Caps were on road, too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally done

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

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


How much do you drink?

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

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

Holy crap!

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

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

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

On the road, again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Whither the iPad

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

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

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


Thoughts on iPad Air 2

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

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

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

Regardless, I'm very happy with the purchase.


Follow-up on retina iMac

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

So my odds of getting one went up a bit.

Escaping the cat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.


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.


A few thoughts on the chill

This morning was my coldest ride so far, at around 39F.  I've gotten some cold-weather gear for riding, and was debating how much to test.

I have a pretty high tolerance for cold, so I went with my normal gloves (which I bought for their kevlar protection, not for keeping warm), a windbreaker, and "thermal" biking shorts.  I should also point out that I've been using booties for a while (since a day or two before getting my current shoes), but had decided that I'm getting tired of the effort of putting them on and off without ripping them up.

So, how did all that do?  Well, the shorts were fine, although I think the odds of being fine in normal biking shorts were pretty good.  Wish I hadn't bothered with these, and had saved them for a really cold day.

The gloves were not so good.  It's possible that they were still a little damp from yesterday's ride (during which it wasn't raining, but the streets were wet, so lots of water was kicked up), but my fingers were pretty cold through most of the ride.  I have warmer gloves, and wish I'd worn them.

The windbreaker ended up being fine.  There were a few minutes where I was thinking of my warmer jacket, but I actually wonder, after the fact, if I'd've been fine without any jacket.  All of which adds up to it probably being good that I wore what I did.

And now, to the feet.  This is a little bit of a weird one.  My shoes advertised their ventilation, so I thought it was a bit funny that I immediately put those booties on, which cut off (much of) the ventilation.  So I never saw what the ventilation was like, really.

Well, today, eschewing the booties, I got the full effect of the ventilation, and my toes were pretty chilly.  Thankfully, I wear Thorlos heavy hiking socks for all occasions and all activities (I think they're the best socks made, and have worn them for fifteen to twenty years.  During that time, for 105F ultimate frisbee or sub-freezing skiing.  Have yet to find an activity for which they felt out of place.  And I just bought my first batch of replacements a year and a half ago.  Literally, I cannot give a high enough recommendation for those socks).

I'm going to detour for a minute about the booties, and about pedals.  My old pedals were the mountain biking version of Shimano SPDs.  Pretty decent pedals; I had no major faults with them.  A little bit of a pain getting out of, but not bad.

But I upgraded to Mercury pedals.  They're much easier to get out of (I've heard some people complain, but I find them very natural), and about the same to get into.

But getting back to the SPDs, those had pretty sharp spikes on the bottom.  Not dangerously so, but they did quite a number on the booties before I noticed.  You can get the booties on and off without damage, but it takes quite a bit of care.  It takes a lot less with the cleats for the Mercury pedals, but those can do damage as well.  Hence, skipping the booties.

Well, won't be skipping the booties below 40F again, for sure.  Above that, we'll have to see.  For now, I may just go to the cold-weather booties, which I have, but haven't yet worn.

Anyway, the result of all this is that I ended up just doing my normal route, when I'd been planning to add ten miles or so to that.  Will have to make up for it later, somehow.


NHL Gamecenter Live

I'd like to cut out my cable provider, and need to be able to get several sports-related things first.  One of those, unsurprisingly, is Caps games, so I looked at NHL Gamecenter Live.

It fails, badly, for several reasons.  The first is that you can't guarantee getting every game, unless you're an out-of-market customer (even then, I'm not sure it's guaranteed).  It only promises up to 40 out-of-market games every week.  No promise at all on seeing the home team.  And you can restart out-of-market games the next day, but home team games two days later.

Even next-day is next to useless; two days later is absurd.

No mention of commercials; I'm guessing they're still there and that there's no 30-second skip control.  Another deal-breaker.

You'd think they'd want to sell me what I want, but it seems they have no interest in that.

If they could guarantee that I could get every home game (especially remembering that the FCC just removed the government angle on sports blackouts), and could watch the whole thing, as long as I started it before the game ends, it might work for me (typical for me is to watch the first period live, then watch the second and third periods a bit late, after the kids are in bed).  Add in the 30-second skip, and it would definitely work.

Makes you wonder how much money, on a per-viewer basis, each of those commercials makes the league.  Hard to believe that it would total up to more than the subscription price.  If it didn't, I'd probably be willing to pay double to get it.

But, the NHL doesn't want my money, it seems.


