Some encouragement

I wrote about Arizona passing a pro-discrimination bill the other day, and didn't have much positive to say.  I probably should have written an update the next day, when McCain came out against the bill.

And that's where things sat until yesterday, when Governor Brewer finally vetoed the legislation.

And that's definitely encouraging.  The one thing I have to wonder about, though.  Why did it take so long?

Another bit of encouragement along similar lines.  A federal judge yesterday struck down Texas' gay marriage ban.

I wonder if Houston's lesbian mayor will still get grief about her marriage (performed in CA)?


Who you gonna call?

Not Harold Ramis anymore, unfortunately.  He passed away earlier today at 69.

I'd like to say I was a big fan of his, but that's not really true.  But I did like a number of movies that he made.

I first heard of him in Ghostbusters (and if you liked the movie and haven't heard his commentary track on it, you should), although I later found out he was involved with a number of movies that I liked (Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, Meatballs, Back to School, Groundhog Day, Multiplicity, The Ice Harvest).  Very funny guy, and he will be missed.

A couple thoughts on WhatsApp

I hadn't heard of WhatsApp until a few days before their acquisition by Facebook.  I can't say as I knew anything about it, and the $19B price tag for the acquisition still seems ridiculous.

In the latest The Talk Show, Gruber is talking with Ben Thompson of stratechery (incidentally, why did I find out about this via stratechery, before is showed up on daringfireball or my podcast RSS?  In fact, it still hasn't shown up on daringfireball) about the acquisition, and they talk about value per user of the acquisition, and that feels like a flawed metric to me.

That is, there's a per-user value, but it's proportional to what you can get for them.  When your foreseeable cap is $1/user/yr, it's a pretty low number.  They talked about value per user compared to facebook itself; well, facebook users are worth a lot more.  Advertisers know much more about them, and it's much easier to put ads in front of them.

WhatsApp claims to be (and I've no reason to doubt them) against advertising, so I'm not sure that they have anywhere near the value of users in other social networks (compare with Skype, for instance, where you can monetize (some of) their communications).

Anyway, the point is that it still seems a bit crazy to me.

Although I was amused to note that my wife, being from Hong Kong, watches Hong Kong TV.  After the acquisition, she told me that some of the TV shows she's watched recently have mentioned WhatsApp, but she (and her parents, who are visiting us) had no idea what they were talking about.

The one thing I wonder about (and this just occurred to me as I was writing this) is if there's a long-range play being made by facebook to link WhatsApp accounts with facebook ones, which would allow mining the communications for more targeting of people with ads elsewhere.  Maybe that would allow facebook to recoup something like enough money to make it worthwhile?

(Oh, and guys, those marks are called diacritics.  And FWIW, I thought, from looking at it, that it was pronounced stra-teach-ery, which now sounds even better to me, knowing that Thompson was an English teacher at one point.)

Anything you can do, I can do better...

A week or so back, I noted that Kansas had partially passed, and then shelved, a pro-discrimination law under the rubric of "religious liberty".  Unfortunately, it seems that Arizona looked at that experience, and said, "Hey, that looks like a fantastic idea".

Arizona apparently had no trouble getting that through both houses of their legislature; the only bits of encouragement are that the bill hasn't been signed into law yet and Arizona's junior Senator (Jeff Flake, a Republican, even) expressed hope that she wouldn't.

The courts will, of course, treat anyone trying to take advantage of the "protections" in the bill pretty harshly, as they should.  But in the meantime, it makes for a very uncomfortable environment for people at the fringes (most notably the LGBT community).


Good day?

So, the other day was rather a good day for games.  I got this one, and also cleared 1M (for about the fifth or sixth time) on Bejeweled Blitz.  On the latter, next week will have the 1st place tournament target up to a million, so it's starting to get pretty tough for me to place first in that.  I record is a bit short of 1.2M, so I'm getting fairly close to my limit, I think.

Threes is still quite fun, though, even though my second-highest score is still only about 29k.


Consistent edge

I don't have terribly much to say about either of the games, but I did see both US/Canada hockey games, both ending in such terrible disappointment.

I thought the women outplayed Canada for almost the entirety of their game, but did fall apart a bit at the very end.  One thing I found interesting was that they made a lot of use of cycling the puck for generating offense, unlike the men.  It also felt like, because the speed is a bit slower than the men, that a power play is a bigger advantage for the women.

