Sunday, September 30, 2007

Teachable Moment

In working with young people, we often have these periods in time where the opportunity to present an important life lesson presents itself. We always have a choice in this moment, do we ignore it or take the time, and effort to try and pass an important lesson on to someone else.

This weekend was homecoming for the school that I work at. As a result, there were a ton of activities to build school spirit and foster some community development (and to get some more donations). There was a new event this year that I volunteered for/got suckered into, the Car Rally. A group of parents came to the school Saturday morning and then drove around some of the back roads, made a few stops, showed off their cars and had some good bonding time.

Working at a private school, most of the kids come from affluent backgrounds, so as you could imagine the cars were pretty spectacular. There were a few Ferrarris, a couple of Lambhorghinis, a Corvette or two, a hand full of BMWs, a few custom made kit cars, and even a Rolls Royce. While I sat in awe of cars that I could never afford, I was given the task of driving one of the school's vans with two students who were going to be photographers for the event.

So me in the mini-van go and join a convoy of muscle cars and we head up out of the city and into some great back country roads that I didn't even know existed. The weather was great to have the windows down, crank the music up, and blast along the country roads.

I find myself lagging behind the main group, so I step on the gas a little bit harder. Apparently they didn't design Caravans to keep pace with Ferraris, who knew? I approach this beautiful corner going down a gentle hill, it looks like it was designed for racing around.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this, as there is a police officer waiting for me at the bottom who flags me over. I curse under my breath, and my heart begins to race. As the officer walks towards me I have two conflicting thoughts run through my head.

Earlier in the year I was busted for speeding, and I was able to play the "poor student" card and I had my fine severely reduced. I wonder if I can play the "poor teacher" doing my job card, and get this fine knocked down as well.

The officer was getting closer and closer.

On the other hand though, there are two students in the van with me. I find that one of the biggest challenges when dealing with young people is getting them to take responsibility for their actions. So many people, of any age, are quick to blame others when they do something wrong. I realize that I am sitting on one of those Teachable Moments.

The officer was getting closer and closer.

Here I am faced with a crisis, do I take a more expensive fine and potential point deduction on my licence to do the right thing, and teach these two students a valuable life lesson.

I roll down my window and say "Hello officer".

I listen to everything that the Police Officer says about going too fast, and I state that I didn't know that it was a 50 km/h zone, which I honestly did not, and I take my ticket for $111....yuck.

As I sit and speak to the Police Officer, a number of other cars on the rally drive past me looking right at me. They sure were not going 50.

After we leave, the students make two observations 1) The guy was a complete ass and 2) Everyone else got by going about the same speed. Both points were pretty accurate to say the least.

I take this as a further teachable moment and say that it doesn't matter what kind of guy he was or what anyone else was doing, it doesn't change the fact that I was wrong and got caught. While I'm gritting my teeth and agreeing with them at the most superficial of levels, deep down inside I know that I was wrong and I got caught, so I had to do the responsible thing and accept the consequences of my actions.

I was also pretty worried that I would get in trouble for speeding with students. However, those fears were alleviated when I arrived at the first check point and one of the school's Headmasters comes up to me, puts his arm around me and starts to laugh at me....I even take the opportunity to tell him that I turned it into a teachable moment. I'm officially in the clear.

In looking back, I remember a time when I was maybe 12 or 13 and my mother got busted for speeding with my sister and I in the car right around Christmas. She could have easily played the "Single Mother at Christmas" card and got away with a stern talking to, but she later told me that she decided to accept it full on in order to teach us a lesson about responsibility...apparently it worked.

I got to spend the morning and volunteer my time and teach an important lesson to some young people and it only cost me $111...ahh well, it's cheaper than Teacher's College.

Until next time,

G

Friday, September 28, 2007

This Month in Fantasy Hockey - September

Just this year, my camp friends and I, started our very own Fantasy Hockey Pool and we just completed our draft today. So to celebrate that I will be offering my thoughts on my pool and maybe some other suggestions for any would be fantasy hockey players out there.

To start with there are 11 people in our pool and everyone was given 3 each of Centres, Left Wingers, Right Wingers, and Goaltenders, with 4 Defensemen, 2 Forwards (of any positions) and 3 Bench players. It was an auto draft, so we had to rank all of the players and the league randomly decided the draft order and it just drafted the highest ranked player left.

Anyway, through the random selection I ended up with the last (11th) pick. Fortunately for me the rounds followed a reverse order, giving me the first pick of the 2nd round, then the last pick of the 3rd round and so on. Through the magic of the random draft here is who I ended up with. The first number is the round they were chosen in and the number in brackets is their overall rank in the draft...

The G-Unit
1. (11) Jaromir Jagr - RW
2. (12) Vincent Lecavalier - C
3. (33) Evgeni Nabokov - G
4. (34) Olli Jokinen - C
5. (55) Eric Staal - C
6. (56) Brian Rafalski - D
7. (77) Scott Gomez - C
8. (78) Mathieu Schneider - D
9. (99) Brian Campbell - D
10. (100) Wade Redden - D
11. (121) Peter Budaj - G
12. (122) Bill Guerin - RW
13. (143) Alexander Radulov - RW
14. (144) Mike Knuble - RW
15. (165) Tomas Holmstrom - LW
16. (166) Dustin Brown - LW
17. (187) Jason Chimera - LW
18. (188) Wade Dubielewicz - G
19. (209) Vaclav Prospal - C
20. (210) Nathan Horton - C
21. (231) Radim Vrbata - RW

Now I have never done an auto draft before, so I have some pretty mixed results on this one. First off, I am really happy with my top four picks. I don't know how Jagr was still available in the 11th spot, since I think he will have another monster year, with an even better forward cast, and Lecavalier is always a strong pick. I think that the Sharks are going to rack up the wins and Nabokov is probably the best goalie that is not named Luongo, Brodeur, or Kiprusoff to take (all where taken in the first round). Lastly Jokinen is a solid player to add points and penalty minutes, and hopefully he'll end up in the plus side of things.

After that, I'm really happy with my Defense, as I am certain that I have the best D-Men in my fantasy league. All of these guys should produce big points for me, especially Rafalski, who should be able to get a ton of points playing on Detroit this year.

Three of my picks stand out to me in particular, Scott Gomez, Peter Budaj and Vaclav Prospal. I am certain that all three of them should put up good numbers this year. Gomez will be among the league leaders in assists this year and should have a strong plus/minus playing for the offensive New York Rangers. Budaj really broke out last year and the Avalanche are going to be an even stronger team this year so he should have some pretty big numbers in the wins column. Lastly Prospal is one of those players who seems to alternate between good year and bad year, and well he had a bad year last year plus his contract is coming up so I think that he will be a solid point producer, especially playing for the offensive Lightning.

What I'm not happy with is how week my Left and Right Wingers are. I had a ton of players on those positions ranked high on my list but there were all taken first. Now if this had have been a live draft and I was so short on wingers I would have bumped one of them up even higher. Instead I'm stuck with some week Left Wingers, but I hope to be able to swing a trade to help that category out. So I guess that's my advice to any poolies out there, pay attention to your wingers. It's easy to keep drafting high scoring centres but you need wingers as well. If this had have been a live draft I never would have taken Staal at that spot, instead focusing on an available winger. Ahh well, live and learn I guess...

Anyway, my plan for this feature is to outline any changes I have made and pooling lessons I have learned to pass on to everyone. I hope you enjoy the ride, and until then, happy pooling.

Until next time,

G

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It Ain't Easy Being Green - Take 2 - The Environment

How many of you intentionally throw your recyclables into the garbage?
How many of you leave your lights on all day and night?
How many of you drive an SUV?

Hopefully you all said no to those above questions. We are clearly in a difficult time when it comes to the environment. With rapidly rising temperatures and rapidly shrinking icecaps, there is simply no denying anymore that the world is getting warmer, and it would take a fool to think that it does not have something to do with the pollution we are producing.

This is why I hope that all of you have some concern for the environment and are making an effort to recycle, turn off your lights and choose fuel efficient methods of transportation. But what if I told you that what the vast majority of you are eating was doing worse things for our planet than any SUV or discarded pop can?

In a 2006 report, the UN concluded that livestock is doing more to accelerate global warming then all forms of transportation combined.

I'll give you a minute to chew on that...It doesn't matter if you decide to walk or drive a hybrid car to work, if you are eating a steak or drinking a glass of milk when you get home then you are completely undoing any of your environmental good will.

The report states:

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.

And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.

-- "Livestock a Major Threat to Environment", November, 29, 2006

In addition to being a huge contributor to Global Warming, there are many other important environmental hazards associated with the livestock industry, and the vast majority of them are directly related to the waste produced by the livestock themselves.

