Thursday, January 28, 2016

Now I've Gone and Done It

When I accepted the president's position at Northwood hockey in 1996 I had no idea. No idea what I had gotten myself into, no idea I'd be doing it 20 years later. After expanding from six to eight teams in the last two seasons I've put my foot in it again.

At a meeting this week the main topic of discussion was another expansion, to an older division. For much of the 20 years I was running things on my own for the most part. Putting my foot down two seasons ago gained the league an executive but the majority of that group is in the twilight of their kids time in the league. Not only that group but HNO and Thunder Bay Minor are pushing for someone to offer an alternative program for the next age group. Tuesday night we decided to pick up that ball and run with it.

As much as I tried to remind folks that I'm not intending to spend more time at a rink every weekend I'm not sure they got it. It's not that I have to police parents or coaches very much or very often. Just being there seems to do the trick. But if there's no one keeping an eye on things especially with older kids, things are bound to happen that don't keep with the league's philosophy. It doesn't have to be me but there has to be a league presence at games.

My first major undertaking in 1996 was to end the 'senior' program we had running and get Mike's age group into pee wee with the Elks, Neebing KC and the rest of the Lakehead South teams. It worked very well and Northwood teams always held their own until politics got in the way.

With enough planning and preparation, which is already underway, it should work well. Getting players won't be a problem, there's enough disgust with the current programs out there in both both and girls leagues. We have the funds to spare, ice has been promised and several coaches are ready to graduate with older players. If we do it, it will be with a buzzer for line changes exactly as we do for the younger group. It may turn some away but it solves the biggest complaint, unfair ice time.

Friday, January 15, 2016

How Smokey Was It?

Castle Mountain July 2010/August 2015
Bow Valley Parkway July 2010/August 2015
I was flipping through some old pictures and came across a few from our recent visits to Banff. These two were taken at virtually the same spot on the side of the Bow Valley Parkway looking back towards Lake Louise over the Bow River, and over to Castle Mountain.
I did some quick cutting and here's the result. Cough cough. Hard to believe the actual fires were hundreds of miles away. No wonder Brandyn is wearing that face, I'm sure I'm making the same one right now.

Early 2016

Northwood hockey playoffs kicked off last Sunday with a pair of games after Saturday's four game wrap of the regular season that saw all eight teams hit the Gardens ice. A scheduling miracle pitted the teams in first and second place in a head to head game for the regular season title. In a tight 2-1 contest the second place Kings jumped into first.

We have a new format for playoffs this season with the eight teams being split into odds and evens. The standings were close enough that all teams wanted a shot at the big prize. They'll play 6 games in a double round robin and then the top team in each division will face off for the championship. Even the fourth place odds will play the fourth place evens in a trophy game at the end.

On other hockey fronts my quickly cobbled together schedule for Lakehead Minor is up and running. There have been lots of changes as teams work their way around travel that I wasn't aware of. So far everything seems to be working. On to the least I won't be stepping into the middle of a 600 game schedule with nothing more than a single spreadsheet and good intentions.

The music streaming service and app Rdio that I had been using for music shut down after being bought out by Pandora in December, leaving me looking for an alternative. Paying $10 a month for access to just about any music has allowed lots of exploring so I wanted to find another similar service. I decided on Google Music since the app was on my phone and it offered just about everything I was looking for. It connects to Chromecast much better and the app runs far faster. Other than the pain of having to reestablish my huge library, the transition has been positive.

I have to say I'm liking this cold turn in the weather. Rain in January is not normal and makes walking treacherous. With cold mornings I just add a few items of clothing and head out. The frozen slush was tough to walk on without slipping and even when I catch myself from falling my back takes the brunt.

I've missed riding outside, in fact I haven't been out on a bike yet this year. I have some 70 km on the trainer but it's a chore. The hour grinds by even with a movie playing.

I've opened a new site for writing and pictures. Not much to see or read yet but I'm trying over here.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Hundred Lessons, One Learned

My first foray with a camera was less than stellar. The day turned overcast as my time window opened. I headed to Mission Marsh hoping the sun might reappear.

I quickly learned that my knowledge of the Nikon's endless settings are lacking. Once I turned the dial from automatic I was lost. My reading from the week prior reminded me of studying the golf swing. There are so many hints, tips and top ten lists of things to remember that my head was flooded. Just as I could never hit a golf ball with a multitude of tips swirling around in my head, I couldn't take a decent picture. I missed my simple old Pentax, and the sun.

Just less than a month ago the new scheduler for Lakehead Minor resigned with the schedule in limbo and only complete to January 5th. With limited information to work with and for reasons I can't begin to recall or understand I jumped in to help with both feet. It's been a learning experience. I've picked up a lot of spreadsheet knowledge. I know that the woman volunteer who managed the schedule for 15? years and was voted out last year, did an incredible job. The league should crawl on its collective knees back to her asking that she return next season. I've learned that tournaments are the evil behind many of the issues in hockey.

I can't seem to sleep any longer than 5 or 6 hours. This pattern has been with me for at least a month. It's 8 am as I write this and I've done 3 hours work at the computer already. Maybe that's why I took on the schedule, too tired to think straight?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

On To the New Year

Another year come and gone. It's cliche to say that they fly by, but they do. Some days seem to last forever and then it's Christmas.

The holiday season was mostly quiet for us, a few meals with the kids and lots of quiet evenings. It's never the same when the little ones aren't around. Hopefully we can get to Calgary for Christmas before the magic is gone for Cullen and Campbell.

I've decided to try and throw some effort into writing and photography in the coming year. I haven't given up riding my bikes, they will take me to places where I can explore the other hobbies. For 2015 I finished with a lazy December and came up short of my 6000 km goal at 5931. Not bad but I just didn't find the energy to ride the trainer late in the month. I started the new year with 11 km yesterday. I added a chromecast to the mix so I can watch Netflix on a full sized tv while I pedal. Nothing replaces riding outside, but it's much safer.

My desk is a cluttered mess of 50-50 tickets, receipts, game sheets and other odds and ends. Time to clean up a bit.