Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Arrrrgh... the Phantoms gave up a 4-1 lead in the third period, and wound up tying Norfolk 4-4.

Of course, when your most experienced D have both been playing North American hockey for all of two seasons (Wade Skolney and Dennis Seidenberg), there are going to be defensive miscues.

We also probably narrowed down a few things that we'd like to work on... the first goal-against was the result of an unfortunate rebound that went straight into the slot and directly to the trailing Admiral, whom nobody had picked up. The final goal-against was a freaky bouncing thing that went in a moment after a defensive-zone faceoff. I suspect Nitty would like to have those two back.

At least we SCORED four goals... ladies and gentlemen, we actually have an offense these days. Our two TWO top lines have been red hot, and that's nice to know.

The kicker of the night, though, was the fight near the end of the second. There was a colossal pileup at the half-boards, which began when an Admiral boarded a Phantom (I didn't see who got hit, but man, did I hear it). Every black-jerseyed Phantom on the ice made a beeline toward the offender, followed closely by the rest of the white-jerseyed Admirals. Someone lost their footing and at least three, maybe four players went over like dominoes. All I could see of them was a bunch of skates. Meanwhile, whichever players remained standing were all in the midst of a shoving match.

Then one pair separated from the rest, and they were full-out fighting. I could see the tall Admiral, but at the angle I was viewing the bout from, I couldn't see which Phantom it was. His Phantoms jersey was pulled out of position (but was kept from being removed by the fighter's strap) and the number couldn't be viewed at all. Then another fan behind me yelled, "Go, Ben!"

Ben? As in, Stafford? The smallest guy on the team (until Freddy Meyers comes back from injury)? Against that big freaking GIRAFFE of an Admiral? Well, not only was it Ben, but our li'l micro-forward held his own VERY well until he got the takedown. :o) There wasn't much time left in the period, so the ref sent both combatants to the dressing room. When he approached the bench, we fans near the tunnel cheered like crazy and Ben started grinning from ear to ear. The Phantoms near the bench door patted the heck out of him when he arrived... they were grinning, too. The one voice I could hear perfectly clearly, even over the fans' loud cheering, was Pete Vandermeer yelling, "GOOD JOB!" as Ben headed up the tunnel.

It WAS a good job, too... I'll be giving Ben a few fight photos for his upcoming birthday. I'll post them here, too, when I get a chance.
Yay... I finally got the postgame "Max and Neil" story posted, so if you're curious to see what has supplanted the placeholder, do scroll down. ;o)

This morning was the first time I used the polarized sunglasses I ordered online. (I actually ordered the grey pair but since there's no image of those on the site, I linked this post to the amber pair instead.) Boy, what a difference the glasses made! Since I'm driving to work during a time of day when the sun hasn't risen very high yet, there's a LOT of glare to deal with, and it's really been bothering my eyes. (You know the glare's bad when you already have a nice case of eyestrain when you ARRIVE at work.) Even things like the recently-fixed, and therefore smooth and surprisingly reflective, road surfaces have been causing glare. I'm glad to report that the new pair of glasses is a good solution for this problem. What a relief!

In fact, I think the glasses were why I was able to see a little patch of rainbow this morning on my way in to work. Because the back-lit, overcast part of the sky wasn't especially bright to look at, I noticed an unexpected bit of color in there at one point where the clouds seemed thin. Since I was waiting for a traffic light to turn green, I had some time to take a second look, and what do you know? It was a small section of a rainbow! Too bad I didn't have a camera handy. (Something about driving and taking pictures... they're kind of not compatible, ya know?) So I'll just have to file the memory away if I want to see that particular image again later... but it certainly was a nice little smile during the drive to work.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Well, I survived this game with what minute amounts of sanity I have still intact. The Phantoms won 3-1, but both goalies were superb. It always makes me glad to see my favorite players do well, and I had the chance to watch TWO of them play a fine game. Life is good. (Of course, I still maintain that I'd have been PERFECTLY fine with a 0-0 tie. Really, I would have. ;o) )

Anyway, after the game, I got a nice reminder of why Neil Little and Maxime Ouellet are my two favorite people in hockey.

When the game ended, I did something I'd only done once before. I went around to the back of the Spectrum, where the players' tunnel is, and where the visiting team's bus loads up. It's a huge ramp with a mega-sized garage door that would allow the bus to back all the way into the building if necessary. That door remains open while the equipment and whatnot are loaded into the bus. Visiting players walk out in order to board the bus; Phantoms players walk out in order to access their cars in the nearby players' section of the parking lot.

