February 24, 2009

This Is Hockey!

Ch 54.
It was an amazing end to the season. Since the trade deadline at the end of February, the Edmonton Oilers have gone from being one of the most volatile inconsistent depressing teams in the NHL to watch, to being something reminiscent from a team from about 2 decades ago.

Nobody would have ever seen this one coming. All seemed so hopeless. Injuries plaguing the entire defence, aging veterans feeling the strain of over-exertion & endless expectations of fans & coaches, a forward line that has combined for only 161 goals (the 6th lowest in the Western Conference) so far, and a goaltender that faces about 30% more shots than his team is able to deliver to their opponent on any given night. Nobody would have seen this coming.

But it happened. It was party due to the economy, partly due to the players' changing attitudes, partly due to Daryl Kaatz taking charge, partly due to Bettman being bought out & finally leaving the league.

League-wide salary reduction was the one key factor in which made Edmonton Oilers transform from a farm-team that only ever develops players' skills to the point that they are good enough to be traded away for more affordable draft picks, into the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions. The dissolution of 12 teams and re-invention of the Winnipeg Jets & Quebec Nordiques made the league incredibly more competitive. The season was shortened by 10 games, and it was made sure that from this point forward, every team would play every other team in the league at least twice each season. No-Trade clauses were enforced (even if Chris Pronger was having a hard time not sleeping with his teammates' wives), but not until this happened:

Ryan Smyth came home.

That's right. The heart & soul of the Edmonton Oilers resumed his leadership role as Captain, sending Ethan Moreau back to being the (appropriate) position of fourth liner. The grit & dedication & determination of Smyth to make his home team thrive in this New League was incredibly appreciated and noticed all around the league, such that other former Oiler greats cued up to join him in Kaatz's organization. Amoung these were Doug Weight, Todd Marchant, Michael Peca, and Eric Brewer. Scott Niedermayer couldn't wait to get away from Mickey Mouse & Chris Pronger: One being a an over-sized smelly rodent that goes around smelling like cheese & living in Fantasyland, and the other being Mickey Mouse. This rebuilt Edmonton team allowed them to annihilate every other team in the league for the last 25 games of the 2009 season. Sheldon Souray was the team's points leader, with 32 assists to Horcoff and 26 to Hemsky at the end of the season.

By having the total team salary cap halved to $25M, players realized that in addition to their materialistic and over-consumeristic ways, their "hollywood days" were finally over. They were going to start to have to playing for the love of the game, just as the Oilers of the 80s did so well. All other pro-sports have yet to understand the implications of this unbelievable over-compensation of our favorite jocks, especially since none other are so physically tolling as hockey is! Yet, despite any abuse on the body, hockey players still understood that these were the necessary steps to take in order to promote the game & make it better. They would only have to get used to having their wives buying the no-name BBQ sauce for a change.

Gretzky cried. Again. Not because he knew his wife was going to be bored commuting between her mansion in that new Windermere development in Edmonton, WEM, and the River Cree Casino, and not because he was about to leave +30°C year round temperatures where there was nothing to do but coach & golf, but because he couldn't make hockey - the only real game - a go of it in the middle of a desert. It was really kind of sad, but after him hearing that Winnipeg was going to become the home of the Coyotes, he was absolutely gleeful & could only offer up the suggestion that the team be renamed "The Prairie Wolves". (since the desert isn't really the prairies)

You see, Wayne Gretzky was incredibly happy to be asked by Daryl Kaatz to become head coach of the Edmonton Oilers and couldn't wait to return with his boys in the Blue & Bronze/(orange) and destroy those desert dogs back in Winnipeg who played with about the same amount of intensity as they did when they were on the golf course.

Todd Bertuzzi & Sean Avery have been spending their spring/summer together in some of Toronto's finest private golf clubs aswell, since Toronto was the only team that would have them; and the players had to donate a large portion of their salaries to local sports charities for kids.For whatever reason, noone wanted to ever play golf with either of them! oh wellll...

But it was playoffs that was the most fun. The Oilers crushed Vancouver in 4 games the first round, Winnipeg Prairie Wolves were swept too, and the Calgary flames were not only swept, but shut out the entire series. In the end, the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 5 games over the Montreal Canadiens, only because in 1 game, Roloson played Left Wing.

