Thursday Thirteen Ed. #78: Odds ‘n’ Ends

by Steve, January 31st, 2007

Odds and ends, odds and ends
Lost time is not found again

— Bob Dylan, “Odds and Ends”

meIt’s been a tumultuous few weeks here at Wacky Blog Central, so let me just lay into it.

  1. I migrated all our blogs to a new server over the weekend, and other than a few glitches, things have gone swimmingly.
  2. One glitch was that I made the mistake of using SuSE’s yast2 to configure apache, and it totally f’ed up my virtual host set-up. This caused all of Wacky Mommy’s traffic to be routed to this blog for a day. I fixed it by doing it the good old fashioned way: editing httpd.conf, and all its subordinate *.conf files with vim. I mean, seriously, yast2 totally f’ed up the virtual host configuration.
  3. Another glitch was that I didn’t set up the aliases for www, which meant if you put “www.” on the front of our blog URLs, you wouldn’t find us. (Why anybody — and by this I mean Web site owners — still uses www is beyond me. It made sense in the old days, when www.somedomain.com meant “a computer named ‘www’ on the domain ‘somedomain.com’”. These days, though, I would guess 99.9% of Web sites are virtual domains, so the www is just plain spurious. Subdomains can still make sense, for instance if you have a software package site, you can have mysoftware.com, docs.mysoftware.com, downloads.mysoftware.com, etc. But www is just silly. Of course it’s the World Wide Web. Why waste those keystrokes?)
  4. Another unrelated but stupid pilot error glitch was that I let this domain expire yesterday. Oh, man, I can’t believe I did that. I renewed and everything seems to be back in order. It is if you’re reading this, anyway.
  5. The dog had a massive “accident” in our home last night. Shudder. Thank god for the the following:
    1. Carpet shampooers
    2. Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out
    3. A strong intestinal constitution (me, not the dog)
  6. The new TV device for the new computer doesn’t work as well as the old ATI All-in-Wonder. I’m not sure if it’s the USB interface (probably) or the hardware mp2 encoder, but there’s this horrid delay when watching from an external source (like a VCR). And the DVR software pretty much sucks. It’s cool to have a remote control, but damn, when you’re watching a recorded show, and you fast forward, it’s virtually impossible to stop and play again without it jumping to the beginning. Why the hell isn’t there a commercial skip feature? Basically, they haven’t made the effort to make this a fully-featured DVR.
  7. Did I mention the dog crapped all over the house?
  8. Yeah. It’s fucking horrible.
  9. On a brighter note, the sun’s been shining in Portland for several days. Cold, clear and crisp.
  10. We had “family art night” at school last night, which I was expecting to be an evening of sitting at grade-school cafeteria tables with the kids as they pasted things together. Instead, we were treated to a concert by Trashcan Joe. No glue, no markers, no glitter, no whining about not being able to make it look like the teacher’s example. Nice.
  11. Due to a snow storm two weeks ago, and a fever last week, I went nearly two and a half weeks without playing hockey. I finally get out on the ice yesterday and was pleased that I haven’t totally lost my cardio.
  12. I still haven’t cleaned up all the boxes from the new computer and misc. peripherals.
  13. We’ve got a Web server (this one!) in our bedroom. It’ll be there until I decommission the old server, which means migrating the mail server to the new Web server and a couple other virtual domains and…. and…. Oy. Maybe running our own blog farm isn’t such a great idea.

Busy busy busy.

OOPS!

by Steve, January 31st, 2007

Damn, not sure how that happened, but I forgot to renew the registration for morehockeylesswar.org. It expired yesterday. My registrar was kind enough to let me renew anyway, so we’re back in business until 2012, when I’ll probably forget to renew again….

Skills Challenge Shenanigans

by Steve, January 28th, 2007

The Winter Hawks held their annual Skills Challenge today at the Memorial Coliseum. We took the kids to see the light-hearted intra-squad competitions, including the hardest shot, most accurate shot, fastest lap, and the finale, a 10 minute, non-stop three-on-three game.

New York Rangers property (and former Winter Hawk star) Brandon Dubinsky was in town for a visit, and graced the crowd with a little on-ice interview with Scooter during a break.
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No sooner did they get to talking, than Dubi was sucker punched with a cream pie from behind.
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He was a good sport…
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And even shared some with Scooter.
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Aw, it barely even got on him!

