Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hockey Fight of the Week

 Calgary Flames vs. Anaheim Ducks

Both goalies get run, twenty two minutes of clip to finish about five minutes of game.  Barely enough players left on the bench to finish the game.  One of the best fight clips there is.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Hate Engineers

Let me start by saying that I don't hate any one group based solely on any sort of designation they may carry.  That's just stupid.  But man do I hate engineers.

No granted, I am an engineer, so I'm going to wind up painting myself in a bad light no matter what I do here.  Over the past several years of work and school, and spending time with many students and workers of a variety of backgrounds, I can say without much regret that the engineers tend to be the least tolerable.

Where to begin?  Probably the ego and the smarmy know-it-all-ness are the first to jump out at you.  Here you have a group of people that has basically been made fun of their whole lives for being fucking nerds (with good reason).  In order to cope with those comments, these people have constantly reminded themselves that they are among the smartest people on the planet, and that they will one day achieve a level of superiority over their detractors.  This causes even the slightest foothold of so-called "superiority" (read: earning power and money) to become blown out of proportion within the engineer's mind and flaunted intolerably.  From perfectly creased clothing to a pride in shiny shoes that borders on creepy.  I once had an engineer tell me that their choice in vehicle was based on what looked most professional pulling up to a job site and meeting with contractors.  Apparently a blue car is unacceptable.  Who the fuck cares?!  Do you really need to prove that you think you're better than someone in such a microcosmic way?  Contractors don't look at a BMW and go, "man that guy is professional."  They say "man that guy is a tool and working with him is going to suck."

As an engineer, I loved being on site and working with the maintenence men, construction workers, and Town highway workers.  Those guys are fucking fantastic.  They have a practical knowledge that far outstrips that of any engineer, and many of them make decent money, they just don't flaunt it with stupid shit like country club memberships and sweater-vests.  Plus they have social skills, chiefly the 'not being an asshole' social skill.  (Holy shit, I am lambasing someone for a lack of social skills.  Me!)

Engineers are dull.  Mind-numbingly dull.  The DPW guy wants to tell me about his son, who on a three week leave from Iraq beds three different women.  The Engineer wants to talk about her marathoning, or his Turkey hunting...that is in those brief moments when they're not talking about work.

Maybe there's such a thing as too much intelligence.  Maybe being able to reason through so many things is a hinderance.  If you're an engineer you need the right shoes, right dress, right car, right look.  You even need to act a certain way.  At one point I was yelled at for my shoes and pants (no HR Person, apparently jeans and sneakers are NOT okay), and for "not looking animated enough" during a meeting (Howard Dean, are you sure you didn't miss your calling?).  Meanwhile, over on planet blue collar with the sane people, you show up on time, you work hard, you're not a dick...hey! You're alright!

With apologies to those Engineers that are decent, humble, interesting people.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts on Those Passed

To be blunt, death is difficult.  There is nothing harder than the knowledge that something, or someone is gone from your life, or anyone else's forever.

I remember when my friend Keith died.  We had played baseball together as kids, but I probably hadn't seen or talked to him in a few years and we were never that close.  Still, when I went to the wake, I was a complete mess.  I was probably the worst person there, and it got so bad that at one point, his father put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me.  To this day I don't understand how that's even possible.

I still remember that night, I had a dream that I played baseball with Keith one more time.  I will never forget that.  And I think that's key when someone dies.  The biggest service you can pay them and their family is to always remember.  Always remember.

Kieth, and Bre, and Danielle, and Bobby, and Victoria, and countless others may be gone, but they will survive in us.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hockey Fight of the Week

It's Sunday!  You all know what that means!  Actually you don't because this is the first in a new weekly installment.  The Hockey Fight of the Week.  And where better to start than a classic scrap between the Sabres and Flyers.

Steve Shields v. Garth Snow



Enjoy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

NHL adds Swedish Ref

NHL Resistance is Futile for Marcus Vinnerborg

I won't really comment too heavily on Vinnerborg himself, for a bit more on that, you can head over to Phil's Blog, Black and Blue and Gold.

