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.

Another Apple note

One other item of note was the new iMac Retina.  Man, I'm excited about that display.  I really wanted to get a Mac Pro for my next computer, but now I'm reconsidering.

Marco had a nice summary of the state of the art, mentioning CPU/GPU power comparisons between the iMac and Mac Pro as well as interconnects, now and for the foreseeable future, and it's got me thinking about that iMac pretty seriously.

At 14.7 Megapixels, I could get most of a D4 RAW image on screen, at full resolution.  That just blows me away, honestly.  Plus, USB3, Thunderbolt, and Bluetooth LE.  Faster photo import, greater expansion capabilities, and continuity.  Those things will make a difference for me.  To say nothing of what the higher resolution will do for photos.  Even though the CPU will be a significant upgrade, and the GPU probably an even bigger one, it's that improve I/O that will make the most difference for me.

It's expensive (not being able to get aftermarket RAM, due to lack of upgradability, especially hurts), but would help me a lot.

Glad i didn't...

stay up late last night to order the new iPad.  I was thinking about it, especially when I finished watching the Caps game just after 2300.  So I thought it'd only be another hour.

But I checked after my bike ride (0645 or so), and it was still unavailable for order.

And I've checked several times since then, and still unavailable.

I'm looking forward to it, but they're not making it easy.

And as a side-note, I didn't mention it here (only on twitter), I looked at the new iPad, and my reaction was that there was nothing unpredictable.  They made it thinner, and a bit faster, and brought over a bunch of features from the iPhone (at least one of which helped them to make it thinner), and that's it.

Nothing individually exciting, but I'm still excited at the prospect.  Of course, part of that is that my current iPad is an iPad 2 (ordered within a day or two of initial release) whose battery is slowly dying.  And that has started blue-screening (well, rainbow-screening) under iOS8.

20141015

A truer wheel

One side note I forgot about with my accident.  A week or so before the accident, I'd noticed that my rear wheel was a bit out of true, and debated what to do about it.  I ended up getting a Wheel Truing Stand that hooks into my repair stand (made me glad I paid the extra for the PCS-10 instead of the PCS-9; I debated that for quite a while.  The wheel stand doesn't mount on the -9).

I was a little annoyed that the "race quality" Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S wheels went out of true in less than 1k miles, but it didn't seem like a big deal to correct.

I also, of course, needed a spoke wrench for the task.

The tools arrived Friday, I think, and Saturday night I decided to give it a go.  I'm sure it took me considerably longer than it would take someone with experience, but it was pretty simple to get it very true.

And then, of course, it was Sunday morning that the wheel got tacoed.  Ugh.

I won't say it was enough for me to feel up to doing my own wheel assembly, but I did feel quite good about the truing.

Couple more Caps notes

A few things I forgot, earlier, on looking at early returns on the Caps.

One is that the defensemen are charging in a lot, even Alzner and Orpik, and that's worked well for them.

Two is that Schmidt looks very good.  I'm not sure about playing him over Orlov, when he's healthy, but I'd play him over anyone else currently injured.  And I'd certainly have to think about it vs Orlov.  Quiet, but effective.

Three is that Orpik looks quite good, so far.  I still think his contract is an impending disaster, but at least it isn't starting out as a disaster.  It's still too much, and for WAY too much term, but he's looked good so far.  His open-ice hits have definitely had incoming forwards thinking.  We'll just have to hope they find a way out from under the back-end.  Maybe Florida will want him so they can reach the floor.

Gamergate thoughts

I haven't been following the gamergate "debate" too closely at all.  In fact, without John Siracusa's retweets and discussions on ATP, I probably wouldn't have heard of it at all.

As someone who's mostly an outsider (in that I haven't been big into videogames for years) to the gaming community, it seems clear to me that there is a very small percentage of women involved in development.  And that there are very few prominent women in games (game characters, that is).  I have a hard time seeing that as debatable.  And I can't see why that would ever be a good thing.

It's a little bit like the gay marriage debate to me.  What possible harm is it to you that someone is dissatisfied with the status quo, and wants to make things better?  It isn't going to make for major changes for most developers.  It certainly isn't going to do anything to any titles already produced.  So what's the big deal?