Later, somebody handed a mike to Kurtis Mucha, asking him if he wanted to give Dubi any grief. He took the mike and asked, “Does that jacket come in men’s?”

Here we are…

by Steve, January 27th, 2007

meWe have officially migrated to the new server with its new server software, and we are officially ironing out kinks. I expect there to be a few. By and large, it seems to have gone pretty smoothly though. I’m not especially pleased with my new look, so I’ll be tweaking that as we go.

I’ll be re-introducing the shop soon. I need to do some housekeeping on the merch (some of it has been less than satisfactory, so I may be discontinuing some designs and adding new). Please remember, if you’ve bought stuff, it comes with a 30 day money back guarantee. Don’t hesitate to use it if the stuff isn’t up to snuff!

More on the morrow.

Stay tuned…

by Steve, January 24th, 2007

technologyFor a new, improved More Hockey, Less War blog. Same bat channel, same bat time.

But with a new, improved Web server, new, improved blogging software, and a new, improved design.

Two years ago, I set up the current Web server to host family photos and my wife’s blog (because I didn’t like Google/Blogger’s privacy policy). This server is a 1997 Dell with a 200MHz Pentium MMX processer and a whopping 32 MB of RAM. It’s performed admirably for two years, and would still be fine except, well, Wacky Mommy’s gone and gotten popular. Her blog’s getting 50,000 hits a month, transferring a half a gigabyte of data to her legions of fans. She’s averaging 500 unique visits a day, and when you add to that my relatively puny readership, this little dinosaur of a Web server is starting to creak under the load. We’ve had a couple of outages in the past month when I’ve had to hard reboot the poor thing.

Meanwhile, back on the desktop, our home-built workstation has been getting creaky, too. We’ve been running a 700 MHz Athlon with 256 MB of RAM for several years now, and with the commodity pricing on new machines being what it is, it’s time to move up. So I bought a new dual core, 64 bit box with 1 GB of RAM and a new 19″ flat panel monitor for the desktop, and rebuilt the old desktop with Open SuSE 10.2 (Linux) to use as a new Web server.

The current server is running a very stripped down installation of Debian Linux, which has served us well. But I wasn’t able to run X because the machine was such a dog. With the “new” Web server, I installed the full monty, including the very fancy KDE desktop manager, OpenOffice (a free Microsoft Office clone), and everything else you can imagine you’d need in a home computer (not to mention all the server stuff I really need). Since the new desktop came with a monitor, my Web server now has a monitor, too! What a concept.

Anyway, since the new Web server has more horsepower, I decided to step up to using WordPress for blogging software, which uses MySQL for a database. I am currently running Pivot, which uses flat text files for storage. This does not scale very well, but it was very adequate before our blogs became popular. Well, since Wacky Mommy’s became popular. It would still be fine if she were a loser blogger like me. So anyway, what’s all of this mean to you, dear reader?

First, everything should be faster, particularly when viewing single entries or comments, or leaving comments. Second, I’m redesigning the blog for (hopefully) better usability. WordPress behaves more like most people expect blogs to behave. (Pivot’s a little funky in many ways.) But really, that’s it. All of my existing entries, and all comments will be transfered to the new blog, and the URL to the front page will remain the same. Some URLs to individual entries (permalinks) may be broken, though. Sorry about that.

The big switch is scheduled for this Sunday. I probably won’t post again until after the new server is up and serving.

Next step: more bandwidth. Stay tuned for that.

More from the game last night

by Steve, January 14th, 2007

hockeyWacky Mommy reminded me that I forgot the best (non-hockey) part of the evening last night, the part in which the “Chevy Prize Blimp” got hijacked. They’ve got this radio controlled blimp that flies around the arena during intermissions, dropping coupons for free margarine (I’m not shitting you), free kids’ tickets, and free fast food hamburgers. The freakin’ crowd goes nuts, especially the kids, and I’m always expecting kids to go pitching over a railing as they chase the damn thing around the arena bowl. The announcer says “Make some noise, he’ll come your way; make a lot of noise, he’ll drop some prizes!” So children and adults alike are looking up at this thing, waving their arms and screaming wildly. I can understand the kids not understanding that the man who’s driving the thing is in plain sight behind them, up in the rafters, but I’ve never understood how the adults can be so daft. Do they really think he can discern their relative position to the blimp and pull the trigger so a piece of paper can flutter down from 100 feet above them, right into their greedy fingers? Do they really not understand that they’re making asses of themselves for a margarine coupon?

