Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hockey In the Desert

You may have seen the news that Wayne Gretzky resigned as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes this week. It was the end of an experiment. Now I'm not as much of an avid follower of the Coyotes as AZJazzyJ is of the Diamondbacks, however I follow them close enough to understand that this was probably a good thing.

In case you are unaware, the Coyotes are going through bankruptcy proceedings. There are two bidders to buy the club, The NHL and Jim Balsillie (you know the Blackberry guy). The NHL wants the Coyotes to stay in Phoenix. Balsillie favors moving the team to Hamilton Ontario. This has produced a long drawn out battle that has yet to be decided. Anyways back to Gretzky.

If you have heard of hockey at all you have heard of "The Great One". Gretzky is the best player to have ever laced them up. The debate (as some would say) is settled. He is the all-time leading goal scorer and produced several Stanley Cup championships. He had a feel for the game that others could only hope to attain. Herein is why I believe that Gretzky failed as a coach.

You see in every athlete there are two parts to the game. The talents you are born with and the things that you learn. You have to have both in order to become great. Gretzky was one of those rare athletes (similar to Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer) that could combine his natural talent with his learning to produce greatness.

As a coach it is your responsibility to teach your players to perform; to create as it were a system by which they can play. A lot of that teaching is from what you have learned either as a player or through experience as coaching. This is your job. However the one thing that you can't (at least that I have seen) teach is your instincts and natural talent. It just can't be done.

Wayne Gretzky, I believe, tried to teach what came naturally to him and couldn't do it. There could be several reasons for this. Among them:

  • The talent wasn't there to execute
  • Gretzky's instincts are still light years beyond today's player
  • His team did not grasp that by playing the way he taught it would make them better

This makes it difficult to produce a winning team. Gretzky's coaching record bares this out. It doesn't help also that the team is losing money and can't afford to bring in more talent to help the core group. Shane Doan is a great player, but without a supporting cast (as Gretzky had with Messier for example) teams can neutralize him.

I'm not making an excuse for Gretzky. His system did not work with the Coyotes. It was time for a change. Hopefully Wayne will get the chance to teach again and hopefully he has learned that some things cannot be taught. If so, then he stands a good chance for success. The Coyotes will move along without him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tax the Wealthy

Yes I said it, tax the wealthy! But it's not what you think. You see I got to thinking after BYU got trounced by Florida State that Florida State could still play for the BCS championship if they get a little help. BYU on the other hand has no chance at the championship game or even a BCS game because of this one loss.

My proposal is to borrow the philosophy of the Obama administration for the FBS. You see not every team that is in the FBS is in the BCS and therefore they don't have a chance to play in a BCS bowl unless a ton of things go right (that's why they call them BCS busters). So the plan is to "tax the wealthy". In this system the BCS schools make the most and need to pay their fair share, while the other schools belong to the middle-class and need help to get up to the level of the BCS schools.

My plan is to have the NCAA tax the BCS schools at 30% at the end of the college football season. The tax is on every dollar that the BCS football program brings in (notice NOT profit). The money is put into a pool that will be evenly distributed to the non-BCS FBS schools. This way the non-BCS schools will have more money and will be able to compete better with the BCS. Eventually everyone will be equal and all schools in the FBS will be eligible for the BCS championship without having to jump through (over, around, etc) the major hoops that now stand in their way.

I mean if the President of the US believes that distributing the wealth will bring everyone up why should we not apply that to college football? So I say it's time to tax the wealthy and compensate those middle-class FBS teams that are put down by the elite BCS teams.

Of course a football playoff might actually be less expensive and allow teams to settle the issues on the field, but hey that's capitalism and I think that's a four letter word now.

Monday, September 14, 2009


So the other day on Plurk there was an entry called "Lame Bumper Sticker: Shai-Hulud is my co-pilot". Of course being an avid fan of Dune I wanted one. Well I started thinking and have come up with a few Dune Bumper Stickers for our time. . .

On Global Warming

Don't blame me! I'm wearing a Stillsuit!

