25 Apr

Random Thoughts – Curse of the Pen Center, Painful Defeats and More

1. In their third year of a major rebuild, the IceDogs had seemingly put all the pieces together for a championship run. After solidifying their roster with some late-season rentals, they had capped off a wildly successful regular season by winning their division and finishing second in the East. In the first round of the playoffs, they breezed through North Bay like a hot knife through butter, then took the first two games at home of their second-round series against Oshawa. Everything appeared to be going according to plan.

Then something happened.

Getting into the playoff spirit, as they normally do at this time of year, the team organized fan bus trips to Oshawa for Games 3 and 4. Except that instead of leaving from a central location such as the Meridian Center or the Jack, as they had done in past years, or from Fairview Mall, conveniently located just off the QEW, they made fans go all the way out to the Pen Center, in the opposite direction of where they were traveling and in the extreme south end of the city. To quote one loyal reader, “That’s just stupid.”


Those loyal supporters who were able and/or willing to make the artificially and unnecessarily long trek out there saw their team drop both games in Oshawa. Then back home, before a nearly full house in Game 5, the IceDogs lost again, setting up a do-or-die Game 6 in Oshawa.

On short notice, the team organized another fan bus trip. Which was leaving, once again, from the Pen Center.

The rest, as they say, is history. This would-be Memorial Cup contender saw its season end having won only one more playoff game than they did a year earlier when they weren’t expected to make much noise in the postseason. Ouch.

Worse yet, they won’t get another chance next year with this group as many of the players will be moving on to bigger and better things in the world of pro hockey. One of those departing rent-a-players was a veteran they acquired from the same Oshawa team that put a premature end to their title run in exchange for a bushel of draft picks. Talk about dressing an open wound with salt.

Maybe it won’t quite end up like the Curse of the Bambino, but the Curse of the Pen Center might end up haunting this team for a couple of years down the road.

2. The Game 6 loss in Oshawa marked the end of overage goaltender Stephen Dhillon’s junior career. I had seen how, with playing time after sitting out much of his first two years, Dhillon had developed from a raw prospect who looked like a fish out of water into one of the best and most dependable goaltenders in junior hockey. Best of luck to him as he moves on and if there’s a pro team looking for a potential late bloomer to take a flier on, Dhillon might be your man.

3. Let the record reflect that this is the first season post-defection in which I did not attend a single IceDogs game at home or on the road.

4. Methinks the IceDogs are, shall we say, falling into the trap of taking their customers’ patronage a little too much for granted. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s the feeling I get. They do have a solid base of fans who will jump through their hoops and do it with a smile, but unlike the Leafs, there’s not enough of them to pay the bills.

5. I have no real dog in the fight, but I’m sorry for those in this part of the world grieving the Leafs’ playoff loss to Boston. Again. I cannot, however, express the same sentiments about the loss the team in my former home city recently experienced. As I posted publicly on social media, “Can I get a ‘Let’s Go Blues’”?

6. I find it interesting how some of those in my former home city who are speaking out against the recent $12 million subsidy grocery giant Loblaws got from the feds don’t seem to have a problem with the annual stipend of $14.1 million Mark Chipman hoovers out of their wallets to fund the purchase and operation of the former Atlanta Thrashers franchise.

7. Let the record reflect that the team generally managed by Don Waddell, perhaps the worst living NHL general manager past or present, has advanced farther in the Stanley Cup playoffs than the team generally managed by Mark Chipman.

8. While talking to a fellow cyclist at the Welland Transit Terminal yesterday and telling him about my bus-bike trips across the river, he asked, “I guess you need ID for that?” Yeah, I think CBP might want to see some ID when you go through the border crossing. Maybe. Best to be on the safe side and bring it just in case. Better to be safe than sorry.

18 Apr

On the Bus to Hamilton

Highlights from yesterday’s bus trip to and from Hamilton:

1. Free bread by the bus stop at Fairview Mall:

2. At Beamsville, our bus was following a truck pulling what was labeled as a “live bottom trailer.” As opposed to a dead one?

3. After getting to Stoney Creek, seated across from me on the Barton bus was someone with a sweatshirt from Thrasher skateboarding magazine. The same magazine that engaged the Atlanta Thrashers in what would become the first of many legal entanglements for the NHL franchise Manitoba taxpayers were eventually forced to purchase.

4. As said Barton bus began to fill up, a hotshot seated nearby refused to move her Calvin Klein purse from the seat next to her. Somehow I doubt she paid an extra fare for the purse.

5. Oddly, there was only one stroller on the way in, but on the return trip, there were two, along with a cart and a walker. Two-, three- and four-wheeled accompaniments and the Barton bus do, after all, go hand in hand.

6. When the driver hit a bump, one guy seated at the back spilled his Tim Hortons coffee all over the window, his bags and the guy in front of him. Plenty of it also made the floor and kept running down the aisle all the way to the back door. He kept blaming the driver, but he has to take the responsibility himself. Even Stevie Wonder can quickly figure out that Barton Street is pretty rough.

7. Seated across the aisle was a woman who:

i. Had been hospitalized for bi-polar and other mental issues.
ii. Paid $70 for the silver mood ring on her finger. She knows it’s real silver from the number imprinted on the inside of the ring.
iii. Takes the train to visit her girlfriend, a hockey player who is a goalie, in Whitby every month.
iv. Plans those visits near the end of the month to coincide with her ODSP payment. Which begs the question as to how a welfare case knows so much about whether or not a ring is real silver.
v. Still has wet hair after just getting out of the shower.
vi. Has a twin brother who has been in jail in Hamilton. He’s a good kid, she says, he just steals cars. This brother who now lives in Sarnia can’t have much sugar because he gets too hyper.

