The Cats and the Hats

I’m going to interrupt my own fishing story here to mention two unrelated things.

First, the Ticats lost to the Roughriders on Saturday afternoon, but miracle of miracles, the Tabbies were in the game right up until the end against the Grey Cup Champs. Games in which the hometown side meaningfully participates have been kind of rare around here for the last few years, and especially so in the early months of the season. As this highlight package shows, the ‘Cats battled back after being down by more than a touchdown on a couple of occasions, and they actually had the lead with a minute and a half to go. The visiting champs, though, had luck on their side – a first quarter field goal that followed a glide path designed by M.C. Escher, a critical second quarter fumble in the so-called “red zone” by the hometown monster-back Jesse Lumsden, a series of ill-timed penalties that got the visitors a major late in the first half, and finally, an incredibly obvious blown call by the officials that sealed the Ticats’ fate. Jykine Bradley‘s hustle and effort to chase down the ‘Rider player from behind (the guy who was seemingly on his way in to the end zone unchallenged for the winning score), punching the ball out to cause a fumble – that was an amazing feat of determination. It’s a shame that the official who was standing right there blew the call so badly. That guy’s buddies should get a refrigerator-sized enlargement of a picture showing him with his arms upraised and signalling “touchdown”, with the ball clearly being fumbled by the Saskatchewan ball carrier – and post it on a wall across from the guy’s house for the next six years, just to remind him what a colossal fuck-up he committed. Although there were reasons for concern – one might legitimately point out that the Ticats could have won the game if they were simply able to make another first down, and that it might have been possible to choose a more inventive play than “Lumsden up the middle” on second and four with the game on the line and everybody in the building expecting Jesse to get the ball. One might also point out that the ‘Riders might have had the winning touchdown if their slotback hadn’t tripped and fallen when he was wide open on the second-last set of downs run by the Green Riders’ offence, or that a six-yard completion on second down with a minute and a half left should NOT be permitted by the Ticats’ defence to turn in to a sixty yard pass and run touchdown play in that situation.

It says here though that – all things considered – these criticisms would be nothing more than nitpicking right now. Instead, there are a great many positives to be taken from Saturday’s game: the play of Lyle C. “Tre” Smith (his kick returns alone were a major factor in the game, consistently giving the Steeltowners excellent starting field position), the determination of a defence that rose to the occasion on several key series to derail the ‘Riders’ offence, create two-and-outs and give the offence a short field to work on, and little things like (in addition to Bradley’s play) the play of DB Chris Thompson, who in addition to hustling back to force a Saskatchewan receiver to drop a sure touchdown in the endzone, made a timely interception on the play immediately following a Ticats turnover. The bottom line is that the game was thoroughly entertaining, and Spouse and I haven’t felt so engaged by a Hamilton team in the three years we’ve been going to games together; these guys are hustling and playing like they believe they can win. Let’s hope they do win a few, but I will gladly go back to watch another game like the one Spouse and I saw on Saturday, win or lose.

A couple of quick photos – here’s one of Jesse taking the ball off tackle right.

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Here’s my favourite picture of the day; a nice-enough looking lady, likely somebody’s grandma, decked out in her proper finery – including yellow hat with a giant “Argos Suck” button affixed to the brim:

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Second, it was my birthday today and I have an update for you on this post. You may recall that I whined somewhat about the fact that I was destined to be operating the new tractor without a suitable chapeau. Well, Spouse is apparently many things, including an attentive reader: she came through in flying colours and when I awoke to her dulcet tones imploring me to have a Happy Birthday this morning, the accompanying bag o’ gifts included (amongst other tractor-related swag) one green ball cap emblazoned with the J.D. logo. I was almost sorry I had cut the lawn yesterday, denying me the chance to saddle up immediately with my new haberdashery.

Spouse headed off to the barn to ride Ralph, and Popeye and I headed down to the road to pick up the mail from the box. When I reached in and retrieved the day’s delivery, there was a letter from the tractor manufacturer.  It was a letter of thanks for purchasing a JD, and enclosing a little coupon redeemable for a fitting token expression of the gratitude of the John Deere company of Moline, Illinois.

The coupon may be exchanged for a free green and yellow “John Deere” ball cap.

Gone Fishin’

This is spouse writing for Junior who has gone fishing.  Junior will be back on Saturday.

