Team Canada Loses to Ryan Miller and the Yanks

I’ve been holding my breath ever since about the first period of Game Two vs. Switzerland.   Team Canada looked disorganized and got outworked by a highly motivated Swiss team;  the hosts were lucky to win in a shootout.

Tonight, Team Canada worked harder but lost to a team with a better goaltender and – it must be said – a little bit of puck luck. Minor criticisms can be made – Pronger and Niedermayer both looked weak, Marleau and Thornton made all Canadians understand the frustration of Sharks fans as they completely disappeared inside an important game – but this game came down to some bad play by Martin Brodeur.  Bob McKenzie of TSN said it best on the CTV telecast: switch the goalies and tell me the result wouldn’t have been different.  Marty got us that gold in 2002, but he sure didn’t look like the same goaltender tonight.   Expect Roberto Luongo to play for Canada from here to the conclusion of this tournament.

Lots of people are busy working out the permutations of who Canada will play in the medal round, but hear this:  a win against Germany is by no means guaranteed.  If the Germans play Canada like the Swiss did, and if Canada fails to adjust in the same fashion, there is a good chance that Canada’s tournament ends right away.  I wouldn’t bet on it, but our team needs not to look past that game.  You can bet the Germans aren’t.

In the meantime, here’s an idea for the next Visa Olympics related commercial. Morgan Freeman does the voiceover, of course.  “Hear that sound?  It’s the sound of an entire nation saying ‘FUCK RYAN MILLER’ – all at the same time!”

Canada’s Olympic Hockey Dream, 2010: Step One

Step One Complete. Next up: Swiss Timing

Just want to make it clear, posting the above score is in no way meant to diminish the excellent effort of the Norwegian hockey team.  I am not talking smack about Norway, just trying to document what I hope will be a journey towards Olympic gold for Canada’s Men.  Norwegian guys are okay by me – I saw a Visa commercial tonight that reminded me about an incident in the Turin Olympics when a Norwegian cross-country ski coach, seeing that Canada’s Sara Renner had broken one of her poles, gave her his own.  Renner went on to claim a silver medal and essays on sportsmanship exploded out of word processors all over the world.

Good on you, Norway.  Thanks for an entertaining game.

The Day is a Fresh Sheet of Ice

Community Centre - HPIM0789
South Dumfries Community Centre

Both Spouse and I had the day off today – the first of a few in a row over the holiday season, I am pleased to report – and we started things off with a bang by getting up early and heading over to the local community centre for a free skate, courtesy of no less significant a Canadian institution than Tim Horton’s.   It’s become a bit of a Christmas tradition for everyone’s favourite donut-and-coffee provider to provide free public skating on a number of days over the holidays in little rinks across Canada.

It’s a great idea, the perfect marriage of community-minded goodwill with a marketing opportunity made in heaven.  Those most likely to partake are those who already spend a fair portion of their lives haunting the ramshackle rinks in the little places across this frozen country;  travel team Dads, figure-skating circuit Moms and pickup hockeyists of all ages, shapes and sizes are the ones likely to see the signs and to bring out their loved ones for a free turn around the local sheet.  They are also, of course, the folk most likely to be sitting rubbing their hands together in the frozen blue light of a cold Canadian morning that hasn’t quite arrived, desperately trying to warm the car up before heading off for their scheduled game, lesson or competition, and the folk most likely to drop in to the Horton’s drive thru for a cup o’ joe to try and stave off the chill for just a little while.

Crossovers?  Better to stand and glide.
The Author in a Resting Phase

For me, the skate was a welcome opportunity to get out from under what Spouse assures me is a very powerful Christmas jinx that is certain to cause all manner of calamity. The particular jinx involved arises, I am told, when one has failed to use a Christmas gift prior to the next ensuing Christmas Day. As it happens, I have a brand spankin’ new set of CCM Tacks, a lovely Yuletide gift from Spouse last year that – with last winter’s search for a new home and our eventual move, among other things – didn’t get taken out for a single spin.

Needless to say, the boots were feeling a little stiff. I laced them up, pulled as tight as I could and knew I was in trouble when I had essentially run out of laces when it came time to tie the knot; this suggested very strongly to me that the skate boots were not drawn nearly as tight as they should be on my foot, a fact that was quickly confirmed when I took my first tentative steps out on to the ice. It was the difference between wearing the skates and having them tied to your leg; between standing in them and standing on them. I lasted only a few slow and technically undemanding laps before I retreated to the seating area for another attempt at tightening the laces much more substantially, an effort I am pleased to report was fruitful.

Spouse too was facing challenges;  her own skates were a gift from her parents more than half a dozen years ago, a stoutly constructed pair of figure skates that are still rigidly unyielding and far from broken in.

Today’s skate was early:  the session started at 8 o’clock and ran ’til 9:30.  We arrived fashionably late, and were pleased to find that – on this day, perhaps because of the early Monday morning start – the sheet of ice was relatively empty.  We turned our laps in the company of perhaps twenty other people, at most.   We briefly tried a little ice dancing – Spouse is a brave soul to get into that kind of close quarters with a fellow whose two left feet and uniquely spastic rhythms have had their usual level of hazard augmented  by the attachment of freshly sharpened blades to the bottom of his flailing limbs.

