Over and out


Hi folks.

New Year’s Eve is upon us and 2015 is coming whether we like it or not. Who is to say, I guess.

I just wanted to very briefly say thanks for stopping by here sometimes and say thanks to all of you who have taken the time to post a comment, send an email, or even call to discuss, debate, seek advice or offer counsel.

I appreciated it all. Even when I disagreed with you.

Earlier this month I marked without fanfare the 9th anniversary of doing this blog. It has been a learning experience for me every step of the way. It’s actually harder than it looks and frankly I don’t do it all that well anymore.

Today is my final post — certainly for a while, and perhaps forever.

All good things etc etc.

There are lots of excellent blogs out there for you to enjoy. On my best day, this was never one of them and I feel even my low bar for entertaining and informing has slipped ever lower.

That being the case it is time to walk away. I’d like to say it was like John Elway celebrating consecutive Super Bowl wins and then retiring but it’s more like Drew Bledsoe.

Thanks to everyone who read this space. You guys were the meat in the sandwich. I was just a thick-thumbed community typist trying to tell a few stories.

Have a great year. I’ll see you at the rink. Hug the kids.

Coming up for air


I’m hoping anyone reading this had a terrific Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or whatever combination of the above you celebrate in the greater good of big box stores everywhere.

All cynicism aside, it was a nice few days at this house with some amazing food, some sleeping later than usual, a Christmas Eve binge of movies with Chris, and more food and drink.

Another few days of that and then it will be back to the routine but I wanted to check in and comfort all of you with the news that we survived. Pad left Sunday for Halifax as the coach ordered the boys to be ready to practice today. Except that owing to some scheduling error, there was no ice for the team today holidays ended a day earlier than needed (insert sound of lead balloons tipping over.)

They’re adults (more or less.) They will cope. If I had to guess I would say the pubs of Halifax may be in for a tour this evening. Continue reading

Short Snappers: Holiday edition


On the off chance that anyone is paying attention out there, a brief collection of some very short snappers that likely won’t amuse you, but will let you know I’m still around.

– – –

Saturday night we went to a Leaf game — a work function with a borrowed corporate box and all the trimmings. Because we were sitting with the moneyed classes we arrived eight minutes into the first period — that what they do at the ACC right?

Actually, we decided to drive in to Toronto and that is why we were late, even though we left more than an hour before game time. What a disaster. Never mind seeing the warmup (which I enjoy) we missed the anthem, the faceoff and the first goal.

No worries on the goals as there were lots of those. In the end the Leafs needed a field goal to try to tie but ended up losing 7-4 in a sad, listless display.

The ride home went far better. Continue reading

It’s not just ‘boys will be boys’


When you have kids — especially, but not exclusively boys — you learn some things pretty quick. And one of the things you learn is boys will be boys. They just will.

I have lots of friends who have only daughters and they tell amazing stories of blood-curdling screaming episodes over clothes being borrowed without permission and other such crimes against humanity.

(In our experience I can’t think of a single occasion where either of our boys borrowed clothes from the other, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

With all kids — and I think especially, but not exclusively boys — a challenge is not just teaching respect, but making it part of their DNA. I say “especially” boys only because I know women have a larger hill to climb in terms of equality and respect in all its forms. As we have learned recently, there are still big problems.

Which is why the situation at Dalhousie University is so troubling. Continue reading

PPI


PEI has always held a special place in our hearts. I realize a lot of my readers will have never been there but take my word for it, you want to add it to your bucket list.

It’s a place where it seems time stopped — the kitschy road-side ¬†amusements of the 1960s and 70s — mini-putt and Santa’s Village and the like — still endure on The Island, but not in such numbers as to detract from the natural beauty of the place.

The people have a quiet way of life and nothing much seems to change much. Flying into Charlottetown you can see in one eyeful what makes the economy run — fishing, farming (dairy and potatoes) and tourism — specifically golf and beaches.

As a family we’ve spent a couple portions of vacations on The Island — Chris used to call it PPI when he was young and cute and in addition to Cavendish Beach and fried clams it was where we all learned the basics of the water slide, at the now defunct Rainbow Valley.

