January 28, 2009

The ABCs of Curling - B

illum_b is for Bonspiel, a curling tournament. The word is apparently of Scottish origin (go figure), meaning a contest or match between different clubs or parishes. Traditionally, a bonspiel is a series of games played over several days, most commonly Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. In today's fast paced world, many bonspiels have now been reduced to a single day, although there are some notable exceptions.

The annual Toronto Curling Association Single Rink Championship Bonspiel begins on a Saturday, and concludes on the following Saturday, with successful teams playing two games the first day, as many as four weeknight games, and two games the final Saturday. This TCA bonspiel is the oldest continuous curling event in Canada, having been played every year since 1896. The title sponsor for its first decade was was Hiram Walker. In 1906, Canada Life Assurance took over, and continued to sponsor the tournament for an unbroken run of eighty years. More recent title sponsors include Investors Group, Brick Brewing, Johnson Controls (Energizer Batteries), and Goldline Curling Supplies, but many participants still refer to it as, "The Canada Life."

The Manitoba Curling Association annual men's bonspiel is the world's largest, hosting 512 teams in 2009, each guaranteed a minimum of six games. The top five (local) finishers are granted a spot in the Manitoba provincial championships.

And what would any discussion of bonspiels be without mention of curling's most important 'B': The Brier, Canada's national championship, and the world's most challenging bonspiel. The Brier is a unique national championship, highlighting curling's grass-roots, community centric nature. Every team competing in The Brier had to first qualify by winning a playdown in their local club before moving on to zone, regional, and provincial competitions. Competition at The Brier is so stiff that the winners (and therefore Canadian Champions) have gone on to claim the World Championship title thirty four times since 1959. The next best showing at the world level is by Sweden, with six wins in that time.

The Bs of curling also include the "button," or the center of the rings on a sheet of curling ice, and the broom, with which curling rocks are swept.

<- Start at the beginning

January 27, 2009

Whistling past the graveyard?

I compose all of my blog entries in a "test journal," which is pretty much exactly like this one, except for the fact that you can't read it. I try, as much as possible, to polish each entry until it is fit for general consumption. I can't always catch all of the typos, spelling errors, and grammatical pratfalls, but I do my best in an attempt to not look like a total idiot.

Once I have an entry pretty much the way I want it, I copy and paste it into AWV, and publish it. This process leaves behind a backlog of finished posts in the test journal, which I occasionally go in and clean out.

From the Blogger Dashboard, I click beside the journal name on the link labelled, "edit posts." This brings up a list of all the posts in the journal, with the option to edit, view, or delete each one. I click on, "delete," and am taken to a page that displays the entire, unformatted textual content of the post, and asks for confirmation that I really do want to delete that entry.

Down at the bottom of that page I click on the button labelled, "delete it!" and am suddenly gripped by a paralysing fear that I have just done something VERY BAD. My eyes dart to the top of the page, where I am positive I am going to see the words, "Aurora Walking Vacation," and come to the sickening realisation that I have just deleted, never to be retrieved, one of the posts on my main blog.

What my eyes always see (so far, at least) are the words, "The Test Journal!" and I chuckle to myself, and say, "yeah, I knew that."

January 26, 2009

The ABCs of Curling

illum_a is for Ailsa Craig, an island in the outer Firth of Clyde on the southwest coast of Scotland, and the traditional source of the stones used in curling around the world. The extremely fine grain and homogeneity of the granite quarried on Ailsa Craig made it ideal for use in Curling rocks, which must withstand years of crashing and banging, and more importantly, freezing and thawing. Almost seventy percent of the curling stones currently in use around the world came from Ailsa Craig.

The quarry was closed in 1971, and the island was made a bird sanctuary. It is noted for its population of Gannets, and much has been made of the return to the island of a small colony of Puffins. Most new curling stones now come from a quarry in Wales.

More recently, a Scottish company received permission from the Scottish government to begin removing granite from Ailsa Craig again. No new quarrying is being undertaken; the company is merely removing large, loose granite boulders left behind when the quarry closed. The 2002 women's Olympic curling gold medal winners from Scotland used new rocks made specially for them from Ailsa Craig granite.