Happy Canada Day!

The Bat-signal for Mike’s IT Guy.

Mike: What’s going on with the comments on your blog, dude? A couple of days ago, you posted some questions about hockey; being the resident Canadian know-it-all and puck freak, I of course immediately mashed keys on my word toaster and zipped you off a responding thingamajig. Something weird happened and the page took a long time to load and refresh; when it did, my highly lucid, very entertaining, undeniably witty and terribly endearing and informative comment was nowhere to be seen. I tried re-submitting it, but wordpress started making fun of me, telling me “Dude. You totally already said that.”

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So I figured maybe there was a software update that forced the comment into the moderation queue or something. Patience. All would become clear in time, right?

Well, my astonishingly incisive insights remained noticeably absent from your site again the following morning. My brain couldn’t handle it. I have this knowledge, my brain said. It’s not fair – I must, I simply MUST share it. Cue the mashing fingers again, bash the submit again, only to find WordPress definitely getting tired of my same old shit and pointing out, “Dude. I told you yesterday, you said that already. Piss off.”

My brain was in agony, but I continued to run with the “software update/moderation” thesis. I mashed another comment about your next post this morning and felt a bit re-assured that it was not immediately posted on the site;  surely this second instance of comment disappearance was corroborating evidence that the thesis was fact. Calming down almost to the agitation level of a normal human, I visited your site again this evening as part of my therapy and to partake of the virtual camaraderie of the blogosphere. Feeling suitably inspired by your posted musings, I shared the scattered intellectual goulash that is the product of my mind, a veritable epistemological jambalaya, by once again setting sausage fingers to keys and mashing away upon the “submit” button.

This time, though, my blather nonsense drivel verbal diarhhea wisdom was posted instantly, summarily disposing of my working hypothesis as to the origin and nature of the black hole into which these comments were disappearing, leading to a rather comical spit take involving hot tea and a seltzer bottle (okay, okay, that didn’t happen in real life – but it will be in the movie.) The tiny neural cortex in my head, generously described by those unfamiliar with the anatomy of the higher mammals as a “brain” immediately sputtered into action and coughed out one word, urgent and imprinted with the utmost import upon my consciousness: comment!

I returned to the hockey post yet again and examined it carefully, only to find that infuriating “No Comments” phrase taunting me via the electrons on my screen. Fingers mashed keys again, and the submitt-erator was once again engaged. WordPress was a little short with me this time, I thought – it was somewhat uncalled for, that portion of the resulting error message that wearily pointed out that “Dude. You. Totally. Said. It. Already” and then went on about how I ought to “get a life” and “fucking leave it alone already you simple-minded douchebag”*.

So. Um. I thought I’d tell you there seems to be a problem there. And I am trying very hard to resist the temptation to post here what I was trying to post there.

Every day, in every way, I get a little bit better.

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*It is possible – I’m just saying “possible” that I completely made that last little bit up.

(My) Silence is Tiring.

Your Glorious Leadership, having ensured that the sun would shine and the birds would chirp this weekend, spent yesterday and today attending to various Public Works, including (but not limited to) the Great Raking of Leaves and substantial output from the People’s Department of Garage Tidying. From these works, your Glorious Leadership has divined two truths:

  1. Having a garage to tidy is fun. For a little while; and
  2. Some leaves just will not be raked.

Some time was also spent Saturday morning attending to Certain Veterinary Errands for the betterment and well-being of the indigenous Juniorvanian fauna, an exercise that can only be described as spectacularly ill-conceived from an international trade/balance of payments perspective, given the astonishing outflow of Juniorvanian currency involved. Although the doctor in question is well-liked and respected by your Glorious Leadership, it would be more in keeping with that gentleman’s economic modus operandi if he wore a black mask, forced us to raise our hands before relieving us of our treasure, and placed it in a burlap sack marked with a large black dollar sign before creeping rather quickly out the back door to a waiting getaway car. I’m just saying that my experience would be enhanced with some better production values.

Snowed in.

Hope to add some pictures tomorrow of the massive amount of snow that has descended upon the ol’ homestead.  Haven’t started shovelling it yet;  it won’t stop falling from the sky!

Danger Makes You Safe; Skill, Superfluous.

