Monday, October 25, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 5 - October 23, 2010

This is where I'd be putting image 18 from this image gallery
if I wasn't freaky about image rights and stuff like that.

Another one gets pulled out of the fire in a one-night stand before hitting the road.

On The Ice
I'm sure the simmering grouchiness in pockets of the crowd was exacerbated by the schedule, what with this game following two of the more frustrating Caps games in recent memory. Thankfully the second line (featuring the 2010-11 debut of Matthieu Perreault) found a wavelength that worked for them, channeling a hat trick from Alexander Semin, comprised of three very highlight-worthy goals. After the Thrashers tried to spoil the party (and some people's fantasy teams) by knocking Semin's third goal out of the GWG spot, Tomas Fleischmann took advantage of his time on the ice in OT and sent the crowd home happy.

I can't be convinced (at least at this point) that the Capitals don't benefit greatly from having Matthieu Perreault in the lineup, preferably (for me) in the spot he was in on Saturday night.

On the flip side, "Mike Green: Power Play Specialist" didn't do all that much for me (or for the increasingly stale power play, for that matter).

In The Stands
The groans were fast and furious in the early-going, and really kept up until Alex Semin pinged his first goal in. But the crowd really came alive in response to the disallowed goal from Mike Green, and had really good energy from there through to the finish.

Semin was on target all night long, even after being announced the first star of the game. A minor mishap (which I will blame on the "safety" netting) as he gently flipped a puck to a very little fan in the corner of the rink redirected the puck to give the little guy (gal?) a slight bonk on the head. Number 28 was immediately up against the glass apologizing and making sure the youngster's noggin was OK. Everybody seemed to be smiling after all was said and done. Pretty unique souvenir story for the kid, eh?

Above Our Heads And Beyond
Fury was unleashed, mildly streamlined CrowdWave games were played, referees microphones provided epic levels of feedback. It was a full evening.

And this might just be me talking (and, I would hope it is, unless somebody else swiped my keyboard without me noticing), but Caleb Green is the man as far as singing the anthem is concerned.

And So…
The Caps did well oHated the first half, really enjoyed the second half. Much like a movie (or a pro-wrestling pay-per-view), if the ending works out well, it casts a much better light on the rest of the event.

Now, if the Caps can start turning that light on a little bit earlier in the show from here on out…

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 4 - October 19, 2010

It's more like the home game that was, so this should be a brief-ish recap.

On The Ice
Marcus Johansson provided my Caps highlight of the night by scoring his first NHL goal in the second period. And it was pretty. Hopefully a snippet of things to come from him. The PK is still looking rather stout as well. That 5-on-3 kill late in the second felt like a potential game-changer.

Other than that, there wasn't much to write home about. It's always tough to watch that type of frustrate-a-thon, and doubly so when it's a home game. One bounce or slightly better-directed pass could change the entire complexion of the game, but it just doesn't quite happen. Essentially, any games that conjure up memories of late April, 2010, aren't going to rank high on the "favorites" list.

Maybe a teensy bit of a strategy shift/simplification on the power play might be in order? Maybe?

In The Stands
Did the Caps install random ejector seats between the first home stand and the Bruins game? There seemed to be a whole lot of people who just couldn't wait to get up and see what was going on up on the concourse. There's always a bit of traffic, but it really felt like a parade. Maybe the 7:30 start and the extended Versus Network TV time-outs threw everybody's rhythm off a bit. (That might also explain the amount of people who started rolling out about halfway through the third period.)

Above Our Heads And Beyond
Perhaps this bit should be renamed "In My Ears" this time around, because that's where the ringing sure was before the game even started. DJ Stretch's tunes during warm-ups were cranked relatively loudly in the seating bowl, but not bleedingly loud, and I was ready for it after the last home game. Besides, the players and other fans seem to dig it. What I wasn't prepared for was the screechingly loud AM radio piped through the speakers on the concourse and the rock-concert volume level of the music and PA before, during, and after the opening video hoopla. I honestly couldn't talk to anyone in my immediate vicinity without shouting.

I know it might sound weird for me to be complaining about noise at a hockey game, but there's a pretty big difference between crowd noise (which is always welcome, awesome, and in some cases, damned impressive) and media noise. I loved that the crowd could drown out the sound system during the opening home stand. If I had a vote, I would check the box next to "Opening Night" on the volume level ballot. I guess it was a bit of A/V's revenge on Tuesday night. Hopefully it was a special occasion.

