Michigan A #3 Seed In 2010 NCAA Ice Hockey Tournament

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Posted on 22nd March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Sports Commentary

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Fresh off their CCHA Tournament Championship run, the Michigan Wolverines ended up earning a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament and will face the #2 seed and 9th-ranked Bemidji State Beavers in the opening round of the regional bracket in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on March 27th.

At the beginning of the season it seemed Michigan was destined for a very successful campaign, and then at one point in the season it seemed like they wouldn’t find much measure of success at all.  A late season run put them in contention for a chance at extending their record 19 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and the young men came through by winning the CCHA tournament and earning the CCHA automatic birth.  Then to earn a #3 seed and rise all the way to a #11 national ranking has to feel very good.

Michigan now takes aim at reaching yet another Frozen Four, with this year’s finals being staged at Ford Field, in Detroit – that would be extra special.

Go BLUE, men!

Michigan Wolverines – CCHA Champions! Hail!

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Posted on 20th March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Sports Commentary

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The University of Michigan Ice Hockey Team beat Northern Michigan 2-1 in the CCHA Tournament Championship Game, Saturday at Joe Louis Arena, to win the tournament for the 9th time in the program’s history and also secure a seed in the NCAA National Tournament – a goal that seemed to have slipped through the Wolverines’ grasp not all that long ago.  Junior centerman Louie Caporusso scored both of Michigan’s goals on the night and goalie Shawn Hunwick again came up huge at key moments to continue an amazing story in net.

Michigan is playing as well as anyone in the country right now and at just the right time.  The national tournament seeds will be announced tomorrow, making the tournament appearance official.  That’s now 20 consecutive appearances in the tournament – simply amazing.  Hail to the Victors!  Michigan is again, the champs!

Michigan Beats Miami To Reach CCHA Championship Game

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Posted on 19th March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Sports Commentary | University of Michigan Sports

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Llewellyn scores the first goal as Michigan beats Miami to advance  to the CCHA tournament final

Tristan Llewellyn scores a first period goal against Miami in the semifinal matchup. (Photo via Inside College Hockey and CCHA.com)

The University of Michigan Ice Hockey Team upset the number 2 ranked Miami, OH Redhawks 5-2 in their CCHA tournament semifinal game, Friday night, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI to advance to the title game where they will face Northern Michigan for the tournament championship on Saturday.

After a bit of a sluggish start, the wolverines dominated the game by employing their skill and speed for all to see against Miami – talent that has at times been missing in action this season on both the offensive and defensive ends.  With the win Michigan secures it’s 9th tournament championship game appearance in 10 years and probably moved into a stronger position to extend it’s record 19 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances mark to 20.

Freshman Kevin Lynch led all scorers with 2 goals and an assist on the night and Tristan Llewellyn, Lee Moffie and Brian Lebler also put the puck to the back of the net.  At times Michigan looked like it could do no wrong as passes seemed either perfect or to have options when off the mark.  A pretty tic-tac-toe play culminated in Michigan’s second goal of the night, a quick deposit to the back of the net by Lee Moffie following some great work on the boards and in front of the CCHA player of the year and Miami goaltender Cody Reichard.  Two other goals were the result of passes that missed the intended target but which found another player with a willing stick anyway.

Shawn Hunwick continues his thrilling story of seizing opportunity when it’s presented following goaltender Bryan Hogan’s groin injury in the second to last game of the regular season, against Notre Dame.  In just his 6th start of his carerr, Hunwick is playing solid in net and making some clutch saves.  Hunwick had a great second period when his team was tested the most.  Still at times looking as if he is playing a game he is simply too small to play, Hunwick continues to show great heart, quick vision and sound instincts in challenging shooters to close down opportunities at his net.

In what has been a tough year for the marquee sports at the University of Michigan, it was great to see the hockey team put a very complete effort together (and yes, even catch a touch of fortune in the process) to knock of an excellent and stingy defensive team and reach the championship final.  This coming after a great opening round showing against Lake Superior State and a quarterfinal sweep of rival Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena to get to Joe Louis Arena and the Final Four of the CCHA tournament for the 21st consecutive season and the hockey team clearly looks to be peaking at just the right time.

