DeuceOfDavenport.com http://www.deuceofdavenport.com So... you wanna talk sports? Tue, 31 Oct 2017 17:13:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 Bob Valentine: Baseball Genius http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/bob-valentine-baseball-genius/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/bob-valentine-baseball-genius/#respond Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:01:36 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=64 baseballgeniusThough a playoff breakthrough is now a distinct possibility, a net-ready-to-gloat Bobby Valentine really hasn’t changed, His baseball acumen remains second to none–and so does his proclivity to annoy.

This being his best chance at a finest hour–maybe his last chance, at least with the Mets–you just know Bobby Valentine wants to pounce on the opportunity to stick up for himself. To get the proper care. You know that as the Mets make this final push over the next 10 days to win the N.L. East championship or the wildcard playoff berth, a post-season push that looks as if it will be successful, Valentine has the urge to crow a little, even thumb his nose at a critic or two. Or more.

Plenty of those critics would like nothing so much as to see Valentine take the fall for another Mets collapse, another season-ending losing streak like the five-game free fall that cost the team the playoffs a year ago. Valentine, foiled again, took the heat, heard the whispers, saw the knowing nods. And had nothing with which to fight back.

Now, he does. Now, this September, on the verge of the breakthrough, you’d think maybe he’d fire a …

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baseballgeniusThough a playoff breakthrough is now a distinct possibility, a net-ready-to-gloat Bobby Valentine really hasn’t changed, His baseball acumen remains second to none–and so does his proclivity to annoy.

This being his best chance at a finest hour–maybe his last chance, at least with the Mets–you just know Bobby Valentine wants to pounce on the opportunity to stick up for himself. To get the proper care. You know that as the Mets make this final push over the next 10 days to win the N.L. East championship or the wildcard playoff berth, a post-season push that looks as if it will be successful, Valentine has the urge to crow a little, even thumb his nose at a critic or two. Or more.

Plenty of those critics would like nothing so much as to see Valentine take the fall for another Mets collapse, another season-ending losing streak like the five-game free fall that cost the team the playoffs a year ago. Valentine, foiled again, took the heat, heard the whispers, saw the knowing nods. And had nothing with which to fight back.

Now, he does. Now, this September, on the verge of the breakthrough, you’d think maybe he’d fire a few volleys, champion his cause. But he doesn’t. He won’t say a word in his behalf. Not yet, at least.

Right now, he has ground rules against that sort of thing. The rules are as much for himself as for those of us who chronicle the life and this particular time of a man now in third place on one of those hopelessly esoteric all-time baseball lists: games managed without making the playoffs. The two men ahead of Valentine (nearly 1,700 games) are Jimmie Dykes (2,962) and Paul Richards (1,837).

So he makes certain the ground rules are understood. As we travel with the Mets through a trip to Phoenix and Houston and into the September pennant stretch, we’ll talk about the team. We won’t talk about Valentine. We won’t do anything that might distract even one single player from the task at hand, even for a moment. That way, Valentine can keep himself from being the distraction. He won’t talk about October. He won’t talk about the players and coaches who hate him, and he won’t talk about the media members who belittle him. He won’t talk about the managers and general managers who disrespect him, and he won’t talk about his job security.

His insistence on staying away from all of those subjects is an indication of how much this September means to him, how much pressure he feels. But you can’t know that for certain. He won’t talk about it.

This is how adamant he is. A conversation begins, “I’d like to give you a chance to defend …” and before it continues he interrupts with a “no,” assuming that we’re headed for the troubled waters in which he swims. But the sentence finishes: “… your starting pitching, since that seems to be what people point to as the Mets’ weak link right now.”

On baseball matters–on the Mets’ starting pitching, for instance, in the very next moment–Bobby V is expansive and engaging, fascinating.

Bobby Valentine’s baseball acumen is second to none in the game today. That’s a quality his friends extol constantly as they weigh in on the Human Enigma who is the Mets’ manager. Even his enemies don’t begrudge him his on-the-field savvy. So his defense of the Mets’ starting pitchers (Al Leiter, Kenny Rogers, Masato Yoshii, Rick Reed, Orel Hershiser, Bobby Jones and rookie Octavio Dotel, a group of seven that somehow will have to be culled to three, four at most, for October’s battles, assuming the Mets are around to fight them) is worth hearing, because those starters apparently aren’t going to keep New York out of this particular postseason. Valentine is managing them to success.

“Yes,” he says, “there are individuals on other staffs who have better statistics than our guys. And, yes, there are definitely guys who have more endurance per start than our guys. But it’s a competition of nine innings. And when you play nine innings, my rested bullpen can make up some of the innings my starters don’t have in their arms. The idea is to have a quality pitcher in every inning of the game, isn’t it? So we have just as quality a game pitched as the other teams do.”

