20141029

Caps were on road, too

I don't have a whole lot to say about the Caps' recently-completed road trip, but there were a few things.

I thought the Caps played very well in Edmonton, but were a little bit unlucky not to win.  Certainly, their possession numbers stayed very good.  I, unfortunately, missed the last period, but mostly enjoyed watching the first two.

The possession numbers remained very good in Calgary, and they were able to win that one.  I wasn't able to watch the whole thing that night.  In fact, I only saw the first period live.  I ended up watching the second and first few minutes of the third the next night while my wife was getting the kids ready for bed.

I thought the first goal of that one was kind of weird, with a Calgary being very generous with the puck while ostensibly playing "four corners" on a penalty kill.  Wardo, I'm sure, was thankful.  It ended up being quite a good game for him, as he got another, early in the second, putting in a rebound from a Latta shot (high caffeine, I'm sure).

And the third had Backstrom showing that Trotz wants him to shoot more (and Alzner showing that he's looking for long passes more often), wristing one in from just inside the blue line.

A good game, any way you want to look at it.

Then the Caps faced Vancouver.  The first period was pretty terrible, possessionally, as the Caps were simply dominated.  Peters kept them in the game, making a number of excellent saves to keep the game scoreless.

The second started with the Caps clawing back, possessionally, and even taking a lead when MarJo buried a beautiful cross-ice feed from Burakovsky.  Things continued to look good for another eight minutes or so, until the wheels fell off, completely.  They allowed three goals in under two minutes (the first of which was on the power play), and did not look good in the process.  A little bit of bad luck, but some rather bad play, as well.

One mote of good news came when, a minute and change after that third goal, Liam O'Brien got his first of the season on a nice deflection of a centering pass from Greenie.

But that was as good as it got; the Canucks cemented the victory with a minute left in the game and Carlson in the box for a delay-of-game penalty.  The puck was in the Vancouver end, as Peters had been pulled, but Vrbata put it in from very long range.

Overall, I was pretty happy with what I saw.  I wish they'd been able to get at least one more point on the trip, but they look like a team that should be doing better, not one lucky to be where they are (as was the case for most of last season).

Burakovsky continues to look very well, and is central to a line shuffling that occurred yesterday at practice.  Tonight, against Detroit, he'll be centering OV and Wardo, with Backstrom being paired with MarJo and Brouwer.  I guess that makes Bura the top-line center, but it seems odd all the way around; the top line has not been part of the team's ... issues, I guess.  And I still don't like splitting Chimmer and Ward; Ward's recent goals notwithstanding, they've been too good together for too long.  Their games just mesh too well.

I hope Bura handles the additional pressure as well as he's handled his situation thus far.  The season could go downhill very quickly if Bura gets frustrated.

One good sign; Wilson is finally well enough to get called up, sending Chris Brown back to Hershey.  Hard not to see that as an upgrade, even if my expectations for Wilson are much more tempered, I think, than those of the Caps' top brass.  (Yes, I'm still a bit bitter about them not sending Tom back to Junior, last year.  And losing Perreault because of it.)

Anyway, as mentioned, tonight's game will be at home against Detroit.  Somehow, this is a 'Rivalry Night' game, despite the Caps and Red Wings only being in the same division for six seasons over their history.

Finally done

Well, it took just shy of four months, but iTunes Match has finally finished matching my entire song library.  That's just shy of 22k songs, so now everything is available (which shocked me by including the vast majority of my japanese soundtracks.  And my daughter's kindermusik CDs.  And the french concept album for Les Mis.  But not my two-disc recording of Jekyll & Hyde, which is very unfortunate).

And now the 32GB on my phone feels a lot less cramped.

20141027

How much do you drink?

The last couple months, I've been drinking about a drink a week or so.  For a while before that, it was probably closer to a drink a night (ranging from 0-2, but probably a bit less than one a week on average).

Well, the Healthcare Triage from a couple of weeks ago, about Antibiotics and Alcohol Use (not related to each other; two topics) was pretty pretty interesting.  The antibiotics part was slightly interesting, but the alcohol section blew my mind.  I never thought of one drink a night being all that much, and it won't put you into the top ten percent of drinkers, but it will put you in the 70-80% decile.

