Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm a Lumberjack...

Sometimes in life, you just need to get away and become a tourist, and after a day like today in the middle of a week like this one, I decided that it was best for me to get out and see the sights of Bangor, ME. It was recommended that I visit the 31ft tall Paul Bunyan - the largest Paul Bunyan in the world. It is said that Bangor, ME is the hometown of big Paul due to the large lumber industry that flooded into Bangor many years ago. So why wouldn't you build an enormously large, wooden tribute to him? No need for a large wooden badger, Paul Bunyan does the trick! This was just too great to stay away from and he looks kind of familiar...

Also, check out this song which was entirely necessary.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Down in Maine

What would a trip to an ice rink in an unfamiliar state without getting lost? Unusual for me... of course, I got lost, but this time I can admit it wasn't due to my lack of navigational skills. I was given bad directions which led me to the opposite side of Brewer than that which I needed to be on. Luckily, I ended up finding the ice rink on accident, only recognizing the road it was on by the fact that its name is Acme (who could forget Willie E. Coyote?) and the knowledge that there is apparently a pool nearby. I saw and pool and guessed that it would be Acme Rd.; it was. Phew, crisis averted.

The camp is going to be a long one, though. Most of the kids are great and want to learn and want to work, exactly what any coach would ask for, but there is always a kid or two who don't care and do NOT want to get better - if they even want to play at all. I have two (brothers); one seemingly wants to learn and get better, but is too worried about what his younger brother is doing; whether or not he is behaving. His younger brother is exactly that, young, and has the attention span of a chipmunk on crack. It took some time for him and I to see eye-to-eye, or at least for him and I to get to know each other. For me, I have to learn how best to treat him, how to coach and how to get the material across to him without frustrating him and "insulting" his knowledge. He is very stubborn that he knows basically all there is to know, even at his age, but I think he is starting to understand that I know just a bit more than he does. It'll take time and a lot of patience.

I do believe that the highlight for these kids today was the off ice session. It may be only about an hour or so, but they worked there asses off and went through drills that are designed to challenge people of all abilities, including NHL players. That's one of the greatest things about plyometrics; they are designed so that each person is challenged based on their own body and not on external weights. I really do have a passion for dry land training; I love it. I love doing it myself and I love teaching other people and putting them through the gruelling hell that it can be.

There is so much potential for strength stored up in every person; people of all body types and sizes can get something out of it. Muscles are worked extremely well and there is an aerobic aspect to the exercises, allowing people to burn more calories than weightlifting alone. Weightlifting regiments can be designed to be similar, but I feel the natural weight of your own body is the best way to begin strength training and will produce some of the best results. There are so many exercises and variations of exercises that allow for flexibility at all skill levels. Each drill may be adjusted to be easy or extremely difficult. I have written a manual for the Oswego State Club Hockey team - just a compilation of all the drills I've done of the years. It needs to be expanded, though, with new drills included and new variations of old drills explained.

I don't know what it is... but the technique and power that is obtained and exemplified in plyometrics is amazing in my mind; I really do love it. If you want to run faster, jump higher and get a stronger stride in hockey (or whatever else) plyos can do it for you. Plyos are such a powerful tool.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rutgers Prep Camp

Back to New Jersey... oy! Well, my second to trip to NJ went a bit better than the first... at least in Somerset I could turn left at nearly every light, but in fact, I didn't have to worry about driving hardly at all - there was a shuttle from the hotel to the rink! Excellent. Last week was the Rutgers University Collegiate Prep Camp for kids thinking of pursuing college hockey, at Rutgers or otherwise. Most of the kids were high school seniors or college freshmen, with a few kids that were younger and a few that were older.

As usual, my job is to handle the goalies and make sure they get the work and feedback they deserve, especially out of a camp that is in no way designed for goaltenders. I had two - one who is going to be a junior in high school and one who was planning on trying out for an ECHL team. The ECHL hopeful goalie had actually not played very much ice hockey but is a very good roller hockey goaltender... and his first remark did it for me... he declared that ice hockey goalie was easy and took very little effort... :-O

Right then and there I knew he was going to be crap and would turn out to be more trouble than he was good. Both goaltenders needed a lot of work on their fundamentals... but only one actually thought I was right (guess which one!). After all was said and done the ECHL hopeful left the camp after a day and a half after getting lit up by high schoolers and college kids - citing they weren't good enough.

Now, I admit, it's extremely hard as a goaltender to play down a level, let alone two or three. But there was a Junior A player and a few college players out on the ice. They lit him up... not because they were slow, I watched them and his reactions... they were just better than he was. You can tell when goalies are being forced to play down a level, their reactions are either too quick or too slow and you can see them waiting... and waiting... and growing impatient with the player. But he was seeing shots that were challenging him and his reactions were being pushed to their limits. I tried to explain things to him, but after a while he would have none of it, and walked off the ice. Good luck buddy, let me know how the EC is. Ha ha... sorry... that was mean (but true).

