Away for a while

Jul 23 – When you are away for a while without going anywhere, you don’t know where to start on all the things that have been going on while your keyboard was resting. If you tried to cover it all it would end up as several volumes of tripe instead of just one post so it doesn’t work out. The response is to simply play the “hit and run” game on a few things and then hopefully get back to the more in-depth op-ed pieces (Ha!).

Big Red – turned a thousand clicks last week – not sure if that is good or bad in roughly one year (less winter) of use but I continue to have fun with the e-bike / scooter and most mornings are a nice refreshing wake-up on the way to Clarkson with a stop off with my friendly ladies at Timmy’s for my obligatory LDD.

Blue Jays – have become a real disappointment with their summer swoon as going from 14 games over 500 and first place to a 51 -49 record and a power dive down the standing is pretty depressing – even for a Tigers fan (who aren’t much better right now). The scary part is they have not even got to the dog days of summer yet.

Leafs – doing a little house cleaning and hiring the supposed hockey equivalent of Baseball’s Billy Beane (Moneyball). Do the Leafs think they have to try and make more money out of the product they already have on the ice or is this an improve the product but don’t spend any more money (less if possible) strategy – good luck with that. I really hope the “most valuable” (choke) hockey franchise is not up to those tricks – people are trying to convince me that the stats guru is going to calculate a winner. Seeing will maybe be believing or is Dubas just the latest round of cannon fodder. Sorry to see Poulin go, I think he is both a good hockey guy and human being.

Ukraine – shooting down passenger planes – Gaza – surface “war” –civilian casualties – cancel flights to Israel – does anyone else think that things are spiraling in the wrong direction here or are we too busy being concerned about key issues like Rob Ford’s sobriety. Get real – watch the news – think about this stuff – it will give you nightmares.

Prince Georgie Porgie – is a year old and walked before his first birthday. This got as much ink in a day as some of the other world events above. Make sense to you?

Honda Indy – was a mess – rain / no rain – slicks – wet – It was just a big contest of who was going to run into who when and how hard because they had the wrong tires on (I am presuming that was the reason and that they really do know how to drive). A race forced to end on time limit because they couldn’t get the laps in and then stage a red so they can clean up the messes and have a green flag finish. Not sure the purists liked that too much. Plus, if I see that certain James Hinchcliffe ad one more time, there will be one less TV in this neck of the woods. Twice in every cluster all afternoon is ridiculous scheduling and an AOR ought to get hammered for that weight and flighting. Then I tried to sit down and watch a bit of the Jays last night and it was all over the place again. Reminds me of why I download and don’t watch “live” broadcasts. Current ads and their repetitiveness is driving me nuts.

Housework – moving my office from small bedroom to larger one so I can fill it with more toys and junk. Problem is we needed to do the major repaint to get rid of a certain son’s questionable taste in colours and address some “blemishes” created by your normal semi-adult male and his room décor. While I don’t mind painting and actually Andrew and Jackie did a lot, I decided to do the taping to paint the trim and again realized how much I HATE TAPING. I am too old for that silliness, crawling around on the floor covering off baseboards. Good news – it’s done. Bad news, it was #1 of 4 bedrooms my fearless leader wants redone. Kneepads!


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A different time in a galaxy far away. . .

July 11 – Another window to the changing times. For those of you totally unfamiliar with equine activity this will have no relevance but I don’t care. Last night Jane and I scooted off to Mohawk (in a motor vehicle – not behind a sulky) to watch my in-laws 2 year old filly pacer compete in the first leg of the Ontario Grass Roots stakes (not steaks) an evolution of what started out as the Ontario Sires Stakes years ago.

Back in the late 60′s, early 70′s we were actively involved in “the business” with my in-laws and the early sires stakes with notable success with a trotting filly “Misty Grand”. Besides trips to the track for regular condition and claiming races, we toured most of Ontario’s A and B circuit tracks following the stake race dates. I was a licensed groom, meaning my fingerprints are on file with the Canadian Trotting Association and the Ontario Racing Commission.

