Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Monday, January 24, 2021

are eye pee
The past week saw Regis Philbin and Keith Olbermann abruptly quit their TV shows. If you subscribe to the belief that these trends come in threes, you’re probably wondering when the third shoe will drop.

Well, you can stop wondering: It’s now, and it’s me. I’m quitting this blog.

All joking aside, this is the last post on Population Statistic — for now, and most likely, for good. I’d hinted at this back in August, and the reasons I set out then apply now. I’ve done all I care to do in this space. I’ve enjoyed using PopStat as a daily creative outlet for nearly seven years (and blogging as the format for nearly nine years). And now, it’s time to stop. When squeezing out one measly post per day becomes a chore — contrasting with the effortlessness I once had in cranking out four or five posts daily — it means that there’s nothing left to do but to end it.

In my typical fashion, I am hedging on this, slightly. The site will remain up for a while, with all content archives intact (although comments/pings will be disabled soon, to save me from daily spam maintenance). The domain is registered until this summer, so I plan on keeping the lights on until then. There’s always the possibility that I’ll recharge and restart the blogging sometime between now and then. But right now, I don’t see that happening, and basically, as soon as the domain registration expires, so too will this blog.

To the handful of regular readers that have haunted this space over the years, thanks. I’ll still be around online, and very probably will find another corner of the Web to express whatever communication talents I possess. For the time being, though, the plug is pulled.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2011 09:17am
Category: Bloggin'
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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

If you’ve ever pondered how superheroics and supervillainy would translate into real-world collateral damage, Law and the Multiverse provides legalese as applied to the comic-book context:

The answers are dry, technical and funny in their earnestness. The Second Amendment, [co-blogger James] Daily suggested, would protect many powers, but “at least some superpowers would qualify as dangerous or unusual weapons (e.g., Cyclops’ optic blasts, Havok’s plasma blasts)” that are “well beyond the power of weapons allowed even by permit.” Those super-duper powers would be tightly regulated, if not banned outright.

Then there’s this jurisprudential nugget: When Batman, the DC Comics hero, nabs crooks, is the evidence gathered against the bad guys admissible in court? Not if he is working so closely with Commissioner Gordon that his feats fall under the “state actor” doctrine, in which a person is deemed to be acting on behalf of government and thus is subject to the restrictions on government power. In fact, he might be courting a lawsuit claiming violations of civil rights from those who were nabbed.

Leave it to a couple of blawging lawyers to suck all the fun out of superpowered mayhem. On the other hand, it’s good to know that supervillain-insurance residual pools would keep a lid on premium payments.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/21/2010 10:33pm
Category: Bloggin', Creative, Pop Culture, True Crime
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Saturday, December 18, 2021

The backend of this blog regularly alerts me that I have three updates available for installation: Two for plugins, along with the latest version-point-nth bug fix for WordPress.

On my iPhone, the App Store icon sports a “4″ in its upper-right corner, indicating the presence of updates for four apps.

Screw email bankruptcy. I’ve got a case of update-alert bankruptcy brewing, similar to others who’ve applied this nuclear option outside of the inbox.

Why don’t I download all these upgrades, and rid myself of those pestering reminders? In general, the credo “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” overrides any potential performance improvement. That’s especially the case with the WP code; the lack of quality-control encourages update submissions on a whim, regardless of actual usefulness (think added Bulgarian language support, etc.). Frankly, if something’s not working properly, I’d be more likely to uninstall it long before any fix came down the pike from the developer. But in cases where something’s working well enough to not risk any snafus with an “improvement”, those reminders are annoying fixtures.

I’m sometimes tempted to click on the “update all” button (or equivalent) just to get the subtle nagging to stop. Is it worth it to screw up my finely-humming website and device, just to erase those number-bugs? No. So I’ll just have to develop a blind spot and plod along with my outdated versioning. There are worse fates.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/18/2010 03:22pm
Category: Bloggin', Tech, iPhone
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Sunday, November 28, 2021

in con-text
For whatever reason, someone decided to transcribe the entire run of Calvin and Hobbes onto a blog. All crammed within two posts.