What I do want to think about is what this means for the culture of the NHL, specifically its officiating.  You don't need to be a diehard hockey fan, or even more than a passing interest in ESPN to realize that the NHL might be the most inefficeintly and inconsistently policed league that doesn't contain officials that actually cheat (sorry NBA).

When you have

Clarke MacArthur



Alex Ovechkin


and Marian Hossa


get disciplined three different ways for what is essentially the same hit in the same season, something is wrong.  Now I know people are going to point out that MacArthur probably didn't intend to board Liam Reddox, and that Campbell missed significant time while Hamhuis didn't, but come on.  Irresponsible plays are exactly that.

It seems to me that the NHL has an almost maffia-esque bias when it comes to policing its athletes.  Certain stars are punished when others are not.  When the media starts to point this out, Colin Campbell can just ramble the words "repeat offender" until people leave him alone.

Furthermore the bias extends into the style of play.  Some referees will call the minor hooks (as they well should) while others will dismiss it as a "hockey play."  Defenders are getting more and more leeway holding up a guy dumping the puck in these days and it's ruining the game.  Interference is seldom called anymore when it should be (Mark Recchi), those are just more of those "hockey plays."

Of course, with the way the NHL treats its referees, we really have no idea what they're being told and how they're being held accountable (if at all) for poor officiating.  The new rules after the lockout dictated that the game be called a certain way, but at times it is abundantly clear that certain officials simply ignore that edict because their heads are still stuck in "old time hockey" mode.

If it wasn't obvious in the regular season that the older, more experienced refs are still stuck in 1994, it has beaten hockey fans upside the head in the playoffs this season as virtually nothing is being called.  Just watch a playoff game and count how many interference penalties don't get flagged.  I bet you can top twenty, and it's so horrendously obvious because the only officials in the playoffs are the more seasoned officials that continue to think the game should be called that way.  Dismiss them, every one of them.  If the older crowd can't wrap their heads around the way the game is played today, then send them packing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Somewhere between CM and OKC

I have spent many an hour browsing OKC, which is so far as I can tell, the premier online dating site that is completely free, and CM, which is the premier online dating site for those interested in BDSM-Lifestyle relationships.

I find myself uncomfortably straddling the impasse between the two. On one hand, I find a great stretch of the people on OKC to be too vanilla and a bit mundane...not bad people...just not up to my level of weirdness.

On the other hand, the majority of the people on CM have a level of interest in the BDSM lifestyle and bondage that I cannot match. I like many aspects of BDSM as a switch, but I don't think I can give in to it as much as people there seem like they require.

I guess I need either the most vanilla person from CM, or the most out there person from OKC, how wonderful for me...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Belated Farewell to the Bruins

In a few weeks I might be able to stop laughing at the plight that has befallen the late Boston Bruins, choking away a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 advantage in the deciding seventh game of the series.

One of the after-images from the game was that of a little kid, clad in Bruins gear, crying in the stands. I'm not an empathy-less jerk and I felt for the kid. A few weeks earlier, that was me in my living room watching Marc Joannette and company take the series away from the Buffalo Sabres.

The Hockey Gods do not like things that should not be, and they will punish heavily for them. The truth of the matter is that the Boston Bruins never should have been in that position to begin with, and the Hockey Gods took their vengeance in the worst way possible. By giving the Bruins a historic loss that may well never be forgotten.

I may have conceded a bet I had with a former co-worker, but I think this result is much more gratifying than that $18 dollars would be if I still had it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Unemployment

This is less about unemployment the state of being, and more about unemployment the weekly check I will soon begin receiving.

I never realized how grateful I was that we have some system in this country set up to help those without a job until now (funny right?). So I got around to thinking about how we have other assistance programs, like welfare, for the less fortunate. Which brought my mind over to those folks that are absurdly rich and have practically an infinite surplus of money.

Should we cap what the rich can make?

It seems absurd, and a gross invasion of our basic freedoms. If you have the capability, why not make as much as you can? But at the same time, some of these people have more money than they can literally possibly spend in their lifetime. A lot more.

So where does that money go, and where does that put us? In most cases, that money gets passed down to children and family that are (not always, but often) less talented and less driven than their parents, and they haven't had the satisfaction of having earned all that wealth. However, with money, they have a variety of opportunities open to them that most of us do not have.