Catching the bug we bought our own pacing filly yearling that we raced as a 2 and 3 year old in the stakes as well (I had gone back to school at this point and used my student loan to buy her).

To make a long story short, back then, a 2:10 – 2:12 capable horse made a decent claimer. 2:06 to 2:09 was a good condition horse and under 2:05 you would race as preferred or invitation. Sub 2:00 miles were unheard of at the smaller tracks and a rare event on the Jockey Club tracks, usually reserved for special races and “imports”.

Fast forward to today and last night’s event. War Filly (AKA affectionately known as “Ava”) was the two year old we went to watch. Other than two “baby” races to qualify, she had never started a serious race. The same was true for most of the other fillies entered in a total of 5 divisions. Ava’s race was the fifth race and the third division of the two year old filly pacers.

The first two divisions went in 1:55.1 and 1:55.2! The first start for these 2 year olds – incredible. War Filly’s race went in 1:55.4 and with a bad post position (#8) she had a tough start, got tucked in back a ways, had the half backed up on her to 59.4 so that they came the last half in 0:56 flat! That made it almost impossible to make up any ground coming home, but she did make up a couple lengths but ended up 6th with a time of 1:56.3 two seconds faster than her “qualifying” start.

Tough to hand hold a telephoto in bad light

So – a 2 year old pacing that type of super mile in her first real start and she finishes 6th and doesn’t get a check – it cost the $350 starting fee as well. Great race by the filly and a wonderful horse but don’t let anyone tell you that the Standardbred industry is not a tough row to hoe.

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Super-Sized Slips Away

July 2 – Where did my Super-Sized weekend go! Off for five days and just starting to get used to it when it is back to work. Glass half full or half empty? We have passed the longest day of the year and heading shorter. Summer is here but flying by and the year is half over.

Brew Jay Baseball – (not Blue Jay). We were in London, or more specifically Slo Pitch City near Dorchester for another Brew Jay tournament on Saturday / Sunday. The weather was scorching hot on the field, but fortunately for us spectators, the park has lots of shade at most diamonds. The downside – skitters. The varmints were out in full force and some of them seemed to thrive on a chemical cocktail of Deep Woods Off + Avon Sun Screen.

Saturday went well with the squad reeling off three wins in their round robin game to finish on top of their group. The third game was close, an 11 – 10 nail biter that went down to the last out with the opposition having the potential tying and go ahead runs on base. Even the Ump complimented both teams on a great game and their “sportsmanship” attitudes.

Sunday – not so much – Speaking of Umps. The Brew Jays drew a female umpire and without intending to appear prejudiced it was not a good scene. The Brew Jays did not play well and would possibly have lost the game on their own merits or lack of, but the ump made sure they did.

For some reason, it seems that a disproportionate number of female umpires or referees seem to feel that they have to “prove” themselves in every game by overly aggressive game management or over zealous “rule book” application. They seem to feel that they have to over exert their control over the game as if to reinforce their credentials or capabilities, often to the detriment of the game management overall or to one of the teams involved. Unfortunately the Brew Jays came out on the short end of this stick and it did not help that the ump seemed to be on a friendly basis with a number of players on the other side. Declaring my bias up front, calls were made on a one-sided basis at the plate as well as a couple of questionable calls during play. One of these calls was a rally killing call that no one understood, recognized or had ever had called before.

Interesting conversations after the game where other players, male and female, including at least one former umpire agreed with the “gender” issue. Terrible way to lose a game and effectively get dumped out of the tournament. It leaves a bad taste in what up until then had been a fun weekend. If you lose, you lose and move on, but you don’t like to feel (with credibility) that you had help going down.

Note to PO’d readers branding me as sexist – I have seen some very good female and some very bad male officials. But, just saying. . . . .

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Just a trifle damp!

June 24 – It took a while but I finally hit my first rain squall with Big Red last night on the way home. Was not too bad, just a mild soaking and it won’t likely be the last this year. Ya roll the dice, Ya take your chances.

Kudos – to the ladies in the Tim Hortons on my morning ride to the GO Train. They no sooner see Big Red pull in then they have the Large Double Double queued up and the payment prompt set for my Tim Card. Very efficient and customer friendly.