I’m assuming that all those words are, indeed, the sum total of the daily/Sunday strips. Each page is certainly long enough to contain the ten years’ worth of word-balloon contents from Bill Watterson‘s creation. I’m not going to dig through my old trade paperbacks to verify the accuracy; some of the missives certainly seem like the real thing, and bring back warm memories of the manic four-color humor.

I’m just wondering what prompted this project. I’ve transcribed similar content myself, when I felt that the image-born words needed to be preserved in more hypertext-friendly form. But the sheer volume here is astounding. And let’s face it, without the accompanying artwork, the scripts — as humorously sharp as they are — are less than satisfying. Unless you want to continually envision a spikey-haired boy and his toy/imaginary tiger delivering the lines…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/28/2010 10:02pm
Category: Bloggin', Comedy, Pop Culture
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Saturday, November 06, 2021

I have a constructive message for TBO.com, also known as The Tampa Tribune:

I moved away from the Tampa Bay area close to five years ago now. I think you can go ahead and remove the link-listing to this blog from your “sampling of top area blogs” sidebar.

In fact, have someone — an editor, assuming you actually employ any editorial talent nowadays — refresh that entire list. Because it obviously hasn’t been reviewed in ages now. That my blog, now a New York-based product, is still there is proof enough; but a quick click-through of the other blogs listed reveals a motley lot, with more than half obviously defunct. Surely Florida’s west-central Gulf coast has a couple of more current representatives in the blogosphere, even if the Social Media Age has made first-person permalinking somewhat passe.

And don’t worry about how I’ll survive over here without the linkage from a metropolitan newspaper site. Fact is, the only time I notice the incoming links from TBO is when they rarely come in — maybe once every 2-3 months, tops. Not exactly a deluge of traffic.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this overall lack of web media savvy from the Trib and its media group. Further evidence that they don’t know what they’re doing online: They feel the need to employ a bit.ly-styled shortlink URL: http://tbo.ly. Because, somehow, tbo.com is too damned long, with that extra-letter “m”?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/06/2021 03:57pm
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin', Publishing
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Tuesday, November 02, 2021

This year marks the 150th anniversary of election of Abraham Lincoln. The subsequent path to Southern secession and war is being chronicled in “Disunion”, a New York Times historical blog:

The story of the Civil War will be told in this series as a weekly roundup and analysis, by Jamie Malanowski, of events making news during the corresponding week 150 years ago. Written as if in real time, this dispatch will, after this week, appear every Monday. Additional essays and observations by other contributors, along with maps, images, diaries and so forth, will be published several times a week.

This is a nice approach in presenting a conflict that’s no longer a central fixture in the national psyche. At least not directly — certainly, the regional and social faultlines are still pretty apparent, even if the linkage to dynamics from a century and a half ago are no longer acknowledged. That’s an unfortunate consequence of the passing of living memory.

The history geek in me digs this. Especially when I come across an article permalink structure from 1860.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/02/2021 09:58pm
Category: Bloggin', Creative, History
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Monday, September 13, 2021

no comment
Just a little housekeeping note for this little ol’ blog: Today, I removed the CommenTwitter plugin for WordPress, which I’d installed more than a year ago.

Frankly, it never lived up to even my modest expectations. I can count on two hands (barely) the number of times someone other than myself actually used it to send out a comment to Twitter. I guess I’m one of the very few who thought it was neat to tweet out a comment snippet with backlink…

On top of that, the plugin appears to have stopped working recently; again, since it got so little use, I can’t say how long it’s been out of commission. In any case, that served as enough of an excuse to finally de-commission it, which I’d been thinking of doing for a while. It wasn’t as simple as just deactivating and deleting the files — I actually had to dig into a couple of theme templates to remove some hard coding. Luckily, I must have had some foresight when I first added that, because it was pretty painless to complete. Done and done.

