Bumping up against the ceiling

Well, what have we learned from the ongoing trainwreck that is the debt ceiling negotiations?

We've learned that Boehner is an empty suit as the Speaker. Well, perhaps that's overstating things, as he certainly does have power. But he just as certainly isn't getting the job done as Speaker. Can he be replaced? It's possible, but quite unlikely. I think this leads to this being the least effective Congress in a long time. They really aren't going to end up having accomplished much of anything.

We've also learned that the Tea Party conservatives have no interest in actually governing. Their brinksmanship, I heard today, WILL lead to a downgrading of US bonds (it might take several months, but will happen, is what I heard). If they don't yet realize how big a deal that is, then they are also remarkably stupid. If fiscal responsibility is your goal, then forcing a rise in interest rates (which a downgrade will do) is about the stupidest possible thing to do. It would be roughly equivalent to me going to my bank and refinancing my house at a higher interest rate without getting any cash out.

Long-term, this might end up helping the country, as we learn who the leaders are, and who they aren't. And it might force the two parties to start working together (in particular, re-evaluating the calculus about whether it's better to help the country or to try to stick it to the President).

But in the short- to medium-term, it's going to lead to a whole lot of pain.

Or perhaps it'll lead to Obama ignoring Congress' perturbations, and issuing an executive order that says he's going to ignore the debt ceiling, citing the 14th Amendment. That might actually be the best solution, in that, since it is a long-term solution, it might avert the downgrade entirely (since it would prevent having to go through this exercise in frustration again. Would the courts back it up? I don't know.

And what is all this doing for the recovery? It's sinking it. And the latest Commerce Dept figures show how little margin there is to avoid going back into recession.

So where will beets be tomorrow? Beats me.

Continuing Changes

As I mentioned a few days ago, I just got Butcher's latest Dresden novel; last night I finished it.

It was a lot different than his earlier novels. It starts out with us finding out that Dresden died from what happened at the end of the previous novel. Despite the title (yeah, I felt a little stupid), I didn't see that coming. I had figured that something would save him, although I didn't have any idea what.

One thing that I found different about Changes was that it stripped much of Dresden's support magic. The books leading up to that had been a pretty steady progression of accumulation of new powers and new toys. Changes managed to destroy most of those toys, giving him only temporary replacements for most of them.

Well, Ghost Story took it one step further; being dead, Harry didn't even really have access to his magic. He started out as a ghost that no one could even see or hear. But he still needs to find a way to help his friends and protect his town. Oh, and the most important part is that he needs to figure out who killed him. No sweat, right?

This book felt quite a bit different from the earlier novels; largely due to Harry's ectoplasmic state and lack of ability to directly affect things, there was significantly less action. Hmm... maybe that's not the best way to put it. There was still an awful lot of action, but it was less... immediate, I guess. It felt more introspective, as well. We got some more of Harry's back-story, and to see Lea more. We also ended up with a bit of a new perspective on Changes, which was welcome.

And we got to see a lot more of a couple of minor support characters. In fact, a very surprising one of those characters ended up playing the hero, and saving many people (perhaps a good chunk of the world).

Oh, and an important phrase to remember that will hint at a lot of what's driving the plot: nature abhors a vacuum.

I'm curious to see where the next book starts; character issues would seem to push for little or no gap, while magical issues would seem to push for a significant gap (giving Harry time to build up more of his old supports, in new and improved form). I'm very curious to see how things end up between Harry and Karrin, and between Harry and Molly. There are lots of different directions for those relationships to go. I wish we weren't going to need to wait most of a year to find out.

(Oh yeah, and I actually thought that the book should have ended a chapter or two earlier than it did. Harry had to choose between two paths; he took the one that he obviously would, but I thought the book should have ended where he made the choice. It would have given us a lot less insight into where things were going to go in the next book (for better and for worse).


I waited around for a while, but eventually got the 5-disc Tron: Legacy set. I then waited even longer to start watching; getting the original Tron three weeks ago (I think; it was before our trip) and the new one a few days ago.