World Cup – I guess I just don’t get as your basic Canadian White Bread WASP but the lunacy that surrounds World Cup play is just that – Lunacy. Taking time off work to watch “their” team play even though they live here, decorating their cars like it is Hallowe’en, the fan violence in cities and areas not even remotely close to Brazil is just nuts. I am a big hockey fan, or at least I think I am but I did not do this for either the Olympics or the Stanley Cup, even if and when my team was playing. It would be easy to paint everyone with the same brush and say that this is just a convenient excuse for young people to “act out”, but it covers all ages. And, they have not even got past the original qualifying round to get to the round of 16!

More baseball – Time for another Brew Jay tournament this weekend in London / Dorchester / Slo Pitch City. This time both boys will be there on the semi-family team so we will see how that goes as Andrew is nursing a bum knee. Plans are for Jane and I to be there for both Saturday and Sunday games with expectations that Jane will be back on duty as the official scorekeeper and I will be doing my Ansel Adams impersonation with a little Cecil B. De Milles added in. weather is supposed to be good so I hope they are correct on that call. Given that it is sort of a long weekend with Tuesday as a holiday, I think I am going to Super Size it and take Friday and Monday as vacation days and string together five days off. It’s summertime!!!

Hitting 4 – We had a pre-birthday BD party for Ben on the weekend as he turns four this coming weeke-end which with all the activity would have been a gong show. Hard to believe that young man is turning four. Time flies. So what did Grandma and Grandpa get him (besides some Lego) – A soccer net and ball kit form Canadian Tire. Nice kid size set that I snagged as one of many items in one of my “Sample Sale” endeavors. Me – Soccer – say it ain’t so!

Happy Birthday Ben!

Two BBQs – Having two BBQs has turned out to be a good thing – sort of. Last night as I was attempting to wait out the rain at Clarkson GO (it did not work), I was informed that regardless of the rain I was BBQ’ing as the chops were already out and ready – rain or shine. This way I could simply fire up old faithful, and not expose the new toy to the elements. So much for the “You’ll have to cook since it’s raining” story.

Golf Shoes – It never fails. In preparation for my last week’s foray into the golf world, I tried to get my gear together – clubs √, hat √, sun screen √, copious quantities of balls √, golf shoes – No Check! I turned the house upside down, both floors plus the basement and cold storage area, plus the garage and overhead – No Shoes to be found. Checked with Andrew as they had migrated in and out of his golf bag since I used his clubs – no joy – no idea. I had not planned to but when I went to CT to get a new glove (50% off) they also had some RAM shoes (basic boring golf shoes) in my size and also 50% off – so I bought a pair.

Of course, this past weekend when I was continuing the never ending saga of clean-up / organize basement / workshop and tools, I went through a stack of supposedly empty bins and in the bottom bin, along with an extension cord was the pair of wayward golf cleats. Wonder how they got there – an unanswerable question. Now to satisfy my roughly annual need for golf attire, I have two pairs of shoes. Maybe I should use one pair on the front nine and one on the back? On the other hand, I seemed to drive better with the new footwear so maybe I should use the RAMs off the tee and the footjoys on the fairway (where the RAMS – sucked).

Game of Thrones – Season 4 is complete and I have watched it all. It ended where I expected and I think this was a pretty good season although it did not cover a lot of ground. Intrigue at Kings Landing and trouble at the wall was basically the content. I guess it is tough when the books are so full of plots and sub plots to adequately portray the full story line is 10 episodes at a time. Be interesting to see where next season ends up and hopefully George is making progress on the next book as TV is catching up.

As a sidelight, Queen Elizabeth was touring the Game of Thrones set in Ireland, including a vist to and view of the “Iron Throne” – a somewhat prickly seat. Liz declined the offer to sit on it. Apparently she prefers her own throne(s). Good call.

Liz giving it the “Look”!