The things you learn from people on the bus.

8. Care for your memory?

9. Despite his plummeting popularity, Justin Trudeau has a street named after him in Hamilton:

10. Parking fail:

11. This “gender neutral” bathroom at Lime Ridge Mall isn’t a sign of progress in my books:

12. Is there such a thing as a non-financial credit union?

13. Seated in front of me on the return trip was a young woman checking out potential mates on an online dating site. She took an interest in a 29-year-old and a 30-year-old, both of whom were likely nearly a decade older than her, then proceeded to scroll through several pages worth of her profile pictures on Facebook. Before getting off with her friend, she was lamenting having to stoop to taking a job somewhere. My heart bleeds for the poor girl. Or not.

11 Apr

Things I’ve Learned from the Liberals

Things I’ve learned from the federal Liberals since they came to power:

i. Paying a tax to Justin Trudeau will save the planet, make life more affordable for me, lessen my risk of getting a heart attack and diabetes and improve my mental health.

ii. Suggesting our borders be defended makes me un-Canadian.

iii. Being alarmed at the prospect of an army of bureaucrats at Statistics Canada combing through my banking transactions, complete with all the personal information a growing identity thief needs, for no other reason than justifying their own jobs makes me “anti-data.” Whatever that is.

iv. I am heartless for suggesting that the Canadian government should be putting the needs of Canadians ahead of people in third-world countries.

v. I should be more understanding when the same government that gives $10 million to a terrorist cries poverty when veterans who have spilled blood in service of their country ask for benefits.

vi. Believing that immigration is a privilege rather than a basic human right makes me a racist and a white supremacist.

vii. Opposing any other form of Liberal policy also makes me a racist and a white supremacist, and as such, my constitutional right of freedom of expression should be forcibly denied. Furthermore, making this opposition to Liberal policy and its leader public makes me subject to being sued.

03 Apr

Reunion in the Universe’s Center

Highlights from yesterday’s visit to the universe’s center:

0. The purpose of the trip was to reconnect with a good friend and former colleague who recently followed in my footsteps and defected from the SPRM to Ontario. It was nice to see him after nearly a five-year absence and I hope to again make our get-togethers a regular habit, as was the case in the Old Country.

1. When walking down the street just after leaving the house, one of the two-wheeled scavengers who check for buried treasure on garbage day passed by. He needs to lube his chain in the worst way.

2. Seated across the aisle from me was a big, fat dude who I’ve seen regularly on the bus. A heavy smoker who doesn’t miss an opportunity, however small, to sneak in a puff, he was panting and wheezing the whole time he was awake, and from the sound of it, his lungs must look like he had inhaled a bucket of tar. This is someone who needs a serious intervention from family and friends before it’s too late.

3. Perhaps somewhat fittingly, given the occasion, I spotted two trucks from the SPRM at Beamsville, and another pair at the Nash and Barton stop. In addition, someone had a Chipman-logoed bag plainly visible from the back of his SUV. As another good friend of mine would say, “Loser!”

4. Blubber is seemingly always on display, and this heavyweight was packing plenty of it into clothing several sizes too small:

To fully appreciate the experience for yourself, listen to the following video as you picture her waddling across the parking lot at Nash and Barton.

5. Dear Metrolinx: How many years will it take to replace the broken Presto balance checker at Burlington? And how many more years will we have to wait before the Presto machines at Fairview Mall are installed?

6. Before my Lakeshore West train departed Appleby, the customer service ambassador announced, “Standclearofthedoorsthedoorsarenowclosing.” It’s 10 words, not one.

7. A young woman in her mid-20s wearing far too much makeup, lipstick and mascara took a seat opposite me at Bronte and instantly made me regret not packing a gas mask as she must have been marinating in some spicy perfume overnight. As I tried to stop coughing, she spent much of the ride to Union playing with her long, black hair, thinking she was pretty hot stuff. I think there was only one person within sniffing distance who shared that opinion.

8. One guy seated across the aisle was paying her no attention, and instead, his head was back fast asleep with his mouth open catching flies. Perhaps it was the toxic fumes that put him into such a deep sleep.

9. 99 plastic water bottles on the wall …

10. The leftists have even taken over cleaning systems …

11. Spotted in the washroom at Eaton Center was a bag with “Good Things Inside” plastered on it perched on the ledge above a guy doing his business at the urinal. You can’t make stuff like this up. You just can’t.

12. Inside the underground walkway were a number of women who were showing off the obvious results of surgery to enlarge certain body parts which come in pairs.

13. For the second time, I had an issue with the TTC Presto gate at Union, and both times, it had come just after a recent fare load. Since I know they’ve been having issues with those gates, maybe it’s a coincidence, but maybe it’s not.

14. Mooooo ….

15. Scene inside Brookfield Place:

16. Parking fail:

17. When leaving the platform at Burlington on the return trip, our bus driver suddenly stopped about a half-block before the light at Fairview Street and waited there for a couple of minutes. Then she jerked forward a few feet and waited a while longer. When she did ultimately pull out of the terminal, she made a right turn on red and royally cut off a black Jeep. Driving the biggest vehicle on the road isn’t a license to act like a jerk.

Then when we got to Nash and Barton, rather than pull up at the stop, she pulled ahead a few feet, partially blocking the entrance to the adjacent strip mall. Act like a professional instead of a Winnipeg Transit wannabe.