Saturday, April 27, 2019

This Week's Amazon Delivery - A Failure Rant - AGAIN!

On Tuesday night, I ordered stuff I needed. I've been a little out of it lately and it was time to re-enter the land of the living. So I ordered seven items. I could have had Thursday delivery for half of them, but since one package could only arrive on Friday, I accepted Friday for both. By that time, I would need what I ordered and it gave me a couple more days to get sorted out health-wise.

Two of the products, chiefly a new bath mat for the one I tore up in the aftermath of my bathtub misadventure, were not products. The others were. Including another product I needed (and had needed for about ten days). But those two-non Amazon products were in different packages.

Why couldn't Amazon put everything in one box? Ask them. I dunno. This is a company that routinely fires warehouse and driver personnel for not working at the pace of robots. But putting everything in one box was asking too much. Oh by the way, I'm still a Prime customer against my will (see other posts) AND I live less than three miles from an Amazon distribution centre AND I requested everything arrive the same day.

You can see where this is going.

I got a box on Friday. Delivered before noon and with a smile and some patience by THE AMAZON DRIVER!!! Yeah!!!!

The other box? With the needed stuff?

Not so much. (insert whatever 13-word curse-laden phrase you think I said out loud. You're probably right. And if not so, then it's milder than the language I used)

The ... let's call them zombies, again, I use stronger words, but Mom might read this ... delivered my package to the post office in the next town over. Not to the post office a block from the end of my street. The NEXT BLINKETY-BLANK TOWN AWAY. Not the post office Amazon and I share. THE NEXT TOWN OVER!

And we don't have Saturday delivery in our area from the Post Office.

So, NOW, the track parcel page for my order from Amazon now PROUDLY PROCLAIMS, "Your parcel can still arrive 27 April-30 April." And oh ya, "Was expected Friday 26 April."

Further curse words, blah, blah, blah.

THIS is what having Prime gets you. The same Prime Amazon has recently said will change to One-Day delivery for all Prime customers, down from the Two-Day GUARANTEE.

More curse words, more blah, more blah, and I almost typed the big one to finish it off.

Amazon. Another word for ... well ... cursing. Amazoning. Just try it. Use Amazon in place of every naughty word you know. It'll make you feel good and nobody who might be offended will even notice.

'Cept Jeff Bezos. But I'm the last thing THAT adulterer is thinking about.

By the way, why did I order IMPORTANT stuff from Amazon? I needed it and I needed it quickly, which being house-bound makes difficult. I also thought it was such a small order (although 130-plus dollars after taxes and shipping) that they could simply NOT Amazon it up.

I was wrong.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The End

I took a bath a little less than three hours ago. It will be my last.

No, I'm not dying.

At least in the next few minutes, hours, days or hopefully even months. Dying is a constant. But nobody, including me, is hurrying that along any faster than yesterday. But I've had my last bath and will now only be able to take showers from this point forward. Well, unassisted. And I haven't seen hide nor hair of a nurse in almost three years at this point. And I'd like to extend that streak some. Eventually, a nurse and sponge baths will not be within my purview to decline. But I can now, and I do.

No, the reason the bathtub, my prison of the last almost three hours, is finally never to be used for it's designed purpose is that I faced my mortality tonight and it was ugly.

I needed a bath. Not a shower. I needed to work out some muscle kinks and the best way for that to happen traditionally was to fire up the bathtub, get it as hot as allowed and dump in two fingers of Radox Muscle Relaxant Bath Soak. Grab my reading glasses and Kindle and luxuriate away those things that have contrived to tense me up. I have loved hot baths for all of the life that I can remember. No cold baths, not even in the hottest of summers. No, I liked it hot. 110 degrees Fahrenheit. 112 if I could get away with it.

But then Doc V doused me with cold water. My medical problems ... COMPLETELY self-created, were not conducive to hot baths. First I was downgraded to 108 but managed to scald myself Easter of seven years ago. Because I have Diabetes Type 2 (Darwin's proof of Natural Selection) and the resulting Diabetic Neuropathy. I didn't realize I was scalding myself. My nerve endings below the shin are dead, shut down in permanently on mode ... as in permanently indicating pain. You learn to ignore it as best you can. Man is not meant to do that. Pain is nature's way of saying STOP DOING THAT!

And of course, the dying nerve ends just didn't get to the shin and declare the campaign of war on my body finished. No, the campaign continues. I haven't been able to crawl on my hands and knees for more than a body length in two decades. For the last decade, the pain of merely kneeling is indescribably painful. If a baby spotted me two body lengths and I was more than ten feet away from the child's mother, the race wouldn't be close. The kid would leave me in the dust.

I'll throw in one more gotcha. My left shoulder, the one nearest escape from the bathtub, is shot. I fractured it a couple of decades ago, surfing down the stairs (involuntarily). Drove the forearm up into my shoulder socket and made a mess of it. Developed bursitis, which the odd horse-sized needle of cortisone would alleviate. Finally managed to fray my rotator cuff enough to give me several options, NONE of which was cortisone, the boogey man of diabetics. Does something awful to your blood sugar levels. I could pay (and yes, even here in Canada, non-essential surgery is not free) and have various things done to my shoulder. I could even get the Diabetic's Version of Cortisone, again at a price I couldn't afford (and eat ... for a year). Or I could suffer. You can guess which I chose. So, a bum shoulder for the big fat guy sitting in the drained bathtub wondering how he was going to get out of the damned thing.

It was only last Hallowe'en that I'd found myself stuck in the reclined chair I spend most evenings in. I was tipped back 30 degrees and bounded on both sides by tables stacked with unhelpful things. And the power was off. In the dark. For more than a half-hour, I was calm and considering ways to doze off again. Then nature's call arrived and I was faced with a need to escape the chair. I thought that fifteen minutes was as bad as it could get. I was wrong. Although I did protect myself against its re-occurrence with an uninterruptible power supply the next day.

You have to learn to make concessions to your own frailties. They are not going away. It's stupid to be stupidly optimistic.

Which leads me to my decision to get into the bathtub. I knew it was wrong. A shower was indicated. In fact, as Doc V left me with cooler and cooler baths ... and the reminder that five minutes after a soak starts, you are sitting in dirty water ... I could take refuge in the hot shower. I had no way to know what temperature the shower spray was. Not like with a bath where my little yellow ducky ... what, you thought you could take the boy out of the old boy??? ... couldn't tattle on me with the tell-tale colour-coded temperature indicator. But I WANTED a soak. I imagine some junkies felt the same way about THEIR last (too potent) fix.

My bath wasn't long. I think I read three short chapters in the book I was reading, Becky Chambers I think. Third book in the Wayfarers' series. Too lazy to look up the title. A decent book, not as good as her first, on a par with the second. I finished the chapter and turned off the Kindle. Tossed the glasses over on top of it. And then I sat.

And sat.

I was already aware of how much trouble I was in. The tub was too narrow, my bulk too enormous, to haul butt and get out. I couldn't turn without exerting pressure on my blistered feet (forgot to mention the other delightful side effect of Diabetes, blisters where you put pressure). Or more importantly, my knees. And the shoulder weakness made my left arm utterly useless.

So, I sat some more.

The tub slowly dried around me. Faster than I remembered, but this was the first winter I had not run the humidifier on central heating. I used a small manual one where I slept. The whole house was as dry as a wasp nest that had been abandoned. Parts of my anatomy were still soggy. All parts of me were ready to vacate the prison. But I couldn't figure a way out to do it.

