I’m Not Making This Up

So I sent my fourth tweet ever today. While I had my tweeting-software fired up I noticed that the Calgary Flames were selling used equipment. I perused the list, and there are a few interesting things there. But nothing that matches THIS:

Ferland Goalie Jock @$39.99
Size: SR
Uniform/Color: N/A
Used/New: Used
Final Cost:$20
Quantity: 1

Remember, those are Canadian dollars, so it’s an even better bargain!


Gone is the Village, and the Hero Thereof

As I write this, I’m watching a girl in hot-pink ice skates take instruction from a portly woman who moves like she never takes her skates off. The girl is doing well, arms held so, feet working the drills, and my instant assessment is that this kid can be pretty good.

But, honestly, not great. I hope she’s in the whole figure-skating game for the right reasons: because she loves the challenge, the discipline, and feels great when she gets the toe-thingie just right.

Once upon a time (was it Vonnegut who first pointed this out to me? Maybe. Probably not.) a pretty-good singer could be the pride of a village. “She has the voice of a nightingale,” her neighbors would say. They would ask her to sing at all the village events, and she would, without any compensation beyond the appreciation of her friends.

It was electricity that broke this relationship. Curse that devil’s magic! The villagers could hear the broadcast from New York, then buy records, and before long our village chanteuse is being compared to the best in the whole damn world.

But it didn’t end there, especially in sport. First there’s a tournament in town. The winner of that goes on to face the winners in the nearby towns. That winner goes on to face a group from farther away. Somewhere on this sleigh-ride our hero loses. All the heroes lose but one, out of thousands. Tens of thousands. “He lost at regionals.” “She lost at state.”

OK, that’s an exaggeration, there’s plenty of celebration when a local athlete gets to state. But as the world gets smaller we just can’t let someone be a local champion.

And so, back to the girl on the pink skates. She’s working hard, dong things slowly that seem like they’d be easier fast. I hope she’s having fun. (I think back to trumpet lessons when I was a kid. I wanted to be good, but honestly the lessons weren’t fun. That’s about me, not the teacher. I wasn’t hungry.) I hope there’s a village where Miss Pink-Skates can be the best, but even if there isn’t, that’s not a disaster. The worst part about being the best in the village is the sudden arrival of the world outside.


Idly Pondering Redesign

I was staring blankly at my blog earlier and I thought maybe it’s time to redo the banner. I decided to mention my musings here on the off chance that someone out there cares at all, and has ideas I could mooch. Weighing the good and the bad of the current banner:

  • things move and fade in
  • there's a new haiku every fifteen seconds
  • there's a theme song for the clicking
  • it breaks out of its box
  • never got that wow factor
  • stylistically all over the place
  • Flash - doesn't work everywhere

The last one is the biggie. Flash does not now and never will work on some mobile devices. The number of devices where Flash works is declining now that Microsoft has decided to give up on Flash as well. So… time to move on. Eventually.

One impediment: I don’t know what I want the new header to look like. Something geeky. Gears turning? That would be cool, and could fall back to static gears on older browsers. Maybe some kind of machine that spits out the haiku? Or does a duck poop them out? What should the typesetting look like? How should it reveal?

Maybe a way to pop up a form and submit new guest poems?

Should there be an elevator? An ocelot? A rutabaga?

Frankly, I’m completely stumped.

These sorts of solicitations haven’t met with much response in the past, but if anyone out there has thoughts on the whole design thing, I’d love to hear them.

The Suburban Dream

Three Home Depot visits into home ownership finds me on the back patio, a dog at my side, a fine beer next to my laptop on the glass-topped patio “dining table”. The umbrella is deployed for the first time and is doing its job admirably; my laptop screen is plenty bright enough and WiFi signal is strong. Across from me is my fancy new grill, just waiting for propane. To my left I see the new little push-mower and other garden tools.