The first one was really interesting to watch; it was certainly quite artistic, with the creative use of BMX and hockey equipment (and jai alai and frisbee, I suppose, to a lesser degree). And the storyline was pretty cool, as well, with its creative mixture of online and IRL elements. It occasionally felt a little heavy-handed, particularly with the frequent "END OF LINE" statements, but those were only minor annoyances.

It had also never hit me how screwy the combination of a software company with Lawrence Livermore Labs (I still call it Lincoln Logs in my head) was. But it generally worked. (And realizing that that was Lawrence Livermore made that unbelievably thick door a lot more understandable.)

But the artistry is what should really define Tron. It was interesting to think, while re-watching (I hadn't seen it in ten years, I think) it, about how the CGI was state-of-the-art at the time, while realizing how much better the technology (especially the compositing) had gotten since then. In fact, it was so far behind by today's standards, that it actually looked pretty bad. But you do need to remember how bleeding edge that was, for the time. It made for an interesting contrast.

So, factoring all that in, I have to say that I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Not enough to watch the retrospective documentary (well, not more than five minutes of it), but still found it good.

And then I watched the newer one (although not in 3D; I should probably rectify that). I certainly didn't hate it, and it was a worthy successor from an artistic standpoint. It kept some of the iconic features from the first movie, with some impressively updated CGI. Having Jeff Bridges appear both old and young at the same time was neat, the trailers behind the vehicles were very cool-looking (even if they didn't really make any sense in a 3D environment), and they updated the neon-colored clothing.

But, plotwise? Oy. Remember me mentioning Thor and Green Lantern growing up (literally) overnight? Yeah, we got that part. The desire for him to do so was a bit more believable in this case, but having even a tiny bit of the competence to do so? Unlikely, to put it mildly. Plus, if he really disliked the CEO that much, why didn't he just get rid of him sooner, and replace him with someone he liked better?

I thought the appearance of Dillinger Jr was a bit... overdone, but putting it in there and then dropping it so quickly and completely? No. That needed to be either removed or expanded.

The appearance of unix (of some unknown (but not BSD) flavor)? That was amusing, if a bit silly.

The contact? Castor/Zeus was amazingly stupid for a seemingly clever guy.

Some irony? The first part of the movie talked a lot about the free flow of information, and how that's what Flynn was working towards. And his son was fully on board with that vision. What I found ironic about that is that Disney is one of the biggest pushers of increasing copyright (and copyright is all about restricting the free flow of information), and they seemed to be saying that information needs to be free. I wonder if any Disney executives noticed that.

A hex on them? You'd think, based on my many years of playing Champions (and some similar RPGs and simulation games (and Settlers)) that I loved the frequent use of the hex floor/ground. Umm, no. I guess it fit with calling it "The Grid", but no, I did not like it.

The story? It spent a long time on build-up (ie: background and character introduction). We never saw the title character's face (I don't know if we should call that a bad thing, but it was certainly weird). A couple of points did not make much sense (the most important of which was Quorra leaving with Sam but without her disk (which was so important that she couldn't even be physically healed without it), Tron being turned (and turned back) without explanation, the Isos being an unusual form of deus ex machina, etc).

Dialog? Well, it was better than Avatar (mostly in that it had no pretensions towards being interesting), but had nothing to recommend it.

In the end, I thought it was a visual success, but didn't really have much else to recommend it. Even the action only led to a few more nice visuals; it was pretty uninteresting outside of that.

Trekkin' Across the Universe

I have never been a big fan of Star Trek. I watched the original series occasionally, and generally liked it. None of the subsequent series did anything for me, although I never watched any of them to any significant degree.

But a baseball blogger I like had this great quote:
Q: Who.s hotter: Troi, Uhura, Dax, or Pedroia?

Star Trek women are never properly described as "hot," I don't believe. Some of them are very nice to look at, but it is pretty clear that most of their lines were written by men who didn't understand anything about women. Which was fine, because neither did the audience.

Knowing many ST fans (mostly in college), this made me laugh a great deal.