And So…
Not the best night ever at the F Street Arena, and the lack of chemistry/clicking on the offense is a little bit of a red flag, but they've got a chance to get back at them pretty much right away, so hopefully they can wash taste of this one right out of their mouths. (Especially Mr. Neuvirth. Get well soon, man!)

Aside from that, I still anxiously await the return of the six-dollar nachos to the lower level.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Games 1–3 - October 9–12, 2010

Since I'm not the most prolific writer on the internet, and there are plenty of other sources to get much more in-depth recaps and info about the games as they happen (such as here, here, here, or here, in no particular order), I'd just compile a brief collection of some of my impressions of the recently completed homestand.

(Bear with me, as this is definitely a work in progress.)

On The Ice
I certainly can't find anything to complain about in the area of results. There were definitely some stretches of dicey play by the home team in each of the three games, but any time there's a higher number on the left side of the scoreboard than the right, I tend to go home happy. A few tweaks on the power play, and we could be in for a lot of fun coming our way.

In The Stands
Opening night was a madhouse. The place was packed, the atmosphere was electric even as the Caps fell behind twice in the early going. There was almost a welcome back party vibe throughout the night. As the score blew open and the eventual fisticuff parade took shape, it only got more raucous.

Over the next couple of games, things seemed to simmer down just a little bit. I think there was a bit of the old fashioned weeknight malaise combined with opponents that don't exactly inspire intense emotion. The quick-hitting schedule might have generated a little bit of fatigue amongst the regulars as well.

Above Our Heads And Beyond
Being the opening homestand, this will probably be the biggest that this section ever gets.

Count me in as digging the new opening video. I like the song, if only because it features a clappable drum beat, unlike the very fanfare-ish music featured last year. (It doesn't hurt that it's also a bit of a pro wrestling reference, heh!) As referenced by Dan Steinberg at the DC Sports Bog, there are sparks, metal, and even a bit of Wes Johnson, which I agree are all good things. By extension the overall "metal plates" theme for the graphics works for me.

Speaking of Wes, the PA voices and music seemed to be at a much more reasonable volume than last season, especially in the playoffs. I like that the crowd could be loud enough to overpower it at times. On top of that, the music itself is a pretty stout upgrade over the playlists of the previous years.

The irreplaceable unleashing of the fury in video form, complete with the newly filmed Tom Green bits, feels like a win to me. I think it definitely takes it from being "one of those things" and turns it into a "Caps thing."

Unfortunately, on a personal note, one of the "improvements" to the F Street Arena over the summer was to take the six-dollar nachos away from the concession stands on the lower level. They've been replaced by the "Mondo Nachos" for nine bucks. While they are admittedly impressive-looking, they're a bit harder to eat without a mess, and get cold much more quickly.

After a little bit of recon, it appears that the six-dollar nachos are still around, but they seem to be quarantined to the upper level. Here's hoping a shipment of old-school trays makes its way to the stand behind section 106. (People say you should avoid dairy for a good voice, but I'm pretty sure there's no actual dairy in that cheese.)

And So…
It's great to be back at the F Street Arena for a game that counts, even without the six-dollar nachos. The new bits and pieces of the presentation seem to be falling into place nicely. There wasn't a single unhappy ending in the set, leaving the Caps unbeaten at home to start things off nicely. Plus I even got to do a little "heavy lifting" on opening night. Welcome back to DC ice, Caps!

(Now, if they could just get a little more consistent on that power play.)

Photo credit: Stewart Small / Facebook

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Editing Makes Me (Almost) Look Coherent

More than a few minutes after the Washington Capitals home opener this past Saturday night, I was approached by a nice young lady who asked if I wouldn't mind talking to a camera for a few minutes. Follow this link (or click the image above) to view the tidy 97-second version of my adrenaline-addled ramblings.

Thanks to Madeline Marshall for happening to walk by at the right time, heh!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

For Those Who Recovered My Data, I Salute You!

So, my last post was a very long lament about my beloved music, photos, and such being held hostage by a bitter old hard drive that knew I was getting ready to put it out to pasture.