Redskins – Is it “right” or simply political correctness run amok? For those following, the US Patent and Trademark office has elected to unilaterally cancel the Washington Redskins trademark on their name as they deem it “disparaging to Native Americans”. Sports teams have a rich tradition of some wild and crazy names and you have to wonder how many of them could be at risk for one reason or another if this ruling stands. The “Redskins” are challenging it. There is already a lot of speculation about what other team names or logos in different sports could be at risk if the P&T office ruling is upheld on appeal.

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How long ago was it?

June 19 – It has been so long since I last posted (June 4) that I had to look it up to see when it was and what had happened since then.

Stanley Cup – is done – surprised the Rangers went down in five but they were close games. Somewhat of a goalie battle. I did not really care who won.

NBA – Over – don’t watch, don’t follow, don’t care. Although I must admit I am glad that the Heat went down.

World Cup – Underway – ditto to commentary above with the “don’t”s. Spending $14 billion to host this? Clearly a case of keeping up with the Jones Russians who dumped over $50 billion into the Olympics..

Blue Jays – busy squandering their lead – courtesy of their nemesis Yankees. Still a lot of games to play. In my posting hiatus, I did go to watch a game (versus the Twins) Minnesota won by singling the Jays to death and not giving up hits to the currently dormant bats. I think with last night’s loss the Jays have lost 15 straight games in Yankee Stadium. That is a pretty unimpressive record. Of course my Tigers who are in first in their division have not really been burning up the league lately either.

Jumpstart – I participated in what has become my “annual” golf event. We held the CT Jumpstart annual fund raiser golf tournament in June this year (instead of August) and therefore I got my annual round in early. Maybe this means I will get out again. We played up by Tottenham at the Woodington “Legends course. A very nice tract. Narrow fairways, lots of trouble – water – traps, tough greens – just the kind of place that does series damage to my golf ball inventory. Surprisingly, since I had not touched a club since our last year’s event, I actually had a decent day. My drives were awesome, my putting, usually my strong point was OK but I may as well have just sat as a lump in the cart on the fairways. The only club I could hit there was my rescue wood and I had lots of opportunity to use it.

Had great company in the foursome, great weather and a wonderful cause. If every round was like this I would likely try to get out more. We ended up as +6 in a best ball scramble so by no means did we have any “ringers” but it was a tough course and a good round.

My “donations, net of “found” replacements was 9!

Shoddy Workmanship – In last winter’s ice storm, one of the sections of lattice blew out of our deck area. No serious damage so Andrew and I resurrected it and re-installed it on Sunday and figured that was it. Mission accomplished. I got home after Tuesday’s “weather” to find the same *&*^%&^$ had blown out again! Guess I need to reconsider the hired help!

New Toy – definite winner. I have mentioned my desktop is showing definite signs of age and wear and tear and that I was pondering a new one. In the meantime I had snagged a nice new Toshiba notebook using of all things a combination of Shoppers Optimum points and $199. The new notebook is more powerful than my desktop, came loaded with Windows 8.0 (upgraded to 8.1 free) and has USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port. In my browsing I had discovered that “docking stations” or “port replicators” were making a resurgence and that the advent of the USB 3.0 standard which is orders of magnitude faster than the USB 2.0 had created the new “docking link”. Enter my newest toy technology acquisition. The – Toshiba Dynadock® U3.0,

Now by simply plugging a USB 3.0 cable into my notebook port, I get access to all kinds of peripherals such that I easily turn my portable notebook into a component rich desktop. Pull one plug and away you go with the notebook and it can do it hot.

With 6 USB ports (4 new 3.0 and 2 older 2.0) I can now plug all my goodies into the Dynadock. It also has a DVI and HDMI out so with my notebook I can drive three screens at once – even though I only have two eves.

It also has audio ports both 5.1 line out surround sound and mic in and line out headset.

Add a gigabit RJ45 network connection and it is about as full featured as any desktop could be.

And – it works. Rating «««««

My three portable 3.0 external drives connect (not all at one time hopefully), external mouse and keyboard (1 USB 2.0), my printer (1 USB 2.0) my old USB 2.0 hub with five USB ports and a card reader (already have one on the notebook) takes one of the USB 3.0 ports, stick on at least one of a possible two external monitors and speakers and it is good to go.

