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Winter Classic ends in a Sabres shootout loss

Well, the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic game between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins is over. The Penguins won their second straight against the Sabres with a 2-1 shootout victory.

Rewinding a bit, the Sabres were doing really well before Christmas, with two really exciting games against Philadelphia and a nice win streak. The icing on the cake was the shootout win when Miller stuffed Briere. As much as I like Danny, hey, I’ll still root for the home team so it was great to see Miller stop that shot.

Now, the up-and-down Sabres have dropped several games straight, including the home-and-home series against Pittsburgh which culminated today in the Winter Classic. They also lost against the New Jersey Devils during this current streak.

The Winter Classic lived up to the billing in at least one sense: the wintry weather. While we’ve had some mild weather in Western New York of late, it did turn cold with some snowfall today. That was sort-of ideal if you want to televise the first outdoor NHL game in the United States, and have an obvious topic for your telecast. It resulted in some interesting camera views of the game, and a lot — I might say too much — of Zamboni work and ice repair. It certainly didn’t help the flow of the game on television.

On the plus side, the game was carried by NBC in high definition. We went over to Aaron and Missy’s house to watch it on their big set and it really does make a difference. (I’m sure it would have been much harder to figure out which was a puck and which was a snowflake here at home. Although my answer that is that the pucks are all the same and the snowflakes are all unique.) I call it ridiculous that Time Warner Rochester doesn’t carry the HD feed of the Sabres games, given that the team is all of an hour away and has been so popular of late.

Also rating up there on the ridiculousity scale:

  • The maddening frequency that the NBC crew started questions to players and coaches with some variation of: “I know you spent a lot of time playing on frozen ponds, so …”
  • The sheer number of references to how great Sidney Crosby is. Guys — whether you’re at NBC or the NHL — please get off this. There are lots of other players on the ice who are interesting and at least as deserving of air time. I’d hate your national broadcasts less if you brought out the character of the league and the game. Plus, the Penguins will play the West Coast teams what, maybe once every seven years? Most of the North American continent, even if they have an NHL franchise, will never see this guy again. Maybe you should prop up all of your players, coaches, teams, and cities. Oh, I forgot, no one but hockey fans are even watching these games anyway because the NHL is so broken, so it doesn’t really matter.
  • The stoppages of play when the Zambonis rolled out. Can we go ten minutes without them, pleasethankyoubye?

All in all, it would have been more satisfying if the Sabres had just won. Sigh.

Pump it up

With the first accumulated snow and ice of the season over the weekend, and the snow today, I’ve noticed that our sump pump has started up again. It’s barely been doing anything since May, thanks to the exceedingly dry weather conditions we’ve had through the spring and fall.

Considering how much water it has moved since we had the new one installed, I’m amazed at how little it pumped over the summer. That really shows me how dry it has been in our area.

If it keeps up, I’m sure it’ll fade from our consciousness, but at the moment it’s noticeable each time it starts up.

Falling snow and bumper to bumper traffic

I’ve never seen the streets around Rochester as clogged from the effects of falling as they were today for my commute home. (Those of you who recall that I was stopped for 15 hours on I-90 by a 1999 snowstorm will also realize that I didn’t see many of the streets around Rochester that day. Ahem.)

A+storm+moving+in+from+the+midwest+hit in time for our evening rush hour. It’s not normally much of a rush hour, particularly for me. At either end of the day, with or without a storm, I can typically get to or from the office in about 15-20 minutes. Seattle this isn’t.

Today, with snow falling at a good clip for the first workday accumulation of the year — our first real accumulation at all was over the weekend — my travel time increased to about 45 minutes. We had probably gotten a few inches, maybe 3-4, before I went out to my car at the end of the day.

I’m pretty sure I was one of the lucky ones, as I was going against the grain on several routes that were miserably backed up. A friend reported that his girlfriend had left at 3:30 p.m., to arrive home at 5, going from Gates to Irondequoit.

It took me a while just to get off-campus simply because of the stacked traffic. I had never seen lines of this like. I saw northbound traffic on East River Road piled up from Jefferson Road down to at least Bailey Road. Southbound East River also had a lineup down through the middle of the three exits from campus, which never happens to this high-volume two-lane road. Westbound Jefferson Road going to the widened Ballantine Bridge was probably bumper to bumper well past campus. Yet eastbound Jefferson traffic also appeared to be stalled, which is much rarer. I couldn’t see much more than those roads, but it was a sight to behold.

The nearby roads were so clogged with slow-moving or stopped cars, I went out through an entrance that had a signal light as that at least gave me a way to get out. I exited onto East River Road to head south, and hit heavy bumper to bumper congestion for nearly the entire length until I turned off at Lehigh Station Road.

I stayed on Lehigh Station for most of the remaining trip. While it was slow, the only portion that was backed up was around the East Henrietta Road crossing. The real traffic I encountered while going east was seen on the north-south routes, so I dodged it. I made it safely home to be greeted by Lije’s attempt at saying, “Hi!” for the first time from his perch in Christen’s arms.

I’m just hoping that everyone else had a safe, if completely out-of-the-ordinary, trip home.

I don’t think there was anything that could have been done to make the situation better; the storm, as an act of nature, just hit at a time that made evening travel difficult. Add in that the first snowfall of the year typically slows things down more than the same storm would in February, and you’ve got a recipe for a really interesting commute.

