Friday, April 24, 2009

Time to rebuild a President's Trophy winner?

As I begin to write this, the Sharks are three minutes away from going down three games to one to Anaheim. I can't believe what I am seeing. I know why it's happening, I just can't believe it. There needs to be some major retooling done to this team before next season if the Sharks ever want to be better than an average team in the playoffs. The following players I can see being moved before next season.

1 - Joe Thornton. For as good as he was during the regular season, you would think that he would finally get that "disappears in the playoffs" removed from his name. Well, we haven't seen it yet and I don't think we will. Even facing elimination, I can't imagine he can find his game.

2 - Jeremy Roenick. Yes, he did revive his career these last two years, but I think that his age is finally catching up with him. I don't think the Sharks will move him as much as I think he will call it a career.

3 - Claude Lemieux. I still can't understand this signing and call up. From what we saw in McGuinn and Vesce during their callups they should have been taking that roster spot and gaining valuable experience. Instead the Sharks coaching staff gave that ice time to a way past his prime grinder.

4 - Mike Grier. Great at times this year but he's never been much more than a defensive forward. At 34 you have to wonder just how much more he can play before becoming a liability. In all honesty if it wasn't for Mitchell's injury, I don't know how much he plays this season.

5 - Alexi Seminov. This will come as a shock to nobody, but with the deadline day deal for Kent Huskins the Sharks have pretty much shown him the door.

Also, do not be surprised if one of the current goaltenders also are moved. Sooner or later the Sharks have to bring the next prospect up and work him in slowly while they still have that option. I would like to be able to say for sure that it probably will be Boucher, but the fact that Nabokov has looked more average then stellar lately could work against him.

I have been a Sharks fan since season two. I have seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly. At this point, I am not sure if I even want to watch game 5. I don't think that I can stand to watch this team that had so much potential fall flat on it's face on home ice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An old fogey at 32? It could happen to you!

I have never been on the cutting edge of technology. I probably never will either. I have just never saw the need to have the newest, sleekest, fastest widget on the market. That attitude appears to have firmly planted it's teeth in my rear.

I have not fallen into the Facebook/MySpace tidal wave. I never saw the point. It's not that I don't want to connect with people, it's just that those services never had any appeal to me. As a political junkie and a writer as a hobby, I am finding that I have some things to say that just aren't getting out there. I'm still not interested in the massive behemoths that are Facebook and MySpace. As a compromise, I began Tweeting.

I can see the value of Twitter. It's a nice, quick way to keep up with folks that share your likes and values all over the world. What I can't understand is the obsession with having 10k followers. What's the point? What's even stranger is the people who are following 10, 20, or even 30k people. How in the world can you keep up with more than a handful of them?

I just joined up with Smart Girl Politics. Yea, I know, I'm not a girl. It's all Tabitha's fault anyway! :D Still, it's a great place for conservatives of both sexes to come together to share ideas among a group that shares the same values. However, the lack of experience with social media sites is starting to make me feel a lot like Rain Man. I'm dreading the day when my daughter (who is six right now) will be trying to help her clueless dad online and just sighs, rolls her eyes and says, "Here dad, just let me do it!"

I knew the day would come when I was no longer "with it", I just didn't know the day already passed!

Think Nationally, Act Locally

If you talk to any politically active person, they will tell you the level of government that most directly affects your day to day life is the local level. City aldermen, town and village boards play a critical role in controlling one of the biggest taxes homeowners face. Property tax bills are directly affected by the fiscal policies at the local level. If they spend unwisely and are not held accountable for that spending, the bad spending will continue.

For that reason, I was shocked and disappointed that tonight, in a village of roughly 10,000 residents I was the only member of the general public that was present for the board meeting itself. When I walked in, there were four people already seated. Two of them were receiving awards from the village for volunteer work. One was the spouse of an award winner. They all left shortly after they were presented with their awards. The last person, I later learned, was a newly elected trustee who, although not sworn in yet, was there to attend a closed door session that was to follow the open session.

