Preseason Musings

Greetings from the Smokanagan.

It’s been a while since my last entry. Like anyone else in summertime, I thought a bit of a vacation from the curling world was in order. Sorry to disappoint those of you who were hoping it was a permanent vacation, but now it’s back to work.

So what’s happened since we last chatted?

Well, Canada’s birthday to start. Sesquicentennial to be precise (I had to use Spell Check to get it right, dammitt). The True North, Strong and Brave has reached the 150 year mark without a bloody, violent civil war-something not too many other nations can crow about.

Of course, First Nations folks would say that our country has a much longer, richer history prior to 1867, and they’d be right. Fact is, if it hadn’t been for those invaders…er..intrepid European explorers, the good Scots (of which I claim 50% descendency, the other half Welsh) wouldn’t have been here to introduce the roaring game to the country.

One has to wonder what the indigenous people thought the first time they witnessed drunk Scotsmen throw rocks down a frozen pond, chasing it with branches torn from a nearby bush, frantically trying to sweep snow out of its path. I kinda think one guy turned to his buddy and said something like this:

“And these guys think Lacrosse is fucked up? Seriously?”

So although we like to consider Curling and Ice Hockey our winter sports, truth is they were imported here. Pretty much the same as just about everyone, and everything, else. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sarcasm aside, I’m pretty proud of this country and of being a Canadian. We are, as the saying goes; An experiment that should have failed, but so far hasn’t. The reason why? Well it’s less a reason than an opinion. But from my not-so-lofty perch, I think it’s because we don’t believe we know everything.

Why is that good? Well, take a gander down south. That’s a country full of folks who do believe the know it all. And they have nukes.  But I digress. As much fun as it is to rip old Orangehair, others do it far better. My point is that we silly Canucks seem, unconsciously, to look at all the other countries in the world, take in the details, spit out most of the garbage and then put our own. unique spin on things.

Take the Brits and the French for example. They started the mass immigration yet today we’re neither French (they never would have come up with Poutine), British (our beer is waaay better) or any other culture (Pineapple and ham on Pizza was our creation), but an amalgamation of all the people from everywhere who make up our citizenry. Multiculturalism is, contrary to what the racists proclaim, very cool indeed. It’s a shame the roaring game has yet to really embrace it. Awful lot of us white folks only out there on the ice…

This isn’t to say Canada is perfect and never makes mistakes. God no. Our history is rife with dumbass moves both distant past and recent. There’s far too many to name and I think you all have some great examples in your thoughts as you read this, so there’s no point naming any. Because they’re all legitimate.

But here is where I think Canada differs from the rest of the world: More than anyone else, we admit it when we fuck up. Perhaps not as quickly as we could or should, but we do admit it. We apologize, try to fix it (sometimes very unsuccessfully) and then try our damndest to not do it again.

And you know what else? We acknowledge that there is still one hell of a lot of work to do, groan about it for a moment then roll up our sleeves and get to work. Because we honestly want to do the right thing. Show me another country in the world that does that, I dare you.

So we learn. Or, perhaps more accurately, we are trying, striving to learn. Because we admit, grudgingly sometimes, that we don’t know everything. And as long as we do this I think in the long run we’re going to be okay.

So Happy Birthday Canuckville.

Next up, the BC election. Or as I like to put it, my time to say, ‘I told you so’

What happened? Well, to recap;

The NDP/Greens formed a coalition (to all you idiots who keep disputing the word, look it up in a goddamned dictionary), Christy Clark stole all the issues from the their election campaigns, laughingly proclaimed them as her own in her Throne Speech, fooled absolutely no one and were then quickly defeated in a non-confidence vote.

Clark tried to get the Lieutenant Governor to call a snap election which failed, blamed everything on the LG (a blatant violation of parliamentary procedure, protocol and etiquette), John Horgan became Premier, installed his own Speaker to replace the Liberal toady who resigned, and didn’t hesitate to remind everyone that in the event of a tie the Speaker can vote.

In short, every gambit that I predicted the Liberals would try took place. And each one failed, miserably, also as predicted. Since then, whether told to resign or by choice (the truth is probably a little bit of both), Christy Clark’s time as Liberal leader is over. But don’t feel too sorry for her. For the rest of her life we’ll be putting an annual pension of $100,000.00 in her wallet.