The men, I thought, gave a good account of themselves as well.  Canada definitely was the better team there, although it certainly didn't seem hopeless for the Americans to win.

Quite disappointing finishes for both; now we'll have to see if the men can defeat Finland for bronze.  And I am looking forward to the Canada/Sweden game, although I think it'll mostly come down to Lundqvist and Price.  Hank is better, but he's facing the better offense as well.

Pay me what I'm worth!

Just a quick note.  I think raising the minimum wage is a good start in dealing with the vast, current income inequality in the US, so I hope that's somehow able to pass Congress (not holding my breath, though).

But I heard a fantastic idea on Twitter the other day; tax companies based on their compensation strategies. (via @EJDionne)



An indiegogo campaign has brought a nifty camera idea, the Panono.  It's a compound camera (36 lenses and sensors) shaped like a ball.  Throw it, and an accelerometer tracks the ball's movement, triggering simultaneous exposures from all 36 at the height of the throw.

It then stitches the images together into a perfect spherical panorama, and uploads it for you.  I don't know what the image quality is like (I suspect so-so, and even only that in good lighting), but I love the idea.  Would love to have one to play with, for sure.  Maybe I'll be able to get one, eventually.

Neat toy, for sure.  Really wish I'd had one when my dad and I drove to Osh Kosh over the summer.  I'm particularly thinking of some potential around the Bean, in Chicago.  Imagine throwing it over top of the bean to someone else.


Wovel followup

I talked about getting a Snow Wovel a while back, when faced with our first winter at this house.  And the early returns were good.

Anyway, we've had a ton of snow lately, which had me thinking about this gadget.  The extended returns are not quite as good, but still very good.

Basically, the one weakness is that the leading edge of the shovel is very thin, and, consequently, wears pretty quickly.  They do sell something to reinforce that edge (look for Snap-On Wear Strip), and I was too cheap to try it.  Well, get it.  If you buy a replacement shovel, get the wear strip for the replacement, too.

Other than that, it's been fantastic.  It still took quite a while (I didn't check, but I'd guess a couple of hours), but even the 12-16 inches we had a week or so ago wasn't too difficult to shovel.  And I didn't have any back issues (I've had various concerns about that for many years).

So, I'm a little cheesed off that the wear strip isn't included, but that's the only bad thing I have to say about the wovel, overall.  It's done a great job for us for a couple of years already, and I expect it to continue to do so for many more years.


Mr Banks, saved

I waited a long time for Mary Poppins to be released on blu-ray.  I'd been thinking of buying it on DVD for a couple of years, but decided to wait until the 50th anniversary, when it was sure to be released.  And lo, it so came to pass.

So I got it, remembering that I had liked it a lot as a kid, but not remembering much else about it.

Well, I watched it with the kids a couple days ago, and was a bit disappointed.  It set in pretty early, when my son mostly stopped paying attention only a few minutes in (by contrast, he was enraptured by The Sound of Music, and paid close attention at least until the Intermission, despite being eight or nine months younger when we watched that).  And the disappointment continued, as I got a bit bored, as well.

It wasn't a bad movie, just not nearly as magical as I remembered.

I was more impressed with Dick van Dyke; I remembered liking him, but it was still a much stronger performance than I'd recalled.  In particular, his dancing was really, really good, especially for needing to look... casual, I guess.  I love Julie Andrews, but I'm not at all sure that she deserved an Oscar for the performance (on the flip side, I've watched The Sound of Music many, many times, and I get more and more impressed with her performance in that one every time I watch it.  She really had to carry most of that movie, and did so with aplomb).  Not to say it was bad, since it wasn't, just... not amazing, I guess.

I still haven't seen Saving Mr Banks, and I'm torn about it now.  I know my dad liked it, and the idea is certainly interesting.  But Mary Poppins revisited wasn't as great, and I'm not a big fan of Tom Hanks, though I like Emma Thompson.

The one thing I find interesting about it is the timing of the release.  My suspicion (backed by nothing more than my gut) is that they started doing research for a 'Making Of...' special for the 50th anniversary release, and found a lot more material than they were expecting, leading to the new movie.

A whole new world!

I forgot to note, several days ago, that my home state of Virginia, while still forcing doctor's to rape patients thinking of having an abortion, has at least decided to end sanctioning of bigotry towards gays.