If New York makes the postseason and advances beyond the divisional playoff round, then Valentine’s game management ought to be hailed as one very big reason. He is, after all, competing against those better starting arms in other National League outposts–in Houston, in Atlanta, in Arizona. The Mets are where they are today in part because he is a master of the little things that go into wins; a slave, some would say, to detail. That, of course, doesn’t necessarily set him apart from other managers. What does, perhaps, is the excess to which he takes it.

In the seventh inning of a game in Houston, for instance, Valentine knew to expect a squeeze bunt and made an educated guess at the count on which it might come, a conclusion he reached because he’d researched the Astros thoroughly enough to know that four of their seven previous squeeze attempts this season had come on 1-1 counts. (This time, they waited for a 2-1 count, so Valentine wasted a pitchout.) Little things like that.

And this: He engineered a pickoff against the Orioles because he detected Delino DeShields on videotape shifting his right foot toward third base when he was preparing to steal second. He noticed that the shadows in Wrigley Field could give his hitters a clue about where the Cubs catcher was setting up. He saw that the positioning of a National League shortstop tipped off a changeup from a lefthanded pitcher.

Says Mets bench coach Bruce Benedict: “I tell you, my first year with him, in 1996 (at Class AAA Norfolk), I learned more baseball from him than maybe I’d learned in all my previous years in baseball.”

Whether Valentine is given credit for the Mets’ success this season, though, remains to be seen. His detractors will claim that their dead grandmothers could have managed a team as talented as these $70 million Mets into the playoffs. In that sense, Valentine, now 49, will lose a little even if he finally puts to rest the slam that he’s the only major league manager who has failed to win on two continents–a reference to his second-place finish in the Pacific Division of the Japanese League in 1995.

His Japanese club, we should note, had never finished that high before. But, like the Mets a year ago and the Texas Rangers in their 7 1/2 seasons with Valentine as manager (1985-92), the team didn’t win. For those in baseball whom Valentine has alienated, that’s his comeuppance.

“You judge a manager on how he wins, and the talent he has to win,” says Tom McCraw, the Astros’ hitting coach. “So the question in my mind is, `Has he won?’ He has not. And he’s had talent. But to me, it’s not even about the ballgame. You don’t manage a ballgame. You manage people. If you want to be a successful manager, that’s the key. So I don’t see a successful manager who doesn’t handle people very well. And I think Bobby Valentine is very short there.”

Count McCraw among the alienated. He was the hitting coach for the Mets under Dallas Green, the manager Valentine replaced in New York on August 26, 1996. When that season ended, McCraw was fired, whether by Valentine or by then-general manager Joe McIlvaine isn’t clear. But McCraw’s problem with Valentine isn’t that he was fired. It’s the word he heard later–word that Valentine had accused him of drinking during a game.

According to McCraw, some of the Mets’ coaches and players had been swapping drinking stories in an off-the-field bull session. McCraw, who lives in rural Virginia, mentioned that he hooks up with some moonshiners during his offseason there. At the urging of some Mets, he brought some of the moonshine into the clubhouse after a game near the end of the season and poured samples into tiny cups for those wanting a taste. There was never any drinking during a game, McCraw says.

“But he tried to get a writer to write that story,” he says. “The writer wouldn’t do it. Now, if you say I’m a horse– hitting instructor, that’s fine. I respect that, because that’s your opinion. But when you say I’m drinking on the job, now you’re messing with my livelihood. When you do things like that, I just don’t have any respect for you. It’s deceitful. And to this day, I don’t know why he did it…. I just know it’s a horse– way to go about life.”

The writer to whom McCraw referred asks to remain anonymous, but he confirms that Valentine told him during an off-the-record lunch conversation that McCraw had been drinking on the job. The writer, no longer on the Mets beat, mentioned it to McCraw the following year, after McCraw had been hired by the Astros. He never wrote the story.

“While Valentine didn’t tell me to write it, you know how some guys just dump stories in your lap,” the writer says. “They wouldn’t mind if they were out. You know what I mean? I just mentioned it to Mac the next time I saw him because I cared about him.”

Valentine, aware that THE SPORTING NEWS had spoken with McCraw, wouldn’t address the issue further, standing on his current ground rules. But the next afternoon in the Mets’ dugout, he says, “Did McCraw tell you that he staged a scene in my office with the writer right outside the door?”

The writer says he was in the Mets’ clubhouse when McCraw went to see Valentine, but not with McCraw and not fight outside the manager’s office. Shortly after McCraw and Valentine exchanged words, the writer says Valentine angrily confronted him for betraying an off-the-record confidence, and “it kind of got ugly.”

Where exactly the truth lies is impossible to tell, especially since Valentine won’t detail his version. But the incident is indicative of the polarity of opinion about the man. Tom House, Valentine’s former pitching coach with the Rangers, calls him “a creature of extremes.”

To be fair, for every Tom McCraw, for every Todd Hundley or Bobby Bonilla who blasts the manager publicly, there is a Valentine champion with a story to tell about his kindness and charisma.

