Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Holy COW! I knew hockey fights were popular, but I never in my wildest dreams expected this!

There was a major brouhaha at last Sunday's Phantoms game. The Binghamton Senators were in town, and they were leading 4-1 with 3:50 remaining in the game when all chaos broke loose. I am going to track down some links to game recaps and post them here, rather than go into it myself, but the long and short of it was that there were four consecutive line brawls, where everyone on the ice was involved in a fight. In the first two brawls, this included the goaltenders (except for Antero Niittymaki, our goalie who came into the game when Neil Little was ejected).

So, what am I surprised about? The number of visitors that my Phantoms/Senators photos on clubphoto.com received so far. The album has barely existed online for 24 hours. But I posted a link on two Flyers boards I visit, someone I shared the album with posted the link to a Phantoms e-mail discussion list, and someone ELSE (I don't know who) must have seen it in one of those three places. The unknown person posted it to a very well-known online hockey fight board, and the number of visits to the album proceeded to go straight through the roof.

I keep checking the second page of my Club Photo album and marvelling at the visitor count. I uploaded the photos almost exactly 24 hours ago, and it's already had 1850 visitors. Unbelievable! :o)

Anyway, tonight or tomorrow I'll treasure-hunt for links to recaps and the online video clip of Neil Little LITERALLY leaping into a pileup of brawling players. It's such an incredible visual that it made its way to ESPN's SportsCenter and TSN's (Canada's) Sports Centre as well. Apparently it was #3 on ESPN's "top plays of the day", and the announcer reputedly said something to the effect of "I know this is a bad lesson for the kids, but THAT... WAS... AWESOME!" LMHO!!! I sure wish I'd seen THAT evaluation. Too funny!

You go, Neil! Ya big lunatic! Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. :o)

Friday, December 26, 2003

it's the 2nd intermision of the Phantoms/Bears game. First of all, the scoreboard is impersonating the Police album "Ghost in the Machine"again -- the time keeps either getting stuck or blinking all sorts of never-before-seen characters. Second of all, Hershey's best player in the first two periods was the referee, Harry Dumas. TWICE he gave us a roughing penalty (deserved) without giving the Bear who was roughing our guy right back anything. Twice during the 5:30 time span in the first period when we were shorthanded two men, Hershey scored. GRRRRR...

Well, we now trail 2-1 and the third period will start soon. Here's hoping for a comeback by the Phantoms!
The game is now over and HOLY COW! The Phantoms opened up a can of goal scoring on Hershey, to put it mildly. We had a five-goal third period, and wound up winning 6-2! Boy, am I proud of this team. We came back from some bad shorthanded situations in the first period, and when all was said and done, the ONLY two goals we gave up both happened when we were killing 5-on-3 penalties. And even THEN, Neil made several circus saves and was saluted with "You're Unbelievable" into the bargain.

During the third period, something odd happened right after we scored the go-ahead goal. The first thing I noticed was that the linesmen went into the penalty box and talked to the off-ice officials for a few minutes. Meanwhile, the referee actually LEFT the ice surface entirely via the Zamboni entrance. At first I thought it was because the clock was acting up again, because during a delay that continued for at least 10 to 15 minutes, the Phantoms' third goal was not added to the scoreboard. Finally, Dumas came back (to boos from the crowd) went to each team's bench individually, and then the goal was registered on the scoreboard and the game resumed.

After the game, I spoke to one of the off-ice officials, and he explained what happened. Thanks to the clock being fouled up, there was an AHL official that let one of our players (Boyd Kane) out of the penalty box early. Then he scored our second goal. But it was after our THIRD goal that Hershey protested our second goal. Dumas went back to check the rules, to find out just how long of a delay there can be between a goal's being scored and its being protested. The end result was that the Phantoms were not penalized for the AHL official's error (because they have access to the correct time even when the scoreboard is messed up, like it was tonight), the protest came too late, and Boyd Kane's goal counted. Hershey was royally ticked off, which is understandable, but they proceeded to fall apart, which is an issue that their coach is going to have to address with them. S[tuff] happens, and no team will succeed if they're so fragile that it puts them completely off their game.Heck, I've seen calls go against the Phantoms and I would not find it acceptable if our team decided to just roll over and give away the game from that point forward. Didn't I just gripe a few paragraphs ago about bad officiating hurting our team? Did we quit? NO. We kept playing and we eventually took back the game. GOOD for us.

And it'll be a while between now and the next time we face Hershey. GOOD. Because if we were going to see them any time soon after this game, it might turn into a grudge match. Not only do I think they're miffed about the goal they wanted disallowed, but also we are now 6-0 vs. them this season. They're one of our biggest rivals anyway, but I think that the sight of a Phantoms logo is even LESS popular with them now than it usually is.