But ignoring all that, going to this point is well beyond the pale:
The police just came by. Husband and I are going somewhere safe.


I have no idea who did that (and have some skepticism that it will become known), but people like that have no place in civilized society.  Heck, they don't have any place in uncivilized society.  I hope that this sort of treatment of women will be long gone by the time my daughters are grown up.

It's just... horrifying that someone would respond to peaceful speech with such pathological responses.  I have to wonder what's wrong with someone that would lead to such a reaction.  A mental hospital seems a reasonable destination for such a (loosely interpreted) person.

As for you, Ms Wu, I'm very impressed with how you're handling this.  Lord knows, I wouldn't do nearly as well.  You deserve much, much better, and I hope you get it.  And I hope the people causing you such pain and aggravation get their just desserts as well.

Starting the season

Three games in, the Caps season can already be described as very up-and-down.  The first period of the season, against Montreal, was one of the better ones I've seen them play in the last several years.  In it, Burakovsky showed why he wasn't sent down (I was highly skeptical, at best, of this move, but he's looked very good so far).

The second period was discouraging, and you had to think the disallowed goal would give them some additional motivation, but the third period was really terrible.

They got really lucky with the second disallowed goal and with the other "goal" hitting the corner of the post (ironic that both of those were caused by Bourque (and f- that guy, anyway)), but still allowed a tying goal.

In the overtime, they actually looked quite good again (and with some interesting forward pairings.  Ward and Chimmer was a bit interesting, but Kuzya (who'd been stapled to the bench for most of the game) and... Brouwer? were an odd choice.  And it was a surprise to see Bura out, though he acquitted himself well), but not good enough to win the game.

The shootout seemed fairly desultory, with nobody doing anything terribly interesting, and it seemed pretty anticlimactic when Holtby allowed the final shot in.  Overall, a disappointing game, but one showing promise.

The second game, against the Bruins, did not feel like a good one at all.  But OV scored on the OV power play one-timer to give a lead.  A few minutes later, Alzner made a great pinch to keep the puck in, Backs won possession, and immediately hit OV cutting toward the net.  OV wristed the shot over Rask's shoulder to double the margin.

Possessionally, though, it was pretty terrible, and Holtby was called on to make a number of nice saves to preserve the lead.

The second period was more even, possessionally, although it felt like Boston had the better of it.  But the second power play unit chipped in halfway through, with Bura in MarJo's position, passing to Kuzya in Backstrom's, passing straight across to Green in OV's position for the one-timer score.  It should also be noted that Bura drew the penalty on this one.

The third period still went more Boston's way, possessionally, until the last five minutes or so, when they seemed to give up.

But Holtby continued to stand tall, especially being called on in PK situations, and kept the B's out of the net.  By the end, Boston had given up, and Ward got his first of the season (from Carlson and Bura) to complete the shutout.

All in all, not the way I'd draw it up, but it's hard to be upset with the result.

The third game, last night, was back at home against the Sharks.  The first period went about the way you'd expect, against a San Jose team that hadn't yet allowed a goal and got a little luck.  That helped push Holtby out less than ten minutes in, as he allowed three goals on seven shots.  Not his night.

Irwin had his first career multigoal game with the first two, and John Scott had his third career goal (in about 100 games, IIRC) for the third.

The Caps kept the Sharks out of the net the rest of the period, but I still waited well over an hour (maybe two) before turning the rest of the game on.  And that was after long debate.

The team justified my faith less than three minutes in, with a nine-second power play.  It was OV fooling the D, and passing to MarJo on the far doorstep for the tap-in, instead of taking his usual one-timer.  A very nicely-played power play, as all five players touched the puck in those nine seconds.

Two and a half minutes later (does this sound familiar, perchance?), Pavelski scored to restore the three-goal margin.

Playing against type, the Caps scored back one, and one-and-a-half, minutes later (Green and OV with the honors) to make it a close game again.  That was it for the scoring in the period, but the Caps continued to play hard and threaten.