I went because I wanted to see Max and introduce myself as the person who was his Secret Phan when he played here. That's something I never got to do at the 2002 Phan Club banquet. Unfortunately, the trade deadline was about two weeks before the banquet, which was when everyone was going to approach their player and introduce themselves. Back then, the closest I came to introducing myself was to snail-mail the final Secret Phan package which I'd intended to deliver at the banquet, along with a letter and a printout of the photo I took with him at the Carnival a few weeks before the trade deadline.

There were a few of us Max fans out there waiting to see him. One fan, whom I'll call "J", and I had gone in on a care package for Max, too -- she went on the shopping run and put together a basket of items that Max had listed as things he likes on his Secret Phan form (such as favorite snacks, a magazine, etc.). Judging from my few experiences at the Spectrum's player tunnel, it's not uncommon for fans to wait for favorite players and give them little tokens or maybe some game pictures they've taken.

It took eons for Max to appear because he must have been catching up with half the people in the Delaware Valley after the game. Plus, according to some other Pirates who came out, he was talking to reporters. (Which reporters those would be, I would LOVE to know, because none of his comments appeared in either of the PHILLY papers this morning. The dearth of local AHL coverage makes me mad... but I digress.)

Eventually, from our vantage point outside the building, we could see Neil and Max inside the Spectrum chatting with a small group of people. We thought they might come out together, but no... Neil came out first. Max stayed behind and kept talking to whoever the people were.

I'm glad one of the other fans in our bunch (whom I'll call "K") is a mite bolder than I am about these things... it would never in a million years have occurred to me to ask Neil to let us go in the players' entrance and pose for pics with him and Max. But *she* did. Neil agreed right away and led the four of us into the building. (Just because it wasn't my idea didn't mean I wasn't willing to go along with it. LOL.)

Hence, I now have something I wished like heck I could have gotten when they both played here. And here it is... :o) Max is on the left, Neil is on the right.



After that, since Max was still talking with people, we fans made our way back out along with Neil. I told him, "Thanks so much for doing that. You're a saint". He just grinned and said, with that fun-to-listen-to Western Canadian accent of his, "Oh, no problem". :o)

We returned to where we'd been standing and waited for Max to come out, so we could give him his care package. FINALLY, Max finished chatting and exited the building. I think he was literally the last guy on the team to leave. (I can guarantee you that he was having trouble finding a seat once he finished getting doted on by fans and got on the bus -- by the time he boarded, all the guys were already set up with their pillows and other belongings. Max kept walking up and down the aisle... lol, poor baby goalie.)

We weren't the only fans who wanted to fuss over him, either, so we waited our turn. J gave him the care package and the card, to his thanks. It looked to me like he appreciated it a lot. :o) Then I approached him and said "I just wanted to say hi. My name's Donna, and I was your Secret Phan when you were here".

When he answered, "I know", I nearly fell over with surprise.

"You KNOW? How do you know?"

"You sent me a picture".

I was momentarily at a loss. I sent him a... what? When on earth...? Then I realized he was referring to the printout of the pic from the Carnival. I also realized that I sent it over a year and a half ago! Holy COW, what a memory!

At least I finally got to OFFICIALLY introduce myself, plus pay a few compliments for his recent success and tell him to keep up the great work into the bargain. Now that's what I call a productive night.

But as I wrote earlier, I also got a few concrete reminders of why these two guys are my favorite people in hockey... the one who bends a few security rules for his fans, and the one who remembers his fans from a photo he got two seasons ago. Talk about returning loyalty for loyalty! No wonder I'm a goalie junkie. :o)
Update: the score is now 2-0 Phantoms at the end of the second period, and both Neil and Max have been fabulous.

I have only one more period to survive of this anxiety-attack-on-ice. Just let my two favorite goalies get through this game and be as superb as they've been so far, and I'll be VERY relieved.
Oh, I am going to have a nervous breakdown before this game is over.

Neil Little is starting in goal for the Phantoms. Maxime Ouellet is starting in goal for the visiting Portland Pirates.

These are the two people in this universe whom I can never, ever root against for any reason, and they'e playing against one another in this game.

Mark already nudged me after seeing my reaction to a particularly dangerous Phantoms scoring chance in the first period. "Did I just hear you holler 'look out'?"

"Yeah, you did. See that score?" I pointed to the scoreboard, which at the time read 0-0. "It's welcome to stay that way as long as humanly possible. I like that score".

Well, it's now the first intermission and the score is 1-0, Phantoms. If this game remains a goalie duel, I will be heartily relieved no matter what happens. So far, so good: Neil and Max both made some fine stops during the first period.

But Karla, Al, and Mark are all on notice to call 911 if I keel over. The stress of having my two favorite people in hockey at opposing ends of the ice could prove to be too much. Aieee...