Go Phantoms -- beat Norfolk tomorrow the way you beat the Bears tonight. :o)

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas Eve... and I'm glad I sat in the third row of the choir tonight at the 10:00 PM Mass. That means it's less likely that anyone saw my amusement when one of our hymns was announced as "Hark the HAROLD Angels sing". I'm not sure if the person at the microphone had a brain-cramp moment or if they genuinely don't know how to pronounce herald. In any event, I'm reasonably sure that I didn't quite keep a straight face as images of a bunch of angels all named "Harold" danced through my head. :o)

One of my sisters-in-law got me a present that, little did she know, I've wanted for EONS. See, when I was in first grade, one of my classmates had a pair of gloves where each finger was a different animal. I thought they were great, and I know my mom looked in stores to see if she could find me a pair like that, but they were nowhere to be found. Tonight, the gift I got was a pair of gloves where all the fingers are different cats. :o) Oh, I flipped for them! You can guess what *I* am going to be wearing tomorrow when Mark and I visit my parents!

I'm so glad that they make neato things like that in sizes grownups can wear. This being a baby boomer, and having nostalgia-based products appearing on the market, definitely has its benefits at times. ;o)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Well, it's been an eventful week. Let's see if we can recap...

First of all, on Sunday afternoon we attended the Chalk Talk prior to the Phantoms game. This is an event for season ticket holders, where one of the coaches comes into Bullies, talks about the team, answers fans' questions and shows game video. Because the weather was bad (freezing rain), Mark and I left early to make sure we would have no trouble getting a parking place. We arrived at Bullies just as Karla and Al did, so the four of us went in together.

I was thoroughly rained on, as I hadn't used an umbrella to walk from the car to the building. I was also regretting that decision, because not only was I dripping wet, but my glasses were completely covered with rain droplets to the point where I could barely see. When I removed the glasses and fished in my pocket for a tissue to dry them, I *still* couldn't see all that well because my glasses were off. So when Karla exclaimed, "Donna!", at first I had no idea why.

Then I heard the voice I'd recognize anywhere ask, in his familiar French accent, "Do you know where the signing is?"

I thought, "OMG, that's Bernie Parent, isn't it?", and looked in the direction of the person who spoke. All I could see was a white-haired, white-bearded blur, so I hastily dried my glasses with the first thing that was available -- the hem of my hockey jersey -- and put them back on. Yep, it was Bernie (AKA the God of Goaltending), all right!

It seems that upstairs in the Spectrum itself, there was a charity hockey game going on between the Flyers Alumni team and a team for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Bernie and the person with him (who just barely registered on my radar because I was so transfixed by the fact that my childhood hero was standing in front of me) were supposed to be signing autographs at the game, but they didn't know where in the building they were supposed to report.

None of us fans knew where the signing was. I explained that we were in Bullies for a Phantoms season ticket holder event that was at the same time as the charity game. Then I added, "If you can't find the signing, you're welcome to come back down here and sit with us", to which other fans were quick to agree. :o) I guess they found the signing all right, though, because unfortunately they didn't return to Bullies once they went upstairs.

Hmm... this has been a good few weeks for goalie sightings! On November 23 I got to chat with Maxime Ouellet AND Neil Little, and last Sunday I talked to Bernie Parent. That would be my three favorite people in hockey, for those who are keeping track. I don't know what's up with my goalie karma these days, but it's welcome to stay this good for a long time. :o)

After the game, I got to chat with Melissa from the Phantoms front office. She reported that she had been able to deliver the little parcel I'd left for Neil earlier that night. His birthday is this week (today, actually), and Sunday was the final home game prior to his b-day. I wanted him to get the present, but didn't want to wait outside the Spectrum player's entrance in the rain after the game in order to get it to him. So I asked if Melissa could bring it downstairs, and she agreed to do it.

I also asked her if she'd received the pictures I'd e-mailed her of Ben Stafford's fight. She did, and not only did she really like them (especially this one, which is my favorite too), she wanted to give Ben a copy of them. She said that she'd told him she had fight pics for him, but hadn't gotten around to actually giving them to him yet. As it happened, I had a bunch of game pics with me, ones that I'd uploaded to my clubphoto.com hockey site and had printed. Most of them were of my Secret Player, which I am going to give to the Scrapbook Committee for his scrapbook, but some of the other prints included the ones I had made of the Ben Stafford fight. I'd intended to give THOSE to the Scrapbook Committee, too, for Ben's book. Instead, I told Melissa, "Hang on a minute". Then I picked out the prints of Ben's fight, and gave them to her to give to Ben. HIS birthday is December 18, too, so I figured that'd be a nice little b-day present for him.