On a broader scale, this means that there are less talented people breaking into difficult or expensive fields (writing, movie making, CEO-ing (it's a word)) over people that are far more talented, want it more, and quite frankly have more than likely earned it.

People think monarchy is dead, but it really isn't, it's just changed its nature. Do you think the Gates family or the Jobs family are going to have any trouble living for the next dozen generations?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sabres Fans: The Force of Nature

You will hear me say numerous times on this blog that Sabres fans are the best American fans in the NHL, possibly even the best fans in the NHL altogether.  This is not a topic that is open for debate.

However, upon further consideration, Sabres fans go a bit beyond that.  As one Versus executive once put it, “The fans in Buffalo are a force of nature.  We routinely beat American Idol up there.”

To me it isn’t the gargantuan TV ratings that Buffalo draws, nor is it the impressive attendance numbers in the market with the second lowest Median household income and second highest poverty rate in the league (only Miami, representing the Florida Panthers is higher).  [2008 census data].  No, to me there are two instances which speak to the level of dedication and passion that the Buffalo fanbase provides.



Exhibit A: Setting MSG Straight.

You’re a small market sports franchise.  No, scratch that, you’re the smallest American market in the league.  And you share a channel with the three largest markets in the league.  When you play games against the rest of the league, you get your announcing crew, and when you play those teams you get theirs.  One day you decided that your market should get its announcing crew regardless.  Crazy right?  Except it happens.  For all Sabres games against the Islanders, Devils, and Rangers, Western and Central New York is blessed with the sound of Rick Jeanneret and hilarity of Harry Neale.  The fan strength of the Buffalo Sabres is able to out-muscle a market nearly ten times bigger on a channel named after that arena.  Impressive.



Exhibit B: The Party In the Plaza and telling NBC to Go To Hell.

There were a few teams that projected their playoff games outside their respective arenas for their fans to gather and watch, namely Buffalo and Pittsburgh.  Perhaps before the lockout it was more prevalent.  Last season, Pittsburgh wanted to and NBC would not allow it, hoping to drive up ratings (because no one can estimate ratings correctly for a large group).

Things seemed headed in a similar direction this season as NBC gave the same order.  Except for the Sabres.  The Sabres essentially told NBC to go fuck themselves, and that they would use their own cameras within the arena to provide a great atmosphere for their fans.  With crowds spilling over 5,000 the fans come out in force to make it a no-brainer for the team.


We are the only team with a loyal enough die hard fanbase to reap either of those benefits.  Take notice NHL.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crappy Officiating: What to Do?

Crappy Officiating: What to Do?

Bad officiating is a fact of sports. It happens, and it happens a lot. Far more than officials or league officials for a given sport are willing to admit. Now granted, I never ascended the professional ranks as either a player or an official, but I have done both in my lifetime. (For reference umpiring baseball and softball and playing Baseball, Hockey, Football, Basketball, and Soccer).

I think this at least gives me a perspective that most don’t have. I have dealt with the calls on both sides of the coin. I know it’s easy for us fans to say that there should be a certain level of accountability among officials for calls that may have been made in error. Certainly some of the exemplary examples of officials, such as Ed Hocculi in the NFL, have been able to do that. However, I think that by and large this is not the path to take in assessing poor calls. Speaking from personal experience, if you give coaches or fans an inch, they will take a mile…and those are just Little League coaches. Professionals are an entire different ballgame (no pun intended).

As a fan it’s frustrating because it is usually obvious and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t even tell the guy face to face how bad you think he is at his job. Adding to this is the fact that no one likes a fanbase that whines about bad calls costing them the game, even when it is completely accurate. Is there ever a justification, can there be clear thoughts without bias in the matter? I think we need to define a set of “Bitching About Reffing Rules.”