- The Changed Rules -

In order to make the NHL better, these rules were incorporated into the league:

- No Touch Icing
- No more Delay of Game penalties for simply clearing the puck from your own end over the boards
- Smaller elbow pads
- Mandatory visors
- Less stick infraction penalties --- let the players skate through hooks, trips
- Goalies can make contact anywhere.
- 16oz glass of Molson Canadian : $5.

February 19, 2009

Chapter 53. People...

PEOPLE, as Social Beings
That word looks funny. It's like the more you look at it & think about it, the stranger it looks. Maybe that makes sense, since PEOPLE are in fact such a funny species. "Haha" Funny? No, more like odd funny. Their habits, routines, expected behaviours and responses. All whack. Those of you who know me well know that I am horrible for constantly generalizing groups of people - it doesn't necessarily have to be any one race, sex, age, class...it's just something that I have been called out on more than a few times. And I accept that as I, myself, am filled with these stereotypes of the whiteboy engineer from a middle-class family still living at home reaping the benefits and privileges that come along with being born and raised in a relatively healthy suburban neighborhood in one of the richest places in the world. (insert witty NOFX quote here). But beyond these cultural stereotypes, I think that I am also ready to generalize the entire human race.

People are overt. They are needy. They are nosey. And for some reason, people just can't seem to help but to seek praise & attention. This is what is natural to them. I suppose it's because they have a soul. A soul is what makes a person different than a machine. This is the premise of Yevgeny Zamyatin's 1920s dystopian novel "We": the human population only ever gets into any of its predicaments because they lack the clarity to see that their soul, imagination, and feelings are getting in the way of realizing the critical path to eternal happiness. By having souls, people (before having any hopeful perspectives about their world around them utterly obliterated thanks to media-induced apathy) have hope in seeing a better world through each other. So by putting oneself out there & allowing his or herself to become vulnerable to other people, that person is conceding to the fact that they have hope in that another person might be able to fill that hole in their soul.

There are a few people out there who have always refused this social aspect of the human experience. Trust me, I did engineering for ever so I know. But even besides my unique group, there are friends who have always been accepted by the masses, yet for whatever reason, felt it was within their own best interests to avoid contact with most other people at all costs. These anti-socials are still very good people and highly respected, and I believe, would be optimistic about the future - despite not "putting themselves out there" for others to poke into their lives and complete them. (yuck - he didn't just use a Jerry Maguire Quote, did he?!)

Poke. Okay sure. Let's go there. People are constantly poking their noses into other people's lives on facebook. One of facebook's trademark's is in fact the "poking" feature itself. It's a way to say to someone, "Hey, I'm checking you out! What is it in your life that's going on that makes you seem so happy! And if you're not, what is it that I can bring to the table to make your life more fulfilling?" This is what facebook exists for. For people's necessity in putting themselves out there and seeking feedback from other people that will either make you feel good about yourself, or your realization of the utter power you have in being able to delete someone from your life with a click of the button. (and also finding out that the Great Lake Swimmers are coming soon to a venue near you!)

Mobile devices work in just the same way: it's putting yourself out there so that other people can invest their time into you.

People are also affected by degrees of separation because of these souls that exist. Compassion and sensitivity allow people to empathize to the hardships of other people. If your sister is sick, you respond. If your sister's husband father is sick, you respond. If your sister's husband's father's healthcare worker is sick, you respond. This is what's natural. It extends farther than you would believe - as far as you allow yourself to open your eyes to the world around you. Poverty and War. It can affect you. You might even react (and do something, or not) if you let it affect you enough. This is what people do.

I am trying to convince myself that I have more to write on this matter, but I think that really all that is left to say is that I don't think this social aspect of people is a bad thing. And I am not offended that most people will not be reading this blog. Take this blog as a simple additive to some of that BS that I have posted in the About Me section on facebook. Take it as an excuse for me to reach out only so far to some of the people I care about, but not enough to actually go out of my way to hang out with them, for example. I am not saying that I am overly anti-social, but rather, if you agree with this stuff I just wrote, you would let me know about so we can continue the conversation. I tend to at least make some attempt in keeping in touch with some of the most magnificent people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. But since it takes two to sustain a relationship of any sort, please let me know what you think as I am a social person too.
Even if you can't stand me.