Northern Michigan finished 4th in the CCHA regular season and the wildcats were ranked 12th in both the USA today and USCHO polls before tournament play began.  The two teams split their two contests in Ann Arbor back in February of this year.  The wolverines finished in 7th place during the CCHA regular season while playing largely inconsistent hockey and are ranked 17th in the USCHO poll.  The puck drops for the championship at 7:35 on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.

Canceled Home Phone Land Line Service Today

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Posted on 18th March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Day to Day Goodies

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We canceled our home phone service today due to extreme lack of use, overly-present charitable gift solicitation and AT&T’s apparent lack of interest in preventing third-party and unauthorized services from being added to our account by individuals other than account owners.  We use our cell phones for everything and our home phone was a nice 5.8GHz cordless unit we’ve had for a while but which wouldn’t work in the case where the power went out anyway.  We also have cable for high-speed internet and don’t have a fax machine outside of scanning and emailing documents.  Consequently, there was simply no value to be gained from paying the $26 or so a month for a home phone line and thus we have it no more.

It’s not unreasonable to say that nearly the only people who ever call us on our home phone are solicitors looking for donations.  We’ve been on the do not call list since we had the phone number at our house but had unwittingly given it to a charity group when making a donation a few years ago.  That was a huge mistake that I will not be repeating that again.  Eventually, our phone number had been passed around to what seemed like a hundred different organizations and all of them were just looking for money for their group.  Perhaps the most annoying of these is “MPI” a professional solicitation group that feels like nothing more than a call center full of people trying to collect donations for somewhat reasonable groups like the Fraternal Order of Police, but also odd-sounding groups such as retired fire chiefs… and then worthless organizations like monkeys who have lost their bananas, Slinkys who have lost their tension and ice cream eating veterans of America with brain freeze, amongst seemingly and endless list of others.  The moment we gave to one (FOP) we were being hounded by all the rest (though obviously I’m kidding about the Slinkys).

Now telling a solicitor “no” is nothing new and, while it might be a little annoying, isn’t a reason in and of itself to cancel a phone line.  No, the bigger problem that I had with the phone line was the yearly phone slamming (cramming and other terms have been used, too) that was happening on our line where third party services were being added to our account without our authorization.  There’s a huge marketing “industry” out there of fraudulent businesses and agents that, using nothing more than your name, address and a junk email address, sign phone numbers up by submitting them to billing websites.  The hope is that you will either not check your bill and so pay for the service or that they can sell you on keeping the service when you call to cancel it blindly.  AT&T knows this (all phone companies or even telco installers know this) and yet will not let you prevent this from happening by adding any feature to your account.  So every year we would get one bill that came across at about double what our regular rate was ($26 for basic service looks obvious when you are billed for $45+ after the junk service has been added) and all for a phone we didn’t use.  Plus I can’t tell you how annoying it is to call crap services like those and have to cancel your account, demand your money back (most of the time you will have to pursue that end vigorously) clear your name and data from their system (which you can really never confirm by reasonable means) … it’s quite an unwanted hassle.

I have no idea why we waited so long to cancel our home phone service – that’s about $300 a year for at least 2 years (if not 3) that we could have kept in our pockets.   And I can’t even count the number of cranky solicitors we had to talk to during that time.  And I haven’t even mentioned the issue about our phone number being just one digit off from a local pizza delivery place – oh yeah, big fun there.

So if you’re looking to call me or Natalie use the cell phones.  And if you’re looking for a donation to your esteemed retired chess players with arthritis united foundation you can seek funding elsewhere.

Michigan Football Spring Practice Kicks Off

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Posted on 16th March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Sports Commentary | University of Michigan Sports

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It’s Tuesday, March 16th 2010!  And spring practice has commenced for Michigan Football… with a hell of a lot of work to cover and a lot of questions to answer in a very short period of time.

Push Forward Michigan Men!

What is there to say, really, other than – thank god another terrible season is officially behind us.  Technically, “last season” is over when the bowl games are over with or at least when signing day arrives in February and all of the last of the season’s efforts are finalized.  This year, though, has been different as there have been off-field distractions surfacing on what feels like a weekly basis.  With the looming NCAA investigation, a lame duck athletic director being replaced by a new incoming leader and all the factions and infighting that have developed, the past 365 days feel like they’ve been worth 900 in the books.  But for now all of that is press history and what matters is making our way forward on the practice fields, in film study and in the classroom.

