Saturday, May 31, 2008

When Times Get Tough...

...the semi-tough post re-runs. To say that motivation is lacking is an exercise in understatement, Gentle Reader. So, without further ado...one of my favorite posts, from April of 2006.

When I was Eight

(Editor’s Note: Last year I wrote "When I Was Eight," a short story for my youngest son on the occasion of his eighth birthday. I’ve decided to post that story here, one chapter per day, for three days. Keep in mind the story was written for an eight year old…so the tone is quite simple!)

Chapter One: California to Georgia

There were four people in my family: my Mom, named Marie, my sister Norma, who is six years younger than me, my Dad, and I. My Mom was a housewife who also did office work from time to time, which was pretty unusual in the early 1950s. Most mothers didn’t work in those days; they usually stayed home and took care of the family. My father, whose name was also Buck, was in the Air Force. He was a “career” Air Force man, which means he was in the Air Force for over 20 years…just like I was. My Dad worked in the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, or OSI, which is sorta like the FBI, only military. In the late summer of 1952 my family was living in Sacramento, California. Dad was stationed at McClellan Air Force Base and the Air Force reassigned him to London, England. Dad was a captain at that time, just like your brother Buck is now. My Dad and Mom decided that Dad would go to England alone and find a house for us to live in, and then my Mom, my sister and I would join him after the house was set up for us.

My Dad left for England from California. My Mom, Norma, and I stayed behind and packed up all the furniture and stuff for the move to England. After the moving company picked up our stuff, my Mom packed Norma and I into our 1952 Hudson (that was the type of car we had) and we left for Atlanta, Georgia, where my grandmother lived. We were going to stay in Atlanta until Dad got our house in England ready for us. It took us about ten days to drive from California to Georgia. Back in those days there weren’t any fast, four-lane interstate highways…all the roads were two-lanes, for the most part. It took a lot longer to get from one place to another in those days! We had a pretty good trip, except for a breakdown in Salome, Arizona. Something went wrong with the car and it took three days to get it fixed. Salome was, and probably still is, a very, very small town and there wasn’t a Hudson dealer in that town. The mechanic that fixed our car had to order parts from either Tucson or Phoenix, I don’t remember which. We spent three days in a motel room waiting for the car to be fixed. I remember my Mom was pretty upset about the car breaking down and stranding us in this small town in the desert. The rest of the trip was uneventful, and we arrived in Atlanta safely. The trip was pretty exciting for a seven-year-old boy, and I had a lot of fun.


A 1952 Hudson. Ours was Green

My grandmother lived in a brick two-bedroom house in northern Atlanta, halfway between downtown Atlanta and a town called Buckhead. My great-grandmother lived with her, and they had lived in that same house for over 40 years…in fact, the house they lived in was the house my Mom grew up in. They lived in a nice neighborhood. There were big oak trees, crabapple trees, willow trees, and the house was about two hundred yards from Peachtree Creek, the site of a famous Civil War battle. I called my grandmother Mana (pronounced “Mah-nah”) and my great-grandmother Granny. Their real names were Estelle and Effie…good southern names! I always thought of them as being very old, but my grandmother was about the same age I am now, maybe younger. Mana worked at a company called Prior Tire in downtown Atlanta, and Granny took care of their house. Neither Mana nor Granny drove, and they didn’t own a car…they took taxis or the trolley to wherever they had to go.

Mana's House, 2185 Willow Avenue

So. We settled in to wait for Dad to write and tell us he had found a house and we could leave for England. The wait was longer than we expected, and I had to begin the third grade in Atlanta. My mom registered me at E. Rivers elementary school, about a 15 minute walk from Mana’s house. I don’t know what the “E” in E. Rivers stands for…I’m guessing that the E is the initial of some semi-famous person’s name, maybe Egbert, maybe Edward, or maybe Elizabeth. But it was a nice school. I don’t remember the names of my teacher or any of my classmates. I went to school there from September until early November of 1952. I walked to school every morning with two boys from the neighborhood, one was named Jamie (Something) and the other boy’s name was Bunky Pennell. Bunky was my best friend, and his name was actually Steven. People in the South have a strange habit of giving their kids nicknames, often silly sounding nicknames. But, those names didn’t seem silly at the time, ya know! I often wonder if Bunky went through his whole life being called Bunky, or if he changed his name to Steven once he grew up. I’ve kept MY nickname all through life. As a kid I was called Bucky, and as an adult I’ve always been known as Buck, never Norman. But I think Buck is a lot cooler than Norman, and certainly better than Bunky, don’t you think?

I suppose my stay in Atlanta was perfectly normal for a seven-year-old boy. I went to school, I rode my bike, I played with the kids in the neighborhood. I had a pretty cool bike, a Schwinn Roadmaster. It was red, with big white sidewall tires. It also had a small “tank,” sorta like a motorcycle tank, with two small headlights at the front of the tank. The headlights were battery powered and were pretty useless except for decoration purposes. But it looked cool! I really liked that bike, but it stayed behind in Mana’s garage when we went to England. Although I didn’t know it at the time, my Dad and Mom would replace that Schwinn with something better…but more on that, later.