February 16, 2009

Eco-Terrorism: The Trials & Tribulations of Environmentalists' Fight Against Resource Exploitation

(Ch. 4)

A guy named Andrew Nikiforuk is trying to take your money. He released a book last year called "Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and The Future of a Continent" for approx. $20. Ambitious to write a whole book? Yes, but HELL! There's just soo much damn' money flowing out there around environmental ideas and criticisms that why the hell wouldn't a guy try & redirect some of that cash flow in his direction?!?!

I wrote about this guy before. Before any of this tar sands mumbo jumbo came to the forefront of local headlines. You see, I came across another one of his books at the EPL entitled "Saboteur's: Wiebo Ludwig's War Against Big Oil".

From the start, I dove into this book with an open mind, realizing that Albertan Pride had already prejudiced most people against Wiebo Ludwig. He was, after all, involved with the slaying of a 16 year old girl, and noone likes to hear about murders - especially when it involves children.

Nikiforuk wrote from a fairly objective & open perspective that tried encompassing the many curious events surrounding Trickle Creek in and around Peace River, Alberta through the early-mid 90s. He got the story from detectives in the RCMP, ERCB (then EUB), neighbors, family members, oil field workers, and the bigshot gas company CEOs based in Calgary. In the end, he really conveyed the idea (to me, anyways) that injustices to the Ludwig family had been done, and that a man truly can only be pushed so far in a corrupt system that only cares about one thing.

Oil wells were bombed, oil field equipment vandalized, signs destroyed, serious threats, and less intimidating and menacing speeches and declarations made. A lot of sneaky work and timely investment & research had been done in order to get the things accomplished that were indeed accomplished.
So eco-terrorism is the word that is thrown around to describe these extreme things that an environmental group or person might do in order to make a substantial point about something that needs to be addressed, or is repeatedly and intentionally over-looked, for the sake of the health of people or the environment. ON THE OTHER HAND, a viewpoint expressed in the book is that eco-terrorism is actually the act of having sour gas flares poison the community and the livestock on which that community depends.

But I digress. I have been 20 years in Alberta and know that the only way that we can remain as a happy happy happy rich rich rich province is if we continue to cut into the earth.

We have nothing else!

Actually, that's a bunch of shit. Alberta truly has some of the most beautiful and diverse environments that I have ever seen, although I am a tad biased. It's just that Albertans have a different set of values, that rises from the days of hard labour of working the earth through the 20s and 30s as farmers. In 1947, Leduc #1 opened up a whole new realm of opportunity for people to get rich in the oil business rather than the typical wheat, flax, & canola harvesting. And even before that, people were attempting to remove the sand from the oil a few clicks north. Sixty years later, this business is bigger than ever.

Recently, Greenpeace Alberta has gained some momentum. It's current leader Mike Hudema (BLaw, BA Teaching (majoring in Drama, go figure)) seems to have some sort of idea of what he'd like to see happen with the current state of the oil business, as unfathomable as his ideas might be as far as economic growth is concerned. But despite any extreme viewpoints or tactics he might be using, at least issues about environmental degradation are getting talked about. In Saboteurs, however, it becomes extremely evident that fighting government supported oil industry is a losing fight; despite repeated outcries of opposition to any additional drilling. So much so, that a person will eventually lose enough sanity to take the government's law into his own hands. And it's happening again. In Dawson Creek (on the Alberta-B.C. border) there was a late-night explosion at a natural gas wellhead last October. But no alleged suspects (if they have any) are being released to the public.
So health issues.
People are resilient. They don't need a lot to survive. They can do alright with minimal food, water, sanitation services, clothing, money... The difference being that those of us that, for example, can afford to benefit from a Privatized Healthcare System, will thrive with the best treatments and opportunities for ideal health. And the rest of us? We be f$#@ed. That is the prominent thing that should be getting our government's attention. The Fort Chipewyan residents have found to have disproportionately high rates of immune system diseases and cancer by prominent regional doctor, Dr. O'Connor. The thing is that Ft. Chip is just downstream Lake Athabasca, which happens to be the majority of the source water for the oilsands operations in the area. There is a lot of headaches and disagreements about the environmental impact from the mining operations and the health effects on the locals. Then again, when tailings ponds can kill ~500 ducks, it's hard to believe that 100% mitigation can be taken to guarantee that people aren't being poisoned the same way, however so resilient they may be.

