Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28th PK (post-Kovalazy)

I forgot to set my alarm.
A ringing telephone woke me up.
Quel jolt!
Still, I managed to get Tristan to school on time.
The NHL trade deadline has come and gone and the Senators remain lowly. Things may pick up on draft day. What am I saying? Things will absolutely pick up on draft day because they can't get much worse!
The Sens dealt Campoli, but he was never worth talking about. Chris Phillips is worth talking about; he didn't deserve the contract extension. He makes too many mistakes out there and, most games, lacks intensity
I met Susan for lunch at PVM.
She and Tristan shovelled the driveway.
This weekend, she also recaulked the bathroom.
I, for shame, played ball hockey.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Munchkins Everywhere Celebrate Trade

Whenever Chris Kelly appeared on the television screen, I would hastily inform everyone trapped in the room with me that I once had breakfast with the former Ottawa Senator. That we did not share a table is beside the point. It was April 2007 and our television station had a team entered in the 7th Annual Canwest Cup hockey tournament. I had driven from Montreal to Ottawa on the Friday of the tournament weekend, to play a 9:15 game that night. The next morning, I found a popular breakfast place down the road from the hotel and sat down to eat my meal.

As my eyes scanned the restaurant, I noticed Chris Kelly sitting a couple of tables over. We actually stood at the cash together waiting to pay our bills. I said nothing to him and there was not a peep uttered by him to me. Evidently, the breakfast we'd shared had been enough.

Susan and Tristan took the bus to Ottawa on Saturday and thanks to the kindness of  Mike, our team manager, we had our own incredible room at the posh Brookstreet Hotel. The Pens were staying there too and, at one point during our stay, I was forced to stomach an elevator ride with Gary Roberts.

Later in the tournament, company staff were treated to box seats at the Senators-Penguins playoff game.
Again, Mike ever so kindly arranged that Tristan and I could go together. It was awesome! Even more thrilling, were my responsibilities as centre on the PAD line; Peplowski-Armstrong-Dagenais. I say with great humility that, alas, I'm not here to discuss our astounding exploits as hockey players, or the grand achievements of our team in that year's tournament. I only mention my memory of this terrific weekend because today's Kovalev trade made me think of other notable Senators who've just been traded away.

Kelly's a Bruin and Mike Fisher is a Predator. Over the last couple of seasons, no one's on-ice performance has ticked me off more than Alex Kovalazy. He was sent to Pittsburgh today for a conditional 7th round draft pick and, as far as I'm concerned, the Penguins have been royally ripped-off because he's not even worth that much!

He's a multi-million dollar snail.

When Paul called out the trade in the office today, the two resident Senators fans burst into tears of relief and hope. I'm fairly certain colleagues could hear our sniffles under the crinkled bags over our heads.

It may be Kovalazy's 38th birthday, but it's Sens fans who are celebrating! I compare it to that moment in the "Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy's house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East! The terrible burden lifted, the Munchkins rejoice! Like the Munchkins, Sens fans are prancing and dancing, not necessarily in that order, with joy! The only Sens fans who are not rejoicing at Kovalazy's departure are the ones who are as blind as bats and couldn't see his apalling lack of effort for what it was.

Granted, off the ice, he does some pretty wonderful things in the community. On the ice, he's good for nothing. This season, he's managed 14 goals in 53 games at $5 million a year. Please, give someone else a chance!

Whee! Kovalzy is gone; nice landing, Dorothy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Man in the Coffee Beans

Suddenly, the phone on my desk rang. Not once did I consider it might have been Susan, but here she was, calling. Seconds earlier, I had sent her my humble admission of failure. I couldn't find the man in the coffee beans.

At some point this afternoon, she sent me an e-mail titled, "The Man in the Coffee Beans". The object was to locate the man hidden in a picture of cluttered brown coffee beans. As soon as I realized this coffee bean thing was a perceptual test, something stirred inside me. I rarely do well at these things and always end up scoring the intelligence of a gopher. Before scrolling down to see the picture, I noticed Susan's remark, "I did it in less than a minute."

La di da.