There is little to no regulation in the United States for the treatment and disposal of animal feces and urine, large amounts of it end up in our rivers and streams. This has been wrecking havoc on the fish population of the world. In the Gulf of Mexico, there is a "Dead Zone", an area in which the vast majority of sea animals and plants have died. A 2006 study by Princeton concluded that run off from manure was a major contributor to this area, which is currently half the size of Maryland. Ohh and remember, if fish drink the contaminated water and you eat the contaminated fish (or eat something that has eaten that contaminated fish) then it will end up in your body, one way or another.

In places where there are regulations against polluting the water with animal manure, there is still a threat to people's air. Many farmers spray liquid manure into the air, which in turn gets inhaled...charming thought, I know. The California State Senate recently did a study on the issue and stated: “Studies have shown that [animal waste] lagoons emit toxic airborne chemicals that can cause inflammatory, immune, irritation and neurochemical problems in humans.” If it is doing that to us, imagine what it is doing to the wildlife in the area or the environment all around us?

Additional polluters from the livestock industry come from the additional transportation and harvesting that needs to be done for the food of the livestock, but that will be the topic for the next edition of "It Ain't Easy Being Green", when I discuss wasted resources.

While I realize that you may not be directly harming the environment by eating meat, but every time you use your money to purchase some animal products you are financially supporting those who are damaging our environment. This makes you just as responsible.

So if you can't afford a hybrid car anytime soon, I am sure that you can all afford to buy a salad instead of a steak. Mother nature will thank you.

Until next time,

G

Take 1 - Pacifism
Take 2 - The Environment
Take 3 - Pesticides, and Poo, and Pus, Oh My!
Take 4 - Distribution of Resources

Iranian Follow Up...

The other day I posted about Iran. I don't have a ton more to say here, I just wanted to post some videos of Ahmadinejad's speach in Columbia.

First off, we have the introductory speach made by the President of Columbia, certainly not the most welcoming remark....



Secondly, here is a brief excerpt of Ahmadienjad's speach, where he makes some pretty valid point about the US's record in the Middle East supporting both Hussein and the previous leader in Iran. Certainly some interesting food for thought...




Until next time,

G

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Save_Us.222

Wrestling fans who turned into RAW last night saw this very interesting video...



Pretty cool eh? There has been a ton of speculation of late that this could have something to do with a possible return of my personal favourite wrestler, Mr. Chris Jericho. First off, these are oddly reminiscent of the old "Countdown to the Millennium" videos that aired before Jericho debuted in the WWF back in 1999.

Also, there are apparently some odd bits of code that are hidden in that video, including "7Oct" which is the date for No Mercy, the next PPV and "cd_volume4_1.act" which could be a reference to the fact that his old theme song was the first song on the 4th WWF: The Music CD.

There are a ton more potential clues available right here at 411mania.

Anyway, maybe it has nothing to do with Jericho and my hopes are up, I guess we shall see...

Until next time,

G

European Bound

While the majority of NHL regular season games will be starting on October 3, it begins a few days early for two teams in an odd place. The first two games of the regular season will be played between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks in London, England.

This bold move on the NHL's part has led many to ask if this is the first step to expanding the league's reach and putting teams in Europe. Of course there are many logistical questions that arise, especially the prospect of a team playing in say, London travelling all the way to Vancouver for a regular season game.

Now if the league were to do this, first of all they would need to establish at least 6-8 teams in Europe to start with so that they could at least play a substantial amount of games against one another. Realistically this could only be done by moving at least 4 of those teams from North America so as to not drastically dilute the talent pool. While I would have no problem cheering for the Prague Predators, Cologne Coyotes, Paris Panthers, or London Lightning, I have a feeling that Bettman would have trouble admitting defeat and moving teams out of unsuccessful markets, since these floundering markets are all recent additions to the NHL and a point of pride for the Bettman legacy.

So there seems to be a bit of a point of tension between the desire to expand globally while not contracting locally, which in all reality are things that need to go hand and hand. Now is there a compromise out there? As a matter of fact, I have an idea which may work for everyone...

Have EVERY team play a handful of regular season games in Europe at one point or another every season. Have each division go to a designated country every year for 2 weeks or so and play a game or two against each other team in the division, you can even have some sort of trophy or prize for the team with the best record at the end of the little round robin to make the overseas fans feel like they are watching more than just some regular season games.

For example, you could have the Northeast division go to the UK every year and hell you could even attach each team to a city or two so you could have the Tottenham Maple Leafs, Arsenal Senators, Chelsea Canadiens, Manchester Sabers, and Liverpool Bruins. They play one or two games against one another (so each team is playing either 4 or 8 games in total) and if say the Arsenal Senators have the best record they get some little trophy or cash prize. Not only does this allow the NHL to showcase its game around the world, but it keeps it in a style similar to the man different Cup series that they have in European Football and it allows the different regions to start to develop bonds with their "local" teams, furthering their interest in the game. Lastly, it gives every team in the NHL a similar travel schedule, because it is hardly fair to ask the Anaheim Duck and Los Angeles Kings to fly all the way from London back to the West Coast of North America and start the rest of the regular season jet lagged. This way everyone is on the same page.

Of course the different divisions wouldn't all be going over at the same time, then there would be no games taking place in North America. They could stagger it over the course of the beginning of the regular season, say October to December, so then teams aren't severly jet lagged when it comes to the playoff push at the end of the regular season. Also they could try and keep sending teams to play in countries where their bigger stars are from (for example have the Southeast play in Russia so the Russian fans can watch Ovechkin), but I realize that would be difficult with player movement what it is these days.

Sure they would need to work out some logistics to it all, but I am confident that this idea could work if given enough time to develop, and it would really be a great compromise. Sure teams would loose four home games each, but I am certain that they could make up for it in the long run with the increased global awareness that playing so many games in Europe could bring them.

I'm sure it won't happen anytime soon, but if it does, remember, you heard it here first!!

Until next time,

G

Monday, September 24, 2007

War is Peace

Citing two unidentified sources, Newsweek said former Cheney Middle East adviser David Wurmser told a small group several months ago that Cheney was considering asking Israel to strike the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz.
A military response by Iran could give Washington an excuse to then
launch airstrikes of its own, Newsweek said.
-- Reuters, September 23, 2007

Does that scare the crap out of anyone other then me? The same people who brought you a phony made up war in Iraq are looking to extend their forces even more and go right into another Middle Eastern country, only this time with potential nuclear consequences. Thankfully the Israeli government has yet to take up the Vice President on the offer.

I guess one should take solace in the fact that the leaders of the free world are able to learn from their mistakes, the last time that they tried a pre-emptive strike it did not work out according to plan so this time they need to retaliate. So congrats Cheney, you were able to live and learn. Hopefully you also learned how not to shoot someone in the face...hopefully....

The US and EU have been saying repeatedly that they want to try the diplomatic approach with Iran, although they have been doing a lot of sabre rattling recently. Including some tough talk from previous Dove-nation France, which shows that maybe Sarkozy-Royal may have been one of the most important elections of the 21st Century.

Now if diplomacy truly is the West's weapon of choice here, then I find it interesting that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's upcoming visit to the United Nations is being met with such protest in the United States. He plans to speak at Columbia University, where the school's President plans to press him on issues such as Human Rights and Holocaust Denial, this opportunity for debate seems to be overshadowed by intense public backlash.

Also, he had planned to lay a wreath at Ground Zero in New York, but many politicians said that his visit would "violate sacred ground". I find it absolutely crazy that he would not be allowed to visit the site of the attacks, and politicians saying that he should not be allowed to go totally confuses the issue. Remember, just like Hussein, Ahmadinejad had nothing to do with the September 11th attacks. So wouldn't him laying a wreath at the site be a huge symbol for co-operation and understanding between two nations poised for war? Is that not what diplomacy is all about?

I am not trying to defend the man is very clearly a megalomaniac, has a horrible record on human rights and has spouted off some of the least informed opinions on the planet. For the record that sentence was about Ahmadinejad and not Bush, I'll forgive your confusion.

My point is that if people are going to preach diplomacy then please practice it. In searching for a compromise sometimes you have to be willing to give as well as take. That could mean giving someone an opportunity for open debate or a chance to try and heal some old wounds.

Either way it sure beats nuclear war, doesn't it?

Until next time,

G

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Green Pope

Cruising along on this wonderful thing called the Internet, I found an interesting little ditty about our current Pope, Benedict XVI. In April, there are plans for the Pope to make his first visit to the United Nations.

While this in and of itself is not particularly note worth to me, his planned topic blows my mind. Is he going to talk about the evils of gay marriage and evolution? Ohh no, he plans on talking about climate change. That's right, the man who many people deemed too conservative to be Pope - and think about that, it's not like the Catholic Church is the most liberal of organizations - is going to take a progressive stance on an incredibly important issue.

