Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Energy Conservation

Authorities in Ontario are asking people to use air conditioning sparingly to reduce the pressure on the power grid during the present heat wave. When exactly should we use our air conditioning - November?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

From the Couch: Balsillie Behaviour

As a non-hockey fan, following the NHL's dithering over Jim Balsillie's attempted Nashville Predator purchase has been fun. At first I thought it would be impossible for the Board of Governors to refuse the RIM co-founder's offer, but increasingly it's looking like Skeelo's prediction that his in-your-face style, and the commissioner's bruised ego, may deep-six the deal. Hard to believe that hurt feelings are worth walking away from over $230 million, risking a possible lawsuit from Balsillie, and an anti-trust investigation.

This whole time, I keep wondering why, after almost twenty years, the NHL hasn't figured out what CFL learned in less than five - that sports, like food and toilets, is a tough cultural export.

Monday, June 18, 2007

McGuinty to Ban Pollution

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2014.

He also promised to close all coal-fired generating stations by this year, roll back Highway 407 tolls, stop public-private hospital partnerships, and not raise taxes.

Given the value the premier assigns to honesty, he may as well have promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6 percent below 1690 levels. While he's at it, he should promise free beer on Victoria Day and a day off for everyone on their birthday.

Update: According to the Globe & Mail, McGuinty's response to critics who called him on his broken coal plant promise was that "it will be more difficult to wriggle out of his latest promise because it will have the force of law". Funny how the "force of law" didn't stop him from breaking the balanced budget law.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ken Hobart Tribute III

In 1989 the state of football in Ottawa couldn't have been any worse. It had been eight years since the Rough Riders had been to the Grey Cup and thirteen years since they'd won it. Coming off Super Season '88, when they managed to win only two games, the desperate team hired marketing superstar Jo-Anne Polack as general manager. Polack poached free agent Damon Allen from Edmonton where he couldn't escape the long shadows of Matt Dunigan and Tracy Ham. Allen as saviour became the focus of Polack's "Rider Rage" marketing campaign, along with running back Orville Lee and kicker shanker Dean Dorsey. 1989 also saw the arrival of one of the worst coaches ever to pace a CFL sideline, Steve Goldman.

The Riders were en route to a Super Season '88 sequel, with a 2-11 record, when Allen went down with torn ligaments in his throwing hand. With two games left in the season, the Riders' record was 2-14, back-up Willie Gillus was injured, stop-gap Tony Kimbrough had proven hopeless, and a defensive back had been taking snaps from centre. Polack went searching for hope to salvage "Rider Rage" and it came in the form of Ken Hobart. As he had done at Idaho and in Hamilton, Hobart stepped up to beat Winnipeg in back-to-back games, Ottawa's first consecutive wins in half a decade and doubling Ottawa's win total.

The next season, every time Damon Allen faltered, the "Ho-bart" chants rained down from Lansdowne Park's south side upper deck where Byron Smith, "President of the Southsiders for Life", whipped up the ham 'n eggers into an anti-Allen frenzy. Frustrated watching the hapless Allen, Hobart would stir the crowd by donning his helmet and warming up on the sidelines. Goldman, who had never wanted Hobart back for the 1990 season, made the worst of many bad decisions when he released the fan favourite. For the 1991 season, Ken Hobart was back home in Idaho, Allen threw 31 picks, and Goldman was canned after four games, but the southsiders were relentless with their chants of "Ho-bart". To this day fans torment Allen with these heckles.

Despite only starting for one year and being active for less than five, Hobart concluded his CFL career as the leader among quarterbacks in rushing.

Today Ken Hobart lives in Lewiston, Idaho, with is wife and three children where he sells billboard advertising and real estate. He remains active in football as the colour commentator for University of Idaho Vandals' football and supervising the development of his son Zack, a quarterback himself.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Imagining the Freedom

I came up three numbers short for Wednesday's Lotto 649 $40 million jackpot. Had I won, after making the appropriate disbursements to friends and family, I would have picked up the following:

  1. Chevrolet Silverado
  2. Simmons Sea Skiff
  3. A farm in the Madawaska Highlands
  4. The Airstream trailer for sale at Highway 7 & Ferguson Falls Rd.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rant: Business Words

I've recently discovered a hideous term: buy-off. This awkward combination of "buy-in" and "sign-off" is used in the following manner, "we'll need buy-off from three people before we can send the document".