Granted, there were no earth shattering motions put forward, but if it appears like the public does not care about the process, what is to stop corruption?

I'll admit that this is the first board meeting I have attended in the nearly four years we have lived in the village. It is not for a lack of interest, though. For a majority of the time we have lived here, my job has required me to work Tuesday evenings. However, now that my Tuesday nights are more available, I will attend every meeting I am able to.

Our village board meetings are broadcast on local public access TV, but in my opinion, that's just not the same. You can see the proceedings, but when they open the floor to public comments, your voice cannot be heard.

So folks, if you want to have the right to complain about the political system, attend a local meeting and become part of the process!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Deja vu all over again?

The San Jose Sharks made history when they defeated the Detroit Red Wings four games to three in the franchise's first ever playoff appearance. If things play out wrong, the Sharks could very easily be on the other end of a similar situation.

With a win by St. Louis and Anaheim and a loss by Columbus, the Blue Jackets will end up with the eighth seed in the West in their first ever playoff appearance.

The Sharks have lost two of their last three games. The lone win was a shootout win over Colorado. None of the games has shown any of the fire and passion of the Sharks teams who were on a tear for the first 3/4 of the season. Coasting into the playoffs would be putting it mildly. Miscommunication between the guys due to a lot of players returning from the IR can account for some of the bad decisions lately, but not until game #82 against Los Angeles did I see something that could be more disturbing than the losses.

It's no big shock that the Kings came out to play. Although they are not playoff bound, there are a lot of guys playing for a job next season. Also, a chance to upset the best team in the West is a big motivator. That's the reason that the Avalanche and Coyotes played so hard against the Sharks recently. What was disturbing is the play of the Sharks. They came out strong, fighting through the tough LA forecheck and getting chances and drawing penalties. After their first goal, however, they seemed to back off. They were still able to generate shots and chances in the offensive zone, but their play in the defensive zone was passive at best.

Weak clearing attempts, low percentage passes leading to turnovers, and that silly drop pass at the offensive blue line that they have been trying lately all ended up in chances for the Kings. It looked like that the Sharks were not playing to win, but playing not to lose. I think I know why. The early part of the season is to blame.

When things were firing on all cylinders for the Sharks earlier this year, they could make bad plays and still win games. They could take games off defensively and Nabokov and the offense would bail them out. They now seem to think that they can still sleepwalk through a game and come out with a win. Unfortunately, December and January are a far cry from playoff hockey. At this time of year you simply need all 18 skaters on the same page. You need to play as a team as opposed to a group of individuals.

Unless the Sharks can find a way to get the chemistry back that they had earlier in the season, begin to play as a team, whoever they face be it Columbus, Anaheim, or St. Louis it could very well be an early exit again for the Sharks.

The not quite ready for prime time president

First off, just because I'm a right leaning conservative makes no difference as far as this post goes. If we had a Republican conservative in the White House making the same blunders, I would be calling him out as well.

Now that the hope and change hysteria has calmed down, I wonder how many folks who thought that Obama was the great answer to this country's problems have had a change of heart? It is obvious that BHO was nowhere near ready for the responsibilities he has. Less than one term as the junior senator from Illinois just doesn't give you the needed executive experience you must have when you are the leader of the United States.

We all have heard the gift gaffes that he has made so far. There are two reasons for these. Either he has a clueless protocol office (unlikely) or he never consulted them (probable). These gaffes are remarkably easy to avoid. Hopefully he will learn from this and stop embarrassing the country.

Being able to read a speech in public is a great gift. Not everyone can do it as effectively as he can. That's not enough of a reason to elect him president. His appointments to cabinet level positions aren't much better. I'm reminded of the Green Bay Packer teams of the mid 80's. I have been told that the head coach hired assistant coaches and signed players because they were either good friends or good people. The result was depressingly bad records. I see the same thing happening here. Obama is choosing folks who are more friends then the right people for the job.