Apparently the situation is so bad that she didn’t just step down as leader, she quit completely, vacating her riding and forcing a by-election in Kelowna, which could well foretell the future of the BC Liberals. They now teeter on the brink of a collapse as massive as what happened to the Social Credit party back in the 90’s and Clark may well be the first rat to flee the sinking ship. It’s also worth noting it was the Liberals who stepped into the vacuum left by the Socreds and now Andrew Weaver and the Greens are poised to do the same.

So now what? well, we have at least a year before the Liberals elect a new leader so I think we have 2-3 year window, possibly even a full term, before another election. Unless the Liberals choose an absolute idiot for leader (and frankly, the contenders aren’t very appetizing). Then watch Horgan and Weaver pounce like wolves on a weak member of the herd. Hopefully I’m wrong, but Tom Shypitka could be a one-term MLA. At the very least, it will be fun to watch the next 24-48 months.

Curling? well after the Curl BC AGM you have to wonder if all is still rosy in Richmond. Why? Because two weeks ago Curl BC hastily launched another survey. This one, supposedly, aimed at trying to find out why more curlers aren’t participating in playdowns. Like previous surveys, it’s once again poorly written, with only 9 vague questions.

What makes me think something’s going on in the boardroom? Timing.

If you’re Curl BC and you believe in the new format, and the 2 year old survey from which it supposedly sprung, you don’t launch another questionnaire  about the same topic before the new format even has a trial. It’s like Toyota asking you why you aren’t buying the 2019 Corolla before one model even rolls out of the factory. In short, it’s kinda dumb.

Unless..

Unless someone or a group from within the elected Executive have started asking questions. Hard, embarrassing questions.

A word to the wise Curl BC?

First, stop asking your survey respondents to tell you who they are. People will be more forthcoming online if anonymous. Plus who they are has no bearing on the value of the information you get.

Second, get your backsides out of your offices and go talk to curlers. Try one-on-one chats or focus groups with non-participants. That could shed some badly needed light on the situation-far more than an impersonal internet survey can.

Oh, and don’t limit your forays to the Lower Mainland. No sauntering over to the Richmond Winter Club just because it’s nearby and filled with people who will tell you want you want to hear. Get out of your comfort zone and make a trip to the clubs you’ve isolated with your new format. That’s right, the Northern, Island and Kootenay clubs.

Listen to what those folks have to say, take the heat and defend your position, if you can. At the very least, you owe them this much. After all, they pay the same dues to you as all others.

Lastly, I see my old team has picked up Will House to replace me at third. Will’s a good guy who should fit in well with the boys. I wish him the best of luck and success in his new line-up. In fact, with luck we might even get to play them somewhere down the road this coming season. Perhaps Parksville in the opening game of the 2018 BC Men’s. You just never know, karma is-after all-a funny thing.

First things first though. I’m busy stretching and hitting the gym in preparation for, wait for it…the upcoming BC 55+ Senior Games in Vernon, September 12-16. Yes, you heard correctly, SENIOR Games. In lieu of better judgment I let my best friend, Don Eyers, drag me kicking and screaming into our local zone playoff for this event.

Okay, in fairness to Don, he’s had to put up with me as a friend and frequent teammate since we played in our first Jr. bonspiel back in 1976 when we were 15 and 16 respectively. In spite of ourselves we shockingly won the B event (the fool let me skip) and the Pro’s From Dover were born. He’s been with me since then on different competitive and recreational teams with some success but never a zone spot in any type of playdown.

In light of this, I kinda figured I owed him. So we hooked up with local buddies Wayne Ovens and Dave Pogemiller and won the spot. Now we go up against a bunch of other old fogeys in September for the gold and bragging rights. Other than old Lower Mainland foe Al-The Sheet Clearer-Roemer,   I have no idea who will make up the rest of the field. But I am looking forward to it, surprisingly. At the least Vernon ice will be in early-ask Merklinger how happy he is about that-and I’m sure lots of fun will take place.

So enjoy the rest of your summer. A few more weeks and we can all ship the little buggers back to school.

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