They include former American League umpire Steve Palermo, who was shot and paralyzed in 1991 in Dallas as he attempted to break up a robbery late in the evening after he’d worked a Rangers game. Valentine, who was managing Texas at the time, and then-Oakland manager Tony La Russa organized a memorabilia collectors show to raise money for Palermo’s medical expenses.

“And Bobby and I had fought like cats and dogs on the field,” says Palermo, now a special assistant to the commissioner. “We butted heads more than a few times…. I was very pleasantly surprised (by the fund-raising gesture). You know, you saw something there that was good. You understood that there was something good about Bobby, and it came to the surface.”

In spring training with the Rangers one year, Valentine devoted a part of every day to tutoring a batboy in algebra. In Houston last month, Astros bench coach Matt Galante spent an hour hitting ground balls to one of his sons. The man taking the boy’s throws at first base? Valentine, who, despite his occasional skirmishes with the media, was honored in 1998 with a “Good Guy Award” by the New York Press Photographers Association and also received an honor from New Jersey sportswriters. He is not a scoundrel, at least not on a full-time basis.

Still, Valentine’s Type-A personality forces more than a fair share of baseball people with whom he has regular contact to choose a side. In the world Valentine creates for himself, it’s difficult to keep footing on anything like a middle ground. The list of his own players who have been public about their displeasure with him over the years is startlingly long. It includes but isn’t limited to Hundley, Lance Johnson, Bonilla (who suggested earlier this year that perhaps he and Valentine might settle their differences man to man), Pete Harnisch, Allen Watson, Bernard Gilkey, Brian McRae, Tim Bogar and Mark Clark with the Mets, as well as Rich Gossage, Buddy Bell, Pete Incaviglia and Larry Parrish, among others, when he managed the Rangers.

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Sometimes, You Gotta Sell Out http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/sometimes-you-gotta-sell-out/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/sometimes-you-gotta-sell-out/#respond Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:21:16 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=59 baseballhallBarry Halper, baseball memorabilia collector extraordinaire, is hoping to swap $30 million to $40 million worth of historic baseball items for a portfolio of boring taxexempt bonds.

What would possess a man to do such a thing?

Estate taxes, that’s what.

The equity stake Mr. Halper, a New York Yankee limited partner, would receive from the baseball team’s proposed merger with basketball’s New Jersey Nets is a no-brainer from an estate planning standpoint: Were he to pass away his family could easily sell part of their 1% share in the team to pay estate taxes.

But Mr. Halper’s memorabilia are another story. Although widely considered the best and biggest baseball-related collection in the world, it (like other collections) is highly illiquid and requires a buyer to determine its value. In other words, the estate taxes on the collection would be a big burden on the family of the 59-year-old Mr. Halper, who has experienced health problems in recent years.

So to save his family from having to justify the value of the collection and find buyers should he die prematurely, he has sold off a big chunk of his collection — it has its own wing in the Baseball Hall …

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baseballhallBarry Halper, baseball memorabilia collector extraordinaire, is hoping to swap $30 million to $40 million worth of historic baseball items for a portfolio of boring taxexempt bonds.

What would possess a man to do such a thing?

Estate taxes, that’s what.

The equity stake Mr. Halper, a New York Yankee limited partner, would receive from the baseball team’s proposed merger with basketball’s New Jersey Nets is a no-brainer from an estate planning standpoint: Were he to pass away his family could easily sell part of their 1% share in the team to pay estate taxes.

But Mr. Halper’s memorabilia are another story. Although widely considered the best and biggest baseball-related collection in the world, it (like other collections) is highly illiquid and requires a buyer to determine its value. In other words, the estate taxes on the collection would be a big burden on the family of the 59-year-old Mr. Halper, who has experienced health problems in recent years.

So to save his family from having to justify the value of the collection and find buyers should he die prematurely, he has sold off a big chunk of his collection — it has its own wing in the Baseball Hall …

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Gimme Some Relief http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/gimme-some-relief/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/gimme-some-relief/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 17:15:36 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=54 snoringmSleep is my most favorite part of my day. I work hard and at the end of a busy day I just love crawling into my bed, cuddle up with a nice book or cocoon myself in my blankets if I’m really tired and pass out into dreams of sweet nothing. I’m the kind of person who likes to be warm, comfortable, submerged in darkness and most importantly, I like silence. Sometimes I’ll put on some soft music if I’m having a hard time sleeping or some white noise but there is always one thing that is certain to ruin any chance of sweet dreams: snoring.

Personally, I don’t snore but I have family members who do. It’s the worst thing when you are just about to fall asleep and suddenly you are jolted awake by what sounds like a seal dying. Or a troll throwing up. Honestly, it’s one of the weirdest and most obnoxious sounds ever. In this situation, something needs to be done and that’s when I started looking into anti-snoring mouthpieces.