An Old Schwinn, Similar to Mine

I had one exciting experience while in Atlanta, though. I took my first trip on an airplane. My grandfather and my grandmother were separated, and my grandfather lived in Tennessee. My grandfather bought airline tickets for my mom, Norma and I and we flew to see him in Tennessee. You almost never forget the first time you do something, and you certainly NEVER forget your first flight. We took an Eastern Airlines DC-6 (or maybe it was a DC-7…they were very similar) from Atlanta to Chattanooga, a flight of about an hour or so. I was so excited! Flying in those days was a BIG deal because airline travel was still relatively new, and most people who traveled either drove their cars, took the train, or took a bus. Flying was expensive and not many people did it.

An Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-7

We stayed in Chattanooga for a short while, I don’t remember exactly how long. I didn’t know my grandfather all that well, and that trip to Tennessee was the last time I saw him. He died while we were stationed in Europe. I think I only saw my grandfather two or three times in my whole life. The grandfather I’m speaking of here was my Mom’s father. I never met or knew my father’s father.

Just like 2004, 1952 was an election year and the country was caught up in the campaign. The presidential campaign of 1952 is the first one I remember. Dwight Eisenhower, a very famous World War II general, was the Republican candidate for president and Adlai Stevenson was the Democratic candidate. I remember arguing with my grandmother about why Ike was better than Stevenson…after all, Ike was a Five-Star general and a war hero! What had Stevenson done that made him better than Ike? My Mom, Mana, and Granny all helped me understand what the election was all about, but if I remember correctly, I thought it was just a big game. Each political party (we have two major parties: the Republicans and the Democrats) has a “convention” during election years. People from all over the country gather in a city for a week and discuss the election, listen to speeches, and decide how they are going to run their campaign. The Republicans had their convention in New York City this year; the Democrats had theirs in Boston. In 1952, both parties had their conventions in Chicago. I remember all the adults in the house watched the two parties’ conventions on television that year, and they all thought it was a Big Deal. The one thing I remember about the conventions in 1952 was that they were on TV EVERY night for a week, and I didn’t get to watch my favorite TV shows. I didn’t like THAT!

One final thing about the election. I don’t know if you saw them, but people wear buttons during the election campaign with the name of their candidate on the button. It’s a way of letting people know who you support, and it’s also a way to get conversations started about politics. Here’s a picture of the button I had in 1952, and the button I had this year!

Campaign Buttons

Next: On to England.

Part III is here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Space... Cyber and Otherwise

SN2 sent along a couple of links this morning, the first of which is a USAF document entitled “50 Cyber Questions Every Airman Can Answer,” written by Dr. Kamal T. Jabbour, ST (Senior Scientist, Information Assurance). The document is available here, in a 324Kb pdf. You might also want to check out the web site that hosts the document (Cyber Security Boot Camp)…if you’re into this sort of thing. You’ll also note the domain is “.com” and not “.mil,” making this site an unofficial USAF web site…even though it’s done up using the official USAF web site template. And all this just by way of introduction!
I went off the rails a couple of years ago when USAF revised its official mission statement. I’ll quote myself here:
So, I read over at The Officers Club (ed: dead link. The O Club is now OpFor.) that the USAF has a new mission statement, to wit:
The Air Force changed its mission statement yesterday. The old MS reads:
The mission of the U.S. Air Force is to is to defend the United States through control and exploitation of air and space.
The new mission reads:
The mission of the United States Air Force is to deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interests -- to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace.
I'll begin with the only good thing about the new mission statement: at least The Management incorporated the old, unofficial mission statement: “To Fly and To Fight.” So much for the good stuff.
Let's begin the rant.
And rant I did…particularly about incorporating the word “cyberspace” into the new mission statement. That word still irritates me for some unknown reason, but I’m a lil less irritated after reading the following (excerpted from the “50 Questions” document):
2. What is Cyberspace?
Author William Gibson coined the term cyberspace by combining cybernetics and space into the term cyberspace in his 1982 story “Burning Chrome” and popularized it is his 1984 novel Neuromancer. Gibson described cyberspace as “a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions... A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data.”
In the minds of many, cyberspace became synonymous to the Internet. In September 2006, the Joint Chiefs of Staff endorsed a definition of cyberspace as “a domain characterized by the use of electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum to store, modify and exchange data via networked systems and associated physical infrastructures."
We dissect this definition to derive the scientific basis of its intent. The word “domain” instead of “environment” carries legal implications under the laws of armed conflict. “Electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum” refer to the wave-particle duality of radiation which, when modulated with information, creates a signal. “Data and networked systems” refer to digital information and application programs, and the computers and networks on which they exist, in other words data and applications, at rest and in motion.
For warfare purposes, we derive a working definition of cyberspace as “a domain in which signals hold at risk intelligent systems.” This definition recognizes three components to cyberspace: (1) the “effectors” encompass a broad range of signal-borne threats, analog and digital; (2) the “medium” enables effectors to access the targets, wired and wireless, hardware and software; and (3) the “targets” include weapons and systems that use computers or networks. This working definition of cyberspace effectors is consistent with Department of Defense Information Operations (IO) Security Classification Guide that excludes from consideration as IO weapons those conventional weapons that produce IO effects.
Perhaps I’m irritated with the term “cyberspace” because I’m one of those “many” who conflate the term with the internet. Another possible reason is I rarely…like: NEVER…heard an Information Technology (IT) professional use the term back in my day. I’m not talking about sysadmins, UNIX geeks, or coders…the lower level guys who make things work…I’m talking about senior IT people, decision-makers such as info systems architects and CIOs. Those guys never used the term “cyberspace.” And finally… I’m supremely irritated because I don’t have an alternative to the term. There might not BE an alternative.
(Full disclosure: marketing types used “cyberspace” extensively, which is yet another reason I dislike the term. Mainly coz the marketing types Don’t Know Jack about technology…their mission is to flog stuff… and are therefore very sneer-worthy. And sneer at them I did. Oh, yes.)
But back to my point: I’m less irritated with the term cyberspace today, and less irritated with the USAF mission statement. Thanks for that, Sam.
And finally: I recommend you scan the linked pdf document, even if you’re not a geek or a military type. There are definitions and brief discussions about things every user of these here inter-tubes should know… things like phishing, viruses, worms, denial of service attacks, and so on. Knowledge IS power, Gentle Reader.
―:☺:―
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg skate away as the Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Jarkko Ruutu (facing) and Marian Hossa celebrate Sidney Crosb's goal during the first period.
John T. Greilick / The
Detroit
News
Well. It looks like we have a series that’s beginning to match all the hype that preceded the Finals. Pittsburgh won last night by a score of 3-2, and the game was close. Yeah, the Pens got lucky a couple of times last night. The luck began late in the first period with a bad outlet pass by Brad Stuart that hit Zetterberg’s skate and bounced right on to Hossa’s stick, who shot the puck only to have the blocked shot bounce right to Crosby who banged it into the net. Goal… after 137+ minutes of shut-out hockey. And then the Pens’ Adam Hall put the winner in the net off Ozzie’s ass…literally. Hall shot (if one can use that term) from behind the net, the puck hit Ozzie in the butt and bounced into the net. That, folks, was the winning goal. But hockey is like that. Sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes you don’t. Pittsburgh got ‘em last night. The Wings helped, too… the first goal came on a VERY uncharacteristic bad clearing pass and the winning goal happened because Ozzie was out of position, in part.
So. The Pens played with a lot more fire last night and, in the words of David Shoalts, the Globe and Mail’s hockey reporter:
It was a physical, punishing match — a far better spectacle than the first two games of the series when the Penguins were out of contention early.
True, that. Last night’s game was MUCH more entertaining than the first two. With the exception of the final score, of course.
So…am I worried? Not at ALL. The Wings still outshot the Pens, 34-24. Outhit ‘em, too…at 34-31…and took fewer penalties. I still think the Wings are the better team. Did I expect a sweep? No. Was I hoping for one? Sorta. Do I think the Wings will prevail? Yes. That was a stupid question. Next?
“Next” is Saturday night, actually. I think the Wings will win that game in a big way. Just a feeling I have, Gentle Reader…just a feeling.
Update, 5/30/2008: Blog-Bud Barry links to an article in National Journal about China, hacking, cyber-war, and widespread power outages in the US. The article gives favorable mentions to USAF's Cyber Command and to USSTRATCOM's efforts in this space. (You listening, Sam?) Well worth your time, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Infernal Revenue Service and (Minor?) Whining