Not that I’ve abandoned the concept of tweet-ability for this blog. I’m still using WordTwit, which auto-tweets a link to each post as soon as I publish them. And I’ve since installed the official Twitter Retweet Button, which more or less supplants what CommenTwitter was supposed to fulfill, in an even simpler way from the user’s perspective. (Not that the Retweet Button has seen a lot of action on this site, but I’ll stick with it as a more elegant solution, regardless.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/13/2010 10:36pm
Category: Bloggin', Social Media Online
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Sunday, August 22, 2021

no license
Early last week, I received a couple of unsolicited offers for revenue generation from the content I’ve generated on the Web:

- D2, a newspaper-insert magazine-lette akin to the New York Times’ T Magazine, requested permission to use a long-ago photo I took of the former American Apparel billboard adspace on Manhattan’s Houston Street (a crop of which is featured above).

- The same day, someone at vectorTrap asked to place a text ad on the index page of this blog. Something to do with wireless phone service, I think.

The common thread? Both offers flaked out. I might have scared them off. I asked for a relatively hefty sum from vectorTrap (“hefty” if you consider that I’m sure these outfits usually pay out only a couple of bucks to more naive bloggers), while I told D2 that I’d expect accreditation and some sort of compensation. I didn’t hear back from either after relaying that information. I know D2′s request was time-sensitive, hinging on the production deadline for their next issue, so I assume they moved on.

No big loss, although I’d gladly take the money/credit if it was offered up. Part of my ulterior motive was to avoid going out of my way for such non-spam inquiries, so in that sense, I got what I wanted. The micro-monetization of user-generated Web content doesn’t seem well-structured for substantial cash outlays.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/22/2010 06:07pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Photography
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Thursday, August 19, 2021

to pop or not to pop
Two years after the turn of this century, I started blogging. Two years after that, I moved my bloggage to Population Statistic. And today, to the day, I’m celebrating six years of running this every-single-day-posting blog.

And how am I celebrating? By seriously considering closing up shop.

It’s true. The handful of regular visitors to this space may have noticed the precipitous drop-off in posting lately, down to a single post per day. That’s well off my pace from years ago, when I would routinely knock out 4-5 posts daily. There’s no doubt about it: I’m running out of steam. I still enjoy writing on this, my little corner of the Web, and even look forward to it most days. But even when the motivation is there, I’m finding it difficult to produce anything that I’d consider worthwhile. It’s getting to the point where I’m disqualifying potential material, ostensibly because it’s not interesting enough, but really because I don’t feel like going through the exercise of crafting a mini-essay.

I can’t say that this low-ebb phase will last. It’s entirely possible that I’ll recharge the creative juices soon, whether due to a change in climate, a shift in lifestyle, or some other factor. But at this moment, I can’t see it. And I don’t see the point in pushing on when I’m not fully into it. Rather than go to a non-daily posting schedule — which is the present trajectory — I’d sooner just pull the site down. Maybe to start over with a new site/blog, or maybe not.

This is kind of a downer way to commemorate a six/eight-year run, especially since most bloggers are lucky to keep at it for more than a few months. All thing have to end eventually — assuming I do end this online hobby. Stay tuned.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/19/2010 11:52pm
Category: Bloggin'
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Sunday, August 15, 2021

button fly
Blog-housekeeping note: Starting today, I’ve installed Twitter’s official Tweet Button onto this blog, for both individual posts and aggregate post pages.

This replaces the Topsy Retweet Button that I’d installed as a plugin back in March. I’ve long since deactivated that one, as it started exhibiting some bugs a few months back. It doesn’t look like Topsy is even supporting the plugin anymore, so I’m 86ing it. The only thing I’ll miss is the included feature of pulling in “reaction tweets” as trackbacks onto the linked-to posts; but that was the main feature that was bugging out, so I’ll just have to find an alternate solution for that one.

We’ll see how the Tweet Button flies around here. It’s currently in a butt-ugly placement at the end of the post content and atop the post-footer info; if I find the motivation, I’ll hack through the CSS to make it line up prettier. For now, it’s functional, which is good enough.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/15/2010 07:47pm
Category: Bloggin', Social Media Online
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Thursday, June 03, 2021

Today I received my first-ever payment check from Yahoo! Publisher Network. It’s also my last-ever check from them, as Y! shuttered its answer to Google AdSense not long ago.

