Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 2: Detroit 3, Pittsburgh 1

Second verse, same as the first: two games, two nights, two wins, and the more things change, the more things seem to stay the same. The Penguins did manage to get on the board in both games, even taking the lead in Game 2, but they just don't have the talent to play with Detroit, and that's clear when you look at the job that the Wings have done on Crosby and Malkin. They're both special players, and Malkin has done an excellent job, all things considered, but Crosby has disappeared again ... he just can figure out what to do against the Detroit defense, and really, the other two lines aren't exactly helping (although to be fair, I guess Pittsburgh usually rolls three lines, so you can't expect the fourth-line guys to contribute).

The officiating was bad again. I guess there's been a directive from Gary Butt-man to roll the clock back 15 years ... if I squint, I can almost see Rangers-Canucks or Devils-Wings, complete with holding, grabbing, and interfering. Until the game was clearly over, at least there wasn't any bad physical stuff, and even at that point McCreary had to give the Wings a power play after Malkin threw his cereal on the floor and screamed. I mean, the second Detroit goal came after Hossa committed a couple of uncalled penalties, players are getting pulled down right in front of a ref with no penalty ... who knows what the series would be like if Pittsburgh's power play was on the ice?

The outburst by the Pens at the end was expected, I guess. Olczyk (former Pens head coach) in particular seemed to like it and trotted out the old "sending a message" line. And I always respond that the message is on the scoreboard. In a sense, it was really stupid of Malkin ... if he jams a finger on Zetterberg's head and can't play in Game 3, you know? But he was frustrated, and he probably felt this was the best way to express himself.

And like Anaheim and Chicago before them, the Pens can take their Philadelphia ways home with them. (The Flyers have been playing like that for 35 years or so and the NHL has practically embraced it, which is a shame. It's much better to watch talented teams playing hockey than to watch semi-talented teams playing rugby on ice.)

The Pens just can't compete with Detroit's depth, and at some point, the talking heads are going to have to acknowledge the job the Wings' defense has done. We heard the same blah-blah-blah about Kane and Toews, the two youngsters unlike anyone the Wings had played so far, and five games later, the Hawks were done.

Come on, Datsyuk and Draper, two of the three best defensive forwards on the Wings, have missed the first two games, and Detroit's won two two-goal games. How much more do they need to show to prove they're the better team by far? If Pittsburgh were missing Malkin and, say, Staal had missed the first two games, and Detroit were perfectly healthy, it might have been 4-0 and 5-0 like last year.

Pittsburgh has three games left, max. I think they'll split at home and lose Game 5 on Saturday.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1: Detroit 3, Pittsburgh 1

I'd love to give a more detailed recap, but frankly WTHR sucks balls and I can't do it. I still don't understand why they spent so much time giving us so little useful information. It was pathetic, really. (Especially when they actually went off the air for a bit, and not my satellite either: DirecTV had no signal to transmit. Embarrassing.)

And this is why networks are working themselves out of the sports business. For one thing, they cover sports so infrequently, they have to borrow guys (and gals) from the networks that do cover it. For another, they're at the mercy of the local stations: there are thousands of stories during NFL season about local affiliates screwing over the fans in various ways. Here, it wasn't NBC's fault that WTHR ruined the broadcast, but it happened nonetheless, and it reflects poorly on NBC.

You see, the networks used to be everything to everybody, and they still think they can do that. The problem is that for cable and satellite customers, specialized channels long ago eclipsed most of what the networks offer, and the irony is that digital channels will do the rest. Why bother to watch the regular weather on WTHR news when you can watch their weather channel 24/7?

The networks are just sheep any more, only bothering to feed people whatever the other networks seemed to have done well. I think if Fox decided to put on dead air between 8 and 8:30 on Thursdays, the others would follow suit because they'd think there must be something to it.

I never thought I'd look forward to Vs covering the Cup finals, but I guess I am now.