For you notebook users who want the peripherals, one of these is a must have.

Fitbit – Yes I have one. It was the participation prize for us at the golf tournament. It may be wasted on me as I am already so fit but I have got it figured out, fired up, Bluetooth connected and up and running. More on that in a future issue.

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Camp Day – Hope you went!

June 4 – I hope everyone went out to Tim Hortons (several times) today to support their Camp Day program. Getting kids to camp and an external social opportunity for folks who can’t afford it otherwise is a good deal. There are a number of these supportive programs out there now (including our CT Jumpstart program) and I try to support them whenever I can. It does not take much and there is a huge benefit potential. It’s not too late – get off your butt and go buy a coffee. I sure you can still donate tomorrow.

Quality programming – Mad Men – not mad politicians. I had a few minutes last night and am pleased to say I used it to catch up on my back episodes of Mad Men – Season 7 and did not tune in the the looney tunes huckstering for votes. I should start a contest that encourages the use of a book title to summarize the nature of this election.

Possible entries – Tom Clancy – ‘The Sum of all Fears” or Jeffrey Archer – Fools, Knaves and Heroes” not to be outdone by my personal favourite, Katherine Ann Porter’s 1962 novel – “Ship of Fools”. As the all-knowing source Wikipedia reports – Ship of Fools is a common Western allegory that “depicts a vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction”. I could not have said it better.

Happy to entertain other submissions.

Lord Stanley’s mug – The finals get underway tonight – in June – ideal hockey season! In the not too distant future, they will likely find a way to stretch it out until July just to be really silly and find more ways to make money. Roundball championship will be underway as well but I have no interest in the NBA so I ignore it.

The LA – NY match-up is a US media mogul’s delight as it pits the two largest media markets against one another and runs the East / West rivalry on both a city and state level. The NHL does not have the obscenely fat broadcast contract like the NFL, but at least these are the two biggest markets, are or are being established hockey markets and may help to continue to sell our game to our southern “Bubba” neighbours.

I think the perspective is that it does not matter that there is no “Canadian” team involved as we will watch it anyway as it is “the Cup”. Interesting that the focus here seems to have shifted somewhat from the team to the individual as the extent of Canadian content on both teams means that almost any major centre in Canada claims a link to someone on one of the teams – if not both as was noted in the Stratford Beacon Herald yesterday.

When you look for the degrees of separation it is not surprising once you factor in – where born, where grew up, where went to public school, where went to high school, where went to college or university, where played minor hockey, where played junior hockey, where played pro/semi-pro hockey, where worked, where relatives lived . . . . and on and on. How can there not be a claim of some type.

So far I have not decided who I am going to cheer for. I guess I have not figured out my best “link” yet.

25 years ago – again in the hard to believe category it was 25 years ago when the Chinese government demonstrated their intolerance of dissent with a little event known universally as “the Tiananmen (Square) massacre”. Roughly 3,000 protesters died when their protest was broken-up – not sure anyone knows the real total and after 25 years there are a lot of people in new generations who don’t even recognize the name.

To apply or not to apply – That is the question? Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrow of outrageous transit or to take arms against a sea of aggravations and by opposing end them?

GO Transit’s Customer Service Advisory Committee is looking to fill a volunteer role on the committee to represent the “Lakeshore West” line. Guess what – that’s my line. The committee meets four times a year (wow!) and listens to a bunch of recco’s and provides input and suggestions. It has been in place for about 5 or 6 years now and I am not sure what it has actually accomplished.

I toyed with the idea of sending in an application (for about 10 seconds) but then realized someone might actually check me out and read some of the less than complimentary comments I have made over time leading to instant incineration of said app.


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Gone and probably forgotten

June 3 – Gone and probably forgotten. Time is flying, but my keyboard not so much! It has been almost two weeks since my last post (I sound like a reluctant Catholic who has missed confession). A lot has been happening – most of it involving good weather – finally!