On Honor Students

My Fremen son just beat up your Imperial Sardaukar

On Alternate Vehicles

My other car is a 40 meter Sandworm

And finally:

On the 2012 Election

Atreides - Stilgar 2012

I think it's safe to say that my Geek card will not be revoked.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Father-Son Conversation

Last night I had the opportunity to take my oldest son out and get a Halloween decoration he wanted. Being high-functioning autistic he was obsessed with this decoration. I didn't imagine that we would have the conversation that we did when we set out.

After we had bought the decoration we started out at home. Levi started discussing about when we die how we will come back to life. So we got into the whole discussion about resurrection. I explained to Levi that Jesus was resurrected and because He was resurrected we all get to be resurrected. It's a free gift given to us by Him. I then went on to explain how that after we are resurrected we get to sit down with Jesus and review our life. If we have done good and repented for the things that we did wrong and lived our lives as Jesus wants us to then we get to live with Him and God. Now in my religion that place is called the Celestial Kingdom. If you didn't quite live up to Jesus teachings (remember I'm explaining this to an eight year old) then you would live in the Terrestrial Kingdom. If you decided not to follow Jesus (you are always given a chance to accept Him) then you would be assigned to the Telestial Kingdom.

After my explanation, my son looks at me and says "I believe in Jesus Dad." That made me happy. You see we have always taught Levi what we believe but we haven't forced anything on him. We have always told him that he needs to make up his own mind when it comes to the church. So to hear him say he believes in Jesus is a good thing to me.

This time has taught me as well. That the kids are listening even when it seems that they are not. It gave me hope that as a parent I'm doing the right things to bring up my child correctly. It also reminded me that sometimes you need to turn everything else off and just talk with your child.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

One Great Man

On Wednesday September 2nd 2009 one of the greatest men I've ever known passed away. My maternal Grandfather taught me much in this life and I was privileged to have almost 40 years of life with him in it.

My first memories of Grandpa Sam are of his house with Grandma. His house was clean and we were always asked to behave and be as quiet as possible. I would sit at my father's feet while the adults discussed things I couldn't grasp. Later I would understand that they were talking about family and life in general.

When I was a little older, Grandpa had a cabin on Chautauqua Lake in Upstate NY. We would visit him on weekends in the summer and the highlight of the visit was always fishing. There were two places to fish, the dock and from the boat. Here Grandpa could teach us important life lessons. The first was patience (you can't fish if you don't have patience). Here also we learned about how to catch fish. We were introduced to some of Grandpa's greatest one liners. For example we couldn't catch a thing unless we started out by reciting Grandpa's fishing call. "HERE FISHIE, FISHIE, FISHIE!" The trick to this call was to go as deep as possible with your voice. The deeper your voice the larger the fish we would catch. The second lesson learned was how to properly bait a hook with a worm. Grandpa would always remind us to bite the head off the worm before putting it on the hook. You were guaranteed to catch a fish if you bit the head off.

On a more serious note, there is one experience with my Grandpa that taught me the importance of respecting women and my mom more importantly. We were at my Grandpa's house. He had a miniature pool table and I was always playing on it. Well my mom decided it was time to go and called us to get in the car. I was probably 9 or 10 and told my mom I would be out when I finished my game. Quick as lightening my Grandpa's hand seized my wrist and in his sternest voice told me "When your mother says it's time to go, you go." I learned that day how important respect for mothers and women was and have tried to live my life in the same way.

Grandpa loved to golf. When I was a teenager I spent several rounds on the links with him. We would talk about life and golf. It was a great time. I got to know not only my Grandpa, but also his friends and family because of the stories he would tell me. I learned how important family is during this time. I also learned some secrets to golf. Like Grandpa's famous "Ancient Chinese Secret" to golf: "He who play peekie-peekie, play lousy golf."

Grandpa loved to laugh. He would laugh at life, jokes and the ironic. His laugh was contagious. I enjoyed hearing it and it will be one of the things I miss. To me Grandpa will always be swinging a golf club or taking a fish off a hook.

I said before that Grandpa is one of the greatest men I know. Really he is one of the two men who have greatly influenced my life (the other being my father). I hope that I am living up to the example he set for me.

My Grandfather will be greatly missed by me. I will never fish or golf without thinking about him. I will not look at my family without thinking if I am living up to the example he has set. I hope that I can impart the stories of my Grandpa to my children and grandchildren and that they will be able to learn as much from him as I have. Hit 'em straight Grandpa, I will see you again.