Actually, one thing I don't know about.  Recently ex-governor (and recently indicted) Bob McDonell, as one of his first actions in office, struck out the phrase from the executive order forbidding discrimination that made it apply to homosexuals (and transexuals, I imagine, although I don't remember for sure about that.  Maybe they hadn't been included in the original ban).  I haven't heard anything about McAuliffe restoring that, although I hope he has.

Anyway, with a Democrat winning the AG position in the last election, the state stopped defending the suit challenging Virginia's ability to keep gays from marrying.  The result of that was that, three days ago, a judge down in Richmond decided in favor of those seeking marriage.  Kudos to Judge Arenda Wright Allen for that.

I should try to find out if our old next-door neighbors have decided to get married.

A whole new world?

I was recently greatly encouraged in believing in my fellow Americans.  After reading about the Kansas state House passing a bill that would have institutionalized many, many kinds of discrimination, as long as they were deployed in defense of a "sincere religious conviction", I was fairly horrified.

But I was greatly encouraged when, a day or two later, the state Senate decided not to even take up the bill, because the reaction of their constituents was hugely negative.  Congratulations, Kansas; you still need to learn the difference between science and religion, but at least you won't go so far as to institutionalize bigotry in the name of religion.



A week ago, Ars Technica had a writeup on NSA metadata collection, saying that the FISC had approved Obama's tweaks.  What I couldn't figure out, though, was why anyone might think the court wouldn't approve them.

They approved MORE blatantly unconstitutional collection, so why would they not approve making it a hair less so?  Really, the changes were basically in the "who cares?" zone, they were so minor.  But I can't think of any possible way the court would say no.

One ring to rule them all...

One thing that's come out this week is that Comcast is making a $45B play to buy Time-Warner Cable.  I don't know what's going to happen, but I sure hope that federal regulators smack down the deal.  Broadband and cable TV are both perilously close to monopolies in any given area (I'm luck to live somewhere where I have at least three options; most places have one).

Because their service areas overlap very little, I'm not sure how much difference this makes in any given spot, there are already too few players in the space.  There's just no way this works out well for consumers.  I was listening to the latest ATP podcast, and agree with much of what they've had to say.

Comcast's phone support is basically useless.  The techs in the trucks are decent or better, but the ones on the phones have no clue what they're doing.  FiOS' people, on the other hand, are reasonably good (unless you have a billing problem.  Then grab your ankles and bend over).

Comcast does not need more customers; they're just a terrible company (I had their service for several years, until FiOS became available).  More competition in the space is definitely needed, so I really hope the deal is shot down.

Banks have it tough?

A couple of interesting articles on banks that I've run across lately.  The first has to do with toughening regulations on the banks, forcing them to keep more capital.  I'm certainly all for that, but I wonder if the changes listed really accomplish anything.  The problem I see is that mark-to-market accounting was suspended after the banking crisis for some classes of assets.  And as long as those assets can be valued at whatever the companies want, the requirements seem pretty meaningless.

The only reason I give any credit at all to that article was that it was cited encouragingly by Paul Krugman, whom I admire, and who certainly knows more than I do.  I wonder if he's missing that (potential?) loophole, or if it really isn't there.

The other interesting one has to do with how banks are now (or, at least, seem to be) manipulating the commodities markets via some seemingly completely unrelated to banking maneuverings.

I don't really know anything, beyond what he's reported, but it's pretty scary.  Everyone should be watching what's happening, because that has the potential to be a tax on the entire rest of the economy.  But hey, that's economic efficiency, right?  Isn't that why we don't need any more regulations?


I've been hearing about ALEC for quite a while.  It's probably fair to call them progressives' boogey-men, and certainly fair to call them corporate welfare lobbyists.

This post from kos illustrates a fundamental problem with how ALEC is set up, though.  To wit, they are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which organizations are not allowed to influence legislation.  ALEC, by all accounts, has not only been trying to influence it, but has actually written model bills that have been passed in many states.

I'd certainly like to see them investigated, and, if reasonable (and it certainly sounds like it is), prosecuted for what they're doing.

Bridge going up?

I've recently started using Twitter, mostly just to consume; I've only posted a few tweets (and somehow the link got dropped from my latest tweet).

Anyway, one that I'm following is 'History in Pictures' (@HistoryInPics), which regularly shows neat stuff.  One thing that I know I didn't appreciate when I was younger, was how a suspension bridge works.  But this picture showing the bridge in progress really makes it clear in a way that no textual description can.

Like I said, neat stuff.