Anyway, the pilot’s lack of visibility was demonstrated last night, when the blimp got wedged at the top of the arena bowl and was mobbed by a crowd that included quite a few adults. I didn’t see how exactly it happened, but it looked like the pilot’s view was blocked by the center-hung scoreboard. There must have been 25 people in a tight clutch around the blimp, which strained futilely against their grasp. Finally, it broke free and bobbed away like a big puppy, but its payload had been completely stripped. The mob continued to fight over the booty for a few minutes. Holy blimp shit, Batman, what a freakin’ hillarious scene! And this was right at the beginning of its flight, so the buzz was pretty much killed for the blimp chasers in other parts of the arena. Which is not a bad thing for those of us who prefer to not have children climbing over us, chasing visions of free oleo. Actually, in the first intermission, a voucher for a free kid’s ticket landed in the empty seat next to me, and as I reached for it to hand it to the kids behind us, the little urchin almost tore it out of my hand. Neither he nor his parents said “thank you.” If you’re reading this, You’re welcome, ya little shit.

This, by the way, was the same kid who, with his sibling, was clacking little hand clappers in my ear throughout the first and second periods. And it was one of these kids who had an “accident”, causing the whole family to have to leave the game early. Some time in the third period, Wacky Mommy (who has a lousy sense of smell except when it comes to pee and shit) looked back at the soggy mess of half-eaten pretzels and paper waste they left and said “Phew, somebody had an accident!” The couple sitting beside me had had their own accident, having spilled a cocktail, so it was a pretty nasty soup around us in the old Coliseum. Some time during the third, an arena employee came with her haz mat kit and did a quick once over on the pee-pee puddle, and the lady next to me begged a couple super-absorbent rags to clean up her own mess. No wonder I was in a fightin’ mood by the time the fight cards finally came up. “Get out there and stick ‘em! Fuck ‘em! Christ! Pop ‘em!” I shouted, now that the kids were gone.

God, I love hockey.

Wacky Mommy Doesn’t Care for the Fighting

by Steve, January 14th, 2007

hockey…she told me so. But when you decide at the last minute to skip trying to get rush tickets to see a play and instead go see your last-place Portland Winter Hawks take on the league leading Everett Silver Tips, there’s a good chance things are going to get out of hand. Especially when these teams see a lot of each other (Portland managed to beat Everett in Everett last night, 3-1).

Portland played with Everett for two periods, helped out by an extended 5 on 3 power play that yielded a tying goal. But then things started to fall apart in the third. When Everett scored their fifth and final goal at 11:30 of the third, making it 5 to 2, I started looking for Portland tough guy Frazer McLaren to pick a dance partner. But it was 16-year-old Tayler Jordan who got things started at 16:27 with Everett’s Brenan Sonne. This one looked like a draw to me. Then off the ice with them! As soon as the puck was dropped again, 5’11″, 185 lb. Matt Sokol squared off with Everett’s Kyle Beach. Beach is 6′ 3″ and pretty much had his way with Sokol, virtually undressing him in the process. To the showers, boys! Then we had to watch a whole minute and a half of hockey before we got a couple of big guys going at it with 6’6″, 216 lb. Max Gordichuk getting some good licks in on 6’4″, 224 lb. Moises Gutierrez.

With a minute 50 left to go, the crowd was yelling for big Frazer McLaren to get into it, but he spent the balance of the game on the bench.

And Wacky Mommy turns to me and says, “How can you like this sport, with all this fighting?” Somehow she forgot that we were going to go to a play, but she was the one who said, nah, let’s go see the Winter Hawks instead. Seriously, I’m not making this up. And you know, Wacky Mommy always says you can just screw so much and drink so much.