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Six Blind Mice

Am I the only one who thinks that a table of six professional poker players, all wearing wrap-around sunglasses, looks like gaming night at the Perkins School for the Blind?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ken Hobart Tribute (II)

Following his success at Idaho, Ken Hobart rode the bench in 1984 for the USFL's Denver Gold, throwing for a touchdown and 576 yards, and rushing for another 160 yards and a touchdown. In the NFL supplemental draft that year, Hobart was drafted 10th overall by the New York Jets, ahead of future NFL stars Ricky Sanders, Gary Clark, and Mel Gray.

Although he later regretted the decision, Hobart never took a snap in the NFL, landing in Hamilton for the 1985 CFL season where he lit up the league as a rookie. Rushing for an unprecedented 928 yards, he won the Jeff Russell Memorial Trophy for the most outstanding player in the eastern division. To this day, Hobart shares the record for most touchdown passes in a playoff game, having thrown five on November 17, 1985 in a win over Montreal in the eastern final. In a championship loss to the BC Lions, Hobart never quit, scrambling for his life and throwing three touchdowns.

Hobart was replaced by Mike Kerrigan the next season, but took home a Grey Cup ring as a member of that championship team, playing a couple of series late in the game. Eventually Hobart was cut loose by the Ti-Cats and bounced around, stopping in Regina long enough for a cup of coffee before returning to Idaho for what he thought was the quiet life of a retired CFLer in the American west.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Blogrolling: Three Beautiful Things

Three Beautiful Things is a catalogue of observations and experiences that make Clare Grant feel good. Clare, an English writer, has described over 3,000 beautiful things since starting the blog in 2004. Aside from the appeal of an optimistic site in a medium that otherwise tends toward ranting and raving, this blog is a cut above the rest thanks to the elegance of Clare's writing - both its expression and its simplicity. Here are 3BT's in the Parking Lot today:

  1. Overwhelming relief, discovering that a certain orange cat had not escaped through a door left ajar by movers.
  2. Seagulls waddling obliviously from right- to centre-field at Comerica Park in Detroit.
  3. The sweating can of Bud Light waiting for me in the fridge.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Everything I Love: The Green Valley Restaurant

One of the highlights of visiting my grandparents in Ottawa as a child was dinner at the the Green Valley on Prince of Wales Drive. Before it was destroyed by fire on New Year's Eve a few years ago, the Green Valley served the best continental menu on... well, the continent, for almost seventy years. For an eight year-old, it was the best of everything - the quiet evening drive through the Experimental Farm, past the barns where my grandfather and I had visited the animals earlier in the day, exploring the gift store's toy section while we waited for our table, a Shirley Temple cocktail with a plastic monkey hanging from the rim, the monster cheeseburger and thick-cut fires, and - of course - the Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae with green maraschino cherry eyes staring up at you as you dug in.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rant: Starbucks Employee at Tim Horton's

There are two things that a Tim Horton's employee must be able to do: distinguish between milk and cream, and make change. Thus, it's with great irritation that, from time-to-time, I overhear Tim Horton's cashiers like the guy at Bedford and Bloor:

“Oh you wanted a small chocolate milk, oh you’ll have to excuse me - too much punk music... The triple chocolate donut? I’m sorry, that was a one-month special, we’re now offering our caramel cappuccino donut, which I just die for, but I swore it off a week ago.”
Banter is not in the job description.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Attawa Senators

Seriously, somebody in San Jose found this blog today by searching for (the presently imploding) "Attawa Senators". My tutorial on the pronunciation of the city's name can be found here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Reminiscing: Simon & Simon

I haven't watched or read anything lately to review so, instead, I'm offering an uplifting blast from the past - one of the three best television introductions of all-time - Simon & Simon. How come fun shows like this were left in the 1980s? If anyone wants to go halves with me on a Power Wagon and start a private detective agency, please email me at the address on the sidebar.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Toronto FC

I endured a sweltering Saturday afternoon at BMO Field to see the Toronto FC edge the Colorado Rapids for the new team's third victory. As a non-soccer fan I was pretty skeptical going in, but I walked away impressed with the game and the show surrounding it.