Wingels extended the lead once more, only a minute and a half into the third, and it took the Caps a long time to come up with an answer.  That answer finally came from OV, on the power play, but was not one of his normal one-timer slapshots.  He go the puck in his normal position, and actually waited on something for a second or two.  But his wrister found the top corner, near side.

The building really went crazy a minute later, when Brouwer got the defender to trip, coming down the left side, then floated to the middle, waited for Niemi to go down, and found the top-right corner for the tie.

A minor penalty on Backstrom with just over a minute left provided some additional drama, but they weathered that storm, even into the overtime.  The Caps looked pretty good in the overtime, even getting the only shot on goal, but were unable to score, so things went into the shootout.

And let's just say that that did not go according to script, as all three Caps missed and Pavelski's score was the difference maker.

But really, it's hard to be upset with a shootout loss to the Sharks.  Especially a game that started so poorly.

So the Caps finished the trio with four points, which would have been a pretty optimistic prediction at the beginning.  They haven't looked great, or even consistently good, but they show a lot of promise.  Bura is more than justifying the staff's decision to keep him on the big team; MarJo is improving on the boards.  Fehr looks pretty good on the top line.  The Chimmer-Laich-Ward line hasn't done much, but we know what they can do (they'll turn it around; they've had some good chances).  Kuzya has looked good in pretty limited minutes (psst: he needs more ice time, and I think he'll get it).

O'Brien and Latta haven't looked bad.  In fact, I'm in favor of keeping Latta in the line-up when Beagle's healthy.

The power play looks like it hasn't been tinkered with (much; OV's getting less ice time, but that's probably to the good), and is getting a lot of shots.  No one has tried the "man on OV" yet; we'll see how things go when they do.

The penalty kill looks improved, though not as much as I'd hoped.  They are still allowing too many shots, but it's a lot less than last year.  Mostly, they need to work on clearing.  They've failed on too many clearing chances already.  That seems fluky; we'll hope that's true.

Given all the off-season turmoil, it's hard to be disappointed with where things stand.

The Devils are coming to town tomorrow, and they've been scoring this year.  So that should be quite a challenge.  The Panthers follow that, then it's time for a three game swing out north and west (Oilers, Flames, and Canucks, in order).  We'll have a much better handle on where the team is at the end of that.

Hybrid Vigor

I was in a minor biking accident on Sunday.  Nothing terribly serious; I was riding on some wet planks, had to jog a little to the side to avoid a pedestrian, and had my rear wheel slide out from under me (tip to others: I think it was exacerbated, and maybe even caused, by hitting my front brake too hard.  Be very careful about using that when not going straight on a slick surface).

I hit the ground on my side, sliding to a stop.  After standing up for a minute to take stock of myself, I figured out I wasn't much hurt.  My elbow and hip each hurt a bit (the elbow stopped hurting in a few minutes; the hip is still sensitive to the touch, but not bad), but it didn't seem bad.

Then I picked up the bike, immediately seeing a big dent in the outer rim of the rear wheel.  It turned out that the wheel was a bit tacoed, so I need to get it replaced (and am just going to replace the whole wheelset, as that was on my list anyway.  I was just planning on waiting - probably another year - to do it).

The upshot is that I needed to get a taxi to pick me up that day, and I've had to go back to riding my hybrid for a while.

Going back to the hybrid has been very interesting.  With the lower seat, the muscle demand is definitely different (dunno if that's better or worse).  I've also found I can push more gear with the hybrid than when I last rode it (I had earlier noticed that I push a lot more gear with the road bike than with the hybrid; maybe that's not all bike design, after all).

I've done the same 15.1 mile loop the last three days with the bike, and have been between 16.18 and 16.3mph each day.  More consistency than I've ever had, day to day.  Dunno what, if anything, it means, but it's certainly interesting.  Anyway, getting back to the main point, those aren't records for me, on that bike, but I think they're the second, third, and fourth fastest rides I've done on it.

What's also interesting is that maintaining a higher cadence is actually easier on the hybrid.  I hadn't noticed that before.  I've regularly been over 100rpm on it, whereas I only occasionally get that fast on the road bike.  Again, I don't know what it means, but I suspect it's a good thing.