Anyway, the Penguins played well, but the Wings played better. We heard the same tired storyline as last season (Can the veterans hang with the young, fast Penguins, especially Crosby and Malkin?), and it played out pretty much the same as before. The Wings also have fast players (remember Helm's breakaway) and the Penguins also have old players, so let's put that one to rest. The Penguins have health and the Wings don't, that's about it ... but it was the Wings who had the depth (yet again) to win Game 1. Lidstrom played only a little bit under his usual numbers, and Babcock was able to roll four lines the whole game.

The extreme lack of penalty calls might favor the Pens a little (or not - Detroit's penalty kill has been atrocious so far), but aside from that, unless Bylsma has something up his sleeve for Game 2, we're going to see a repeat of last year's Finals.

I have to admit that I didn't think Detroit would make it this far when the playoffs started, but honestly, they've just done the same things they did last season. The talking heads want this to be an exciting series and want Pittsburgh's young guns to carry the day (everyone loves an underdog), but I just don't see it yet.

Game 2 tomorrow night. A Detroit win forces the Pens to win four of five; a Pittsburgh win means the Penguins can hold serve to win the series.

WTHR = Worst Television Here. Really.

Why does local TV suck so much these days? Example #1472: all throughout the first period, WTHR keeps breaking in to tell us that there are tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings.

Oh no, that's not the bad part. That's actually helpful. The problem is that they don't show where the warnings are in effect! All they do is show us where the storms are. No boxes on the screen, no text at the bottom ... the idiot announcer doesn't even say them himself! But he'll keep us posted throughout the game. Oh joy.

I get 10 times this information from websites and other channels, and frankly, with the digital channels available, if this is the best WTHR can do, they should just take their entire weather department off the air. Stick them on 13-4 or whatever it is and leave the rest of us in peace.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Winner winner chicken dinner

At Discover Card, blah blah blah. We are sorry to see that you fail to use our crappy card with our crappy service. We are closing your account.


I WIN!

P.S. Don't worry, the credit line was quite small compared to the credit that I have. I doubt it will make much of a splash, and if it does, I don't care. They have always sucked.

P.P.S. I win.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So there

ESPN's Sheldon Burnside has a nice little post about the NHL playoff schedule.

You remember the NHL? No? Oh, well, there was a playoff game on Tuesday. There's another tonight, but in the other conference. Don't worry, we'll get there eventually.

I posted a long reply ...

Back in the day (early to mid '90s), games were every other night until the series was over, and it was great. You knew when each game of the series was, good series got to keep the momentum going, and the best series seemed to end too soon.

Now, particularly during the conference and Stanley Cup finals, it's easy to forget that hockey is still going on, especially when it's on a third-tier network (at best).

The NHL's excuse about breaks is ridiculous ... if anything, spacing out games makes it even more likely you'll wait forever for the next series. If the Wings sweep the Hawks and the Pens-Canes series goes 7, Detroit will be waiting 9 days just for the series to end, never mind for the Finals to begin! Game 4 of the East is 2 days after Game 4 in the West.

A good commissioner would regain control of the schedule and tell the minor networks how it's going to be. Vs doesn't have that much that it needs to show, and the ratings for NHL playoff games are bad anyway ... of course on a real network like ESPN, there would be options other than delaying by days (moving a game to ESPN2, News, Classic, whatever).

Of course this one is too concerned with not letting THAT MAN have an NHL franchise to care. Hey, it's the same guy who thought fans would come streaming back after the lockout. Why expect anything better from him?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Weigh-in 11: -1.5 pounds

Not exactly a breakthrough, but that could be coming ... on the other hand, it matches my weight loss from the last three weeks combined.

This time, I really only changed two things. One was that I was careful about what I ate on the weekend: Friday through Sunday, I ate about 5300 calories, compared to 6900 calories the week before. Granted, those are estimates, but that's about half a pound right there.

The other was that I bought a bike. I determined that the bike in my garage that was the result of drunk shopping was not likely ever to meet my needs, so ems, candace and I went to the store. I played Uncertain Customer while they were Inquisitive and possibly Future Customers. I left with a lighter wallet and a better exercise plan.