BMO Field is a spectator's facility with great sight lines - even if the seat spacing is a bit intimate for my liking. The concessions look promising, although nobody was ordering meat pies in Saturday's forty-degree heat and I don't care what anyone says, nothing but nothing is as refreshing as ice cold light beer, which was nowhere to be found among the many Euro-brews.

The game itself was riveting, with plenty of action packed into a quick two hours, though I'd caution other neophytes to go with someone versed in the game to answer questions. Without a doubt, the show's highlight is the whistle-to-whistle energy of the fans, particularly those chanting and singing in the stadium's south end. Truth be told, I felt like a Presbyterian at a Catholic wedding - a tad unnerved with all the ritual and imported tradition.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ken Hobart Tribute (I)

To celebrate the opening of Canadian Football League training camps this week, the Parking Lot is pleased to pay tribute to a long-forgotten, but half-decent quarterback, Ken Hobart.

Before Damon Allen was professional football’s all-time leading passer, he was a hapless goat who threw enough interceptions to make him a pariah among Ottawa Rough Rider fans in his first season with the team in 1989. Later that season, from the potato patches of Idaho, Ken Hobart emerged as the saviour for the ham 'n eggers sitting in the south side stands at Lansdowne Park by winning two games, thus doubling Ottawa's wins for a respectable 4-14 season. Long after Hobart had returned to the simple life in Lewiston, Idaho, Southsiders would dog Allen with extended moans of "Ho-bart, Ho-bart". The Southsiders, originality not their strong suit, continued hurl this epithet at Allen's successors who had no idea what they were referring to.

Although it's his off-the-tractor performance in 1989 that many of us remember, Ken Hobart was more than just a flash-in-the-pan back-up. He was a natural athlete and leader who came through for his teams, making do with the situations given to him. As a walk-on at the University of Idaho, Hobart established himself as a prolific running quarterback in coach Jerry Davitch's option-play offense. When Davitch was replaced by Dennis Erickson and his spread passing offense, many wondered whether Hobart, who had barely thrown the ball under Davitch, could keep his starting role. Quickly adapting to the new Vandals' offense, Hobart emerged as a talented passer, being named All-American in 1983 en route to becoming only the second player in NCAA history to pass for 10,000 yards, setting 12 Division I-AA records, and crushing rival Boise State 45-24. Today, the "Kamiah Kid" is ranked the 45th greatest athlete from Idaho by Sports Illustrated.

Click here for Ken Hobart Tribute (II), the Grey Cup years.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blogrolling: Fishing Jones

Fishing Jones is one of the web's premier fishing blogs, doubling as therapy for Pete McDonald, a self-confessed fishing addict. As a technical editor for Boating Magazine, Pete's extensive travels give him many fishing adventures to share, be them in Bimini, Alabama, or Michigan. While he works in New York where he chases bluefish and albacore tuna off Long Island, Pete's home waters are in Florida and his most passionate posts are ones where he recounts trips to his secret peacock bass locations. One of the dangers in reading Fishing Jones is that Pete will periodically post videos that'll make you wish you were fishing for blue marlin instead of sitting in that meeting that starts in ten minutes.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Everything I Love: River Fishing

The Iv'y Rod & Gun Club assembled yesterday on the banks of the mighty Grand River at Caledonia, a town known as much for its indian wars as for its warm-water fishery. We all played our part yesterday - me stomping around mid-stream to spook the fish, RG catching every tree in Haldimand County on his back casts, Uncle Alec sleeping in the dirt like a true trout bum, and Pastor T actually catching fish. Though our quarry was catfish and we kept catching (and releasing) out-of-season smallmouth bass, the fact that my wild false casting didn't put a fly in my ear made this adventure as an unqualified success.