Monday, February 09, 2015

1979 or We Don't Even Care .....

 I wonder what happened one day. Did an eight year old boy tell his parents that he was going to head over to his buddy's a couple of streets over and they said no and then that buddy's parents caught wind of this idea and thought that is a good idea and next thing you know the entire neighbourhood went silent and every kid under twelve was being ferried from playdate to activity to school by his parents.

 When I was a kid if I walked out of my driveway and turned left I would walk a couple of short blocks and get to school. I walked by myself right from Grade One. Along the way I could turn left and one of my buddies lived a short jog that way. If I went a bit further and crossed a fairly busy street I would be in a wooded rocky area that abutted the community college. We would go there quite often, in the summer and spring and fall we would explore and play games and hide our porn, in the winter we would go sliding.

 If I turned right from my folks' place and went to the end of our street and crossed the street there and cut through a yard I would be in the bush, plain and simple. It was mostly scrub, not as wooded as the other area but it went for miles and miles, forever really, you could walk north until forever and here on the edge of town it was scrub brush and marsh and a few small ponds and rugged rocks. We would roam the hills for hours and the blueberry picking was pretty damn good.

 Or I would turn left before I hit the edge of town, which was just a dozen houses north of my parents' house and if I did this in winter I could see the lights of the outdoor rink a couple of streets away and hear the thud of pucks against the boards. I had a few pals who lived this way and sometimes we met at the rink and sometimes we met at their place to play road hockey or hang out in their basements, one of the guys had an older brother, he smelled of cigarettes and had a muscle car he bought with money he made bagging groceries at the A&P and sometimes he would let us hang out downstairs listening to the latest album he had, he was into Kiss and Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and all that good stuff.

 My parents were (and are) lovely people, caring and concerned and strict when it came to rules and curfews and yet once homework was done I was out the door and expected to make my own fun and take care of myself. When I was 6 or 7 years old!


 Our oldest turned eleven in the fall and we have been loosening the reins, so to speak. We'll leave her home alone for an hour at a time, she walks to and from school with a friend and has been allowed to go for lunch with her pals as well. And suddenly this past couple of weeks we have gone full Hemingway (Hemingway and his first wife would leave their baby alone in their apartment while they went out in the evenings and got sauced. Well okay, not full Hemingway.).

 It has been snowing here for a couple of weeks. Not like they have gotten out east where they have four feet on the roofs in PEI but just steady daily flurries. The park one street over has a couple feet of snow and the hill there (the park has a lip on it, the edge of an ancient river valley apparently, the water has gone underground now though when it rains heavily the area turns into a swampy morass) has been perfect for sledding, considering that two winters ago the kids got out once (!) it has been pretty great for them.

 Our oldest goes over with her friends daily, much to the boy and our youngest's chagrin. And then last week one of the neighbour kids, he's twelve, came knocking to see if the kids wanted to have a snowball fight. I gave it some thought, I can't believe that I even had to do this, and gave it the ok and the kids whooped and piled out the door to make snow forts and play with other kids, not an adult to be found. The next night he came back and asked if they wanted to go sledding. We said no to our youngest (she was pissed) and yes to the boy who gave an actual fist pump and stormed out the door with his sister and their friend. He got to the hill to find it swarming with other kids he knew, when he came back, grinning like a madman, I asked him if he enjoyed traveling back to 1979.


 I have no idea what to say. We walk or drive our youngest two kids to school and the schoolyard is flooded with parents. When I was a kid parents were nowhere to be seen.

 I know it's crazy. I do. Seriously. And Jenn does too, though she is loathe to admit it. And we are probably more permissive with this stuff than a lot of people we know (though there are others who are more old school for sure).

 Why are we like this? What happened? Of course it's media and the internet and all of that, a child disappears in Montreal and everybody with a phone is aware of it immediately and the coverage is overwhelming, back in the day we had a local paper and two TV stations that ran news at dinner and then again at 10pm or so. We are inundated with 'news' now and while it is irrational we have become frightened, just as now any snowstorm is a major disaster that will wipe us off of the face of the planet and jihadists lurk in every dingy suburban apartment.

 We're irrational. We know that we are more likely to meet our end at the hands of, well anything, than a terrorist bomb, but we let governments suction up our rights left right and centre because we are afraid. (How many people were killed by guns in the US last year? And I don't mean this as a political statement. Hundreds? Thousands? How many by terrorist bombs? It's mental.)

 Sorry, I rarely delve into politics here, if ever, but it's crazy right? As the boy says sometimes to my wife and his sisters, we're just animals that can talk. Ever try and reason with a Boston Terrier? I have this week and it's going nowhere. Right now he is burrowed under the blankets on our bed, same as every night.

 He's a smart one. The boy, not the dog. We're crazy, even the most rational of us has a tinge of madness to us. How else would you explain us locking our kids away?


 And how else would you explain MacTavish's latest 'plan'? Petry is a goner, the best defenceman the Oilers have and like Perron right in his prime. Apparently the Oilers offered him multiple years last year but how long and at how much we don't now though based on how they have always undervalued him I would bet LOWBALL would be accurate and even if not who would blame Petry deciding to see how the grass is on the other side because in this case it's definitely greener.

 Christ even in the franchise bumfight I watched Saturday night the Leafs have been head and shoulders above the Oilers for the last decade and believe me living in Toronto I can tell you there is no bigger bunch of sad sack losers than the Leafs. Except for Edmonton.