The higher ups in the Church claim that we are "stewards of creation" and have a responsibility to save the planet from potential catastrophe. As such he will make action against climate change a moral obligation for all billion or so Catholics out there. Not only are they talking the talk, but they are walking the walk, as the Vatican City is the first, and only, carbon neutral nation in the world. Sure they are tiny and don't exactly have factories or a lot of cars, but it is still impressive.

May I just point out that the Pope is now more liberal, modern, and in touch with current concerns than many of the worlds leading political and economic figures. Think about that for a second, right now the head of an organization that thinks birth control, homosexuals, and Charles Darwin are the spawn of Satan is more modern than Stephen Harper and George Bush, who are still waiting for "more evidence".

I hope that after this announcement other Catholic Churches will follow the lead of the Vatican by also going carbon neutral in their business, and maybe, just maybe, can inspire their believers to do the same. What makes this extra promising is that the majority of Catholics live in developed, and therefore polluting, nations.

Perhaps, if we are lucky still, that other churches will follow the Vatican's lead and start addressing climate change as a serious moral concern of theirs and people of all faiths will start to actually take this thing seriously, because we don't have a ton of time.

From the Inquisition to The Troubles, there is a lot that can be said for the actions of men in the name of God. This time, however, the pious and the agnostic can come together and support the steps Benedict XVI is making, because whether you believe God made this earth or not, we all need to believe that he is not going to help us now. We can only help ourselves.

Until next time,

G

Glen and Troy Pre-Season Predictacular - Central

Glen says:

Welcome one and all to part 5 of the 6 part pre-season installment. Today we look at one of the least entertaining divisions in the NHL, the Western Conference's poor child, the Central Division!!

The Central division has been a fascinating case study over the past few years. They are the ultimate example for changing up the schedule to make less games between divisional opponents. The Blue Jackets, Blackhawks and Blues (hey they all have colours in their name...and so do the Red Wings...I think that Nashville needs to change their name to the Purple Predators to match up, sorry...ADD moment over...now) have struggled in recent years which has been a huge benefit for the Predators and Red Wings, who many (including me) would argue that their records have been inflated in recent years due to an easier schedule. I think that the Wings will once again coast to the best record in the conference, the Blue Jackets will once again finish in the leagues basement, the Blackhawks will once again make some big mistakes, but I see the Blues and Predators having slightly different results. Intrigued? Well then read on my friends...

Let me start with the Predators. Certainly one of the most interesting teams to watch from a management stand point. They showed some promise in the last season before the lock-out as they made the playoffs for the first time and surprised many people by playing well against the mighty Red Winds. Right after the lock out they began to load up by getting some big names like Paul Kariya, Jason Arnott, and Peter Forsberg, plus they showed some big development with players like Kimmo Timonen, Chris Mason and David Legwand showing some major growth. They looked to be a model franchise that would be competitive for years, but then something interesting happened...nobody cared. That's right, despite being near the top of the league in wins, they were near the bottom of the league in attendence. This has prompted a number of rumours of them moving to anywhere from Hamilton, to Kansas City, to Las Vegas. This team has taken a serious hit in the off-season losing Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg, Thomas Vokoun, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Tmmonen, and Vitali Vishnevski. To fill in the gaps they got...uhhh...Radek Bonk and Greg de Vries. Now that's not going to cut it at all. I for one believe that this team is trying hard NOT to be competitive in order to get out of their lease with the city of Nashville so they can pack up and go somewhere else, more than likely Kansas City. Sorry Preds fans (both of you), but you're going to have a long season.

One teams loss is another teams gain. I see no team that could benefit more from the destruction of the Predators than the St. Louis Blues. First off they make a direct gain by signing Paul Kariya from the Preds, but they are the most likely team to fill in the power vacuum left in the Central Division. Last season, this team had a 27-18-9 record after hiring Andy Murray as their head coach and that is nothing to be embarrassed about. They have once again assembled a veteran cast with Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight joining Kariya and a host of some very good young players, including Eric Johnson, who has to be an early Calder Trophy favourite. They do have some questions between the pipes, as Manny Legace has proven inconsistent over his career, but I think that the benefit of playing the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets and Purple Predators 8 times each could make this team a dark horse to claim that 8th spot in the west.

Next up we look at a team that has been floundering for many years, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks may end up being their own worst enemy as the core of their team is pretty overrated and often injured. Sure a top line of Robert Lang, Martin Havlat and Sergei Samsonov sounds dynamic, but do you really think that all three of them will show up on any given night? But what is interesting about this team is their core group of young players. They have some very good players who have a ton of potential to really step up this year including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Skillie. I think that the Hawks will make some progress from last year, but still have a long way to go before they truly are able to make enough progress in the wild, wild west.

Speaking of teams with a long way to go, we have the Columbus Blue Jackets. They are officially the only franchise in the NHL to have never made the playoffs, and I don't see that streak changing any time soon. They do have a great group of young players who could be very good someday. Unfortunetly for them, someday is not today. Michael Peca should help their development, but he is not nearly enough for them to make the jump that they are looking for. Also, I have my doubts as to the choice of Ken Hitchcock as a coach. I think that Hitchcock is great behind the bench, but I feel that he is a great choice to get a good team over the hump, and not to build a franchise. I would be shocked if the Jackets are any higher than 14th in the conference.

I guess that ends with perennial Cup contenders, the Detroit Red Wings. This is a team that amazes me with its ability to withstand time and continually reinvent themselves. I thought this team would fall apart after they lost Yzerman and Shanahan, but somehow they managed to not only pull through, but make it all the way to the conference finals last year. I also think that they may have made the best free agent signing of the summer when they snagged Brian Rafalski from the Devils. I could see Rafalski playing huge minutes alongside Chris Chelios and being a top shut down man in the league. I see the Wings not only having the best record in the central, but the best record in the West.

So my predicted standings are:

1. Detroit Red Wings
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Nashville (Purple) Predators
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. Columbus Blue Jackets


Troy says:


Oh the Central Division. Such a joke. Detroit must love playing in this division. The only competition to them has been the Predators allowing them to coast every year to an undeserved division title. This year will be no different as Detroit has remained mostly status quo while Nashville has definitely been taken down a peg or two. The other three teams, St. Louis, Chicago, and Columbus have improved slightly, but still suck.

This is a team that lead the Western Conference for a while last season and only lost the lead at the end due to some injuries but this off season was horrible for the Preds. Nashville lost of a lot of talent up front with the likes of Kimmo Timmonen, Scott Hartnell and Paul Kariya all on the way out and Peter Forsberg has yet to resign and is a long shot at best to return to Nashville. A few holes were filled by acquiring Radek Bonk and Martin Gelinas who is always a solid contributor but there is no doubt this team took a few steps backwards in the off season. If Nashville can stick to their solid defensive play they may be able to play some competitive hockey but I would be very surprised to see them at the top of the conference this year.

In the last few years the Blues have been a bit of a laughing stock but this off season was a positive step towards this team becoming consistently competitive. This is now a team loaded with high end veteran leadership with the likes of Doug Weight, Keith Tkachuk and the new addition, Paul Kariya who can still put the puck in the net. Andy Murray is an underrated coach and with this being his first full season in St. Louis his team will be ready to play every night. Last season goaltending was an issue but if Manny Legace can stay healthy he should be able to keep his team in the game more often than not. Look for this to be a turn around year for the Blues.

The start of the season last year looked promising until Martin Havlat went down with an ankle injury and everything crumbled after that. This team has some talent and if head coach Denis Savard can find the way to best utilize that talent then Chicago may just be a fun team to watch this year. This off season the Blackhawks acquired face off phenom Yanic Perrault and the creative Robert Lang. If Nickolai Khabibulin continues his improvement from last year then Chicago could make life difficult for some other teams. Depth will be an issue this year and if this team gets hit with the injury bug it may be a long season in the windy city.

It's kinda gotta suck being the only team out of 30 never to have been in the playoffs. And it's really gotta suck knowing that that's probably not going to change any time soon. This team did not make very many moves in the off season but one notable move however was signing Michael Peca. Peca makes any team better but he alone will not be enough to bring this team to the next level. If Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev can live up to their potential then this team will be fun to watch but the playoffs are most likely not in the cards this season.

I've never liked the Red Wings and I will try my best to remain objective but no promises. Unfortunately this team remains pretty much stacked. The loss of Schneider was offset by the addition of Brian Rafalski. Detroit's defense this year will again be very mobile and fast led by the 302 time Norris Trophy winning defenceman Nik Lidstrom. (Ok...maybe he hasn't won it 302 times....) The offense, led by youngsters Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and the surprisingly revitalized Dan Cleary (woohoo Belleville shout-out!!) will be insanely good again this year. Worst of all Dominik Hasek will be in goal again so goaltending will not be an issue. The only perceivable knock in this team is age. There will be just as many colostomy bags on the bench as Gatorade bottles but these old fogies have all proven they can play and Detroit will run away with this division yet again.