My grand total? Five dollars, eighty-five cents.

That’s four years after signing up to be a Network partner. But my tenure was short-lived: I swapped in the YPN ads for a brief test-run, immediately saw that they weren’t serving up anything of value, and promptly ended my experiment. I never did tinker with them again; AdSense pays well enough that, frankly, it’s not worth my time trying out blog-advertising alternatives.

I never bothered to close my YPN account. I would receive infrequent auto-messages over the years. From those, and casual news-tracking, I knew that Yahoo!’s foray into ad syndication was doing poorly. I figured it would end soon enough, and now it has.

And I’ve got a paper check to show for it. Hardly worth the cost of printing it and mailing it out, but there you go. I will indeed deposit it. My dreams of Internet millions obviously won’t involve the Sunnyvale company.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/03/2021 11:18pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Business
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Tuesday, June 01, 2021

As much as we’re accustomed to consuming online content in decentralized, permalinked chunks, it sometimes pays to take in something in its “true” synchronized state. To wit:

Liz at Bobulate follows up a post about the virtues of standing still with one about the joys of jumping. Both dealing with the wholly literal versions of those states of being, to boot.

The free-form ease with which you can switch gears so completely from one day to the next is probably why some of us started blogging in the first place. Always good to come across such entertaining reminders.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/01/2021 05:15pm
Category: Bloggin', Creative
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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

This is apropos of absolutely nothing currently going on, but it’s occasionally rattled through my mind ever since I first read it a couple of months ago, and has yet to fail to make me smile. From Puck Daddy’s coverage of this past Winter Olympics:

Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: Jerk Store responding to Wysh’s mother-in-law thinking the name of [Team] Canada’s goaltender was Roberto “Ulongo”:

“its actually oberto ulongo. hes half samoan, half beef jerky.”

Somebody check Roberto Luongo‘s locker at GM Place for packets of dried meat. It might explain the secret of his National Hockey League success (and shortcomings, to boot).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/25/2010 11:58pm
Category: Bloggin', Comedy, Hockey
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Sunday, March 28, 2021

I’m not sure why it comes as any surprise to anyone that online product review sites are routinely gamed by PR firms and/or their clients:

Dozens of companies, with names like BzzAgent, Brickfish and Ammo Marketing, offer to help shape the online conversation. The Zocalo Group, in Chicago, categorizes commenters as “hear-MEs,” “reputation terrorists” or “competitive destroyers.” On its site, Zocalo promises to “relentlessly monitor online conversations to ensure your brand is talked about in the right ways.” When it’s not, the firm jumps into the conversation or recruits supporters to “go to bat for you.”

I’ve touched on this before, in regard to blogs. But the late class-action lawsuit against Yelp highlights the manipulation that goes on. All the talk of transparency, crowdsourcing, and the rest of the buzzwords all just boil down to this basic tenet:

Companies are not looking for reviews. They’re looking for endorsements.

That is, they’re not interested in fair and balanced product/service opinions. Dissatisfied users needn’t bother to post anything online, because any sort of negative feedback has the potential to do damage, especially when viewed as a stand-alone piece. And as it happens, the typical behavior of an amateur reviewer on Facebook, Twitter, or blog is to say nothing at all, rather than write something less than nice. That’s not so unusual — those motivated to give feedback, in any medium/channel, tend to be so only when they have extreme reactions, either good or bad.

But that winds up filling “review” sites with almost nothing but positive reviews, with no semblance of balance. At that point, they become little more than semi-officially commissioned endorsements. Ultimately, that’s the aim of online reputation management anyway. To pretend that anything more substantive is coming out of the user-generated online channel is foolishly naive.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/28/2010 11:58pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Social Media Online, Society
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Monday, March 22, 2021

re: the button
Just a blog-housekeeping note, for my own records: As of today, I’ve installed the Topsy Retweet Button for WordPress plugin.