Holy crap!

So how much does the top ten percent drink?  That's even more amazing.  Over ten drinks a day!

I've never had ten drinks in a day in my life.  I've exceeded three only a handful of times, and only one of those times (strong sangria served in a pitcher with large glasses) might I have even gotten close to ten.

Cut that ten percent's drinking down to the average for the penultimate decile, and it would cut overall alcohol consumption for the entire country by sixty percent.  Consider my mind blown.

On the road, again

Just a few small updates on my biking adventures.  Thankfully, no big problems.

I've gotten the crank rings upgraded to Rotor Q-Rings, which has been helpful.  I'm still not sure if I need to adjust the setting on them, but I definitely get less tired with them.  I haven't been going as fast, although I think that's likely because I've been doing a lot more hills (and I've definitely improved on the hills in the last week or so, which might or might not be related).

I was worried that shifting would be negatively impacted, since the Q-Rings are elliptical, but I haven't had any issues with that.  At least, none that I can't attribute to the continuing wonkiness of running an eleven-speed cassette with a hub that only accepts ten-speed.

The wheel set that I ordered from prowheelbuilder is still waiting to be built.  Thankfully, I've still got that borrowed wheel, so I'm still cranking out the miles.  Hopefully, they'll get it built the end of this week, and I'll be able to get rolling on them early next week.  And hopefully they'll be as good as I hope they are.

Speaking of miles, my total passed 1250 for the year this morning.  I think that puts me a hair over one thousand for my Motobecane road bike; I'll have to look.  Also, the Retul fitting got me on a narrower handlebar.  I ended up doing the changeover myself, and that's helped.  It hasn't eliminated my sore neck, but it has greatly reduced it.

This morning, I really wasn't feeling it, and took an easy ride.  And for once, I kept with that determination.  The cold didn't help much, though.  With my normal cranking, I hardly notice 42 degrees.  This morning? Not the case.

I did determine, a few days ago, that 45 is iffy for my normal gloves, and I definitely want something warmer when it gets any colder.  I haven't found the lower limit on my light, cold-weather gloves yet (in my one test, those gloves did great when it was very wet).  I have some heavier ones that I expect to only break out a couple of times a year (ironic that I got them cheaper for it being "end of season", despite them being just about to come into season); we'll have to wait to see how those work.

On my bottom half, a couple of notes for colder or wetter weather.  Mostly, I've just been wearing my normal shorts, so far.  I have worn my thermal (to use Pearl Izumi terminology) shorts a couple of times.  I don't notice the difference in my legs, but do notice it a little in my abdomen.  Probably not worth paying extra over the Pro In-R-Cool shorts, but maybe worth having one or two pairs if the price is very, very close.

I got a couple of long-sleeve, transfer baselayer shirts recently.  I actually wasn't sure if I'd want to wear them, and with a jersey, I'm still skeptical.  But for laundry reasons, I work just that, with my light jacket, and found that works very well in the lower forties.  I'm thinking that wearing that, a jersey, and my softshell jacket (incidentally, I'm very bummed to see that I paid $20 more than is being asked for that, now.  But on the plus side, I got the baselayer shirts for that much cheaper) will probably work well in temperatures about as cold as the worst in which I'd contemplate riding.

For being wet, I have only a little bit to add.  I wore my amfib tights on a cold, rainy day a week or so ago.  And they passed the test with flying colors.  In fact, I was having a very nice ride until the bike path went under a road, and I found out it was flooded six inches deep, or so, which got my feet soaked.  It still wasn't a miserable ride, even after that, but it definitely went downhill quite a bit.

Incidentally, I noticed after the ride that the stirrups on those are not in the outer layer.  What I could have done (and wish I had) was to put the stirrups over my shoes, then put my booties on, and then put the outer layer over those.  Not sure if would have helped with the flooding (because that water might well have gone through the sole of the shoe; let's hear it for ventilation), but I think it'd've made a big difference with anything short of that.

Getting back to the point, those pants are fantastic for cold and wet weather.  I have two pairs, and might want another.

I also have some Cannondale Blaze Bib Tights, bought for the same reason.  Good for cold, not for wet; I've worn then twice in wet weather, and both times came back with wet legs.