And, incidentally, he mentions the 9:30 Club in that article, as well. I only went there once, for a J-Pop group (I use this term fairly loosely, here) called Pizzicato Five. The friend who invited me, and who drove, had his car window broken while we were seeing the concert. I did enjoy the concert, at least, which is saying something since I'm not a huge fan of loud environments. I can't remember whether that was before or after they moved. And with very small children, my odds of returning in the next decade or so are negligible.


Collecting Info

The recent release of the final Harry Potter movie reminded me about the size of the print runs of the books, and I wanted to have the information in one place.

TitleFirst Print Run (US/UK)First Day Sales
Sorceror's Stone50K/1K
Chamber of Secrets250K/10K
Prisoner of Azkaban500K68K (UK)
Goblet of Fire3.8M/>1.2M373K (UK)
Order of the Phoenix6.8M5M (US), 1.8M (UK)
Halfblood Prince10.8M6.9M (US)
Deathly Hallows12M8.3M (US)

Of course, it's likely that more than 20M copies have since been printed of each volume, but those are the initial print runs of each book. For fantasy books, each of those after the first two or three are absurdly large. The sixth and seventh each set the record for largest initial print run (not just for fantasy; for all books).

Getting back to the movie, after the slight disappointment of the fourth, and great disappointment of the fifth, I haven't watched the sixth or seventh, and am unlikely to watch the latest.

Thanks to a fan-fiction I've been reading the last few days, though, I'm probably going to re-read the books sometime fairly soon. After the latest Dresden novel, which I just got the shipping notice on. But my point in bringing up the Harry Potter re-reading is that I'll probably try to collect a lot of thoughts about the series when I do so. (Assuming that it doesn't get pushed back as badly as Riordan's Lost Hero, which I read six or eight months ago.)

To give a little bit about the fan-fic, it's conceived as what would happen if his step-mom Petunia had ended up marrying a scientist instead of Dursley. It's a bit more than that, though, as Harry is much smarter and more mature than in the original, and some of the other characters have changed as well.

I'm enjoying reading it, although I wish the author would skip all the fourth-wall breakage that's in there. The one good thing about it is that it's more subtle than having a character speak directly to the audience, but there's way too much of it. That sort of thing can work in a spoof or farce, but just doesn't work in anything more serious (in fact, it'll frequently get me to stop reading online stories immediately). It hasn't ruined the story (which is very funny), but has made it harder to read.

I'm not sure if I can describe exactly how, but the story is kind of the physicist's counterpart to Leo Frankowski's Conrad Stargard series (which is definitely written for engineers), into which magic is thrown. Plus, Harry is able to win verbal battles with adults in ways that just aren't going to happen in real life.

But I've read up to about chapter forty, so there's definitely some good stuff going on in there as well. There's even a podcast of it being read, which is also good, but I wasn't going to wait on that.

We hold these truths to be self-evident...

It finally hit me exactly why Objectivism pisses me off so much. The underlying assumption (yes, I'm sure this seemed completely obvious to everyone but me, but it took me a while to put my finger on it) of Objectivism is that all men are not created equal. And the superior people can (and should) do exactly what they want to do.

And this is amazingly un-American, as well as a moral morass. Objectivism is objective in exactly the same way that the Democratic Republic of Congo is democratic.

No wonder the reading is so popular on Wall Street. They need some way to try to justify the amount of money they make on the backs of the poor and middle class.


Alz well that ends well

I didn't post, because I was out of town at the time, but the Caps (last Friday, I believe it was) took care of my last major concern of the offseason by signing Karl Alzner to a two-year contract for $2.57M. This was fantastic news.

Not only that he'll be back (since I was planning on getting an Alzner jersey, anyway), but also that it got done so cheaply. Frankly, I couldn't believe that. I can't see why it didn't get done sooner, if that was the final price.

Definitely great news, though, as the Caps now might have a chance to bank some cap space (assuming they can find someplace other than LTIR for Tom Poti). And I assume that DJ King will be sent down to Hershey (I call that addition by subtraction).