Let’s Consider the Team:

Are you one of the top five markets in the league?
(i.e. New York, Long Island, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Chicago in the NHL)
  • -1 point for top 5 markets
  • +1 point for bottom 5 markets

Is it in the league’s best interests for you to succeed?
(Any team constantly in the media spotlight or a good national ratings draw such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, or any Original 6 NHL franchise)
  • -1 point for teams that achieve good national ratings or lots of media coverage
  • +1 point for teams that achieve poor national ratings or no media coverage

Are you on the east coast?
  • -1 point for yes
  • +1 point for no

Are you the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, or generally from the Boston or NYC areas?
  • -5 points unless also playing one of those teams
  • 0 points otherwise

Are you any sports team from Buffalo, Cleveland, Seattle, Philadelphia, or the L.A. Clippers?
  • + 2 points unless also playing one of those teams
  • 0 points otherwise

Has the team won a championship in your rememberable (alcohol doesn’t count) lifetime?
  • -(10 - the number of years since) for a maximum of -1 point if yes
  • +(The number of years divided by 5) rounded down if no


Is there a possibility of moving within the next 5 years?
  • +2 points if yes
  • 0 points if no



Time to Consider the Circumstances:

Is it an NHL or NBA playoff game?
  • +1 point if yes
  • 0 points if no

Is it the last minute of a close NHL or NBA playoff game?
  • +1 point if yes
  • 0 points if no

Is your team facing a larger market/better national draw?
  • +1 point if yes
  • 0 points if no

Is your team favored?
  • +1 point if yes
  • 0 points if no

Where are you playing?
  • -1 point for home
  • +1 point for the road
  • +3 points if it’s on the road in Canada


Now the Infraction itself:
(If it’s your player, then use the values as shown. If it’s an opposing player, all values shall be opposite).

Does the player in question commit a lot of penalties?
  • -2 points if he’s known for it
  • +2 points if he’s a saint
  • 0 points for players that are in the middle

Does the player have a “watch that guy for this infraction” reputation?
  • +2 points if yes
  • 0 points if no

What is the nature of the call?
  • +2 points for “screwed it up according to the rules black and white”
  • +1 point for “called something completely contrary to how it’s been called in the regular season/past)
  • 0 points for judgment calls

Is the number of penalties even for both teams?
  • +1 point for no, skewered in their favor
  • -1 point for no, skewered in your favor

Could it have been a dive?
  • -2 points if yes and it's a marquee player
  • -1 point if yes and it's an average player
  • 0 points if no

Are you watching soccer?
  • -1,000 points if yes. Please stop.

Is it historically bad? (i.e. Hocculi’s early whistle, no goal, the goal through the side of the mesh)
  • +5 points if yes
  • 0 points if no

Did the other player commit a penalty only to have your guy penalized (does not apply in cases retaliatory violence)?
  • +2 points if yes
  • 0 points if no


The formula is simple. Add it up and if the value is positive, complain away! If not, shut up.

(Note: This is not a real formula)

Tiger Woods is Annoying

From Rick Reilly’s Blog on ESPN.com
You are absolutely right. Phil's win last Sunday was a win for women. It was also a win for those of us who try to live and give of ourselves, with honor and integrity. Thank you, again.
-- Mary Schoelch (Shoreview, Minn.)


Alright, enough is enough. I’ve been pretty quiet on the whole Tiger Woods fiasco for a couple reason. Mostly it’s because I really don’t care, but also because his story is not particularly new or interesting. It happens all the time. It’s not exclusive to any one type of person, athlete or gender.

That’s my biggest issue. Women are using this as some sort of deluded rallying cry. Tiger Woods is a pig! Men are pigs! If my man did that, I would kill him!

Puh-lease. Women don’t need a win any more than men do. In my experiences and observations, women have been just as guilty of treating men like shit as men have of women. The difference (and now it is time for me to generalize horribly) is that when men commit a wrong (not necessarily adultery), they will typically own up to it. When women commit a wrong, they will try and modify their logic so they are either in the right, or somehow justified in doing so. Again, these are generalizations and, as always, there are exceptions (i.e. Mark McGwire wishing he “never played in the steroids era.”).

This isn’t so much of a rallying cry for women as it is further proof that there are a lot of shitty people, and they come in all sizes, genders and ethnicities.

I will say this though, Women respond to cheating right. They want to slander the crap out of the guy that wronged them. And with good reason, it is his fault. Guys want to go after the other dude that diddled their lady. How does that makes sense? She’s the slut, he is only guilty of being as opportunistic as you would have been.