One other thing I wonder about is if Michelle was really comfortable with him being elected. We all have that relative who refuses to have their picture taken. You know that look they give you when, to try to be funny, you take their picture at a family gathering? That is how Michelle looks on several photos I have seen since the election. It's almost like she's getting annoyed with all of the photos being taken of her. It hasn't even been the 100 days yet. Does she think it's going to get better? Or easier? Like it or not, she's the First Lady. Photo ops are going to be almost a daily occurrence for her.

It hasn't really sunk in yet, but when Obama ordered more troops to be deployed he broke one of his largest campaign promises. Less than three months on the job and he's already breaking promises that he made on the campaign trail. How many more will he break before his term is up? It's sad, really. At this rate, the Republicans could very easily take back control of Congress in 2010. If that happens, we will suffer through two years of stagnant government. With the economy in the shape it's in, if we don't get it turned around before then, when will we transition from calling it a recession to calling it a depression?

A bad economy with no solution in sight, a president who seems to make the wrong decision every time, and a nation as a whole losing respect on the global stage. We are at a very important crossroads as a nation right now. Will we make the right choices and turn it around? Only the historians will know.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Come on, ride the train...Please?!

We are not Europe. Culturally, economically, nor physically. So why do the liberals in this country insist that we follow European models? I know I talked about this before, but as long as Governor Doyle won't let it die, neither will I.

All parties involved seem to insist that a high speed rail line from Minneapolis to Chicago via Madison and Milwaukee is the wave of the future. They tout the 'green' aspects of trains, how the trains will reduce traffic, etc. etc. What they fail to mention is the fact that nobody wants to ride them, thereby significantly reducing the 'green' effect of the trains.

There are many reasons why this high speed rail idea is doomed to failure. Most are design flaws, but the biggest one is cultural. We as Americans love our cars. It's a degree of personal freedom that is ingrained into what we are. Also, in this age of political correctness, it is one of the few places we can truly be ourselves. Why would we give up driving ourselves just to save a few minutes?

Which brings me to the first design flaw. Looking at just the section between Milwaukee and Madison, the plan calls for stops in Brookfield, Oconomowoc, and Watertown. With stops that close together the train has only one section between Madison and Watertown where it will get up to top speed. Because of this, the estimated travel time from Milwaukee to Madison is one hour and ten minutes. The terminals will be at the Amtrak station in Milwaukee and at Dane County Regional Airport in Madison. The estimated travel time by car (estimated by Google maps) is one hour and seventeen minutes. That's right folks. The government wants to spend 519 million dollars to save travellers seven minutes. Assuming, of course, that is if you live nearby the Amtrak station and want to go to the Madison airport.

The next big hurdle that they will have to overcome is ridership. Will they be able to get enough people riding it to cover operating costs? Using stats from 2008 on the Hiawatha Amtrak line as an example, would 2000 people a day be enough to support this line? Is 2000 people a day a realistic number for this segment of the line? Considering the fact that the taxpayers are already subsidising Amtrak, my response to both questions is no.

The selection of the sites for the depots is another problem. The Milwaukee terminal is logical. It provides an easy transition between the Hiawatha line and the proposed Milwaukee-Madison-Minneapolis line. What I don't understand is the idea to place a terminal at the Madison airport. Traux Field is miles from downtown Madison. Miles away from people and the places people want to go. Why would anyone ride this train to Madison if they would need to take a cab to get anywhere? As for the other stations I cannot speak for the Watertown or Oconomowoc stations, but I do know where the proposed Brookfield station will be. It is in a residential area approximately 2 1/2 miles from the main business district. There will need to be major improvements to the area to promote ridership. Considering how much of a fuss Brookfield has had in the past with seemingly innocent economic development, this station may not even be built. Oconomowoc's depot is on the country's list of historical sites. The plan is to expand the depot. I can't see that being easy or inexpensive.

Is there really a need for this line? Maybe. I can see the prospects for it. Easy connections for folks in the Milwaukee and Madison areas to and from each other and to and from Chicago. However, this plan just has too many holes. We can do better.