Early Spring or 6-More Weeks of Winter? Groundhog Day vs. Spring Training:


Staten Island Chuck

Balzac Billy

Wiarton Willy

Shubenacadie Sam

Punxsutawney Phil

 

So many Groundhogs… So many predictions…

In this day and age of social media, weather mapping, satellite weather patterning, so we really believe that a groundhog looks for his shadow to predict whether or not the region will experience six more weeks of winter or the coming of spring.

My kids wanted to go somewhere… Anywhere… to hang with the crowds who will have gathered to see if groundhogs throughout the area see their shadow to signal another six weeks of winter, or if they call for an early spring.

This year, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, predicted 6 more weeks of winter, while Staten Island Chuck, Wiarton Willie called for an early spring.

The tradition of Groundhog Day can be traced to a German myth on Candlemas Day.

It was believed that if any animal came out from hibernation on February 2nd and saw their shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter.

The myth was turned into a reality in the early 1880s, when Pennsylvanian settlers searched for a groundhog to see the shadow and local newspapers reported about the hunt.

Since that day, the celebration spread throughout the country, and other areas have hopped on board with rodents of their own.

While many people in the US focus on Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, Canadians like to focus on Ontario’s Wiarton Willie, and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam, while Western Canadians can turn their focus to Balzac Billy.

Being close to the US, we know that New Yorkers pay attention to Staten Island Chuck – real name Charles G. Hogg – with an 80% accuracy prognostication.

Chuck / Hogg, was the groundhog who bit former Mayor Bloomberg and was dropped by then Mayor de Blasio.

Even in Long Island, they have their own groundhogs, yes, 2 of them, Malverne Mel and Holtsville Hal.

So with so many groundhogs and so many predictions, we can be sure of this… Spring is coming, eventually.  Spring training for baseball has always been my sign that spring is around the corner and with pitchers and catchers reporting in less than 3 weeks, I cna get ready to break out the shorts and sandals, right?

But for the kids… it’s all about the groundhogs! Consensus rules!

 

Today is Friday the 13th! Here are 13 things Parents really should be weary of…


Friday January 13th.  I think I’m supposed to be afraid today of black cats, open ladders, and a bunch of other crap which has been debunked by science, but not being a superstitious guy, I thought I could help parents with 13 things they really need to worry about – not just on Friday the 13th.

Please read and comment with tongue planted firmly in your cheek.  They are all true, however, your level of worry and fear will be determined by the age of your children and the number of children you have – meaning more kids usually equals less fears…

Sit tight, watch out for open ladders and let’s go!

13.  Kids + playdates + school = germs and sickness.  Remember that anti-bacterial anything is evil and make sure that you’ve got all of your natural and medical aides on hand plus a ton of tissues.  You’ll forget what it’s like to be healthy every now and then.

12.  It’s best to never sit in on a child’s playdate because you will be mortified by what your child says / does and you’ll want to send them to boarding school or never allow them to have playdates again.

11.  Clothing – when kids are young, you buy them colours they like and you stock up, but then that day will come when they will hate everything in their drawers and refuse to go to school.  You can’t plan for this day, you can’t take them with you and buy what they want only.   They wake up hating everyone…

10.  … and everyone.  Prior to the wardrobe catastrophe, comes the parenting realization that they just can’t stand you / can’t stand to be around you / be seen with you / won’t hold your hand in public.  IT’s really hard to accept, considering all that you’ve done for them (ungrateful), that is until…

9.  … They need stuff and they need it to be fancy, and expensive and they need it now.  No longer is that 10-year old Wii that they never play with good enough, because little Jimmy has a PS4, and little Jane has an X-box…  When they need something they will be in your face all the time, remind you a thousand times a day, and go between begging and anger as they try to figure out what it will take to get you to do as they say.  They’ll drive you to the cliff of sanity and if pushing you over gets them what they want, I hope you’ve packed a parachute.

8.   Kids are great at negotiating their position when they want something but when you need them to clean their rooms, pick up after themselves, or clean their dishes off the table, good luck!  Nothing can be more frustrating to parents than having kids who just cannot / or refuse to understand the basic premise of cleanliness

7.   Beware school bags and lunch boxes, especially after 2-weeks of holiday break.  The contents of a plastic container which at one time held lunch but now contains a vomit-scented science experiment can scar a parent for life.

6.   I don’t need to go into great detail here, but children’s underwear which get tossed in the laundry and have sat there for a couple of day and should have been brought to the parents’ attention before they smell / touch / spread throughout the rest of the laundry / house.

5.   As a child I was scarred when someone came into our school (likely Public Health) with these pink chew tablets and when we chewed them the plaque on our teeth turned dark pink.  I was horrified to chew the tablets but also became a fanatical tooth brusher / flosser later in life.   If they tool was still available, and we gave them to our children, the result would be horrifying, especially when we pass the tooth brushing on to them.

