Saturday, March 28, 2009


This morning at 9:00, the NDG's two Novice B teams faced off for the championship of the Hockey Montreal Western League.

The Panthers had beaten us 4-2 earlier in the playoffs, but we climbed into the final game with a solid 3-0 victory over the Ahuntsic Chiefs.

The Panthers had only lost one game this year - in a shootout, to us. We'd also tied them during the regular season.

This morning, our boys played their best game of the season. We dominated the game, territorially, in shots, in saves. We played better positional hockey, which got us up 1-0 on an end-to-end rush and 2-0 on a nice shot to the corner of the net. Down 2-0, the Panthers stopped playing as a team and started to press. That allowed our boys to control enough of the game and add a big goal to make the final score 3-0.

Elvi had our new video camera, but got a little confused so early in the morning about what red and green lights mean with respect to recording. We have two periods' worth of video of the breaks after whistles and before faceoffs. She did get the third period on tape, and there were other camcorderers at the game, so with any luck I will be able to slap together a DVD of the entire game.

Tomorrow morning we play the Eastern League champions for the city crown.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In my reporting of my children's activities, I have a bias for Child Three because I participate with him in his sports. Here's some news of the girls.

The Math League is an international organization that distributes math contest to schools and grades the responses. The elementary school that Children Two and Three attend usually does well in the Canadian National Math League results - but this year, the school is tops in the entire country and it's not even close.

Helping her school to victory, Child Two scored so well (37/40) that she tied for tenth in the nation. One of her best friends tied for first (39/40). You can see the scores and school rankings here.

Child One meanwhile, makes friends in odd places. While waiting for a lift home from a movie, she plopped her self down on Ste. Catherine to read her book. Apparently, the combination of her personal style and slight figure can prompt some concern. A well-meaning adult approached her and asked if she needed any food or other help. Child One said that she was fine, and the adult took her at her word, but left her with a small medallion of Mary. The slogan reads "O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee." It's a Catholic thing. As the punchline to my favourite vampire joke goes, "Dos vet nisht helfen."

Child One also makes friends on the bus. According to her, a college-aged guy took out a pen, scribbled on a business card, and handed it to her before getting off the bus. The college-aged guy's name is Kevin, he wrote to Child One "You look nice", and he included his phone number and e-mail address. I guess he has a thing for 14-year-olds in school uniforms. Oy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Live to play another day

Our team of Novice B boys finally played like they can and won 3-0 to advance to the league finals, which will be an all-NDG affair. I wonder where our team has hidden for the last month.

Child Three got the shutout, but seemed a little awkward on a few long slow shots early in the game. He came out to play one as an opposing player closed in. Standard goalie procedure in that case is to freeze the puck or at least send it into a corner where a defenceman can pick it up, but Child Three decided to stick-handle around the opponent, giving the entire bench the heebie-jeebies.

When he came to the bench after the period, he expressed how cool it had been to stick-handle the puck by the other kid....

We play again Saturday.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Patient status

As I related recently, my father and I took down some extra foliage: "Our intention was to remove one casuarina tree but physics got out of hand. One major branch took out the pride of the papaya trees on its way down. The base of the papaya tree split like a dropped watermelon. We tied the papaya with rope to return it upright and used electrical tape and soil to seal the split trunk and protect the spongy exposed innards. I have little hope for our patient, but recovery is not impossible."

You can see the fallen papaya in this photo. It's the straight gray trunk in the foreground, parallel to the ground.

My father writes with news of the recovery. The prognosis is good. Eight days post-op, our patient is sprouting new leaves and has already produced some hefty new fruit.

In the first shot, you can see our electrical-tape bandage and the loop of the rope that is keeping it upright.

Bonus hockey update:

Our boys played two decent periods of hockey last night but couldn't make up the two-goal hole they dug themselves into in the first. We lost 4-2 and play again this morning. We need to win to force a rematch with our NDG rivals in the finals.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A big move

I'm switching Web hosts at least temporarily while my web-host friends move from the Pacific Northwest to Arkansas.

My new host is local, SurfZen, which my students will recognize as the host for my course Web sites.

My blog and Web site will remain available while the DNS changes propagate over the Net, but my blogging may appear to cease until the DNS change becomes available to you, almost certainly within five days.

If the wait is intolerable, please enjoy the following video of extreme shepherding to help ease the pain.

Au revoir!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Latest gadget

When I first learned of the Vantec NexStar external SATA drive dock at ThinkGeek, I had lust in my heart. It looks like a gleaming white toaster into which your disk drives plug like slices of bread.

