Pessimism is Rising

I have officially joined the land of sceptics (on this topic, for most others I have held the presidency for years– I usually try to remain optimistic in this area)  I am pretty sure there will be another hockey lockout this year.  I am a big hockey fan and the thought of no Hockey Night in Canadafills me with a horrifying dread.

Could any good come out of a hockey lockout?  Let’s see.  Last time, instead of showing sports from around the world, we got Texas No Limit Hold’em pretty much 24/7.  A little bit of this was okay.  Granted it started a whole new industry and a large number of cheap, easy to produce TV shows.  It made several gamblers quite famous.  I don’t begrudge that, but every time I turn on the TV I see the same hand of poker being played.  (You know, the one where the guy in the pink shirt gets crushed by the pros)  Obviously someone is making money from this, but I am not sure who it is. 

I do like poker, and I admit it is TV friendly.  I even have the World Series of Poker software for my PSP.  I just don’t want to see it as much as I had to during the last lockout.  If it is so cheap to produce, I shouldn’t have to face multiple reruns.

Back to the point.  Could any good come out of a lockout?  Well, last time the players caved and we got a salary cap.  Revenues are up and the cap is still taking the same percentage as before.  Sounds like a recipe for financial stability.  Apparently not.  Some teams are still not making money.  Some teams are still in jeopardy of failing.  I lost a year of hockey, and nothing has changed. Go figure.

The sticking points seem to be revenue sharing and players’ salaries.  I understand that.  If my team were in a profitable market (mine is) then why would I want to give money to a team that can’t even fill the best seats in the house at rock bottom prices?  As for players’ salaries….. They took what they were offered.  Can’t blame them for negotiating well can you.  I certainly wouldn’t like it if someone came to my work and told me they thought I was overpaid (regardless of how much money I was making).

Maybe there are too many teams in the NHL.  Fewer teams would mean that there would be fewer professional players (the players union certainly wouldn’t like that) and that would mean the overall quality of each team would rise.  There would be glut of almost good enough players, so their salaries would probably decrease.

On the down side, there would be fewer games on TV and there would be fewer minutes spent discussing hockey.  I am not sure that would be a bad thing.

This year my team is scheduled to take part in “the Winter Classic”, but that could be shelved due to scheduling conflicts.  Irony is a bitter pill to swallow.

Time will tell, but I expect a lockout.  I expect owners who travel in Limousines and eat at five star restaurants with supermodels to tell me that they are paying players too much.  I expect players who drive exotic sports cars and eat at five star restaurants with supermodels or A list actresses to tell me how much they miss playing.  I expect both sides to say they just want to do what is best for the game.  I expect the various sports channels to find something new for us to watch 24hours a day–maybe darts, or competitive skeet shooting.

Hockey season hasn’t started yet and already I miss it.  Maybe I should take up jogging.

So, you’re interested in blogging…

In the past month I have encouraged several people to take up blogging.  Maybe, I would even go so far as to say I insisted that they take up blogging.  Who’s kidding who, I practically harassed them.  So, this begs the question, has making other people blog become a hobby?  Not hobby, but certainly it has become a pursuit, and I really don’t know why.

I started this just for a way to express myself that wasn’t related to being an ESL teacher (though I am thinking about a blog on that as well).  Perhaps, I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy it, how good it would feel to put my words on the page.  When I started I had no idea if it would go beyond the first few ideas I had.  Granted, it has only been a couple of months, and I haven’t become an internet sensation, but it has lasted longer than some of my endeavours.

Why the need to drag (kicking and screaming) some others into this?  I don’t know.  It certainly wasn’t intentional.  If someone mentions that they have seen my blog, I quickly tell them that they should make one too.  Barely before they can finish a sentence, I start planning their blog for them.  I ask them about titles, I give encouragement, I blather on and on about how easy it all is.  I must have a sickness.

This really isn’t like me at all.  Most of what I do, I do by myself.  I took up some hobbies figuring I would meet people, that it would become social, but not that I would be out there trying to build a community.  I like to settle on the edge of the community, and slowly meet people.  I don’t rush to the centre and demand attention. Hmmm?  I wonder what’s really going on.

I guess blogging has made more of an impression on me than I realized.  I wonder if that means I will be accosting complete strangers on my commute, telling them to get on their smartphones right now and make a blog?  Hopefully, it won’t go that far…but one never knows.

The Gift and Curse of the Internet

Probably the greatest impact on hobbies has come from the internet.  It has been the greatest gift, and probably the greatest curse.  I don’t say that lightly, but I stand behind it.

The Gift

There is no other way to get so much information about hobbies.  There are so many websites, boards, images, and videos.  In the old days we were constrained to magazines, fairs, and people who hung around the hobby shop.  If I ask a question on some of the boards I belong to, within minutes I get a reply and often some photos illustrating the point perfectly.

This blog and hundreds like it owe themselves to the internet.  The two or three people who read this could only get it from the net.  It has given me a place to express myself, and I am enjoying it.

The Curse

There is probably too much information and diversity of opinion.  It can be overwhelming.  I love to research hobbies, but I can spend months learning about something before I feel confident to walk into the shop and make a purchase.  I can spend hours procrastinating and neglecting things (housework, lesson preparation, etc.)
The Gift

There are some huge hobby shops online which can cater to all my needs.  I can find products and have them sent to me within days or weeks which my take months, or might never be available at my local hobby shop.

The Curse

All of these great deals come at the expense of the local hobby shop.   I am certainly guilty of this.  I have scoured for the best deal, and bypassed my local store.  I comforted myself with the confidence of any consumer.  However, a little part of me says that we need to support the local person, especially because that is how I got into a lot of my hobbies.  They are probably struggling, and could easily go out of business.

The Gift

I don’t have to endlessly search through magazines looking for an article or inspiration.  It is there at the click of the mouse.  I also don’t have to pay for them, or trudge down to my library to read them (even though I still do, and would consider buying complete CD versions of some of my favourite magazines.)

The Curse

Not only have those magazines scaled back production or disappeared completely, but the sense of anticipation is gone.  I eagerly looked forward to the day my magazines would come out.  I often made it a special event to peruse my magazine sitting in my favourite chair, with a cup of hot chocolate (who’s kidding who, I was drinking a beer, but I think the imagery of my first idea is better).

The Gift

It is easy to find people interested in the same hobby, and with the relative anonymity of the keyboard, any shyness you feel can be overcome.

The Curse

Actually, I have to say that in this case, there is only win.  I have enjoyed messaging with people on various model and train boards.  They have been friendly (and sometimes quite humorous) with their advice.

The Gift

Some YouTube videos have given me a view into a hobby I could not get elsewhere.  I have watched many great model builders put together award winning models.  I have learned great tennis exercises to strengthen my sore shoulder.  I have seen people unbox their products, so I knew exactly what came with hobby kits they bought. 

The Curse

I probably spend too much time on YouTube and have lost some precious sleep.  A small price to pay, but when I find it hard to drag my sorry self out of bed on a cold weekday morning (or any morning for that matter–I am decidedly a night person) I wonder if it was worth it. 
If I have forgotten anything, or should consider something else, please feel free to comment.