So, I sat some more.

Some dirty clothes were within reach and I kept grabbing them to stick under my keister. I was thinking of building an off-ramp of sorts, one crumpled up piece of clothing at a time. Turns out, if you weigh closer to 240 pounds than you would like, you can pile a lot of clothes beneath you and not appreciable rise up very much. I didn't have enough dirty clothes handy, that a couple of fluffy towels helped enough. I was still below the lip of the bathtub.

So, I sat some more.

I tried to turn on my side, thinking, I might sleep a bit, stuck in the fetal position. Nope. I could twist a bit at the hips and climb the far wall with my feet. But the position wasn't comfortable for longer than about five seconds. I went back to my semi-sitting position, feet planted firmly against the far side of the tub, my backside on top of the clothes pyramid and no hope for immediate succor. Despair was starting to really set in. The bathroom phone was over on the far side of the bathroom. I couldn't even call for help. Not next door to my friends, the McDonalds. Not to 911. Not even to Mom, just to do some whimpering. It was the middle of the night for them ... and the reason I hadn't placed the phone within easy reach when I got into the tub.

So, I sat some more.

And finally, the disgust I was feeling for myself gave me enough strength to flip over onto my hands and knees. Slowly, I stood up. Slower still, I placed my right foot outside the tub and then lugged over the left (my weaker side). I was out. I brushed off pebbles of the old rubber mat from my knees. The mat inhabited the floor of the tub and most of it now lay bunched down towards the drain. I was trembling and it wasn't from the cold. The house is kept at 72 all year round. But I trembled because of what might have been.

I plopped down on the cushioned toilet seat and thought about the last 150 minutes of my life and realized a time had passed. The bathtub was now just a shower stall. The shower seat I had bought weeks ago and left in the box it came in downstairs, was now going to have to be setup and used.  I thought many other things, none of them printable here. But I didn't think much about moving.

So, I sat some more.

I could feel the tenseness in my shoulders that I'd sought to eradicate had come back. Bile raised in my gorge, anger at coming full circle. But only long enough to realize that whatever had happened, I had survived it. That I had learned a new truth to my existence. That I wouldn't ever place myself in this position again.

So, I stopped sitting, left the bathroom and came here to mourn the passing of something I loved. A reminder to all who read this: a bathtub can be a dangerous place.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

It's March, So Here's the Expected

It's that time of the year again. Once again, I have to peer into the Crystal Ball, seek out Solomon, and find a wise choise to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. However, even before I turned on the hidden light below the con man's table to light up the cheap plastic 'crystal ball,' a ghostly voice shouted, "Duke, you fool. Duke!'

Who am I to argue the obvious. So, that's the name you want. Go forth and bracket yourself to your heart's limit.

The Tournament Committee did a LOT of great work this year, making for some interesting matchups. Cheers for including Belmont when Alabama or TCU would have been a politically expedient choice. The final four in were reasonable and, other than a plea for UNC Greensboro, nobody should have been too despondent that they didn't get in. But imagine if the Committee had decided Greensboro and Lipscomb were deserving of an upset chance and Arizona State and Syracuse could enjoy a good run in the N.I.T.? Honestly, wouldn't a rule that you couldn't be eligible to play in the NCAA tournament without a winning league record or a quarter-final victory in your league championship be a good rule?

We've had teams win the NCAA tournament after starting their league tournament with a .500 record. And teams with losing records (but with interesting stories) make the tourney with good league tournament runs. So, there are always going to be good seventh, eighth, dare I say ninth-place teams to make March Madness fun. That said, there are another few steps before we can declare the Committee 'woke.' Shouldn't the nation deserve seeing some of these small school stars, rather than yet one more loss by a tenth seed from a major conference, who've been on TV all year long? But getting Belmont in this year and increasing the number of at-large bids for non-Power Six leagues for the second straight year is something to nod approval over.

For all that, the ... choice to ditch Michigan State in Duke's regional is beyond comprehension. The Spartans are better today than they were last week as Nick Ward health improves. The Spartans have, arguably, the best game coach in the biz in Tom Izzo. The Spartans proved tourney tough, taking out Michigan ... no small task that ... for the THIRD TIME this year, in the Big Ten finale. And yet, rather than write a fantastic fantasy for this year (Stick State in with either Virginia or North Carolina, have them beat their region-mates in the elite eight, the other one in the semi-finals and then see Duke in the final ... with Ward to physically contend with Zion Williamson ...) but chose to hose the Spartans for WINNING the Big Ten. Apparently the two Michiganders were slotted into the tourney depending on who won. Yeah, Izzo's going to reconsider this coaching to win thing in the future.

So, it's Duke over Gonzaga in the Final four and then taking out North Carolina in Tobacco Road Brawl IV in the final. I love the way Virginia plays, but it's really apparent that if you are properly prepared for them, and any ONE of the disparate parts that make Virginia great doesn't show up ... the Cavaliers are beatable. Granted, Duke and Florida State have sole rights to say they're beatable. But school is all about lessons learned. And I can't see Roy Williams not learning what Florida State taught him.

Let's see, hmmmm, four number one seeds in the final four. How very ... adventurous of me. Hmmmm, actually it is. The odds are significantly against the four ones making the Minny road trip to finish the year. So, I'm ALLLLL about the upsets ... 'cept in the Regional finals.

Now, March Madness requires upsets. And the Committee has certainly raised expectations for some floor-storming contingents from the lesser schools. In fact, I saw one prominent Bracketologist pick all four 12 seeds to beat the respective 5 seeds and spent zero time speculating that he might be wrong. It was like he pre-determined all five seeds (theoretically, each are top 20 teams!!) were dead on arrival.

Upsets in the NCAA occur when the lower seeded team manages to control the tempo of the game. Usually by playing tough belly to belly defence with perimeter protecting ballhawks being assisted by some tough paint play by the big men. And they have to have three-point bombers since SOMEBODY has to provide offence. Occasionally, a run-and-gun upset-minded school gets the coach from their intended victim to play along. And we have some opportunity to see that this year. But the upset darlings are going to be the tough defensive teams that can hang in there until the final minute, either making the requisite free throws to protect a lead, or hitting a buzzer-beater to eliminate whatever hero play came from the better seeded team second(s) before.

Let's take a look at where I think upsets are there for the taking. The defensive battles PROBABLY won't include Syracuse and Syracuse West (aka Washington). I used to think their zones were so tough to play for, that no team could do it on short notice in a weekend game. But familiarity has bred content over the years. Ohhh, the zone works. It keeps teams as talented as Syracuse and Washington IN games their talent might not otherwise have them competitive. But eventually, attacking the free throw line with better talent prevails. So, despite my pre-Championship Week thinking that Washington might be a dark horse, I'm not going down that track. Championship Week DID change my opinions ... about six times over the five days leading up to Selection Sunday. The opinions are still changing ... based on injury reports for the likes of Markus Howard of Marquette or Dean Wade of Kansas State or the coaching availability of Will Wade for LSU, for instance (Mark Benford's coaching job in LSU's loss in the SEC quarter-finals was among the worst I have ever seen. Without Wade at the helm for LSU, I don't see much chance the Bayou Bengals see the second week).

