Next year’s Washington Capitals

While the Caps did a lot better than I thought they would in the playoffs, the regular season was a disaster. wildly inconsistent players and results. They would go from looking unbeatable to looking like they were the worst team in the league game to game. They just manage to sneak into the playoffs and found a system that made them competitive. It did look a bit like a square peg into a round hole situation though. So many of the players were brought in to suit Boudreaux’s run and gun style, it took time to get the guys to buy into the block shots, defense first mentality. There are a lot of free agents on this team, and there are some people that I’d like to see go.

I think we should let Semen, Green, Voukun, and Shultz walk away as free agents. Yes, Semin has amazing skills but he is going to be expensive and he is way too inconsistent to pay the kind of money he is going to be asking for. While Green has gotten a little more physical in his defensive play, he never got his most valuable part of his game going this year, his offense. Plus, he can’t stay healthy. I can’t imagine tying him down to a longer contract. Schultz is just slow and he doesn’t use his size the way a defenseman should.

I think that Backstrom is the best player on the team and he’s worth building around. I’m mostly OK with most of the other guys like Johannson, Aucoin, Knuble, Laich, etc. SOme are getting paid more than they should be, but still, good NHL players. I don’t think that Brower or Ward are pulling their weight, but they can still be valuable pieces. Chimera and Hendricks have been revelations this year, I had no idea they could perform that well. We’re in good shape in the net. Both Neuvirth and Holtby are the real deal, and they’re cheap.

I would entertain offers on Ovetchkin. I know, I know, but hear me out. His offensive contributions continue to go down, and the rest of his game hasn’t really improved enough to offset that decline. I think that it’s telling that OV spent so much time on the bench during the playoffs. It’s even more telling that it worked. Semin is far better all around player, his defensive work can be really good and he was even a good guy to have out there short handed. OV continues to be a defensive liability. I’m not saying we should dump him, he’s still a good player, but he has always been an offensive player. If the offense keeps going down and his defense doesn’t get markedly better, he will be a net negative on the team, especially with his salary. I feel that if we can’t find a good fit for him on the team, we should trade him and get some good players in return. 

So yeah, I’m more or less advocating breaking up “the young guns.” This season has shown that they simply do not gel well enough to be successful. At the very least, this season has shown us that we don’t have the right kinds of players for whatever systems that were tried. I thought that the moves made by GM last offseason were good, but they never did gel. Let’s see what he can do this time around.

A new crowd sourcing "charity" for me

I am really getting into the crowd sourcing thing. The whole idea behind it is to get lots of people donating a little bit of money to fund something. I have been doing that with Kiva and Kickstarter.

If you don’t remember, Kiva is an organization that helps put together small (by our standards) loans to people in developing countries so that they can make improvements. It is one of the more visible forms of micro-finance out there. I have decided to stop participating in that program mostly because it isn’t clear that it makes a tremendous amount of difference. I think I am going to steer the money I had been using for Kiva to a more typical development charity. 

Kickstarter is a really popular place for people with ideas that need funding. They post their idea and ask for donations. As you go up the scale in dollar amount, they have better and better rewards to offer. It’s a novel way to attract funding for pet projects. So far I have helped make several pens and a comic. Kickstarter is un, but it’s no charity. I do it to get interesting things. The power of crowd sourcing allows some folks to do really big things. Several video game projects have gotten well over a million dollars and there is a new smart watch that is getting close to 9 million I think. Powerful stuff.

The latest crowd sourcing site I’ve stumbled across is wishbone.org. They look for “at risk” high school kids that show some potential and fund educational experiences for them. It’s still a bit loosey-goosey for me to invest long term, but I happened across a student there that would like to go to a summer school program at my Alma Mater, Ithaca College. I can imagine a kid from a bad neighborhood in NYC getting a lot out of a summer thing like that, so I donated $25 to the cause. I need to do some more reading and see what this program actually accomplishes before I get too involved though. It isn’t as though they are sending them to college, they are sending them to summer event, or some sort of seminar series and things like that. If I am going to be doing stuff with that site, it will be with things that have a good chance of getting people out of bad situations. If they want to study computer science, mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc. I don’t mind lending a helping hand. Like I said, I’m going to do a little more research and see what it’s really all about.

CDs

I continue to rip my CDs into my computer. I haven’t seen these in almost 6 years and they are bringing back lots of memories. I’m currently ripping “Calamus,” a recording of Arab-Andulisian music. Really haunting, and very unusual. It used to be a favorite demo disk of mine when I was selling stereo equipment, always impressed people. I’ve also just stumbled across a disk my girlfriend in college gave me. 

Here’s a good one, I just unearthed my box set of the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir. I know, I can hear you now, but really, this is some amazing stuff. Like Calamus, the Bulgarian choir sings in a style that has a zillion influences from both east and west. It really is mesmerizing. Well, maybe not three disks back to back to back mesmerizing, but really good.

I’m looking for my favorite Flamenco disk, my collection of different composers’ “Stabat Mater,” and all of my various live jazz and classic jazz recordings. Oddly enough, the big rock collection isn’t exciting me overly much. I probably ripped most of that before I went to Yemen and have been listening to it ever since. I’m also probably still hearing it via the various streaming services I use. Hmm, and maybe most of the really good stuff is on vinyl. Probably all of the above. In any case, it’ll be good to get through this project.

I’m seriously considering backing this up to another hard drive (aside from my usual back-up) and keeping it somewhere else for safe keeping. I plan on getting rid of all of these CDs once I’m done with them. I would then be in a situation where all of my music would be in two rather fragile drive enclosures. If something really bad happened here, I don’t want to lose all of that stuff. Hmm. Will have to think about where I could put it.

Sorry I haven’t been writing

Seemingly every idea I’ve had for writing has been little more than a rant. The political grandstanding, ongoing economic issues, and various pop culture things just seem to make me angry. I’m really trying to not just vent, I’m trying to stay sort of positive. I’ll see if I can’t figure out some sort of positive thing, or at least some personal news that might appeal to folks.