4.   Find the kids hiding spot in the house / car… I dare you.  The candy wrappers, chewed gum (especially if you don’t let them chew gum) and other crap they have accumulated / borrowed / stolen / broken would make you tear out your hair.

3.   Sleep!  UGH.  You’ll never get enough, never make up the lost sleep, which makes you look and feel older, and forget sleeping in your own bed!  There are nights where I have slept in every child’s bed with them because of; nightmares, weather, threat of bad weather, sickness, threat of sickness, loneliness, manipulation, I woke them up, or because they’re kids and kids are awesome and just want the attention.  Spending quality time with your kids and being there for them is awesome because there will come a day when the think you’re gross, but as for your sleep… Forget about it!  It’s over.

2.   When girls and boys go from being “yucky” and “gross” to silence.  That silence means they have taken notice and it might be time for that puberty check (armpit hair).  Then it’s a whole different ball game, my friends!  A completely different set of nightmares and worries.

1. Once you get it all figured out and everything seems to be in order (meaning you finally broke them and they are fully complying, or they’re moving out to go to University) you realize just how much you’re going to miss them.  Miss picking up after them.  Miss telling them to chew with their mouths shut.  Miss giving them advice and miss their company, their senses of humour, and they ability to lighten up a room (or clear that room).

 

So make sure this Friday the 13th, after you explain to your kids the myths and superstitions, that you hug them, kiss them and tell them you love them.

Deep down they love you too and might even admit it today (but take it back tomorrow).

… Is that a black cat!!!

 

Aaaarrrrrggghhhhhh.

The Absolute Best Hockey Instructor on the Planet: Dusan Kralik’s Creative Hockey development


I just signed up my middle and only child who plays hockey for March break hockey camp with the absolute best hockey instructor on the planet, Dusan Kralik, and his Creative Hockey Development program.

My son, you see, is entering his 3rd year in organized hockey, his 4th year skating at all, and all of his improvements have been due to his desire to get better (certainly not to my pushing him) and because Dusan is an amazing human being.

Dusan, has a very lengthy background in hockey, and he would have been a fantastic pro player if it wasn’t for injuries.

Instead of moving past hockey, Dusan moved to Canada from his native Slovakia and wound up playing on my ball-hockey team where we won a whole bunch of championships.  Playing with one healthy hip, Dusan was magical in the arena, and when I finally got to see him on the ice, I was in awe.

He’s incredibly talented, unbelievably gifted, and he’s trained many, many current NHL players whom you might have heard about – Subban, Tavares, the Tanev brothers, just to name a few.  In fact this past April, he trained Conor McDavid prior to the World Cup.

If he can train them, he can train my son.

Dusan is not just an on-ice genius, as he has presented at International Coaching Symposiums, has had many a conversation with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and each summer he travels to Carolina to train the Carolina Hurricanes prospects.

Dusan, is a future GM in the NHL, so it’s best to get him while he’s still training!  Dusan travels worldwide to train – I know he trained the Israeli Hockey team, as well as the men’s and woman’s hockey teams for Seneca College.

His website is under construction, but I strongly recommend you follow him on Facebook, here; https://www.facebook.com/CreativeHockeyDevelopment/

If I’m lucky, he’ll let me assist at the camp as I did last year with some of the coaching (not on ice), or I’ll just look forward to watching the expert work his magic with a bunch of wide-eyed kids.

 

My Favourite Time of Year: Top US and Canadian Google Searches for 2016.


This is my favourite time of the year, where all of the year-end lists begin rolling in.  Below you will find the top 10 US Google searches, and what is likely the top 10 Canadian Google searches.  Enjoy, and please do not hesitate to comment.

Google’s top trending searches of 2016 (US).

  1. Powerball – The lottery handed out $1.6 billion dollars in prizes in January 2016 alone.
  2. Pokemon Go – either for tips or to read stories of people who walked into holes, or traffic while playing this game
  3. Rio 2016 – Olympics were a popular search item because of many sub-stories such as the polution in Rio, the Russian athletes being banned for doping or bad sportsmanship on behalf an Egyptian “athlete” who was kicked out of the games for refusing to shake hands with his Israeli opponent.
  4. Election 2016 – US presidential election had so many sub-stories including everything Donald Trump and everything Hilary Clinton and the email scandal. The CIA got involved as did the Russians and Anthony(s) Weiner all played part.
  5. David Bowie who died in January.
  6. Prince, who died in April.
  7. Hurricane Matthew, which barrelled through the Caribbean and made landfall in the US in October.
  8. Brad Pitt was Google’s top trending actor searched in 2016 for “abusing” his child on an airplane while intoxicated and then being divorced from Angelina Jolie.
  9. Prince Harry’s girlfriend, Megan Markle, trended most among actresses as the American actress currently residing in Toronto as hounded by paparazzi forcing the Prince to step in and berate those in the media who are harassing her.
  10. Beyonce topped musical searches, and her song “Formation” was the top trending song in Google searches for 2016

 

 

Canadian 2016 Top Trending searches must have included the following;

  1. Justin Trudeau
  2. Justin Trudeau’s hair
  3. Justin Trudeau is so cute
  4. Justin Trudeau is so pretty
  5. Justin Trudeau stylish
  6. Who is Justin Trudeau
  7. Gord Downy
  8. Tragically Hip
  9. Kathleen Wynne is killing Ontario
  10. Which JT is cuter, Justin Timberlake or Justin Trudeau

Starbucks For Life Sweepstakes is Back!