Let's talk upsets in the non-upset 8/9 games first. Oddly enough, who pops up here? Why both Syracuse AND Washington!!! Let's stop the hysteria and declare Syracuse off-limits for upset by Baylor, in a battle of zone teams. First, Baylor's Big 12 and that's NOT a good thing this year. (Oh, the Pac 12 was worse, but the Big 12 had BIG dreams to start the year and from Kansas on down, tripped over those dreams). Second, both Tyus Battle and Frank Howard were missing in action for several Syracuse defeats. The Orange went from bubble to 8 when Buddy Boeheim went career game crazy in the ACC Tournament and he'll go back to a little used sub this week. So, Syracuse is through. With a chance to beat Gonzaga? No. Not with the Orange front line trying to deal with Rui Hachimura and one of the unsung Canucks in the tournament, Brandon Clarke. Shutout to 'cuse's Oshae Brissett, also a proud Canadian.

Whither Washington? Yeah, I'm going to buck some general perception and say that Utah State, bruited to have SOME chance against North Carolina, will be thinking about the Tarheels and overlook Washington, owner of the saddest of the regular-season crowns and a series of poor, poorer and poorest performances in the Pac 12 Tournament. Still, this is a team who's leader Matisse Thybulle is a spiritual successor to Gary Payton as a ballhawk. And even in wins and defeats, Washington tended to slow down teams. So, take Washington for the upset, ONE upset mind you, in the Mid West. The other two 8/9 games almost bore me. Oklahoma is Big 12, so, despite some enthusiasm for the Sooners from some Bracketologists, I'll take Ole Miss from the SEC. And VCU SHOULD take out Central Florida to hold the line ... BUT watching the Rams contend with the Knights' Tacko Fall, who's a FOOT taller than any VCU player he will go up against (or close enough), that I'm interested in SEEING the game. Problem is, VCU plays tough D and Central Florida just doesn't have the long-range howitzers to unpack the Ram defence. But it'll be interesting.

Moving on ... the 7/10 games start with the most interesting kick off to a tournament in some time. And it has nothing to do with the teams. Richard Pitino's Minnesota Gophers will tangle with the Louisville Cardinals, the home of his father for many, many years ... before he was fired last year in the ripples of the FBI College Recruiting Scandal. Rick, the Senior, eventually went off to Europe to coach (and win back some acclaim). But he'll be sure to be there in Gopher colours in spirit when the tourney tips off. I'd have taken Minnesota against many teams JUST LIKE Louisville, but the extra energy 'winning one for Coach' will bring to THIS matchup has me thinking Louisville is the better pick. They've already been through the Pitino tumult. I expect them to be calmer and more concentrated. Plus, on paper, they are a better team. (And by the way, I agree with the boos for the Committee in setting up this distraction)

Having dissed the Committee for that one, let me tell ya, the other three are going to be fun. The Committee heard all the Little Guy talk and gave Swofford some real props with a 7 seed. Then turned Seton Hall loose on them. Sorry, but the Pirates are playing REAL good basketball against REAL good teams of late. Swofford can only say the first half of that. So, Seton Hall for the upset. I almost wanted to repeat the same thing with Iowa against Cincinnati, but the Bearcats are not a big bad bullfrog in with guppies. So, I will take Cincy to hold chalk. Which leaves me with the most really delicious of the head to heads in this seeding, Nevada vs Florida in the West (where all the action is). Granted, Florida is part of my personal Kryptonite (along with Kansas and Michigan State). It just seems like I ALWAYS pick them, and outside of the championship years, it's been a mistake every time. And add the fact that Canuck Andrew Nembhard is the reason why Florida is IN the tournament and I have bias written all over my face as I type Florida WILL upset Nevada. The Gators are a team of pluggers while Nevada has the Martin boys, Caleb and Cody, plus another backcourt ace in Jordan Caroline, but the Wolfpack are going to get in trouble from the perimeter. The memories of last year's tourney run might have Nevada stuck between reliving glory and expecting respect that a single year doesn't get them ... yet. On the other hand neither team's beating John Beilein's mad as hell Michigan team featuring the burbling personality of Canuck Izzy Bradeikis on the weekend anyway. So, much ado about an upset.

The 6/11 games are ALMOST yawn-inducing with the exception of everybody's favourite upset pick, Belmont, to sidle past Temple tonight and then dispatch the overly-youthful Maryland Terrapins in the round of 64. The Bruins are aged in leadership, athletic in youth and will be able to off-set the one Maryland strength, rebounding. Belmont is a disciplined team and when that crunch moment arrives, the Bruins will be able to prevail. And with nobody fearing LSU or Yale in the weekend matchup, it might be smart of Belmont's fans and players to bring some extra luggage.

Buffalo is going to beat in-state opponent St. John's. Sure, it would be interesting if the Red Storm failed to beat the Arizona State Sun Devils merely because the State coach is Bobby Hurley, but St. John's SEEMS like a probable winner of the First Four play-in. The Bulls are sneaky good and have been for awhile after having Hurley revive the program. But he left the program in good hands as Nate Oats seems to be ready for some national recognition, as is star C.J. Massinburg. The real fun for Buffalo won't end until Michigan does them in next week. Iowa State (with some primo Canadian talent in Mariel Shayock and Lindell Wigginton) is going to be happy and sad all within a three-day period. Happy to beat Ohio State in a battle of midwest State schools. Sad that Houston looms on the weekend. Well, it will be the end of a good whirlwind year for the Cyclones. Which brings us to the OTHER 6/11 game that has fans all atwitter. Like Belmont, the winner of this Villanova-Saint Mary's game has a fair chance of playing next week. Nobody thinks Purdue's a three-seed. So, do you pick the guys that keep winning at this time of the year, Villanova, winners of two of the last three national crowns, or Saint Mary's, who dispatched the number one team in the country a week ago, BY THIRTEEN points, in it's tournament final? On one level, it doesn't matter. This is going to be a great game. On the other hand, 'Nova has Jay Wright coaching them. And in the end, thumbs down on an upset ... but it'll be fun to watch.

Now, the dreaded and anticipated 5/12 seeds get their examination. First off, NO SWEEP by the 12's. Ain't gonna happen. The fact that 12's are ALMOST a 50-50 proposition this century is mind-boggling. That all of that boggling is in the past needs being reminded of. Still...

Never saw Liberty play this year. Saw Ole Miss play. If Liberty is as good as some say, then Liberty to chalk one up for the non-chalk crowd. Murray State vs Marquette (in one of the MUST see games this year). Ja Morant, the likely second pick in the coming NBA draft, vs. Markus Howard. The still team-oriented Murray State Racers vs the Marquette One-Man Band. And Howard's hand injury is certainly going to be a topic of consideration. So, on the narrowest of margins, note a nose, but a sore hand, it's Murray State to add to the rotten state of Chalk. Wisconsin and the monster year Ethan Happ is having vs Oregon, the pre-season national contenders, turned pretenders when Bol Bol's college career ended before it really began, turned red-hot Pac 12 Tournament champions on the weekend. Remember my bell-to-belly admonishment? It applies here. Oregon makes it three 12's to break Chalk. Wait, didn't I say no sweep by the 12's. Yep, I did.

Auburn will run the Aggies of New Mexico State back to the plains with the kind of furious attack that harkens back to the Marymount Lions heydays. No, NOT the 140+ heyday, but this might be the highest-scoring game of the tournament. And isn't Bruce Pearl doing a great coaching job. He's got his Tigers believing. And I can't believe the 5 seeds will go oh-fer. Auburn will hold the line. But it IS amazing how unhappy the Committee makes teams by giving them the 5 seed, isn't it. Oh, and Auburn just won't defend the honour of 5's everywhere, they are booked to play next week, too.

