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Archive for 2007

Hockey weekend

Assistant coach Neil arranged for our Novice B team to visit the Habs practice Saturday morning. We watched the Canadiens do break-out drills and practice shooting and missing the net, it seems. Assistant coach and former Canadiens captain Kirk Muller came out to greet us afterward, although Child Three had chosen that moment to go to the bathroom and missed him.

That evening, we met the third NDG team in our division, having lost the first NDG-NDG match-up against the second team last week. We took it to our rivals, and our kids executed the game-plan to perfection to take the game 3-0. Our final goal was scored doubly shorthanded with the opposing goalie pulled, so that it was six on three. It wasn’t a long shot, either. Two of our three penalty-killers kept the puck along the boards in the opposing zone until the goal-scorer was able to deke his way to the slot and put the puck in. The second NDG team, meanwhile, forfeited a game Saturday and that put us back into first place.

Today, we won again, against a team we previously beat 2-0. Child Three could have had a shutout if he’d used his stick on a looong shot instead of going to his knees to make a glove stop. Ah, well.

I had my first coaching crisis as well. I wanted to move one of our forwards back to defence and move our weakest defenceman up to forward, as he wanted to do. I had another kid, who’d been a forward, who asked to go back to defence but he didn’t make it to this game. I had to choose a forward to put on defence.

As soon as I told the new defenceman for the day that he’d be playing back, he started yelling, whining, and crying. I assume he felt it was a demotion. He needs to research Bobby Orr. As I explained, I wanted him on defence because he’s one of the top skaters and puck-controllers on the team, but he doesn’t have much of a shot. In our first five games, he had no goals despite numerous opportunities. He also has periods when he doesn’t bother to backcheck, although he’s much improved in that area. For one game, I wanted him to play back and quarterback the team. I didn’t want to move a forward who always backchecks to D, because such a kid will be back to help defend anyway.

If my chosen defenceman had just decline politely and quietly, I could have accepted that better than his loud outburst and tears (he tends to complain). With his tantrum in front of the team, he devalued, insulted, and demoralized the five kids who do play defence. If I accede to him, I’m agreeing with him in front of the team. When he gave me the ultimatum “If I’m on defence, I’m not playing,” all I could do was agree.

In the end, I decided a sulking defenceman would do no good at all, so we went with four defencemen and eight forwards. The chosen non-defender scored his first two goals to lead us to a 3-1 victory. I guess he showed me.

Unfortunately, one of our players received an inexplicable ten-minute misconduct penalty at the end of the game. That lost us a Franc-Jeu (a provincial fair-play program) point in the standings, dropping us into a tie for first place. The refs took off without explaining or even informing us of the penalty, for verbal abuse of an official. This is a good kid, too, who appeared to say nothing. Ah, well.

Maybe not such an idiot

I just passed by the dining room and saw Crash peering in through the patio door.

Now, thanks to all the snow, I can tell the only gate to our backyard has not been opened. Nor are there any dog tracks leading to the back yard. Or any people tracks.

The dog has never gotten out of the yard unless the gate was left open.

So how did he get in?

He seems a little stiff and reluctant to move, but that might be from the cold. I don’t think he’s hurt too bad, if at all.

Idiot dog, #876 in an infinite series

I took Crash to get his nails clipped. That’s an extravagant $8 for five minutes work, but he and we are too skittish to accomplish the clipping at home.

We walked down Sherbrooke. He came in with me to the bank machine, then we walked down to the groomer.

The groomer lifted him on the table – “He smells skunk,” in a Russian accent – and clipped his nails and Crash looked like he always does when lifted and clipped: like he was being flayed alive. Fraught with twenties and nothing else, I had to go to the store upstairs to pay the $8.

I didn’t put the leash on him to go the five feet out of the groomer’s basement place and into the ground-level retail store. When I held the door to the shop open, Crash spooked and took off down Sherbrooke, at least in the right direction. I suppose he thought we were going to waterboard him next. He hates water.

