I have made a few small enhancements to this blog. It’s a shame I didn’t add it back earlier but the favicon from the previous version of my blog has returned. You’ll notice that icon is now in the address bar of your browser. More importantly, I have removed the bit of text that used to say “Read more” link at the bottom of each post. After running a 100 person double-blind user study, I discovered that a significant number of my loyal readers were clicking on that link, expecting to read more text in the post when none actually existed. Hopefully, the removal of that link will also remove confusion. I’ve also done some minor tweaks here and there that probably won’t be noticed by anyone else but trust me, it was the web site equivalent of cleaning out a forgotten cheeseburger that was stuck under one of your car seats.
When I bought my apartment, I decided to get fancy new kitchen equipment. Surprisingly, I had never owned a pepper mill before, I previously just used pre-ground pepper shakers. Deciding I was a big boy now, I splurged and bought a pepper mill from The Real Canadian Superstore. The mill was made from mainly plastic parts and was cheap in both construction and cost. It was the kind where you twist a knob on the top to grind the pepper. It broke basically in the first week of operation.
For some reason, I didn’t buy another pepper mill until last weekend. I chose a completely different design this time around. Instead of plastic, I chose a mill that was made of stainless steel. Instead of a angular grinding motion, I chose a mill that used linear motion. I am now the owner of a one-handed, “pump it” pepper mill. It also helps that it looks like a fancy detonator to a complex and large bomb. The mill works great so far and I’ve enjoyed putting pepper on just about everything I eat now. If you haven’t tried pepper yogurt yet, you are definitely missing out.
Tonight the NHL 2011 playoffs started. It was the night that Vancouver ice hockey fans have been waiting for since October. The Canucks managed to defeat their recent arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 2-0. As expected, there was much jubilation in the city of Vancouver, most of it misplaced. News reports showed fans streaming out of the arena, some so elated, it was as if they had witnessed the Cup being awarded that night. One fan even had the gall to say Chicago would be swept in four games.
I hate to be “that guy” but I’ve been watching hockey for over two decades. One game wins you nothing. Being that excited about a single win is like whooping and hollering because you found a penny. I don’t expect people be emotionless during a game but some people need to be realistic about what a single playoff win really means in the grand scheme of things. It takes sixteen wins to get the ultimate prize. There’s a long way to go still. Then there’s that comment that Chicago would be swept; that will be highly unlikely. Chicago carried the play throughout the entire second period, which means they’re capable of playing well against the Canucks. They did get shutout tonight but that was more luck than anything. The Blackhawks hit the post four times tonight. An inch or so the other way and we might have had a different game. There is another stat to keep in mind. The Canucks won the first game in both of the last two series against Chicago. Each time, Vancouver went on to win only one more game and they eventually lost to Chicago.
In the end, I am pleased they won the game but the series has just begun.
Girl power week continues here at et.com. For today’s post, we have a video of an eleven year-old girl using a semi-automatic at the shooting range. She’d be very valuable during the zombie apocalypse. Not only does she know how to use a firearm, she’s small enough to get into tight spaces to search for food and supplies.
The above video shows how one little girl made her father the proudest papa in the galaxy. Sariah Gallego and her family went to Disneyland. She and her brother got picked to participate in a Star Wars show. The act is pretty much scripted. The kids that get selected are supposed to get about 30 seconds where they duel with Darth Vader, providing the audience (and their parents) with a neat photo op. I’d say the majority of the kids go along with the act since Vader is the bad guy and kids are supposed to be Jedi (or Padawans).
Ms. Gallego wasn’t having any of that. I guess she thought the Dark Side was way more fun. She did the kneel thing perfectly. Just like the way Vader did it in Empire. If I were her father, I’d be beaming with pride for the next year. Unfortunately, the fake Windu got so flustered he quickly ushered her off-stage.
You’re doing great Dad! Keep on with the good parenting!
Though it seemed unlikely for most of the day, the Vancouver Canucks will now face the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2011 NHL playoffs. The Dallas Stars had their fate entirely in their own hands today. All they had to do was win in either regulation or OT against the Minnesota Wild. Such a win would have propelled them to the off-season and sent Chicago golfing. Chicago narrowly avoided being of those rare teams that win the championship one season and then miss the playoffs the next.
I would have preferred playing Dallas, but I suppose the more dramatic match-up would be against Chicago. The Canucks have lost to the Blackhawks in the playoffs for the last two years; both times in the second round, both in six games. Many talk about this notion of having to exercise these “playoff demons” by going through Chicago. I don’t care about any of that. The road to the Stanley Cup is littered with tough teams no matter who beat you in previous years. Also, beating one team doesn’t make the following rounds any easier.
Another thing to keep in mind is that isn’t the same Chicago team that the Canucks faced in the last two years. Because of salary cap issues, the Blackhawks had to disperse parts of their Cup winning team. Gone are guys like Niemi, Versteeg, Burish, and Byfuglien. They do have their core group like Toews, Kane, Sharp, Seabrook, and Keith though, which is why they’re still a dangerous team.
At the end of day, I’m just glad the regular season is now over and all the playoff match-ups have been decided. If there was one thing bad about having such a great regular season, it was having to wait weeks for the playoffs to start. Wednesday is when the fun begins.