For members of the Starbucks Rewards™ loyalty program (like me!), it’s time for the annual return of the Starbucks for Life sweepstakes.

For the third consecutive year, Starbucks has featured this popular game of chance, which launched December 6th, 2016 here in Canada (also in the US).  Starbucks Rewards™ members have an opportunity to win prizes, including Starbucks for Life, Starbucks for a Year, Starbucks for a Month, Starbucks for a Week* and millions of Bonus Stars.

The Way to Play

From now through January 16th, 2017, eligible Starbucks Rewards™ members can earn game plays when they make a purchase* using either their registered Starbucks Card or the Starbucks® Mobile App in participating U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec) stores.

Members can redeem their game plays and collect digital game pieces by logging on to www.starbucksforlife.com in the U.S. or www.starbucksforlife.ca in Canada. Starbucks Rewards™ members may earn up to two game plays per day by making an eligible purchase transaction with a registered Starbuck Card or App.

What’s New This Holiday?

Members can complete challenges found within the game to earn extra game plays. Examples of challenges include “Jump the Line,” which rewards customers for making a purchase via mobile order, and “Hot Streak,” which provides three extra plays if a purchase is made five days in a row. Also new this year is the ability to trade three duplicate game pieces for one new game play.

Exclusive Prizes

Starbucks Rewards™ members can win prizes by collecting all of the game pieces in a given row on their digital game board. Only seven lucky customers (five in the U.S. and two in Canada) will win the grand prize of Starbucks for Life. 45 customers (25 in the U.S. and 20 in Canada) will win Starbucks for a Year. 250 customers (125 in the U.S. and 125 in Canada) will win Starbucks for a Month. 800 customers (500 in the U.S. and 300 in Canada) will win Starbucks for a Week.

Customers can also collect game pieces to win Bonus Stars in increments of 125 and 50 Stars. Instant-win prizes with Bonus Stars in increments of 5 Stars will be awarded as well. When Starbucks Rewards™ Gold Members collect 125 Stars, they earn a Reward, which they can redeem for a food or beverage item of their choice at participating stores.


*“Starbucks for Life” means the winner will receive a daily credit for 30 years for one free food or beverage item redeemable at participating Starbucks® stores in the U.S. Alcoholic beverages excluded. Winner must present a registered Starbucks Card. Credits are non-transferable and expire within 24 hours.

“Starbucks for a Year” means the winner will receive a daily credit to his/her Account for one year (three hundred sixty-five days) for one free food or standard menu beverage item (excluding alcoholic beverages) redeemable at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. (and likely Canada although not mentioned in their blurby). Food and beverage credits expire daily.

“Starbucks for a Month” means the winner will receive a daily credit to his/her Account for one month (thirty-one days) for one free food or standard menu beverage (excluding alcoholic beverages) item redeemable at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. Food and beverage credits expire daily.

“Starbucks for a Week” means the winner will receive a daily credit to his/her Account for one week (seven days) for one free food or standard menu beverage item (excluding alcoholic beverages) redeemable at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. Food and beverage credits expire daily.

Abbreviated Canada Rules

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. LEGAL RESIDENTS OF CANADA, 18 AND OLDER AND WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE STARBUCKS REWARDS™ LOYALTY PROGRAM AT THE TIME OF ENTRY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Starbucks Partners are not eligible to win prizes. Participating stores only. Promotion ends 1/16/17. For Official Rules, how to enter without purchase, prizes, and odds, visit https://www.starbucksforlife.ca. Limit for earning Game Plays:  2 transactions per day or up to 2 requests without purchase per day. Mathematical skill-testing question must be correctly answered to win. 300,000 instant win prizes (approximate retail values of $0.20 available to be won. 14,947 collect and win game prizes (approximate retail values from $2.00 to $51,574.50 available to be won.  Sponsor: Starbucks Coffee Canada, Inc., 5140 Yonge Street, Suite 1205, Toronto, ON M2N 6 L7, Canada.

Limit of one instant-win-game prize per day. “Starbucks for Life” means the winner will receive a daily credit for 30 years for one free food or beverage item redeemable at participating Starbucks® stores in Canada. Alcoholic beverages excluded. Winner must present a registered Starbucks Card. Credits are non-transferable and expire within 24 hours.