It works like a charm. The box has a USB cable that plugs into your computer and it works as easily as a toaster in your kitchen. Insert your drives in the slot, set for medium brown, and push down the lever. OK, I lied about those last two steps. The NexStar is actually 2/3 easier to use than your toaster.

This wonderful device does have a few drawbacks. The two-slot model costs US$78, plus shipping on top of that. A single-slice version costs US$40 plus shipping. Furthermore, the device handles only SATA drives. While it will accept drives of multiple sizes - pulled from your desktop or your laptop computers - if you have an IDE drive, you're out of luck.

These drawbacks sent me looking for an alternative. I found several, but none as cool as ThinkGeek's offering. All follow the same basic schematic: a cable with a USB port on one side and a head that features multiple hard-drive ports on the other. I settled on another Vantec product, the aptly named SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 Adapter. It cost C$25.49 (about US$20) at with additional fees and handling bringing the cost to a low C$30 - and free shipping!

We have yet to put it to use, but we can't wait! We have a pile of old drives with who knows what on them.

Bonus apology:

Sorry, Regan. I hope ThinkGeek doesn't now totally discredit that reference letter I wrote for you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Close one!

My early return from the islands allowed me to take my position behind the bench for our second Novice B playoff game. In my preview of the game, I wrote last week, "The next playoff round sees us host the Chiefs (no, not those Chiefs), who battled us to a 2-2 tie and then lost to us 3-2. We'll need more goals than the lone regulation tally in the first game."

The game was a battle without many shots through half the first period when we put one in. We tallied another early in the second period to go up 2-0.

Then the walls caved in.

Child Three made a brilliant pro-quality save on a hard riser to his glove side. He threw out his left pad in doing the splits and reached across with his trapper to deflect a sure goal into the corner. What a thing of beauty.

Unfortunately, one of our defencemen soon after coughed up the puck as he was trying to stickhandle out of the slot. Child Three was ankle-cuffed by the quick shot and the score narrowed to 2-1.

The Chiefs kept coming. Somehow, our defense gave up a two-man breakaway that resulted in a high rising goal to tie the game. We started the third period knotted at 2-2.

The first shift of the third saw a long, hard, low shot put us behind 3-2. Child Three probably should have saved that one, but he was too deep in the net - at least he knew it.

We were in a hole, but some good effort and some even better saves kept the Chiefs at bay until we tied it up. We pulled ahead with three minutes to go on a beautiful rush and pass by one of our least skilled players. Our little Frenchman took the pass and buried it in the open side of the net. Child Three had to make two game-saving stops (see the sequences below) before the buzzer sounded, but we eked out a lucky 4-3 victory.

We'll have to play better in the semifinals against our fellow NDGers.

Bonus search of the week:

Some panicky parent found this blog with a Live Search search for "baby ate chinchilla poop".

Friday, March 13, 2009

My fame increases incrementally

I'm the subject of an interview at Freelance Survivor, the blog of Dee-Ann Leblanc, a fellow member of the Internet Press Guild in Vancouver.

I'm home, tired and content. I volunteered to get the kids to school so Elvi could sleep in a bit, but I think I'll head back to bed now for a little while myself.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


In my absence, our Novice B Cougars played their first playoff game, against a team we'd faced three times this year including tournaments.

In our first encounter, we won 8-1, in our second 6-2 (I think), and last time 4-1. Detect a trend?

Well, the trend held. As our head coach described it to me, "Probably the worst game we have played. (Child Three) saved our butts, he played great. It will be nice to have you back - hopefully you can help us get back on the right track."

The final result was a 2-1 win in overtime. Zoiks! I don't know what happened, but our boys were not the team that scored 100 goals in 18 league games this year.

The Monitor had a write-up of NDG playoff hockey that featured a photo of our team after our tournament victory. Can you spot me? (Hint: only barely because the nine-year-olds are almost taller than me.)

The next playoff round sees us host the Chiefs (no, not those Chiefs), who battled us to a 2-2 tie and then lost to us 3-2. We'll need more goals than the lone regulation tally in the first game.

Bonus countdown:

37 hours and falling.

Monday, March 09, 2009

What I did on my spring-break vacation

I'm in the Bahamas with Child One visiting my dad. I enjoy coming here to see him and his wife, but after some 35 visits to a town that's now sleepier than ever, things can slow down.

We arrived March 2 and ever since, I've missed Wife One terribly. Remember, we've only been in each other's company for seven days since February 13.

