Monday, February 9, 2015
I grew up in the Detroit area, Franklin Michigan to be specific. I learned to play hockey and golf in our backyard. We had a pond; I have fond memories of skating and learning the game ice hockey.
For one long weekend every January, nearly 1,500 men and women in skates converge on frozen Lake Nokomis Minnesota to revisit their childhoods.
The event, the United States Pond Hockey Championships, recalls a simpler time, when children from the Upper Midwest developed their skating and stick-handling skills on windswept frozen lakes and backyard rinks, not at indoor complexes with screaming parents.
“We’re celebrating the hockey of our youth,” said Carson Kipfer, a tournament co-commissioner.
Camaraderie, bragging rights and beer are the primary attractions for a 10-year-old tournament that offers no prize money and only one trophy: the Golden Shovel, an oversize, gold-painted snow shovel on which the names of winning teams are etched. Last month, swishing skates, clacking sticks and the occasional barking dog provided the soundtrack for 250 teams in six divisions, competing on 25 rinks laid out 50 yards from shore.
In the past decade, pond hockey has grown from a curiosity into one of hockey’s most popular genres. The success of the World Pond Hockey Championships in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, which began in 2002 and features teams from Canada, the United States and more than a dozen other countries, inspired similar events in the United States.
USA Hockey does not track pond hockey players specifically, but it said overall adult participation had more than doubled in the past decade, to 167,527 in the 2013-14 season from 75,974 in 2004-5. Labatt, the Canadian brewery, sponsors 13 tournaments in New York, New England and the Midwest.
On or off the water, American pond hockey rules differ greatly from rules in college hockey and the N.H.L. Teams skate four on four, with no goaltenders and a maximum of six or seven players on a roster. Games have two 15-minute halves, with a two-minute break in between. Checking and slaps shots are not allowed. There is no icing or offside. Goals may be scored only from the attacking half of the ice.
Nets vary from tournament to tournament. Minnesota uses wooden boxes made of 2-inch-by-6-inch planks that are six feet wide, with 12-inch openings on each end. Wisconsin opts for nets, which are four feet wide and six inches high. Minnesota edges its rinks with 18 inches of hard plastic, but Eagle River prefers small piles of snow. Every spring, Weber said, firefighters retrieve 700 to 800 pucks from the melting snowbanks and donate them to the local hockey association.
Pond hockey also stands out for the whimsical team names etched on its trophies. Minnesota entries included Hat Trick Swayze; He Suits, He Scores, with players in tuxedo T-shirts; Navin R Johnson and the Jerks, a reference to “The Jerk,” the 1979 film starring Steve Martin; and Vanek! At the Disco, melding Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek with a pop punk band.
Above all else it is a great way to celebrate the sport of ice hockey, ice hockey largely misunderstood in America, but in my opinion the greatest game in the world.
COLLEGE CHRONICLES - New Harvard University policy bans student-teacher relations. The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/1DG8sq0
THIS WEEK’S SOAP OPERA: Brian Williams - For years, Brian Williams had been telling a story that wasn't true. On Wednesday night, he took to his anchor chair on "NBC Nightly News" to apologize for misleading the public. On Thursday, his real problems started. A host of military veterans and pundits came forward on television and social media, challenging Mr. Williams's assertion that he had simply made a mistake ...
The trustworthiness of one of America's best-known and most revered TV journalists has been damaged, and ... the moral authority of the nightly network news anchor ... has been dealt another blow. ... Some of the soldiers present in Iraq that day had been quietly fuming about Mr. Williams's reporting for years, and had even tried to alert the news media to it earlier. Joe Summerlin, who was on the helicopter that was forced down, said in an interview that he and some of his fellow crew watched Mr. Williams's initial story and were angered by his characterization of the events. ...
Williams just extended his contract with NBC in December, with the terms reported to be as much as $10 million a year for five years.
With America's No. 1 newscast at stake, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke held a meeting with NBC News executives at his house yesterday to discuss the next steps in the Brian Williams crisis. Williams still hopes to survive and is considering the timing and venue for his next apology. But his cancellation yesterday of an appearance on "David Letterman," scheduled for Thursday, was a sign that the agony - for Williams and the network - may be prolonged.
IN AND OUT - Becerra seriously weighing California Senate run: Rep. Xavier Becerra is moving closer to jumping in the California Senate race. The Democrat this week told House colleagues as well as Democratic operatives and lobbyists about his desire to run to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. 'One to 10, 10 being serious, 10,' said Becerra when asked how seriously he was considering launching a campaign ... Becerra represents downtown Los Angeles and previously served in the California State Assembly and as deputy attorney general in the California Department of Justice.
Billionaire Tom Steyer announced Thursday that he will not run for the California Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer. The news ends speculation about whether Steyer, an outspoken environmentalist and former hedge fund manager, will insert himself into the race ... Aides explained that Steyer will continue working to raise the profile of climate change through his 501(c)(4) organization, NextGen Climate, and its associated super PAC ... [An] aide added that Steyer remains interested in seeking public office, possibly the governorship of California in 2018.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: John Grisham (60), Greg Norman (60), James Spader (55), Gail Tang …nobody does Google Docs better, John Williams (83).