Anyway, it got me to thinking. John, AKA Peatycap, AKA Sig from hockey-fights.com and hockeyfansunite.com has a point about a lack of emotion in the NHL. I exchanged some e-mail with a friend in Minneapolis who recently caught a Wild game, and also commented on the lack of aggression. The hockey-fights.com guys blame the new rules enforcement, which we’re also getting in the WHL this year, but they seem to overlook several years of emotionless clutch-and-grab trap hockey that preceded the lockout. They (correctly) target Gary Bettmann as an incompetent assclown of a manager and marketer, and they also are correct that the rules enforcement has gone too far (though I think we disagree on the degree). But I don’t think that’s what’s killed the emotion in the NHL (especially with an eye on how boring the clutch-and-grab and trap game had become).

The real issue is far deeper than zero-tolerance. I saw more emotion on the ice tonight than I’ve seen in ten games in the NHL this season, and a couple of obstruction penalties going both ways didn’t do anything to quell it. These kids are playing their asses off, because they don’t know if they’re going to make it to the next level or not. Intense intra-division rivalries are the norm in Major Junior hockey, even when it’s a league leading Everett, with 69 points, taking it to Portland, with a lowly 30 points. Maybe the pros just make too damn much money to give a shit night after night, and maybe the fact that they’ve “arrived” makes them complacent. I guess that’s why I’m a junior hockey fan, and I’ve never been too excited about the idea of the NHL in Portland.

I understand why Peatycap’s bitter. He’s a Capitols fan, fer Christ’s sake. Shit, now that Jack Abramoff’s buddies can’t take Congress out to the sky box, the team’s probably going to have to pull up stakes and move to a real hockey town. Just don’t come to Portland, okay? (I hear Las Vegas is looking for a team….)

Hi guys. Pull up a chair.

by Steve, January 5th, 2007

hockeyLet’s talk hockey. (For reference, you may want to check out this entry and all the witty repartee from the boys over at hockey-fights.com.)

Before this goes over the top, let’s not forget we’re on the same side. Hockey is a passionate sport for passionate people.

I guess the shit storm was ignited when somebody posted on the forum at hockey-fights.com that I don’t like their hockeyfansunite.com site. The posting of my link was followed by a Hansen Brothers-like comment “Nail this guy.” My critique was of their message (so far as I could discern it): the new rules enforcement has taken the excitement out of hockey.

Let me restate my point by directly addressing some comments left on this blog. First, John, I believe the biggest problem pre-exists the rules crack-down. Let’s talk about league expansion to the sun belt and the talent dilution that came with it. From this, we got the trap, as well as and clutch and grab. This was killing hockey before the lockout. The enforcement changes are an effort to address that.

Have they gone too far? I think so, believe it or not, especially with regard to interference. The intent is not to open up the ice by creating power plays, but to allow the skills player to skate without getting tackled. The idea was there would be an adjustment period, then the penalties drop off. From where I sit (having grown up watching hockey from the early 80s on) today’s game is way better than the late 90s and early 00s. So the direction is good, if not perfect. Do you really prefer clutch and grab and trap?

Marc C begins with a straw man argument: “You must be kidding when you write that more obstruction-type penalties being called are making the game truly more exciting.” You must be kidding me if you think that’s what I wrote. Go back and read it again, then feel free to comment when you understand the nuance of what I’m talking about. Marc then pronounces “[r]ivalries are now a thing of the past…” and yearns for “hard-hitting action and, yes, a little tension between teams that work hard to win.” Have you seen Buffalo and Washington play lately? Marc C closes with a red herring, the old war horse about stick work and dangerous hits being up because guys can’t police themselves anymore. Yawn. What’s that got to do with the new standard of calling obstruction penalties? Anyway, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that one…. (“You see this quarter? It used to be a nickel.”)

Hannibal chimes in with another straw man. I don’t think I’ve ever invoked the old Broad Street Bullies. Ah, but those were the days, eh?

Then Chuck comes in talking about football. I might have to ban people for talking about football on this site. Seriously. Football. Football?

Now come Chaser/Johnz/Kevanie and Stinky Johnson with their Beavis and Butthead routine, which speaks for itself (and doesn’t reflect all that well on the “movement”, such that it is).

