Sunday, February 28, 2010


A complete nail-biter, won in sudden-death overtime by a goal scored by our own "Sid the Kid" Crosby (that's him, second from the right) of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. (All of Atlantic Canada claims him as our own. We're chummy like that.)

As of this writing, traffic in downtown Vancouver is totally shut down due to crowds in the street. Yonge and Dundas in Toronto is a mob scene, and traffic is shut down in a large portion of that city too. What I wouldn't give to be on George Street in St. John's right now.

All I can say is, it's a good thing we won this squeaker. I shudder to think of the collective national nervous breakdown that would've followed a loss.

We've had a great games. More gold medals than any single country in a winter Olympics. Many incredible stories from many incredible athletes.

But there can be no doubt about it - this is what mattered. Hockey is our national religion, and we practice it devoutly. They were playing for our national pride. Some said they were playing for our national psyche. There have been thousands of articles and tv stories and blog posts leading up to this game, analyzing it, predicting it, musing on what it means.

The women were under the same pressure, and delivered. (The ONLY women's Olympic hockey team, by the way, whose head coach is a woman.) Tonight, all the pressure in the world was on the men. And they did it, too.

The US team played very well, all Olympics long (hell, they beat us - and deservedly so - in our first match-up, which gave the Canadian team some much-needed time and practice to gel), and happily for them, hockey means very little to the US, so they won't bear too much disappointment. They certainly won't bear the kind of disappointment and angst and soul-searching the Canadian men would have, had they lost.

So I think this one turned out just right.

I started off extremely skeptical about these games, but I've come around. They're still too expensive, too commercialized, and too environmentally irresponsible - but there can be no doubt that these particular games have been the kind of bonding experience that is all too rare and very valuable in a country as huge and diverse as Canada. And that's a good thing.

An update: Roger Ebert just posted this to his Twitter account:
@ebertchicago: Notice: The nation of Canada will resume limited functions in about an hour. Full service is expected by sometime Tuesday.



Friday, February 26, 2010

Norwegians - now 30% cooler. Watch it for a second time and they'll be 50% cooler.

I would be remiss if I did not direct your attention to this video clip, full of Win! and Awsome! of the honest-to-god Norwegian Alpine Ski Team dancing. Together. Badly. Enthusiastically. To Michael Jackson's "Beat It".

You're welcome.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Yrs snowboundedly,


Who could be so churlish?

One-upping the usual "put this card on the bed if you insist on having your sheets changed every day, you selfish, environment-destroying bastard" technique, the hotel I am staying at in Halifax (for an extra enforced night due to a snowstorm in Fredericton), The Prince George, has this charming little frog prince, sitting on his little cardboard lily pad, which bears the following text:

Thank you for participating in The Green Prince Environmental Program. We will replace only empty bath amenities, adjust your climate controls while you are out, replace only those towels you leave on the floor and change your bed linens on the third day.

Should you wish to opt out, please move The Frog Prince OFF his Lily Pad.

What, and be some kind of evil, horn-growing, anti-environmental NAZI?

I think not.

Greenly guilted,


PS: Had an absolutely blisteringly delicious Turkish meal at Cafe Istanbul Express, a downtown (Scotia Square - connected by a pedway to my hotel) fast-food offshoot of the Cafe Istanbul on Spring Garden Road. Like, transcendently delicious. One of the benefits of being stormbound in the region's most multicultural city. And I didn't even have to go outside in this bloody wind and rain.


Thursday, February 25, 2010


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An oldie but a goodie

Just found this on my Blackberry. Coworker "Lucy's" funky monkey hat has a sip of her drink. This was taken at a spontaneous Christmas after-work get-together at the Garrison Ale House, one of the nicer pubs in town with an impressive ale list.

And cocktails worthy of the funkiest monkey.

"Lucy" is amazing, by the way. The bubbliest, most enthusiastic person I've ever met. You know how they talk about people who "light up a room"? I'd never met anyone who remotely made me think that. Until I met "Lucy".

And with a mind like a steel trap that surprises those who underestimate her at their peril, and a keenly perceptive wisdom suitable for someone at least twice her young years.

That was a fun night. I was not wearing a monkey hat. It takes a "Lucy" to carry off a monkey hat. Trust me.


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ooh, this stuff just writes itself.

The closing sentences of an email that I got in response to an email sent to Yahoo! Customer Care about a problem with my Yahoo! (I include the exclamation point because I know they do when Googling what peeps are saying about them) account.

Thank you for reaching out to us.

We look forward to helping you!

Sincerely, Yahoo! Customer Care

**Please do not respond to this message as no one will receive it.

I frankly can't tell you how warm & fuzzy I feel about receiving that. Because I honestly don't know.



Ottawa [updated]

They run the whole country outta that building with the "Canada" government logo on it.

Naw, just kidding. There are hundreds of buildings just like that all over this city from which they run the whole country. Hundreds. Who has the contract to manufacture the giant logos, one wonders?

I walked a couple of blocks north towards the Parliament Buildings, which are about 5 blocks from my hotel, but it is really freaking cold here and since I've seen them before, you'll have to forgive me for not continuing on for a photo for your benefit. Google 'em, they're pretty.

