It’s crispy out there!


Mar 5 – It’s crispy out there! Again. I think yesterday’s “warmer” temperatures were just so that we would really feel the cold when we got whacked again today. Someone other than me has a cruel sense of humour.

This Day in History – When you get bored, it can be fun (at least for me) to run a quick check on “This Day in History” to see what good bad or indifferent happened on this date. There are lots of web sites where you can find this info, but one I like is http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history .

Content covers many fronts and as an example two of today’s memory lane items:

On this day in 1963, another day that will live in infamy, the “Hula-Hoop” was patented by the “Whamo” boys, also the patent owners of the Frisbee and the Hackie Sack. I had the talent to be a Hula – Hoop pro but unfortunately the fad was too short lived!

AND – a favourite of mine:

On this day in 1966, Sgt. Barry Sadler made #1 on the Hit Parade with this song! What was it? –Easy “The Ballad of the Green Berets”.

Green Berets 2

A classic John Wayne movie that depicted a lot of the “not so nice” aspects of the Vietnam War. For some reason I would have guessed this was 1969 the summer I spent in California with the “The War” a hot topic from the perspective and presence the Flower People against it, the “reluctant” military, the gung-hp GI Joe types and a very visible and let’s say “challenged” group of returning veterans who had had a very difficult time. I have memories of that summer that will live forever.

Enough Already – I don’t believe fans want apologies or continuous messaging about how things take time and to be patient. I believe they want to see change and results. I don’t know the answer to the question so I guess it is rhetorical but how many times in the past 10 years have management come out and publicly “apologized” for the performance of Toronto’s professional sport teams or dragged out the old “it takes time, be patient, we’re on it” story. The first time, (I think it was the Raptors) it was not a bad PR stunt and heat deflector. Now it seems like an annual right of passage for at least one of the groups of local yokels.

While the current letter to Leafs season ticket holders is not an apology per se, it clearly is in the “it takes time, be patient” camp. The sop thrown in about not raising ticket prices is a joke. Leaf tickets are among the most expensive in the NHL if not the most expensive (probably were until the C$ tanked), so how could they in good conscience try to rationalize any increase. Especially based on on-ice performance and a solid expectation that the team is going to miss the play-offs for the 9th time in the last 10 years. Give me a break. Time to get that 2nd team in Toronto and see what happens when they have to really compete with someone for those entertainment dollars.

Playdowns – Another series decided and not to local preferences. The Bantam A (Blue) squad had a good run but came up against a very tough Welland team in the Semis and bowed out 0-3. This marks the half way point for the six semi-final series involving local teams and of the 3 series two go into the win column and one not. Three more to go – Peewee AA, Minor Peewee AE and Atom A (White). All of them look tough for the local guys. Good luck.

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Bad Plan


Mar 4 – Bad Plan – gambled on the “rain” forecast and did not bother to shovel when I got home last night. Didn’t work so now I have some nice crusty, icy snow to shovel / chip off my driveway and sidewalks. Or, I can just wait for the Spring thaw. I’m tempted. Turns out as a bad plan as when I got home tonight I pulled a “down goes Brown” on some driveway black ice where the car had been sitting. Nothing hurt but my pride (judo lessons and a third degree black belt Sensei taught me how to fall) but “be careful out there”! (Hill Street Blues)

Leafs – The mighty Leafs found a novel way to win on the road last night. Run the other team out of goalies. Both T Bay guardians were hurt last night. Their goalie coach almost ended up in the game and apparently a number of players volunteered to suit up. Luongo got hurt in the first, Montoya got hurt early in the third and then it was Oh, Oh – now what? After a delay, Montoya came back from the dressing room and went back in as a pylon and goalie coach Tallas dressed as an emergency back-up. Meanwhile the obviously damaged Montoya let in the 3- 2 go ahead goal and Luongo who had changed into street clothes then miraculously re-appears and goes in to close the door for the rest of the game. An “awesome” win for the Leafs that breaks their road losing streak – a one goal win over an almost goalie – less team.

Meanwhile the media circus continues around Kessel, Phaneuf, Lupal, the ladies, TSN, tweets and on and on and on. Only in Toronto you say. The players and families get my vote here. The players sporting lives are tough enough without bringing personal lives and gossip and innuendo to the mix. A big Thumbs Down to TSN for not being more vigilant and diligent on this one.