I miss her, and I mope. My vacation for our first five days here consisted of chatting with her online and waiting to chat with her online. Sure, I can do it in warm weather in an outdoor jacuzzi that overlooks the ocean, but still.

I haven't been completely useless. I helped my dad tear down two trees and place a boulder in the waterfall basin that runs into the swimming pool. Our intention was to remove one casuarina tree but physics got out of hand. One major branch took out the pride of the papaya trees on its way down. The base of the papaya tree split like a dropped watermelon.

We tied the papaya with rope to return it upright and used electrical tape and soil to seal the split trunk and protect the spongy exposed innards. I have little hope for our patient, but recovery is not impossible.

The second major branch we felled got loose of the guiding rope and plonked itself down on top of the waterfall's rock wall. The resounding "ploosh" told us that one of the boulders had been knocked loose. Fortunately, it's a relatively small one and even more fortunately, my youngest brother is coming here this weekend with a friend and will have to fish it out instead of me.

While I was mopey at the best of times, last week brought some bittersweet news that seemed a lot more bitter than sweet. We have friends who moved to P.E.I. last spring/summer, and they have realized that they want to come back. The man of the family has job interviews next week in the Montreal area, so he and the whole family (with dog) are coming to town for a week or more. They need a place to stay, so Elvi invited them to stay with us.

That's fine - I look forward to hosting them. The problem is that their stay cramps any time I have to spend with Elvi between this trip and my Passover visit to Houston scheduled for April 7. Our guests are scheduled to arrive March 15, the day scheduled for Child One and I to fly home. They will probably stay through the following weekend, and the weekend after that we are due to spend at a synagogue retreat and before you know it, I'm flying away again (with the other two kids).

I want to spend more time with my amazing wife. I need to spend time with her. I explained this to my father, who had sprung for the airfare to bring us down here, and asked if he'd mind if we skipped out early so I could get this coming weekend with Elvi. He may have been disappointed to lose me for two days, but he generally was fine with it.

I called American Airlines. It would cost $800 to reschedule our tickets and that's just too much. While I resigned myself to my fate, my father found a different flight that could get us home for a total of $325 and bought that for us, which I wasn't expecting. Thank you so much! I think it might be worth it to him, though, because today he remarked that it's been a while since I walked around smiling or seemed so content.

We will now light out Thursday, in a manner we've never attempted yet. My father is a pilot and owns a Cessna 182. He has to visit Florida anyway, so he will fly us to Fort Lauderdale Thursday morning and we'll take a commercial flight from there. We've never done that before in either direction. I wonder how many times Child One will lose her breakfast.

Bonus Bahamas:

Yesterday, a small bug flew up my nose. I instinctively pinched my nostrils to try to get it out, but all I could do was detect the smell of something faintly mildewy. I think I squished it in my nose. In any case, it never flew out.

I also almost broke my toe. I got up from my seat (which was plastic and had a hole in the middle), not realizing that my left foot was asleep. My big toe buckled under my foot on my first step (off the pot) and I heard a resounding crack and felt quite a bit of pain through the sleep numbness. There seems to be nothing wrong with it now, except for some slight soreness, so I think I only cracked the toe knuckle.

Monday, March 02, 2009

LogMeIn is way, way, way cool

For a plugged-in geek, I can be remarkably late to the party. Any year now, I'll get myself a mobile phone.

This post, though, is about mobile computing - of a sort many folks have used before I became acquainted with it.

LogMeIn is a free download for Windows or Mac OS. Install it on your home desktop (or laptop if you want). Once the software is installed and you've chosen a username and password, you can go to the LogMeIn Web site, log in, and control your target machine anywhere you can access a browser.

Right now, I'm on a crappy Fujitsu laptop, logged in to the Miami airport WiFi network, and typing this blog post in Safari on my old Mac on my desk at home. I have no higher praise than to write that LogMeIn just works, and works exactly as expected. Want the command key (a.k.a. the apple key)? Hit the Windows key on this laptop. My Fujitsu trackpad controls the Mac's mouse.

I caught Elvi playing on my Mac, so we opened two text-processor windows and chatted to each other that way. We had to alternate control of the keyboard and mouse, but it certainly worked.

One feature I love is the ability to make the LogMeIn browser window fill the screen. Anyone looking over my shoulder would think I had turned this laptop into a full-fledged Mac. The screen refresh - when scrolling, for example - is a bit slow and blocky on the remote computer, but works well enough.

I may be a geek or I may be a Luddite, but sublime technology still sends chills up my spine.