At some point in the past I think I mentioned I still keep my RV club’s mail service active, along with the fact that 90% of my mail goes to Texas first and then is forwarded on to me by the service, to wherever I might be. And for the past five-plus years “wherever I might be” has been Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park. The mail service was a necessity during my “on the road” days, given I rarely spent more than a month in any given location. These days it’s just a vestigial hold-over and the biggest reason I keep it is to maintain my Texas residency. Which is important to me for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is tax considerations. But I don’t wanna talk about my mail service; this is just preamble. Digression, in other words.
I got a Love Letter from the IRS in my mail bundle last week, letting me know I’m gonna get “stimulated” to the tune of 900 Yankee Dollars. That would be $600 for me and an additional $300... only because this happened to be my year to claim the Bobby (SN3) Exemption. That didn’t seem quite fair to me, so I fired off a note to The Second Mrs. Pennington explaining my views and further asking if she would accept my check for $300, which I would write as soon as the IRS sent me MY check. TSMP graciously accepted my offer.
Further review of the IRS’ Love Letter revealed I wouldn’t have to “do” anything…as the IRS intended to deposit this money in my bank account via direct-deposit, just as they did with this year’s refund. So, quick like a bunny after re-reading the form letter I called my credit union’s interactive voice response system and… imagine my surprise! The frickin’ money has been in my account since the ninth of May. I'm SO clue-free at times.
The gub’mint is oh-so-quick about collecting what they think you owe ‘em every year, but this is the first time I can remember them being equally quick about giving me my money back. Good on ‘em, in other words.
I still think the whole “stimulus” thing sucks. Big Gub’mint meddling in the market economy and all that… aside from the fact it's the frickin’ Chinese and Korean economies that will be “stimulated,” not ours… unless you spend the money on beer and hookers. A great portion of my “stimulus” will go for the former. I don’t feel up to a road-trip for the latter. Which is probably just as well. (I hope you realize I’m joking, Gentle Reader. Sorta.)
(Image from fusilly.com)
―:☺:―
Miscellaneous Moans, Groans, Bitches, and Complaints Dept: Forgive me, but I’m gonna whine for a minute or three.
First: The weather sucks. It’s hot. It’s humid…which is oh-so-rare for The High Plains of New Mexico. The wind is up and therefore so is my awning…which leaves El Casa Móvil De Pennington bearing the brunt of full sun on its flank. Which, in turn, makes my AC run continuously. And makes me warmer than I wanna BE.
Second: I’ve had neither beer nor cigar for nine consecutive days, which may be some sort of record for me in my retirement. This, too, sucks.
Last: I still hurt but I’ve managed to avoid the industrial-strength painkillers for the first time since my procedure. Dunno how long that’s gonna last, though. The post-op pain is much worse than I thought it was gonna be, by an order of magnitude. Constant pain is psychologically debilitating, or at least it is for me. I don’t “do” sick and/or pain very well. I’d be a lousy hockey player.
There. I’m done. Dunno about you, Gentle Reader, but I feel a little bit better.
And the Wings play tonite, too. I might try a beer along with the game. Maybe. Maybe not.
(Image from art.com)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

She Said

Here’s yet another one of those “apropos of nothing” moments… Collective Soul singing “She Said.”