‘Shirts and shorts’ kicks off spring practice so we’re talking about making hay on fundamentals and understanding the playbooks and breakdown drills to get things rolling.  These practices are crucial for acclimating the true freshman who have graduated ahead of schedule and have enrolled early for the winter semester and in seeing how quickly playbooks can be absorbed and how much has been gained (or lost) by the entire team in the off-season weight training and conditioning programs.  These are also great for reinstituting practice routines and tempo – something Coach Rodriguez loves to focus on.

We’ll see how things go.  Expectations are high and there are as close to concrete expectations as a coach is often going to get in front of Rodriguez and company and a brand new updated Big House full of fans will be waiting come the fall to see how things shake out.  It all starts now with spring practice.

Playing Fantasy Baseball This Season

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Posted on 14th March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Day to Day Goodies

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I’ve decided to play fantasy baseball this season – it will be the first time I have played any fantasy sports games in a number of years after getting bored with them during the initial explosion of online fantasy sports sites.  A friend of mine, Greg Nicolai, announced on Facebook that he was looking to start a league and for those interested to contact him.  It sounded good and so decided to give it a go, again.

When I first started playing fantasy football and fantasy baseball I was consistently winning my leagues and the sites were in their early stages of development – very basic and the games actually required a lot of web browsing and time to research players, etc.  The time I was putting in was a lot, the reward was essentially zero and the challenge was minimal.  I think it was a combination of the early websites lacking features and time saving elements and a lot of players who weren’t yet very strong at fantasy sports, yet.  So I’m hoping this venture poses a nice challenge and that it’s fun to interact with at least a couple people who I might actually know.

The league is a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league, a site I have not used before so I don’t know what to expect – and I like that.  I need a little of not knowing what to expect in my life, these days… I think.  Greg has entitled the league “The Show”, so I guess I have to say that I hope to one day make the show!  The draft is coming up quick, so I’ll have to let you know how I do.


GM Recalls 1.3 Million Chevy, Pontiac Cars

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Posted on 2nd March 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News


General Motors - Another RecallOy!  Another GM recall, this time 1.3 Million Chevy Colbalt and sister models from the US, Mexico and Canada.  It seems GM has a power steering problem in these vehicles that has already caused some damage in the U.S.  Those of us who feel the Colbalt was a huge mistake on GM’s part are not surprised.

At least, with this problem, GM’s cars warn the driver of the problem’s presence unlike the mess Toyota has been embattled with of late.  And people are wondering why GM can’t capitalize on other car manufacturer’s misfortunes…

Read more about the GM recall, here.  You can also check out the GM media release about the recall, here.

Saturday Mail To Come To An End? Finally!

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Posted on 2nd March 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Snail mail might soon get even slower.

Will the USPS be making its final Saturday deliveries soon?The U.S. Postal Service plans to propose Tuesday an adjusted mail service schedule, which will likely cut Saturday delivery. The agency will also suggest closing some branches and expanding its use of self-service kiosks in grocery stores and other popular retail spots, as part of its effort to work its way out of a mountain of debt.

USPS posted a $3.8 billion loss in its 2009 fiscal year, the latest in a multiyear string of whopping losses. Mail volume was down 12.7% for the year, a trend the agency expects to continue over the next decade as more consumers opt for online bill payments and message delivery.

The Post Office was $10 billion in debt as of Sept. 30 — not far off from its $15 billion debt limit, which the agency expects to hit in its 2011 fiscal year.

Read more about USPS proposing a 5-day mail schedule, here.

It is this blogger’s opinion that this is a decision they should have come to several years ago when their debt was mounting fast and their volume dropping sharply.  With electronic options abound, who really needs Saturday mail service at all, especially during non-holiday weeks?  Sure it’s nice to have some mail come on Saturday or have the option to drop something off at the post office while you’re running some other errands, but a simple adjustment to the Monday-through-Friday USPS work schedule would likely enable anyone who really was serviced by Saturday post office hours or delivery to do what they needed to do.  Besides, when you drop off that parcel at the post office on Saturday it isn’t actually moving until Monday anyway.

