Saturday, August 09, 2014

Babes In The Woods

Hi, how are you? I'm well, thanks for asking. Summer good? It's been a grand one here in McLeanville, population of five. We took our annual trip to PEI and made good time for the most part. Jenn's sister was married and we ate and drank and caught up with friends and family and when the weather didn't cooperate we did what we do and made the best of it. On the way back to Tranna we stopped in Quebec City and introduced it to the kids, as much as we could anyways before a deluge of rain flooded the streets and drove us inside. They enjoyed what they saw and took the bad luck with a shrug and decided that we would come back. Back home for five days, barely enough to catch our breath, though long enough to sneak a night out with two of my oldest friends in there and then up north for a week in the bush with my folks.

Dad is 82 now and Mom is 81 and while they are slowing down they still have that elan boy do they ever. They're smart enough to know that they're getting up there and smart enough to not worry about it. They've been in the woods for six weeks now and will stay up there as long as the weather allows. The camp has been their getaway for 45 years now and it will remain so until they are no longer able to make it up there. Here's hoping for many more years, right? For them a week with their grandkids in their hidden paradise is about as good as it gets.

 I enjoy it, Jenn less so though she grins and bears it for my sake (she claims drinking helps, this is silly because drinking helps everything of course) but while she struggles with the bugs (there are a lot of bugs) and the lack of electricity and plumbing, she enjoys the campfires and canoe rides and paddle boating and all that. As for the kids well my oldest learned how to play crib (I taught the boy when we were up in June) and they tried to catch frogs and they swam and roasted marshmallows and basically ran wild for a week and what kid doesn't love that?

 We went fishing one night, fully expecting not to catch a damn thing. My buddy and I used to fish years ago in the lake and the running joke was that Ministic was Ojibwa for 'no fish here'. The boy has caught bass in the lake before, always releasing them as they have been too small. This time we motored out to an island in the bay where we had seen a lot of boats over the week. We let ourselves drift with the wind and then came back and the second time around I got a bite and a solid one at that and so I hauled in a pickerel, about two pounds or so, the biggest fish I have caught in probably twenty five years. I hauled him in, took the hook out and tossed him into the bottom of the boat.

 At which point all hell broke loose. Our oldest began to cry and shake and shouted that we had to let the poor fish go and soon THE BOY joined in. We explained that we were going to eat him and this caused the angst level to shoot through the roof. Cries of 'What would you do if something picked you up and ate you?' and 'I never knew that you would kill it' echoed over the lake, as you know sound carries over water and when we told the boy that maybe he shouldn't fish anymore as what did he expect would happen he cried out 'BUT I LOVE FISHING!'. So I guess I need to but him some hooks that have corks on the end of them, I don't know.

 So we went back to the dock with breakfast (it was fantastic) and two traumatized kids, one who is seriously considering vegetarianism (my wife, exasperated, exclaimed, WHERE DO YOU THINK BACON AND BURGERS COME FROM ANYHOW!?!??!). On top of everything our youngest, who was not fazed by the whole event came upon her grandfather later that evening, up to his elbows in fish guts as he filleted it in the kitchen. She may have said oh shit as she fled the room.

 On our final night we stumbled upstairs to the cabin after one last campfire and after putting the kids to bed we retired to the porch where our bed is and commenced fooling around. Things were going pretty well when all of a sudden a light shone in the doorway. We managed to get reasonably arranged and found our eldest, a worried look on her face. I heard noises she said. Not a howling like a wolf but like a dog yelping. Stifling laughter I brought her back to bed, assuring her that there were no wild dogs in the bush and that she was safe. Returning to our business we were doing fine and as we lay in the cool we saw a light bobbing our way again. I heard another noise she said and we asked what was it and she said I don't know it wasn't like the last but it was a steady thumping noise.

 We fell about the room laughing. Some day we'll tell her I guess.

 Last night we pulled in worn out for sure, a suitcase full of dirty clothes, smelling of campfire, bug spray, pickerel, sunscreen, filth, charred meat, camp sex and outboard motor. The yard is a jungle of weeds, the fridge is empty, the laundry is a mountain and Monday awaits with awful teeth and claws but the past month was fine indeed, so fine.


 Out of the woods and oh the news! Elliotte Friedman found Vic Ferrari and I've said it before but if you have the time check out Vic's old blog and read him and Cam Thomson and Dennis King. When I came to this corner of the internet there were five established Oiler blogs, Vic and Battle of Alberta, Covered in Oil, Mc79Hockey and Lowetide. All but the last are gone now, inactive for years or, in Tyler Dellow's case, shut down just this past week. Wonderful stuff, all of them, the community back then was smaller and while I sound like an old fogey, it was a better time, imo. I've learned so much about hockey and writing from that old gang and most importantly I have made some good friends.

 Of course the biggest news from this past week was that Tyler was hired by the Oilers. I've known Tyler for years now, he is a friend of mine. I know he is a divisive person for many but he and Amanda have always been kind and generous in my experience. If you don't like him a few words from me aren't going to convince you otherwise of course but that's the truth.

 He's a very smart man, is Tyler, and his addition to the Oilers would make me happy even if I didn't have a personal relationship with the guy. His work over the years and especially this past year where he has married video analysis with his statistical work on the blog is just top notch. If you are a fan of a team you want that team to do everything in it's power to win the Stanley Cup and Tyler will add something to the Oilers that brings them closer to that goal than they were before they hired him.

Arguments against the hire seem to be of two kinds. One is from people who don't like him. Whatever. The other is from people who somehow think that there is no value in analytics. Part of me thinks that these are trolls but reading what some of them have to say (think Steve Simmons) actually reveals them to be wilfully ignorant and those people are essentially the worst type of people.

 It has been clear for years that many (most?) NHL teams use analytics, including the most successful teams of this generation, Chicago and Los Angeles. This is a known fact, acknowledged throughout the industry. (Read up on the Dallas Stars and Jim Nill and the articles written about them this summer.) Teams use analytics and marry it with scouting and video and try and build a better mousetrap. It's a tool, a useful tool and Tyler Dellow is a guy who was in on the ground floor and has helped shape the conversation. He is smart and passionate and while he may fail, as some hope, my guess is this is only the beginning for him. I'm happy for him, as his friend and as an Edmonton Oilers' fan.