Only 4/13 game worth talking about is Kansas State and UC Irvine. And sad to say, the Anteaters will trample The Wildcats if Dean Wade isn't back. Might anyways. But his likely unavailability takes a regular-season team that had something to be proud of and turned them into an overseed. Still, it takes a lot for a 13 seed to win. Except the odds are that one does most years this century. And since none of the other ones make any sense as an upset pick, I'll play the math and call for UC Irvine to hold the honour of the 13's and send K-State packing.

Going from boring to not boring at all, at all, we now look at the 3/14 matchups and wonder just what the Committee saw that I don't. Starting with LSU. A VERY GOOD team with woeful coaching and a penchant to blow up ... which explains why the presence or the lack thereof of Will Wade thanks to that FBI thing, makes a world of difference. I have NO faith in LSU beating a disciplined (is their any OTHER kind out of the Ivy League) Yale team. Oh, they can still do it on sheer talent. But even if they do talent themselves past Yale, Belmont awaits. Nope, I'll take the easy route and call for Yale to knock off the Tigers. I'm not suggesting Texas Tech will have any issues with Northern Kentucky out West. But I AM saying Buffalo beats them on the weekend. The BEST of the 3's, Houston, might be playing in the Final Four, so forget upsets chances with the Cougars vs Georgia State, although it's nice to see Ron Hunter back in the tournament without the danger of son R.J. inflicting any physical harm upon him. Which brings me to Purdue, overseeded, against Old Dominion. I've got my one first round upset in this seed. I don't HAVE to pick Old Dominion. I WANT to pick the Monarchs. But I think Carsen Edwards has one more great college game in him. So, chalk to Purdue, doom against Oregon on the weekend.

NO, just NO! No 15's and especially NO 16's brought their bathing suits to the first round. They'll towel off at home. I'd love to see Abilene Christian upend Kentucky because, well, it's Kentucky. And my favourite three coaches to rag on are John Calipari, John Calipari and John Calipari. He's a lousy in-game coach, but off-sets that by being a great recruiter. How much of that great is Kentucky's home court advantage and how much is Jocular John is anybody's guess. But he recruits successfully. Now, eventually, I expect Kentucky's program, like those of UMass and Memphis, to rue the day he was hired. But he's on a long, long run of ruining my enjoyment of college basketball. I'm hoping Houston can do him in, but if they don't, then I expect North Carolina to win the Battle of Blue in the regional final. Still, wouldn't it be GREATTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!! if Abilene Christian did us all a favour?!?!

I think that's eleven total first week upsets. Out of 48 games. Close enough to one in four. And THAT is why March Madness is, or should be, a National Holiday in North America. Fans, and people who KNOW fans, should be at home or down at the local purveyor of beverages to watch this miracle of entertaining TV.

As most of you know, I stay with chalk most of the rest of the way in the tournament. Trying to suss out upsets in the second week can be a fool's errand. Prior unforeseen upsets, injuries, horrible officiating ... it makes a mug out of anyone, let alone somebody with the last name Mugford, to pretend he KNOWS destiny's outcome. Still, by staying with chalk you won't be far wrong.

Who do I think might step into the Final Four I have seeded to the 1's? Michigan State still has to be feared. Izzo is the game's best game coach (although Florida's Mike White is a comer). Ward and Xavier Tillman provide the heft and height to make Zion Williamson at least think a BIT about charging to the hoop. And Cassius Winston sure makes Izzo look prophetic when he predicted great things three years ago for his then frosh guard. But no, I just don't think Duke's ready to be beat by the Spartans. If they get Marques Bolden back next week, it will be a full-strength Duke squad. Lights out. The fun regional is the West, but all the fun will evaporate next week. Chalk all the way with Michigan not the type of team I expect Gonzaga to fear.

Virgina will waltz into the Final Four after dancing with Tennessee in the regional final. Virgina is the most upset-available of the 1's because their offence needs everybody clicking when they play good teams. Problem is, nobody in the region other than the Volunteers qualifies as a good enough team. UNC has plenty of people to trip over in the Region of Death, the Midwest. The Tarheels COULD lose to Utah State (NOT BLOODY LIKELY), Auburn (the game will be closer than Roy Williams would like) and then either Houston (unlikely) or Kentucky (the Evil Empire looms as a SERIOUS threat depending on how PJ Washington gets out of bed that day). Still, to have a Tobacco Road Brawl IV, me must have a North Carolina-Duke finals.

Can Gonzaga, the sole team in the country to beat a full-strength Duke squad, pose a semi-final threat? Of course they can. But at the time of the loss, Duke was R.J. Barrett's team. It's Zion's team now (much as I would like Barrett, a credit to my country and a spectacularly good kid be THE star). And that's a difference with a distinction. Barrett's still there, having largely held up his end of the dynamic duo, while Zion was away getting new shoes. And what about Virgina and their regular season superiority over North Carolina? Why not an intra-state ACC final? Sure, it could happen and anybody who likes basketball likes Virginia's team play, but I want that BRAWL in the final. So, logic dictates Virgina falling on its sword to do so.

There you have it. The million-dollar bracket.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Give Him the Money for the Wall

And by HIM, I mean the Orange Buffoon who will become the first ex-President to eventually get to wear orange jumpsuits at the pleasure of the government he once misled.

I've become convinced that the Democrats should only commit to impeachment if they get evidence of treason that is strong enough that even blinkered Republicans can't deny it. And that requires IMMEDIATE ACTION. Otherwise, leave him in place as the punching dummy he is in actual life. NOTE: #FakeNews will be replaced by #PelosiPummelsPresident as the most popular political hashtag of the year.

Now to the wall. Here's the deal I offer. You commit to a half billion or so for feasibility studies that will be intended to schedule building of the 'wall'/metal barrier in one-mile lengths and in what order the actual construction should be built. Say, build a hundred mile stretch in Texas, then 125 in Arizona, etc. Plus, the Democrats throw in EXACTLY the money he's asking for, for enhanced security along sea walls, ports of entry and tunnel-making. Plus money for agents and judges, etc. Make it 5.700000001 dollars so that it is a buck MORE than what Comrade Donald is asking for.

Now the catnip for the grabber. Add 50 BILLION in actual construction costs, held in escrow, with actual construction released to start the day after Inauguration Day in January 2021. Throw in a position that the President HAS to ratify any spending (Extension) bill that garners FIFTY-FIVE percent of each chamber of Congress, down from sixty, And you have a deal. And he can't shut down government ever again this way and he gets his wall money and it'll never happen. Cuz the first thing the new President does on Inauguration Day is to cancel the wall, pending investigation as to where extending barriers, repairing barriers and replacing barriers is indicated as wise policy. There WILL be spots where that will be true.

President Small Hands gets painted into a corner of betting on himself, just as he did before the many bankruptcies and the idea that he could get away discriminating against minority renters back in the day (twice, resulting in huge fines to avoid a criminal record ... a case of fighting off inevitability if there ever was a better case!). He claims the majority of Americans are with him on the wall. He makes the election a one-issue contest and he'll lose by spectacular amounts. S.P.E.C.T.A.C.U.L.A.R. He'll be lucky to get fourty percent nationally. He won't get Reagan'd by Harris or Booker or whoever comes at him from the right side of history. But he'll only carry the states with the dumbest white nationalists and the spectacularly uniformed Southerners. Let's call the over/under eight and a half. And I'll take the under.