There are nasal strips and cones as well as chin straps and other interesting devices but for the people I know who snore it is …

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snoringmSleep is my most favorite part of my day. I work hard and at the end of a busy day I just love crawling into my bed, cuddle up with a nice book or cocoon myself in my blankets if I’m really tired and pass out into dreams of sweet nothing. I’m the kind of person who likes to be warm, comfortable, submerged in darkness and most importantly, I like silence. Sometimes I’ll put on some soft music if I’m having a hard time sleeping or some white noise but there is always one thing that is certain to ruin any chance of sweet dreams: snoring.

Personally, I don’t snore but I have family members who do. It’s the worst thing when you are just about to fall asleep and suddenly you are jolted awake by what sounds like a seal dying. Or a troll throwing up. Honestly, it’s one of the weirdest and most obnoxious sounds ever. In this situation, something needs to be done and that’s when I started looking into anti-snoring mouthpieces.

There are nasal strips and cones as well as chin straps and other interesting devices but for the people I know who snore it is more than a congestion thing. It’s more than a lifestyle thing. They just snore.

So during my research I came across this little gem: The Good Morning Snore Solution anti-snore mouthpiece (it was at this snoring mouthpiece site).

It seems a bit like all the others out there so I took a closer look at what exactly it does and what it offers.

First off, the price is really good. When you purchase an anti-snoring mouthpiece you are going to have to accept the fact that you will need to replace it ever four months or so for hygienic reasons. Remember, this is something you’ll have crammed in your mouth for 8 or more hours a day. It’s going to get gnawed on and drooled all over which will eventually compromise the product no matter what it’s made of. The Good Morning Snore Solution realizes this and has been able to make a product that won’t make you cringe when you need to replace it.

The Good Morning Snore Solution also comes with a pretty awesome starter package when you buy it. It comes ready to use so you don’t have to disinfect it if you don’t want to. I know some people like to just to be safe. It’s super easy to clean and comes with its own anti-bacterial case. This is definitely really nice because some of the cheaper ones just come in a plastic bag and then what do you really do with it when you aren’t using it? By coming with a case and hygienically wrapped and sealed you don’t have much to worry about when you go to use it. You can keep it by your bedside or maybe in your bathroom for easy cleaning and you don’t have to be concerned it’s going to get covered in germs.

It works by pushing out the lower jaw to force the airway open and allow you to breathe better at night. This is a key element for people who snore because for the most part they do so because their airways are blocked. The Good Morning Snore Solution also has openings in the front of the mouthpiece itself so you don’t have to rely on breathing through your nose. Some mouthpieces are a solid piece of plastic that don’t give you much of a choice when you want to breathe while you sleep. This is especially frustrating if you have nasal issues or you are sick and want to use your mouthpiece. The Good Morning Snore Solution combats that issue and allows you to keep breathing like usual.

Of all the products I’ve looked at this one definitely take the cake. I would recommend it to anyone who likes their peace and quiet.

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Losing Isn’t Just For Losers? Really? http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/losing-isnt-just-for-losers-really/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/losing-isnt-just-for-losers-really/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2015 09:33:45 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=48 So says Dr. Jack Llewellyn, a sports psychologist who tries to get pro athletes to focus not on winning but on doing their best.

You’ve heard the saying, “Winning isn’t everything–it’s the only thing.” Right? While you may agree, Dr. Jack Llewellyn, sports loseweightpsychologist, disagrees. He believes you should always play to win, but be able to define winning beyond the final score.

He should know. As a sports psychologist, Dr. Llewellyn helps professional athletes–including Atlanta Braves baseball players, tennis players like Tim Henman, NFL players, and PGA golfers–deal with winning, losing, and recovering from the ups and downs of professional sports.

Needed: A Winning Attitude

“The key to success is to do what you’re capable of doing–and only you know what that is,” says Dr. Llewellyn.

According to Dr. Llewellyn, attaining athletic success depends on your physical capabilities or talents and on how you use your mental attitude and abilities to supplement that talent.

“Physical talent will take you only so far,” says Dr. Llewellyn. “If you put two equally talented professional athletes together, the mentally stronger of the two will win most every time. In professional sports, especially, everyone has reached about the same physical level. What …

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So says Dr. Jack Llewellyn, a sports psychologist who tries to get pro athletes to focus not on winning but on doing their best.

You’ve heard the saying, “Winning isn’t everything–it’s the only thing.” Right? While you may agree, Dr. Jack Llewellyn, sports loseweightpsychologist, disagrees. He believes you should always play to win, but be able to define winning beyond the final score.

He should know. As a sports psychologist, Dr. Llewellyn helps professional athletes–including Atlanta Braves baseball players, tennis players like Tim Henman, NFL players, and PGA golfers–deal with winning, losing, and recovering from the ups and downs of professional sports.

Needed: A Winning Attitude

“The key to success is to do what you’re capable of doing–and only you know what that is,” says Dr. Llewellyn.

According to Dr. Llewellyn, attaining athletic success depends on your physical capabilities or talents and on how you use your mental attitude and abilities to supplement that talent.