So, Sunday was a nice hockey day... I talked to Bernie Parent and not only did the Phantoms beat our arch-rivals the Hershey Bears, but I managed to get little gifts to a pair of our birthday boys on the Phantoms.

It got even NICER when I arrived home and discovered that Maxime Ouellet had been CALLED UP to the NHL! Happy freaking New Year, now that's what I called good news! According to the Capitals discussion board that I frequent, he even stood a good chance of getting a start in goal in the very near future, because the Capitals' regular starter Olaf Kolzig was in need of a rest.

OK, then... fast-forward to Tuesday night. I was definitely glad that I'd set the VCR to tape the Caps game just in case Max was in goal. Sure enough, we got home from the Phan Club meeting in time to catch the third period of the game, and what did I see? My favorite baby goalie making a save. "OHO!", I yelled. "MAX IS IN!!!" Oh, he was in, all right. He was in a zone... he not only earned his first NHL win, but he got a SHUTOUT into the bargain. Needless to say, I promptly proceeded to dance for joy on the forum on the official Max fan site. Oh, how proud I am of him! :o) I wish he was still in the Flyers organization, but I'll be happy for his successes no matter where he plays.

Speaking of playing -- it's not easy to divide my attention between typing this post and watching the Flyers/Tampa Bay game on TV, so I am going to post this and return to watching the game for a while. I've been very migraine-prone all week, especially last night when I was in really bad shape, and my eyes need a rest from looking at computer screens for a while.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Well, I had MY adventure for the day while I was driving to work this morning.

I saw the "Ramp Work Ahead" signs on the WW bridge, and presumed they referred to the exit ramp that leads to the Black Horse Pike. Sure enough, from my vantage point on the bridge, prior to reaching the ramp, I saw what I presumed to be road-resurfacing going on. After all, there's one part of road-resurfacing that involves applying I-know-not-what, but whatever it is causes big clouds of white steam to rise from the road surface. And I certainly could see plenty of white clouds rising from the ramp. I mumbled to myself about stupid road work schedules that involve creating steam during rush hour, and made my way onto the ramp.

Shortly after I exited the bridge, I realized that the only other vehicle on the ramp was NOT performing any sort of road work. It was a car that was pulled over onto the shoulder and was ON FIRE. Two people were standing outside the car, and one was trying to aim the tiniest fire extinguisher I've ever seen into the engine block, by way of the driver's side wheel well.

It's fortunate that there was NO other traffic on the ramp at that time, because the immense white clouds emanating from the car were absolutely opaque (and, of course, the wind was directing them across the traffic lanes). But once I passed through the zero-visibility area, I caught sight of the actual construction workers, a few hundred feet away at the very end of the ramp. They were leaning over the concrete divider and watching with interest as the smoke rose from the car. I'm sure they'd have been even more interested if they could see the guy on the other side of the smoke cloud, who was trying to put the fire out with the dollhouse-prop-sized extinguisher. None of them appeared to be making a move toward either assisting the people at the scene or contacting help.

In fact, there was no evidence that assistance was on its way from ANY direction. So as soon as I reached the Black Horse Pike, I pulled into a parking lot and dialled 911. (What did we do before cell phones became widely available?) When I described the location of the car fire, they told me that help was en route to the scene. Good. I'm glad to know that someone had already called 911. It's better that 911 get a bunch of calls for the same emergency than for everyone to think "Well, SOMEONE will call, so I don't have to".

In any event, I believe I've satisfied my Minimum Daily Requirement for adventure for today, and I'm quite ready to have a nice peaceful rest-of-the-day.

Friday, December 05, 2003

"Let it Snow", MY FOOT! Whoever said that oughta have the partridge in the pear tree lay an egg on their hat!

Let's backtrack. I suppose I should begin by mentioning that, although I got my car in 1991, I have always been able to take public transportation to work between then and now. Therefore, I have only had to drive in the snow twice. Once was several years ago when Karla and I were interpreters-in-training. The weather was clear (though overcast) that morning, so we drove up to the church in Norristown where we assisted the interpreter twice a month. At some point during the Mass, it began to snow, so I had to drive home through snow. The other time was one Christmas night several years ago; again, there was no snow when I left the house to go to Joe M's for a Christmas get-together, but there were flurries falling by the time I departed for home.

Considering that the more recent of these two episodes happened about 10 years ago, you can imagine how thrilled I wasn't about the prospect of driving to NJ this morning with wet snow falling.