I've recently started playing "Threes" on my iPhone and iPad, and it's a fantastic puzzle game.  Almost everything you do in the game is done via sliding gestures, so it's a beautiful, if minimal, interface.  The game itself is a 4x4 grid, that starts out with only some occupied.  You slide tiles either vertically or horizonally, which all tiles that aren't running into a wall moving in that direction.  When one hits a wall, if two tiles can be combined (more later), they merge into one tile with a combination of the values of the two.

That's the whole game; it goes until the board fills, and there are no combinable tiles.

So it's very simple in concept, but the strategy is pretty complex.  As far as how they combine: two can combine with one to make three.  And any number can combine with an identical number to make double that number.  So 3+3=6, 6+6=12, 12+12=24, etc.

Scoring is done on a log scale, adding 3 raised to the log3 of each tile (two and one both score one point) together.  So a three tile scores three points, a six scores nine, a twelve scores 27, etc.

Like I said, simple.  But very difficult.

Really, the only thing I can complain about with the game is how long the opening animation runs.  If it was cut in half (and, it just now occurs to me, the age of my iPhone 4 and iPad 2 might factor into this), it'd be much better.

But it's easy to get past that.  Very fun game, and I just love the interface.

"I have a boyfriend"?

I've never really given a lot of thought to women saying, "I have a boyfriend" to deal with overly-persistent men (unwantedly? unwontedly?).  But some women obviously have, and their conclusion is interesting (even if I'm not sure I agree with it):

Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.

And I'm not convinced that that's why saying that would stop an interested man.  I think two other factors play into this.  One is that some women (most, actually, I think) value persistence, and see it as romantic that someone would keep trying.  So I think that keeps some men trying longer than they otherwise would.

The other factor I see is the subtext that I automatically read into bringing it up.  That is, that "I have a boyfriend" seems like a partial statement to me, and implies a second half, "And I'm happy being with him".

I can certainly think of cases where men implicitly devalue a woman's opinion on relationship matters, but I'm not convinced that this is one of them.

Catching the Cat

I recently got To Catch a Thief on blu-ray, replacing my older laserdisc of it.  It is a stunning transfer; the scenery really comes alive impressively.  Oddly, the only flaw I saw was some moire on Grant's shirt in one scene (blu-ray isn't supposed to be susceptible to moire, since there's no comb filter anymore).

What was even more interesting was the coloration in several scenes.  I'd never noticed on the laserdisc, but several scenes were lit by very green lights, and that definitely changed the feel of the scenes.

It's a fantastic movie, though, almost from beginning to end.  I wasn't real keen on a couple of shots Hitchcock put in to add more drama or confusion, but they were mostly ignorable.  And that's really the extent of the flaws.  I really love Cary Grant (he was the reason I bought the movie, originally), and Princess Grace was also excellent.

I will definitely be watching it more in the future.

Oshie vs Kovy & Datsyuk

Watched today's USA vs Russia preliminary game from the Olympics this morning.  I found my feelings a lot more mixed than I expected.  I love OV, of course, and Datsyuk is pretty amazing (even if he does have the affrontery to play for Detroit), but the US is definitely my country.

My daughter surprised me by insisting that I wear my OV jersey while watching, which amused me.

I actually missed the first period, watching the Switzerland-Russia women's game then, but did finally find the men's game.  It was already tied at one when I turned it on, and stayed close throughout.  I thought that Russia got the benefit of a few questionable calls, although they didn't really take advantage of them.  It's probably some bias from getting used to what the Caps do, but it seemed like they could have made some better decisions on handedness there.

The US did take advantage of one power play they got, with Pavelski scoring on a wicked pass cross-ice from Kane (the play looked much like a Caps power play, actually, with Pavelski in OV's position when he scored).  But Datsyuk matched Pavelski's goal to tie it up again.

Then, several minutes later, Datsyuk's line appeared to score again, probably on a deflection that just barely got under the crossbar.  It looked like they were reviewing it to see if it was hit above the crossbar (both attempts to deflect it were trying to push it downwards).  After a couple replays, it was apparent that both players attempting the deflection missed, and that the puck was still rising as it went into the net, so it seemed sure to be a goal.

But then the review said "no goal", and I later heard that it was because the net was dislodged before the puck went in.  I don't know, but it seemed an odd call.  I wasn't complaining, though, as it left the game tied.