Oh, and both of those pairs of tights?  Take forever to dry.  Make of that what you will.

Ahh, and I have a couple of leg/knee warmers, but haven't worn any of them yet.

Finally, I got the Serfas Thunderbolt USB taillight.  I was really happy with it for about two months, when it stopped charging.  I got in touch with their warranty folks, and their only questions were to confirm which light, and to get my address.  I haven't gotten the replacement yet, but I was very impressed by that.  If the replacement arrives soon, and lasts longer than the first, I'll be a very happy camper.  I've gotten a new light (didn't think about checking warranty until after ordering that), but I don't like that light nearly as much.

20141024

Whither the iPad

Just trying to do a little catching up on my RSS reading (couple weeks behind, sadly).  Caught this Stretechery article on the iPad, and think there's at least one facet he isn't catching.

Specifically, he calls out Apple for not doing enough to get developers to work on the iPad.  I'm not saying he's wrong there (I really don't know, and certainly see it as possible), but he's certainly overlooking one factor, which is that Apple is pushing developers away from device-specific solutions with auto-layout and moving away from pixel-perfect design.

Is that going to help the iPad?  I don't know (but wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't), but it does mean that there are fewer iPad-specific apps, going forward.  It has basically become indistinguishable, going forward.

20141023

Thoughts on iPad Air 2

I don't have a whole lot to say about this, but saw this review of the new, full-sized iPad, and wonder what the author was looking for.  They can't revolutionize the device every year.  Heck, look at the difference between the Retina Mini and the Mini 3.

Anyway, I received my Air 2 yesterday.  One oddity: the box only says iPad Air, not "iPad Air 2".  Only indication that I had the right model was that the color was listed as "Space Gray".

I don't have a whole lot to say about the upgrade, except that I'm thrilled with it.  It does everything the old one does, a LOT better.  I don't yet have anything that really takes advantage of the speed, yet, but hope will get some things soon.

Regardless, I'm very happy with the purchase.

20141020

Follow-up on retina iMac

Just a minor correction to my discussion of the iMac from the other day.  The memory is user-replaceable (thanks, ifixit), so it isn't quite as expensive as I was thinking.  Getting 16GB RAM to start (especially since they've provisioning it as 2x8, rather than 4x4), and later upgrading to 32GB will work fine.

So my odds of getting one went up a bit.

Escaping the cat

The one thing I didn't understand, going into the Caps game against the Panthers, Saturday night, was why Holtby got the night off.  There was a night off on either side, so it didn't seem necessary.  Peters was fine, and I don't think it hurt them, but I was surprised.

I wrote that I was worried about a mental let-down facing Florida the other night.  Well, they managed to avoid that fate; they heavily dominated possession for the first two periods.  They only got one goal to show for it, but they forced a number of very good (or very lucky, in a couple cases) saves out of Montoya.  And that's really the best you can ask; sometimes you just don't get the bounces.

And I should also mention that that was with the Cats holding a 127-7 advantage in seconds of power play time.  So really nothing to complain about over that span.

Oh, and I should point out the goal itself; the Chimmer-Ward line doesn't tend to get pretty goals, but this one was.  Ward worked the puck around the boards, behind the net, over to Fehr in the corner.  The entire defense collapsed on that side, and Fehr found Chimmer just at the far side of the net, all alone.  He had a perfect set-up for a one-timer, but faked it and brought it back to the other side for a completely open backhand.  I joke about Chimmer being "Stonehands" from time to time, but that was really nice work.

And I should also point out that that line was on fire, all night, getting a lot of good chances.  It might not've worked out, beyond that one tally, but that wasn't the fault of effort.  Just excellent goaltending and a little bad luck.

In the third period, with Florida lengthening its lead in power play time, the game was tied up.  It was a largely uneventful period, shot-wise, but on the power play, Boyes found the rebound of a Bergenheim shot, and slotted it home.  Pretty sure Peters didn't know where the puck was, with all the bodies around him.

Anyway, that was enough to send the game into overtime, where both teams got some chances, but nobody was able to tally.

