Stocking Stuffers

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There is a tradition in my family of getting Christmas stockings. I assume it is the same with every family who celebrates the consumerist side of Christmas.  What I don’t assume is that the stuff in the stockings (which I call stocking stuffers, but MSWord seems do disagree with) is the same.  I have seen some stockings full of stuff that would be considered “big” gifts in my house.

In my case, most of the stuff filling the stocking comes from the dollar store, or is chocolate, lottery scratch tickets, or personal hygiene products. This year, amid all that stuff, I got some Panini stickers and the album to put them in.

Having checked their website, it seems like Panini makes a variety of products to entice collectors and fans of sports, comics, animation, and others. From my childhood, I mostly remember hockey, rock stars, and famous battles.  My students have told me that the World Cup (of soccer) is a guaranteed seller in their country.  I suppose they sell it here, but I have never seen it.

In this book there are 505 stickers needed. The book came with ten stickers.  With each pack containing 7 stickers, one would have to buy 73 packages of stickers without getting doubles.  It seems like a huge investment to me.  This seems rather unlikely.  According to the website in Canada, you could buy each card for 22 cents.  That means approximately 111 dollars.  Definitely cheaper than buying packages of cards.  Of course, you can only buy 40 of them….so they say.

In this age of collecting, there are lots of little frills; foil cards, all star cards, rookie cards, skills competition winners, and of course a break down of the Stanley Cup finals.  No trophy case, and not all team logos have stickers.  Some teams arenas have pictures….not sure why.

This would be a good job for me.  I would love to design some collector series.  Maybe cards.  I wonder how you get that job?  I will save this thought for another blog.

As for fun…..once a collector, always a collector. I still get a minor rush out of these things.  Opening the package, scanning through them…. feeling rewarded when I get a new card, or a special card….feeling disappointed when I got another double.

This was a fun stocking stuffer, but I don’t know if I will continue buying them, or even trying to complete the set. Maybe, when the season is over, there will be a drastic reduction in price.  Or maybe I will just buy some hockey cards…

 

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My Thoughts on Tank Nation

What would Carelton say?
Over the last week or so, there has been a lot of talk about the imminent rebuilding of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Additionally, there has been a lot of talk of “tank nation” in which the Leafs would throw the remaining games to better improve their odds of getting  a draft pick.

Yes, I’d love to see him in a Leaf uniform.

While I certainly welcome a complete and sincere rebuild, I am not so sure about the idea of playing to lose.  As we have already seen, losing becomes a habit.  If we start lowering our compete level, can we get it back?
There are some other problems with this idea.
  • The “superstars” that we are going to be trading away will want to look good for their future team.  They want to be sought after by strong teams, not weak teams.  Playing to lose won’t improve their value on the trade market.  That’s a lose-lose proposition.
  • The team seems to have lost without trying to lose, so maybe we should just let nature take its course.
  • Once we have jettisoned our free agent talent, or older players, or overpaid players, or whomever we let go, I suspect that the team won’t be in any position to compete anyway.  Losing will happen, whether we want it to or not.
  • What kind of mood will be left in the dressing room by a team that gave up?
  • These players have been competing for their whole lives.  Can we expect them to unlearn that behaviour?
In the end, we will just have to see how things turn out.  I welcome your opinions.

On Hockey Pools

 
 
The first week of this year’s hockey pool is done.   By determination, research and skill (also known as blind luck) I am leading.  While this is no indication of future success, it makes me feel good nonetheless.

What I have found amazing over these past couple of days is the technology of it all.  Websites provide services that allow one to customize your pool in a dizzying array of ways.  Additionally, they provide real time stats.  The fact that it works so well is only blown away by the fact that it is provided for free.

What did people do before?  What poor soul had to sit down with a newspaper/many newspapers on Monday and work out everyone’s points?  Either pools were a lot simpler then, or that person didn’t get any “real” work done that day.

Having talked to a few people, it seems like the technology has not only made it easier to keep track of things, but somehow it allows people to be in a number of pools at once.  How they don’t get confused between players from one pool team to the next is beyond me–or maybe they don’t remember and have to spend a lot of time online checking and rechecking.   I guess that is what a smart phone is for, or is it?

Week one was fun.  Hopefully week two will be just as fun and just as successful.

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.