Monday, February 13, 2012

FAMILY DAY TRIBUTE

I was reading an article about Mr. and Mrs. Hockey, Gordie and Colleen Howe if you really didn’t know, and Mrs. Hockey was quoted as saying, “Your family is really your legacy, and they should be coveted,” and she also said, “A family legacy is so important, more important than a hockey legacy.” Well put.
With Valentine’s Day just two days away from this writing and the Family Day weekend coming right up the Howe’s story is a story that ties the two holiday events together perfectly.
You see, Gordie was a great big shy 23 year-old hockey player from the Saskatchewan prairie, with his name already engraved on the Stanley Cup, when he saw cute little 18 year-old Colleen at the, aptly named, Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley in Detroit where he was a star with the NHL’s Red Wings. Colleen didn’t have a clue who Gordie was and even though he was already a tough-as-nails hockey star and a force in the NHL it would take him weeks to work up the courage to talk to her.
Colleen was surprised and impressed by Gordie’s charming shyness which was rare in someone so famous and Gordie fell immediately in love with Colleen knowing at once that he had to marry her. Soon after they met Gordie went away on a fishing trip and being awkward and not very well educated he still managed to scribe love letters to her while he was away signing them “Love and stuff, Gordon.” Not exactly what you’d find in a Valentine’s Day greeting card but it was charming enough for the woman who would, until her death in 2009, be his wife for the next 56 years.
Their hockey story is the stuff of legend, of course. Gordie, Mr. Hockey, was breaking scoring and longevity records in a 25 year career with the Red Wings and later winning championships and more scoring titles while playing with his sons, Mark and Marty in the WHA. While Gordie was busy creating a hockey legend Colleen ran both the hockey business and the household business while raising the four children they had together, Marty, Mark, Murray and Cathy. It was a match made in heaven. Regardless of their very public life the Howe’s, and in particular Colleen, made a strong commitment to family and nothing, including hockey, was going to interfere with that.
In a world that is overly obsessed with celebrity and beset with “honour killings” the example set by the First Family of Hockey should be the ideal that we all strive for. What is life without family? Thankfully, I don’t think I will ever know what that feels like and I certainly don’t really want to know.
It was almost 32 years ago that I met the love of my life, and no, it wasn’t at a bowling alley, there was a more Saskatchewanian flavour to it…we began dating at a Curling Cabaret. Seriously, we did. Both my wife and I come from large families and as the two of us watch our family grow the words that Colleen Howe used have never felt more poignant-
“Your family is really your legacy, and they should be coveted.”- Colleen Howe(1933-2009).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

TECHNOLOGY HATES ME DAY!

So here I was getting all settled in to start on a new column when I was interrupted and then I got distracted further and then I forgot what I was supposed to be doing and then I picked up The Citizen from last week and started reading it and then I glanced at my column from a week ago and noticed that something got lost in the translation somewhere between my computer and The Citizen’s pages. As I am a bit of a perfectionist it really bugged me to no end that what I had perceived as interesting reading fodder looked more like gobbledygook when some numbers didn’t print in the paper the way I had written them.
You see, during last week’s explanation regarding the significance of the number 100 I was unaware of how to type a cubed number so I clipped and pasted them from another source and when it was transferred from my Word document to the pages of the paper the numbers didn’t look cubed at all anyway. What should have read 1-cubed + 2-cubed + 3-cubed + 4-cubed = 100 turned out to look like 100=13+23 +33+43 which doesn’t make any sense at all! Further, the next equation was supposed to read 2-to-the-sixth power + 6 squared but ended up looking like 26+62=100, which, again, just didn’t make any sense at all. Does that help clear things up now? I hope so. This explanation probably helped me more than it helped you but I’m sure glad that we got that all straightened out, eh?
Speaking of technology snafu’s, the thing that interrupted my morning writing flow was that I was trying to download a cute little video of our granddaughter Ava from my Blackberry phone onto our computer. Simple task, no?...No. For whatever reason, quite possibly “operator error”, but I’m not taking ALL of the blame, the stupid thing wouldn’t let me download the video. Arrrrghhh!! An hour and a half later and somehow, some way, I got it to work. Or it worked by itself or whatever happened the video ended up where I had intended. But an hour and a half out of my Saturday?! C’mon. Anyway, if I could have found those Crackberry billionaire owners they would have gotten such a knocklevesh upside the cranium they wouldn’t have known what hit them! It’s probably not really their fault but you gotta blame somebody, right?
So, it turned out that “Technology Hates You Day” continued. After finally getting Ava’s video downloaded I started in on the writing again but for some reason our desktop computer was running slower than Dial-up internet on Valium so I moved to the laptop computer but my sausage fingers were hitting about four keys at a time and that was driving me nuts so I figured I’d better take a break from this frustration and get some chores done.
I pulled out the brand new vacuum cleaner and I was going to suck up some of that popcorn that missed my mouth the night before and do you think this expensive piece of technology would pick anything up? Yikes! If I have to bend down to pick up the little pieces of popcorn off of the floor doesn’t that pretty much eliminate the machine’s use? Huh? What the deuce!? How much did we pay for this vacuum cleaner that sucks but doesn’t suck?? Whatever it was, it was too much. Some other manufacturer could use a knocklevesh, too, it appears.
By this time there was only one thing left to do and I did it. I went for a nap. It was either that or borrow some valium from my computer so I opted for the nap. Good choice.
Maybe the common denominator is me. Could that be it?...Nah. I don’t think so. It’s got to be them. At the very least it sure gave me something to write about when I finally got around to doing it.
“Men have become the tools of their tools.”-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