Which sent us back to the shootout again; I'm already getting tired of that.  Twenty-five percent last season was quite enough; we don't need to "improve" on that, this year.

On the plus side, the results were much better, this time around.  Kuzya, Backis, and OV all tallied, which Huberdeau getting the lone score for Florida.  So, the result was good, even if the method of getting there was a little less than ideal.

Oh, and Backstrom failed to record a point in his 500th career game; disappointed for him, in that respect.

20141017

Caps bedevil New Jersey

Last night's game was another with big between-period transitions.  So big, that I wonder if mid-game transitions might be one of Trotz's strengths, as a coach.

The game started out really well, with a nice Brouwer rush down the right side, and OV cleaning up his rebound in pretty fashion, resulting in a goal only thirty-six seconds into the game.  But the rest of the period was basically all New Jersey.

The only exception was a nice rush, again down the right side, by Chris Brown, but he capped it himself with a laser of a shot to the roof of the net.  Quite unexpected from him (for me, at least).

The rest of the period, though, was New Jersey just attacking in waves.  Tons of zone time, a lot of shots, and a couple of power plays.  Plus two goals, both on point shots from rookie Severson.

Aside from those two shots (both heavily screened by OV as he attempted blocks), Holtby was unbelievably good.  Seriously, he had at least three "I can't believe he got that" stops (two on Cammalleri, and one on Jagr from point-blank.  The latter was at the tail-end of a gorgeous run of four straight one-touch passes across the zone by the Devils).

So, almost completely undeserved, the Caps took a tie into the intermission.

The second period was actually even more unbalanced than the first, but in the opposite direction, ending with the Caps leading in shots on goal.  There was much less scoring, however, as only MarJo was able to find the netting.  Good on him for firing the shot; last year he probably wouldn't have.

The third period also went the Caps way, although not by as much, shot-wise.  But less than a minute in, Backstrom extended the lead by deflecting a Niskanen point shot to the near side of the net (it was headed across), and that was pretty much the end of the game seeming competitive.

Ward got on the scoreboard a couple minutes later, and his shot off the back boards, off the back of Schneider's skate, sent Corey to the bench.  Clemmenson finished it respectably, although he was beaten by a seeing-eye wrister from Burakovsky five and a half minutes later.

That was it for the scoring, and I think the Caps were the only ones to threaten, thereafter, despite the Devils getting the only remaining power play.

The top line definitely deserves mention for kudos, as they were the three top shooters in the game, with thirteen shots between them.

The team, as a whole, deserves praise for keeping the shots against down (after the abysmal first period, especially).  The team hasn't allowed more than thirty shots in a game yet, which is impressive.  Maybe that investment in D is paying off.

The PK improved a little bit.  I don't think they've yet managed to kill a penalty without allowing a shot, but they did drop below two shots per PK for the night.  That's still not great, but it's definitely improvement.

The power play continues to look lethal, even when OV's getting a breather.  That latter is especially impressive.  The Devils actually kept OV from getting any great shots off, but the Caps responded to the pressure there by feeding the interior.  They didn't get any goals off those attempts, but they did get a number of good chances.  I feel good about it.

And Burakovsky continues to play beyond his years.  He took Nick's spot on the power play for a bit, and looked very calm and controlled in doing it.  Again, I was skeptical, but he's making a believer out of me (of course, a point a game will do that).  The big question remaining with him is how he'll respond when things go less well.  If he doesn't get discouraged, then he should stay at that position for the rest of the season.

Laich moved up to Bura's wing, with Fehr dropping back to center Ward and Chimmer.  Those moves both worked well, with Laich getting a pair of assists, and the third line doing yeoman's work against the Devils top line.

Basically, there was nothing not to like about last night's game.  And nothing really to dislike about how the season's gone, so far.  The Caps opponents, so far, are 12-6-1 (10-4-1 in non-Caps games), so the Caps are getting it done against some pretty stiff competition.

The book on the Caps, though, for the entire OV era, is that they play to the level of their competition.  So we'll have to see how they respond to Florida coming to town on Saturday (with the Panthers putting Montoya in goal, according to a reporter on Twitter).  If they play hard, we'll know that Trotz has really instilled a new mentality in the team.  If not... well, we'll try not to dwell on it.