January 22, 2009

Weak, weak, weak

Having nothing better to say, I herewith reproduce a meme found on two friends' blogs. Because my blog has become weak as well.

bold = done it
italics = want to
strike = don't want to
Plus snarky comments

1. Started your own blog. - Started several, in fact. My dashboard currently displays seven.
2. Slept under the stars. - I've camped, but always in a tent.
3. Played in a band. - Nope. No musical talent. I got all the appreciation in the family.
4. Visited Hawaii. - Sure, I mean, who wouldn't want to?
5. Watched a meteor shower. - Well, I tried once. Stayed out most of the night one August 12th. Didn't see a dad-gum thing.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. - Simon had this italicised. I prefer a different statement. I'd like to be able to afford to give more to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland. - Disneyland, Disneyworld, which one's in Florida? That's the one I've been to.
8. Climbed a mountain. - No, but I've walked up a hill...
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo. - A frightening thought.
11. Bungee jumped. - I cannot bring myself to contemplate doing something at which the chance of dying is significant. - Does that make me a wimp?
12. Visited Paris. - I'd like to always have Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm. - Many. Got some nifty, neato pictures of one around somewhere, even.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. - I made my own homemade paper one year. One sheet. I sent it to someone in England I don't know.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. - Yeah, I could comfortable skip this one.
17. Walked to the top of The Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables. - Every year. Nothing like garden fresh produce.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train. - Sure. Why not?
21. Had a pillow fight. - If there is anyone who can answer, "no" to this question, I pity you.
22. Hitch hiked. - Yep. I was young and stupid once.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. - Hasn't everyone?
24. Built a snow fort. - Abso-freakin-lutely.
25. Held a lamb. - Um. I'm bolding this one on a feeling, even though I have no concrete memory of doing so. Based on my childhood, I'd say it was pretty likely at some point.
26. Gone skinny dipping. - Yeah, but not recently. That would be scary.
27. Run a Marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice. - Oh, yeah. This one's gotta be on the 'to-do' list.
29. Seen a total eclipse. - I like my eyesight the way it is, thank you. Sure, I've experienced a total solar eclipse, but I haven't actually "seen" it...'cause that would make you blind.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. - Many.
31. Hit a home run. - Best I ever did was a really long double down the third base line. If we had been in a park with a fence, it might actually have gone out. Yeah, I'm a slow runner.
32. Been on a cruise. - Sounds like fun.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. - Many times. I mean, it's only an hour's drive away.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. - One day. This is a 'bucket list' item, too.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language. - I can say a couple of words in Italian...but I can't repeat them in polite company.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. - This is a tricky question to answer. Is there such a thing? Having "enough" money can create problems of its own. I almost struck this one.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing. - See above.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.
41. Sung karaoke. - I promise never to subject anyone to this. It would be bad. Really bad.
42. Seen the Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain. - But never sang in the rain. Would've scared off the girl.
53. Played in the mud. - In the rain?
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. - Not many of those around anymore. It's too bad, really.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business. - Yeah, sure. Another opportunity to fail. That's all I need.
58. Taken a martial arts class. - I have a blue belt. With red stripes on it.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason. - I've given flowers for no reason. That's more the guy thing.
64. Donated blood. - I really should.
65. Gone sky diving. - Again, this has far too high a chance of dying for my taste.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration camp. - No interest whatsoever.
67. Bounced a cheque. - How many people reading this even know what that means? (I corrected the spelling on this one. I find it difficult to believe that neither Vinny, nor Simon did.)
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. - Somewhere, around here, is my original Teddy Bear. Going on forty-two years old now.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten caviar. - I'll try just about anything, foodwise.
72. Pieced a quilt. - Sure, this would be fun. Yeah, I'm not sexist, or ageist about those kinds of things.
73. Stood in Times Square. - Do I hafta just stand? Can I walk around?
74. Toured the Everglades. - I've always thought riding one of those boats with the huge fan on the back would be really cool.
75. Been fired from a job. - At least one.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone. - Been lucky so far.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. -Been on a motorcycle driven by a safe and responsible driver.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible. - Well, I kinda skimmed the begets.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life. - Gave the wife the Heimlich once. That's really wierd to think about.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one. - No comment.
94. Had a baby. - Urp. Excuse me.
95. Seen the Alamo in person. - I'd remember.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake. - Meh.
97. Been involved in a law suit. - I hope I never see the day - from either side.
98. Owned a mobile phone. - Does anyone not, these days?
99. Been stung by a bee. - Hoo, boy!
100. Read an entire book in one day. - Sometimes multiple books in one day.


January 07, 2009

Is there anybody [else] out there?

Apparently, it is National (or International if you like) Delurking Week here if the GBA (Greater Bloggy Area). So, if you're a reader, but not a commenter, why don't you take the time to just say, "hello." You can go back to lurking again next week.

I promise.

January 04, 2009

Hi there

It's me.

Yep, still alive.

I know, I haven't been around much. Seems I don't have as much time for the Internet as I used to. Sorry.

Christmas was good. Gave a couple of winners. Got a couple of winners. Spent some really good quality time with family. Stuff like that.

New Years was good. Pretty much like every year - sat around with friends, had a great dinner, drank a bit too much, toasted with champagne at midnight, went to bed not too long after.

Didn't make any resolutions. Pretty much never do.

What about you?