The rest of the week I had to dress in net and provide competition. It was fun (especially against those Rutgers punks!) and I got quite a work out from the older kids. I'll admit, I didn't play well. My reactions were slow to start out and I wasn't following the puck very well at all, but oh well, I'm retired now anyway. It was fun and the off ice workouts were tough yet a ton of fun (yes I think I'm masochistic... sp?).

So I spent a week with the enemy... big deal. I'm retired, and am a coach now. But I did get some inside information; nothing huge, but still good to know. I also picked up a lot of off ice drills and on ice drills which are used by the pros (Cam Jansen and Scott Stevens in particular). I'll put the Oswego boys through one of the off ice workouts when I'm there next week, I think. They'll find it tough enough.

Friday, August 8, 2008


It has been just under 3 months since I graduated from Oswego, which means it's only been about 2 1/2 months since I have owned a bike. The bike was a gift from my girlfriend and her whole family since I had expressed interest in one so that I might bike to Dartmouth and back from my apartment thereby saving lots of gas and therefore tons of money.

Although the bike was meant for graduate school, I am very impatient when it comes to having new things... I like to put them to use right away. The bike was no different. I wanted to hop right on and start riding. It wasn't very long before I made my first trek out onto the roads behind my house. The trip is only about 4 miles round trip, but the hills killed me. Having just gotten done watching Le Tour I found myself in awe at how great of athletes those guys truly are; I always knew they were good, but I discovered they are pretty much not human.

Anyway, to get myself back into shape I started riding more (weather permitting) while on my breaks from hockey school. This meant I wasn't riding a whole lot. The other day, though, I went for a ride down a road I hadn't ever been down before and quickly found myself in the next town over (West Henniker) so I turned around and pedalled back to the house and googled the distance (thanks to google maps). A total of just under 7 miles, I thought that was a good distance, especially considering the hills that plague the roads of NH. I noticed, though, that there was a loop that would lead back to Hillsborough off of that same route. Today I tried that loop.

Turns out, the road that leads back to Hillsborough is closed (well the bridge at least) so I couldn't get across the river. Thus I was forced to ride up to Henniker (well maybe not forced, but I decided to go that way) and came back 202/9, a main highway between Hillsborough and Henniker. I found out this totalled about 12 miles, give or take, and adding to that my adventure to find air for my tires, I travelled a total of 14.7 miles (thanks again to google maps). I'm proud of this ride. The hills are long and steep and the distance (at least for me) is quite long. And only taking about an hour to ride, that's a good pace in my mind. I've taken a liking to bike riding, it's refreshing and a fantastic leg and cardio workout. All this makes the trip from an apartment to Dartmouth seem simple. So thanks again to those who helped contribute to the bike, it's well worth it and I've found a new hobby!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fedora 9

Are you sick of the sluggish performance of Windows or its ability to throw a blue screen at you in a moments notice? What about the software for Windows; it will almost always cost you a good deal to install software that not only does what you want it to but does it well? You use a Mac you say? Again, expensive software... but even before you spend all your disposable cash on Mac apps. you have to actually purchase the computer. Macs are about twice as expensive as PCs on the average and the computing power you receive is often inferior to that of a run of the mill PC. Yeah, I know, Macs are pretty and have fun graphical effects that make the computing experience all the better, but you still have to pay an arm and a leg for it.

Now, I used to be your basic computer lay person, only checking email and surfing the web with a game of solitare mixed in for good measure. About two years ago, though, while doing summer research at Oswego State, I decided to take my computing experience to the next level, ditching Windows in favor of a superior OS in the minds of all my scientific colleagues. Mac, right!? No, I'm a poor college student and have no way of affording a machine like that. Instead, I made the switch to Linux, a Unix based OS. Why in the world did I switch? The OS was more stable, more efficient with resources (thus much faster) and best of all, it's FREE! I needed an OS that was ideal for scientific research (which means lots and lots of programming and data analysis) and Linux provides the correct environment for science.

Two years later, I'm still using Linux and love it more than ever. While I have had my fair share of problems arising from hardware incompatabilities and missing drivers, the experience of troubleshooting all of the errors I have encountered has been a wonderful learning experience. Choosing my flavor of Linux was difficult, but I eventually settled on what was then Fedora Core 6. Now, I still use Fedora, but have upgraded to release 9 of Fedora (which is no longer Fedora Core).