“Physical talent will take you only so far,” says Dr. Llewellyn. “If you put two equally talented professional athletes together, the mentally stronger of the two will win most every time. In professional sports, especially, everyone has reached about the same physical level. What …

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Damn Skin Tags Are Some Weird http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/damn-skin-tags-are-some-weird/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/damn-skin-tags-are-some-weird/#respond Sun, 12 Jul 2015 09:23:24 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=43 damnstsOk, ok, before you freak out, that little bump you just discovered on your skin, albeit scary looking is completely harmless. Skin tags are a normal common part of life, as a matter of fact, just about everyone has at least one skin tag in their lifetime. And unfortunately, some people are more prone to growing skin tags than others. People who have diabetes or are overweight can experience a higher incidence of skin tags. Skin tags like to form in high friction areas of the body. These areas include the armpits, neck folds, eyelids, groin, under the breasts and the buttocks. However, they don’t exclusively form just in those areas, they can appear anywhere on the body. They look like small, ballooned, mushroom pieces of hanging skin.

There is a myriad of ways that skin tags can be removed; some of which are fairly invasive. You need to do what is best for you. But a skin tag removal cream can prove to be not only be safe, but an effective way to remove the skin tag. In lieu of surgery, cauterizing or cutting off the skin tag, let’s explore some topical ways of eliminating the skin tag.

H-Skin

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damnstsOk, ok, before you freak out, that little bump you just discovered on your skin, albeit scary looking is completely harmless. Skin tags are a normal common part of life, as a matter of fact, just about everyone has at least one skin tag in their lifetime. And unfortunately, some people are more prone to growing skin tags than others. People who have diabetes or are overweight can experience a higher incidence of skin tags. Skin tags like to form in high friction areas of the body. These areas include the armpits, neck folds, eyelids, groin, under the breasts and the buttocks. However, they don’t exclusively form just in those areas, they can appear anywhere on the body. They look like small, ballooned, mushroom pieces of hanging skin.

There is a myriad of ways that skin tags can be removed; some of which are fairly invasive. You need to do what is best for you. But a skin tag removal cream can prove to be not only be safe, but an effective way to remove the skin tag. In lieu of surgery, cauterizing or cutting off the skin tag, let’s explore some topical ways of eliminating the skin tag.

H-Skin tags Formula: A gentle, all natural homeopathic skin tag cream that applies to all parts of the body. It is made with FDA approved ingredients. It leaves the skin feeling smooth and soft, and works for all types of people regardless of skin color. Manufactured in the United States and not tested on animals, H-Skin Tags Formula is easy to use and apply, with the top of the line proven effective ingredients for the removal of skin tags like Calendula officinal & Thuja Occidenta. The company offers a 90-day money back guarantee so how can you go wrong?

Revitol Skin Tag Removal: A revolutionary, all natural and homeopathic skin tag removal cream. It works by attacking the root of the skin tag. By doing this, it allows the skin tag to fall off naturally and painlessly. This also promotes a skin tag free future environment for your skin. It is easy to apply and begins working within days, and results can be seen very quickly. It leaves no scarring or trace of the skin tag. When purchasing this product, please make sure to buy it from a reputable source to get the very best top of the line ingredients.

Tag No More: This product has been clinically tested for the removal of not only skin tags but warts and moles. It is made from a high-quality grade Cedar Leaf Thuja occidentalis, which has proven to be the very best and main ingredient in any skin tag removal cream. The downside to this product is the time it takes for the skin tag to come off. It can take a few weeks to a month to see results. If you have the patience to apply it twice a day, then I highly recommended it if you are on a budget. If you are looking for fast results, this may not be the option for you.

Dermatend: This products biggest bonus is how quickly the skin tag can be removed. They claim it can disappear within three days. After doing research for this article, I discovered that users of Dermatend were reporting the loss of their skin tags within 1-2 weeks. It has a fairly strong smell, so depending on where your tag is, you might want to consider that before you buy. It is also in the mid-range on price at $39.95. They also offer a 60-day money back guarantee. If you don’t lose the skin tag within that time, you can get your money back.

Skin tags are no fun, they are unsightly and embarrassing, but you don’t have to live with them any longer. With a little diligence you can remove them once and for all.

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Devon Island Challenges With Its Beauty http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/devon-island-challenges-with-its-beauty/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/devon-island-challenges-with-its-beauty/#respond Fri, 03 Jul 2015 08:18:28 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=37 The ragged edge of the arctic world, far from being desolate, is a place of impressive abundance.devonisland

Devon Island’s shape is a “legless donkey with its head thrown up to bray” according to the book Arctic Canada from the Air. Suitably inspired, we set off on the “Legless Donkey World Tour 1998.” We skied in the metaphorical wake of 17th-century Arctic explorers William Baffin and Robert Bylot, slowly at first, being neither in a hurry nor fully acclimatized for the work soon to come our way.

