Archive for August, 2011

A Realization

There are many benefits to living in a high latitude city. Summer days are long and one can enjoy the light for over 17 hours on the longest day.

But the reverse is also true. For me it was a couple of days ago when the dog wanted out at 5:00 am and realizing it was still dark outside – whereas six weeks earlier, it would have been light. I asked a few folks and it seems everyone has had the same awakening in the last few days – the evening light is getting shorter and the dawn is later. It is less than a month until the equinox and then you really notice the change. Sigh … it was a cool, wet summer with lots of mosquitoes, and it is starting to leave us. Every warm sunny day is now extra special!

It's coming ... this was Sept 9, 2004!


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There are days, cloudy days and good cloud days. Today was a good cloud day. A very interesting sky during different times of the day.

Cirrus patterns in the late afternoon

And then we were rewarded in the evening with some beautiful highlights courtesy of the setting sun.

Highlights at sunset

Earlier this year I purchased a used Canon G11. My main camera is a Canon 20D DSLR, which I have a number of lenses for. The G11 is sort of a point and shoot on steroids. I have really become attached to the G11 with all its features, compact size and very good lens. I think of it more as a snatch and shoot since it is the camera I can grab on the fly when something catches my attention and know that I am going to have control over my images and get good results in the process.

It was definitely a good cloud day.

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Back in the 1984/85 hockey season, a bunch of friends in northeast Edmonton got together and started a hockey pool. While this wouldn’t be a big deal today, back then it was a very novel concept. The pool was based on a model called ‘rotisserie’ league. The term comes from the first baseball pool to use the concept and that was created in a barbecue restaurant in New York City in 1980.

The six original members of the pool (hence the pool name – Original Six Hockey League – also a clever reference to the original six NHL teams) used the weekly NHL stats in the Globe and Mail newspaper to update the pool standings. We have never been able to prove this, but the OSHL may have been the first ever hockey version of a rotisserie pool.

My friend Bob knew one of the guys in the original six and had joined the pool a year later by taking over one of the existing franchises. In the 1987/88 season, the pool had its first ever expansion by adding three teams. I took over one of the original franchises, the Noogies, and renamed it as the Slip Kids (after the line in the Who song “second generation climbing up the tree”). At that time, people were trying to name their teams after their own names, but growing up with Waddell, I had already had enough jokes about ducks, etc. Besides one of the pool commissioners was a big Who fan so I thought I could curry favour. As it was, I finished last my first year – ninth out of nine.

My first OSHL draft in 1987 - that's me in the red shirt with my back to the camera. Notice the draft boards for keeping track of all the players.

The pool grew a number of times until the present roster of 24 teams. Another wrinkle to the OSHL is there are two divisions; the Howe and the Orr. As in English football, the teams that finish highest in the lower division (the Orr) are promoted to the top division and the bottom teams in the Howe are relegated to the lower group. This became a necessity after about 16 teams when the folks in the bottom of the ranking would never have a hope of winning money if all the teams were just ranked as one group. At one point there were three divisions but this proved somewhat unwieldy so we reverted back to the two.

The mechanics of the pool are complex. There is a draft of players. Players all have contracts which can extend for a number of years. There is a salary cap and a floor. There is a rookie draft and you can carry ‘farm’ players. Teams can trade players and draft picks during the season. And every week the stats are updated using a stats service. These days you can follow your players daily using the online service.

In the beginning, all the stats were done by hand using the printed weekly NHL standings. One of the members, who later went on to a career at Microsoft, came up with an automated program for uploading stats and handling transactions. Now there are companies on the net to handle all your pool needs.

I did have some success over the years. I won the Orr Division twice and placed second in the Howe once. Over the last several years, my oldest son and I both ran our team until he branched out on his own this last year.

A long way from pen and paper. My son, Dave, at the 2010 OSHL draft

So why am I telling all this. Well, in July I made up my mind and left the pool after 25 odd years. The pool was a big part of my life for a long time. But I realized this summer I just didn’t have the appetite to put in the effort that was really necessary.

I will have some other tales to tell about the pool but for now I wish all the participants good luck and may the injuries be on someone else’s team.

OSHL Owners - 2010/11 edition

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In honour of me clicking over the odometer one more time, here is the best birthday song ever …

Parents can easily relate and my kids have used the song at every birthday since.



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A New Banner

Just a little housekeeping …

As I get more comfortable with WordPress, I have been playing around with some of the options. You will see a few more items in the right column and I thought it time for a new banner. This shot is entitled “Golden Sunset” and was taken south of Lloydminster, Alberta in September 2007. Enjoy.

More shots from that trip can be found in my Flickr set called Borderlands.

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You know it is going to be a good morning when you hop in the car and the first thing on the radio is Voodoo Chile by Stevie Ray Vaughn. That was yesterday so I thought I would share my experience of seeing him live.

I got to see Stevie in the early 80s at the Convention Inn South in Edmonton. Yes, it was a hotel ballroom. No chairs and a stage made out of risers at one end of the room. My brother-in-law said we had to go see this guy – who I had never heard of. I really wasn’t expecting too much given the locale.

The place was packed. I would guess that 80 to 90 percent of the audience was male with a fair number of bikers in attendance. There was no warm up act. Stevie and Double Trouble just got on stage and started to play- and I was blown away. I have never seen someone play like that. It was him and his guitar. He really didn’t interact that much with the drummer and bass player and certainly not with the audience. But the sounds he got out of that Strat. He was just absorbed. I sometimes think Stevie was at the Crossroads and made that deal. He certainly played like it. The show was great and ever since I have been a big fan.

The most bizarre part of the evening (and there always seems to be one) was at the end. The promoter held a draw for a Fender Stratocaster. The winner was a guy in a three-piece suit (they were in fashion at the time) with really short hair. He went up on stage to get the guitar accompanied by a stunned silence. Stevie took the guitar, plugged it in and said, “Let’s see what this thing will do”, and proceeded to play a stock Strat like it was possessed. After about a three minute solo, he unplugged, grinned and handed the guitar to the winner. I think the guy was in shock. (And ever since I have wondered if he made it out of the parking lot in one piece).

So here’s a little Stevie Ray. Still miss him.

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Jim and Wanda took quite a few shots at Little Flower. Here are some more from the weekend:

On the way back from the Concert at the End of the World

And back on stage:

No telling what is going to happen on stage

And then there were the Magpies:

At least we had one fan!


Thanks to Jim and Wanda for the use of their images.

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