This is the “official video,” which pales in comparison to the album track (which I cannot find. For the life of me.). Still and even, it’s good enough. I love the lyrics to this tune. And just in case you missed ‘em, here they are:

She said that time is unfair
To a woman her age
Now that wisdom has come
Everything else fades

She said she realizes
Shes seen her better days

She said she cant look back
To her days of youth
What she thought were lies
She later found was truth

She said her daddy had dreams
But he drank them away
And her mothers to blame
For the way she is today

lifes river shall rise, she said
that only the strong shall survive, she said
but Im feeling quite weak, she said
will you comfort and forgive me, she said

She says shes still searching
For salvations light
Yeah, she wishes all day
And then, she prays all night

She said she wont speak of love
cause love, shes never known
And its moments like these
She hates to be alone

lifes river shall rise, she said
that only the strong shall survive, she said
but Im feeling quite weak, she said
will you comfort and forgive me, she said

lifes river shall rise, she said
that only the strong shall survive, she said
but Im feeling quite weak, she said
will you comfort and forgive me, she said

lifes river shall rise, she said
that only the strong shall survive, she said
but Im feeling quite weak, she said
will you comfort and forgive me, she said

Forgive me
She said
Forgive me
She said

Good, innit?

Update, 5/28/2008: Thanks to ASW...this is the version I was looking for yesterday:

She Said - Collective Soul

Much better...even if ya gotta chase the link to get the whole song!

Detroit 3, Pittsburgh 0

Detroit Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula beats Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a highlight reel goal in the third period to make it 3-0.
(John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)

Valtteri Filppula flies through the air and slips the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury in the third period.
(Dale G. Young / The
Detroit
News)
The Penguins are in trouble. BIG trouble. Of the 31 teams that have won the opening two games of the Stanley Cup final on home ice 30 went on to win the Cup. The 1945 Maple Leafs were the only team of those 31 to come back from an 0-2 deficit (0-3, actually) and win four straight to take the cup. That’s bad news. But there is good news, of a sort: Toronto beat Detroit in the Final that year. It ain’t likely to happen again, though. From the AP, via ESPN:
DETROIT (AP) -- If the Red Wings keep this up, the next time they perform back in Hockeytown could be along a parade route.
Producing timely offense and perfectionist defense, Detroit is not only beating the Pittsburgh Penguins, they are shutting them out.
With first-period goals from Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom and another lockdown effort, the Red Wings topped the Penguins 3-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night.
If they can match this twice in Pittsburgh, the Red Wings will return to Detroit with the Cup in tow.
Puck-possessing Detroit held onto it all night and registered 34 shots. After a 19-save effort in a 4-0 series-opening win Saturday, Chris Osgood stopped 22 in a rocking-chair game and earned his third blanking of the playoffs -- 13th of his career.
From Canada’s National Post:
DETROIT -- The Pittsburgh Penguins thought they knew what it took to play with the big boys. Then again, the National Hockey League thought it had a dream Stanley Cup Final this spring with Pittsburgh meeting the mighty Detroit Red Wings.
After two games, both are heading back to the drawing board as the Red Wings dominated Pittsburgh again, winning Game 2 by a 3-0 score to secure a 2-0 series stranglehold with their second straight shutout.
The Penguins were blanked 4-0 in Game 1 and had just 19 shots on goal. On Monday night, they had slightly more offence - 22 shots - but still, 120 minutes have passed and the Penguins have not dented Detroit goalie Chris Osgood. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-André Fleury has been good, but might have to start scoring if his Penguins hope to come back here for Game 5 in a weeks' time.
DETROIT -- As they waddle their way back to Pittsburgh down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final and in desperate need of a starting point if they intend to claw their way back into the series, here's a goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins for starters.
How about getting one?
A goal, that is.
Through two games, Sidney Crosby and company have yet to dent the twine and have been limited to a combined total of 41 shots. Steadily and surely, the Penguins are learning the hard, stifling lesson that the Wings have dished out to each of their playoff opponents this spring.
Almost nothing gets by them.
A 3-0 victory Monday at Joe Louis Arena sent this best-of-seven series headed to Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena Wednesday for Game 3 with a look of decisiveness about it. (ed: Read the whole thing…it’s GOOD.)
“A look of decisiveness about it.” That pretty well sums it up. The Versus studio analysis team of Bill Patrick, Keith Jones, and Brian Engblom… along with guest Hall of Famer Mark Messier… spent the first two intermissions of last night’s game trying to “fix” Pittsburgh, offering up obvious and somewhat inane suggestions as to how Pittsburgh could solve Detroit (“more ice time for Crosby!”), and most specifically Detroit’s overwhelming defense. Pens coach Therrien must not have been listening, because the third period was more of the same: total Detroit domination. Messier, when asked by Patrick “What can Pittsburgh DO?” after the game was over, answered “Not much. Detroit is a machine right now. They’re playing perfect hockey.” Messier is right. It seems like all Pittsburgh can do at this point is make excuses, and that’s just ugly. As are the cheap shots.
Detroit's Johan Franzen pounds Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in third period fight that put three Penguins in the penalty box as the Red Wings beat the Penguins, 3-0, in the second game of the Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on Monday May 26, 2008. With the win, the Wings grabbed a 2-0 series lead.
Dale G. Young / The
Detroit
News
Still and even… it’s only two games of a seven-game series, and…as everyone knows…Shit Happens in sports sometimes. The Wings won the first two games at home in the first round, then dropped the next two to Nashville on their ice. There is a difference in that series and this one, though… the Predators managed to score three goals at Joe Louis Arena during the first two games of that round…and that’s three more goals than Pittsburgh has scored.
And then we have Wings coach Mike Babcock’s 2003 Anaheim Ducks, who dropped the first two games to New Jersey before bouncing back and losing that year’s Final in seven games. So, yeah…Shit Happens. It’s pretty danged hard to believe it can happen to this Detroit Red Wings team, though…and that goes double for Pittsburgh. The Penguins haven’t shown any of the qualities necessary to pull off a turn-around of this magnitude. This series isn’t close at all… and it’s never been close.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