After forty-five minutes, our extremities were telling us we’d had enough and we headed back to the little dressing room with smiles on our faces. Skates removed, pins and needles buzzing in the bottoms of our feet, we headed out of the rink and were greeted warmly by a stranger coming in with an armload of hockey gear for an oldtimer’s game of some description. The rink is truly the hub of small town Canadian community, and you feel it very palpably as you stand in the lobby near the concession stand, smell the arena popcorn and french fries; you haven’t ever been in this building, but you have very definitely been here before. We headed out into the brilliant blue morning, rosy cheeked smiles on our faces, off to do our last minute Christmas shopping, or whatever else lay ahead on the snowy road in front of us.


Stephen Harper Must Go.

I will have more to say about this in the very near future, but for the time being, let me say that I am very upset that the Prime Minister of Canada is lying to the people of this country about the way our system of government works.

In our system of parliamentary democracy, a government is formed by the leader of the party that can command the confidence of the elected legislature – traditionally, the leader of the party with the highest number of seats following an election.   In situations where the government is formed by a party with a plurality – but not a majority – of the available seats, we have a minority government.  Minority governments depend upon the support of others for their continued existence;  should the government lose a vote on a “matter of confidence” (typically, but not always, a vote concerning money), the government is defeated because it has lost the confidence of the House.

If this happens in a time period shortly after an election, the Governor General has a responsibility to the country and to the elected House to see if someone else – another leader – can form a government that will command the confidence of the House.

That is precisely the situation that is unfolding in Canada this week.  Stephen Harper is telling Canadians that there is something anti-democratic, unconstitutional and un-Canadian going on here.  He is wrong and he knows it.  It is shameful that a sitting Prime Minister would stoop to such despicable tactics in a naked attempt to hold on to power for power’s sake.  He has shown himself to be an ideologue who cannot be trusted to act with integrity and respect for our system of government and its traditions.

He has to go.  Resign, Mr. Harper.  Now.

Adam van Koeverden

One more day of Olympic fun, and then it’s a long wait until Vancouver.

I have to admit that Spouse and I have been complete summer games junkies over the last few days.  We have been camping out at night on the fold-out sofa bed in the living room so that we can fall asleep in front of Bulgaria vs. Hungary in handball.  I admit this is slightly odd.

It seems to me that Canada could not have picked a better athlete to carry our flag in the opening ceremonies than Adam van Koeverden.  Scratch that, Canada could not have designed a better athlete to represent our country.  The guy was a big favourite in the K1 500 and a medal hopeful in the K1 1000.  For whatever reason (and van Koeverden, to his credit, has no truck with those who believe in the alleged “curse of the flagbearer”), he came out flat in the final of the K1 500 and finished eighth out of nine boats.  He gets out of the boat, looks in to the camera and apologizes.  He then rests for a day and comes back for the K1 1000 final, in which he goes out strong and leads all the way – until he is passed in the final 75 meters by a guy from Australia, relegating him to the silver medal position.  In an interview with CBC’s Diana Swain broadcast here in the Eastern time zone this morning, van Koeverden says he is in no way disappointed, is honoured to have won a silver medal, and takes time out to voice his respect for the Australian athlete who nipped him at the wire.  He also manages, in the course of about a five-minute interview, to point out the increase in collegiality among athletes at these games, where even sprinters (who customarily stare each other down as if they were rival gang members) are high-fiving each other and congratulating one another and observes (without sounding cranky or piqued about it) that athletes in the summer games sports who are not named Kobe Bryant or Yao Ming would appreciate it if people would pay just a little attention to their sports in non-Olympic years.   This guy has more class in his little finger than most folks will ever see.   I am so fiercely proud that my country produces athletes like this guy;  I wish we could bottle what he has and inject it into the bloodstream of each and every player on my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs.


A shot of one of the three girthy marine monsters with whom I spent a brief portion of Canada Day (prior to returning them to their aquatic home, safe and sound, if not somewhat dissatisfied with the meal provided).

Big Bass #1

I will have more details of my trip tomorrow, but suffice to say that there are some who would argue it was less a “fishing trip” and more a “data collection exercise.”

There’s no business like snow business

We, um, got a little bit of snow here in the Hammer. It snowed Friday night and then again all day Saturday. I didn’t go outside when it was storming, because it was cold and not very nice out there. I did stick my head out the back door for a couple of minutes to take a couple of pictures. Here’s one from Saturday afternoon, showing the general blowiness of this model of snow.
blowing snow

I took this one late yesterday afternoon from the (open) bedroom window upstairs. Never underestimate the strength of your marriage. If your wife comes upstairs and finds you – in the middle of a snowstorm, mind you – with the windows open and struggling to get the screens back on, it is not necessarily true that you will be thrown out of the house immediately; no guarantees or warranties are implied, reader assumes his own risk and your mileage may vary. I think it’s awesome how confused Popeye looks. Though he loves the snow, I think even the Popper was wondering where the hell all this stuff came from. You can see how deeply buried Spouse’s car is if you look to the left of the fence, in front of the shed.

birds eye poppy

Last night, I poked my head out the back door when it looked like the snow had finished hurtling out of the sky. I snapped a shot of one of the solar powered patio lanterns on our deck. For reference, the portion of the lamp visible in the photo below is about 8 to 10 inches from top to bottom.

patio lantern

I took this one this morning after the TWO HOURS worth of shovelling it took to make the driveway passable. That thing in the middle, covered in the white stuff in front of the house – that’s my car. It’s buried, it’s not accessible, it’s not going anywhere until May, apparently, but it’s my car.

So now we use these for transport.


I have approximately seventy-seven pictures of this icicle now. This one is unique, because it shows the water droplet falling through space.