# 100

Pop the champagne cork, or at the very least, twist the cap off of a beer, or something, because we’re about to celebrate. Yep, you’re reading the 100th version of the “In My Humble Opinion” column.
Thank you, thank you. It was nothing. Really. In appreciation, mail your cheques or cash to box number…
Anyway, I am not quite sure what to make of this milestone. Human culture has long had a fascination with numbers and, in particular, round numbers or numbers of significance like 10, 25, 50 and 100 so, yes, I am proud of the significance of having had 100 of these columns published in this paper but it’s tempered with the fact that so much time has had to pass by so quickly in order for me to reach that number.
What started as a “fill-in” for former reporter/columnist, Darcie Khounnoraj, two years ago, became a full-time gig for me when Darcie decided not to return to The Citizen with her pen and paper, or typewriter, or keyboard, after the birth of her last child.
As many a writer will attest, some days the words flow from the brain through the fingers and onto the computer monitor with no effort at all and then there are other times, like right now, when creating any kind of flow seems like it’s the hardest thing one could do. Thankfully out of those one hundred columns I had many more of the former situations than I did of the latter. I suppose you might find it kind of ironic that an opinionated motormouth like me would have a hard time finding something to say but, believe me, there are more than a few times when I struggle to find adequate words for a weekly piece.
In honour of the 100th In My Humble Opinion column I will now give you some facts regarding the number 100 that I bet, unless you’re a mathematics teacher, many of you wouldn’t know.
So here we go. The number 100 is the sum of the first nine prime numbers as well as the sum of four pairs of prime numbers (47+53, 17+83, 3+97, 41+59), and the sum of the cubes of the first four integers (100 = 13 + 23 + 33 + 43). Also, 26 + 62 = 100, thus 100 is a Leyland number which is a number of the form xy + yx , where x and y are integers greater than…oh, nevermind.
Moving on: On the Celsius scale, 100 degrees is the boiling temperature of pure water at sea level.
100 is the number of tiles in a standard Scrabble set for 19 different languages.
100 is the police telephone number in Greece, India, Israel and Nepal, the ambulance and firefighter telephone number in Belgium and the telephone operator in the United Kingdom.
It’s the number of runs required for a cricket batsman to score a “century”, which is a significant milestone.
It’s the number of points required for a snooker cueist to score a “century break”, which is also a significant milestone.
100 is the minimum distance in yards for a Par 3 on a golf course.
100 is the record number of points scored in one NBA basketball game by a single player, set by Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors on March 2nd, 1962.
I could probably list 100 items about the number 100 here but, as you can see, I just don’t have the room. In the past columns I have tried to enlighten, educate and entertain and I hope that I have done that on more occasions than not and my hope is that I will continue to do so at least another 100 times.
“Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.”-Rose Kennedy (1890-1995).

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