The one thing that annoys me is that my daily neck problems haven't gone away.  I hadn't experienced them before on the hybrid, but that might have more to do with distance traveled (I think my record, before, on the hybrid was only 12 miles) than with the bike configuration.  I've got new handlebars for the road bike (came out of the fitting), and will try to get them on by the time I get the new wheels.  Hopefully they'll help.

One other side note: I recently got a pair of Santini Lampo Bib Shorts, and was trying them out the day of the accident.  They're insanely comfortable, just wearing them; I can't believe how soft and slick they feel.  I'm still not sold on the chamois, though my mind is still open about it; it definitely feels different than my Pearl Izumi shorts.  My one concern with them is durability, though they made it through the accident without any sign of wear (which is saying something, since I slid on my hip a bit), which is encouraging.

20141008

Radio blow-hards

My wife's alarm clock, lately, has been coming on to some weird, (apparently) right-wing talk show of know-nothings.  I say apparently right-wing because I have only heard them in minute-or-two chunks.  Thank goodness.  I really should find out who the idiots are (I'm pretty sure they're on because my wife's clock's tuning got jostled; it isn't the sort of thing she supports).

Today was them railing on the Supreme Court denying cert for the several appeals from the various circuits trying to deny gay marriage.  Their complaint was that the Supreme Court was shirking its duty for not weighing in because a) the founders intended for them to have a say and b) unaccountable, unelected judges were coming to this undemocratic conclusion.

These are both pretty risible arguments, and we'll start with the first.  The founders (which is to say, the writers of the Constitution) said nothing about the Supreme Court ruling on the Constitutionality of laws.  This was a court-arrogated (rightly, IMO) assumption of power that came out of the case Marbury v Madison.  I haven't looked at this since fourth grade, but what I remember was that a fairly terrible law was passed by Congress, and that the executive branch had no intention of enforcing it.  Deciding in favor of either party to the suit would have effectively neutered the judiciary, because the judiciary had no power to enforce its opinion and the executive branch wasn't planning on upholding its duties.

But Chief Justice John Marshall found the way out: he declared the law unconstitutional.  Nobody could gainsay him, and Congress and the Executive Branch were both left fuming.  And it set a precedent that the judiciary would not be able to be ignored.  All well and good.

It certainly doesn't require the Supreme Court to have anything to say on a law.

The second argument is even more absurd, and he wanted HIS unelected, unaccountable judges to overrule the ones he didn't like.  The talk show host wasn't calling for elected judges to overturn the unelected ones.

He also made some fairly silly comments about activist judges, which is really funny because he was calling for the Supreme Court majority to BE activists.  If there had been a split in the lower courts, maybe that wouldn't be the case, but every lower court that had heard these cases had agreed.  The one exception was when a panel of the Fourth (I think) said discrimination was fine, and the rest of the circuit actually vacated that opinion (a very unusual step; I'd never heard of it happening before.  They didn't even wait for an en banc appeal).  Once that happened, all the various Circuits were in agreement that outlawing gay marriage was, on its face, discriminatory.

And at that point, there was no need for the Supremes to step in.  Granted, this court is very willing to step into things to change laws the way they want (witness the case history behind the final decision of Citizens United for the most obvious example), but there was no obligation there.

Finally, a side note.  Part of the ranting touched on the rather spurious logic behind Roberts' decision on Obamacare.  I agree with the host that that was pretty ridiculous reasoning.  But his implication (he might have even said it outright) was that Obamacare SHOULD have been overturned.

What he might want to think about before asserting something like that is that overturning Obamacare would have invalidated Medicare/Medicaid.  The court didn't want to do that, so they rather tied themselves in knots that I have no interest in defending.  But imagine Medicare being declared unconstitutional, almost fifty years after the fact.  That would've been mighty ugly.

Anyway, we should ignore these blowhards and celebrate that gays can now get married in much of the country, and any court challenge to their ability to do that is likely to be rejected out of hand.  Let's hear it for another nail holding up the wall discriminating against people who are different.  Acceptance might lead to further challenges, but there's no question that it's the way forward.