The Democrat slogan ... NO! to the Monument to Stupidity and NO! to four more years with no leadership!!! And point out the wall will cost EACH AMERICAN, children included, $150 bucks a head. And I'm guessing that the wall won't cost any where NEAR that little of money. I've seen guesstimations of near 75 Billion and real life should make that a small hole in the large hole he wants built as a place to hang his name again.

Look, populism led we Ontarians to the unwise decision to elect our own fool of a premier. Hatred for staid policies from entrenched Liberals (plus stupidity and/or criminality) prompted the electorate of the province to forego the smart move of minority government (aka, no king-making rule by fiat) and put a city bumpkin of Pumpkin's proportions in power for five long years. It'll get corrected as the teeter-totter of Canadian politics rights itself. So, I feel for my friends in America. You get to fix the "What have you got to lose?" mistake sooner than we do.

Just promise the pig-eyed Prince of the SpaceForce the moon for 2021. He ego will force him to accept and call it a HUUUUUUGE win for him. Fool that he is.

He won't be President two years from today. The question is, will he be wearing that clashing shade of orange by then? The over/under on that is less than four years from today.

Take the under.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

I Don't Heart Amazon

In fact, to be honest, I loathe being an Amazon customer. Or I loathe myself. One of the other or both.

Let's face it, Jeff Bezos has conquered the world and other than not having the nuclear Football to play with, he is in position to outlast that pig-eyed over-stuffed prig in the White House and be an international power all by himself. He can force cities all across North America to spend lavishly wining and dining he and his decision staff in the (as it turns out, foolish) belief they could be the new OTHER HQ for Amazon, when all along Bezos was going to pick a town (or two, as it turns out) where he could hop to work in a helicopter from his home, whether it be in New York or Washington, where he maintains East Coast homes. Toronto, a mile or two up the road from where I sit, was particularly lead on.

This from a man who pays his workers low wages, runs them like dogs at a racetrack that PETA should be working to shut down rather than imperiously demanding folks stop using phrases like Bringing Home the Bacon, in favour of the ridiculous Bringing Home the Bagels. Isn't the latter culturally insensitive to non-Jews??? (Of course not, it's just ridiculous stupidity from a group with a good message that has transmorphed into a parody of a cult).

And Amazon's face, the one that people at home see when a package arrives at the door, are as poorly treated by Amazon as the warehouse staffs. Maybe more so. Doesn't excuse the stupidity I've found rampant for these last mile Amazon employees. But it should be said, so that I acknowledge that time is money and delivery drivers get paid to deliver, not to chin wag with customers. Still, the rules Amazon imposes and the monetary realities facing the drivers, make most deliveries a case of drop and run. The needs of the customers getting the deliveries are completely and utterly ignored. I know, because I'm a fairly large Amazon customer for a private citizen.

I have to. I'm a shut-in. I can't move around all that well and the only time I leave the house these days is to go to the doctors. And if I'm going out, I like to combine as many doctors visits as possible because I know the following day is going to be wasted in bed, trying to cope with the pain in my legs from doing as little walking as I do. It's taking my fully-prescribed load of pills and trying to sleep my way through it.

So, I need some compassionate delivery. Like I get from my pharmacy or my on-line grocers. Both of which call me in advance before showing up because, as the sign on my front door says, I take some time getting to the front door. But Amazon has a different approach. No phone call. No waiting for me to get there. And if they see the opportunity to put the box or boxes inconveniently as possible, they snatch that opportunity up with relish. Whether it's Amazon delivery personnel, the Post Office or one of their hired-out delivery companies. It's become so bad of late that last month I tried to cancel my Amazon membership.

Before talking about the details of the delivery problems, let me say that I'm a published Amazon author with more books on the way. That's right, I make money from Amazon, yet I wanted to be rid of Amazon from my life. That is how absolutely furious I've become with Amazon of late.

And as it turns out, getting out of Amazon is only slightly less difficult that retiring alive from the mob. In fact, I was successful in canceling my Prime membership, which has always been a scam up here in Canada, although the Prime Video was finally added a while back. Prior to that, Prime did mean quicker than usual delivery, given that you were paying for delivery up front. But even that was and still is a scam. First, most orders are big enough to qualify for free standard delivery anyways. Secondly, during the last two months of this year, every delivery gets that standard. Amazon's gift to the Christmas/Chanukah gift-giving world. And a kick in the face of we idiots who paid for Prime. Second, the fact is that most deliveries are going to get to the customer quicker because Amazon always promises an extra day or two and then delivers (early) on time and the customer feels like that's wonderful service. It's like holding a sale by first raising the prices and then discounting back to their regular prices, leaving customers conned into thinking they are getting bargains. It's a loathsome, evil, vile little way to screw with people's minds and make them think Amazon is the best retailer in the world.

So, I could cancel Prime. Effective August of next year. No canceling and getting back the three-quarters of the money. That money was now Amazon's money. So, I have Prime whether I want it or not. And as for canceling my actual account ... which I can't do because I need it to run my book publishing mini-empire (joking, it's one book for the time being), well, you try and do it. The passive-aggressive threats you'll get will sicken you. Included is the loss of my books, the ones I bought for my Kindle. That's right. They would disappear if I ever accidentally or otherwise, deleted them from my Kindle. I could only access my owned book again ... if I bought it again after setting up a new account with ... Amazon. Now, I've actually been aware of that threat ever since the great George Orwell misadventures from Amazon a few years back where Amazon just didn't benignly keep your Kindle books updated, if the circumstances warranted it from Amazon's perspective they could (and did in the case of one of Orwell's books) reach into your Kindle and delete it. So, I've always taken delivery of Kindle books to my computer and then side-loaded them. That way, I always had a copy of what I paid for. So, when I canceled my Amazon account early this decade because I had both an and account, the only way to clear up the mess Amazon had created for me was to cancel both and start anew. The loss of the books would have been a deal-breaker (and I did loose updates on the books, which I accepted as a loss I could live with), but I was prepared.

Still, reading through the emails warning me of the dire consequences of canceling my account would stop most people from even starting up an account. Like the fact that all my reviews would be deleted too. Meaning that an inevitable return to Amazon would mean my reviewing rep-building would start anew. And why's that important? Well, prodigious reviewers often score free swag to review, building up a pyramid of review a lot, get a lot, review more, get more, etc. and etc. and etc. Suddenly, you're an Amazon employee. I review stuff when asked politely by the company. I rarely hand out five stars because five stars should mean Amazing! It doesn't for most folks. And of course, you can't hand out zero stars (I tried). Which is what some product scams are worth. And I remember that the product I wanted to zero star was actually rated something like 1.5 stars. A star less than average. yet the product was a complete ripoff, NEVER working for anybody who actually bought the product from what I could see. It was a repackaged item that said it was one thing when it was a worthless hunk of junk that never worked, being something else entirely. Yet 1.5 stars. Because paid-for reviewers would rate it two stars. STUPID people who reviewed before using would rate it two stars. So it sold, to dopes like me who were so entranced by the price-point versus what it promised, that it was worth a few bucks to see if it was a bargain by mistake. it wasn't. And I had to go through the process of returning the product to Amazon. Make no mistake, this was a case of buyer beware pricing blindness. But you know, that product is still for sale on Amazon.