The remains of the Unknown Soldier is committed to the ground during the burial services at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA November 11 1921.
(WW1 Signal Corps Collection).
Photo from Army.mil.

"The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day to pause in an act of national unity (duration: one minute).The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom. It will help to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be. In this shared remembrance, we connect as Americans."

The White House Commission on Remembrance

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Detroit 4, Pittsburgh 0

Pre-game ceremonies during game one of the Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday, May 24, 2008. Detroit Red Wings Vs. Pittsburg Penguins.
(BRIAN KAUFMAN/DFP)
It began with a sinister omen for the Penguins…and Stephen King couldn’t have scripted it better if he had tried:
DETROIT -- If you had told me yesterday that Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury would fall flat on his face last night, I wouldn't have believed you.
But it happened.
Twice, actually.
So eager was Fleury to get on the Joe Louis Arena ice for the start of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final against the Detroit Red Wings that he missed the last step leading out of the runway from the dressing room and went down in a heap for all in the big, hooting crowd to see. At that point, it was really easy to think bad omen for your favorite hockey club, but those in the Penguins' dressing room -- some of the most superstitious people in the world -- denied that vehemently after the game, a 4-0 loss. They were just glad Fleury didn't break his arm.
As it was, only the man's pride was bruised.
Fleury would ache much more after what happened in the next 21/2 hours.
I literally did not believe my eyes when I saw Fleury fall to the ice…and he fell, he didn’t stumble. The resulting back-up of storming Penguins behind Fleury was reminiscent of the Keystone Cops. But Fleury got to his feet and the Pens continued to take the ice at The Joe normally. I thought “Wow! This is amazing. Karma!” And I hadn’t seen nuthin’ yet…
The pre-game ceremonies gave me goose-bumps. Literally. Here’s the biggest reason:
The NHL brought out Mario Lemieux and Detroit great Steve Yzerman to drop the ceremonial first pucks before Game 1 last night at Joe Louis Arena.
(
Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette photo)
Both men are living legends in their respective cities and both men led their teams to Stanley Cups in the modern era. And there they were: side by side at The Joe, dropping the ceremonial first pucks. That, Gentle Reader, was a sight to see. And then… the game.
Now that Game One is over we know a few things about this Stanley Cup Final:
  • Marc-Andre Fleury can be beat. Often. If you consider four goals in a single game “often.” I do.
  • Crosby, Hossa and Malkin can be contained. Shut down, even. Hossa is the only guy out of Pittsburgh’s Big Three who managed more than three shots on goal during the entire game.
  • The Wings are ON their game… for the moment. There’s no better team in the NHL when the Wings are “on.” None. Period. Full-stop. Every aspect of their play is simply stunning right now… be it offense, defense, passing, checking, hitting, or goal-tending. ALL of it.
And that’s just for starters. Here’s what Bob Wojnowski, one of Deetroit’s hockey pundits, has to say about last evening’s doin’s:
DETROIT -- This is what the Red Wings can do better than anyone. They can make opposing stars flat-out disappear. Poof. Gone. And they can conjure up their own stars out of, well, practically nowhere.
Mikael Samuelsson wasn't nowhere when the Stanley Cup Finals began Saturday night, but he sure wasn't anywhere prominent. Then all he did in Game 1 was go out and find the puck and keep flipping it past the goalie.
If the Wings are going to be this opportunistic and this smothering, and if Chris Osgood is going to be this darn good, the young Penguins could be in for a major schooling. Samuelsson scored the first two goals and the Wings were their standard puck-possessing selves, while harassing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin all over the ice in a 4-0 victory at Joe Louis Arena.
[…]
The first game of the NHL's showcase event was a one-sided show, especially after the Wings' shaky first period, especially when they started skating and bumping Crosby, especially when Osgood helped them survive the first-period flurry, when they were whistled for four straight penalties.
"We're a different team than what they played before," Osgood said. "We possessed the puck and we like to do it the majority of the time, if we can. I mean, that's the best defense, when we have the puck. I think we do it better than any other team in the league and that's what makes our defense so good."
Osgood was being modest, of course. He's an astounding 11-2 in these playoffs, and in this one, he made a couple of great saves on Marian Hossa early and a huge one on Crosby later. Crosby and Malkin couldn't generate much, and every time Crosby looked up, he was getting banged by Zetterberg or defenseman Niklas Kronwall.
And yes, that was the "other" superstar out there, Pavel Datsyuk, hitting any Penguin that moved. (Datsyuk led the team with six hits).
The Penguins will re-group. As a matter of fact, Pens coach Michel Therrien began juggling his lines during the second period last night in what appeared to be a desperate shot at making something…anything… happen. It was painfully obvious there wasn’t anything going on with the Pens usual lines.
With his team failing at the puck-possession game, Penguins coach Michel Therrien went away from the line combinations he had been using since the start of the playoffs and tried many different variations, but none of them worked.
At one point he had Crosby with Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Malone. Later in the period he had Crosby at center with Malkin on the left wing and Hossa on the right. Malone played on the left wing alongside Jordan Staal and Petr Sykora.
In the third period Therrien rolled only three lines and they were completely different than how he started the game.
So. We’ll see what we’ll see, eh? There’s still “a lot of hockey to be played” in this series. The Wings have to be pleased. Their fans are pleased. Everyone outside of Pittsburgh is pleased.
Coach Therrien ain’t pleased:
“Definitely that was the worst performance of the playoffs,” Therrien said. “We didn’t compete like we were supposed to compete, and it’s a good lesson.”
School ain’t out yet, Coach.
Chris Osgood raises his stick to the crowd after he was named one of the stars of the game.
David Guralnick / The Detroit News