1. Detroit Red Wings
2. St. Louis
3. Nashville Predators
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. Columbus Blue Jackets


Glen says:



And Troy copies me once more. I'm going to walk down to the Caribbean and kick his ass...I guess that means I had best go now...



Until next time,



G

Saturday, September 22, 2007

True Parity Love

We did it!!! We finally did it!!!!

That's right, this week for the first time in 31 years the Canadian Dollar traded at par with its American counterpart. After spending the late 90s and early 00s trading around 70 or 80 cents US, we are finally on an even currency field with our neighbours to the south. It seems that every major media outlet has been constantly reporting our exchange rate over the past few weeks as we inched closer and closer to that magic $1.00US mark.

On Thursday, the day we broke even (henceforth referred to as P-Day), the excitement was almost palpable as many Canadians were excited about our currency reaching that magic number. Sure there may be all sorts of frightening side effects of our currency rise such as a lessening of tourists coming north of the border and exports going south, but economic uncertainty doesn't matter because we are even with the Americans!

The Canadian psyche is such an interesting one to look at sometimes. While we have a wonderful country, and are a leading middle power (does that term even make sense?) in the world, we are very clearly the Jan Brady of the G-8. Like all good middle children, we seek and revel in any opportunity we have to look better than our older siblings.

Don't believe me? Well how much sweeter did our 2002 Gold Medal taste because we beat the States in the finals? How patriotic did you feel when the Blue Jays won the World Series? How many times do you point out that a famous actor/musician/inventor is Canadian? How many times do we try to point out the "stupidity" of Americans with such shows as Talking to Americans?

We celebrated when our hockey team won the gold, but the Americans still took home more medals than any other country during those Olympic Games. We proudly sang the national anthem as a Canadian team won the championship at the Americans National Past Time, but our "Canadian" team had no Canadian players. We proudly talk up Mike Myers, The Bare Naked Ladies, or Alexander Graham Bell, but they still did most of their best work south of the 49. We laugh at Americans for thinking that Canada is covered in snow all year, but we further our own prejudices by thinking that they are all stupid.

Our country clearly has some deep seeded insecurities when it comes to our older sibling. We always long to feel better then them at something and this is no different. We celebrate our rising dollar, but a typical American is still 20% wealthier than a typical Canadian. Once more, we celebrate a small victory but continue to loose the forest for the trees.

This story is already blowing over and unless our currency skyrockets even more, things will once more be about "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia", and we will be left looking for some other way to get our parents attention.

Until next time,

G

Friday, September 21, 2007

Glen and Troy Pre-Season Predictacular - Pacific

Hello welcome there my friends to the fourth installment of our pre-season predictions. Our focus finally shifts from East to West as we look at one of the toughest divisions in the league. I'll even let my hetero-life-mate start this one off...


Troy Says:


This is the division that the Stanley Cup currently calls home. Some can argue (not me...but some) that this was the toughest division in the NHL last year but that will probably not be the case this year and the teams in this division have gone through significant changes

Anaheim Ducks

Let's start things off with the Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks, (who knew all they had to do was take "Mighty" out of their names and they'd win the cup, how long until we start hearing suggestions to change to the Toronto Maple Leafs to just the Toronto Leafs?)

Brian Burke is a genius simply put. He took Vancouver from crap to a solid team and did the same with Anaheim. His team went through some significant changes in the off season. They've effectively lost both Scott Neidermayer and Teemu Selanne and that will definitely hurt. Burke added a big wild card in Todd Bertuzzi and this really could go either way but if he puts up any numbers this team is going to be very solid.

Dallas Stars

Last season the Stars had to go most of the year without Brendon Morrow and Mike Modano so having them healthy and ready to go this season will be a big boost. Dallas decided to stick with pretty much the same team this year and if Ribeiro can play as well as he did last year, and with Morrow and Modano back in the fold this team should be decent. If Dallas wants to make a serious run this year they may need to add a sniper as the team high for points last year was Mike Ribeiro with 59. Look for Dallas to make a few moves during the season.

Los Angeles

Lets face it, last year the LA Kings just plain sucked. LA finished with a league low 27 wins. The Kings took charge this off season and added a lot of talent that could really help. Additions include Michal Handzus and wingers Kyle Calder and Ladislav Nagy. LA is going to have a very different look this year. Lubomir Visnovski proved last year that he can be an offensive threat from the blue line and LA locked him up for 5 more years. Playing against the Kings this year will not be easy.

Phoenix Coyotes

How does a team coached by the greatest player in the history of the sport finish dead last in the Western Conference? Well apparently it's pretty easy. Phoenix didn't really add any impact players over the off season opting more for depth players. For this team to be competitive Shane Doan will have to lead the way and Ed Jovonovski needs to have a healthy season which is something he has been unable to do for a number of years. Unfortunately I don't even see The Great One being able to drag this team into the playoffs.

San Jose Sharks

Last year was a great year for the Sharks but unfortunately their playoff run ended in the second round at the hands of the Red Wings. This team is stacked and built to go deep in to the playoffs which is precisely why GM Doug Wilson pretty much left the team as it is. There is not much to say for this team. The only way they will be able to improve upon last season and go deeper into the playoffs is to learn from the disappointment of last season. The talent is there now the experience needs to be there as well.

Here's how I see the Pacific goin' down.

1. San Jose Sharks
2. Anaheim Ducks
3. Dallas Stars
4. Los Angeles Kings
5. Phoenix Coyotes



Glen says:


I think that I already called the Atlantic Division the toughest in hockey, but this division is a pretty close second as it features two early Cup favourites, a perennial playoff team, a fast rising squad and the greatest player to lace it up (sure he's on the bench but he's still there...).


I have long been a huge supporter of the San Jose Sharks. Out of all of the southern teams, this is clearly the one that does things the best. They have a strong organization from management all the way down to the players and have some of the best support of any team in the league. Last year I picked them to be Stanley Cup Finalists for the entire season and part of me sees no reason why that can't happen again. I see them as being an easy pick to be in the Conference finals at least this season.


The Sharks biggest stumbling block is definitely their cross state rivals, the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks shocked very few people by winning the Cup last year and despite the losses of Teemu Selanne and (maybe) Scott Niedermayer, this team still has an incredibly amount of talent. They made solid signings by picking up Shneider and Bertuzzi to plug those holes, plus their young group of Perry, Getzlaf, Pahlsson, and Moen will all be one year older and better prepared. Lastly, this team has some serious talent in its system, many of whom should be ready to step up, or could be used as trade bait to fill more immediate concerns. Even without Neidermayer, they can still lay legitimate claim to having the best defense in the league, and Giguere and Bryzgalov are probably the best 1-2 combo in net in the league. this team should take their division and put up a realistic chance of repeating.


Next I'll look at the bastard child of the California teams, the Los Angeles Kings. I think that the Kings have some serious potential to be an elite team in the NHL!!!!...in 2-3 years. Their core group of talent is all below 25 years old and they have Marc Crawford behind the bench. If this team wasn't playing the Ducks and Sharks 8 times a season then they could very likely sneak into the playoffs, but alas. Give them a couple of years though of constant improvement and they will be a scary team. But for now, they should have another season that doesn't continue to the spring.


Speaking of teams that will have short seasons, we have the Phoenix Coyotes. This team is pretty brutal right now and in need of a whole lot. In recent years they have tried to add a group of Veterans/Gretzky buddies from Owen Nolan to Jeremy Roenick to Curtis Joseph, but none of them have proven to be the answer. They have a solid group in the farm system, including 3rd overall draft pick, Kyle Turris, who will hopefully be given some time to develop. I hope that this team slows down on adding veterans for the time being and just focuses on rebuilding, otherwise there will be too much pressure on Turris and co and that won't be good for anyone.


Lastly, we have the Dallas Stars, the true wild cards of the division. They have an incredibly solid defense from top to bottom, but also have some of the leagues best defensive forwards, including perennial Selke nominee, Jere Lethinen. But they have two big question marks, can they score, and can Marty Turco be consistent all season? I'm really not sure on all of them. I think that this is a team that will be on the outside looking in come playoff time. The West is just too tough for them.


So my standings come down to...


1. Anaheim Ducks

2. San Jose Sharks

3. Dallas Stars

4. Los Angeles Kings

5. Phoenix Coyotes


Until next time,


G

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Music to Travel to

It's been a solid 7 months or so since I last did a soundtrack, but trust me, this one has been on my mind since I was in China! So I apologize for not doing one of these sooner, but I hope to make up for it in quality here. So without further ado...

1. Joel Plaskett -- "Nowhere with You". Astute readers may notice right off the bat that I included this in my last soundtrack, but I think that this song may be even more perfect here than anywhere else. This song is energetic and totally encapsulates a travellers mindset of going "nowhere with you", plus the "na na na" part is perfect to listen to while walking down some foreign street

2. The Strokes -- "Juicebox". While many people may not have liked First Impressions of Earth, I think that this song is a great rockfest. The line "Why don't you come over here? We've got a city to love" is a great indication of your early excitement and energy that every traveller starts out with.

