I had grand illusions of using this space to let everyone know how busy I am. The truth is, that while I may have had a fairly busy week, the real reason that I am unable to produce a longer post is that my normal blogging time, the quiet of the early morning before the guys I care for have risen for the day, will be used for more important things. Later today, we are doing our annual refresher course for Therapuetic Crisis Intervention. It is required learning, and in the case of emergency at work, is beneficial to keeping myself and the guys safe. I am lucky in that the guys I work with are general calm and jovial characters, and I have little reason to use any of the training. That doesn't mean it's not worth knowing. Having peace of mind is a nice thing for mind, body and soul. I thought I would provide a quick update on the week that was, provided my time doesn't run out.
Last weekend, just over a week ago, I struck a deal with one of my competitors to "chop" our hockey pool. Those of you who are poker players will know the term, but the "chop" is a splitting of the prize money reducing the gap between the finishing positions and reducing the variance involved. We had 10 entrants at $100 each, and then 6 of the guys put in an extra $50 for a winner takes all side pot. Both Cam and I were in the side pot and had run away from the other 8 teams. We had 9 days left in the season, and I had closed the gap from 30 points to 8 points in the 2 weeks preceeding. First place with the side pot included was scheduled to get $1000, and second was set to get $225. I offered to make a deal, and within a couple of days, I recieved a response. $600 for him, $500 for me, and we play it out for the last $125. After doing some quick math, I decided to take the offer. I then proceeded to close the gap to 3 points with a few days left, but never did get any closer. I took second, and the $500. All in all, a good result after getting dead last in the same pool last season. My best picks? They were Patrik Elias late, Jakub Voracek when everyone giggled, and Matt Moulson.
Having locked up a bit of cash in the hockey pool, I decided it was time to get back to the poker tables. I made a few visits to the Treasure Cove this past week, and while mostly uneventful, I came out in the black. 10 days ago, on Friday after work I stopped in to play. I visited with a friend while I waited for a spot to open up. When I got in to play it was a quiet game, but I immeadiately started catching cards. While most of my good luck was being wasted due to a lack of action it was a very encouraging sign to at least be hitting. My luck had been so sour that anything positive was welcomed. As we sleepily played a limp and call type of game, I found a big hand. I played Queens for a raise in early position and got just one caller. I flopped a set, with an ace on the board. I got the call. When a second club turned and I led out again, I was promptly re-raised. I shoved for the rest of my stack (~$250) and managed to win when his A6 of clubs didn't hit. I booked a solid win that night, which had me itching to return. I played a few more times this past week, and while I broke even overall, I felt like I was playing really well. My game gets rusty due to inactivity, but I also don't have a ton of time to play when I am juggling everything that life throws at me. I have a couple more weeks to play, then soccer season starts which will cut into my free time quite significantly.
Speaking of soccer, I went and picked up the gear and schedules for Jasmine's team this past Saturday. The season is set to begin in less than two weeks, and I'm getting excited. I'm coaching with the same partner I had last year, and I really enjoyed hanging out with Steve. We both had the same goal, to help our girls and the rest of the team have a lot of fun. I think we were pretty successful last season, the girls all seemed to enjoy themselves, and we also won almost every game. Most of the wins came due to hard work and effort, as the girls grinded out plenty of close games. As I looked over the new team for this year, aside from Steve's daughter, I recognized only one other name. I'm looking at this as a chance to get to know some different kids and see what I can do to help them along their soccer paths. Enjoy the game, improve your skills while you are at it, and see where it takes us. I'm anticipating the challenge greatly.
I'm still contemplating what I am going to do for summer sports myself. I feel like I should play soccer, despite my annoyance over the escalating fees. I have had a number of recent discussions with people asking me if I am going to play. I bumped into a teammate from 2 years ago at the youth soccer office, and he asked me if I was going to play. I ran into an old Quesnel acquaintance and found myself encouraging him to get back into soccer (he was damn good 20 years ago when we were kids). I got together with my hockey pool buddies, and had a couple of them talking about playing. The recreational league doesn't conflict with Jasmine's soccer so that excuse is out the window. Just do it, right?
The hockey pool buddies only get together for one reason, and it was with that in mind that we met up last night. I had to collect my cash from the regular season pool, then turned around and handed part of the money back over for the playoff pool. Only 8 entries this time, we lost 3 guys and added 1. I didn't prepare properly, and the end result was a team I don't care for. Channeling all the powers of Nostradumbass I've expertly decided that Boston will meet and defeat Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final. This will happen after they beat Pittsburgh and Vancouver respectively in the Conference Finals. With that in mind, I tried to stick to those teams for my players. The problem being that Boston is quite a low scoring team that spreads their offense around. I didn't get my hands on the top Chicago guys, and the Pittsburgh guys went very quickly. This left me with Vancouver and all their talented snipers. Of course, I didn't get them, I got the second line guys. If these boys win, we can all be shocked together. I have Dave Krejci, Marian Hossa, Henrik Sedin, Patrice Bergeron, PK Subban, Tyler Seguin, TJ Oshie, Alex Burrows, Brendan Gallagher, and Jannik Hansen. To make life more interesting, I took a bet that says Vancouver beats San Jose in the first round. Yes, I hate the Canucks. And yes, I will be stuck cheering for them to some extent as I have 3 of their players, and a sizeable bet to see them win in the first round. Go me!