And that's the way regulation ended, too, going into 4-on-4 with the huge ice.  Unbelievable how much room there was out there (I'll come back to this), but nobody managed to put it into the net, despite some really good chances.

So into a shootout it went, without me really knowing the shootout rules they were using.  It turns out that three initial players needed to be selected, and choosing who shoots first is done similarly to the NHL.  In that first round, Oshie started out by scoring, while the first two Russians were stopped.  But the last two Americans were also stopped, leaving it on Kovalchuk's stick to finish.  And he delivered, beating Quick on a cheeky chip shot into the corner, sending it to extra rounds.

Like the NHL, whoever led at the end of any round after that would win.  Unlike the NHL, they could re-use shooters, which I did not like at all.  It ended up going five more rounds, with Oshie getting all the American shots, and Kovalchuk and Datsyuk sharing duties on the Russian side.  Frankly, I hated reusing the same shooters, plus I was disappointed that OV and Semin never got a chance.  There were several scores in there, but in the fifth additional round, Oshie finished it after Kovy was stoned.

It was good to see the US win, and better to have had it be a close game.

What I found really interesting, though, was the effect of the big ice.  Part of it, I suppose, was the quality of the players on each side, but it seemed easier to break out and easier to carry into the zone (I'm saying this based on several games; men's and women's).  But it seems easier to keep play to the outside, and harder to get good chances.  Part of it is that, with more boards, cycling doesn't work as well.  And part of it is that the defense finds it much harder to pressure all the way out.  There seem to be a lot fewer chances, overall, despite all the talent on display.

It's certainly interesting to watch; I'm looking forward to other games.  And one of these days, I'll get used to Oshie wearing 74 while Carlson wears 4.

U-S-A! U-S-A!


I'd like to teach...

I watched the first half of the Super Bowl the other day. Live, bizarrely. (No DVR in my dad's hospital room.)

We were mostly enjoying the game, and watching all the commercials, of course. When Coca-cola showed this semi-sequel to their old I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing ad, I mentioned that I wasn't sure what it had to do with Coke, but that I liked it a lot.

My stepmom reminded me about the original ad, and I realized that, yes, it's a spiritual successor of that one.

The next day, I started seeing a lot of people reacting vehemently, acting offended. And I really don't understand that.

The first verse ends, "And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea". I don't see anything in there implying it talks only about white, heterosexual, anglophones.

I'm reminded of these great lines from The Sound of Music:

Baron: Is there a more beautiful expression of what is good in this country of ours than the innocent voices of our children?
Zeller: Oh, come now, Baron, would you have us believe that Austria alone holds a monopoly on virtue?
Captain: Herr Zeller, some of us prefer Austrian voices raised in song to ugly German threats.

Getting upset (or, worse, offended) at a pretty song, being well performed... I just don't understand it.

Nearly everyone in this country started out as an immigrant. Is there any reason to denigrate the people who came in this generation, versus the ones who came 2, 3, 4, 5 generations ago? It seems like a rejection of the statement of intent for forming this nation.

I mean, it seems to take quite a lot of effort to turn
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

into a justification for saying that we shouldn't be singing in any language except English.

This country was built on immigration, after all. The welcoming attitude towards newcomers helped keep people coming, expressed very well on the Statue of Liberty. The New Colossus poem ends:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I can't figure out anything in there that says anything like "brown people, gays, and non-english speakers, GTFO".

It recognizes that people coming here are striving for something. And they are not striving for failure. So they tend to work hard and stay healthy, and that's why we should be encouraging them to come to the US.  (And why I'm in favor of a basically-unlimited immigration policy, and have no qualms about "amnesty".)

For some further, and better put, satire on this issue, check out The Colbert Report.  Especially note who wrote the original song (that link goes to a scouting-related site; some definite irony there, again considering the original author.  And I'll also point out that I knew the sexual orientation of Ms Bates, but had never heard the term "Boston Marriage" before.

Devilish challenge

I actually forgot about the Devils game entirely on Saturday, but it was on the normal channel, so I was able to watch it yesterday evening after getting back from the hospital.

The lineup was the same as the Jets game right before, right down to Holtby starting in net again. On the other side, Schneider seems to have grabbed the starter's mantle from Brodeur with his excellent play, and he got the start.

And it was a frustrating game to watch (not helped by being frequently distracted by the kids). Outside of a brief flurry of chances around five or six minutes in (on the power play), they were solidly dominated all the way through the second intermission.

But Holtby brought his A game, and stopped everything thrown at him.