3. Led Zeppelin -- "Communication Breakdown". Maybe this is just me relying on my own personal experiences, but I certainly remember being in places where nobody spoke any English and I certainly didn't speak any of the local language. It leads to some pretty hilarious moments where communication sure breaks down.

4. David Bowie & Trent Reznor -- "I'm Affraid of Americans". Nothing against people from the good ol' U.S. of A, but this is a wicked song. I put this song in here not only because it is amazing, but because it refers to the stereotypical "Ugly American" tourist. You know the type, the person who wants everything to be just like things are back home...I hate people like that. And for the record, some of the worst tourists I have ever met were Australian and Canadian....

5. Kaiser Cheifs -- "Oh My God". This song is perfect for that moment you realize just how far away from your friends and family you are. Listen to the line "Oh my God, I can't believe it, I've never been this far away from home..." and you'll know that you are not the only one to feel that way. By the way, check out Lily Allen's cover of this song if you get a chance, maybe I'm biased, but it's great!!

6. LCD Soundsystem --"North American Scum". This is for the time when you realize that you, yourself have become a bit of an "Ugly American" tourist, trust me, it'll happen at least once. By the way, I posted this video here once before and if you missed it, be sure to check it out.

7. The Dandy Warhols -- "Everyday Should be a Holiday". Great song, great band. This is one of those songs for the moment when you realize that you will, one day, have to return home to your dreaded "real life".

8. The Shins -- "Sea Legs". Here's were the playlist starts to slow down a bit. It might be a bit too sad for you, but I think the line "And we got sea legs and we're off tonight", is a good one for nomads everywhere.

9. The John Butler Trio --"Nowhere Man". It's a song about being nowhere in particular, it ties into the opening song on this list and is a great way to sum up those long bus/train trips when you feel like you aren't anywhere.

10. Broken Social Scene --"Looks Just Like the Sun". I could have easily put all of You Forgot it in People on this list, the album just blends itself to staring out a window of a train, but I think that this song might be the best one for this list. Mainly because of those long overnight hauls when you first see the sun and you're not sure if it is really there because you are so freakin' exhausted.

11. The Arcade Fire -- "No Cars Go". You all know how much I love Neon Bible, so of course I was looking to include a song on this list! But this one is perfect, I swear! It's about finding places where "No Cars Go", which is something you will certainly want once you get sick of all of those crowds and souvenir stands.

12. Sigur Ros -- "Untitled" (aka "Njósnavélin" aka "The Spy Machine" aka "The Nothing Song"). Really any song off of ( ) is a great choice, I just took my personal favourite here. For those not familiar with this album, it is sang entirely in Vonlenska, a language which the band made up. This album needs to be represented on any travel playlist because it so wonderfully demonstrates the ability to communicate without common language. You listen to the words and you have no idea what they mean, but you can clearly understand the point that they are trying to make. There are so many moments that this happened to me in China that have left a pretty drastic mark on my psyche, and this album will always make me think about them.

13. Michael Franti & Spearhead -- "I Know I'm Not Alone". The chorus says "Even though I'm far from home, I know I'm not alone", sums up everything from the bond between travellers to any connections you have with someone back home.

14. Feist --"It's Cool To Love Your Family"...and Feist makes yet another of my playlists, thus making it even more likely that her and I will be wed some day. Anyway, this is a great song to justify feeling homesick but not wanting to loose any face by admitting that you miss your mommy, chances are every other traveller has at one point or another.

15. Simon and Garfunkel -- "Homeward Bound". It's finally that time, time to head on back home. It's always a bitter sweet time, but Simon and Garfunkel will help you ease that transition with this classic.

16. Kanye West featuring Chris Martin -- "Homecomming". If you haven't heard this song go and buy Graduation right now!!! Not only will you get a great album but you will put 50 Cent that much closer to retirement. Anyway this unlikely duo come together to put out a really great song that mixes West's rapping and Martin's incredible vocal talents. They talk a lot about coming home and in the chorus the Coldplay front man asks "Do you think about me now and then?", which will tap into any traveller's concern that maybe they've been forgotten while they've been gone.

17. Johnny Cash --"I've Been Everywhere". I know there are about a zillion versions of this song, but I've always been partial to Johnny's. It's a great song to reminisce about your adventures to, which is clearly one of the most important parts of travelling.

Alrightie I think that's about all, let me know if I missed any big ones. Also, does anyone have any suggestions out there for future soundtracks? If so, let me know, I'd love to hear them!

Until next time,

G

Archieved Playlists

Music to Break-up to
Music to Wallow to
Music to Swoon to

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Some Good Advice All Around...

I recently saw this video by Dan le Sav vs. Scroobius Pip, called "Letter from God" which has some pretty wicked advice which I thought everyone could use...I hope you enjoy.



I particularly enjoyed the part about "seeing this problems but giving them little worth", maybe we should pay attention to such problems after all...ohh DJ's when will you stop being right? By the way, if you haven't heard the song "Thou Shalt Always Kill" by these guys...remedy the situation STAT.

Until next time,

G

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Glen and Troy Pre-Season Predictacular - Southeast

Hey remember these? Well you can be excused if you have forgotten about these since both Troy and I have been having some pretty tough conflicting schedules. Anyway, after a few weeks we continue our preview of the NHL's separate divisions as we look at the last and least division, the South East. Enjoy...


Glen says:

Ahh the Eastern Conferences bastard cousin, the SouthLeast...errr Southeast Division. A division which has been lucky to get two teams into the playoffs, but seems to be full of recent Stanley Cup Champions, so very bizarre. Anyway, last year's division champions, the Atlanta Thrashers, broke the tradition of winning the Southeast and winning the Cup by getting swept out by the New York Rangers. Many of the teams in this division tinkered with their teams, but none of them made full make-overs.

The Washington Capitals, home of the NHL's most exciting duo of players who share the same first name, Alexander Ovechkin and Semin, where definitely the team that came the closest to a full-scale overhaul. They were able to add Tom Poti, Vicktor Kozlov, and Michael Nylander to give them some much needed depth, and they should be a very competitive team this season. While they drastically upped their offence, I think that their defense is still lacking, and one must also wonder just how much longer Olaf Kolzig can keep playing. The brother is 37 years old after all. I think that a late season push will be in order for the Caps, but ultimately I see them falling short of the big dance.

Speaking of falling short, we have last seasons kings of crash and burn, the Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers massively paid too much for Keith Tkachuk, only to see him go right back to St. Louis. They replaced him up front with uhhh...Todd White? That's a huge step down and I think that over the long term this team will regret trading away for ol' Keithy, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I think that the Thrashers will once again have a good regular season courtesy of Kovalchuk, Hossa, and Lehtonen. I could see them making some big trades in the regular season to try and shore up for the playoffs. When I look up and down this division a bit more I can say with confidence that these guys will take the title, which really doesn't say a heck of a lot.

Also on the crash and burn front we have the 2006 Stanley Cup Champion, Carolina Hurricanes. It's hard to look at the roster and believe that this is the team that overcame some pretty tough odds en route to hoisting the hardware some 15 months ago. They really didn't make a ton of changes in this past off-season, which probably means that they will once again miss the playoffs.

Does anyone remember when the Florida Panthers last made the playoffs? I think that it was in the year 2000 when they got stomped out in the first round by the eventual champion Devils. Anyway, their run of early season golf tournaments should continue a little bit longer. While Richard Zednik was a solid addition and Thomas Vokoun could be a great one, it won't be nearly enough to get them over the hump. Still this team has a promising young defence and a capable coach in Jacques Martin, so they will probably spend the year in the spoiler role. Not a bad role, but nowhere near the role that they will want to be in.

The Panthers cross-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been much more successful in recent years, including a Stanley Cup in 2005. However, since the Lockout they have been in a fair amount of trouble and I think that it all comes from their insistence on keeping their "Big 3" of St. Louis, LeCavalier and Richards. While all three of them are fantastic players, every season they seem to loose more and more of their supporting cast as this season they lost Fedotenko and Sarich. Richards spent most of last year underachieving in a bad way and his name kept surfacing in a series of trade rumours and you have to wonder just how much longer he will remain a member of the Bolts. Either way, he needs to step it up from last season in a bad way. There really is only so much that the other two can do in order to keep this team competitive. I think that this team will have a long season and will probably not be playing this spring.