Piercing the veil

This morning while I was walking Baxter, I looked up ahead and saw a plane rising from the airport. Almost as soon as I spotted it, I saw its lights push through the low-hanging cloud deck, like a bright needle through some gauzy thread.

Continuing to watch, the plane appeared and disappeared a few times, its running lights stitching through the thick clouds.

Bottling the weather

I wish I could bottle today’s warm autumn weather and have it every day. It was just wonderful. I especially enjoyed the walk to my car at the end of the day.

A feeling of empowerment

I have to say that after my upgrade and implementation of Drupal 5.1, and my recent discoveries of the joys of system administration scripting with Python, I’m feeling hugely empowered.

I have a lot of newfound software tools at my disposal that just make me feel like I can do a lot more than I could have done in the same amount of time six months ago. It’s a good feeling.

Maybe this is what it feels like to have The Force (of Star Wars) “surround us, penetrate us, and bind the galaxy together.” Or maybe I’m just reacting to the nice weather we’ve been having this week.

The land that snowplows forgot

I’m exaggerating a bit when I say snowplows have forgotten our street, but perhaps I’m not embellishing much.

During the cold snap that hit us after a brief foray in the 40’s last week, we’ve gotten more snow. It hasn’t been much more snow — but it’s pretty much still on the street in front of our house. I drive on it, I walk on it when I take Baxter out for his constitutional (we can’t refer to it as a “walk” anymore around him, as he’ll get excited and run away from us before we can leash him), and I shovel it.

The snowplowing situation has not been great all winter — or at least the last two months of it, when we’ve actually had cold enough weather to have gotten snowfall. Ha! I look back at the unnaturally warm December days we had, and laugh. We’re paying for it now!

Between this and the ice buildup in front of the house, thanks to the new sump pump drainage arrangement, it’s a winter wonderland around here.

The perils of unprotected flesh in the cold

It was bitterly cold yesterday and today. Really cold. I think today was our lowest high temperature of the year … and we’ve had some sustained low temperatures since January.

The wind was blistering as I walked to my car at the end of the day yesterday.

What was standing water on bare ground last week, during the few warm days we had, has now refrozen into small ponds and been recovered by snow.

The fantastic wind-blown curves have been chiseled from the fresher snow on top of the piles found everywhere.

On the way to an appointment today, I snapped a picture of our Pacifica’s dashboard, which relayed the current temperature as 2º F. (I was perhaps optimistic in hoping the heater could bring up the cabin to 70º F.)

I had to put my gloves on just to touch the steering wheel. Brrr.

Fresh laminar ice

The cold snap we’ve been experiencing, which has kept us below freezing continuously for several weeks, has me concerned.

Our new sump pump normally pushes water out into the storm drain channels on our side of the street. Under ideal conditions, this results in water flowing down the channels across the entire width of our front yard, to the storm drain grate on the far side of our driveway.

Since then end of January, this channel has been pretty much a solid block of ice, around four inches thick.

The water has, in the last week, spilled out more into the street. It is pushing a few feet across — maybe a quarter of road’s width. I did some bailing to keep the water from pooling at a high level and backflowing into the bubble pot. Eventually, I surmised, that could lead to the whole pipe from the basement getting frozen. The only thing saving it from backing up into the basement would be the emergency release that would let water spill out all over the ground near the house.

So, I decided to attack this problem in earnest. I bought my first pickaxe and tried to chip away with it. I’m out of shape, and it was tough to break through that much ice. Over the weekend, I finally made the breakthrough, and had a complete channel dug between the sump pump pipe’s bubble pot in our yard, and the storm sewer grate.

Now our neighbors know us for my pickaxe. Grin.

I was hoping this ice channel would last a few days. Since it was narrow and relatively free of slushy debris, I hoped the water would flow freely and more quickly than it did in the wider channel normally provided by the concrete underneath. As the sump pump did its job, though, I could see water moving, but new thin layers of ice were also forming.

Sadly, the free flow was not to be. By Monday morning, the ice had refrozen almost up to the previous level I’d chipped away. By Monday evening, it was overflowing even that — somewhat of a blessing, since that meant that it was still flowing, somehow.

While chatting with one of my neighbors, I found out that we probably have a spring behind our house. This makes sense, but it’s not comforting. We probably have the lowest basement on our side of the street, so we depend upon the entire system for our sump pump to be working. Thank goodness for the new battery backup, which we needed during a power outage caused the recent ice storm in January.

Well, I better get back to bailing out our little pond, and perhaps some chipping.

5.4 and 1.3

The bitter cold has descended upon us in Rochester. Yesterday, Christen looked at our outdoor thermometer and it read 5.4º F. This morning, it claims 1.3º F, and the wind chill brings the temperature down to something like -18º F, according to the weather report.

It’s cold enough that even Baxter, on his birthday today, looked miserable going out to do his business. I don’t blame him; my extremities were cold despite my Eddie Bauer coat, which is as much cold armor as I’ve ever worn. We didn’t bother going for our normal walk this morning.

Thank goodness we had our furnace repaired on Friday! We woke up Friday morning to the unpleasantness of no heat. (Of course, I didn’t want to have no heat, but I’d rather have gotten it fixed on a Friday rather than a weekend, especially since we needed a part that was lucky to be in stock.)

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