For the first ten minutes of the third, the Caps finally started catching up in possession, and had some excellent shifts. After that, possession was more even, although the Caps finally broke through and scored in the eleventh minute, with a Brouillette slapshot from the point finally getting past Schneider.

From there, the game was very tense, with both teams getting chances, but both goalminders standing tall. With two and a half minutes left, I was starting to think that the Caps might finally win a game without scoring three goals (it was pointed out to me, late last week, that they hadn't managed that. h/t to @Peerless, I think). But Schneider was pulled right after that, and a rough - but effective - breakout led to Erat finally scoring on the empty net (I think he kept the puck, too, which surprised me a little. First as a Cap, maybe?).

And then, almost forty seconds later, Brouwer fought hard along the boards near the red line, and got a shot off that slipped into the goal for a second empty netter.

Holtby was up to the remaining challenges as well, and got his tenth career shutout just over a minute later (despite Jersey finishing that on the power play).

The power play was not good at all. The first power play wasn't too bad, but they had only two more shots over the remaining three times on the advantage. Overall, they had nine shot attempts for (and two against), with five of those on net. A lot of credit for that goes to the NJ PK, but that isn't likely to get the job done.

On the other side, the Devils had a bit less than five minutes with the advantage, getting ten shot attempts (four on-net). Again, that isn't going to get the job done if Holtby doesn't have an awesome game.

Holtby was fantastic, and seems to be back to where he was (they seem to have given up on the experiment of having him try to play deeper in the net). I don't remember any truly spectacular saves, but he was just always where he needed to be. Awesome to see.

Overall, though, this was another not-great game for the Caps. We'll take the points without complaining, of course, but it's not boding well. The last two games were both ~46% FF 5-on-5, close. That's not going to get it done, either, unless Holtby remains near-flawless. I'd love to see that, but hope it won't be necessary (and it ain't the way to bet, regardless).

So the Caps go into the Olympic break tied for fourth in the division (ninth in Conference), with the toughest schedule in the league for March. Somehow, despite that brutal schedule, they need to make up ground on at least one team in front of them, while also getting separation from both of the teams with whom they're currently tied (because they sure ain't getting any tiebreakers). The only thing leading to any optimism at all is that they do have a better goal differential than three of the teams ahead of them (although maybe that counts shootout "goals"), but that's pretty weak tea.

But we'll see; maybe OV will win Olympic gold, leading into twenty-five goals down the stretch to drag the team, kicking and screaming, into the playoffs. And maybe Schmidt will get called up to solidify the third line (though there's really nothing to complain about with Brouillette's results so far. Hard to argue with a point-a-game defenseman), and Green and Grabo both return from injury at 100%. And Wellman could stay up, allowing Beagle to be scratched a lot.

Hey, we can hope. Go Caps!

Sweat of the Brouw

I've been having trouble watching Caps games, lately, with my dad having health problems. But I was able to watch the Caps/Jets game the other day only a couple of hours after initial puck-drop.

It was a game with some definite surprises beforehand. A slight surprise was that Holtby was in net, but the big surprises were at the blue-line. Green and Erskine were both out (still don't know why for Erskine, although Green's injury is a concussion), and Strachan was sent back down, so Wey and Brouillette were called up to be the third pairing. This was a bit concerning, as Wey was underwhelming in his previous game, and Brouillette was getting his first NHL action (after four years mostly spent in the AHL).

I'm not sure why Wey and Brouillette were called up, rather than Oleksy and Schmidt, but it did work out ok.

In fact, the game started out pretty well for the Caps, with play more often in their offensive end. And the MarJo, Wellman, and Brouwer line had a couple of good shifts, culminating in a Brouwer goal (helped by Pavelec playing with a broken stick) five minutes in. Things were significantly downhill after that, and for quite a while. Eight minutes later, Little deflected a Ladd shot past Holtby, and Byfuglien scored six minutes into the second.

But Holtby was huge, and kept the Caps in the game until the end of the second. At that point, they were actually getting outplayed so badly that I was tempted to turn the game off. And that's despite Washington getting three of the four power plays up to that point.

But the Caps woke up a bit in the third. After a small flurry a couple minutes in, they solidly dominated the rest of the way. And that paid off with a Wey->Brouillette->Wilson (?!?) goal in the fourth minute (Wey played across to Brouillette, who shot wide, with the rebound going to Wilson as he skated into the slot). OV added his fortieth four minutes later, when he backhanded in a rebound of a Backstrom shot (itself a rebound of an Alzner shot).