In any event, fantastic news that makes the upcoming season even more promising. Now if only we could have found a way to hold onto Eric Fehr. I was definitely disappointed by that trade, although I do understand it (particularly in the context of his shoulders holding up, or not). Still, he was very good when given the chance to play (by his body and by Boudreau), and I wish him well (when he isn't playing the Caps, that is :).

A Time for Sadness

I remarked previously about my thoughts on Borders.

I'm especially bemused (and a little surprised) about this WSJ article after getting a taxi at Penn Station last week, and noting to a friend of mine that the Borders was still there. Apparently it won't be, for long.


So, is this a good time to panic?

I've been keeping half an eye on the incredible hypocrisy and mendacity that is the debt ceiling increase discussion. The question is, is it a cause for panic if the increase somehow doesn't happen?

David Brin, an excellent sci-fi author, doesn't think so. However, I think he doesn't really appreciate how it will hit the banking system. Also, there's the question of the paper market. If a fiat currency is called into question for legitimacy, it could actually cause the collapse of the entire economy. No, I don't think that'll happen, but I also don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility.

But we should really take a look at what it might mean to the banking system. If your collateral (a T-bill) doesn't pay out, are you still solvent? It's possible that you are not. If that happens, all hell could truly break loose.

Hopefully, the Republican intransigents are aware of this, and can find a way to back away from weakening "the full faith and credit of the United States". Because, that way, madness could truly lie.

It'd be really nice if everyone involved could constrain themselves to arguments that are actually rooted in facts. And not ignore the inconvenience that many of those complaining about the raise (actually, all of them who've been in Congress for more than four years) are the ones who repeatedly voted to raise the ceiling under W. Seven times, actually.

Ousted on PKs

A disappointing end to the Women's World Cup for the US. I wasn't able to see the game, and it seems to have been quite a game. But the result didn't go the US' way, even though it sounds like they dominated play. Certainly, both of their goals were pretty, and one of Japan's was almost an own-goal (giving the ball away five yards from the goal is just never a good plan).

But the result is what it is. I only saw the replay on three of the US' penalty kicks, but even without seeing the fourth, I've got to say that that's the weakest performance I've ever seen out of that team in penalty kicks. Not that I'm trying to insult their play, or anything, I'm just really surprised.

In any event, though, congratulations to Japan on a stellar tournament, and showing very impressive resolve and determination. They could have folded many times, but they kept coming back, and refusing to be kept down. They were certainly worthy victors, and I hope nothing I wrote above is taken as denigrating of them.

The game as a whole was quite a finish to the tournament, and I hope that it goes a way towards generating interest for the women's game.

Back from Travel

My wife and I had a wedding to go to in upstate New York over the weekend, so we made a week-long trip of it, and visited a whole lot of out-of-town friends we hadn't seen in a while.

One we met at Sesame Place, a Sesame Street-themed park near Philadelphia.

It was a lot of fun, and seeing everybody was really great. Some of them, we hadn't even met all of their kids before. As I said, all around cool.

It was a whole lot different traveling with two kids. There really wasn't any time to rest after they were in bed, even. In fact, we got to the friend's place in Manhattan, and I noticed a couple of movies that looked good. Two nights, two movies, right? We didn't get the kids to bed before 10:30; already too late to watch a movie. Oy.

And I can see why I've heard horror stories of cross-country trips by car, with the whole family. The driving itself wasn't that bad for us (we really didn't drive all that long, until the straight-through 500-550 on the way back, yesterday. One of our kids is still pre-vocal, so that cut down on the noise (he mostly slept), so at least we didn't have the "are we there yet?" every five minutes. But we still were unable to make a quick stop anywhere. We stopped four times on the way back, and the shortest of them was 20-30 minutes. Two of them were well over an hour each. Even though we made great time while we were moving, it was still a very long day. I shudder to think how it would have been if we had been less lucky with traffic.

Oh, and the wedding was beautiful; very hot, but beautiful. It was right on the shore of an island on Lake George, so the setting was fantastic.

Now to try to get back to normal life...


In the Nick of Time...

I have to thank the newspaper this morning. I hadn't watched a minute of the Women's World Cup since the opening day, and didn't realize the US/Brazil game was going to be today. But I saw it while eating breakfast, and that was enough to put me in front of the TV about fifteen minutes before coverage started.