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weirdness

I get the strangest e-mail promotions from Amazon every once in a while. Case in point… and this is just wrong:

Your eyes don’t deceive you… it’s a

Fender Squier Hello Kitty Strat, Pink

Other products by Fender
2 Reviews
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See all 2 customer reviews...
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews (2 customer reviews)| More about this product

List Price: $332.99
Price: $199.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.

· Sweet and demure Hello Kitty shows her rock-chick side with this pink electric guitar (also available in black)
· Purr-fect for budding rock stars, the all-wood guitar is based on the classic Fender design and features the smiling feline on pickguard

Well…maybe it’s not wrong if you have a Bonnie Raitt or Joan Jett wannabee hanging around your house. That would be the only reason, though. I still can't imagine Joan Jett playing one.

Update: I left out a key piece of information when I first put this post up… the e-mail narrative. Here t’is:

Dear Amazon.com Customer,

We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Woodstock Percussion American Slide Whistle or other products in the Toys > Music category have also purchased Fender Squier Hello Kitty Strat, Pink. For this reason, you might like to know that Fender Squier Hello Kitty Strat, Pink is now available. You can order yours for just $199.99 ($133.00 off the list price) by following the link below.

Yep. I bought SN3 a slide whistle. I’m sure The Second Mrs. Pennington thanks me over and over again for that. But, Hey! It was the least I could do…

Thursday, May 22, 2008

MeMe

I was tagged by Lin to do this here meme the day I went for my slicing/dicing. Now that I'm up to speed (sorta), I'm checking the box.

In Lin's words: “Soo ... the idea is to answer these questions with only a photo or other graphic, NO words allowed. Here goes then (but I reserve the right to complete and childish asininity)”

Me, too.

1. What is your current relationship status?

2. What is your current mood?

3. What is your favorite band/singer?

and

4. What is your favorite movie?

5. What kind of pets do you have?

6. Where do you live?

7. Where do you work?

8. Who do you look like?

9. What do you drive?


10. What did you do on Saturday?


11. What did you do on Sunday?

12. What is your favorite network TV Show?

13. Describe Yourself.

14. What is your favorite candy?

I'm supposed to tag some folks, coz that's the way these things work. Consider yourself tagged, if ya wanna be. There's a lot of image googling involved. But Hey! That's fun, innit?

Oh, Hell... let's just do it. Ashley might play. Jim might need some respite from Bassetball-blogging. Lou is a good sport, and so are Jenny and Becky. Just off the top of my head, ya know. And all these folks post lotsa pics, too.

Just a Little Bit o' Hockey...