Thursday, November 20, 2003

FINALLY the road construction has cleared up enough to allow drivers on the Walt Whitman Bridge to use the ramps that connect directly to/from the Black Horse Pike. That shortens my commute even more than it already was. Now it's 11 miles on the way in, and 10.9 miles on the way home. It's great! :o)

I've been listening to Sunny 104.5 in my car. They have been playing nothing but Christmas music since shortly after my birthday. Personally, I think the middle of November is a TAD early to start with that theme... but on the other hand, I genuinely like the songs and we NEVER hear winter-related music after Christmas. As my friends and I have discussed, even songs that are winter-oriented but completely unrelated to Christmas, like Winter Wonderland and Let It Snow, vanish from the airwaves the moment Christmas is over. So to make a long story short, I'm listening to Christmas music on the radio every day.

It's kind of nice, actually. It also improves my disposition while I'm driving. It's kind of hard to make that mental leap from singing "Peace on Earth" to yelling "It's not gonna get any greener!!!" at the driver ahead of you. ;o) So I'm arriving at work with lower blood pressure these days.

Speaking of things that deserve the exclamation, "FINALLY!!!", the Verizon DSL connection is up and running at last! Happy freaking new year! I celebrated by e-mailing out some hockey game pics that I've been waiting to send to people. Man, I'd forgotten how much of a pain it is to e-mail photos with a dialup connection! One or two e-mails sent that way convinced me to just postpone e-mailing pictures until the Gremlins were evicted from the broadband connection.

It also makes it easier to upload pictures to clubphoto.com albums, which I'm going to be doing a LOT more of in the near future. I'm trying to coordinate the sharing of my hockey game pics with some of my fellow Phantoms fans who want prints, and posting them online is by far the simplest way to go. I created a clubphoto.com account specifically for hockey photos, and I'll be adding it to the list of links on the weblog ASAP.

Speaking of hockey... the Flyers are playing the Minnesota Wild. I'm going back to watching the game on TV.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Oh, my nerves.

Welcome to Gremlin Central, AKA my house. Mark and I have been trying to switch over from AOL DSL to Verizon DSL, and it's been an immense headache from Thursday until now. What's worse, the problems are STILL not resolved.

To make a lonnnng story less long: Mark got notified via e-mail on Thursday that the DSL service was set up. On Thursday night, he went to hook up the DSL modem that was sent to us by Verizon and install the software.

No dice. It wouldn't connect. He spent the entire evening on the phone with customer support. Nothing they suggested worked.

Friday night, after the Phantoms game, was more of the same... Mark spent God-knows-how-long on the phone with tech support, and the DSL connection still wasn't working.

Saturday, while I went to the Deaf Worldwide Expo with Karla, Joe J, Joe's mom Jean, Edie, and Jay, Mark remained home and made still MORE support calls. I think so far he's spoken with tech support from Verizon, Microsoft, AND Sony (the computer manufacturer). No luck.

Sunday evening, Karla and I went to the Phantoms game. Meanwhile, Karla's husband Al came over to our house and worked with Mark to try and troubleshoot. The guys finally reached the conclusion that the DSL service was never switched on by Verizon.

I swear, Mark is the only competent person who works for that freaking company! HOW THE HECK do they remember to send out an e-mail notification that the DSL service is ready, but FORGET to turn the actual service on? Arrrrrgh...

Now it's Monday. Mark called them during the workday to report what he and Al determined last night. They wanted Mark to call back from home in the evening. Fine. He did. In fact, since he got home from work before I did (which normally is not the case), he was on the phone with Verizon tech support when I arrived.

By the time I got home, the numbskull tech support person had told Mark to uninstall AOL from our computer. I want to know what in the BLEEP the AOL software had to do with anything, and why the nitwit from tech support suggested uninstalling it in the first place! But unfortunately, it was already uninstalled by the time I got home. Mark showed me where the AOL folders were saved before he removed it, but I have no idea if my favorite places are in there among the saved stuff. I fear that my entire "favorite places" list is gone, not to mention I might have to get creative in tracking down how to RESTORE the saved stuff once AOL is reinstalled on the computer.

Which, by the way, it's not put back on there yet. I am considering leaving it off the machine until the DSL is set up. That way, some other tech support moron can't suggest uninstalling it yet again.

I think I'd like to ask around amongst my list of favorite goalies, and see if any of them would like to get some frustrations out by cross-checking some sense into some tech support personnel. The goalie will feel better, and *I* certainly will feel better.