And Brouwer finished out the scoring eight minutes later when he got on a 2-on-1 with MarJo, and MarJo passed to Brouwer so Troy could backhand it over Pavelec from only a few feet out. Interestingly on this one, Carrick had the second assist as he passed ahead to them, and Laich was on the ice by the time the goal was scored (unknown what happened to Wellman being with the other two).

The two goals led to Brouwer getting first star of the game, despite a Corsi For under 30% (5-on-5). MarJo was at the same level. Bad process, good results.

On the flip side, Wey and Brouillette were both a hair over 50%, so that was encouraging. And there was a funny note there, as that goal they both got assists on was the first NHL point for each. Speculation was rampant that they'd be cutting the puck in half, and giving each of them part. Haven't heard anything since on what was done.

The power play for the game was only ok, with eight shots (thirteen attempted) over their eight minutes with the advantage. That's not bad, but a bit less than I'd like to see. They also had two shots against, which is definitely more than I'd prefer.

The PK was not terribly good, with three shots against (and one blocked) in only two minutes. They kept the puck out of the net, but wouldn't do so if they kept allowing that shot rate against for much longer.

But the better part was that they stayed out of the box, and only gave up those two minutes.

And Holtby was again excellent, with only those two goals on thirty-six shots. Granted, worse than he did over two or three games against Winnipeg last year, but nothing to sneeze at.

Overall, a not-terribly-good game for the Caps, but at least Holtby stole one for them.

I'll write about the Devils game separately.

Tense Competition

Just had to point out this amazing photo of a swimmer at the FINA competition by Adam Pretty.

Basically, the swimmer is above the water level, but hasn't yet broken the surface tension. Amazing timing to get that. I have to wonder whether it was gotten machine gun-style, or by a deliberate click. I'm betting on the former, but not sure how to find out.


Narrow escape

I had a family emergency yesterday morning, so I didn't get to watch the Caps/Wings game until after half-time for the SuperBowl. On the plus side, I got to watch the entirety of the competitive part of the Super Bowl.

The Caps game had almost the same personnel as the prior game (which included Strachan getting called up for Green, as I forgot to mention). The only change was that Laich was out (guess he really wasn't healed, huh?), with Volpatti coming in.

Despite those changes (collectively, Green, Grabo, and Laich out; Strachan, Volpatti, and Wellman in), the Caps got off to an awesome start. By the time the Caps had gotten their second goal, seven minutes and change in, the Wings had only one missed shot (though I don't have the number, I think they did have a couple of blocked shots).

I was thinking that there was a hope of the Caps getting a fenwick-close shutout (they've suffered two already), but of course not. In fact, they ended up not even getting a majority of fenwick-close (though it was a close call).

For the rest of the game, the Caps were nearly incapable of stopping the Zetterberg, Nyquist, Abdelkader line.

Fortunately, they did have an edge in power play time, which at least slowed down Detroit. And they did finally score in overtime on the power play.

So Washington did win, in overtime. Their scoring was a lot more spread around than Detroit's (that top line had four of Detroit's five goals). The Ward/Chimmer line had three, the top line had one (by Carlson), Brouwer had one, and OV had the overtime PPG.

What was there to like? Well, at this point, winning is hard to overstate as being needed. Neuvy actually had several really awesome saves, although his overall numbers aren't great.

The special teams weren't all that good, though. In eight minutes, the PP had sixteen shot attempts (a bit low), nine on net (quite low). The PK held Detroit to seven shot attempts, leading to two goals (one of which is so-so, the other is terrible).

In terms of specifics, Detroit was putting a man on OV (told to ignore everything except OV, I think), and OV didn't move around enough to cause havok with that. Alternatively, he could have just migrated further from the net, and left a lot of space for Brouwer/Ward. One thing we did see, is that the few times he did migrate a bit, Brouwer couldn't take advantage of that space, but Ward did. For that reason alone, Ward should take the PP1 slot position, I think.

Much of the game really felt like the Caps were just holding on for dear life; praying they would get enough pucks in the net. After the first period, it never really felt like they were going to win. Certainly not comfortably.

I'd like to say something about the injuries, and how that factored in, but Detroit was also hurting, from that perspective. Datsyuk is still out, in particular.