Thus have I added a true one-click social media widget to this blog. I previously installed CommenTwitter, and it remains in place, but it’s fallen well short of my hopes in spreading this blog’s permalinks. I have to face it: People don’t want to jump through any content-creation hoops just to add to the Twitter-stream. A retweet button is a dead-simple solution, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve done very little to enable the Topsy plugin; thankfully, it appears to be working correctly straight out of the box. I may have to tweak it going forward, but for now, it is what it is. I’ve already seen a few reverse-trackbacks on old posts come back as a result, and that’s what I’m looking for, so it’s so far, so good.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/22/2010 11:29pm
Category: Bloggin', Social Media Online
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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

If the idea behind Twitter is to encourage constant bite-sized chatter, the majority of the online flock ain’t chirping:

It seems that Twitter is becoming more of news feed than a social network, said Paul Judge, author of the report and chief research officer at Barracuda Networks. And that raises questions about its growth potential, as well as how the Internet phenomenon will make money.

As of December 2009, only 21% of Twitter account holders were what Barracuda defines as “true users,” meaning someone who has at least 10 followers, follows at least 10 people and has tweeted at least 10 times. That indicates that most Twitter users “came online to follow their favorite celebrities, not to interact with their buddies the way they would on Facebook or MySpace,” said Judge.

On a basic level, this is normal: Most networks, online and off, are driven by a dedicated minority-vanguard of members. That’s the nature of any organization, social or not.

Still, the service’s nature does encourage a stalker-ish approach. Certainly, the celebrity accounts often sport a huge imbalance between “following” and “followers”, as practically a badge of honor. Their fans are bound to emulate that approach, even on a vastly smaller scale.

I’ll also point out that the notion of Twitter as more of an information stream, and less of a clubby hangout, is the chief reason I bothered to start using it. So maybe my instincts were right in the first place; or else the rest of the Twitteratti have come around to my viewpoint.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/10/2021 10:54pm
Category: Bloggin', Social Media Online
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Sunday, February 28, 2021

…And we’re back.

Anyone who pokes around this URL on a regular basis knows that there’s only one rule, content-wise: At least one post per day, every day. So the past two days of blog silence — the first since mid-2008 — should have a good reason behind them, right?

Well, they do: A big, honkin’ winter storm that dumped a couple of feet of snow hereabouts, and managed to knock out my Internet connection from Thursday night through to this afternoon. Yep, total Web (and, incidentally, cable TV) silence for an extended weekend. And I was obliged to stay home that whole time too, venturing outside only for short sprints — but, alas, nowhere close enough for a reliable Web access point.

It pretty much sucked. I can’t say it was unbearable, but it was definitely a major drag. I had a load of work to do, and basically couldn’t do it until today. So I’ve been scrambling to catch up, finally finishing less than an hour ago.

Not that I didn’t find ways to fend off the snowbound ennui. I acquainted myself with my new, barely-used Blu-ray DVD player, discovering that it can play music CDs — although it can’t read some of the extra media (music videos, basically) loaded onto older, turn-of-the-century discs. I also used it to re-acquaint myself with some of my DVD collection, taking in episodes of “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, along with an overdue re-viewing of The Falcon and the Snowman.

And now, to complete this crippled weekend’s entertainment: I’m restarting the consecutive blogging streak. Let’s see how long this one can go before Mother Nature intervenes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/28/2010 10:37pm
Category: Bloggin', New Yorkin', Weather
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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

I’d like to say that the following paragraph is the part of this compellingly raw-boned confessional from a boy-crazy girl that got me hooked:

so often i worry and act out when i don’t get the attention i want from every guy who comes my way. i don’t take the time to consider if i even like THEM! unless they’re a TOTAL dorky/ugly/pussy… THEN i don’t give a fuck! but I’d still have sexxx with a bizarre looking/interesting/successful dude! in a heartbeat! my friend Dallas thinks i have the worst taste in men cuz I’ve slept with fat, ugly, short, abnormally tall, sickly skinny, balding, and bald dudes. not all at the same time! don’t worry! I’ve only had one threesome, and it was with a girl and a guy who were both hipster/heroine chic. but that’s another story, for another time.

