Education is the key to success.  Today is the day to start.


Spring Report Card

OK, so I seem to have a mix of kind bloggers who enjoy what I write.  I love to write.  Sometimes I write well and sometimes not so much.  Some times it’s funny, sometimes serious, sometimes…well pretty brutal.

100_0417.jpgSo where do people want this to go.

Do I keep it as it is, with no real direction and ramblings of what ever I happen to stumble upon.  Do I focus on a style, such as finding the funny or comedic side of what ever comes down the pipe…and reblogging the also funny and comedic blogs of which there are plenty.  Or do I go in some other direction.

It would be easy to stay the course.  Harder to do the second and harder still the third.

And maybe it’s just my self deprecating look upon my life while pumping the tires of any accomplishment (however anonymous to protect the innocent) of my family.

Go people.  Let me know…show me the way, as Mr.Frampton sort of said back in “Frampton Comes Alive”. ( One of the few GREAT albums of the 70’s…oh don’t get me started…..).

I want to hear what you want or enjoy, please leave a comment or if you “like” this effort I will take as go with what you do when you do it…oh I’m rambling again, dammit!

More Snow?

The other day, we got snow in Edmonton.  Now we have more.  20cm, at least, have fallen in the past 48 h…maybe more.  There is no “official” snow meter, so even the local meteorologists rely on input from listeners who have used a ruler in their back yard.

We’re more used to cold.  Edmonton is on the 54th parallel (60 is the Arctic Circle map fans!)  and the wind blows down from the Northwest bringing cold.  Not so much snow, some but not like the extreme cold.  In 2010 we held the one day title of “Coldest Place on Earth” at -54C with the windchill.  It made leaving the house a major risk and huge under taking.  So ya, we know cold.  We know snow but not this much snow…not this long.

Happy St.Patrick’s Day – After shovelling on March 17…more on the way.
Snow never stopped.  Shovelled earlier in the day - can't tell.
Snow never stopped. Shovelled earlier in the day – can’t tell.

We are done.  Enough is enough.  We got snow much earlier than normal so the 2012-13 snow year seems especially long.  Not only that, as good neighbours, we shovel up to 5 other houses plus our own.  Condos are looking good right now….real good.  These are seniors or shut ins that cannot get out and we just do it.  No thanks required, we’re trying to do the right thing.  Maybe it’s a test.  The all Omniscient being that runs this whole show is  seeing what the breaking point could be.  Is it more snow?  Is it snow combined with rain then freezing?  So

So the sun comes out...it just means we can see how much snow there really is...grrr
So hte sun comes out…it just means we can see how much snow there really is…grrr

far, I think we’ve passed. There are piles of snow at least 175cm tall on some drive ways that we clear.  The four of us get out with our shovels and ‘get’er dun’.

Why not get a snowblower?  Great question.  Unfortunately it becomes an economical question.  We could get a decent snow blower for $1000 or get four new shovels each year for $80 to $125 total.  The snow blower may not last 10 seasons of this!  So we plod on.  Maybe this spring we’ll jump on the band wagon.

Our neighbours on both sides have one but hardly ever use it.  Is it because we get out there first?  One neighbour offered the use of his but I would feel very uncomfortable in case I broke it. I would find a way, plus would his expectations be that I’m doing 5 houses each time?  Probably not.

Enough of the snow.  Just let spring do it’s thing.  It is supposed to start in 4 days.  I think it will be late…really late.

Canada Loses a Legend

To those who thought I was speaking of some sort of honest politician (doubtful) or clean athlete (really doubtful), sorry to disappoint.  I am referring to, of course, the man from Skinners Pond, PEI, Stompin’ Tom Connors (1936 – 2013).

At the Gumboot Cloggeroo
At the Gumboot Cloggeroo

According to reports, he died peacefully/.  His fans, meanwhile, are mourning his passing by staring at a worn piece of plywood next to a lonely microphone-stand straining to hear the beat of a boot pounding out the rhythm.  The rhythm of another song that made you smile from the “other” Man in Black, wearing a black hat.

I first heard his singing on a CBC special as a kid.  A small hall in some PEI community packed to rafters to hear their favourite son sing of such note worthy characters as “Bud the Spud” and “Big Joe Mufferaw”, and historic recounts of the Hollinger Mines fire in Timmins, Ontario and the Reesor Crossing Tragedy from 1969 which three union workers were murdered.  No topic too regional, to controversial, to “Canadian”.  He wore the maple leaf on his sleeve, in his heart and played it on his Gibson Southern Jumbo.  Years down the road, living in Moose Jaw, SK, sitting in the Park Hotel tavern after a hockey game, a few of the boys were as excited as all-get-out that they had tickets to his cross Canada tour.  I was floored.  They knew all the words to all his songs.  The Karaoke girl couldn’t compete and had to leave that night.