I guess we'll just have to be happy with the result, and move on. And hopefully get healthy (if not immediately, we can at least hope that everyone is back after the Olympics). Next up, the Islanders will be coming to visit on Tuesday. The Caps will need to take advantage of that. Go Caps!



I realize it probably hasn't terribly much come across, but I've always been a big fan of animation.  Especially japanese (and doubly-especially Ghibli), but really all sorts.

Pink panther?  Looney Toons?  Tiny Toons?  Animaniacs?  Aardman?  Ghiblies?  Ok, that's actually one of the few Ghibli pieces I haven't seen.  Pixar?  Blue Sky?  Dreamworks?  Yeah, I've watched, and liked, all of those (ok, very few of Pink Panther.  But Pink Plasma is awesome.)

So I was pretty excited today, to run across this animation site, which covers all of the above.  Well, all the new stuff, anyway.  I don't know a whole lot about it, and I'm not sure I really want to know much about stuff that isn't out yet, but it looks very cool.

And I was a bit disappointed that I had no idea why the name was A113.  That was neat, and impressive both in how many examples they found of that in movies (and how wide a range of types of animation over which it was found) and in how assiduously they must have searched to find some of those examples.

I'm very much looking forward to reading it in the future, however.  Now, if I could just get my podcast app to find their podcast...

Red in the face

I wasn't able to watch last night's Caps game at the Joe until very late.  And for much of the game, I was wishing I hadn't bothered.

Washington actually got the first shot, with OV trying a wraparound, of all things.  And it was pretty even for the first seven minutes or so.  But then Detroit got a power play, and just started pouring it on.  By the end of the period, Neuvy probably felt like he was at the wrong end of a shooting gallery, as he had stopped twenty-two shots (IIRC, 12 of those shots were on the power play), and seen several more fly wide.

But he probably was feeling decent about that, since he'd stopped everything, and since Washington had cashed in on their lone power play of the period (on the only shot, I believe.  And one of five shots in the period).

But that kind of discrepancy is going to catch up, and it did, as both Miller and DeKeyser scored in the second, despite the Caps only being two behind in Fenwick on the period (and only one behind in penalties).

The third period's final numbers were pretty close, but almost all of Washington's action was in their one power play (seven shots, I believe, and didn't score), whereas Detroit's was spread across the period.  And three of Washington's remaining shots came in consecutive seconds, as Wellman got the puck in the slot, sliding across, and fired three times, putting the third into the net.  That left only six unblocked attempts across the remaining 17:57 of the period.  That isn't horrible, but it isn't good, either.

And two minutes (and a few seconds) after Wellman's goal, Detroit scored again to retake the lead to force the Caps into desperation mode.  But they still didn't manage to muster much, until that penalty was called, six minutes and change later.  And they still didn't manage to tie it up, despite that very impressive outburst.

But they pulled Neuvy a short while after, and managed to even the game with only seven seconds left.  We thought OV had scored it, although Ward was eventually credited with a tip-in (seeing the replay, it was obvious there was a tip, but it was less than obvious that Wardo touched it, and he certainly didn't act like he had).  In any event, it was quite a rollercoaster several minutes.

And the overtime?  Well, more of what we'd been seeing, as Detroit dominated, but wasn't able to score.

So on to the "skills competition" (personally, I'd call it the coin flip).  And the only real skills seen there were by the goalies, who each stopped the first six attempts (several of which, on each side, were really terrible; OV actually had his best attempt in quite a while, but it still didn't work) they faced.  Then Eaves scored for Detroit, and Beagle came up.  I gave up as soon as I saw who was taking it.  And I was not surprised at all at the result.  Has Oates not yet learned that Beagle is where scoring chances go to die?

After that shooting gallery of a first period, the PK did well (I'd count them as extremely lucky not to've given up a goal in the first, but deserved it the rest of the way).

The power play was pretty good; they only had two chances, and scored on one and had many chances in the second.  In just over three minutes of power play time, they had more than half the shot attempts that Detroit had in ten minutes on the man advantage.  Nothing to sneeze at, there.

And a lot could be written about Neuvy.  Despite the three goals, he's the only reason they were even in the game at all.  This game could have easily been a blow-out, with forty-five shots on net.

Anyway, a slightly disappointing, though well-deserved result of the game.  And again, the Caps need to start winning a lot of games, really quickly, if they hope to make the playoffs.

The quest resumes tomorrow, again with Detroit, back at the phone booth.  Go Caps!