Short Circuit – when you’re hot, you’re hot, and I’m not. I have no upstairs bedroom ceiling lights and at least one deal wall socket. Suggestion is that I have a short buried somewhere in the mix. The trick is to find it. Hopefully it is as simple as a broken connection at a switch or receptacle as otherwise this could be a horror show. Once upon a time I had no issues with playing electrician with the simple stuff but age and experience suggest caution. Not sure I can tolerate those 120 Volt surprises like I used to. Looks like this goes on the weekend “to do” list as it is a bit difficult to manage in the dark.

Groupon – A mistake? I must admit that I think I got a great deal on my Vin Bon wine package from Groupon. However, the proof to that is still months away after I bottle my deal and lay it down long enough to age and settle. In the meantime I am getting bombarded with four or five different Groupon emails every day – Product Packages – Vacation Packages – Service Packages – Extra Discount Packages – US offers – last chance offers. All that is doing is encouraging me to send them to my SPAM file and not bother reading any of them. Probably should just “unsubscribe” and save mailbox disk space.

The Brier – Or more accurately the Tim Hortons Brier.

2015brier_logo_440x280

I am a fan of curling. Used to curl years ago, mostly in High School but seemed to get away from it. As definitely an “A” type personality there was no way I could join a club and go through the painful and lengthy process of working through lead, second, vice and then maybe making skip in time to draw a pension. I had to be in charge. This year’s Brier is half over and I really have not gotten into it yet. I think part of that is that two of the perennial top dogs are not there in Martin and Howard. Martin retired and Howard could not get through the Tankard. Without those guys in the mix as well as a couple other regulars it just has not grabbed my attention yet. It may happen yet as I caught NL’s Brad Gushue making a double raise, double take out and stick final shot in the 10th to beat Alberta’s Koe in a must win game.

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More Snow!


Mar 3 – Sat in the office today watching the weather go from sunshine to yuch! Trying to estimate whether a) it was going to have a major impact on my travel home and b) how much of the wet slippery stuff would be waiting for me on my driveway.

Add a second – Tri county local team making it into the OMHA Gold medal series. The Bantam AAs took care of business, knocking off Ancaster in three straight to advance to the final. They join the Atom AE squad chasing gold and will end up playing either Ajax or TNT who are currently tied one game each in their semi-final.

Pan-am Games – I guess since July is approaching, I should start commenting on the Pan Am and Parapan Am games. Today “The Medals” were released. It seems that for the Olympics and other events like this the medal design and back stories are almost becoming a bigger story than the games themselves (a bit exaggerated but. . . ). The Pan am medals can’t just say First, Second or Third, or Win, Place, Show, they have to be an event in themselves, tell a story, make a statement, recognize something or someone and to do that they have to be the diameter of a softball and weigh as much as a can of soup (the media description – not mine). You know that there will be a very thin plating of the Gold and Siver as at that size and weight you could retire off of a win. If Mark Spitz had to drape seven of these puppies around his neck for a PR shot, he would be hospitalized!

On top of that, the ribbon colours are ugly.

pan-am-medals-620

Leafs – try to stop another skid tonight and also break a 14 game road losing streak. Tempers are getting frayed in the room as Kessel teed off on the media and the way he says they are treating Phaneuf. Apparently the media should be embarrassed. Kessel’s opinion that it is not Phaneuf’s fault is interesting as it is classic redirection and mismessaging in terms of whose fault is it? Kessel is not shouldering the blame and if it is not Phaneuf either, the two “named” stars on the team, then whose is it – the old everyone else – not me or the SOGDIT (Some other guy did it)? Old management is basically gone – it’s their fault, the old coach(es) are gone – it’s their fault, ownership is not a person – it’s their fault, there are a bunch of fifth liners on the team – it’s their fault, the goalies have not played well – it’s their fault, the drafts have not worked out – it’s the scouts fault, there have not been good trades – it’s the GM’s fault. Ticket prices haven’t been high enough – just threw that in to see if anyone notices!

If you try to look at the situation objectively, there are a lot of people to blame for what is right now a really poorly performing team. If it was anywhere but Toronto, I would suggest that there would be a lot of empty seats at the ACC which would be a great incentive to “fix” this mess. Unfortunately, this is Toronto and at least for this club in this venue, people are not voting with their wallets.

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A very long Monday


Mar 2 – A very long Monday. Given we drove up to KW to have a belated birthday dinner for Dad with assorted family members who could make it, and since I felt obligated as official photographer to get some pics posted ASAP, it made for a busy day/evening and later than usual Sunday night curfew.