I discovered a few interesting things before I even got in the car. Such as, there's a right way and a wrong way to clean the darn snow off the car. The process this morning went something like this:

- remove snow brush from trunk
- clean rear window (which is large, as the car is a hatchback)
- clean passenger side rear view mirror
- clean passenger side windows
- clean passenger side rear view mirror AGAIN while mumbling curses under breath
- clean driver's side windows
- clean driver's side rear view mirror
- clean windshield
- stow brush in trunk
- get in car

The first thing I discovered was that I should have cleaned the rear window LAST, not first. By the time I was done brushing off everything else, a film of snow had begun to accumulate on the rear window. But I was already cold and wet, and didn't feel like getting back out of the car, so I let the rear-window defroster handle the job.

The second thing I noticed was that as I was driving, egg-sized clumps of snow (which was mixed with rain) were detaching from the snow on the car's roof and slowly sliding down my rear window. Oh, joy. Note to self: next time, clean the freakin' car roof, too.

Fortunately, except for a nasty frosted-over off-ramp from the Walt Whitman Bridge, just about all the other roads between home and work were not in bad shape. Visibility was another story, though -- too bad there are no plows or salt to improve *that*. But everything was basically OK right until I reached the parking lot at work, which hadn't been plowed yet...! AAAH, CRUD!

So I slowly drove through the lot, none too happy about the unfamiliar creaking-wet-snow noises emanating from under my tires (did I mention I haven't driven through snow in ten years?) until I got to something that resembled empty parking spaces. I say "resembled" because the lines in the parking lot were all buried and I had to play "guess the boundaries of the empty space" before pulling into one. Hooray, I made it! Put car in park, turn off lights, wipers, and ignition, get bags together, get out of car. By the time I had the car door closed and locked, a glaze of wet snow had already formed on the windshield and rear window. Sheesh.

Work closed at 1 PM today, due to the weather conditions, so out the door I went to reverse this whole process and go home. When I got to my car, I saw that Karla, who'd parked in an adjacent space, was already in the process of cleaning her car off. I observed to her that maybe I'd like this weather better if I had a one-horse open sleigh. She finished before I did, and left while I was still brushing off my car. I did remember to clean the snow off the roof AND to save the rear window for last.

On the way home, I was waiting at a red light when I saw a red pickup truck on the opposite side of the road. He stopped for the red light, too, but apparently he did so a bit too abruptly. All the snow on his truck's roof went SLIIIIIIDING forward until it completely covered his windshield. There was so much snow, and it was so heavy and wet, the windshield wipers couldn't even budge. Good thing he was at a red light and traffic was stopped anyway, because he had to get out and clean that mess away manually. I had to laugh. Geeeee, I sure was glad I'd cleaned MY roof. ;o)

I also had to smile at someone's whimsical humor. On my way home, I passed a fire hydrant which had accumulated a large round clump of snow atop it. I noticed that someone had used their finger to draw a smiley face in the nearly-spherical clump of snow. I don't know who did it, but I appreciated their artwork. :o)

That's more than I can say for the way Mother Nature conducts her snowball fights. The precipitation was changing over from snow to rain; all those majestic trees, whose branches extend over Kings Highway like a canopy, were randomly dropping BIG clods of slush onto cars and pedestrians. No fair! When I was a kid, the rules of snowball fighting included prohibitions against ice chunks and slushballs. Mother Nature wasn't playing by the rules. I don't wanna snowball fight with her any more. >:o(

Anyway, I made it home without any misadventures. I'm STILL thawing out, and I think I need a dose of hot chocolate. And as for this weather... whoever thinks THIS is a winter wonderland needs their head examined.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

This morning I parked facing the park (no pun intended) across the street from the building where I work. I happened to be looking directly at a softball field when I turned off the ignition.

The first thing that caught my eye was an ENORMOUS hill of sand that appears to be smack in the middle of the ballfield. It's got to be at least six feet high. Either it's the biggest pitcher's mound in history, or they're about to start renovating the ballfield during the off-season.

That pile of sand might just start looking like a pile of snow in a few hours, though... we're supposed to have some accumulation of snow tonight. UGH, just what I need, to drive through snow in the morning. I hope the roads aren't a mess. (And in any event, I'd rather do THIS drive to NJ in winter weather than that frightful commute to Norristown.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Remember the rocket scientist who spelled part of his own company's name wrong on the insurance application? This afternoon I got another application that needs to be filed in the "How's that again?" category.

The moment I saw the business's address, I thought something was wrong. I couldn't imagine that anyone would name a town "Merden", CT... Connecticut is much too close to the Canadian border, and that name is WAY too similar to a French swear word. I felt that the name on the application HAD to be a mistake.

Sure enough, I looked up the ZIP code and discovered that the business is located in MERIDEN, CT. Now that name makes MUCH more sense!

I e-mailed this finding to Karla, whose response was that maybe the applicant had Merden for brains. LOL! Yeah, I think so, too.