Drought-ending sports weekend
This was quite an exciting weekend in the world of sports if you are me, as both my hockey teams managed to break out of two different funks regarding the postseason. The first was the Sharks clinched their third Pacific Division title in franchise history, and their first since 2004. This also secured the second-best record in the Western Conference, thanks in large part to a 20-game streak without a loss in regulation. Just when it looked like San Jose was mired in another mid-season slump at the end of February, they put together an impressive stretch and surged ahead of Dallas and Anaheim in the Pacific. Doug Wilson continues to out-do himself when he brought in Brian Campbell, as he has already worked wonders bringing Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo back from the dead and got them scoring again. Hopefully the Sharks aren’t peaking too early, as I’d like to get past the second round of the playoffs this year.
The other achievement was the Michigan hockey team advanced to its first Frozen Four since 2003. I totally didn’t see this coming when the season started, as I only saw a ton of freshman, two seniors and a shaky goaltender from last year. I wasn’t alone, as the writers predicted a 4th place finish for Michigan in the CCHA this year (and they won both the regular season and tournament titles). Never count out Red Berenson, as he manages to get these young kids excited to play for him, most of whom weren’t even alive when he became the coach of the Wolverines in 1983. Kevin Porter probably wrapped the Hobey as the best player in college hockey, and Michigan’s top line is almost unstoppable right now.
So I’m excited to see my two teams playing excellent hockey at the moment, and I’m looking forward to see how they post progress in the postseason. I just hope both have their eyes set on larger prizes than their accomplishments from this weekend.
I promise this post to be significantly more interesting than last time. Over the weekend, Tracy and I picked out a new roommate for my apartment. It took a fair amount of searching, but we settled on a guy we both liked. So I’m happy to announce that Cosmo the cat is my new roommate.
Growing up, we never had any pets, as Andrew was an asthmatic and was allergic to any type of fur. So when I moved into my apartment, I had always thought about getting a pet to share the space. I always seemed to drag my feet, as I thought it would be a hassle or be too expensive. I have to credit Tracy for pushing me off the fence and finally take the plunge.
I guess I considered myself a dog person, but owning a dog in a third-floor apartment didn’t seem to make much sense. After playing with Tracy’s cat at her place over the last few months, I realized how low-maintenance cats are and are perfect for apartments like mine. So I started doing some research over the last few months and made up my mind to get one in the last week or so.
After looking at a few different pet shops in the area, we ended up at the Humane Society. They had a big selection to choose from, as well as we liked the idea of rescuing a cat that had a troubled life before we came along. There were several that we liked, but it came down to two: Ezra, an all-orange guy with longer fur, or Valentine, a mostly-white guy with orange spots. I’m sure Ezra would have been fine, but I got the sense Valentine was more friendly and outgoing, so I went with him. By the way, he was named Valentine because he was dropped off at the shelter on February 14.
As soon as we were driving home, we changed his name to Cosmo, in honor of the Seinfeld character. I was worried it would be quite the adjustment to go from a small cage to a wide-open apartment, but he wasn’t nervous at all when we took him out of the carrier and set him down. He has been doing quite a bit of exploring, and he likes to hide in the closet and look out the window at the parking lot below. He’s extremely friendly and doesn’t hesitate to jump on your lap if you’re sitting on the couch. I was worried it would take some time for him to warm up to me, but it seems we’re well on the way to being good buddies.
Photo: “From now on, that’s who I’m going to be. I’m Cosmo!”
Rare work update
I rarely write about work, as I have a hard time explaining what I do at my job, and there isn’t usually too much exciting happening anyway. But Tuesday was the end of a long project I had been working on since October, and I felt like sharing what we accomplished.
First, let me try once again to attempt to explain what I do. I work for the University of Michigan in the IT department, Michigan Administrative Information Services (MAIS). Our organization is in charge of all the important databases used on campus, such as financial and student record information. My team is in charge of training people both inside MAIS, as well as across campus, on how to use these systems. My job is usually to support the various web pages we maintain that include information about our organization, the systems we offer and the various training materials.
This time around, I was asked to create documentation for a new software program we will use to track internal changes in MAIS. It is the biggest internal project our organization has ever attempted, so there was pressure on all the participants to do a good job.
Since October, I have been learning how to use the program, mostly by watching a short online class and playing around with it in a development environment (so basically, little background training). I had to write three different sets of procedures for different aspects of the program, with each document containing around 75-100 individual tasks.
But it didn’t end there, as our team also had to host all the documents on our intranet. We decided to try a new approach for internal learning, by using XML to break the one large document into smaller pieces. We were able to link the pieces together so people could find exactly what they are looking for and not getting lost in an avalanche of information. I wish I could link to my documents, but they are located behind MAIS’ firewall and not accessible to the outside world (not that you would understand anyway).
So the trainers began classroom instruction on Tuesday with all the materials we created, and it sounds like it is going well so far. So I apologize if most (if not all) of that didn’t make sense, and I’m fairly sure it wasn’t interesting to you.
Sharks invade Hockeytown
I love my Sharks, but one thing I had never done until yesterday was see them play in enemy territory. I had never made it down to Joe Louis Arena to see the Sharks take on the Red Wings, because historically, San Jose has had little success in Detroit. In the previous 39 games played at the Joe, the Sharks came away with victories just three times, by far their worst road venue.
So when Tracy surprised me with tickets to last night’s game, I was excited and apprehensive at the same time. Of course I was happy to see Team Teal take the ice, and it looks like it will be the only time this season I’ll see them in person. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure how Detroit fans would react to someone supporting the opposition in their midst. I was confident it wouldn’t be an Ohio State/Michigan reaction, but having never been to a Wings game, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I donned my new ugly jersey and Tracy was gracious enough to wear one of my Sharks t-shirts, and we headed out last night. As we were walking from the parking garage to the arena, I hear someone behind me calling, “Excuse me sir!” I ignore it, thinking it was meant for someone else. Turns out, it’s a security guard running to catch up with us, saying we’re not allowed to continue unless we removed our Sharks garb. Everyone around us enjoys a big laugh. At the door, the ushers say we can’t enter, unless we proceed directly to the memorabilia stand and buy something. I had a feeling it was going to be a long night.
But as it turns out, I had a harder time with ushers and security guards than fans the rest of the night. I passed several other Sharks fans on the concourse, and we exchanged cheers and high-fives with each other as we passed. The only time I was harassed by fans was waiting outside the women’s bathroom for Tracy. I was walking over to buy a pretzel and a crowd of fans booed me. I promptly screamed “Woohoo!” back at them, and I think they were so shocked, they didn’t say anything back.
The game itself was entertaining, as the Sharks scored goals within the first few minutes of the first and second periods, so the crowd was pretty quiet for most of the game. Fans had a second chance to boo the Sharks late in the third, as San Jose scored on a controversial play where the puck appeared to deflect off the protecting netting around the boards, dropped down next to goalie Dominic Hasek, and Devin Setoguchi chipped it into the goal. The play should have stopped when the puck hit the net, but it appeared all the refs missed it and since it couldn’t be replayed, that proved to be the game-winner. I was expecting profanity directed at us as we were walking out, but I guess Wings fans were so frustrated with their team’s sub-par play recently that they couldn’t muster the energy.
I was happy with the outcome and I felt fortunate to see one of the four all-time wins in Detroit. Upon leaving the arena, I was reminded that I was in fact back in Michigan and not in California: the roads had completely iced over and it took us three hours to drive back to Ann Arbor when it normally takes only an hour.