DSC_2811

I did not feel like rolling out of the sack as 6:00 AM this morning and was even less energized heading to the office. Fortunately I had a very busy schedule lined up that made the day pass reasonably quickly but by 4:00 PM I felt like I had hit the wall. The rest of the day crawled by – I should have just left at 4.

Trade Deadline Day – was today and while there was a fair amount of horse trading going on, nothing was really enough to make you sit up and take notice. With all the speculation about a Leafs blow-up / rebuild, they did nothing other than flip Olli Jokinen to the Blues for Joakim Lindstrom. Olli had made it clear that he was not keen on playing in Toronto and was just putting in time showcasing for a move – so he got it. Blow up / rebuild – did not happen but you have to remember – it take two to Tango and I suspect there were not a lot of attractive dancers out there waiting to fill the card. Shades of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

Besides, after turning in two stellar 0 – 4 losses over the weekend, maybe the Leafs feel they have turned the corner. However, not sure what corner that is.

Playdowns – Five SCTA Qualifying series over the weekend leaving just the Novice AAA waiting to determine their fate. Of the five divisions on the ice this past weekend four of the local squads managed to play their way into the new follow up qualifying semis. The unfortunate odd team out happened to be the Atom AAAs who were also the local hosts for this age group. Guess playing in front of home town fans was not much help or who knows, being the home centre may have put too much pressure on. Or. Maybe the other teams were just stronger this weekend.

Congrats and good luck to the minor Bantam, Peewee, Minor Peewee and Minor Atoms on their success.

I guess I have to qualify my Peewee comments as the ongoing local experiments had two Oakville Peewee AAA teams in the mix and of course they ended up in the same pool, virtually guaranteeing at least one would not make it. Not surprisingly, the “1” team made it, the “2” gave it their best shot and finished third and came up short.

Congrats also to the Minor Atom AE team who, unless I am reading the web wrong is the first local team to qualify for the OMHA Finals. The Atoms put out Halton 3 games to 1 to move into the gold medal series against either Barrie or Whitby. Barrie leads that series two games to one.

Local news – I have not seen any news in the Beaver about the prowler that was being hunted up in our area. Either I missed it or it was not newsworthy enough. Keep locking the doors and see if anything turns up.

Start the Countdown – Apparently I am set for a slot at the Jays home opener. April 13 against the Tampa Bay Rays (in the stands, not on the field – the B J Birdie suit didn’t fit). After last year’s marathon I swore I would never do another home opener but, time heals all most wounds and I am back in. This time it is a Monday night game so hopefully they will speed up the clock a bit so I can get home at a decent time! Remember – these are great TV seats. Up behind first base. Directly across from the third base camera bay when the focus on left handed batters. Look for me there!

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Spring is in the air?


Mar 1 – Spring is in the air – or at least we hope it is, as it officially shows up this month. The dog days of January and February are behind us but the next holiday is not until Easter which falls in April this year.

We are heading into March on a busy streak.

Wine – yesterday I was off to Vin Bon – Mississauga West, to meet with my winemaker and officially place the order for my hot deal from Groupon. 26 bottles of red or white for$59. I went with a Cabernet Sauvignon (Red). When I ordered, the Wine Guy asked if I wanted “Oaking” (for an extra $10). Of course being the wine snob that I am I had no clue what he was talking about. So of course I agreed and then came home and looked it up.

“The Truth: Oak makes wine taste better.

From the golden hued Chardonnays of Montrachet to first-growth Bordeaux; the most expensive wines in the world are produced with oak aging. This isn’t an opinion, it’s true. The top fifty most expensive wines in the world oak-age their wines in some way. Oak is a crucial and often overlooked component of the wine world. Everything from the type, size, age, grain and treatment of an oak barrel greatly affects the finished wine.”

Oaking

My Red Plonk will definitely not be in the top 50 most expensive wines but for $10 you can’t go wrong! Now it is wait and see for the next six to eight weeks until I get the “bottling” email to go and get it. Then bring it home and just look at it for at least a few months while it ages and “matures”.

Meanwhile, have to line up batch #2 from another source as we need to have a couple on the go – just in case. Shaun has the lead on batch #2 as he has an in-law in the game and we will support her. So far this is fun and at $3 – $7 a bottle for what everyone says is pretty good wine, how can you go wrong. Building the wine cellar at Chez Moorehead.