In fact, the plan started almost immediately. With no bike racks in stock (good weather = bike-buying season), they couldn't give me an easy way to get the bike home, and Civic Hybrids are not made for carrying any kind of cargo. Fortunately, the bike shop was 1.8 miles from home. (I drove it that night to check out the distance.) I raced for home as ems and candace followed, meeting me at my place so we could go out to eat and then gather cars afterward.

So ... here's this 40-something in a polo shirt, jeans, and loafers, riding a new bike on secondary roads to his house. The last time I rode a bike was, hmm ... something with a 9 in it. Probably two of them. I mean, balance and such was no trouble, and it was late enough that traffic wasn't bad (I figured if my first ride was on the road, anything after that would be easier), but still, it wasn't my finest performance.

I made it home and had time to catch my breath before we ate. I did a bit too much sprinting (not in quite the right gear at times, I'm afraid), but it was fun. We're going riding tomorrow and Sunday, and I'm looking forward to it.

Work weight of 180, here I come ...

Ooh, and I almost forgot. They had a nutritionist here yesterday and I got my blood pressure taken. 124 over 88, which doesn't sound that good (it isn't, borderline hypertension if you take it at face value), but the last couple times I took it at the in-store kiosks, it was higher than that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stalking teh innernets, update

So, a few weeks ago, I made another attempt to get a short-term gig writing stuff on demand to be torn apart by internet sports fans.

Turns out I didn't make the cut. Email was sent to the ten finalists this morning. Assuming they all accept, then the contest has begun, and I am not in it.

There are a couple of possibilities. One is that at least one contestant is a raging moron, declines the opportunity, and I happen to be 11th on the list. (Not likely.)

The other is that there are some people who didn't make the cut, but may get honorable mention and a one-time flash of spotlight. That is barely possible.

I'm not holding my breath. I feel like I wrote poorly for the contest anyway, I always feel that way. Oh well, better to have writer's block/remorse/whatever as part of a hobby than as part of a job ...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Random thoughts

  • On the way to work today, I saw a GMC Yukon with US Government plates (cool) ... and an EPA sticker in the lower left (huh?) ... and EPA on the plate itself.
    Really? A Yukon? How about a Highlander hybrid, or maybe an Escape hybrid? What exactly are you protecting?
  • A nice article a few days ago on ESPN.com by Pedro Gomez about cheaters and the Hall of Fame. Sometimes it seems obvious, but it's good to hear it in the "mainstream" media. You cheat, you're out. No questions asked.
  • On a similar note, E.J. Hradek strongly disagrees with the NHL's decision to remove the suspension on Scott Walker. Maybe the league wouldn't be such a joke if it decided to penalize thuggy behavior and cheap-shot artists.
    Sure, there are the marginal fans who watch hockey only for fights, but honestly, the sport is better off without them. You don't see NASCAR catering to the crash fans, do you?
  • Peggle is fun.
  • Game 7s are much better when your team wins.
  • So has the NBA orchestrated the Lakers-Cavs Finals yet, or am I asking too soon?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Weigh-in 10: -0.5 pounds

Three straight weeks ... on the one hand, I think I'm limiting my caloric intake reasonably. It looks like I'm down to about 2150 calories a day, assuming that I need about 2400 to maintain my current weight. (Sometimes being a guy is nice: higher metabolism, more calories needed.)

On the other hand, Calorie Count thinks I should be around 2000 calories a day, which would cut out about one additional pound every three weeks. Also, the exercise has been tapering off. I keep finding excuses not to work out, although honestly it's almost always poor planning on my part.

Today it's not my fault, though. I will get to exercise, just not as much as I'd planned. With the rainout, instead of volleyball, I get a Y workout. And by volleyball I mean one fours match with one extra (at most) and one sixes match, possibly with extras ... but in any event, lots of cardio. Oh well.