Great ride

I decided to take yesterday off from work, and just go out and ride.  My goal was to do my first century, partially for its own sake, and partially to hit the Gran Fondo challenge for the month on Strava.

Since it was my first ride over 35 miles, I wasn't sure how it was going to work out.  I knew, starting out, that the direct trip where I was going was about 44 miles, so I knew I'd have to tack some extra stuff onto the end if I wanted to reach a full century.  My plan was to complete my normal trail loop to round it out.

Well, things started pretty well; I made it out to Purcellville in 2:20, which was an 18mph average (faster than I'd planned, actually).  I'd stopped twice, for five or ten minutes each, to rest a little and eat something.

The way back went considerably less well.  In the first mile, on the way back, my chain popped off while crossing a street and my Speed/Cadence sensor fell off as well.  I managed to get the bike and sensor off the road without incident (though doubtless annoying the drivers).  Some good luck; I was able to find the rubber piece that holds the sensor on the bike.  I figured that leaving the sensor off would just mean I'd lose cadence tracking, which I don't much care about for such a long-distance ride.  I figured the GPS on the phone would give me speed and distance, so I'd just ride home without taking the time to put the sensor back on.

And either I'm getting better, or was a bit lucky that the chain went back on very easily.

So I continued on.  I noticed right away that the speed wasn't updating, but didn't notice for close to six miles that the distance wasn't updating either.  At that point, I decided that I needed to put the sensor back on, and stopped to do that.  A pain, although less of one than I'd guessed it'd be.

From there, I kept riding.  I made it nine more miles before I needed to stop again (this time, five minutes that was largely a bathroom break).  Then only three miles before my next stop, and eight more for my next stop.  Bad stretch.

From there, I was on familiar ground and really didn't want to stop, and managed to push all the way home (though it was a tough slog).  I didn't even try to do the extra loop; I was limping home as it was.  Because that six miles or so was missing from the recording, I managed to push myself for an extra mile and a half loop to make sure I'd clear 130km for the Gran Fondo, but even that was itself a challenge.

It took me a while to somewhat recover, but the good part was that my only pain was the pain of overworked muscles, especially my thighs.

I mentioned doing the Retuel fitting, and did do that.  We adjusted my stem a bit higher, and moved my seat up and forwards a bit.  The fitter said my technique is very good; I've got very little side-to-side in my pedaling.  I also need to get a zero-offset seatpost (on order on Amazon, although it'll apparently take a depressingly long time to arrive) and a narrower handlebar (on order from the shop that did the fitting).

Because of the narrower handlebar thing, I did use the tops of my bars more than normal, which might have helped stave off the neck problems that I often end up feeling.  And I'm sure that moving the seat closer helped with that, since it raised my back angle five degrees or so.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I think the Retul fitting was worthwhile.  Worth that amount?  Not yet sure.  But definitely valuable.  If I start getting through my normal 20-25 mile workouts without pain, especially if it comes with improving speed, then it will have been worth the price.

Happily, I did do enough for the Gran Fondo challenge, finishing with 138km (a weird number, to be sure), but eleven or so miles short of my hoped-for century.  But I made it, and back, and was in time to shower and change and pick up the kids from school.  And no injuries (I did have a couple of close calls towards the end, when I was tired; need to watch that) or nagging issues.  So I'll call the day a success.

As a side note, I talked to a very experienced cyclist at one of my stops, and he said the general recommendation is to extend your distance by about 10% weekly.  I kind of chuckled at that.  My progression has been 7.4 -> 3.66 -> 24.7 -> 51.2 -> 49.0 -> 71.5 -> 89.5 -> 144.5 -> 142.3 -> 116.3 (with three days left).  If I get sixty more in the remainder of the week, that'll work out to an average increase of about 20%.  If I instead try to apply that to longest ride, it's about 3.8 -> 3.7 -> 6.5 -> 9.25 -> 8.6 -> 10.9 -> 21 -> 35 -> 26.3 -> 89.  Which is only a hair more, actually.

Less than I'd guessed, actually.  And a little bit deceptive; I don't really have the time to do more than 140-150 miles a week, unless I speed up a bit.  I'm mostly riding around 18-19 mph; pushing that to 21mph would let me add another ten or twelve miles.  I guess I need to work on my climbing, to make that a realistic hope.  And find some people to do hard, pace-line rides; that would help quite a bit.  I'm working on that; we'll find out Saturday how I've done.  Hopefully that group won't just end up dropping me after a few miles.