Sunday, December 26, 2004


Christmas Day has come and gone

I learned a great lesson yesterday. Tell you what it is in a minute.

What a day yesterday! Aidan slept in until 8:30AM (I doubt there will be many more of those in the future) and then had a blast opening his presents. Christine really understands that Aidan's favourite thing is unwrapping, so she got all kinds of neat things at dollar stores and discount shops (notebooks, crayons, readers, sticker packs). Aidan just sat there unwrapping, getting all moony over a notebook with a snowman on it and over every other gift. So cool.

We followed this with 90 minutes of panic getting ready to go to Christine's parents for lunch. Had a nice visit, ate a great meal of ham, mashed taters, veggies and cabbage rolls. Topped it off with angel food cake covered in homemade whipping cream and strawberry sauce. Played three games of Euchre in between lunch and coffee and Christine's brother, Gerhard, and I whupped Christine and her dad 3 straight.

Left there at 3, drove home. Dropped off box of received gifts, loaded up box of gifts to go to my Mom's, where we were going to have dinner with my family. Another faboo meal (turkey, dressing, veggies, mashed taters, rolls, trifle and apple pie for dessert). As always, there were a ridiculous amount of presents. Had a great visit with the family, talked on the phone to my Aunt Nancy and my brother, Mike, and really enjoyed myself.

Got home just after 9, bathed both kids, cleaned up the dishes left from Christmas Eve and built a Lego set for Aidan (we misread the box, said ages 5 and up. I needed an hour to build it.). Aidan finally cashed in at 10:30 PM (that's without a nap, folks) and I at last got Aaron to sleep at 1 AM.

Here's the lesson.

I don't get a million presents anymore (although Christine went out and got my degree all framed for me. It looks AMAZING! And I did order myself a SWEET Home Theatre System), but spending the day seeing the excitement on Aidan's face (he hardly ever stopped smiling) and being with my wonderful wife, my awesome collection of nieces and nephews (who brighten my day everytime I see them) and the people I cherish most in this world was infinitely better than any material gift I could ever hope for.

Next to my salvation, the greatest gift God has given me is the people I love. Spending yesterday with them was a constant reminder to me that this season is a marvelous gift from God and it is a gift that can be enjoyed EVERYDAY.

Funny how I needed 37 years to learn that lesson.

Whoops, Aaron's awake. Gotta go.


Friday, December 24, 2004


The classics NEVER grow old

"These are the facts concerning the birth of Jesus Christ: His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, being a man of stern principle, decided to break the engagement but to do it quietly, as he did not want to publicly disgrace her.

"As he lay awake, he fell into a dream and saw an angel standing beside him. 'Joseph, son of David' the angel said 'do not hesitate to take Mary as your wife, for the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a Son and he shall be named Jesus, meaning Saviour, for he will save the people from their sins. This will fulfill God's messaage through the prophets:

Listen! The Virgin shall conceive a child! She shall give birth to a son and he shall be called Emmanuel, meaning 'God is with us'!

"When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel commanded and brought Mary hoime to be his wife, but she remained a virgin until her son was born, and Joseph named him Jesus"

(Matthew 2:18-25)

"That night some shepherds were in the fields outside of Bethlehem, tending their flocks. Suddenly an angel appeared among them and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord and they were very afraid. But the angel said:

'Do not be afraid! I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Saviour - yes, Messiah, the Lord - has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in blankets, lying in a manger.'

"Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of Heaven - praising God and singing:

>'Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace and goodwill to all men!'

"When the angels had left, the shepherds said to each other 'Come on! Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about!

"They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the had told them about Jesus. All who heard the shepherds' story exclaimed astonishment, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often."

(Luke 2: 8 - 19)

"For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

(John 3:16)

From my family to yours, a very Merry and Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. NEVER forget what this season is all about.

Brian, Christine, Aidan and Aaron.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


The NHL situation

Y'know when millionaires argue with billionaires over who gets what, it makes me ill. Especially when the solution is so easy.

The NHLPA made an admirable effort at reconciliation with their 24% salary rollback but, when you think about it, any salary rollback is a hugely limited solution, since player agents will ensure that the players get their 24% back with interest next contract negotiation. Also, the hard salary cap doesn't solve anything either, since agents, players and owners will make sure there are loopholes in the cap so large even Tie Domi could stickhandle through them.

So what to do?

The problem, I think, lies in the astronomical raises players receive every contract. How many times have we seen players double their annual salary when they sign a new contract or an extension? If the league focused on controlling raises, they could gain cost certainty. Here's my proposal:

** Start with a salary clawback as follows:

Annual Salary Clawback
Up to $500,000/yr. None
$500,000 - $999,999 5%
$1 million - $2 million 15%
$2 million - $4 million 25%
> $4 million 35%

That gets money off the table and provides immediate relief to small-market teams.

** Next, change the minimum salary to $300,000.

** Introduce increase ceilings as follows:

Years in league Max. Raise/year
0 - 4 20%
5 - 9 30%
10+ No raise limit

** Leave arbitration alone, except to stipulate that the maximum arbitration award is 20% above the previous year's salary.

** Place a ceiling on signing bonuses in the first 10 years of no more than 3X the total salary in the first five years and 2X salary in the next 5 years.

** After the first 10 years, it's a totally open market.

This creates a max salary structure as follows (for players entering the league in 2005/2006):
Yr. 0 = $300,000
Yr. 1 = $360,000
Yr. 2 = $432,000
Yr. 3 = $518,400
Yr. 4 = $655,200
============Raises up to 30%===================
Yr. 5 = $852,000
Yr. 6 = $1,107,000
Yr. 7 = $1,450,000
Yr. 8 = $1,863,000
Yr. 9 = $2,431,000

Signing bonuses push this up, but it should still be very workable. More importantly, it should allow teams to keep their young players rather than watch them spend their prime years with another team. This will also allow players to build deeper community ties and, hopefully in the end, bring more fans out to the games.

Also, since the tenth year a player is in the league removes the earning constraint, he is able to get one last huge contract before retiring (assuming the player enters the league at age 19 or 20). Therefore, the owners are forced to exercise fiscal restraint early and will only provide "home run" contracts to those who have earned them through longevity and experience.

I dunno if this would work, but I don't see a lot of holes in it. I encourage anyone interested in hockey and its economics to comment. Maybe we can come up with a real, working solution that we could try to give to someone who can do something tangible with it.



Where the heck have I been?

Wow, long time.

Been a very busy boy with new baby, work responsibilities and of course, Christmas. Things have been pretty good, though, all things considered.

Everybody is doing really well. Many of you had the opportunity to meet Aaron at church last weekend and we're all so excited that the quarantine is finally over and our whole family can resume life as we know it. Aaron loves the mall just as much as his big brother does, as the noise and bustle is very soothing to him and he sleeps really well as we make our way around. Christine is happy to be able to resume a more normal (HA!) schedule, but she's still trying to shake a persistent cold. On the plus side, she finally had the opportunity to get back into some ministry work today, as she helped prepare the Christmas hampers for shut-ins and seniors down at Philpott.

On the DVD side of the equation, I added the extended dance remix of Return Of The King and Michael Mann's Collateral to the stockpile. Looking forward to watching them over the holidays (I'm off work from the 24th until January 4th).

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


To all the DVD fans out there

If you want to get an early review of the Return Of The King box set or some info on the upcoming release(s) of Star Trek Enterprise or enter a contest to win the Matrix 10-disc box set, click here.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Quick update

Hi, all:

Just to let you know, everyone is doing a lot better in the Benallick household. Now if we could just get some sleep, bliss would be fully restored.