I get daily emails from Chinese trolls trying to get me to review iPhone cases and other such stuff. Never had an iDevice from Apple and will probably go the grave still being able to say that. (And yet, I was a low, low-serial number buyer of the Apple ][ computer back in the 70's. Wrote for Apple-oriented magazines. Was there for the launch of the Lisa and then the Macintosh. You know, the ones in the Jobs movie. But I never bought another Apple after the ][c. I had professionally switched over to the Evil Empire by then, working with IBM computers and something called MS-DOS from a little outfit in Albuquerque New Mexico called Micro-soft. When Jobs completed the transformation of Apple into a boutique computer manufacturer who started building high-end devices, I was lost to the Apple world. Still, a whole series of come-ons that are probably scams arrive in my in-box. Amazon won't say which is which. Which is peculiar since they gather data from me with such gusto, that I have to re-read the privacy policy weekly to keep up. So, I refuse to even read the pitches. I imagine others go the other way and wait for their swag to arrive. And obviously, some of it does. Good reviews are forth-coming. And, I presume, once you've shown your value as a reviewer of knick knacks, the trolls upgrade you to better swag. The problem is, I'm not interested in giving all my personal data to just anybody who offers me a free iPhone case for review with my non-existent iPhone.

So, there is a LOT of stink to the Amazon carcass. I could happily miss out on it if I had an alternative. I've found a bit. My next door neighbour visits Canadian Tire for me. Walmart's on-line stock isn't half of what I can get AT Walmart, but I haven't stepped foot into one since I almost stroked out (heat stroke) in the parking lot of one late in the Aughts. And the free shipping is a bit hit and miss. But it's getting better and I will soon have an Amazon alternative for the day-to-day stuff I need. And Marilyn has become my personal shopper, meaning if I am willing to abuse my friendship of more than 30 years, I could have her running all over Brampton on my behalf. I have enough integrity left over to try and minimize my requests. Barely. Still feels like I'm imposing on her.

At one point, I started taking Amazon up on their subscription services. I was ordering enough Ketchup for the average ten-person family each month, lots of Kraft Dinner original and things like pens, markers, tissues, paper towels, spices, water flavourings and medications, the list was, at it's peak, about 40 items in total and represented hundreds of dollars monthly. Then I got a notice from Amazon limiting me to one pack of Kraft Dinner a month. The next day, the other shoe dropped ... and this was long before President Small Hands forced a Ketchup tariff into place ... Amazon would only ship me one bottle of the Ambrosia of the Gods (Heinz, of course). I asked why, got no answers. At least they didn't TRY to say it was because the biggest retailer in the world had suddenly been given quotas by Kraft and Heinz. I canceled all my subs immediately. Turns out, a lot of people did that. No more 15 percent discounts. Amazon emerged weeks later with a new subscription scheme, topping out at 10 percent. I'd been gaslighted to save Amazon five percent. I was not alone. But it left me asking why I wanted to continue doing business with this greedy, rapacious outfit.

Which FINALLY brings me to the delivery issues. Let's start with Amazon policy to HIDE the boxes in the bushes. Not wait till somebody comes to the door and hand it to them, only leaving the boxes if there's nobody there in a minute or two. Just delicately brush your knuckles lightly over the door (it looks better from the street) and then dump the boxes in the bushes and run. That's POLICY. Time is money, but Porch Pirates require SOME semblance of not leaving the packages out in the wide open. So, HIDE the box. The problem is, I live in Canada and most of my deliveries come in a time when the bushes around my front door HAVE NO LEAVES. Furthermore, my bushes are a full level lower than my front porch/stoop. I walk with a cane and try to avoid it at the best of times. IF the box is in the bushes, even at the best of times, I have to don slippers, grab my cane, go out my door and bend over to pick up a package that is BELOW the level of my feet AND is always heavier than I would like. In effect, Amazon is doing it's unlevel best to kill me.

So, I've asked, politely and not so politely (rudely to be honest) to stop trying to hide the boxes in the bushes. The immediate response was to hide the boxes in the runway between my fence and my garage,behind the back gate. The last time I saw THAT space was when I had raccoons removed from the garage ... a decade ago. If I didn't have my back yard attended to regularly, I would NEVER HAVE KNOWN of the boxes. They would have lay there moldering until the next owners of this house moved in. I was ... unhappy with Amazon. And shared it.

Still, Amazon delivery personnel became adept at stupid placement of the boxes. I have a door that opens towards the north. They'd put it on the south side where I would never look for anything. I got one delivery of a big box and the decision on that one was to place it directly in front of the door. A heavy box that I could not budge sufficiently to leave my own home. I called a neighbour to help move it three feet north and then into the house. I hope that driver doesn't procreate. And worse things. Another driver came close to doing the right thing. He put the box between my outer screen door and my inner door. Too big to close the outer door, but a good try, if it hadn't been on a seriously windy day coming from the north. My box was found five doors down and returned to me. Wind has driven my deliveries north and south. The best effort was at the end of my street to the north. A total of 20 houses. Sometimes, I don't get deliveries and theorize it's more likely it was delivered, but blew away, than it was delivered to the wrong address. Not that that THAT hasn't happened. Twice, in fact. Not everybody on the street knows me, although I have lived here for more than fifty years.

I acquired a chair with a porous bottom so water and snow wouldn't pool. I had it chained backwards to the street so that it would serve as the defacto hiding place. It's right beside the door, under the mailbox. Any rational person delivering a box to the address and NOT waiting for me to come to the door, would put the package on the chair and be happy it was hidden from the street, meeting Amazon policy. So, last month, in one week, I had single delivery I had checked off to arrive on the Friday, start arriving piece meal, beginning on the Wednesday. Three separate deliveries on Thursday and one, that finished off one of the Thursday deliveries, came on the expected Friday. Of the deliveries, one was on the south side of the door. One, the big one, directly in front of the door, one in the mailbox, one in the space between my doors and one UNDERNEATH MY CHAIR. Not ON the chair, UNDERNEATH IT. I discovered that one on Saturday. Number of packages ON the chair: Zero.

Because Amazon gives you tracking websites for your deliveries, I knew that agreed-to Friday shipments were coming on other days. So, for Wednesday and Thursday, I didn't go to my office on the second floor, I did some paperwork and napped on the bottom floor approximately twenty feet from the front door. Never once did I hear a knock on the door. I'm old, but my hearing is decent enough to hear a rap when it comes. Not once. In fact, in the past half-decade, I can count the number of times I heard a knock on the door (and my doorbell is a video doorbell with a rather loud chime, so that is not the alternative they can claim) on one hand. Out of dozens of deliveries, approaching hundreds. Never mind the disruption to my work day and my sleeping habits, Amazon's deliveries are never ON-TIME.

For at least the last two sets of deliveries, I have ordered shipments to arrive on the same day. It's a new feature Amazon is testing out BECAUSE too many customers are complaining about unexpected deliveries or having to re-arrange their lives for multiple days when the deal was to get them all on the same day. Last month it was three days of deliveries for the one that was on the agreed-to day. This month, ALL of the deliveries will occur on days other than this Friday. The one I ticked off to receive all the boxes, even though I could have had same-day delivery for half of them on Tuesday. I live a two-minute drive from an Amazon distribution centre!!! But I CHOSE to get them all on Friday to minimize disruption of my day waiting for the delivery. The number of packages I will get on the agreed-to day? NONE. How very serviceable Amazon is. Taking the savings they give me in delivery costs by wasting two afternoons and early evenings of my life. By my calculations, if I hadn't been charged for what I bought at all, meaning free stuff delivered for free, Amazon still owes me a few hundred dollars based on my billable rate.