ALIBABA IN THE SPOTLIGHT - A rare public dispute between one of China’s most prominent companies and the country’s government has come to light. Beijing has accused e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to crack down on the sale of fake goods, bribery and other illegal activity on its sites—prompting Alibaba to accuse a senior official at a government agency of misconduct and threaten to file a formal complaint. The claims highlight a major risk for the company that last year raised $25 billion from global investors in the world’s largest initial public offering. Experts warn that the accusations could damage Alibaba’s reputation among investors and brands overseas, while the highly public spat could hurt the company’s relationship with the government. Meanwhile, Yahoo has announced a plan to spin off tax-free its nearly $40 billion of holdings in Alibaba, a move that should give Chief Executive Marissa Mayer more time with shareholders despite continued declines in the Internet portal’s core advertising business.
APPLE MAKES A GIANT PILE OF MONEY - Apple reported the largest net income of any public company in history in the three months to December, as record iPhone sales of 74.5m units beat even the most bullish Wall Street forecasts. ... Apple's net profit grew 37 per cent to $18bn, topping ExxonMobil's previous quarterly record of $15.9bn in 2012, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. The financial results and the iPhone's strong performance come as a vindication for Mr Cook, who has seen off questions over whether anyone could succeed Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs. With pressure building to maintain the iPhone's momentum, Mr Cook faces his next test in April with the launch of the Apple Watch, its first new device since the death of Jobs.
Sales of the iPhone leapt 46 per cent over the prior year in the crucial holiday shopping quarter, driven by the highest number of first-time buyers since the smartphone launched in 2007. ... First-quarter revenues at the company, now valued at $650bn by investors, grew 30 per cent year-on-year to $74.6bn. Earnings increased by 48 per cent to $3.06, well ahead of analysts' estimates ... Apple's cash position at the end of the quarter stood at $142bn, net of debt. That is almost $23bn up on three months earlier, with 89 per cent of its cash now held outside the US.
FACEBOOK'S EXPENSES SOAR - When Mark Zuckerberg warned investors three months ago that Facebook's expenses were going to rise sharply, he really meant it. The company reported on Wednesday that revenue increased 49 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year, exceeding Wall Street's expectations. But expenses rose even faster, up 87 percent from the same quarter a year ago, driven in part by a huge increase in stock payouts to employees ...
The social network, which makes most of its money by including advertising in the news feeds of its users, said about 69 percent of its advertising revenue came from mobile devices, which have become the most common way people tap into the service. Facebook said that it had revenue of $3.85 billion in the fourth quarter, compared to $2.59 billion a year ago. Net income was $701 million, or 25 cents a share, up from $523 million, or 20 cents a share, in the previous fourth quarter.
JUST WORDS – I was in a few meetings this past week where the word “transparency” was used quite often. As a profession I solve problems. These problems can vary a lot depending on the situation. project. culture. team. ...But what I have been noticing is that the cause of many problems is the lack of transparency. Now I want to make my awareness about transparency stronger. I have been trying to do this by reflecting the question of 'What is transparency' on my daily life.
Transparency to me means the ability of being able to see where the final result came from. A transparent structure should allow an outsider to look at all sources involved [data, tangible supplies etc.], see all steps taken and be able to understand the underlying processes that led to the status quo.
The problem is the sources and amount of data to provide an understanding is missing.
WORDS OF THE MONTH –
1. to perform hastily or carelessly.
Even-tempered as he was, he soon began to give evidences of the strain of being pent in with a mechanical monster that toiled, and sobbed, and slubbered in the shouting dark.
-- Jack London, "The Pearls of Parlay," A Son of the Sun, 1912
Salida: noun; exit, way out
Salida derives from the verb salir and is the basic way of referring to an exit from a public building. You may well see it on signs such as:
salida de emergencia - emergency exit
GRAMMYS - Grammy Awards 2015: Sam Smith almost sweeps top awards; Smith, the freshman British singer-songwriter ... took three of the four top awards, for record, song and new artist. The runaway success of Smith's career in the span of barely eight months dramatically demonstrated the new world in which music is created, given birth and blossoms at lightning speed thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and You Tube.
COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Friday 2/14, 7:00 PM CT, FSD+; #14 Michigan Wolverines (16-8-0) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-9-3). They don’t get any bigger in the Big Ten, Michigan 4 The Gophers 3. Season to date (4-1)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(SCIAC Game of the Week, Feb. 14) SCIAC #1 Golf Tournament – (men) (1) CMS Republicans, (2) La Verne Leopards; (women) (1) CMS Republicans, (2) Occidental Tigers
(ECAC hockey, Feb. 14) Cornell University (10-10-3) 2 at #9 Harvard University (12-8-2) 6
(NHL, Feb. 14) Vancouver Canucks (29-19-3) 3 Calgary Flames (29-21-3) 5
Season to date (18-11)
MARKET WEEK - The U.S. economy has "turned the corner," but wage growth remains a problem, said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. But he expressed concerns over Greece and Russia.
U.S. stock futures were lower in early trading on worries about the Greek debt standoff and weak Chinese trade data. Wall Street closed lower Friday, but the Dow and S&P 500 both surged for the week.
Resolving the crisis in Greece may prove difficult after leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras laid out plans Sunday to dismantle his country's "cruel" austerity program. Greek stocks were off 6 percent today.
DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama today meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss 'a range of issues including Ukraine, Russia, counterterrorism, ISIL, Afghanistan, and Iran. They will also cover economic growth, international trade, climate change and Germany's plans for hosting the G-7 Summit in June." ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew arrives in Istanbul, Turkey for the G-20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.
More snow and bitter cold this week for the East Coast, while eighty degree temperatures will be the norm in Southern California.
Next week: Jack Ass of the Month and The Puzzler.
Until Next Monday, Adios
February 9, 2015
CARTOON OF THE WEEK – E. Flake