In my absence:

I have had to commiserate with the local Habs fans whose 2013/14 season and dreams are now a memory. Ditto for the Hawks as of Sunday night and blowing a 2 goal first period lead – at home in a game 7 – Aarrrgh!.

We have had a week’s vacation up in Collingwood and area spending some time checking out real estate in Wasaga, Collingwood, Thornbury, Meaford and areas. Gorgeous weather and some interesting real estate scenarios. Close to water – small winterized cottage – $250 k and up. Same lot, rebuilt new house $400 k and up and up and up!

Got the new BBQ all good to go and the grills seasoned. Have not “christened it yet as old faithful is still out there and functional. Have to pick a good first use on a night when it won’t get wet.

Mowed the lawn (twice). Tough winter has not been good for lawns and it seems we have had some little people creating a bunch of holes? Good news is all of our trees seem to have wintered well, even the big tree in our front yard that lost a big branch or two in the ice storm.

I have had another of those ever fun and challenging CT Sample sales where I once again emerged with great value (prior to being ripped off by Andrew) but no “spectacular” item this time. Not sure if I will bother with my usual inventory listing / valuation / savings comments but even with no “super” steal I still got great value for the $100 bucks they charged me. (set of cookware, dutch oven, air pistol (already stolen as noted), 3 sets of drill bits (I break and lose regularly), 2 sets of open end wrenches, 2 sets of box-end wrenches, assorted hole saws and chuck kits, shot glasses (already stolen as well), old style AM/FM radio/phono/CD player (if it works), toolbox, vice (as if I didn’t have enough), anvil (why?), construction hearing protectors with AM/FM radio, king size beer mug, glasses, thermal carafe, garbage can, storage bin and a whole bunch of small stuff I have already forgotten. Still a fun “hunt”.

Went to Ben’s first Soccer practice / game. Definitely an “interesting” experience. His first “competitive” team sport action. The practice half up front got him interested in the fun and once they started the mini game it got interesting. He wanted the ball – regardless of which team had it and knew what to do when he got it. Not sure how many goals he ended up with but he was definitely the leading scorer on both teams. Now he just has to figure out hands are not allowed and it is OK to pass the ball.

Number 4 being mugged

But away we go!

Took Ben to his swimming lesson and got told how I should be doing thing correctly – by Ben.

Dug out all the “baseball watching” gear – chairs, umbrella, sun shelter, coolers, car blanket, first aid kit, sun screen etc. Car trunk is now full and will likely stay that way for the balance of the summer.

Went to Slo-Pitch City near London to watch the semi-family co-ed team in an SPN qualifier on Saturday and Sunday. Between us we kept score, took pics and video and watched Ben and Lily Saturday and Lily on Sunday. SPC is a nice facility with I think 8 diamonds all together, decent clubhouse / social / dining facilities, kids playgrounds and lots of shade around the diamond and by the clubhouse area so spectators can avoid heat stroke and a place to relax between games.

The team, the Brew Jays, lost their first game by one run Saturday morning but once we arrived with Ben in tow, won their remaining two round robin games and finished first in their division. Off to Sunday ball – play-offs. They won their semi-final which was a big win as it qualified them for the provincials (Niagara – September) but could not get it all going in the final and lost out 8 – 6. All in all, a great weekend for the team.

Checked out Mandy and Spencer’s salt water pool Saturday night – it felt soooooo good. It was more like bath water as they had turned the heater on in the morning and figured we would all be back much earlier than we were.

Came home Sunday and processed, edited, culled and posted pics and videos for the web.

Transferred apps and working files from my old desktop to my new(er) notebook and got a USB 3.0 hub/port replicator to do a direct peripheral hookup – not done yet.

Completed grant request evaluations for Sport Oakville. Need to get those letters out.

Plus a whole bunch of other more mundane activities that just seem to chew up the time. The weather has been a treat the last while as going on vacation a week ago Friday, I was able to don the shorts and did not see long pants again until I had to head into the office this morning. Big Red in the mornings was a T-shirt, long sleeve shirt and a light jacket – now – just a short sleeve shirt. Much nicer.

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