I checked the clock on my desk before scrolling because that was part of the test. I began looking at the picture. Nothing. Thirty seconds zoomed past. Squat. A minute. Zippo. Two minutes. Nada. Maybe if I remove my reading glasses. Bupkis. I've seen these drawings where you have to go into a trance before the hidden image emerges. Three minutes. Zilch.

What am I doing this for; I'm busy and gopher-brained, so what?

Reading on, the test heaped the inevitable praise on all those able to discern the man in the coffee beans within a matter of seconds. Those rodents who could not accomplish the task within three minutes, had strict instructions to find right-brain exercises and diligently start doing them before it was too late.


I sent Susan back an e-mail stating simply, "Never found the man in the coffee beans". Then, somewhat steamed at the man in the coffee beans, I deleted the file. Now, Susan was calling. Coincidence? I think not. Was this a pity call? A gloat session? Some sort of misguided consolation attempt?

I answered and sweetly, she asked, "Did you find him?"
"I deleted the file," I answered, indifferently.
"Aw", she said, realizing she might be robbed of her fun.
"Fine", I muttered.
Partly curious to see whether I could bolster my shattered self-esteem, I went into my deleted items folder and opened it. Once she sympathetically told me how to find the man in the coffee beans, I spotted him immediately. Craftily, she made her phone call sound like it was meant to offer encouragement, but she was gloating! I could smell it; a definite dry roast.

The man in the coffee beans had left a bitter taste in my mouth. Still, he'd proved nothing. In the art of Dutch graphic artist Maurits Escher, I've studied ambiguity of  two and three dimensions, and of figure and ground. In class, we'd discussed Escher's mathematical and crystallographic influences. Phooey on the man in the coffee beans!

Susan went to Tristan's school tonight to get his report card at parent-teacher interview night.  For my part, I drove to my hockey game and pulled into the overcrowded arena parking lot before suddenly remembering this week's game had been cancelled. I drove back home feeling quite gopher-like. Neither of us has dared mention the idiot in the coffee beans.

I don't want to overstate the obvious here, but if  the man in the coffee beans shows up on your computer screen, you can be sure of one thing. Trouble's brewing!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Heal, Spike, Not Heel

Last week, I interviewed Marcus Tabachnick, chairman of the Lester B Pearson School Board, about their digital citizenship initiative. The idea is to teach students in all grade levels of the board's sixty schools how to be responsible digital citizens. The same day I taped that interview, my employers sent out an e-mail outlining the television station's social media policy.

Rather than download songs for free, I, as a responsible digital citizen, pay to download songs. This week, $50 iTunes cards are on sale for $40. Chain me down!

Absolutely, people ought to be responsible and accountable for the things they text, post, write, show, download and buy in cyberspace. Although the reality is gradually changing, the internet remains largely un-policed. It has connected the world and, while it offers incredible amounts of useful information and opportunities for learning and understanding, from a financial, personal, social and sexual point of view, it remains a potentially predatory place.

The initiative by Lester B Pearson School Board is timely and innovative.

On the same show as the school board segment, I interviewed a producer of the new video game, "Dead Space 2", rated "mature" for blood and gore, intense violence and strong language. Egad! Perhaps I should consider a self-imposed policy of responsible digital interviewer!?

Sometime between the time I left the house last Tuesday and the time Susan got back from work, Spike developed a nasty limp. Spike is our youngest of two Westies. He's a sweet, playful little dog. Westies are prone to knee problems and our older Westie, Moose, had surgery on both knees. We took Spike to the vet, who suggested a week's worth of rest to see whether things improve. Heal, Spike, heal!

There will be a draw at work today for tickets to tonight's Linkin Park concert. I had no intention of putting my name in, but, after discussing it with Tristan earlier this weekend, I considered it. We're both fans! As I drove him to school this morning, I checked again and he admitted he'd likely be too tired; so scratch that. Such a sensible fellow.

I'm telling you, Susan cannot relax at home, alone! We came back from ball hockey Sunday morning and she had shovelled the entire driveway, done laundry, cleaned the floors, painted the bathroom, built a multi-layered wall unit, re-tiled the kitchen and made lasagna! She's crazy wonderful!

As we negotiated the value of potential Valentine's gifts, she, snarling and slashing, backed me into a corner, forcing me to confess I had bought her a Kindle. She's (sigh) not impressed.