Hockey – is going hot and heavy. My wings picked up a tough road win with a third period comeback against a very strong and physical Nashville squad who as I biased Wings fan I felt got the benefit of a number of iffy calls. Until the closing seconds when Nashville’s Neal – a questionable pickup from the Penguins took a really stupid slashing penalty and took the heat off. Followed shortly thereafter by Rinne taking a tripping penalty as he headed for the bench – icing on the cake. Just like his rep says. I also must admit I did not even turn on the Leafs / Habs game, not even for Don Cherry as the not surprising result was a 4 – 0 shutout and the Leafs 14th consecutive road loss. Their wonderful two game win streak is over. It will depend on how bored I am if I turn them on tonight.

On the minor front the five SCTA series are in Day 2 with four of the five local squads in good shape to move on to the new qualifying series pre the OMHA championship weekend. Unfortunately the Atom AAAs would need a miracle to have any hope and I am not even sure that would do it. The Atoms also happen to be the hosts for their series so not a lot for the locals to cheer about.

Both the Midget and Minor Midget AAAs are in their SCTA post qualifying weekend – qualifying series. The Midgets are tied 1-1-0 with Halton and the Minor Midgets won their first game against Niagara.

There are six Tri County teams battling in the semis. Two are up, two are down and two are tied as of the info available at this time. Stay tuned.

Out and about – We are off to visit the GKs for a while this afternoon and then heading up to Kitchener / Waterloo for dinner. Not sure if the dinner is set to be a surprise or not so no further comment at this time. Stay tuned for an update on that.

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Excitement in the ‘hood


Feb 27 – Excitement in the ‘hood yesterday. Jane looked out to find four police cars arranged on our crescent. Of course her initial thought was they were after me for one of my nefarious activities. Fortunately it turned out not to be the case. The officers plus two members of the canine corps were actually on a manhunt, precipitated by our neighbour two doors down. Apparently, there has been a man roaming our (and other?) neighbourhoods trying to or actually gaining access to homes for whatever reason. This individual got into the neighbour’s home but fled when confronted by one of “the Boys”. Their call to the local constabulary then triggered all the excitement. I don’t think the Mounties got their man in this case but details seem to be sketchy. Even the local gendarme who came to our door apparently had little to say as we had to wait for the neighbour’s call last night to get the info we have.

This is the first we have heard of this type of concern in our isolated little enclave but it is not welcome news. We have been pretty good about locking our front door (I try to remember when I leave in the morning) but I expect our diligence level will go up.

A far cry from my days of growing up on the farm where I am not sure we could even find the key for the big old lock on our door.

So, check around, see if you have had any of these types of incidents in your neighbourhood and manage accordingly. Funny we have not seen any reporting on this from the Beaver Ace Reporters. Guess it is not exciting enough.

Busy week – have survived both the Sport Oakville AGM Tuesday night and our wrap up start planning meeting for the 2016 FSMT tournament (the 15th annual). On one hand, the activity makes the week go by faster, but on the other hand it is a tiring process with all the prep and just overall activity. Both meetings highlighted the challenge of finding good volunteers willing to step up and help out – especially if they don’t have a vested personal interest in the event.

One more day – and February is kaput! Feb 28th is also my Dad’s birthday. He was born in a leap year and “just missed” the distinction of being a leap year baby. A big Happy Birthday and best wishes to him – and many more!

Two months into the year and the good news is that spring must be somewhere ahead and you have to believe that the temps have got to move up. Looks like we will get through the entire month with all sub-zero temperatures and it seems like a lot of them were double digits on the minus front – pre wind chill factors.

The other plus is that it is now noticeably “brighter” when I stagger out the front door in the mornings and the inky blackness is taking longer to show up at night – Hoorah!!

Another one bites the dust – sad to hear that Leonard Nimoy has passed away, Forever typecast as the part Vulcan “stoic” logical Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek series he was one of my favourite characters at the time.

Spock

Hard to believe that the Series was short lived in the late 60’s but has spawned such an entire culture of media and entertainment vehicle – follow-on series, movies, genre series, spoofs, conventions, toys and so on. Spock was 83. Of the command crew Kirk, Doc, Scotty and Spock I think only Billy Shatner is still with us and to all intents and purposes going strong.

Hockey – picks up hot and heavy this weekend as more SCTA weekends launch (including the Atom AAAs in Oakville). Playdowns will be busy this weekend as well as many of the remaining series are set for weekend play based on an expanding travel radius – two games in one centre this weekend and then two in the other for the next. Despite some busy weekend plans, I will try to keep the Playdown page somewhat current.