Nine days later, we stood at Belcher Point, beside open water for the first time. Eider ducks swam before us, calling occasionally. Fresh bear tracks reminded us to be alert. The salty smell of the cold sea, the contrast of snow against water, the vast, nameless bay, and the hazy, distant, glacier-draped mountains completely overwhelmed us.

At 55,247 square kilometres, Devon is the world’s largest currently uninhabited island. But there is much evidence of bygone human habitations, although not continuous, from the early paleo-Eskimo period about 4,000 years ago to the Thule culture whale hunters who occupied arctic Canada into the 1600s.

We pitched our tent on day 24 at the site …

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The ragged edge of the arctic world, far from being desolate, is a place of impressive abundance.devonisland

Devon Island’s shape is a “legless donkey with its head thrown up to bray” according to the book Arctic Canada from the Air. Suitably inspired, we set off on the “Legless Donkey World Tour 1998.” We skied in the metaphorical wake of 17th-century Arctic explorers William Baffin and Robert Bylot, slowly at first, being neither in a hurry nor fully acclimatized for the work soon to come our way.

Nine days later, we stood at Belcher Point, beside open water for the first time. Eider ducks swam before us, calling occasionally. Fresh bear tracks reminded us to be alert. The salty smell of the cold sea, the contrast of snow against water, the vast, nameless bay, and the hazy, distant, glacier-draped mountains completely overwhelmed us.

At 55,247 square kilometres, Devon is the world’s largest currently uninhabited island. But there is much evidence of bygone human habitations, although not continuous, from the early paleo-Eskimo period about 4,000 years ago to the Thule culture whale hunters who occupied arctic Canada into the 1600s.

We pitched our tent on day 24 at the site on Queen Harbour where the British whaling ship Queen wintered in 1865-66 and remained icebound until August 27. While the ship’s surgeon Edward P. Philpots apparently had the appetite for a second winter in the Arctic, the crew did not. “We had not proceeded far before the crew mutinied, and we turned back,” his chronicle reads. On the slope behind our tent was a mound of rocks believed to be the grave of at least one of the Queen’s crew.

On smooth sea ice and through a blanket of fog, we skied up to Cape Sherard, where three orange cabins of an ice observation post remain from the 1970s, when the notion of oil-tanker traffic in the Northwest Passage rated higher than it does today. In a windy scramble up the prominent Hope Monument, we found only rock walls and aluminum wire from the lookout shelter where a friend once worked at one of the oddest summer jobs ever – watching icebergs.

Winds, tides and a southern exposure had taken most of the ice from the shore near Cape Warrender on Lancaster Sound, where dark talus slopes define the entrance to the Northwest Passage. We rounded the cape on ice, but not easily. Walrus and beluga swam by as we chopped and manhandled through ice blocks in the pressure-jumbled ice-foot, the strip of sea ice frozen fast to the shore and unmoved by tides. Some call it the arctic highway, since it is often fiat and wide enough for travel. Here, however, our highway had succumbed to the advance of summer, leaving only rocky cliffs. We camped in the late afternoon as heavy snow fell.

Through two days of snow and rain, we ferried our loads along a rocky bench 100 metres above the water where there was no ice-foot. Next day the sun came out and so did our pontoons, a set of inflatable tubes that convert the sleds into rafts for crossing wide leads. John ferried our supplies along the shore, once paddling past a pod of feeding belugas.

On June 20, the 36th day, we skied into Dundas Harbour, an RCMP detachment established in 1924. Mounties posted there faced tremendous physical and psychological difficulties, having no contact with the outside world from one summer to the next. The small cemetery on the hill behind speaks of several deaths, at least one a suicide.

The RCMP left Dundas Harbour in 1933, whereupon it was taken over by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Ten Inuit families were moved there from Baffin Island in 1934 to set up a fur-trading post, but it was ill-fated. The site was exposed to fierce winds off the sea and ice cap. Travelling conditions on the sea ice were restricted by relatively early break-ups. And the thin strip of ice-free coastland didn’t support enough wildlife, such as arctic fox, to sustain the trading post. In 1936 the post was vacated, then taken over again by the RCMP from 1945 until 1951. It is an historically significant site but, alas, also an eyesore. Dilapidated buildings and scattered oil drums contrasted with arctic hare and muskox grazing in a verdant meadow. An oldsquaw duck called from a pond, while a pair of rough-legged hawks perched on the cliff above, circling and crying out at our intrusion.

We set off westward to Croker Bay, welcoming its still-frozen expanse after a week of wading and carrying gear. At the head of the bay, we searched for a route onto the giant glacier to begin our icecap crossing. The glacier’s terminus is, mostly, an ice cliff. We hauled the loaded sleds up a gully using pulleys, navigated around a few crevasses, and soon were sled-hauling on smoother ice.

The weather stayed clear for the crossing. A record 44-kilometre day took us past the journey’s highest point at about 1,600 metres. We skied down the gentle north slope, crossing bear tracks at 1,500 metres. They pointed east to the top of the great ice dome.