I sure hope the next thing I post involves commenting that we actually have the DSL up and running. I'm so fed up with all these problems.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

All I could think of, thanks to today's weather, was "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day". We had high-wind warnings overnight last night and all day today, as well as all kinds of traffic problems and power outages due to downed trees. The wind, including gusts up to 50 MPH, made life interesting for anyone who was walking OR driving. Pedestrians had to fight their way through strong wind gusts and every kind of airborne debris, particularly leaves. Drivers got to deal with fouled-up traffic signals, various utilities' repair trucks blocking traffic lanes, plus the visual distraction of the same flying debris that the pedestrians were dodging. I don't know how other drivers feel, but when I see a sizeable moving shape in my peripheral vision, which appears to be about to travel right in front of my moving car, my initial response is to feel somewhat startled... even if I *do* realize a moment later that what's heading across my path is merely a large cloud of dried leaves.

When I got to work, I noticed that the infamous kite, the one that'd been lodged in the tree near the parking lot for the past few weeks, appeared to be gone. It was definitely still there on Tuesday evening, when I noticed as I was leaving work that the silk was starting to get tattered. My guess is that it blew away some time during the night. I guess Charlie Brown's kite-eating tree wanted to go back to being an anonymous private citizen, which it couldn't do as long as there was a bright patch of color dangling in its branches.

The last time we had a windy day like this was my first day on this job assignment. That day, the power was disrupted to most (if not all) of Cherry Hill, including the building I work in. Guess what happened this morning? Yep... another blackout struck at about 10 AM. This time, I was trained on enough different job tasks that I was able to keep myself occupied for the 90 minutes or so that we had no electricity. So in the month I've had this assignment, I've experienced two power failures and one smoke-induced building evacuation. I swear, I'm NOT a jinx on this building, no matter how many people try to tell me otherwise. ;o)

LOL... and as I sit here writing about the power outage at work, I'm watching the Flyers/Canucks game on TV and THEY are having electrical issues in the Wachovia Center. One end of the ice has had some of the lights go out, so they are having the second intermission about five minutes early. The building management wants to figure out what's wrong and how to fix it, after which they'll tack the remaining portion of the second period onto the beginning of the third frame. At least no one can blame THAT power problem on me, 'cause I'm not there. It's still windy as all heck outside, though, so if the problems are weather-related, I won't be surprised.

Anyway, "Let's go, Flyers" -- I'm going back to watching the telecast. I hope that they can straighten out the light situation and resume the game.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

It dawned on me yesterday morning, after I got gas on the way to work, that I wouldn't have to fill the gas tank again while I was in my 30s. :o)

So far this week I've been trained on one new task regarding handling some of the incoming mail. It's something that a co-worker hasn't got time to do along with her ton of other tasks, so I'm taking it on. Believe me, that's just FINE with me. The more things I do, the more indispensible I get, and the more likely that this assignment will continue. Maybe I can even add, "and the greater the chance that this will turn into a temp-to-perm positon".

This has been an aggravating week for me, as a fan of our Phantoms alumni who are on other NHL teams. I have NHL Center Ice on digital cable, so I can watch other cities' NHL telecasts. I put the Tampa Bay Lightning game on, only to learn that the player I'd tuned in to see, Rusty Fedotenko, was a healthy scratch. I tuned in to a Buffalo Sabres game, and Andy Delmore was a healthy scratch. Both of those guys have been in a slump to start the season, which makes me feel disappointed for them. I'm hoping they get back into the lineup and turn things around soon.

But the most frustrating of all the Phantoms-alumni news was that goalie Brian Boucher isn't even *practicing* with the Phoenix Coyotes, never mind dressing for games or playing for them. I don't know what drugs the powers-that-be are on, out there in Phoenix, but if they used a few brain cells they could manage to allow all three of their goalies to practice with the team. I've watched the Flyers do it during training camp: each goalie takes turns sitting out, and all the netminders get to take part in the practice and the drills. I can't imagine what the Yotes are thinking... you don't pay a guy $2M/year to take shots on goal from the GOALIE COACH for an hour prior to the team's practice. That's ridiculous! I was furious after I read the article on azcentral.com. I'm trying to get some fans together on a couple of Phoenix and/or goalie-related mailing lists I'm. There are several Brian fans on those lists, including me, and I'm encouraging people to send Boosh some upbeat snail mail. There aren't many concrete things that fans can do to help a player or a team, but taking action to boost morale IS something we can do.

I am REALLY looking forward to tomorrow night... the Phantoms will be playing their first home game since October 19. I miss the heck out of the team and of watching live hockey. It'll be nice to see the team again. It should be a colorful game... we opened a can of goal-scoring on the Bears last Sunday in Hershey, with a 6-2 win. The Bears started gooning it up, including four fights, with about six minutes left in the game. Tomorrow there'll surely be some scores to settle. I'm betting the first fight happens within the first five minutes of the game tomorrow. IF it even takes THAT long. LOL.

Well, speaking of hockey, the Flyers/Caps are on TV, so I'll return to watching that now.

Oh, and P.S., I nearly forgot. We had a bit of an adventure at work on Halloween. Check out An adventurous Halloween to see the pics.