 So of course Perron and Petry want out and Ales Hemsky finally said enough is enough. The Oilers are LOSERS, just look at the last decade. Why would you play there if you didn't have to?

 And so what is MacT's plan for next year, nine years out and counting. Petry will be gone. Klefbom, who looks like a beauty but has only a handful of games under his belt (ask Marincin how quickly things can go off the rails) will apparently play with Norris who is definitely maybe going to have a career as a soft minutes third pair guy. Mark Fayne will get to drag Nikita Nikita around with him and will probably cry himself to sleep every night wondering where he went wrong (hint - you signed in Edmonton buddy). And Andrew Ference will get to break in a rookie.

 So take this year's D, an absolute gong show, remove the best man on the unit and replace him with a rookie.

 Now one has to think MacT is just taking the piss here. We know that Seabrook and Oduya will be available, the former as a salary dump (bye Marincin) and that's just for starters, with the cap barely going anywhere and team after team strapped there are going to be quality Dmen available.

 He knows that right?




Murat said...

I'm not a parent but I hope to be one someday. (Don't laugh, Pat!)

The amount of planning that goes into a kid's life today confuses me quite a bit. I spend a lot of time wondering how a parent is supposed to provide safe, enjoyable opportunities for "non-organized play" vis-a-vis today's hyperaware, hyperscared culture. Does a kid benefit more from being given a stick and a puck and hours to play with them or from having 60 games of summer hockey and 2 powerskating sessions per week? I can't help but feel like this is the same concept as the difference between "go play outside" and "here are a thousand and one pre-organzied, bubble wrapped 'activities'".

I was reading a BBC article the other day called Earth's 25 Biggest Turning Points . One of the major events, relatively more recent, is the evolution of C4 photosynthesis - essentially a faster and more efficient version of the process. It is so much more efficient that scientists are working on engineering rice crops to use C4 photosynthesis - when they succeed, the potential for food production of this staple crop is through the roof.

What's the point of mentioning this? I have no major qualms with genetically modified crops (other than precaution for precaution's sake). I do, however, consider genetic engineering in this way to be awfully arrogant on our part. I worry quite a bit about a world that is run by people who would spend billions of dollars looking for ways to turn up the heat in their house instead of putting on its proverbial sweater. It would be much safer and much cheaper if we were capable of changing our habits with respect to food economy and food waste.

Similarly, I worry a little bit about what the world will look like when it is run by people who never had a chance to go play outside. In Canada, we're already at 80% urban / 20% rural as far as population splits go. Democracy being what it is, I can only imagine that we continue along a path that results in a massive divide between "places we live" and "places our resources come from". That 20% will be too small to advocate for itself in the House.

Again, why am I going on about this stuff? I think a huge part of how adults go about critical thinking, problem solving, and creative intelligence depends on their childhood. An 11 year old kid who can be trusted with the home to herself will probably develop a self-confidence / autonomy far beyond that of her bubble-wrapped peers.

To parents like you with reasonable, open-minded attitudes everywhere, I tip my hat.

Yeesh! I bet you didn't expect that from me. Next time it will be a drinking story.

calgarysux said...

So Pat, are you suggesting we pay Petry $7-8 million to play here for the next 3-5 years? Because that's what it'll take to keep him here - we'll have to pay the free agent overpay plus the team suckage overpay.

Also, let's not forget the fact that he's in his 5th season now and still his rookie season is his best season offensively, never mind that he's finished below -20 for the past 2 seasons - yeah he's had some bad partners, but look at John Mackinnon's player grades in the Journal - he commits plenty of errors himself.

So, other than experience, if he's not scoring and he's not good defensively, what does he bring to the table exactly?

calgarysux said...

Is Petry worth the paycheque we'd have to pay to retain him? IMO, No.

Black Dog said...

I don't read anything by John Mackinnon he's garbage.

7 or 8 million for Petry? Wouldn't take that much although I'm unsure what you are saying. You say he sucks but he's going to get paid that much?

Same old, man. Oiler fans denigrate the players who then leave and play for better teams (they're all better teams) and everyone wonders what is going on.

Murat, that is gold buddy. GOLD!

Bling said...

The only way to really understand what MacTavish is doing is to start from the premise that he's batshit crazy and been on LSD more or less constantly for his entire tenure as GM.

But even then it's tough.

calgarysux said...

Petry is not necessarily a bad player, just not as good as some paint him to be.

All I'm saying is the Oilers can use their cap space better. I mean, Petry is a top name in the FA market and will command $5-6 mill a year - and that's from a contender. From the Oilers? Another premium on top of that which is how I arrived at $7-8 mill. So, yeah, the writing is on the wall with the guy and the Oilers don't want another boat anchor contract on their hands.

uni said...

"So long and thanks for all the fist".

I see a darker trend round these parts.

With LT now broken by the Oilers, I came here for some blue skying...alas it's cloudy with signs or a hail.

Jana said...

When did you get a new dog?! Glad to hear there's a new dog in the house. Did you write about it?? How did I miss it! What happened to the cat?

Frank Wayne said...


Frank Wayne said...

Mr Black Balls, it's been a while since we've been, out, last time, we had pickled eggs, polish girls and tin foil surprise, Next time a bud calls, you need to run from the house screaming, we had an open tab at the Irish Embassy with front row seats to the dart competition. Look forward to meeting up with you and the boys at the bald croations in the summer...