On June 30, we carefully walked the sleds down a steep ice ramp at the snout of the Sverdrup Glacier, completing the loop we had begun six weeks earlier. With big grins and a warm sun beaming, we pitched camp in a lush meadow of green grass and yellow poppies. A fox with a young kit skirted our camp. A quick scan with the scope revealed at least 20 muskox on the slopes. Another wondrous arctic night!

We made our way westward for three days, around Cape Hardy and Cape Sparbo, to reach the unoccupied biological research station at Truelove Inlet. We had stretched the sledding season to its limit: to get ashore, we pushed the sleds into the water – they float pretty well when the food is getting low. As we dropped the last load of gear in that odd little research ghost town, the Arctic gave us one last surprise. Near the rough airstrip grazed two Peary caribou, lonely members of an endangered population. Until then we had seen no caribou, only weathered antlers wedged among the rocks.

We came to Devon with a goal and we achieved it. But that is just a pencil line on a map. The real journey was the sweat and sunshine, fun and toil, wildlife and weather. And, for me, it was the pleasure of travelling with a friend who carries the explorers’ flame to the ragged edges of the world.

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A Case Of Bullying Goes Awry http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/a-case-of-bullying-goes-awry/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/a-case-of-bullying-goes-awry/#respond Sun, 21 Jun 2015 05:44:54 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=32 sosemaryIn the year before her death, Rosemary Nelson pleaded for help from several international delegations. Last summer, Toronto lawyer Cindy Wasser saw the piece of paper she carried upon which the death threats were written. But Nelson said her family had urged her to continue her work “She was fearless, brave kind, very much a family-oriented woman, in love with her husband and a great mom,” Wasser said. She also had lived all her life in the midst of “the troubles,” both personal and political. When she was younger, said Wasser, one-half of Nelson’s face was badly scarred from a fire. A measure of the hate directed toward her was that after the blast, several neighbours said: “Oh, that’s just half-face Nelson.”

Around the time Nelson was killed, half a world away, Aung San Suu Kyi was awaiting news of the death of her husband, Michael Aris. An admired professor, he had stayed behind in England when she went home to Burma in 1988. Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma’s (now Myanmar) famous independence leader who was shot dead at 33, has now lived without her husband and two sons for more than a decade.

A delicate and stylish woman …

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sosemaryIn the year before her death, Rosemary Nelson pleaded for help from several international delegations. Last summer, Toronto lawyer Cindy Wasser saw the piece of paper she carried upon which the death threats were written. But Nelson said her family had urged her to continue her work “She was fearless, brave kind, very much a family-oriented woman, in love with her husband and a great mom,” Wasser said. She also had lived all her life in the midst of “the troubles,” both personal and political. When she was younger, said Wasser, one-half of Nelson’s face was badly scarred from a fire. A measure of the hate directed toward her was that after the blast, several neighbours said: “Oh, that’s just half-face Nelson.”

Around the time Nelson was killed, half a world away, Aung San Suu Kyi was awaiting news of the death of her husband, Michael Aris. An admired professor, he had stayed behind in England when she went home to Burma in 1988. Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma’s (now Myanmar) famous independence leader who was shot dead at 33, has now lived without her husband and two sons for more than a decade.

A delicate and stylish woman …

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Who’s The Ironman? http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/whos-the-ironman/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/whos-the-ironman/#respond Sun, 14 Jun 2015 04:43:40 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=26 You had to be there — as a relative or friend of one of the dedicated men and women, aged 18 to 70, who went to the start. There was pro Peter Reid, the angular 31-year-old world champion from Victoria, winning his ninth Ironman title, and $14,000, in a mere eight hours, 27 minutes and 47 seconds. And Gillian Bakker, 31, an engineer from nearby Winfield, B.C., taking the female crown and the same egalitarian $14,000 in 10 hours, four minutes and 27 seconds, despite having to stop twice because of blown tires (Chris later realized he went to high school with her in Toronto).ironman

There was Sister Madonna Buder, 70, a Roman Catholic nun and the oldest finisher, who came in to the cheers of the crowd at 9:35 p.m., fully 14 hours and 46 minutes after she started. And in a gutsy performance, Dale T. Buckman of Spokane, Wash., made it to the line just one minute and 25 seconds before the midnight close of the race. In all, 142 entrants, including eight pros, did not finish. There were people running for breast cancer survivors and to raise money for leukemia research and Crohn’s disease. Later, a walk

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You had to be there — as a relative or friend of one of the dedicated men and women, aged 18 to 70, who went to the start. There was pro Peter Reid, the angular 31-year-old world champion from Victoria, winning his ninth Ironman title, and $14,000, in a mere eight hours, 27 minutes and 47 seconds. And Gillian Bakker, 31, an engineer from nearby Winfield, B.C., taking the female crown and the same egalitarian $14,000 in 10 hours, four minutes and 27 seconds, despite having to stop twice because of blown tires (Chris later realized he went to high school with her in Toronto).ironman