When I got to it, Sports Center was on, and going on and on about the 1999 Cup-winning game for the US. It seemed a bit overblown to be going on and on about that one before a quarterfinal game; I hadn't realized it was exactly twelve years after that game.

But this game definitely matched that one in drama and fortitude; really, exceeded it in every way except that it was only a quarterfinal game, not a Final.

It started out great for the US; they took the opening and worked it around the field, not allowing Brazil a touch until the 74th second. And that touch went into the Brazilian goal. Oy.

From there, the US played great defense, and were tactically very sound. Their execution on offense was not so great, though, with a lot of unforced turnovers. Mostly, they were outplayed by Brazil, but not by a huge amount.

Things really seemed to go south around the 65th minute. Marta got her feet on the ball in the box, and did a little chip over two defenders. Buehler, the defender who tracked the ball, ran to it, and was called for a foul in preventing the shot (by maintiaining her positioning). It was, at best, a very iffy call. No matter what happened, it was putting the US in a horrible position, thanks to the red card that went with that foul. My wife, who had walked into the house as this was unfolding, was very upset at my yell when Solo stopped the penalty kick. I was unapologetic, and livid when the (web designer?!?) referee called for a re-kick, throwing in a yellow card on Solo. She seemed to be saying that Solo had come off the line early, but the replay showed that she never left the line at all. <

Given a second chance, Cristiana (I think) put it into the back of the net. It was, quite possibly, the worst officiating sequence I had ever seen.

But instead of being pushed back onto their heels, the US actually became more effective. I think the strategy didn't change, but they were able to put quite a few more passes together offensively. This led to them threatening a number of times, mostly on set pieces, but they weren't able to convert.

After twenty-five minutes or so, regulation play ended with no further scoring.

A few minutes into extra time, while I was helping my daughter go to the bathroom, Marta managed to put one into the net. Again, the officiating looked bad, because it appeared that the player who passed it to her (Erika?) was offsides. One had to wonder what was going on..

Play continued to go back and forth through the end of the first half of overtime. Five minutes into the second half, when the US threatened again, just after the ball got cleared, one of the Brazilian defenders (Erika) went down, and stayed down for several minutes (literally). They took her off on a stretcher, but how badly hurt was she (ignoring that there was nobody near her when she went down)? Well, they took her a quarter of the way around the field, then she jumped off the stretcher and ran to the bench (where she could be allowed back onto the field).

She was allowed back on almost immediately, though she received a yellow card for her troubles.

But the good thing about it from the US perspective was that there was three minutes of stoppage in a fifteen minute period. So play continued to see-saw back and forth, with Brazil trying to rag off time in the corners. But coming out of one of those possessions, Rampone got the ball and played it well up to Rampinoe (who had subbed in fairly late in regulation, and got a full game's worth of touches while she was on the pitch). She ran it up the sideline a bit, and then put a very long cross to the far post in the air. The goalie misplayed it by a couple of inches, and the ball found Wambach's head before it found the back of the net. My wife did not yell at me for my scream when that got home, mostly because she was yelling almost as loudly.

That was in the second minute of stoppage time, and man, did that bring on some excitement.

The rest of the game (all minute or so of it) was almost anticlimactic. Brazil did manage to threaten, but the whistle was blown after the ball went out past the touch line off a US defender. I was amazed they didn't give Brazil the kick and a few seconds to try to finish it.

So that left things going into penalty kicks. Given that the US had been down a player for close to an hour of playing time, it was amazing that they were still standing. They had certainly been running much harder than the Luso's for all of that time.

In the penalty kicks, there was a bit of excitement when Boxx's opening salvo was blocked, but she was given a re-kick given that the goalie had come (far) off her line before the kick. No yellow card, though. But I think that threw off both goalies, as they weren't getting moving as quickly as usual.

But the rest of it was very businesslike, with the US burying all five chances, and Solo getting one block (on the third, I think) to send the US on to the semifinals.