My sweetie is around front right now; she spent yesterday pulling out some of the old landscaping to replace it with stuff more our style. Today’s Home Depot visit was to pick out the first wave of colorful flora for the front bed.

The Round Mound of Hound has forsaken my side to find a sunny patch of grass to lounge in. She seems pretty content.

This is pretty good.


Round Mound of Hound… Rebound

Sad news for fans of the Official Muddled Dog: We’ve been busted. You see, the ol’ gal is substantially larger than the nominal limit for our neighborhood. Even at her ideal weight she would be quite a bit too big.

The rule is very inconsistently enforced, however; so as long as no one complains, management is willing to not see the big dog. Well, we’re getting new neighbors and before they moved in they complained. Management has notified us that our quiet, gentle, well-behaved dog must go.

Looking for a home, once again.

To my new neighbors I say, “The next time your &*$#^*@ fence is on fire, there won’t be a dog around to alert people to the trouble.” (True fact: OMD raised the alarm a few days ago when a fence was burning. Just like in Reader’s Digest.) But, I remind myself, we were the ones breaking a rule, we knew we were breaking it, and the neighbors have every right to be jerks and rat on our dog before talking to us. They don’t know us, they don’t know how we would react. The era of neighborliness is sadly over. How long ago was it that when something bothered a neighbor they just went and knocked on the door before calling in higher authority?

Now there’s someone who’s bed is maybe thirty feet from mine, whom I’ve never met, that has pissed me off. Part of me wants to get a new dog that fits the regulations and barks nonstop.

But that’s not constructive. What is constructive is helping to find this fine animal her permanent home. Apparently our role in her life is an interim stop between old and new homes, so we can make sure she lands in a good place.

Please, especially if you’re in the Bay Area, put the word out that there’s eighty pounds of unconditional love just looking for someone who needs her.

It’s going to be really tough to say goodbye.

Pop Quiz

You have a pile of chips and a bowl of guacamole. You’re hungry. Life is pretty good.

Except… there are about three times as many chips as the bowl of guac can support at ideal dip levels. Don’t forget, you’re hungry. Do you:

  • Enjoy chips with ideal guacamole levels while it lasts, then eat the rest of the chips dry
  • OR
  • Stretch the guacamole to make every bite a little better than a dry chip

No going Kobayashi Maru here and ordering more guacamole.

A Quick Tip for Would-Be Hockey Goalies

If you follow hockey at all, you’ve heard of the five-hole. It’s the space between a hockey goalkeeper’s legs, and it’s a popular place to shoot at.

All NHL goalies that I know of use the ‘butterfly‘, a ligament-stretching move in which the knees are pushed together and the lower legs are parallel to the ice, forming a solid barrier to any pucks skidding along the surface. Why shoot for the five-hole, then, when it is so easily turned into an impenetrable wall? It’s all about time.

When a player slaps the puck toward the net, the time it takes a goaltender to close the hole is limited by the acceleration of gravity. Even after he recognizes the threat his body must fall into position, and no amount of strength or conditioning can make it happen faster.

I just watched in slow motion as the Rangers goaltender let a puck through his five-hole, and I had to cringe. You see, a lot of five-hole goals are preventable, and pretty easily, too. As the goalie collapsed into position, his stick was off to the side, pointing directly at the shooter, and completely useless. Had he simply kept his stick in front of him as he went into the butterfly, the goal would have bounced harmlessly away. His sloppiness might mean his team will not compete for the Stanley cup this year.

This failing is frightfully common. I often see keepers lift their sticks as they move down, and while that will get their legs into position a couple of milliseconds earlier, they lose their most important interim defense. It is a completely natural reaction to throw your arms up to get your body down faster. Don’t do that!

So, kids who want to be the next great net minder, when you’re practicing dropping into the butterfly long into the night (you are practicing long into the night, right?), always, always have your stick and always keep it in position. Watch video of yourself or have someone watch your stick as you work, and watch your GAA go down. I don’t think there’s any more easily correctable habit in all of hockey that can make such a difference.