And when I bought this up with Amazon support last month, one of the idiot managers had the temerity to say, well there's a line you can fill in for instructions. Which is a bald-faced lie. There is no such line. There's a security code space. If she thinks that's adequate, you try and fill in instructions with 25 characters to fill. "Knock on the door, ring the doorbell and wait at least one minute for the customer, who has health issues. If the customer is not there in a minute, leave the package on the chair beside the door." Yeah, doesn't fit. Should be on my file. Been told it is. I've been lied to.

So, THIS month, I resorted to once again choosing to get all the packages on Friday. Which is stupid of me. But I added a second address line. RingBell,KnockOnDoor,LeavePkg-Chair That's my full 35-character limit for that line. My delivery yesterday? No bell, no knock, the package between the doors, where it didn't fit. Congratulations Amazon. You've kept a screwing up streak intact that would embarrass most companies.

But not one Jeff Bezos runs. The package was early. Nothing else matters.

And because I disagree, but am one of millions of Amazon thralls, I can loathe Amazon, myself for using Amazon and everybody at the support desk who have two answers to ALL complaints once you can find a way to contact them: Replace the shipment for free (which works unless it was time sensitive) or pass along the complaints/suggestions to the department in charge. That's the two answers. Placate and move on. The whole Amazon Customer Service playbook. Not fix, just wait for cheap prices, ease of ordering, large selection and that ever-present early delivery to wash away whatever today's problems are.

Amazon is heading for government regulation. The company will be split up with and Amazon Web Services inevitably becoming separate companies. Both run in an ethos developed by Jeff Bezos. Not much will change, but politicians in the USA will puff out their chests and proclaim to one and all that they were doing their job regulating mega-monoliths like Bezos. And nothing will actually change. Deliveries will continue to be early and disrupting and hidden in bushes. Bezos will be indifferent to all of this citing his monopolistic power in many vertical market niches is for the good of the customer ... which he determines to be price-point dependent above all else.

And I will loathe Amazon, because I will still be a customer and author. And I will come to loathe AWS because somehow that relationship will sour over something or other. Did I mention my cloud backup service is Amazon Glacier?

No, I don't heart Amazon. I did once. But the love affair is over. And it will never come back. Amazon is a group of largely good, hard-working (over-worked) people who work for a loathsome organization. A plague on Bezos' houses, all three of them.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, the driver knocked and rang the bell and left the package on the chair. In other news the world stopped spinning to allow me to recover.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Is It Too Late to Publish my Top 25 TV shows of 2017?

The answer is probably yes. Which I plan to ignore and put the list here.

No extended discussion as to the why's and how comes? I'm hoping to turn this annual (I'm LESS than a year late with this) write (sic) of passage into an eBook called "One Man's Guide to Binge-Watching TV: The Lifetime Edition." I plan to 'scoop' myself by releasing the list annually on my birthday. And that will continue next month with the 2018 edition. Check out Amazon in about five months to see IF I succeeded. After that, the book will be updated on my birthday and then the release here later in July of just the list. But here's the 2017 list, at least.

TOP 25 or close enough

  1. British TV Game Shows with scoring rules too complicated for me to figure out UK
    • QI
    • Duck Quacks Don't Echo
    • 8 of 10 Cats Countdown
    • Would I Lie to You
    • Big Fat Quiz 
    • Room 101
  2. Our Ex Wife UK
  3. Snatch UK
  4. Marvel's Luke Cage
  5. Amazing Hotels Life Beyond the Lobby UK
  6. Talk Shows with foreign-born hosts
    • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 
    • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee 
    • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah 
    • The Jim Jefferies Show
    • The Last Leg with Adam Hills UK
  7. Brockmire
  8. Orphan Back CDN
  9. Spies in the Wild UK
  10. The Good Place
  11. Bosch
  12. Gotham
  13. Madame Secretary
  14. Pain, Pus & Poison The Search for Modern Medicines UK
  15. Superior Donuts
  16. Good Girls Revolt
  17. Sweet Vicious
  18. Dark Matter
  19. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD
  20. Sneaky Pete
  21. Startup
  22. Truth & Iliza
  23. Stitchers
  24. Tarzan and Jane tie Star Wars Rebels
  25. Designated Survivor
  26. Tyrant
  27. Newton's Law AU
  28. GLOW
  29. Girl Meets World
  30. Quarry
  31. The Last Ship
  32. Queen of the South
  33. DC Comics
    • Lucifer
    • Supergirl
    • Flash
    • Arrow
  34. White Gold UK
  35. Shark Tank US/AU
  36. Not Going Out UK
  37. Killljoys CDN
  38. The Night Shift
  39. Travelers
  40. Adam Ruins Everything
  41. Incorporated
  42. Real Time with Bill Maher
  43. Hack My Life
  44. The Secret Life of the Zoo UK tie The Zoo US


  1. Japanology JPN
  2. Chance UK
  3. Salvation CDN
  4. Rosewood
  5. I Love Dick
  6. Ideas, ideas, ideas ... TV shows that might have been genius
    • Pure Genius
    • APB
  7. Private Eyes CDN


  1. Anthony Bourdain - Parts Unknown (A truly tragic story)
  2. Toronto TFC (for Sebastian Giovinco) CDN
  3. Vanessa Gianfrancisco  on One World Kitchen CDN
  4. Downward Dog for the dog animation despite the horrible everything else
  5. Aisha Dee on The Bold Type
  6. The Catch (It's a caper show, 'nuff said ... here)


  1. CNN
  2. Gap Year
  3. Kevin Can Wait
  4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  5. Kim's Convenience
  6. MacGyver
  7. I Live With Models
  8. The Odd Couple
  9. Taken


  1. Time travel TV
    • Timeless
    • Frequency
  2. Notorious (how could you screw up having Piper Perabo)
  3. Westworld
  4. You Me Her (after a decent first season)
  5. Riverdale
  6. Powerless
  7. The Good Fight
  8. Imaginary Mary
(If you're counting, I think that's 78 good mentions to 17 not good mentions ... for a top 25 list)

Heinz Ketchup, Canada and Comrade Donald

I skipped publishing 2017's Top 25 (or so) TV shows last year because I got to the Worst of the Worst and ended up writing 1500+ words on CNN's aiding of the election of the UnGreat Pumpkin, his worst self. I was enraged that the TV channel had abrogated its journalistic responsibilities for the (easy) good ratings letting that overgrown Enfant terrible spout lie after lie, virtually unchallenged so as to ensure he would appear on the channel. Don Lemon, a guy I like and who I think IS a good journalist, didn't come to Jesus until it was too late. He lambasts President Small Hands regularly and doesn't let lies go unchallenged... now. 18 months too late. He wasn't the only CNN journalist to do this, just the one I was most disappointed in. Sigh, I'm stressing myself again just typing about it.

Thanks to CNN and the depressed Midwesterners reaching out for any lifeline in the absence of the belief in the Democrat promises, voters formed the opinion that a vote for Doofus J. Terrible was a case of "What have you got to lose?" Turns out, the American soul.

And moderately priced Heinz Ketchup here in Canada.

The Blithering Idiot-in-Chief has started a trade war. Reasonable to a certain extent if that war had been with China. But that was only Act II. First, he had to shove it up the backsides of the countries that have historically been American allies. You know, the GOOD guys, the neighbours boasting the world's longest undefended border, the folks that died in large numbers so that American soldiers could take Berlin eight decades ago. We've been the polite wingman, consumers of American media and goods and services. And that Tub-o-Turd has fouled this neat agreement amongst gentlemen and gentlewomen. It has been assumed that the Democrats will de-fang The Monster come November and then sweep him out with the rest of the garbage he institutionalized in his not-so-brief four years of Caligula/Nero-like rule from his bully pulpit.