In all, it was a magnificent performance by the US to overcome some truly wretched officiating (and some very good play by Brazil, to be fair). I think the US should have won 1-0 (which would have been the fifth consecutive time the US would have won that matchup by that score), but the officiating turned what would have been a very boring game into something to be remembered for a long time.

Strategically, the US had an excellent plan. They wanted to play it into the deep, flank spaces that Brazil's defensive alignment allows. They switched up positioning a little bit to have a bit more speed on defense (and that saved them several times). The defense was excellent, keeping multiple people on the ball until the end of the game (where, I think, they were just too tired to continue that).

But the midfield passing was not good. Part of that was too much playing of long-balls. Too many of those passes went into the middle instead of to the flank, and those were eaten up.

But just as an outright gut-check, it was an amazing performance. Really, I was about ready to write them off (and turn the game off) several times. I am amazed they managed to get the equalizer while down a player.

Of course, all that drama only got them into the semifinals. They still need to defeat France and the winner of the Sweden-Japan match to take home the Cup. But nobody can question their determination and heart; not after that game.

I just hope they don't show any complacency. As long as they don't, they should be fine, even missing Wambach (IIRC, she's going to miss the semifinal for accumulated red cards) and, I assume, Buehler (I assume her red card will cause a similar effect for her).


Back on the Air

We started out the week, this week, by having a macroburst which took out the power for over two days. Ick. And we were very lucky in the storm. Many trees were broken off well above the ground. One of them dropped 100' or so of trunk across our yard, but it only hit one of our (much smaller) trees. When I first started cleaning, I was thinking that the whole thing was a disaster, but I quickly put my over-the-top rhetoric on hold when I thought about the people who've had their homes completely destroyed in storms. As I said, we were very lucky; and very thankful for that luck. Now if we'd only had a generator to take care of the two days without power.

We were lucky there, too, though, insofar as that my dad had dropped a small freezer off with us with some food a few months ago when my son was born. So we were able to take that over to a friend's house to preserve the irreplaceable perishables (I mentioned having an infant son, right?) by plugging it in. Hooray.

We had some friends over for the Fourth (already planned), which actually went well, despite the lack of power.

We've mostly just been catching up since then. It did give me an excuse to check a couple of things that have been wrong for a while on my home server, so I'm happy to have that resolved. I also got the computer equipment in my utility room moved over to the rack I bought for it a while ago (yes, extreme overkill, but it was destroying the shelves I was previously keeping it on).

And I finally got a new cell phone today. I'd had my Treo for many years (the 700p was new when I bought it), and had waited a long time for AT&T's exclusivity with the iPhone to expire. But after Verizon got it, I still kept kvetching, waiting for... well, I'm not really sure what. The prospect of Verizon setting download caps on their data plans was finally enough to get me to switch over, though (helped by my wife being happy about the idea of replacing her Palm Centro; a happy surprise, that), so I broke down on Wednesday and got one for each of us. They arrived today, and life is good. And now, perhaps, we'll have an internet connection even if our power goes down for a couple of days. Happy days.



Yes, that would be the Caps new goaltending tandem. "What," you say, wondering where the Russian likely star went.

Well, the Caps have been very, very busy in free agency the last 36 hours. They got former captain (and local boy) Halpern back. As a 4C, he should be a slight upgrade over Gordon or Steckel, and at a half-mil less than Gordo. Sorry to see Gordo gone, but I like this exchange for the Caps.

They traded the rights to Varlamov to Colorado for a first and second pick. I've had a possible reasoning for why Colorado might have done this explained, but it still doesn't seem like a great move for them. Given that, it seems, the sticking point was Varly being assured of being the starter, this was a fantastic move. And Czech-mate came today, when Tomas Vokoun was signed for a season for $1.5M. Wow. I guess Vokoun really wanted to win. The only hesitation on this (and it's a small one, I assure you) is the possible concern that Vokoun might be thinking of being the passenger this season, rather than the driver. Either way, heist of the highest order.