Fedora 9 (codename Sulphur) is a wonerful OS which I feel has made huge leaps since the days of Fedora 6. I have used every release of Fedora since release 6 and have noted the changes in each new release, but I feel that release 9 has the most notable changes and the greatest improvement of all the releases. With Gnome 2.22.3 and KDE4 as the GUIs Fedora supports wonderful features and a brilliant GUI experience. Graphical effects, similar to those of Mac have been available for a while with Linux, but have never been brilliant and use a lot of graphics power causing the computer to work sluggishly. But with the introduction of Compiz Fusion in Fedora 9 the graphics are smooth and have no effect on the computer's speed. Granted I'm running a better graphics card on my new-ish notebook, even in release 8 of Fedora on my notebook the graphics processing wasn't as smooth as it is in 9. I truely feel that the grahpics enabled by Compiz Fusion rival those of Mac, but for thousands of dollars less.

Hardware compatability has always been an issue for me with Fedora, as I have had to endlessly search for the correct drivers for both my graphics card (nVidia GeForce) and my wireless card (Intel). With release 9, though, these issues have been resolved and the hardware drivers were installed right during the OS installation. In conjunction with the wireless drivers, the new Network Manager for 9 is wonderfully easy to grasp. Just plug in the ethernet cord and the Manager finds it instantly and enables the LAN connection. Wireless as well, it automatically lists all of the available wireless connections and connects to the strongest signal, a far cry from Fedora 8 where if it could not locate an appropriate wireless signal during boot up you had to manually enable the device without knowing what signals were available unless you knew the iwlist command. Fedora 9 also found my webcam, built-in to my notebook's screen, Fedora has never recognized it and rendered it useless, but 9 takes care of those issues and I have now been able to take advantage of the webcam I received with my computer.

Boot up and shutdown have also been greatly improved, both occur with great speed, much faster than previous releases, mostly because the OS does not worry about enabling the wireless device and ethernet card until the user logs into the system. This was always a stall point on boot ups in the past, especially if the wireless signal could not be located.

Fedora also resolved a long standing issue with Java. You used to have to install it manually and then configure it to work properly, at least for web applets. The inclusion of IcedTea in Fedora 8 I found to be a miserable failure; it actually caused my computer to freeze when a web applet was accessed. With 9, they included a JRE package and it works flawlessly for both Desktop apps and web apps.

With other notable changes, including a change to the Yum repository manager (which I'm not the biggest fan of), and the inclusion of Firefox 3, I find that Fedora 9 is a far superior OS to that of Windows (especially Vista). I have access to all of my music and with the appropriate downloads one can play mp3s with no problem.

I highly reccommend Fedora 9 to anyone thinking about switching from Windows or Mac to Linux. It's very "newbie friendly", partitioning is easy as pie and is quite easy to install. Yes, I leave Vista on my computer just in case, but use it as little as possible. With a 2GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard disk I have plenty of resources to run off of and is in most cases overkill when running Linux. I used to run it on my 512MB RAM, Pentium 4 desktop with no issue aside from an inferior graphics card. Great for lightweight machines, I encourage people to switch to Linux, though people should make an informed decision before they switch, but when they do, they'll find that Fedora 9 is extremely user friendly and far superior to Windows or Mac. I could go on forever about Fedora 9 and my reccommendation for people to switch, but I am not an expert and want to warn everyone that I am not an authority on Linux (though I do know more than the average user, I believe).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where's the Train?

I'm still looking for the train that smacked into me last night, at some point. I woke up this morning feeling like I had been decimated by a freight train. I'm not sure if it was the bike ride yesterday or the fact that I slept on the couch so that my old fart of a dog didn't have to climb the stairs to go to bed (I'm sticking with the latter of the two).

The Old Fart Guarding the Door

The ride yesterday was nothing special, as with all my rides. It was about a 7 mile trek and it turns out that I ended up in the next town over, which I was proud of. 7 miles may not be all that far for most bike riders or even non-bike riders may be snuffing their nose at me, but I tell ya, the New Hampshire terrain is rough. With nearly no flat points on the ride, it's a constant battle to make the climb to the top of the hill. I have no idea of the grades of the steeper hills, but I do know that you really have to give your car the gas to make it up. Needless to say, I am proud of my ride yesterday... despite having to take a break going up the steepest and longest hill, but oh well, I'm new to the sport and am just trying to get in shape, not ride in the next Tour.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sandal Woes

Have you ever bought something, liked it so much that when it came time to replace it you bought basically the same thing again? That's what I did with my Mossimo sandals from Target. My pair I bought a couple or three years ago were phenomenal. Best pair I've ever owned. Well I wore the crap out of them and needed a new pair. So, I bought another pair from Target - same type and brand - for $11.88, a sale price that locked me into buying them.

