Outdoor Hockey

In general, I enjoy the NHL games played outdoors. I might argue that they are turning to that gimmick a touch too often these days, robbing the event of its inherent specialness, but I’m still on board for at least one outdoor game each year. It’s different and fun and the players just seem a little happier.

Most years, it’s also a chance to have a hockey game in a giant arena that holds tens of thousands more fans than fit into a traditional hockey venue. After a couple of dicey years, the NHL developed a mighty mobile refrigeration unit that could maintain a good sheet of ice just about anywhere.

Just about. Today’s outdoor game in South Lake Tahoe was a disaster. The sun shone down and any ice over painted areas, like the logo in the center of the rink or the red dots, turned to slush. After the first period it was decided to postpone the rest of the game until long after nightfall. Luckily no one was hurt before that decision was made.

When you schedule an outdoor game, the weather will always be a risk. It seemed smart at first blush to put a game where there was no need to accommodate fans in a beautiful wintry setting. So the NHL decided to play a couple of games in Tahoe, setting up the rink on a golf course next to the lake. Lovely.

The thing is, when you don’t have to accommodate fans, you don’t have to build a rink. There are thousands (probably) of outdoor rinks on this continent that could have hosted this game — and imagine all the extra hometown color that could have enhanced the story.

I have been skating plenty of times — as ai kid I hit the ice fairly regularly in the winter — but I’ve never skated indoors. Not once. The little rink in my hometown was nestled in a deep canyon and shaded by ponderosas and long banners of fabric hanging from wires overhead to thwart the Northern New Mexico sun. At 7200 feet altitude, the air was cold and dry. Good for ice.

For the cost of building a rink on a golf course and then destroying TV ratings by moving most of the game until after most hockey fans were asleep, the NHL could have installed glass at our little rink and played the game in the most nostalgic setting imaginable — a little rink in a little town (high enough up that even the Avalanche might have been short of breath), and the players could have got their hot chocolate in little plastic cups just like the rest of us do. It could have been fuckin’ magical.

Much fancier than back in the day, but ready to host a big game.

Addendum: I went looking for a picture of the ol’ rink, and apparently it has glass now. In fact: “Built in 1936, the Ice Rink is the only refrigerated, NHL regulation, outdoor Ice Rink in New Mexico.” Those who know the history of Los Alamos realize that in 1936 the town didn’t exist; the rink was part of the Ranch for Boys that occupied the land before the Manhattan Project. Maybe there’s an old photo somewhere of Colgate and Pond in hockey garb. All more fascinating material for the TV yakkers to gush over.

The rink in this picture looks WAY swankier than it did was when I was a kid. Maybe not so good for nostalgia, but that ice is just waiting for the NHL to figure out how to get a no-audience outdoor game right. And with the glass they won’t have to send someone up the slope into the woods to find the puck quite so often.

1

Tools I Used While Installing a New Range Hood

An almost-comprehensive list of the tools I (and the Official Sweetie) used to install a new hood over our cooktop.

  • box knife
  • scissors
  • extension cord (green, 2-prong)
  • Craftsman variable-speed drill motor
  • Ryobe “drill saw” (sucked)
  • safety goggles
  • drill bits (various sizes)
  • straight steel aviation snips
  • left-turn steel snips
  • right-turn steel snips
  • flashlight, large
  • flashlight, small
  • table lamp with zebra stripes, fluorescent
  • Skil saber saw
  • stud finder (go ahead, say the joke)
  • MacBook Pro, to search for other tools
  • 2014 Mini Countryman, to fetch tools
  • Malco duct crimper (surprisingly fun!)
  • pencil
  • tape measure
  • paper towel
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • disinfectant spray
  • gauze
  • first-aid tape
  • heavy work gloves
  • chisel (3/8″)
  • Black and Decker circular saw
  • extension cord (orange, 3-prong)
  • 12″ rail clamp
  • 1/2″ socket
  • 1/4″ socket
  • 3/8″ socket
  • socket wrench, small
  • large-to-small socket adapter
  • socket wrench, large
  • small metal stool (pink)
  • Tacx bicycle repair stand (the key piece!)
  • wooden shims
  • digitally-controlled Dremel motor
  • analog-controlled Dremel motor
  • router attachment for Dremel motor
  • cutting bit for Dremel motor (x5)
  • Beats Audio over-ear headphones (for ear protection)
  • pointy hole-punch thing
  • Dyson upright vacuum cleaner
  • ratchet-drive screwdriver handle
  • Philips-head screwdriver attachment
  • long Phillips-head screwdriver bit (in drill motor)
  • hacksaw
  • carpentry ruler combination square (you’d think there’d be a better name for these)
  • Iron Horse sawhorses
  • Wood rasp
  • towel
  • Band-aid
  • hammer