Late last week (after some gnashing of teeth, but a surprisingly miniscule amount of wailing) I got in touch with a couple of companies to see just how many limbs I was going to have to hand over to get my data unearthed and accessible again. After an earlier conversation, I was afraid it would be at least one each of an arm, a leg, and perhaps an unmentionable. I wasn't exactly looking forward to these phone call to DriveSavers and Ontrack Data Recovery to get prices.

DriveSavers, as you may know, is the grand-daddy of the data recovery industry. They also charge commensurate with their reputation and experience. I'd used them before, but I had a company budget behind me to foot the bill. While I hadn't heard of Ontrack, they had come highly recommended, and I really had to scour the internet to find even a mildly discouraging word about them (and even that was essentially about speed on an incredibly complex job, rather than effectiveness). The fact that their price was half as much as what DriveSavers was quoting sure didn't hurt.

Besides, if they were good enough to recover data from the Shuttle Columbia as well as this campfire mishap, then surely they could take care of my problem with, er, well, no problem, right?

I got back in touch with Traci, the rep I'd gotten my price quote from. She, by the way, was as helpful and courteous as could be throughout the entire procedure. I arranged to have my drive sent to Ontrack on Monday afternoon (thanks again to the crew at the MacMedics DC area office, specifically Mike and Charles). Once it arrived on Tuesday, I got an email containing a link to their online tracking system that allowed me to keep an eye on the progress of my drive as it went through their recovery process, which was a nice touch. After just one day, they were working on it in the clean room.

First thing Thursday morning, I received an email informing me that the drive was ready for recovery, along with a complete list of the files from the drive indicating that all but two (out of about 30,000, give or take 1,000) were 100% recoverable. Needless to say, I was a happy camper. Finding out that the final pricing came in at even less than I had prepared myself for had me just this short of giddy.

The fact that I wound up having this little parcel of happiness show up this morning was really more than I could have hoped for. Sure, maybe I didn't have the most miraculous data recovery situation ever known, but everything had been recovered and sent back to me in a matter of five business days at a relatively affordable price.

And now, my new buddy, as seen at the top of the post, is busy transferring all of the recovered data to the drive I was planning on backing ol' trusty up to two weeks ago when this all started. At least one thing will be right with the world again soon.

Hopefully, I will never have to make a data recovery company choice ever again, but if I do, I'll be sure to give Ontrack a call.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oh Hard Drive, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Any coincidence it looks a bit like HAL 9000?

Just over a week ago, I decided that my beloved LaCie 400GB Big Disk Extreme external hard drive was ready to be retired. I had come into possession of a gleaming new 1TB LaCie d2 Quadra, and had everything in place to copy the goodies held on "Ol' Trusty" to their new home. I shut down Thursday night, and went to bed with dreams of roomy new storage filling my head.

Apparently, somewhere in the night, the drive must have figured out that it was getting ready to be put out to pasture, and beat me to the punch by quitting before I could fire it.

When I came home from work on Friday evening, and booted up my computer, "Ol' Trusty" turned into "Ol' Busty" and decided it no longer wanted to spin up and talk to my computer anymore. There were no tell-tale grinding sounds, and all the symptoms were similar to a simple power supply failure that I had remedied in the past. Calmly (well, relatively calmly) I ordered a new power supply and hoped against hope that it would be the solution again this time.

Unfortunately, hope failed.

So I took the sucker in to the fine people at MacMedics to see if they could either bring it back to life, or mind meld it onto a younger, healthier drive for me. Unfortunately, I just got the call that it's beyond their capabilities, and I now have to call in the heavy artillery if I want to get back on track. I shudder to think about the monetary output I'm going to have to incur for this, but what can I do? Sure, I could reconstruct my music library, but I don't think I'll be able to pull a "Be Kind, Rewind" style recreation of all the photos that are on that puppy. Guess it's time to get comfy over that barrel.

I wish I had anyone else to blame but me.

As I had already known, and have now had painfully reinforced, I was a damned fool for not having a backup of such a significant amount of valuable data in place to deal with this issue. I'm often somewhat stubborn, but when I've been taught a harsh lesson, I generally tend to be a quick learner, and do what I can to make sure I don't make the same HUGE mistake twice.

Hello Drobo.

Photo credits: Lazurite / Flickr, Emil Erlandsson / Flickr