I run faster than Crash does, but he already had his adrenaline going and he had a head start, so he escaped. When I got to Hingston, I asked a man if he saw the dog, and he said, “Yeah, he was lightly hit by a car and he took off. He must be at Grand by now.”

Apparently, he was very lightly hit, because I couldn’t find him during a 90-minute search. There’s definitely a grade of light hitting that would keep him from travelling more than two blocks after contact, and this was lighter than that.

I went back to the store to pay for the nail-clipping on the dog I might never see again, and lost my son’s beloved camouflage scarf. I retraced the entire path I took when looking for the dog, eventually returning a third time to the dog store. They hadn’t seen it either. I left the store without hope of finding it – but there it was, two parking spots away from the door. Someone had tied it to the top of a parking-spot designator (we don’t really use meters at each spot anymore).

The dog’s still missing, and I don’t have enough time to get into a work groove since I have to do carpool in half an hour. The dog does have tags and it’s not the first time he’s run away. I expect someone will eventually call us – with good news, I hope – and we’ll retrieve him. He never finds his way home.

It’s a good thing I didn’t take any kids to lose.

Little stinkers

1) If you look closely at the photograph, you can make out the skunk by the curb in front of our house. You can’t make out what it is doing, which is tugging at a dead squirrel frozen to the road. Yum! The reason you don’t see two feet of snow is that the wife took the photo last week.

2) Speaking of the wife, she’s been catching up on her “House” lately. She has choir practice Tuesday nights so doesn’t watch the broadcasts. She came down to join me on the couch the other evening and told me I’ve spoiled her, because the only “House” character she finds attractive is the short Jewish guy (Peter Jacobson).

3) This guy did stink, but just had his equipment washed:

Dumped on

By Mother Nature with a foot of snow and by the NDG Cougars 4-2. And my head, by a rhinovirus.

My Panthers did not play well yesterday. They stood around looking at the puck rather than working for it and the defencemen played too far off the blue line so we couldn’t keep any sustained pressure in the opposing zone. We had only half a dozen shots and lost. Child Three played goalie and kept us in the game with some nifty saves but couldn’t stop them all. I don’t mind the loss. It’s a good lesson for the kids, and concrete proof of what I warned them about before the game: you can’t coast on reputation and expect to win.

Today’s a snow day, with both schools closed and the wife home, too. It’s a unique day, because even on weekends, we’re usually rushing to get kids somewhere. Today, there are no commitments until the evening, and I we may skip Child Three’s goalie clinic because of the snow.

Gosh, all my news lately relates to this hockey team.

Our friend Neil, also one of my assistant coaches and a real macher, has arranged for our little team to visit the Canadiens practice Saturday morning. The boys are excited. I will probably miss the event, because I registered for mandatory coach training in Dollard that’s supposed to take place December 7-9. I haven’t heard about that yet, though. Maybe I’m not registered – but that would mean my team cannot enter any tournaments, which would suck because we’re in one in the latter half of this month.

I really ought to get to work now, and maybe plot some strategy for the AGW CMAKdown, a Combat Mission: Afrika Korps tournament of the aging farts who used to/still play WarBirds. I’ll post AARs (after-action reports) when it ends.

Bonus curiosity about Google:

Alex E. asked me to look into Google’s “define” function. You can do a search for Google for definitions as follows: “define: pornography” – and Google will spit out definitions of the term based on online glossaries and Wikipedia. It’s easy to see how Google presents the results. The search engine provides the string of text that follows the sought term on each result.

But I can’t figure out how Google decides which glossaries/dictionaries etc. make cut as valid resources for a “define” search. At first, I assumed that if a page used the words “dictionary”, “glossary”, “definitions”, etc. then Google would accept that page as a “define” result. But that can’t be it. Alex has for a long time had the glossary from “Crafty TV Writing” online, but Google has not sanctioned it to provide definitions.