Next week, I have the week of syzygy: volleyball, ColdFusion meeting, and homeowners' association meeting, all at once (literally - it's not even like I could go from a to b to c), and on a day where I have SQL class during the day and then have to drive down here for weigh-in afterward. yuck. It'll probably be the homeowners' meeting. I've lived there almost seven years and haven't been to one yet.

Volleyball will help, that's extra cardio on Wednesdays, especially if I ever do sub on the fours team. I just need to plan my days better, that's all.

And get my bike fixed, for reals. Then I can go riding with my readers. (Isn't that cool? For all you know, it would look like the Tour de France ... well, it will anyway, but more like the time trials than a normal leg.)

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

So, while the business world continues to beat at my brain, the "outside" world is having a go at me.

Tonight is volleyball, which means we owe money. Fine, I'll bring a check or my checkbook ... except that of course I was running late and I forgot to bring it.

Okay, so I'll go out at lunch and get cash. Fortunately, B ended up going somewhere else and I didn't have her get me something. That would have been awkward at 6:00 when I had 30 minutes to get to the match on a 30-minute trip with little gas in the tank.

Well, I filled up, finally found a non-Chase ATM (not only does Chase suck in general, but the branch where I'd go has about four entrances, only one of which leads to the ATM machine. I tried the other three last time and gave up) ... and suddenly remembered that when my old debit card expired, I set a new PIN on the new one.

No idea what it was, and I didn't want my card eaten, so I gave up and came back to work. I can reset it online ... except I changed my password recently and couldn't remember it. So I had to reset that password to log in to reset the PIN. Which I did.

Now I can go get money. maybe. Normally, I manage this stuff well, but man, when I forget the wrong thing ...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One website, extra fail

So the e-commerce site on which I'm working is in "beta" now, and by "beta", I mean whatever comes before alpha. (I know the Greek alphabet, I rushed a fraternity once. Hey, they had free beer. The irony was that I wouldn't have made grades even if I'd got in.) Small company, no testing department, a language not well suited to unit testing (well, two languages) ...

I'm working through the first round of bugs and tracking them in JIRA (we took advantage of the Stimulus Package offer, a five-user license for $5), and one of them was a tricky one, or so I thought.

Like most places, you can register before or after you order, whichever you like. Unlike most places, we want to require all information because we have a very limited customer base and need to be able to get in touch with them for important things like pricing and confirmation. Thus, when they submit the registration form, I wanted to indicate which fields had been omitted (in case they weren't sure). Easy enough, I'll just highlight the label next to the field, like so:

Username:

Except it didn't work. No matter what I checked, the page refused to highlight the missing labels in red.

Today, I figured it out. You see, computers are very good at doing what you tell them to do. If you're very good at programming, they do exactly what you tell them to do, regardless of any differences between what you said and what you meant. (I like to think of them as having the mindset of disgruntled twelve-year-old boys: don't tell them to pour a glass of milk unless you also say "in the glass".)

In this case, I was telling it to highlight the field in red, not the label, so it did ... and I had no way to see this in practice, because the only way to tell was if there was text in the box (to turn red), and if there was text in the box, then it wouldn't be an error and wouldn't be marked as such ...

d'oh.

And to think I'm working on my master's. (That reminds me, I need to get moving on that application. Yeah, I do like not having any homework ...)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Weigh-in 9: -0.5 pounds

Sorry for the late post ... decent progress last week. Definitely reasonable for maintaining a lower weight, and also considering the work I've (not) been doing, but not exactly on target for August.

I mean, I'm not far behind – my weekly pace should be 1.6 pounds – but it doesn't take too many weeks behind pace to really mess you up. (It's like a project.)

So ... part of it is that I'm difficult to motivate. And lazy by nature.

I need to work on that. I did go to the gym last night, and I tried interval training ... I just don't have the stamina to go as hard as I'd like for the intervals. 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off for 30 minutes (starting and ending off to make it work in 30 minutes). Decent workout, probably better than if I'd done my usual.