So this division continues to be kind of lame but I think that it will end up looking like this:

1. Atlanta Thrashers
2. Washington Capitals
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Carolina Hurricanes
5. Florida Panthers


Troy says:

Well this division is usually the suckiest in hockey and this season will most likely be no different. For the most part the teams stayed pat in the off season with Washington making the biggest changes. By the way, I'm aware that two of the last three Cup winners were from the Southeast but that doesn't matter because I refuse to acknowledge Tampa Bay and Carolina as Stanley Cup Champions. Suck my balls.

Washington Capitals.

First thing, the Retry unies.....lovin' it!! Second thing...Kolzig....is he still kickin'? Good on ya mate. Ovechkin and Semin are bona fide superstars and if you look through NHL most dynasty teams have a great One - Two punch. It's certainly too early to be tossing the word dynasty around but nonetheless this team could be very good very soon. Washington did a lot of work in the off season adding a lot of veteran leadership which should blend with the youthful exuberance and make this team tough to play against.

Atlanta Thrashers

Well last season was a bitter sweet one for the Thrashers. They made the playoffs for the first time, and paid a heck of a high price to make it, but then they lost to the Rangers in four straight. That's gotta hurt. Worst of all their star acquisition, Keith Tkachuk, went right back to St. Louis in the off season. Dems da breaks I guess. They replaced Tkachuck with Todd White. I like Todd White, but a Tkachuk he is not.

The good news is that they play in the Southeast which is a division Glen and I could win blindfolded with both hands tied behind our backs. (We all know I would carry that team, Glen's just the eye candy. He's got no heart) So considering their competition Atlanta should take this division but unless they add something major during the season they will most likely fall flat on their face as they did last season. But again, things can't be all that bad when you've got the likes of Kovalchuk and Hossa upfront with Lehtonen manning the net.

Carolina Hurricanes

You can argue that the fact that a team can win the cup one year, and then miss the playoffs the next is a testament to the parity in the league now which may have a slice of truth attached to it but I prefer to think that it's a testament to how Carolina just plain sucks. But perhaps I'm biased. Either way it was a rather large embarrassment for the Canes and what did they do to remedy the situation? Precisely nothing. The added Matt Cullen but I don't see him being the catalyst they need. This is probably going to be a tough year to be a Hurricanes' fan.

Florida Panthers

Glen seems to have a rather gloomy outlook on this team but me not so much. This is a team with a lot of solid young talent. Jokinen, Horton, Weiss, and Bouwmeester all had career years and if they continue to realize their potential they could get good fast. You put Tomas Vokoun in the net and this team could give some head coaches a headache or two. This team could be nipping at heels when it comes playoff time.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Statistically last season was great for Lecavalier and St. Louis but not for Richards. He was consistent, but didn't put up the numbers expected of him which made it a tough year for the Lightning. Rumours abounded this off season about where the "Big 3" would end up but in the end GM Jay Feaster kept them all together while trying to bolster the supporting cast. Unfortunately I'm not sure they actually improved at all over the off season so the only way this team will better last year is if the Big 3 carries the team on their shoulders. How long can they keep doing it? Well we'll soon find out. The goaltending ever since Khabibulin left has been inconsistent to say the least and Feaster did nothing to address this. Look for this to be a long season for TBay.

Here's how I see it shakin' down.

1. Atlanta Thrashers
2. Florida Panthers
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Washington Capitals
5. Carolina Hurricanes

Can't say I copied you this time Glenny!!!
Glen says:
Until next time,
G
Achieved Division Previews
Western Divisions Coming Soon....

Monday, September 17, 2007

It Ain't Easy Being Green - Take 1 - Pacifism

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a practicing vegan. In the nearly three years that I have been "this way" I have had to defend my choices on a routine basis. I don't know if it is because I have recently uprooted (yet again) and made a whole new peer group (yet again) or for other reasons, but I find myself defending my choices much more frequently in the past little while. As a result of this, I have decided that I will start a new feature here on my blogeroo (yet again), where I discuss some reasons why I am indeed a vegan. I realize that a few times before I have posted some news related articles about animal cruelty, but these posts will be less anecdotal and a bit more serious. Before I start, I would like to thank my good friend and long time hero, Kermit The Frog, for inspiring my title, God bless you frog, God bless you.

I guess I need to talk a bit about myself before I explain this reason. While I tend to act pretty off the wall sometimes, I consider myself to be a pretty mellow person at heart. While I am passionate about many things, I rarely ever get honestly or truly angry at anyone. As a result of this, I haven't been in a fight since Grade 4. I find violence to be completely unnecessary in the vast majority of cases and I think that the more level headed approach is often the best one. I guess what I am trying to say here is, at the very core of my beliefs and value systems I consider myself to be a pacifist.

Editors Note: If I may, I would like to take a moment to meta-blog here. I have a feeling that any of you out there who eat meat (omnis as I call "you people") are wondering when I will get to the point, but any of you out there who are vegans/vegetarians are realizing that I have already proven my point. Anyway, back to the point...

Violence is rarely about causing pain, it is rarely about proving a point, it is rarely about emotion, it is often about one thing, power. It is about taking the power from the victim and giving it to the perpetrator. It is a way of forcing your will upon another at the purest most basic of level. I have been a firm believer that might does not make right, and I hope many of you are as well.

What does this have to do with not consuming animal products you ask? Well, omnis out there, raise your hand if one of your main reasons for eating meat is because you like the taste...if 99.99999999999999% of you out there don't have your hands up then you are either filthy liars or not playing along with my game, and what fun is that?

So if you eat meat because you like the taste, then you eat it because you want to. Your will is to eat the animal's flesh. No matter how smart or dumb you think that an animal is, they all have the most basic desire when confronted with a potentially lethal situation "I am going to die, I don't want to die". When you kill that animal to eat it (or have someone else do it for you) you are clearly forcing your will upon that animal.

How can you justify violently forcing your will upon something? Is it ok because we have the canine teeth and technology? If so then that sounds like justifying something because you have the means and the power to do so. So does that mean then that might makes right?

It never has to me, and it never will.

I'm going to close with a video here called "Meet Your Meat", which shows just how violently animals can be treated en route to your plate. I warn you, it contains some very graphic footage.



Until next time,

G

Take 1 - Pacifism
Take 2 - The Environment
Take 3 - Pesticides, and Poo, and Pus, Oh My!
Take 4 - Distribution of Resources

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Further Cosmetic Changes

So I think that I'm finally happy with how my blog looks now. As you probably noticed I have been playing around with the logo at the top of your screen right now, and I like the one that I've got...for now.

Also, if you scroll down a bit and look at your right you will notice a couple of amazing things that I added courtesy of last.fm, which is something that I first talked about several months ago. First off, I have gone back to the "Top Artists This Week" since I am once again regularly connected to the webernets, and I have also added two separate players. The top is my own personal playlist of songs that I have added for your rockin' pleasure, and the seconds is a radio station that the site allows users to set up, I simply decide on an artist and it will play songs by that artist or ones that are similar. So I proudly introduce my first Artist of the week, a wonderful band called The Guillemots, who were recommended to me by a travel buddy, Stephen, back in May, and I finally got around to listening to them. So check back on a semi-regular basis to listen to whoever I have been listening to of late.

I hope that you like the changes I have made to the blog, I think that it will be the end of them...for now....

Until next time,

G

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Heel Heat - Episode 3




Gorgeous Glen: What's this, an actual regular occurrence of Heel Heat? Shocking I know...but what's even more shocking is the card that the WWE has managed to put together for Unforgiven tomorrow evening! Today, Tenacious Trav and I will give it a look and offer our usual insights and predictions.

Our snazzy new logo up there is a tribute to one of the greatest tag teams of all time. So we'll start with one of the tag team title matches being featured on tonight’s card. We are going to see two of the WWE's best young teams, Cade and Murdoch, and London and Kendrick go at it tonight. I think that Cade and Murdoch have been absolutely golden since their feud with the Hardyz in the spring. I LOVE their quest for "sportsmanship" only to turn evil at the right moment. Great heel work there! But in order for those characters to develop they need to loose the title to Londrick via some sort of rule breaking by the faces, so London and Kendrick in an upset!

Tenacious Trav: I'm not sure I’m sold on the rednecks as being as 'golden' as you describe, Glen. Furthermore, I'm concerned about the lack of a pop that the far superior London/Kendrick tandem are getting on Raw. You've got to wonder what the firing of Cryme Tyme did to this program. Anyway, I see London and Kendrick getting the big W here if for no other reason than to build their credibility and boost their profile with the fans. I think the recent flip-flop at house shows points us in this direction.

In another match from the RAW brand we'll see Beth Phoenix challenge the Women's Champion Candice Michelle. As usual I don't have much to say about women's matches: The Glamazon will become new champ, and I still won't care.

GG: What do you mean the Rednecks haven't been Golden? Do you remember when they turned on the Hardyz? It was some great heeldom!!! Anyway, as usually I disagree with you on the women's division. I think that Beth Phoenix and Candice could be a good starting point to rebuild this division which still hasn't recovered from losing Trish and Lita a year ago. I think that this is very likely going to be a long feud, so it needs to start slow. I think that Candice will win this one by DQ and the Glamazon will look like a she monster.