He was never afraid to take a stand.  When faced with lack of support from the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission) and the disregard for home grown musicians actually plying their trade in Canada at the Junos, he returned all his previous 6 awards in a box with this letter:

“Gentlemen:I am returning herewith the six Juno awards that I once felt honoured to have received and which, I am no longer proud to have in my possession. As far as I am concerned you can give them to the border jumpers who didn’t receive an award this year and maybe you can have them presented by Charley Pride. I feel that the Junos should be for people who are living in Canada, whose main base of business operations is in Canada, who are working toward the recognition of Canadian talent in this country and who are trying to further the export of such talent from this country to the world with a view to proudly showing off what this country can contribute to the world market.
Until the academy appears to comply more closely with aspirations of this kind, I will no longer stand for any nominations, nor will I accept any award given.
Yours very truly,
Stompin’ Tom Connors”

He was ahead of his time. A “True Canadian” in that he was a trail blazer and hell raiser…along with a tip of his hat, a “please” and a “thank you, m’am”

(The above video is “The Hockey Song” on YouTube somewhere, if you don’t see it: FIND IT.)
The song that gets the most play these days is “The Hockey Song”.  From coast to coast in Canada in all different leagues, all different ages.  It may be the one tune, aside from “O Canada” that everyone will sing at a hockey game AND will know the words.

Good bye Stompin Tom, you will be missed, and certainly not forgotten.

In the End, Everthing Will Be Alright…If it’s Not Alright, it’s Not the End.

This past week I had the privilege of trying to right a wrong.  Trying to give a kid a break. I say “trying” because, as you may have quickly deduced, I was unsuccessful in the end.  However this is also a story about how making an effort can make a difference as well.

hand-upIt all begins at the end.  At the end of a rather strange Bantam mid tier hockey game, one of our players fell in front of the opposing bench.  Upon his recovery words were exchanged and the player turned, and made a rude gesture.   A typical response from a typical 15 year old.  Now the story gets some traction.

The referee had heard the words exchanged and then saw the “gesture” and quickly assessed the player a “Gross Misconduct” under Hockey Canada Rule 4.7b which states, “A Gross Misconduct penalty shall be assessed any player or team official who conducts herself in such a manner as to make a travesty of the game.” (p.57 Hockey Canada 2012-2014 Official Case/Rule Book).  For the uninitiated and to give you a sense of the severity of a Gross Misconduct, the previous penalty listed is 4.6 “Game Ejection/Game Misconduct Penalties” and the next penalty listed is 4.8 “Match Penalties”, in which players are immediately sent to the dressing room and are not permitted to take part any further games until their case has been dealt with by the President of the Local Hockey Canada Chapter.  You really have to mess up to do that…like hit a referee or linesman…use your equipment as a weapon or something crazy like dance around ignoring everyone yelling.

So let’s go back for a bit.  Players who are on the same team as the penalized player heard specific racial slurs and others regarding his sexual orientation.  The referee obviously did not hear what was said but saw the “gesture” and thought that it was directed towards him and assessed the penalty.

Watching the game progress it was not the finest refereeing job but at the same time no one is perfect and that’s just fine.

So here’s where I stumble in to the mix.  After reading the game sheet and the required referee report (one always accompanies the sheet when a misconduct is assessed) and speaking with other players on the ice, the penalty assessed was wrong.  Mounting my trusty steed, I ventured out to into the world of Edmonton Minor Hockey and the Referee Committee.  I talked with two current referees and they both said a Gross Misconduct is REALLY bad and that it would be at least a 3 game suspension, possibly more.  Based on that conversation and the one with the players, an unsportsmanlike misconduct is reasonable.  He reacted to the words as any teenager would, like he’s 10 feet tall and bullet proof.  He flipped off, if you will, the other team, not the official.

I looked up how to lodge a complaint.  Game number, date, arena, opponent, division and tier.  Then, so the process goes, the complaint CANNOT come from a coach, player, manager, parent or spectator.  It can ONLY come from the Club level.  The coach was fully behind supporting the player.  The Division and Club President was behind it, too.  In the end however, it was decided that history was against us.  No complaint would ever over turn a referee decision.  Ever.  It may become a study case for Hockey Edmonton or Hockey Alberta, but the assessment will never be overturned.  The player was assessed a  two game suspension (a lot less than I thought it would be).