Joel Ward is another newcomer to the fold. He was recently of Nashville, where he kicked ass in the playoffs. I don't have a good feel for this one, as I'm not too familiar with him. My concern is that he is being signed for too much based on that playoff performance. I hope I'm worried about nothing, there. I mean, if he can repeat that kind of performance in the playoffs, I'm certainly all for it, but that's pretty much the definition of small sample size.

The final new arrival is Roman Hamrlik (incidentally, also Czech), the defender most recently of Montreal. I was hoping the Caps would hold onto Hannan, but Hammer should be pretty comparable while a little cheaper. He's a bit older, but since he's only on a two year contract, that shouldn't be too big a deal. Well, assuming his performance doesn't fall off a cliff, but that seems (without doing a thorough study) to be fairly rare in hockey. But he isn't too expensive, and rounds out a fantastic top six. Plus, he wants to be here, as he turned down a 3-year deal to take the Caps 2-year offer.

Also, I should mention here (since I didn't, back when it happened) that the Caps traded their first round pick to the Blackhawks for the rights to (restricted free agent) Troy Brouwer. He's another that I don't know too much about. A look at his Corsi rating with various teammates at Chicago, though, shows that he improved almost everyone he played with, so I'm definitely liking that.

And I also didn't talk about Brooks Laich being signed for six years and $27M. I was pretty leery about this when it happened (three or four days ago, I think); it was half a million more than I was thinking the top end of what the Caps should pay for him. I do feel better about it, though, after seeing several signings yesterday by various other teams.

Getting back to the goalie situation, a few more notes. Definitely going to be cheering for the Avs to collapse this season, so that that first round pick comes very early (which is a change; I generally like the Avs).

The Vokoun signing definitely came out of the blue; practically every goalie of any note signed yesterday somewhere. Apparently that left almost every team with any interest in a new goalie situated (Colorado did sign Varly, and got Jean-Sebastien Giguere later in the day), so there was basically no market for Vokoun. Damn, I'm loving that.

I did a little bit more reading into Ward, and I'm not feeling better about that signing. One thing is that he only played eleven NHL games before his age 27 season. One plus is that he's primarily a defensive forward. So he, Halpern, and Hendricks could make one heck of a shutdown line. Of course, with Boudreau at the helm, who knows what the lines will be (or how often they'll be repeated), but the bottom six looks very good.

So now the question becomes one of where this all leaves us. Arnott, Bradley and Hannan are certainly gone. Beagle and King are likely to be sent down, even if that means exposing them to waivers. Poti must be considered gone or presumed to be Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR). One of Fehr and Chimera seems likely to be gone, just to clear cap space. The only serious question marks remaining are the two RFAs: Alzner and Brouwer. The reason for the prior several sentences is that there's no money to sign them under the cap, as things stand.

They each stand to make at least $2M (Alzner likely closer to $3M), and there's only half a mil in cap space. As long as they work things out to get both of them signed, this has been an unbelievably good series of moves. The only way things get really dicey is if non-roster players (Sjogren, Eakin, Perreault, and Orlov being the likelies) force their way into contention for roster spots.

With as much good stuff as I've heard about Orlov, I can't see much chance of him cracking the roster without multiple, serious defensive injuries.

The forwards have a much better chance, although still not good ones. Eakin and Perreault are going to find it especially tough, given that it seems that all four center spots are taken. But maybe they can make it as wings. Maybe. I'm actually kind of hoping Eakin will make it, but I definitely don't like his odds.

Anyway, assuming Alzner and Brouwer are (re-)signed, I'm loving this lineup. As long as they don't get complacent, they should be in the running for the President's Cup again, and one of the two or three favorites for the real Cup as well. The offense will hopefully improve just by getting average luck shooting, and the defense should be outstanding.

Complacency will be the biggest concern, but hopefully Ward, Brouwer, and Hamrlik will all help with that. The power play better get some offseason work. Well, and being out-coached in the playoffs is another big concern. That's a serious one. A few weeks ago, Backstrom was interviewed by a Swedish publication about last season, and said that the team basically didn't know what hit them against the Lightning. Man, that was damning of Boudreau's coaching job (I forget his exact words, but it was a lot more specific than what I just wrote).