From The Hockey News… tongue-in-cheek “keys” to winning the Stanley Cup. First, how to beat the Wings:
1. The Red Wings have perhaps the most loyal following in all of hockey (at least in the top 30). Their fans share common traits in that they all (a) love the team (b) are immune to octopus bites (c) work for General Motors. (ed: Items (a) and (c) were certainly true of me when I became a fan. Never been attacked by an octopus, though.)
The support network runs from the fans directly to the team. Cut one off from the other and they flounder like a flounder. How do you go about breaking this lifeline? Sneak into the media room, commandeer the microphone and announce General Motors is toying with the idea of scrapping the vaunted paid washroom breaks. Stampede ensues. Pens up 2-0.
2. One look at the Detroit lineup and you’ll realize the United Nations seems sectarian by comparison. Aside from a Japanese player and a Samoan, the Red Wings have every nation on earth represented on their roster. That translates into a crowded bench filled with on-call translators (you thought they had a backup, backup goalie coach?). If something were to happen, say, to compromise the miles and miles of intricate wiring that allows the team to communicate, the whole operation would ground to a halt – like General Motors.
3. We all love the guy and admire him for playing at the ripe old age of 74, but Chris Chelios has seen better days. Still, he acts like it’s his rookie year (1869) demanding more ice time and a steady stream of bran. Coach Babcock has reduced the Chelios Implosion Factor by giving Chris sporadic duty as the 12th defenseman and has implicitly stated it’s his job to shadow Rob Scuderi every time he’s on the ice. Thus, Mr. Scuderi needs to see a lot more ice time.
And how to beat the Pens:
1. Anyone’s who watched Sidney Crosby play knows how dominant a player he is. The man’s a machine. I mean, literally, the man’s a machine. Buried in the fine print of his astronomical endorsement deal with RBK is the little matter of that microchip being implanted at the base of his brain stem. It controls things such as the choice between deking and shooting and when to sign autographs. Keep in mind this microprocessor is strictly first generation, meaning the little sucker is really prone to malfunctioning caused by too much moisture (the reason behind his subsequent - and secretive - Gatorade deal). If he were to get seriously wet (hint hint), his eyes will start to roll back in his head and he’ll begin speaking in pure gibberish. On the plus side, Malkin will be able to understand him; on the minus, he’ll start playing like Jody Shelley.
2. The Penguins have an average age of 14. They have raging hormones, but are also brutally self-conscious. Intimidation is simply a matter of pointing out their pathetic attempts at playoff beards (“I’ve seen more hair on a parrot”). That one was easy.
3. The Penguins are never far away from their checkered and humble past. The fact they still play in a building constructed with a thatched roof and heated by coal speaks volumes. Even though they’re having a decent run, bankruptcy breathes down their necks like creepy bachelor uncles. You want to send a shiver down the collective spines of Crosby, Malkin and the rest of the seven-figure kids? I hear your check bounced. 2-0 Red Wings.
Regarding Item Two on the Pens list: That’s a pic of Crosby just above (click for larger, of course)… accepting the Prince of Wales Trophy last week. “Pathetic” is a good word for his beard. OK, I’ll cut him some slack: he’s only 20… not 14, as noted above. The mind boggles, does it not? A 20-year-old, supremely talented, multi-million dollar captain of an A-League sports team? Who gives a damn if he can’t grow a beard?
(h/t: Paul at Kukla’s Korner)
―:☺:―
Get ready for a victory parade, Hockeytown!
According to WhatIf Sports, the Red Wings will dispatch the Penguins in five games to claim their first Stanley Cup title since 2002 and fourth in the last 11 seasons.
That is what was determined in 10,000 Stanley Cup Final computer simulations conducted by WhatIf Sports, a fantasy sports Web site designed to simulate games between past and present sports teams using real historical statistics.
After 10,000 simulations were run, the veteran Wings defeated the up-and-coming Penguins 68 percent of the time, with the most common occurrence a five-game series in which Pittsburgh will earn its only victory in Game 3 on home ice.
The simulations were run using the actual 2007-08 regular season stats compiled by Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Well, I’m ready to believe, as you might expect. But I also know a lil bit about computers, too. So: taken with a grain of salt…a very large grain, at that. I think the series will go at least six games... if not seven... and the Wings will prevail, of course. It’s that ol’ “old age and treachery beats youth and exuberance, every time” thing, ya know. That and the Wings defense, which is the key reason Chris Osgood has faced far fewer shots in these playoffs than Marc-Andre Fleury, in spite of playing two more games than the Pens' goalie. Ozzie and Fleury are numbers one and two in the all-important “goals against average” stat through the first three rounds… and defense wins cups. T’was ever so.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Checkin' In... and Not Much Else

I’m alive and pretty well, all things considered. There are a couple of reasons for that, first and foremost being the prescription-strength Motrin. Secondly… and much more importantly... I’m being fed extremely well thanks to Jenny, who stopped by very early this afternoon and dropped off 96 ounces of piping hot chicken soup and a large loaf of banana bread. Both are delicious, and that’s today’s understatement. The banana bread has been a bit of a challenge, what with trying to keep crumbs and such out of my stitches. But challenges are placed in front of you to be overcome…so I did.
I sure as Hell haven’t felt like cooking today and you’ve been a life-saver, Jenny. Thank you oh-so-much!
―:☺:―
We’ve pretty much “gone dark” where communication with the outside world is concerned, outside of checking e-mail a couple of times today and quickly scanning the hockey news. I’m amazed at my capacity for sleep these past 36 hours or so. Case in point: item Number 122 on that ol’ list of “150 things” in my side-bar states:
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours (bold meaning I have the tee shirt)
I’m closing in on that and have been horizontal a whole helluva lot more than I’ve been vertical in the last 36 hours, anyway. One interesting (to me) side effect to the surgery is my face is pretty swollen on both sides, but on me that’s an improvement. I’ve lost so much weight in the last year that my face has become very gaunt looking, ergo: the swelling is a substantial improvement… in that I look pretty “normal” now. No pics, though, Gentle Reader. I don’t wanna scare the horses, as noted elsewhere on the blog.
I’ve also noticed I have somewhere between 12 and 16 stitches in my mouth… and that would be an educated-guess, based on feeling around with my tongue. OK, so here I am, on prescription-strength painkillers and sleeping all day and half the night about 36 hours removed from the event. Just to keep things in perspective: Kris Draper took a puck to the mouth during Monday night’s game in Dallas (which, coincidentally, caromed into the net for the Wings’ first goal but cost Draper six stitches and three dislodged teeth), went into the locker room, got stitched up, and was back out on the ice in the same period. He might have missed five or six shifts, at most.
Have I ever told you hockey players are tough, Gentle Reader? As for me? Not so much.
―:☺:―
Speaking of hockey… here’s a good article that touches on my hockey roots by Paul Kukla (proprietor of the ‘net’s BEST hockey blog), writing at NHL.com:
Let’s address the Pittsburgh Penguins and I will say it here first, you won’t be hearing any negative chants addressed at players like Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Detroit fans cheer for their team and are above degrading the opposition. Detroit fans know their hockey and respect the game too much to do that. Besides, Sidney Crosby reminds us of a young Steve Yzerman. Same pattern of play, same attitude towards winning. We are just hoping Crosby goes through the growing pains that Stevie did, thus delaying raising the Cup over his head for at least another year.
[…]
Now I am not going to break down the Wings roster for you. I am taking a different approach today and will officially welcome you to the Metro Detroit area. I ask you to forget all the negative things you have read and heard about Motown. Sure there are areas you want to avoid, just like every large city in the world. Instead I will point out how the folks in Southeast Michigan will welcome you with open arms. We are a hard working bunch, and although this area is suffering through a down-turn in the automotive industry, we still are trying to keep our heads above water. Approach us, talk to us, we don’t bite and want to talk hockey with you and get your feelings on our game.
Michiganders love hockey, we love that is all that is good about the sport. It is in our blood and we have been playing in the NHL since the mid-1920’s. Our father’s father passed the game on to us. Our mother’s know the game too. We appreciate the special talents each and every NHL player has. We are amazed and hypnotized by the action on the ice and we feel part of the Detroit Red Wings family. Plain and simple, we are hockey fans.
Yep, Gentle Reader…this is how I became a hockey fan. Spending ten years in Deetroit will do that to ya…like it or not. But you most likely would love the game once you fell into the right sort of crowd. I’m not that much of a weird-o, ya know.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Surgery AAR + Bonus Weirdness