It always ends with the hammer.

3

Tools I Used While Installing a Dishwasher

Tape measure
Box knife
Medium flathead screwdriver
Small flathead screwdriver
Pliers, electrician’s
Pliers, slip-joint
Pliers, long-nose
Pliers, groove-joint
Wire stripper (crappy)
Desk lamp
Flashlight (cheap and annoying)
Extension cords (3)
9/16″ crescent wrench
7/16″ crescent wrench
Drill motor
Medium philips screwdriver drill attachment
Drill-screwdriver extension
3/32″ drill bit
Mazda Miata (1999)
Credit card
Tote bag, canvas (No Kid Hungry)
Wood planer (antique)
Belt sander, small (belts all broke)
Belt sander, medium (borrowed)
Dremel motor with cutting bit
Mini Countryman (2014)
Circular saw
Dust mask
Vacuum cleaner
Goggles
Level, carpenter’s
Level, torpedo
Socket wrench, 1/4″ drive
Socket, smallish
Socket, very small
Pencil
Scissors
Packing tape
Duct Tape
Cardboard
Multi-tool (used by helper)
Bucket
Towels, cloth
Towels, paper
Topical antiseptic

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.

2

Rocky Mountain Low

Location: Starbucks, Los Alamos, NM
Miles: I’ll check later.

Had an episode all typed up, but it sucked. The only good thing was the title, which I kept, even though it doesn’t really match the content anymore. I had even posted it by accident before I was done with it and Amy commented. There was lots of green chile in it, which was good, but other than that it was the same wandering drivel that most blogs seem to specialize in and I find myself falling into more and more these days. I was just telling about my day rather than writing. I’ve had a couple of episodes I’m quite happy with recently, and I don’t want to put up a bunch of boring crap now to break my momentum. My other writing is not going well either. I’m more fiddling around with words than writing.

So. Interesting stories. Hum. tum-te-dum…

I think I know the problem. It’s been more than four days since I had a beer. There are a few in fridge right now, chilling out, waiting for their moment. The threshold of “cold enough” is getting warmer as I type this.

Socially, Los Alamos is the exact opposite of Pacific Beach. There is no student population to speak of here and only one bar. You’re not going to go out on the town and meet someone you don’t know. This is the kind of town you come to after you’ve met your soul mate and settled down. Really settled down. Of course if you’re one of those hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, going-to-opera-and-not-to-bars kind of wackos, this may be about as close to heaven as you can get.

As I mentioned before there is one bar remaining in this town, and it’s a beaut. This is an affluent town, but apparently all the wealthy alcoholics get plastered in the privacy of their own homes. The Canyon Grill is a dive if ever there was one. It’s a friendly place, however. Last time I was there I ended up staying way too long talking with people who seemed vaguely familiar. (“Your old man is the one who did the magic tricks, right?”) Everyone knew everyone else and I don’t want to know how many beers were bought for me.

I’ll be in there tomorrow afternoon, carefully monitoring my alcohol intake as I write. If you’re in the neighborhood stop by. The first round’s on me.