And in our next match of the evening, we will look at another great heel, MVP. He has been one of my favourite performers in 2007 and is poised to do some big things in the years to come. I LOVE his feud with Hardy, they are doing a great job at taking the old "friendly enemies" storyline and making it new and fresh. I think that this storyline has plenty more steam, so they should be able to retain here.

TT: The question here is when not if MVP will turn on Hardy. I've always found Hardy to be kind of stale but he's not half bad in this angle. I love that MVP insists he's carrying him. Great stuff... much better than the tired storyline of your golden boys of Cade/Murdoch. But I digress; the champs will retain. The division is still quite thin so look for them to hold the straps until another team steps up to challenge D&D.

Coming at us from Smackdown will be the return of the Undertaker. The man's had a remarkable career and I'm still amazed at what he can do in the ring given his age and size. At Unforgiven he'll be facing the complete waste of space, Mark Henry. Imagine what kind of wellness policy WWE could've built had they not signed him to that ten year deal? The Deadman will win in short order, reaffirming his alpha-dog status on the Smackdown brand.

GG: Speaking of tired storylines, The Undertaker gets killed, returns and destroys a big man who is "not affraid of him", lather, rinse, repeat, yawn. So yes, Taker will win for sure. I just hope that he continues his impressive run in the ring that he was having back before this injury.

And as yet another segue way, we have another forgone conclusion as Triple H faces Carlito in a "No DQ for Carlito" match. Triple H is well on his way to his 11th World Title, so he should win this one. I just hope that Carlito doesn't end up looking like a total joke here, however I have my doubts.

TT: I hate it when I agree with you so often... but yes that's my concern as well. It's obvious HHH will win here against a stacked deck, but I hope they keep Carlito strong. He has a massive amount of potential yet it seems the bookers are never high on him. I suppose the positive spin here is that Carlito is still very young and has his best days ahead of him. The same cannot be said for Trips.

So if HHH is on the road to his 11th, CM Punk is trying to retain his very first run as ECW champ when he defends against Elijah Burke. These two are incredibly talented individuals, athletic and with strong characters. I call a CM Punk win and a potential match of the night.

GG: I both agree and disagree with you on this one Trav. First off, yes, these two are phenomenal wrestlers and could end up headlining big PPVs in the future, but right now they are still very much in the mid-card and won't be given more than 10 minutes tonight, so the chance of a match of the night are slim. But yes, we agree once more (damnit!) and Punk will retain here.

That brings us to our next World Title Match, The Great Khali defends his title in a triple threat match against Batista and Rey Mysterio. Now this is the sixth straight PPV where Batista is getting a shot at the World Title, and I think that they finally have to put the title back on him to make sure that he has SOME credibility left. I think that they are going to build up to an eventual Batista Heel Turn and potential feud with Rey, so I see him winning the title here only to lose it to either Edge or Taker in a few months.

TT: Argh. I'm frustrated that we're not parting ways here. I was really hoping you'd predict a Khali victory so that he could drop it to the Undertaker. I too see a Batista heel turn on Rey. Damnit... I can't have yet another prediction agree with yours, so I guess I'll go with Khali. Batista will be so frustrated with another lost opportunity he'll take it out on Rey. The peasants will rejoice. And for the record, I think Elijah and CM Punk can do more in ten minutes than any other match on the card.

This takes us to the final match on the card, WWE Champion John Cena against Randy Orton in a rematch from Summerslam. We all know I'm a huge Orton mark, despite his being 'the Scott Hall of 2007' as a I read elsewhere recently. I suspect this feud is just getting warmed up so I don't think Orton will take the strap just yet. Look for him to win via DQ leading to some sort of cage/cell match in the future.

Also, I just want to add that Orton can be quite believable as an evil son of a bitch

GG: I wonder how much of it is acting...

TT: Probably very little. I suspect he's a lot like me, except he smokes and he weighs a hundred pounds more.


GG: ...and he likes to shit in girls gym bags...er...maybe there are a lot of similarities

Anyway, back to the match...I was starting to get bothered by all of our agreeing, so unheelish of us!!! I have a feeling that you are right about the Orton victory thing, but you know, I think that he's going to get the title here. Apparently the plan was for Orton to take the strap off of Cena at SS, but they couldn't find a finish that they were happy with. I think that the fact that this feud is now personal will take Cena's head out of the game and Orton will capitalize and get the title. It is a perfect chance for it since Sunday will be Cena's 364th day as champion, which is borderline "Legendary", especially for this day and age. So yeah, Orton wins this time around, even if he just gets to keep the belt warm for the Hs.

And I guess that's all of the matches, any last words TT?

TT: I just want to say it's nice to be back on Heel Heat and look forward to it being a regular feature here on your blog. For all of our fans out there, I'll be signing autographs at the BestBuy at Dartmouth Crossing next Thursday from 5-9pm. Be there.

GG: And just an added note, be sure to get there early, the kids LOVE the Tenacious one nowadays...


Until next time,

GG & TT

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Andy, did you hear about this one?"

It's 2007, out Space Odyssey is a good 6 years behind. But with further funding cuts to NASA and the Russian Space Program being a shell of its former self, we stand here looking for someone to stop both Stanley Kubrick and Hannah Barbara from becoming filthy liars. Who should be the one to step up to the plate?

Why who else but the good people at Google! That's right, the people who brought you both Google Earth and Google Sky have team up with the X-Prize foundation to offer $30 million (U.S.) in prize money for private companies to land a robot on the moon and takes some video and pictures (Check out the full article on BBC with all of the details). Part of that money includes $5 million for taking pictures of old Apollo equipment to prove (or disprove?) that yes, the moon landing was real.

So if this is the first step, will the next prize be to a company that sends tourists to the moon? How about setting up a lunar base? How about landing on Mars? What's next after that? While this is all very exciting, I can't help but wonder about the long term consequences in removing governments from space travel. What rules would govern a company that has set up shop on the moon? And what if a corporation is able to set up a base on say Mars before NASA is able to? Does that mean that the company would own that section of the planet and able to set up their own government?

Maybe Chuck Pahalniuk was right in Fight Club in saying "...when deep-space exploitation ramps up, it will probably be the megatonic corporations that discover all the new planets and map them. The IBM Stellar Sphere. The Philip Morris Galaxy. Planet Denny's. Every planet will take on the corporate identity of whoever rapes it first..."

Enough corporate terror talk, I'll give you what you really wanted to see...





Should any of you be interested in attempting to land a robot on the moon here is the promotional poster/link for more information. I warn you though, I've already started finding ways to duct tape my camera to a remote control car. All I need is a rocket and I'll be rolling in the dough.


I never knew that the original moon was outdated, I figured it had served us well for long enough, but what do I know? I guess we need a full lunar upgrade...

Until next time,

G

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Earlier this week we saw the tragic return of Britney Spears to performing as she "sang" and "danced" at the MTV Video Music Awards. The use of quotes was really quite intentional. But I'm not going to talk about how abysmal she performed, I'm sure that you've already heard enough about that over the past few weeks. I am going to talk about some of the reaction that has came to the former Mrs. Federline.



First off, I don't care if anyone calls her talentless, out of shape, washed up or anything else directly related to her performing abilities, because, frankly, they were atrocious. What I do care about is how have dared to call Britney fat. First off, take a look at that picture invading the left side of your screen. Does this woman look fat? Sure she's not quite as toned as she was a few years ago, but let's remember that she has had two children, which would not be easy on a gals weight.


Now I'm not upset about those comments for Britney's well being. I've never met the gal, and don't imagine that I ever will. But this drives me crazy because of the impact people calling Britney fat would have on any women out there. I have known my share of family members/friends/ex-girlfriends/students who have their share of completely unjustified body issues, and it completely staggers my mind. But this completely blows my mind out of the water.


If people are talking about Britney's weight, why is nobody mentioning Timbaland's? He's clearly much bigger than she is...ohh right, he has the wrong type of genitals to be compared to an impossible standard. I have never really got why so many women are compared (either in reality or through their own perception) to some sort of Barbie ideal, while men get off so easy. It's pretty clear that there are many different "types" of ideal male bodies, so those of you who aren't as buff as I am can be compared to say Justin Timberlake instead of a Greek Adonis. However, it is never ever noted that there are many different types of attractive female body types, not all of which are made of plastic.


I am amazed that nobody has really tried to take it to the media for this deathly serious issues - yes, I used the word deathly serious on purpose, check out this article on the growing anorexia rates. They are creating a generation of seriously unhealthy women, both physical and emotionally, and yet they are always in the clear, simply unreal.