But what if the damage he does is harder to overturn simply with Presidential fiat to sign orders decreeing the country forget everything the dog-whistling Racist has done to the country. One which I truly love, down to the single woman I've ever tried to complete a life with. I wonder if "Oops, we won't do that again," will be good enough for the rest of the world. Ask Germany how long international memories are. What if the Autocrat-In-Wanting won't leave? Bill Maher keeps reminding us he saw a victory for the Orangutan Look-A-Like and that he is increasingly alarmed at the idea that we might have an Emperor (with no clues) in the making. Hopefully, his Delphic Oracle impression is wrong. For the world's sake.

There will be a swell in Canada to stop buying made-in-the-US Ketchup ... really Heinz Ketchup. The tit-for-tat tariff Canada attaches to Ketchup in July to respond in part to this cowardly stabbing in the back trade war The Filibustering Fool started, will prompt MANY Canadians to look at the price of buying USA. Boycotting Heinz.

But not me. I consider the stuff ambrosia, the gift of the gods. I am addicted to the stuff. I eat a LOT of it. I have type II Diabetes. Those two things are not unrelated. Like most addicts, I have no control over how I spend my money. I MUST have Heinz Ketchup. Simple as that.


Sigh, I'm Canadian. I'm not allowed to complete the rant. Civility demands I recognize my own failings and stop blaming others for those failings. I will continue to buy Heinz Ketchup. In quantities that drive my doctors to despair and my bankers to lower my credit score. But without saying it, you REALLY know I'm thinking it. And I hope whatever he chokes on is covered in the red stuff.

Heinz red stuff.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mr. Bergevin, Line 1 is for You

I'd like to call Marc Bergevin and tell him  how to go about his business because his business has been hurting. And when the Montreal Canadiens hurt, so do I. Don't quite have the chutzpah though.

Bergevin has managed himself and his team into a corner. There's a lot of talk about taking advantage of the third pick in the draft because the Habs went through all kinds of unhappy to earn the pick. Just as they did the year they made Alexander Galchenyuk their solution for the future and for the past unhappiness of THAT season. Galchenyuk never realized the potential he showed in his first year and was shipped off to the Desert Gulag of Arizona in return for Max Domi, seen by many as Galchenyuk-lite. I actually think the swap works out well for Montreal. I think Domi's determination makes him a better end of a "New Start" trade. I like the worker over the artiste most times. And maybe Max CAN play centre. Or maybe not. The evidence that Jonathan Druin can seems even more ephemeral.

So here's the off-season advice for Bergevin to stumble upon as he strolls through blog after blog telling him ... well ... stuff! I'll be more compassionate. Although if he FAILS to do EXACTLY as I say, I will join the chorus to have his hide astride a pole somewhere in the depths of Hell. Or worse.

I do NOT stake my whole draft on a reach for a kid from Finland who won't be in Montral Blue, Blanc et Rouge for at LEAST another season. The ticking clock on the careers of Shea Weber and Carey Price simply won't permit that strategy. So, I reach out and let Paul Statsny know he can come home to his home province of Quebec. I'm hoping 5.5 for four years gets his signature on a free-agent contract. If it's six by four, so be it. I have my second-line centre, a defensively-responsible defender who scores. And that's just too rare in Montreal this decade. I also bring back Tomas Plekanec for a year-by-year contract arrangement. He'll play the fourth centre spot and can cover up a line or two for brief periods of time. And he is a Montreal lifer, despite doing hard time in Toronto post trade deadline in the spring. We'll ignore that blot on his record, as most Montrealers ignore Toronto anyways. I'd think 2.5 for the season would get him, but I'd still buy in at 3. And by doing that, some of the pain over the loss of Andrei Markov before last season might be repaired. Montreal SHOULD honour those that honour it.

Montreal still needs a bit more help on defence and I'd like to take a flyer on John Moores, a three-year 2.5M kind of guy who might add some scoring back to the back-line and he's sneaky tough too. So, we are talking 10.5M annually for the three, which is less than John Tavares will get. Of course, I'd TALK to Tavares, but I think he stays in Long Island with (probable) in-coming coach Barry Trotz and the Lou Lamoriello touch in the head office.

Which STILL leaves a considerable bit of payroll space and I use it all up PDQ with a three-team trade that I think works for all three teams. Naturally, it resolves most of Montreal's problems and DOES include a division-mate who might not want to help Montreal all that much, but the Habs DO have some candy to deal and relatively new GMs in rebuilding situations have been told ad nauseum that draft picks are the King's Gold of hockey assets. So, here it goes:

Montreal gets Ryan O'Reilly and Risto Routsalainen from Buffalo, along with a third rounder this year from Vancouver and a seventh rounder from Vancouver next year.

Vancouver gets that third pick in the first round from Montreal, as well as Montreal's sixth rounder and Buffalo's seventh rounder next year.

Buffalo (the linchpin of course) gets Max Pacioretty from Montreal, Vancouver's first round pick this year (seventh overall) and the THREE BEST second round draft picks this year from Montreal (which starts with four).

Hmmmmm, the Habs get their first-line centre (or second, it's semantics, given Stastny) and a defenceman to add to the mix of bounce-back candidates, plus some lottery tickets. In losing the captain, Montreal takes on long term commitment of 12M a year, where as Pacioretty is on a sterling 4.5M for one more year. A net add-on of 7.5M. And with it, the remainder of the Habs' payroll. It also means Drouin is a winger. And so is Domi. And so is Brett Gallagher and Arturri Lehkonen and Paul Byron and Charles Hudon and Nicolas Deslauriers and Andrew Shaw. Phillip Danault gets the third-line centre spot. Not a great dozen, but one that makes sense in the NHL. Lots of speed, maybe a lack of proven goal-scoring. But a decent dozen. There's a BIT of disaster insurance in Laval, hopefully made better by new coaching. Can you imagine power plays with both Gallagher and Domi in front of the net?

As for defence, Ristolainen was highly thought of (just look at his contract) as recently as two years ago. If the Habs are selling low on Pacioretty, so are the Sabres with Ristolainen. But not too low. Buffalo gets a boatload of picks to make after the kick off the draft Friday with Rasmus Dahlin. The club clears the way for Casey Mittelstadt to play second-line minutes behind Jack Eichel. They add leadership and a power-play asset in Pacioretty, paving the way for a potential contract extension if the two sides think it's a good fit. If not, they are saving maybe lost dollars for Ristolainen and awkward dollars for O'Reilly. And the larders will be freshly filled with second-rounders plus that pick six picks after Dahlen and likely to be another defenceman. I think this makes enough sense for Buffalo to trade two roster players for one and to trade intra-division.

Vancouver now moves up and can draft the last of the B level players. Dahlin is alone in the A class this year, but the B class isn't much bigger with just the two players, Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina. Both seem gilt-edged. Now Vancouver will be able to claim one or the other. Not that having a pick from the next six or so would be unpleasant. In fact, I wanted Montreal to take winger Brady Tkachuk third, before hatching this trade and sign plan. But all of the six next best players have some doubts attached to their game. Adding two lottery tickets AND moving up into guaranteed slotting seems a good price to pay for their own pick at seven and a third this year, plus that seventh round swap next year.

This is a trade with legs. It has to be paired with the free agent signings. But if Bergevin wants to keep his job, something similar to this has to be done. Or else the trident is at hand.