have had. The good news is that the snow is now gone and I only did a bit of a token drive by with my trusty shovel.

Xmas – The plan was to hold out until December 1 but it did not work. I was “instructed”, a much better word than ordered to start the annual schlepping process on Sunday and start lugging bins up from the basement, plus the tree so that the annual decorating could begin. I think I brought up seven bins of stuff and that did not even include the totes full of my Christmas Village cum City Houses and assorted accessories.

The way the weather was Sunday, we should probably have put up the outdoor lights as well but my “light guy” was touring wineries in Niagara all weekend which put the kibosh on any of those plans – I was too lazy and tired after lugging the totes. Not sure post Niagara he would have been much help anyway.

However, the decorating was on full force for the Family room and the hearth is bedecked with the full assortment (hopefully there are no more) of seasonal noisemakers just waiting for the GKs to descend on us and drive me nuts with the continuous and repetitive Yule time “favourites” as played by your super quality novelty plush critters.

However, I have been advised that this is still a work in process and that at least one stocking hanger is AWOL.

Minor Hockey – the not so good as promised. With the disappearance of pond hockey and our lovely litigious world, there are more and more rules entering the arena to govern kids trying to have fun playing our great game. As VP House League, I tried to strike a balance between trying to follow the rules I could in the book (OMHA Manual of Operations ), which is close to impossible for House League, while providing an environment that gave our players the best playing opportunity possible – i.e., competitive but fun. I was not perfect, did not follow every rule, but felt I knew where to draw the line.

Team composition and player participation was one of those areas. We had two tiers (Red and White) for essentially all age groups and moved to a Red, White and Blue break for those age groups where we were fortunate enough to have enough participant to setup three “balanced” divisions with participants the same age and similar skill levels. However, once you were on a team that was your team and with the exception of goalies you were not allowed to play for any other team. The concept of setting up “Affiliated Players” or APs was not practiced at the time. It was not really practical for House League and frankly was not necessary. Don’t see how that has changed.

An MOHA member has reached out to me for my opinion on what is apparently happening in Bantam White this season. It seems that a number of White teams are enlisting the support of Minor Bantam Red players to augment their benches for games. This is the so called “Call-up” program that has raised eyebrows and concerns, as there are individuals involved who know it is not right both from a rules and playing experience perspective.

The apparent rationale for these “Call-ups” is that teams are short players so that they need the extra support. This also appears to be being conducted outside of any “official” process and by that I mean compliance with OMHA rules on team composition and participation.

From what I understand is happening, this is wrong on so many fronts I have decided to post a tedious response here in case anyone cares to actually look at what is going on. Highly unlikely, as apparently this is going on with the tacit approval of the league under a “Call-up” banner.

So:

There is no such thing as a “Call-up” program. Look it up. The only way one player can officially play on another team is if he/she is officially AP’d on the team’s official roster, meaning both the player’s primary team and AP team must be officially rostered, the player must be AP’d with the approval of the primary team’s coach and the player’s name must appear on the game sheet with an AP designation for every game that he dresses for – he does not even have to play. In any year, that player can only AP to one team and must meet the general criteria (older age group and or higher OMHA categorization). It sounds complicated, but it is not and is followed by every Rep team. If they don’t games are forfeited and players and bench staff are suspended.

Those are the rules and basically nothing other than the older age group criteria is being met in the Bantam White situation from what I have heard.

That’s the rule book side now let’s consider the “human” aspects of the current “Call-up” silliness.

Short benches – First of all, the league structure should be dependent on registration and division team count should reflect an appropriate number of players to have full teams drafted or placed. If there are (and there will be) a few players that do not show up for a game, then guess what, the players that do show up get extra ice time. Since they only get one game a week, as long as there are two lines, so what – the guys that are there get more ice time and a chance to develop. If you don’t show up, you lose out – what a concept.

Win or lose – This is or should not be, a win at all costs division. In Bantam White while the players like to win, they are also coming out to have fun and play, so more time on the ice is a good thing to them. A coach who is bringing our MB Red player to pad his stats should not be behind the bench.

Fair – If for some reason there needs to be “extra” players involved in some way, shape or form (and there should not be), then they should come from MB White not Red. Remember, Bantam is the age when the three divisions – Red / White / Blue typically collapse into two as registrations fall off a bit. You are left with – Red and White such that “Blue” players move into White. How fair is it to bring in the higher skilled MB Red players (at most a year younger and often much less) and pit them against Bantam “Blue” level players who may just be starting in the game – great way to turn them off or discourage them and possibly risk injury?

Let’s hope I am misinformed on this one as I would hate to think things are intentionally being run this way.

If anyone wants to check out what AP players and the real process is all about, here is the link to the OMHA’s Manual of Operations. Under Regulations – Section 7.

Like I said – “I’m Back!”

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