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Tunnel to Nowhere


Feb 24 – Tunnel to Nowhere. You have to wonder who the lunatic or lunatics were who dug the “tunnel” that was discovered up by York University and the Rexall centre?

Tunnel

It is not like it was well hidden or anything, but it was quite an undertaking. The work had to be way more than anything aimed as a prank so was it a “dungeon” work in process that was being built with some real nefarious purpose in mind eight feet deep – thirty feet long, six plus feet high and two plus feet wide (with a separate generator just boggles the mind. With the Pan Am games coming up, it was a good thing it was discovered now. Wonder if we will hear more on the “solve” for this one? If this was Californis or New Mexico one could think it was for border traffic and drug smuggling but up here in the middle of nowhere?

Insult to injury – Not only was it miserably cold Monday (not my favourite day anyway), but the subway was shut down between Union and Bloor due to flooding. Of course that lead to the herd of lemmings getting all confused and agitated and plugged up since their normal pattern was disrupted. I was not impressed but simply played the dogleg game instead. Union to St George to to Yonge to Eglinton. Overall it delayed me by ten minutes and meant shoving through some additional human deleterious while changing lines but worse things could happen.

While on a transit rant – I might as cover off on GO Trains which for me, at least in the morning should be renamed to SROGO Trains (standing Room Only Government of Ontario Trains). By the time my 7:03 express to Union makes its way to Clarkson there are no seats and now the waiting passengers crush on in a stampede as if they just might get one – “Fat Chance”.

On top of that we now arrive on Tracks 25.26 somewhere on the waterfront with about a four hour walk through the construction mess called Union Station to get to the aforementioned broken subway.

It won’t be work, it will be this frazzled commute that drives me into retirement.

Update on local minor hockey results. The survival into and then the OMHA Quarter Final rounds are now complete for the Tri County teams (AE – AA). The winners are off to the semis with dreams of glory still snug in their heads. For those who did not win (we aren’t supposed to call people losers any more), it is all about what might have been if only . . . Sort of like the Leafs annual mantra so maybe they have a book they can share on how to soothe the “Agony of Defeat” (shades of ABC’s Wide World of Sport – remember that great show).

As suggested earlier, it has been a tougher year for the locals if you measure success by advancement. That is a dangerous topic as success should not be totally measured in wins and losses but the lack of wins and surplus of losses at the “competitive” level does get noticed and commented on. Especially if it looks like a declining trend without “visible” rationale.

The update Tri County chart is reproduced below with another box filled in. “6” of the initial 27 teams are still “alive” in their OMHA Gold Hunts. This compares to 9of 28 last year and a recent high of 18 in 2012.

Tri-County- OMHA 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
A Teams 27 28 25 27 25 25
B Advanced to Qrtrs 9 13 19 22 19 17
C Percent 33.3% 46.4% 76.0% 81.5% 76.0% 68.0%
D Advanced to Semis 6 9 14 18 11 12
E % of total A 22.2% 32.1% 56.0% 66.7% 44.0% 48.0%
F % of Advanced B 66.7% 69.2% 73.7% 81.8% 57.9% 70.6%
G Advanced to Finals 5 11 13 11 8
H % of total A 17.9% 44.0% 48.1% 44.0% 32.0%
I % of Advanced B 38.5% 57.9% 59.1% 57.9% 47.1%
J % of Advanced D 55.6% 78.6% 72.2% 100.0% 66.7%
K Gold Medals 1 6 7 8 7
H % of total A 3.6% 24.0% 25.9% 32.0% 28.0%
L % of Advanced B 7.7% 31.6% 31.8% 42.1% 41.2%
M % of Advanced D 11.1% 42.9% 38.9% 72.7% 58.3%
N % of Advanced G 20.0% 54.5% 53.8% 72.7% 87.5%

Meanwhile the SCTA (AAA) play-offs have begun and I can no longer reference them as the Silly Series. They are now a Silly Series, moderated somewhat by having two 6 point semi series at the end to whittle four semi-finalists down to the two that go to the OMHA championship dance.

Midgets, Minor Midgets and Bantams did battle over the weekend and two of three made it to the six point series. Unfortunately the Bantams came up short and have bowed out of the competition.

This coming weekend five of the remaining six AAA age groups (all except Novice who go a week later) are in action in their events. Good luck to the locals, especially the Atom AAA who are the local hosts for that age group. Get out and watch some good hockey if you get a chance.

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