Some folks would be embarrassed by this…

I scored a Far Out
95% on the
Quiz by SheGoddess: Quick Weight Loss

But not me. Hey! Those were my salad days, dontcha know? Didn’t we just Disco-Down and all, even though it was done badly, for the most part? And I’m especially proud of the fact I remembered most of this krep even though I haven’t heard (nearly all) it since it was in its Top-40 heyday. I mean, c’mon: “The Bay City Rollers?”

―:☺:―

In health news… I survived the morning quite well, thank you. Dr. Thompson arrived around 0745 hours this morning and we made the brief drive to his office whereupon we immediately got down to business with little or no time wasted. The first order of business was making me comfy in the Big Chair, along with a couple of blankets to ward off the hyper-active air conditioning’s chill. (Brief digression: I’m glad I’m typing this in MS-Word, coz every third word is a typo. No shit. I should take a screen-shot for your amusement.) The second order of business was administering Massive Quantities of Good (no: Great!) Drugs, in multiple oral installments of some sort of magik powder, left to dissolve under my tongue… so many installments that I lost count, actually. Which is a semi-good thing, because the third order of business was trying to extract blood from my notoriously rolling veins. The Good Doctor and staff gave up after six attempts, three in each arm. I should take pics of the bruises in my arms for all y’all, but I’ll spare you.

So. We’re up to about 0845 hrs. in this narrative and I don’t remember very danged much from that time on until 1400 hrs, aside from hazy recollections of various commands, such as “turn towards me,” and “open wider.” I find that very, very strange. “Semi-conscious” would be an exaggeration, because I wasn’t. I was, for all intents and purposes, waaay out there in La-La Land. Just in case you’re wondering: no dreams, mild, wild, or otherwise. Just what would pass for a deep sleep. And that’s a good thing, in and of itself, as I slept oh-so-fitfully last night. The five milligrams of diazepam I was given to take before bed last evening didn’t work worth a damn. I suspect the dosage was too low, ten milligrams might have done the trick. So, to cut back to the chase, I was more than ready to go back to sleep while Dr. Thompson sliced and diced to his heart’s content…and my better oral health.

I was awakened oh-so-gently just a little after 1400 hrs with a carton of apple juice and a protein shake, both of which I scarffed downed like someone who hadn’t eaten or drank a thing for a week. Dr. Thompson and staff put me in a wheelchair after I finished off the light snack, wheeled me out the Doctors car, and he drove me home. We arrived around 1500 hrs., whereupon I went immediately to bed and slept the sleep of the just for four hours straight. I might still be asleep yet, had not SN1 made the de rigueur “are you OK” call just after 1900. I mumbled something to the effect of “yeah, I’m fine” and don’t recall saying much of anything else, other than “It’s OK!” when SN1 launched into profuse apologies for awakening me. Which: was actually a good thing. Coz it made me realize I was hungry… Capital “H” hungry.

I rolled my tired ass out of bed and made a double bowl of ramen with two poached eggs and crumbled cheese in the mix as accompaniments (and one could only wish MY ramen looked as good as that in the illustration!). Not chicken soup, to be sure, but close enough for gub’mint work. It went down easy and tasted wonderful.

That was well over an hour and a half ago. SN2 has called in the meantime and we had a brief chat. The rest of time has been spent attempting to pound out this worthless batshit of a post, two-thirds of said time spent backspacing or otherwise correcting the dreaded squiggly-red underlined words. And you know how spell-check is, Gentle Reader. Words that are spelled correctly yet used inappropriately will make the cut. So: caveat emptor. But remember: I’m writing while on drugs. Great Drugs, with a most amazing sort of longevity, too.