Anybody know the magic trick? I’ve looked at the source code of several sanctioned definition-providing pages and there’s nothing special that I can detect. No meta tags, no Javascript, no accompanying robots.txt, no special directory names.

Even the Web is silent on how Google’s “define” search works. Are there any search-optimization experts out there with a clue?

Well, the semester’s over

My semester’s end was delayed by a day as I gave one student a make-up assignment this afternoon.

I corrected some work during those two and a half hours. Now all I have left to correct are 15 papers, 15 Web pages, and 30 QuarkExpress projects. Nothing but nothing is more tedious than correcting desktop publishing.

And I start teaching again in January.

A little test

I assploded my template by mistake. Let’s all find out if I fixed it….

Update: Oh, I think my heart just started beating again. The “comments” text is now in lower case, but I can live with that.

Update 2: No, I can’t. Yay!

Why we nap

This is a week with lotsa little stuff going on, but all together it adds up.

This is my last week of teaching, which unfortunately is not my last week of correcting. That’s going to go on deep into next week and beyond.

I’ve arranged for my first-place hockey team to join the Montreal Canadiens’ Learn, Respect, and Fun Program, which involves getting all 14 kids and one parent per to sign a form, after which I hand out patches and stickers. The kids love it. What they’ll love even more is the December 8 trip we’ve arranged for them. Our Panthers, and a few loved ones, will visit the Bell Centre that morning to watch the Habs and then the Hurricanes practice. I myself will probably not be able to attend, but the kids will love it.

An internet marketing firm contacted me and asked to buy some ads on certain of my blog posts. Every so often, I point out how my blog ranks oddly high for some search terms, and it’s paying off. The company even wants to buy some ads on my site. Don’t ask me to calculate pay per word, though. Yeesh. I couldn’t stand to sell my soul in perpetuity, so instead I’m going to run the ads for the limit approaching infinity in Internet time: a year.

I’ve started my next screenplay – well, sort of. I’ve started researching it. It’s a biography set in the 1930s. Coincidentally, or not, I also poked my head into TriggerStreet for the first time in over six months.

Breaking “Futurama” News

There’s an interview with David X. Cohen over at TV Squad.

Why? What!? Why!? You have to ask why?!?!?!?!! The new “Futurama” DVD comes out tomorrow! And David X. Cohen is head writer and executive producer of the show – the showrunner, we showbiz types say.

Here’s a sample (plus some extra text to help the blockquote not overlap the image of the DVD cover art to the left):

…I would encourage any Fox network executives reading this to ignore the first 20 minutes of the movie where we grind you up into a powder, and please call us up and we’ll be more than happy to be back on Fox as well.

Still undefeated

My NDG Novice B hockey team played our third and fourth games of the year this past weekend. We played against two teams who had played each other last week. Our Saturday opponent had won that game 6-2.

I flip-flopped the goalie assignments so Player 19 (hey, if I’m not naming my own kids, I’m certainly not naming other kids), our more experienced goalie, would play Saturday and Child Three (= Player 4) would get the presumably easier assignment Sunday.

I was correct in one respect: Saturday’s opponent was tougher. We won 2-0, and held our opponents to two shots. Sunday, we won 6-0 and also surrendered but two shots – although I must add that they were good shots and Child Three made technically perfect saves, especially on the one “hard” shot that he redirected with his stick blade into the corner.

Our team sits with four wins in four games, outscoring our opposition 14-2 in the process. The other two NDG teams have cut through the opposition equally well and the battle for league supremacy is shaping up to be a battle between us.

Bonus answer to last Friday’s trivia question:

The two other Brit leads putting on American accents for American network television are Hugh Laurie on “House” (the easy one) and Damien Lewis on “Life”. Lewis was especially hard to guess because he’s best known in North America for portraying Lt./Capt./Maj. Dick Winters in “Band of Brothers”, for which he also put on an American accent.

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