I think it's fair to say that I'm addicted to this exercise thing. I know, I talk endlessly about it, but it's now reached a whole new level. If I have an unproductive day, I feel off. Having a solid cardio or weight lifting session makes me feel better for the rest of the day. It frees my mind, and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I managed to nicely fill my week with exercise, and I am pretty damn proud of myself. I totalled 10 km running, 16 km biking, 9 km walking, 4 sessions with the weights, 2 hours of yard work, 2 trips to the swimming pool and as my Dad pointed out, spent plenty of time chasing a 2 year old. I time my runs, and this week I managed a 5km run in 23:40, my second run in driving rain and gusting wind clocked in at 26:01. I would be more then happy if I could run at that pace over the full 10 km next month when I race, but I am shooting for the more realistic goal of 5 minutes per kilometer. I know there is a different feel on race day, adrenaline, other runners to keep pace with and so on, so I am going to set a realistic goal and look to out pace it. I like they way the training is going so far.
I'm currently in the middle of two books. I usually like to read one at a time, but circumstances led me to having two on the go. I will politely describe my friend as a non-reader, someone who only picks up reading material when he needs to drop the kids off at the pool. When I visited him recently in Quesnel, I was chatting his wife up about reading and the books we have been enjoying. Next thing I knew and my buddy was chiming in with a strong recommendation to read "Crazy Man's Creek" by Jack Boudreau. My friend is an outdoorsman, loving all things that involve getting out in nature. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, tree sapping (is that the right term?), and mining are all interests of his. He told me he likes to read about thing that are "real", not made up stories, and he especially likes to read about the local area. He passed along his copy of the book, and the other day I dove in. It's a fun read, and I can relate to the idea that local stories add some interest as well. Most of the stories centre on the early half of the 20th century and the initial settling of the Prince George area. Thanks Richie for the solid recommendation! I'm also reaching the climax of another book on the Modern Library list, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers. It's really good so far, another work from the Southern gothic genre, with a focus on black struggles against racism and opression. It really focusses on the nature of humanity, and the power of listening to one another. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Last but not least, I found time to enjoy a few movies the past couple of weeks. I got to the theatre 10 days ago with the guys to enjoy "42". I loved it, and I think most everyone will enjoy it. Baseball is the background for a great human rights story. Harrison Ford pulls off an awesome performance as Branch Rickey the man who decided to take it upon himself to break the colour barrier in baseball. If it wasn't for him, Jackie Robinson never would have got his shot. At home, Sheila and I caught "The Adams Family", which neither of us had seen. Meh. Really, it was okay, but the unique concept could have been done better. I got a kick out of seeing Christina Ricci again, as she was and still is one of my favorite actresses. When I saw her in "Casper" as a pimply youth of 12, I fell in love. Later, she cemented my crush with a steamy performance in "Buffalo 66" when I was 15. I was smitten, what can I say? I don't care for her looks much now, but nothing will take away that teenage attraction. I also watched "UHF" starring Weird Al this week. It was odd and quirky as you might expect, but it wasn't bad. It was made 24 years ago and led to Weird Al getting zero other movie roles, so maybe it wasn't well recieved amongst those who matter in the movie industry. All in all, I enjoyed it. I also watched "The Foot Fist Way" starring Danny McBride this week. Made on a whopping $78,000 budget, McBride is the 1st, 2nd and 3rd star. Playing the lovable loser who runs a kung fu training facility, he is convinced that he is a really big deal. No one else thinks so, and hilarity ensues. I already liked McBride from his work in a "Pineapple Express", "Hot Rod", "Tropic Thunder", "Your Highness" and this just makes him even cooler. Definitely, its worth a watch.
I have saved the most important bit for last, as my younger sister is set to celebrate a birthday tomorrow. Erin turns 28 tomorrow, and as the world turns we just can't stop getting older. I remember the days clearly in my mind when I would torment her endlessly. Despite the hell I put her through my sister become an amazingly accomplished woman. She holds a B.A. from McGill, a Masters from U.B.C. and she is currently keeping busy running a Compassion Club with her boyfriend in Montreal. I am very proud of her, and often enjoy bragging about the things she has accomplished. Happy Birthday Erin! I hope you enjoy your day, and find some time to relax and celebrate.