But I’ll be honest, and admit that the post title, alone, had me at hello. I’m not going to reproduce it here, but the eponymous URL is as close as a mouseover (above) away.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/24/2010 08:09am
Category: Bloggin', Women
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Friday, February 05, 2021

While blogs are routinely identified as part of the social media landscape, they’re losing ground among the youngsters:

Two Pew Internet Project surveys of teens and adults reveal a decline in blogging among teens and young adults and a modest rise among adults 30 and older.

What’s behind this trend? Basically, blogs represent too much work for those versed in online short-form:

The explosion of social networking is one obvious answer. The Pew survey found that nearly three-quarters of 12- to 17-year-olds who have access to the Internet use social networking sites, such as Facebook. That compares with 55 percent four years ago.

With social networking has come the ability to do a quick status update and that has “kind of sucked the life out of long-form blogging,” says Amanda Lenhart, a Pew senior researcher and lead author of the latest study. More young people are also accessing the Internet from their mobile phones, only increasing the need for brevity. The survey found, for instance, that half of 18- to 29-year-olds had done so.

Correspondingly, shorter attention spans are becoming the norm. Not that older folks aren’t as impatient with reading more than a hundred or so characters at a clip. If anything, this points to more of a distinction between online communication and online media consumption — status alerts and such are more in-the-moment pieces of information, while blog posts are more asynchronous and (intended, at least) for archiving and posterity.

None of this is any surprise. From the start, blogging has been a minority pursuit, best cut out for those comfortable with filling content wells, mainly with writing (sorry, podcasters/vloggers). Maybe by the time telepathic status updates are the norm, blogs will finally wither away and join stone tablets in the ol’ dustbin…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/05/2021 08:17am
Category: Bloggin', Social Media Online, Society
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Saturday, January 16, 2021

I’m assuming the 2010 budgets have kicked in at various advertising agencies, which accounts for the three solicitations for blog-based marketing that landed in my inbox yesterday:

- One for Yarie, a niche-level competitor to Google AdSense;

- One on behalf of Dentyne, for some fab new packaging they want to promote;

- And one for MatchPoint, a PR clearinghouse for online pitches.

This, after months of no nibbles from the product-placement pushers. Always nice to be asked, even if it’s an obvious, relevance-free shotgun approach. I might just take the first two up on their offers; scant chance on the last one.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/16/2010 04:12pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin'
| Permalink | Feedback (1)

Friday, January 08, 2021

flurry and finish
Theoren Fleury is not playing in the National Hockey League this season, and he really thinks he should be:

The report says that Fleury believed that his performance at Calgary’s training camp last fall during his comeback attempt should have been enough for him to make the squad.

“At one hundred and eighty pounds, I finished 11th out of 56 guys at camp in the fitness test and scored a historic shootout goal in an exhibition game after being out of hockey for six years,” Fleury reportedly wrote. “What does that say about the talent level in the NHL? 4 points and a plus 4 rating in four exhibition games and I get cut. What a joke! Craig Conroy goes the first 37 games of the season with zero goals. I wonder how many I would have had?”

That rant came from Fleury’s blog, on a post that’s since been removed. In addition to the media report, the original lives on on various hockey forums. Looks like typical publish-first-think-later blogging.

The thing is, I’m somewhat in accord with Fleury on his getting a bum rap during training camp. In fact, I used it as a test case for how inefficient pro sports training camps are:

On something of a flip-side, 41-year-old Theoren Fleury’s comeback attempt was snuffed by the Calgary Flames. Even with the odds against him — age and six years out of the NHL — he posted four points in the preseason, and certainly didn’t look out of place. Still, Flames brass deemed him not good enough to crack the team’s top six forwards. What more he’d have to do is undetermined.

I’m hoping I didn’t inspire Fleury to post his legacy-threatening comments. Although if I did, the least he could have done was sent me a trackback link…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/08/2021 06:36pm
Category: Bloggin', Hockey
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