Well, now, I'm not so sure of that decision. They're comfortable like the last pair, but they make me sound like Chucky from the Rugrats cartoon. Every step I take air is forced out like a whoopie cushion on my foot. And when they get even a little wet, all the water squirts out when I walk... making an even more annoying squeaking sound. I sure hope they smarten up and stop squeaking, or else I'm going to banish them to my closet for all eternity... or the dump, either way.


So today was the start of my second Boston-area hockey camp for Rick Heinz. After registration was complete my assistant and I gave our introductions then proceeded to get ready to go on the ice in order to start the camp. Everything was going well until the Zamboni guy informed me that I had to go to the main office and speak with the Board of Health. "Oh great," I thought, "They're going to make me put on a helmet and throw a hissy fit about how the head coaches aren't wearing helmets." So at 10:20, at the point of our ice cut, I went into the main office prepping myself for the intended "helmet lecture" and how I might possibly fall and crack open my head bleeding everywhere before slowly falling into a coma and dying... well... maybe just hitting my head, but that version isn't as entertaining and wouldn't make headlines. Anyway, the "No Helmet = Death lecture" was about to begin when the lady, Nancy, said to me, "Are you the director?"

"I'm the head instructor," I replied. Then came the big blow... "Where's your paperwork?" This began her onslaught of questions I had no answer to. "What paperwork?" She barked back, "Your CORI and SORI, do you have them? Who's trained in CPR, more importantly, do you have a physician on hand? Where are the kids health forms?" So I calmly answered her, "Well, I honeslty don't take care of any of the paperwork, I'll go call the main office and let them know about this and then you should call and speak with them to get a more sufficient answer." So I left, called the office, gave them a heads up and then proceeded back on the ice for the second ice session.

The second session also went great, the kids worked extremely hard and had an absolute blast, as did I. 11:50 rolled around, time for us to get off the ice. So we picked up the pucks and began to leave the ice surface - then all hell broke loose. My dearest friend Nancy was there with her friend from the department of health in Marlboro. The lady looked at me and said she needed to speak with me. "Okay", I though, this may or may not be good. It wasn't. She informed me that the state of Massachussets was cancelling the camp and that I was not be anywhere near the children anymore. I didn't have a CORI on file, so she indicated that I might be a child molestor and no one would know it, or possibly even one of my staff might be. Then she proceeded to cite some ordinance or regulation that we violated - literally by the reg. number. I looked at her and said, "That means nothing to me." So she gave me the gist and basically said, once again, that the camp was cancelled. Then came a barrell of laughs for me, "Are the kids all three feet apart," she asked. I just gave her that look, you know, the "how dumb are you look?" They're all crammed into a tiny locker room, what do you think the correct answer that one is? So she ordered that I keep them three feet apart just in case someone sent their plague ridden child into the world with a highly communicable disease that might kill us all in one foul swoop. So I went into the locker room, told the kids to go eat lunch and that they'd have to sit three feet apart... but mind you, I can't enforce it because I am no longer responsible for them, how did she expect all this to get done? I might moleste them while trying to tell them to sit three feet apart.

To make a long story marginally shorter, the camp was finally cancelled when the Massachussetts board of health denied our request to hold a four day camp instead of a school. Why does five days matter more than four? This is the kicker. A school is only considered a "camp" if kids spend 5 days or more with the same group during a time span of two consecutive weeks. If we had run a four day camp, the board wouldn't have been able to touch us. So you got it, if you want to moleste children in Massachussetts, just hold a four day camp, because only on the fifth day, apparently, will you get around to molesting them, but your camp will be over! Now, it probably still wouldn't have mattered for us, and here's why. Our brochure says that it is a hockey school, and the goaltending brochure never says the word "camp", which is good. But in the player brochure, on page whatever in the middle of the brochure the words, "A Day at Camp" appear to describe what the school is like on an average day. Thus we would be considered a camp anyway because the brochure has the word camp in it once to describe the daily routine. So instead of running a background check on my partner and I to see that we have never molested kids and are not registered sex offenders, we had to cancel the camp.

I think one of the fathers said it best, "When adults and the government get involved, the kids always lose." Amen. Most of the people had nothing good to say about the Commonwealth of Massholes, and neither do I. It's a shame that these kids, who all said they had a blast at their one day of hockey school won't get to have a second, a third, fourth or fifth skate. It really is a shame. I guess it's for their safety.

Excellent News

Good news from the hockey camp front, I have two more weeks of work! I'll be coaching at a college prep camp in NJ - God I have to go back to NJ!!!??? - and then I acquired another Rick Heinz school in Brewerton, ME. There aren't that many kids at the Maine camp, but from what I understand after talking with Rick today is that we don't have to pay for ice as long as the camp has under 15 or so kids - great news! Also, I need to try and find a hockey instructor for that week, most likely one of my college teammates (one of the more responsible ones - if I can use that word while referring to them). Should be a lot of fun.