Unrelated snippets that have me scratching my head right now:

First, according to an article in the Walrus, some cities in the Netherlands are removing traffic control signs, lane markers and other commonplace road safety measures because, apparently, the lack of appropriate signage and safety measures has been found to actually promote safer driving conduct. Evidently, people – when confronted with an obviously dangerous and frightening driving environment totally bereft of safety makers and control signage – have a tendency to behave rationally and make generally safer operating choices that are more likely to enhance their own chances of survival, with the result that traffic-related fatalities have plummeted in such areas.

Second, according to an article in Sports Illustrated, the 32 most proficient marksmen in the United States military are held back from combat. In other words, these soldiers are just proficient enough at firing their weapons to be prevented from firing at things that soldiers generally try to hit.

Third, although there is an appalling shortage of family physicians in many areas of this country – a country in which we enjoy universal health care – there are apparently enough doctors in the United States (a country in which a large percentage of the population can’t afford health care coverage at all) that some of them are apparently busy studying whether robot dogs can relieve the boredom and loneliness of geriatric patients as well as real dogs. Are we so in danger of running low on real dogs that we need to spend valuable medical resources on developing robot substitutes?

Prediction Update

Red KingI took a bit of heat in the comments, mostly from loving family members, about my failure to accurately forecast the result of Super Bowl XLII.  I was attempting to think of a witty and incisive comeback to silence my detractors but the Juniorbrain was not providing.

Instead, therefore, I took to surfing the ‘Net and found this article by Tuesday Morning Quarterback Gregg Easterbrook at espn.com’s Page 2.  Consider a sampler smidgen:

Just before the season starts, every sports page and sports-news outlet offers season predictions — and hopes you don’t copy them down.

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports forecast Randy Moss would be “the year’s biggest letdown. Moss won’t be nearly as effective as was predicted. Not even close.” Moss set the single-season touchdown receptions record. Glazer thought Lovie Smith would be Coach of the Year and Drew Brees would be league MVP; neither of their teams made the playoffs. Glazer thought the NFC West would be the league’s toughest division; the combined division record was 26-38.

The Wall Street Journal forecast the Eagles, Saints, 49ers, Ravens, Cardinals, Broncos and Jets would make the playoffs; none did. Clifton Brown of The New York Times forecast an NFC championship of Saints over Bears; neither made the postseason. He foresaw the Packers were “likely to finish around .500;” Green Bay hosted the NFC Championship Game. Judy Battista of The New York Times predicted the Dolphins “may be better than last season” and the Broncos “will not miss the playoffs.” 

My strategy now is to agree that  I did some bad on that prediction thing, but as far as epic prognosticating failures go, I have much to learn. 

Perfect Storm of Sports

I haven’t been able to even come near the computer to think about posting for the last couple of weeks. With Christmas, travel, visiting various relatives, the schedule would have been tight. Perhaps not impossible, but tight. Add on top of all that the veritable cornucopia of televised sports available over the last few days, and my blog didn’t stand a chance. I have watched the NFL (The Bills lost to end their season in one game I watched, and the Patriots managed to run the table by beating the Giants in the other); I have watched NCAA football (the end of the Capital One bowl – Go Blue! – and the first three and a half quarters of the Rose Bowl, in which I managed to get a severe hate on for USC when that idiot did a full-on flip before running the ball into the end zone for their second TD. Illini, please know that I was rooting you all on to give those showboats a whuppin’. Too bad.); I have watched NHL hockey (Sabres versus Penguins in the 2008 Winter Classic, played outdoors at Ralph Wilson stadium in front of 73,000 people that appeared to be having an absolute party throughout the televised snowstorm/hockey game. The piece de resistance in this one was Sid the Kid scoring in the shootout to end it – that guy is some good.); I have watched the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship games (round robin games Canada vs. Slovakia, Canada vs. Sweden and Canada vs. Denmark, as well as two of today’s quarterfinal matches – Canada vs. Finland and Russia vs. Czech Republic).

I have also managed to watch (with my six-year old niece) Monsters Inc. three times, as well as two Pink Panther movies, Casino Royale (the 2006 version – don’t bother) and the Rose Bowl Parade.

In the process, I have consumed 1, 345 pounds of junk food and an endless supply of fizzy drinks.

A guy could really get to like this vacation/holiday season combo.