I'm just going to close with an odd paradox that I don't really know the answer to. Why do anorexia and bulimia rates keep raising, while the obesity rates are sky rocketing? Doesn't make a lot of sense now does it?


Until next time,


G

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why I Love Yann Martel

Hey there, I was just reading The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, a short story collection written by the author of some of my favourite books, Life of Pi, and Self, and I realizes something. I freakin' love Yann Martel! The man is a great author from top to bottom and I also realized that I haven't done a "Why I Love..." in a long time, so allow me to resurrect an old stalwart here. So allow me to discuss why I love a fabulous author.

1. Unique Ideas -- Really, a son of a zoo keeper being stuck on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a tiger? I can't say that I've ever known anyone who has thought of that one. The title story in The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios is about a man visiting his friend in the hospital who is dying of AIDS, the two of them decide to spend the time writing a story about a family that lives in Helsinki, starting in 1901, and progressing by a year with each installment. But the key is that the story has to have some connection to a historical event, no matter how grand or mundane that takes place during the year. Can't say I've ever had an idea like that...

2. Mastering First Person Narrative -- All of his books are written from the first person perspective. While that point of view can sometimes get troubling, Mr. Martel does a fantastic job of developing his narrators thoroughly and giving them a ton of depth, which brings me too...

3. Poetic Introspection -- I think that this is the only way that I can describe some of the amazing words that he uses to describe the narrators feelings. Including my personal favourite quote from Self, when he remembers the time he first fell in love as a very young boy by saying "Love is the insomnia that wakes you from the sleep of life". Could you describe it better?

4. The Bilingual Dialogue in Self -- I know this will only mean something to people who have read this book, but during many of the conversations, he divides the page into tow columns and puts the dialogue in English and/or French and/or Spanish to show that the character is trilingual. Later on, when he is in a group of people who speak different languages and the narrator is speaking back to them in one of their languages, during this part he puts the narrators speech (in the language) on the left column and the other language (Magyar and Czech are the first ones that I remember) on the left column. It's a cool way to demonstrate linguistic difficulty.

5. This Passage that I Read Today --
"Durable optimism can be the product of only on thing, reason. Any optimism that is unreasonable is bound to be dashed by reality and result in even more unhappiness. Optimism, therefore, must be girded by reason, so that pessimism becomes a foolish, short-sighted attitude. What this means-reasonableness being the inglorious, tepid thing it is-is that optimism can arise only from small, nearly ridiculous, but undeniable achievements."

I've always considered myself a super optimist. I'm glad that someone other there doesn't think that I'm crazy for it.

6. Canadiana -- Sure being Canadian doesn't automatically make him a great author, but it doesn't hurt now does it?

That's about all I've got for now, I really encourage some of you to grab any of Yann Martel's books. You won't be disappointed!!

Until next time,

G

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Obligatory September 11th Post

We all know what happened six years ago today. I wasn't directly touched by the events, so I don't feel as if I have any special insight to provide. Like many of you I found myself glued to the TV, watching with shock, horror, anger, and sadness.

Also, like many of you, my attitudes about these attacks has drifted towards cynicism and my anger has been redirected at those who have misused the tragic events for their own purpose. I think that this, coupled with the time has helped many of us forget something incredibly important. That's that 3000 innocent people where killed that day and that 3000 families and groups of friends were torn apart that day.

I found this phenomenal video on YouTube which puts together the events and newscasts from that day in a wonderful retrospective. I think that the use of "Hands" by Jewel is a wonderful addition, especially the line "In the end, only kindness matters".



Until next time,

G

Monday, September 10, 2007

Day 1, In the Books..

Hey there, just a quick little personal note from me. I just wanted to let anyone interested know that today, I finished teaching my first class as a real, big boy teacher!!! And it went super dee duper well.

Since my primary responsibility is that of a Residential Don, I only teach part-time. So I only had one class to teach today, Grade 8 math. The class went by really well, as we went over some rules/regulations and then I gave them some light work, and I asked them an important question for their math journals "If math were a food to me, it would be...". For the record, I told them it would be soy for me, since it's in everything I do, but is often hidden.

I don't have much else to say to be honest, other than a big thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past couple of year to have helped get me where I am right now. I'd like to thank you all personally, but unfortunately this impersonal blog posting is all that I can do for now.

I hope that you know who you are, because I sure do...

Until next time,

G

Memories of Paris

Welcome to the first of hopefully a long-running recurring feature here at Getting Glenergized, called "Memories of..." where I talk a bit about a place I have travelled to in a reflective/informative way. I realize that there is no better city to start this off with than the epicentre of culture and decadence, Paris.

People who have travelled to Paris seem to be in two distinct camps, the lovers and the haters. I myself am in the former. I was immediately charmed by the city's very distinct culture and role as a traveller's Mecca.

Paris has a reputation for being dirty, both in its city streets and in the behaviour of its citizens. From the stink of the river to the lewd comments you may get walking through Mont Martre, so much of Paris is in your face. As such, I think that it gives off a bad first impression for a lot of people used to the sterile blandness of North America. However, if you deal with these things as they come and try to focus on some positives I think that you will love the city.

Well what's there to love you ask? Well the history, culture, and sights are dead give aways. Clearly you will not find an Eiffel Tower, a Louvre, a Notre-Dame or an Arc de Triomphe anywhere else now will you? But other than those "big four" which are clearly just a given, there are a lot of other wonderful sights to see in Paris such as...


La Defense: This is essentially the "Sky Scrapper" district of Paris located outside of the downtown core. While that doesn't sound all that exciting, it is a haven for odd bits of modern architecture, including a giant "Window to the World" which was intentionally lined up just a little bit off of the Arc de Triomphe, some iron statues of people with no arms or heads, and oddest of all a giant thumb (obviously pictured to your right). Now I just happened to go on a Sunday and the place was completely empty (from what I'm told a sharp contrast to the week days) and I have to say it couldn't have been any better. There I was walking alone through giant sky scrappers and odd bits of modern architecture. The sounds of the trains going by and birds chirping where all that filled the air. I felt like the last man on earth, walking alone through a concrete jungle searching for survival after some future catastrophe. It really was a surreal feeling. So if any of you are going to Paris, I highly recommend you head out this way on a lazy Sunday, you won't regret it.


Père-Lachaise Cemetery: Now normally I hate cemeteries, they really creep me out, but this one was different. It was full of exceptionally old, and incredibly elaborate grave stones lined up as a small miniature city for the dead. The uneven cobble stones and gorgeous view of the sunset from the top of the hill really make you feel like you stepped out of a busy modern metropolis and into a more relaxing time. As if that wasn't enough, there are many graves of (im)famous people strewn about to go and pay particular attention to.


There are two graves that really got my attention, the first is the most famous one, Jim Morrison's grave. I was told by some friends that when they went there were all sorts of old hippies smoking joints all around the grave, paying tribute to Mr. Mojo Risin'. Unfortunately, when I went there was no such thing...ahh well, better luck next time I guess.


The next one was for one of my most favourite authors, Mr. Oscar Wilde, whose grave is pictured to the left. If you look closely at the grave there are a number of spots all over it, those are all lip stick marks, by people who have kissed his grave. Strewn between all of the flowers and notes to Oscar there is a small plaque at the bottom that says something to the effect of "Do not deface Oscar Wilde's grave, it is considered historical property". It also mentions that the grave was restored in the 1990s at some point. I was simply blown away by this. The fact that they have to tell people not to deface it says that it must be defaced on a regular basis, and if it was restored in the 90s, how bad was it before then? It really was interesting to see the way that people paid their respect to a great author.

If you're out and about in Paris I'd also highly recommend the Sacre Coeur, a gorgeous white church which will blow your mind. The modern art Gallery Centre Georges Pompidou is a really odd place, even if you don't want to go in, walk by and see the fountains and the unique collection of people outside. Also, the Catacombs are a really chilling place, walking deep underground through short, narrow walk ways lined with bones is certainly something that I don't do every day.

Paris is also a wonderful place to people watch. I spent a solid 45 minutes sitting outside Notre Dame Cathedral just watching everyone walk by. I was amazed at all of the different types of people that I saw, from busy executives, to swooning honeymooners, to students on trips, to backpackers, to anything in between. Paris is absolutely full of a wonderful assortment of individuals.

So for any of you interested in seeing the best and worst of Europe, I can think of no better place to start or end your journey than the glorious city of Paris. I know I enjoyed it and I'm sure any of you would too.

Until next time,

G

Appendix: Some Links
Blue Planet Hostel: The place I stayed, it's pretty expensive, but prime location, and free breakfast.
Hostel World: Should be your first check for discount places to stay
RyanAir: For anyone travelling Europe, be sure to check out the insanely cheap flights, their "Paris" airport is pretty far away from town but there is a bus that will shuttle you in.
Zoom and Air Transat: Good low price flights from/to Canada.
Lonely Planet: Well duh...