UPDATE: Henrik Sedin did not touch the Clarence S. Campbell bowl tonight when the Vancouver Canucks were crowned the Western Conference champions.
In the above video you can see Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin and alternate captain Manny Malhotra officially accept the President’s Trophy from the NHL, signifying their place as the best team in the regular season for 2010-2011. What is interesting and what people had been wondering for days was Sedin going to touch the trophy. If you watch the video, you can see he nor Malhotra touch the trophy at all. In fact Sedin stays a respectable distance from the award, giving it a wide berth. Given the recognition of success the award represents, why would he treat it like a hand grenade?
If you’ve watched or followed professional sports you know pro athletes can be at times, a superstitious bunch. Professional hockey players are no different. There is a superstition that some players follow that the only trophy they should touch should be the final and ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup, of course, is the NHL’s trophy for the team that comes through the playoffs as the winner. That team is deemed the best in the league for that year. Interestingly, before the Cup is awarded, there are theoretically two trophies a captain could possibly touch on his way to the finals. One is the President’s Trophy and the other is trophy for conference he plays in (Campbell or Wales). For many years now, people have watched with great interest during the presentation of the conference champion trophies. Will the captain touch the trophy or not? If you believe the superstition, then the trophy should go untouched.
In recent years, winning Cup captains have gone back and forth between touching and not touching their respective conference silverware. In 2008, on his way to his first ever Stanley Cup finals, captain Sidney Crosby did everything by the book, as you might expect a young captain would. When he was presented with the Prince of Wales trophy, he did not touch it, probably not wanting to tempt fate. He and his Pittsburgh Penguins went on and lost to the Detroit Red Wings in six game in the finals. A year later, in 2009, Crosby again found himself a conference champion. Perhaps not wanting history to repeat itself, he chose this time to touch the trophy. Not only did he touch it, he let others hold it, and even skated off the ice with it. A far cry from the previous year. Interestingly, he did not raise the trophy over his head. There are some who believe the superstition does not have anything to do with contact with the trophy but that it should not be raised over the head (as that is reserved for only the Cup). Crosby and his team then promptly advanced to the finals where they defeated the Red Wings. To throw things completely off, in 2010, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, reverted back to the superstition and stood idly by the Clarence S. Campbell bowl, never making a motion towards it at all. Toews and his team went on to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in the finals.
Given recent history, perhaps this superstition means absolutely nothing, as many superstitions do. In pro sports though, you want to get any little advantage you can get, even that advantage might be just in your head. On a final note, I have to mention that the last time the Vancouver Canucks went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1994, captain Trevor Linden did more than just touch the Clarence S. Campbell bowl. He raised it over his head and tilted it back so far that the top fell off. Now it would ridiculous to think such an act cost them the Cup but if you were a superstitious person, that’s for sure one way to tempt fate.
The above video is an extended look at Green Lantern, which is DC’s attempt to bring movie success to one of their comic book characters, other than Batman. If DC didn’t have Batman, they’d be a complete failure at bringing their properties to the silver screen. Are Marvel characters that much better when translated to the movies? Maybe. Or perhaps Marvel is just better at making comic book movies. I’m slightly excited for Green Lantern though.
Tonight, the local professional ice hockey team in my city, suffered its second straight defeat in a row, to the same team and the worst team in the entire league. Though the Vancouver Canucks have already been given the accolade of being the best team in the regular season, their play in the last several games do not reflect such an honour. With the playoffs just weeks away, this isn’t a good sign for the club. Will they step it up when it counts? Or will they bring their shoddy play with them into the post-season?
As far as first days go, today wasn’t that bad at all. They all seem to follow the same pattern of activities: form filling, tour of the studio, being dropped off at your desk, discovering what hardware and software you’re missing, reading documents, meeting about fifty people, forgetting fifty people’s names, building the game, playing the game, all of which you try to do without looking or feeling useless.
I did get more affirmation that the game development community in Vancouver is definitely tight-knit. I knew going into work that I’d see at least three people I knew from previous places of employment. What I didn’t account for was various other people who I’d worked with (some just peripherally) years ago, who came to my desk to welcome me aboard. There was one guy who I hadn’t seen in nine years, stretching back to my QA days, who recognized me and wanted to see how I was doing. He was one of the nicest guys I met while I was testing games and it was great seeing him again. Then there was the designer who I didn’t even work with directly about six years ago who came by to say hi. I didn’t even know he recognized me from way back then but he did, so that was good of him.
The other thing I noticed on my first day is that there’s an amazing amount and selection of free food and snacks at Radical. At other companies, there are varying degrees of “free” when it comes to snacks and drinks. I’ve never seen so much free stuff before. There are free breakfast items every day. Every lunch hour, they provide sandwich fixings for the entire company. We’re talking several selections of meat, cheese, and vegetables. Throughout the day, you can grab all kinds of snacks like chips, toast, cereal, fruit, yogurt and stuff I probably didn’t even see yet. It can’t be cheap to order that much food for a team this size so I give the company much respect for offering this perk to the employees. One guy warned me that I could gain weight just from the food that’s available around the studio.
If you see me in a couple of weeks and it looks like I’ve put on weight, please tell me.