Went out for a stroll again after my meetings were done for the day, as is my wont, and as I passed the darkened cafes and delis - this was 5:30 pm! - I was reminded of why I really can't bring myself to love beautiful, polite, dull, patriotic Ottawa. The cliché about this town is that "they roll the sidewalks up at 6pm" and it's sadly true. I recall an earlier visit when a colleague of mine and I went out from our hotel looking for a pub or bar - any pub or bar - to take in Ottawa's night life.

It turned out there was no "there" "there". I believe we finally stopped at a hideous Elephant & Castle before returning dispiritedly home. (I'm not linking to the Elephant & Castle chain's webpage - it launches a loud video that loads without asking your permission. It sucks even worse than the chain.)

For some reason, federal civil servants just don't know how to party down.

Now I am safely nestled in my hotel room watching the Canada-Switzerland hockey game. Lotta history there. I got up at 4:30 am to make my flight to Fort Buttoned-down, but I think I'll be able to stay awake long enough to see the outcome of this one.


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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic Ambivalence

Will the IOC nail me for that blog post header? We'll see.

As usual, I'm completely ambivalent about the Olympics.

Didn't want them for Canada. Am completely opposed to taxpayer money being spent on this bloated, over-commercialized, eco-unfriendly circus which I think long ago lost its original spirit or purpose and which seems to inevitably cause misery for the poor in the community where it's held.

And of course these games look particularly problem-plagued, with not enough snow, the tragic death of a Georgian luger on Day 1, a mechanical cock-up at the opening ceremonies, and rain threatening several skiing events.

But I can't not watch Olympic hockey. (One of my countrymen described the Olympics as "a hockey tournament with some other stuff thrown in.") I expect it's genetically hard-wired into Canadians.

And there are always the handful of stories that harken back to the original spirit of the games - before Visa was literally the only currency accepted at Olympic venues, they harassed decades-old Greek restaurants with "Olympia" in the name, and our athletes shilled for McDonald's every 20 minutes.

Panasonic (yes - another corporate juggernaut) has set up a website called "One Winter, Five Dreams", which contains the blogs of five somewhat unlikely competitors (well, one didn't qualify in the end), and a sort of citizen-blogger from the US.

When I read Ethiopian cross-country skier Robel Teklemariam's blog, I'm afraid I was hooked. (I'd read about him before - he trains on roller-skis.) And discovering Turkish figure-skater Tugba Karademir's blog, with her photos of the modest and endearing send-off party for their tiny Turkish team, was the icing on the cake.

The Jamaican bobsled team - yes, it still exists - didn't qualify this year. But Jamaican freestyle-skier Errol Kerr carried his country's flag, and will be competing.

I guess I'll keep looking for the little stories, because they're fascinating. And hope that nothing else goes wrong, and the snark and criticism of my country's efforts in the media settle down. The blogger commentary on the Opening Ceremonies - particularly this piece in Salon - were just nasty.

Still wish the whole circus was happening somewhere else. Then I could just watch the hockey, and look for the little stories.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

People unclear on the concept

From Failbooking, which catalogues Facebook fails. (Caution - some content gross and/or raunchy.)

Funny Facebook Fails

I'm sorry. Kyle is right. This is hilarious.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Progress! has once again compiled and published its list of which companies aired commercials which were closed-captioned during the 2010 Superbowl, and which ads did not include captions.

An impressive shift. Well over twice as many ads were captioned as uncaptioned this year! That's a remarkable improvement over 2009, when the breakdown was near-even, with one more ad uncaptioned than captioned, and one which didn't require captioning (relying primarily on music). And it's a dramatic improvement over 2008, with 20 captioned ads vs. 34 uncaptioned.

To repeat's basic point in making these lists:

A 30-second ad during the Super Bowl is 2.7 million dollars - ($2,700,000.00).
The cost to caption that ad is approximately $200.

[H]ow many sponsors were willing to spend the extra money to make their ad accessible and connect with the 28 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing[?]

It's encouraging, is what it is. Oh, and also the Saints won, which kind of rocked.

(This is doubtless the most engaged I will be with American football for my entire life.)



Saturday, February 06, 2010

A brave young man lost.

Brendan Burke, the young student manager of the hockey team at Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio), was killed in a car accident Friday afternoon.

He was a member of an esteemed hockey family, the youngest son of Brian Burke, currently General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The loss of any 21-year-old is tragic. But Brendan - for such a young man - leaves a legacy that, within the hockey world, belies his short life.

The whole story - his revelation and its fallout - is nicely chronicled here. (Annoyingly, in the second person, but still.)

I followed the story as it played out in the hockey news. In the hockey world, it was a bombshell. I was so proud of Brendan, and especially his dad, who was very public in his support for Brendan (he said he stood by Brendan "with an axe!"). And of his employers, and of the team he managed. I was even proud of the website commenters and hockey fans who said, "Yeah, so the kid is gay. So what?"

Rooting homophobia out of sports is going to be done like this, one brave kid at a time.

Poor Brendan. I wish he'd lived to fulfill his promise. But I'm so glad he was brave enough to make a difference.


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