Friday, January 18, 2013

Last Hurrah

I haven't played hockey in over a year now, thanks to a collision that left my back a mess of spasm, sprain, and general non-function. I really miss it, not the least of which because I gained 15 pounds since the injury.

My chiropractor and doctor both agree that if I play, the back will always be vulnerable. The hit was an accident in a no-check league, so I know full well it could happen again any time.

So, I'm going to play one last game and as much as it pains me, I'll hang 'em up.

The last hurrah is a pretty cool deal. The Columbus Blue Jackets offer a 'Rink Of Dreams' deal, where a group or team gets to use the NHL dressing rooms and have a game on the NHL ice prior to a regular season game, and then watch that game afterwards. Last game- Saturday, January 26, before the Blue Jackets host the Chicago Blackhawks.

I don't know if the deal is a double secret whisper campaign thing. They don't have a link on their website under group sales or anywhere else.

And- while I say this is the last time, truth is, I will hold out for one more future skate. My favorite team, the San Jose Sharks offer a fantasy camp. The cost is fairly prohibitive ($2,000 or thereabouts), so this year is RIGHT OUT. The way the economy kicked me in the balls repeatedly the past four years, it might be possible ten years down the road. But should I have that extra dough...?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Small News, Large Reflection

I found a somewhat dated (Nov 2012) article regarding some job losses at the CSX 'Collinwood Yard' in the Cleveland neighborhood of the same name as the yard. The inclusion of some history was of great note to me.
The Collinwood Railroad Yards &; Diesel Terminal at E. 152nd St. on Cleveland's East Side, was once one of the major repair facilities and freight transfer points for New York Central Railroad and later the Penn Central Transportation Co., according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

In 1929, the yards were expanded to handle 2,000 freight cars a day, and by 1933, about 2,000 engineers, firemen, brakeman, conductors and others worked there.
 Interesting to me- nothing was said about the steam locomotive shops. Those are long gone, of course, but those shops were a prime reason I was born and raised in the Cleveland area. As the family folklore goes, my great-great grandfather was lured from Slovenia to work in the shops. Apparently, a foreman was a Slovene. When he needed experienced machinists, he turned to the Old Country. My best guess is that my great-great-grandfather came around 1900, but certainly prior to World War 1.

Collinwood Yard seems to have lost a little bit of relevance with each railroad merger since it was New York Central property. Those locomotive shops were an enormous presence, highly visible from I-90. I had a hockey teammate in Cleveland who worked on the then-Conrail 'RIP' (repair-in-place) track in the late 70s. It's long gone too.

Technologies come and go, and steam disappeared better than 50 years ago, so I'm not surprised the old shops came down. With mergers, I'm not surprised if within the new, larger systems a more efficient place to work on locomotives and cars. More than lament the shrinking of the yard, I wonder more about our country as a place that creates huge numbers of jobs and attracts immigrants. While the way we live changes and yesterday's top technologies are replaced, our attitude about immigrants, about policies regarding job creation matter. My Slovenian ancestor wasn't lured to England, nor to Germany or Russia. I refuse to go back to Cleveland due to tax policy, as I estimate I saved an entire average year's income since moving to Indiana, just on tax rate differences.

There is much to be learned in policy in these areas.