Month: October 2013

Planning forward…

The project at work moves forward; we shifted D-day from thursday to tuesday to make sure some server/cloud gremlins that have cropped up are properly dispatched. My task list has one more item outlined in red, and then I’m into the downhill run. But still, it’s mostly occupying my time and my brain. I have been doing some planning with Laurie about the next year. Everything is up for change, but it’s nice to have a general idea of plans for trips and outings where we can. The first trip out to the refuges is this weekend (project permitting) and Laurie and I are looking to head up into the Lodi area and check out Staten Island, Isenberg and Cosumnes. The weekend after that we want to head out to Merced NWR and see how the winter flocks are shaping up. I’m hearing the refuges aren’t completely flooded due to the lack of rain the last two years, and the pasture areas at Merced were in brutally bad shape when I scouted in June, so it may be a tough year for the birds. Lack of water has caused an outbreak of avian salmonella around Tule Lake that was killing off ducks a month ago; haven’t checked to see if that is under control yet. So the main hope right now is for rain, and lots of it. There...

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NHL Season Predictions 2013

Time for my annual comedy piece, in which I make predictions about which teams will do well and which ones won’t in the upcoming hockey season. I have been doing this for more than 20 years, lockouts being the exception, and I’ll keep doing it until I actually get one mostly right, I guess. This year we have realignment, which changes a lot of traditional rivalries; there’s a new playoff qualification structure, and we have a new, balanced schedule where every team plays home and home with every other team (finally). I could quibble about some of the decisions, but overall, I like the changes. I love the balanced schedule, I mostly love the new playoff format, and I think they did the best they could with realignment, other than deciding to put some pain on the florida teams. There is no perfect plan, not with the geographic clumping in the northeast. But the travel and border crossing for the two Florida teams is going to get  old. On the other hand, they’ll start to understand what west coast teams have always dealt with…. The new playoff format: four divisions instead of six, and the top three teams in each division, with the playoff groups rounded off by the top two conference point-getting teams that don’t otherwise qualify. this means a lower-seeded team might find itself playing first round on...

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Is the end of fighting in hockey near?

All of a sudden there is a groundswell of opinion among people within hockey — people who can make the change happen — that it’s time for fighting to stop. This decision is overdue, frankly. It’s hard to take seriously a league that is trying to stop players from hitting each other in the head, unless, of course, they square off and remove their gloves first. Then it’s just a penalty.  I am not an anti-fighting advocate. When I’m at a hockey game, I’ll stand up and cheer a good fight. I have, at times, been known to kick back and watch a boxing match without shame. I understand the attraction and it’s place in the game.  But the more we learn about what it does to a player’s head, and to their life for the rest of their lives, the harder it is for me to be complacent and say “hey, it’s part of the game”. So were line brawls, stick swinging, and cleared benches escalating into full riots.  Some can argue that fighting makes hockey a better and more entertaining game. For some, that’s probably true. As much as I can enjoy a good hockey fight, I also enjoy a good hockey game, and my enjoyment of the sport won’t go away if fighting does. But some of the injury and life-long damage to the players will...

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