There was Sister Madonna Buder, 70, a Roman Catholic nun and the oldest finisher, who came in to the cheers of the crowd at 9:35 p.m., fully 14 hours and 46 minutes after she started. And in a gutsy performance, Dale T. Buckman of Spokane, Wash., made it to the line just one minute and 25 seconds before the midnight close of the race. In all, 142 entrants, including eight pros, did not finish. There were people running for breast cancer survivors and to raise money for leukemia research and Crohn’s disease. Later, a walk

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Is Cleveland A Good Sports City? Good Question. http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/is-cleveland-a-good-sports-city-good-question/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/is-cleveland-a-good-sports-city-good-question/#respond Sun, 07 Jun 2015 04:27:25 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=21 clevelandagscCleveland sports fans were up in arms last month about the rating of the country’s top sports cities by The Sporting News, a St. Louis-based national publication that always carried the parenthetical expression “baseball’s bible” after its name. But I’m not one of those who are offended.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of my hometown and its sports teams, but the time I sweat survey results about how well liked or respected my town is by people in other areas passed long ago.

The Sporting News produces this rating annually, and in the past, Cleveland ranked much higher than No. 32. That, of course, begs the question: Why is the methodology and results of the survey held in higher esteem when the results are more to the reader’s liking than they are when the reader’s favorite city is rated low?

These surveys and testimonials from out-of-towners don’t do much for me because the criteria used for such rankings are subjective; and without complete knowledge of the rater’s method for deciding what he or she likes or dislikes, there is little reason to get huffy.

Long-time readers of this column have heard me before on the value of …

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clevelandagscCleveland sports fans were up in arms last month about the rating of the country’s top sports cities by The Sporting News, a St. Louis-based national publication that always carried the parenthetical expression “baseball’s bible” after its name. But I’m not one of those who are offended.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of my hometown and its sports teams, but the time I sweat survey results about how well liked or respected my town is by people in other areas passed long ago.

The Sporting News produces this rating annually, and in the past, Cleveland ranked much higher than No. 32. That, of course, begs the question: Why is the methodology and results of the survey held in higher esteem when the results are more to the reader’s liking than they are when the reader’s favorite city is rated low?

These surveys and testimonials from out-of-towners don’t do much for me because the criteria used for such rankings are subjective; and without complete knowledge of the rater’s method for deciding what he or she likes or dislikes, there is little reason to get huffy.

Long-time readers of this column have heard me before on the value of …

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Nextel: We Really Do Miss You! http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/nextel-we-really-do-miss-you/ http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/nextel-we-really-do-miss-you/#respond Sat, 30 May 2015 04:12:02 +0000 http://www.deuceofdavenport.com/?p=16 This is a classic article about a classic company… I hope you enjoy!

wirelessdataAs the U.S. wireless data industry extols the benefits of packet-based, always-on networks and faster data rates, as well as the importance of selling to the corporate market, one company is quietly offering just exactly those services to just exactly that market.

Nextel Communications Inc., the upstart U.S. wireless carrier that built its nationwide network using Motorola Inc.’s iDEN technology for specialized mobile radio spectrum, operates an always-on, packet-based network for mainly business users and–probably not coincidentally–sports the highest percentage of data subscribers of any U.S. carrier.

“All of the data they’re providing, with very few exceptions, are business-related applications,” said Andrew Seybold of the Andrew Seybold Group. “So the/re following the model that I believe is the right model.”

Industry analysts say that model, as well as the company’s network technology, has given Nextel the undisputed lead in data services among nationwide voice and data carriers. In the year-and-a-half since the company launched its data services, mobile data subscriber numbers have rocketed from zero to more than 1.5 million. That means about 19 percent of Nextel’s 7.68 million customers subscribe to data services.

“That’s far …

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This is a classic article about a classic company… I hope you enjoy!

wirelessdataAs the U.S. wireless data industry extols the benefits of packet-based, always-on networks and faster data rates, as well as the importance of selling to the corporate market, one company is quietly offering just exactly those services to just exactly that market.

Nextel Communications Inc., the upstart U.S. wireless carrier that built its nationwide network using Motorola Inc.’s iDEN technology for specialized mobile radio spectrum, operates an always-on, packet-based network for mainly business users and–probably not coincidentally–sports the highest percentage of data subscribers of any U.S. carrier.

“All of the data they’re providing, with very few exceptions, are business-related applications,” said Andrew Seybold of the Andrew Seybold Group. “So the/re following the model that I believe is the right model.”

Industry analysts say that model, as well as the company’s network technology, has given Nextel the undisputed lead in data services among nationwide voice and data carriers. In the year-and-a-half since the company launched its data services, mobile data subscriber numbers have rocketed from zero to more than 1.5 million. That means about 19 percent of Nextel’s 7.68 million customers subscribe to data services.

“That’s far …

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