I need to get my heart monitor fixed (the receiver definitely needs a new battery, the transmitter might as well). The funny thing is that the closest repair place is in Ann Arbor. Of course it's not worth an 8-hour round trip, and I'm not going there until July, which is far too long to wait. Oh well. At least I know where to find them if there are any problems.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Strung out on Crystal Light

"You look exhausted."

I think I do a lot. I figured it was just my eyes. But yeah, I was dragging all day yesterday. The sleep I was getting didn't seem to be helping enough, and I couldn't figure out why.

Then later that day, one of the bloggers I regularly read posted about how she was changing from Diet Coke: aspartame to Diet Coke: Splenda. That made me curious, so I looked up the caffeine on this handy-dandy page.

And as I was looking (it's a difference of 11 mg, by the way, with the Splenda version having less caffeine), I came across this gem:

Crystal Light Energy 16 120 7.50

(That's ounces, milligrams, and, well, mg/oz.)

Hey, that's funny. I drink Crystal Light Energy. More than one, sometimes. (For the sake of comparison, Diet Mountain Dew has 55 mg.)

oh ho. Now it becomes clear.

Take two Wild Strawberries (that's the brand above), a Citrus Splash (80 mg), and a Peach Mango Green Tea (50 mg), and no wonder I have trouble sleeping now.

Part of the problem is that Crystal Light pulls the same half-container crap that soft-drink manufacturers pull: according to them, Wild Strawberry has 60 mg caffeine "per serving." Sorry, we may be friends but you may not share my bottle.

So now I have to scale that back. I was wondering why sometimes I'd drink 100 ounces of water or more and still be thirsty ...

Saturday, May 02, 2009

No Consequences League

Here's proof.

No suspension.

I suspect part of it is that they didn't want to "hurt" the Ducks' chances. No word on whether the tactics of a player like Brown hurt the Wings' chances. Franzen's postseason struggles last season were largely caused by a blow to the head. The Wings were lucky. (Feel free to look up any number of NHL players who were forced to retire due to head injuries. I would guess few, if any, were the result of legal hits, because, you know, it's illegal to hit someone in the head.)

That's why you have teams like the Ducks and Flyers. Why bother to follow the rules if you don't ever have to pay?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Wings 1, Thugs 0

And so it begins ...

So here is a guy who was averaging almost 5 PIM a game for Vancouver (you'd think Crawford was still coaching there). Anaheim acquires him, and surprisingly he drops to "only" 2ish a game. I'm sure Carlyle had a talk with him ...

After picking up a mere three minors in six games against San Jose, he nearly triples that on a single cheap shot to Jiri Hudler's head. The only question was whether the stick was involved, or if it was simply a straight elbow.

To the referees' credit, Brown was summarily ejected: major plus misconduct, which IIRC means an automatic review. He'll probably get a one-game suspension. (It's his third misconduct of the season, but the other two were fighting-related, one for instigation.)

He should get a 20-game suspension. Guys like Brown and teams like Anaheim are the main reason why the NHL is what it is today. Instead of prattling about how it's the instigator rule that is mysteriously causing all this, the NHL needs to sit with the NHLPA (which needs to remember it represents the injured as well as the thugs) and put an end to this behavior.

You would have thought that the McSorley and Bertuzzi incidents would have been enough, but no. Apparently the NHL is waiting for a player to be carted off in a coffin. That sounds like hyperbole, and I really hope it is, but if they do not make the penalty for intentional blows to the head severe enough to stop the behavior, it's going to happen.

Teams like Anaheim, Philadelphia, and Calgary have been doing this for years, and Bettman hasn't seen fit to address it. (Obviously it wasn't going to change with Brian Burke in charge of "discipline". Toronto was 16th in PIM this season. I wouldn't be surprised if they were in the top 5 in 09-10.) We saw what happened the last time his hand was forced ... or maybe we didn't because we can't find Vs.
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