Why can’t we get referee calls overturned?  Especially major penalties that assess multiple game suspensions.  These people, teenagers in many cases, are human and are prone to the same mistakes you and I make – no rocks flying from my glass house.

My windmill, I guess.    If only the story ended there.

The coach discovered the opposing team, who uttered the “words” that encouraged the “gesture”, was also not that far off the Hockey Edmonton and Hockey Alberta radar.  That team had gained such a notorious reputation that it was determined that for every misconduct assessed a player, the coach would receive two.  What could you possibly do to get that type of penalty?  There is an explanation.

The coach had been overheard telling his player to “finish the check and hit to hurt”.  It was also determined that the coach would target better players on other teams to hit and hopefully injure.  Where does this come from?

Let’s try to really boil this down: The tier is so far down that odds of a player becoming a professional player (any league or level) are higher than winning the lottery (any lottery any level).  The coaches won’t be headed to a “higher” level of coaching anytime soon.  What drives a person to specifically tell a player to target and injure another player?  To what end?  How can you be proud of winning with those tactics?  This is supposed to be ‘get out there skate, play and sweat while having fun’  like all other sports that cater to the majority of athletes.

In the end, I guess, everything will be all right.  And if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.

What’s that?  It’s not the end ?  Playoffs start this weekend?  Maybe I won’t stable the steed just yet.


You Know It’s Cold When Your Teenagers Bundle Up

This daily adventure of going out into the cold really has become a broken record, hasn’t it?  I live north of Moscow (both Idaho and Russia) so I really shouldn’t be surprised.  At the same time, with few exceptions, we are off to a chilly end to the fall season (or civilization as we know it if you follow the Mayan Calendar) which ends tomorrow sometime.

We have endured -15C (5F) or colder, with or without the windchill, since mid November.  I am no meteorologist, so correct me if you want.  Tell it to my neighbour!  It sure feels colder than normal.  My wife doesn’t even want to drive to the “north side” in case it feels colder still.

We’re all whiny babies, it’s true.  This is winter “Princess”.  Maybe it’s just that I am getting older and my bones feel it more now than ever.  I say it’s more humid than normal which could be a factor, if true.  True or not, the most telling sign the weather is cold and the temperature has reached that “holy crap it’s cold” stage: The boys wore winter coats to school with mitts and hats included.  These are the same boys that wear lined hoodies because they look cooler than coats.  The “I’m fine” factor takes over and there is nothing you can do to change their minds.

Until a day like today.  (Click here to see the Weather Network and if I’m wrong! )

When it’s cold: wear the right clothes and in layers.  I would rather be carrying clothes I took off because I was too hot than wish I had more because I was too cold.  And it’s cold, baby, and getting colder.

The Fallout

So what happened to all those we kids left behind?  More than likely they’re happily playing for whomever.  They will go to practice, skate hard, listen to the coach, spend too much time getting undressed and go home.  They will show up for games, play their position, work hard and go home.  Then there’s time for everything else…school, social activities and, of course, girls (or boys).

So what’s really changed?

All artistry begins with a blank sheet…

They, both my boys – different teams and different clubs – are really happy.  They’re playing with their friends.  They’ve made new ones.  They’re playing on teams that want to compete.  Most important: They’re having FUN.  Imagine that, kids just playing for fun? Will no parent or adult in Hockey Edmonton/Alberta/Canada intervene?

Still, the best part is that the exodus was instigated by the players themselves.  The kids that stayed I’m sure are having fun.  A case for the contrary, unfortunately, was relayed to me by a Dad who’s midget aged boy still plays for K of C.  Things are not so good.  There’s personality conflicts and in- fighting.  He, the player’ s dad, says the boy would move down to fit in rather than stay.  He hasn’t left yet but sounds like he might.  I don’t believe he is the only one.

The “Tier-ing” could actually be part of the problem.  Yes the level of play on paper is equal; the ages and years of experience are also considered.  However, I submit, if it were back to “who ever shows up also plays” you would have an unbalanced team in terms of skill but you would also have the hierarchy that exists today in all organizations. The bottom players improve because they have to try to keep up.  The skilled players have to lead.  Everyone has a role that really extends beyond the team and into the community.  A good team will show the lessor skilled players how to lead and the skilled players how to mentor and be a better person.   The hockey may not be as exciting but we are talking about the kids who just want to play and not become part of the “machine”.  Those elite players are driven, focused and inspired to play a game they are very good at.  Many house league players have the same if not better skills, what they lack is between the ears – and count your lucky stars.

But that’s another article, isn’t it.

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