There is nothing wrong with a limiting a work week to only those days which make sense to the bottom line for any given business and I have never understood how an entity so closely tied to the government was working on Saturdays.  If the USPS was a private entity and they believed it made good business sense to offer the Saturday services, then so be it – like banks.  However, that is not the situation at hand for the USPS.

I hope this proposed service adjustment is approved.  US mail just isn’t the same volume or requirements as it once was and the system needed to start adjusting this radically years ago.

Detroit Red Wings Open Post Olympic Play With Nice Win Over Avalanche

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Posted on 2nd March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Sports Commentary

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Detroit Red Wings Beat Colorado Avalanche 3-2, Monday.Hopefully the time off that has seemed to allow many of the Red Wings’ players to heal will continue to pay dividends as it did last night in Colorado.  Detroit beat the Avalanche 3-2 to begin their attack on reaching the playoffs to keep that impressive streak alive.

Nicklas Lidstrom scored on a power play with just 9 minutes to go in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and the Red Wings held on in the closing moments to secure the victory.  Let’s Go Red Wings!



Jim Bunning – Causing Ruckus On Jobs Issues

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Posted on 1st March 2010 by Ben Krasner in Politics - U.S. National

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Is Bunning just being a headache?  Or is he correct in being  financially responsible?
Many feel Jim Bunning is being nothing more than a headache for Democrats in Washington, D.C.

It seems Jim Bunning is back in the news for a couple of his efforts over the past week.  Democrats publicly ripped Bunning for blocking a heavily followed bill dealing largely with the proposed extension of federal unemployment benefits and the Department of Transportation is none-too-pleased with him, either.

Working on emotionally charged issues – as saving or creating jobs and unemployment benefits certainly are these days – Bunning single-handedly threw a filibuster into the works (what else is new from the GOP in Washington) to block a bill which would have both extended federal unemployment benefits and provide a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund which was set up to pay for projects around the country.  As a result of the bill not passing, more than a million of the unemployed will be losing their federal unemployment benefits this month and up to 2,000 employees at the Transportation Department will be sent home without pay due to insufficient funding on projects.

In his defense, let me point out that Bunning’s one and only objection to the bill is the funding issue itself.  This is a good thing and something that no politician should ever be put on trial for… I believe the item that has most people hot under the collar is purely the timing of the effort.  Now that “pay as you go” has become a key phrase in recent politics, Bunning, who is retiring at the end of the year, is likely looking to go out to pasture in noble fashion (like most politicians try to do) by finally showing that  Republicans are interested in appropriate finance and budgeting.  This is a great time to start, after all… while the Democrats hold control and are trying to push bills through quicker than a quarter mile in the movie ‘The Fast and the Furious”.  NOW the republicans wise up – convenient.

So the question is simply this: is this decision to block this bill in balance?  What we have is a bill that about 1.2 – 1.4 million people are relying on to either bridge the gap until they can (or want to) secure employment or to stay afloat for a while longer along with an unknown amount of people involved with the construction projects that are now put on hold and who may need to be added to the unemployment circuit.  The cost attached to this bill is $10 billion.  Doing quick math we’re talking about $8,333 for each of the 1.2 million (using the lower number) people on the unemployment chopping block, and that number does NOT include the funding for the DOT projects that is a part of the bill.

Does that seem to be at all in balance?  We’re not talking about a couple pet projects, here, we’re talking about people – somewhere between a million and 1.5 million individuals.  If you’re still teetering on the edge of that decision, consider the sunk costs (what we’ve already spent, in essence) of the stimulus as a whole.  I know that when you’re budgeting and planning you’re never supposed to be looking at sunk costs, but I find them relevant when we’re talking about people – not just capital investment and marketing.  So while I give a golf clap of applause to Bunning for trying to play ball the right way on his way out the door, I think we need to take another look at what we’re doing on the bills at hand.

My guess is Bunning is financially right, here, but has simply not been able to do HIS JOB as a politician in Washington; and that is convince people he’s right, rally them to his cause and find a solution.  There’s not much I can’t stand more than those who are unwilling to act to find a solution to problems staring them right in the face.  My guess is I’m not alone on that one, either, judging by the reaction around the web after this news broke.