Anyway, despite the hysteria I’ve incited by not jumping whole-heartedly on the “bring back clutch and grab” bandwagon, I think we can all agree that a lot of obstruction calls could be left uncalled. I never said calling more penalties is making the game more exciting. Come on guys, don’t be thick. I wish you all could look back a bit and recognize the connection between league expansion, talent dilution, the relaxing of enforcement, and the consequent slow down of the game due to clutch and grab and the trap. Either you haven’t been watching hockey all that long, or perhaps you live in the south and think it’s great to have all these teams in the sun belt. You think maybe diluting the talent to expand into markets where the ponds don’t freeze might have something to do with declining attendance and a boring game? Maybe, just maybe, guys.

Is Bettman an ass-clown? You betcha! But I’d still rather see any game this season over just about any game in 03-04. Has zero-tolerance gone too far? Probably. But no way do I want to go back to watching tackle/trap hockey. Talk about taking the excitement out of the game.

Thirteen Things My Wife and I Disagree On

by Steve, January 3rd, 2007

meWacky Mommy and I have a lot we agree on, but there are a few glaring discrepancies.

1. Religion. She’s a pantheist. I’m a born-again atheist with pantheist tendencies (after starting Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, I’ve foresworn agnosticism). Right. We’re really not that far apart. (But isn’t a religious discussion a nice way to start things off?)

She joined the Unitarian church, which spurred my father to quip, “That’s not a church, that’s a social club!” My seven y.o. daughter calls herself an atheist (and asks, “what’s that mean again?”), but loves going to Sunday school. They eat snacks there.

A Christian friend asked my wife, “What’s your husband think about you joining the church?” and she responded with my joke about not needing to believe in God to be a Unitarian. You know, the Atheist club meets Tuesday nights in the fellowship hall. Coffee and donuts provided. Okay, it’s not really a joke.

Really, I’m fine with Unitarians. So far as I know, they’ve never started any wars or advocated communal violence against Quakers or anything. And they don’t go knocking on doors telling people it’s okay to believe whatever they want, because there are many paths to God.

2. Home decor. I shouldn’t get too far into this one at the risk of starting WWIII, but suffice it to say I deplore clutter and adore surfaces with nothing upon them. There are very few surfaces in our home without piles of papers upon them.

3. Dogs. Well, really, we pretty much agree now that dogs aren’t so great. But when she brought home the pooch in question, it nearly ended our engagement. Okay, all right, I love the stinky ol’ feller, but damn, a dog can really crimp your style.

4. TV. I don’t want to watch it, and I definitely don’t want to talk about it. Oh, okay, I like the Simpsons, Jeopardy, and hockey. And Frontline when I remember that it’s on. But trying to engage me in coversation about “My Name is Earl” is a sure way to bore me to tears.

5. Movies. I like art films, foreign films and documentaries. She likes romantic comedies.

6. Books. She likes chick lit; I like non-fiction.

7. Food. I’m an herbivore. She’s an omnivore.

8. Jewelry. I think it’s ostentatious; she loves sparkly, shiny things.

9. Education. She thinks Catholic school would be just peachy for our youngins (they don’t have nuns teaching any more! they don’t even pray so much!). I would just as soon drill holes in my head as trust my precious children to the Catholic church.

10. Portland. When we first got together, I was hell-bent on leaving Portland. She had a job she loved, and wanted to retire here. Now she is hell-bent on leaving Portland, and I’m comfortably employed and ambivalent about leaving. Go figure.

11. Loading the dishwasher. How can I convince her that my way is right and her way is wrong?

12. Yogurt containers. Me: they go in the recycling bin. Her: they go in the dishwasher, and then left to clutter the drying rack, and then get stuffed in a drawer with a bunch of other yogurt containers we don’t need.

13. Hockey. Now get this: last season, we had a 12-game package for the Winter Hawks. A couple games a month, mostly Saturday night dates. Well, you might guess this got a little old for Wacky Mommy by the end of the season, and you’d be right. So we decided not to buy another ticket package this season. Instead, we’d buy single game tickets, but also go to the theatre, symphony and opera, all of which I love. Now, get this: when it comes time for a date, I can’t get her to the theatre to save my life.

That’s right, folks, she’d rather go to a hockey game than a play.

I haven’t been to a play since last spring, and I’ve been really jonesin. “You can go by yourself,” is her typical response when I ask if she wants to see this play or that. The guys in the locker room at the rink don’t understand. They think I should be thrilled. But you heard me correctly: there is more to life than just hockey.

And with that, I bid you Good Day.