Late last month, Pad and the Dal hockey team played a road game against UPEI, except the game wasn’t in Charlottetown, it was in Montague — a small town not far away (nothing in PEI is far away). We watched the game on TV off the internet and while the announcers kept referencing a tragedy in the community and a fundraiser, they never spelled it out. Continue reading

Weekend bits and pieces


I had one of those moments on the weekend that serves as a reminder to slow down, breathe a little, and be grateful for what you have.

I was in a line of vehicles waiting to exit the Dorval plaza at North Service Road — the one with the Metro.

As I waited for the traffic to move I saw this man walking carefully along the sidewalk, tapping the path in front of him with a white cane. He was probably blind, but if not completely so he was significantly impaired visually.

The vehicle two in front of me made the decision to scoot out before the man reached the driveway crossing. Then the second car in front of me pulled ahead and just stopped. And waited.

I’m assuming the man knew the car was there because he didn’t move either. And also, since he didn’t look at all like Kreskin, he likely had no idea what the driver was thinking. After about 10 seconds, the second car proceeded into traffic. The man didn’t move. Continue reading

Short snappers . . .


Another installment in the continuing series. Please hold your applause until all shorts have been duly snappered.

– – –

Snow. In December. It’s nuts, I tell ya. OK. It wasn’t that nuts but I assumed it would be so I left the house about 15 minutes earlier than normal and pretty much no one else did, so far as I could tell.

Mind you I was only driving to the GO station, but there was no traffic on the slick, slushy, greasy streets which had not yet graduated treacherous.

This storm system as a bit of an odd one in that it attacked Toronto from the southeast. Virtually every storm we ever get comes from the west or south west. So as my on-time train (no worries GO, transit, the train was late by the time we hit Union Station) chugged to Toronto the weather got worst. Continue reading

Just press play


An executive summary into a fairly deep investigation of torture practices by the US government was released on Tuesday. I am ashamed to say I’m more or less numb to it.

Were the portions of the report that were released worse than I thought? I have to say they were  not. I expected bad, and God Bless America, it delivered.

Do I think people in positions to influence things going forward feel bad about this? Well, I’m sure some do. But torturer-in-chief from the Bush era, Dick Cheney, was sitting in a mud hut in Wyoming biting the heads off doves and spitting them into a bucket across the room when he was contacted by reporters.

He said the people who conducted the torture should be decorated, not vilified. That view was not widely shared among GOP in Congress — Sen. John McCain (himself a victim of torture in Vietnam — said torture is unacceptable.

It’s all out there for the reading and you are smart people. Make of it what you will. We have all watched 24 on TV and now we know that some of those things Jack Bauer did weren’t just conjured out of thin air. Continue reading

The best laid plans


Junior hockey teams are also community hockey teams in many cases and the people running many of those teams work pretty hard to engage the community.

One reason for this is to build bridges that turn into fan support, which means people coming to the rink and spending money and creating a fun atmosphere. It’s harder than it sounds, especially in southern Ontario where the competition for the entertainment dollar is steep.

For example, in the Ontario junior A loop, teams are lucky to draw 300 fans. Some — like the Blades — do a little better. Some — like any of the Toronto-based teams — are lucky to get 100 out. That would be parents and girlfriends.

When our guy played out west last winter, it was a different world, as I have mentioned here before. Typically the junior A teams draw from 1,000 to 2,500 depending on the team, the community and the facility. The revenue from a gate like that at $12 or $14 a head allows the teams to operate at a level more akin to major junior, and they recruit widely for the best players and treat them far more generously than Ontario teams can or do. Continue reading

And so it is Christmas


Upon reflection, extending a ladder and climbing on the roof to string Christmas light was the easy part of the job. The real work is just beginning.

I commented last night that I felt like every day between now and Christmas should be like a Saturday. No one has to get up early. You can stay up late, have a beer, eat decadently, etc. Laura vetoed it on the grounds that we would all be fat and drunk from the next three weeks. And that won’t do because we need to decorate.

I think it is a function of biology that humans tend to forget certain things — child birth, cheering for the Leafs — so that when the time comes to do them again, the challenge seems entirely reasonable.

I would put holiday decorating in that category.

Once upon a time, we would tackle almost all of it in a single day. A day full of Christmas music, festive decor, heavy boxes of “stuff” and a lot of weary resignation.

We’re smarter now. Or at least Laura is. Nothing happens all at once. Continue reading

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