Bambi in the Bucket of a Bobcat

Besides the health side of things, we are watching the environment of our beautiful province turning more & more into the Land of Mordor. Building and Burning. Continual expansion: industrial sprawl, paving into the country & driving the wildlife away. There's bear killing going on, since the bears are getting in the way of industrial progress and sprawling urban development. And we are idly watching the replacement of habitat with paved roads, clouded skies, dried and filled wetlands. Caribou populations dwindling. This is happening everywhere: hectare by hectare.
The land footprint according to March 2009 National Geographic of all oilsands development in Alberta is 150 square miles. This equates to .01% of the total area of the Canadian boreal forest.
Small, yet devastating.
When Edmonton tears up its northeast soil belt for the sake of building 6 oil refineries in what is destined to become "Upgrader Alley", more farming habitat: lost forever.
And when the building of a new sour gas well (the sweet gas is gone) is approved for just beyond Calgary's city limits (or is it that Calgary's urban sprawl is reaching the foothills where the wells just happen to be being built now?): more emissions.

There is oil under lakes, like Maria Lake, that is constantly being surveyed & studied by geotech's who really wanna get under that lake & say that people & habitat won't be affected. Public pressure has saved our lakes so far, but as resources get depleted and prices go up, potentially devastating that lake will become a more & more viable option to many.

The bottom line of all of this is that we need new enforceable governmental legislation that caters to the interests of the people rather than companies. The existing system ensures that the few involved in industry will continue to get rich and increase the economic disparity amongst the classes, including even the middle-class having a harder time of breaking even. With this new enforceable governmental legislation, we will also have "to invent the corrective feedbacks that are needed to keep custodians (=politicians) honest" (Hardin, 1968). Only then will we be living in a province that we will not feel morally detached from, as we continue to destroy the land, air, and waters all around us.
Marx. The people's revolution. It may still happen. A person really can be pushed so far. Increasing numbers of anarchists and revolutionaries resisting this conservative occupation will get noisier and noisier. We all know that there is a dire need for emission reduction and environmental protection, and only with time will we start seeing these people rising from the ashes and fighting the system back with a vengeance. Unless we get four hundred dollar rebate cheques.
I bought Nikiforuk's Oilsands book before Halloween and haven't read it yet. Maybe I will go do that now.


February 3, 2009

Chapter 41: I Hate Hate Haters

Frick. Another song title rip-off? By that crappy NOFX band too?! Seriously? Hey, if you don't like it, go join Al Quaeda! (shakes angry fist in the air) Another Craig Ferguson quote? Is this guy for real?!

Yes, yes, I am sad to say that this is in fact "for real". But "why?!" you may ask! I'll tell you why! Cuz not enough people do. Do what? Do anything.

Complacency*. Such a horrible descriptor. Complacency = Empathy + Ignorance. It's to be sooo okay with the status quo, that even the idea of thinking about inequality is too much of a pain in the ass. It is simply better to say "Awww, well that's too bad...and I sure as hell won't be the one (to sacrifice my lifestyle) to do anything about it."

So what I am suggesting here is that people lose some level of selfishness. I suggest that they replace it with at least some level of compassion. Or even, just: passion.

I know for certain that some passionate people simply lack the ability to articulate or express their feelings of some issues they really care about. Instead, they might simply wear a yellow "livestrong" wristband, or maybe get a tattoo of Jesus on the Cross, for example. All those dull & monotone people out there should at least try to work on at least some form of communicating themselves for the benefit of some social justice issue they might have at least some interest in. It doesn't matter if it's the environment, animals, racism, sexism, homophobia, AIDS, poverty, political transparency...whatever!

But instead, these very able-bodied individuals go ahead through their daily routine, heads down, mouths shut, fists unclenched by their sides...

But What's With Not Hating The Hate?

My feelings towards hatred are such that, sure, love all around is nice & dandy: hippies & flowers, rainbows & kittens, muffin top sunshine, dooo deeeee doooo daahhhh la-la-la, skip-to-the-loo my cheekey monkeys, n'all. (what?!)

But that's not real life.

At times like these, with such a MESSED up population base, we just have to channel the hatred that currently exists into a more positive direction. We have to use our ANGER to hold those accountable for our underlying unhappiness. And guess who's accountable? The government, of course! I mean, the LOVE has to be reserved for family members & dearest of friends, but the government?! Oh, come onnn! Saying you love your government is like saying reading this blog is more satisfying than the pictures you are looking at in the other internet explorer you have open right now! Being hateful is to be passionate. With such an apparent lack of PASSION, and yet sooo much HATRED, doesn't it just make sense to try and manipulate the one into playing into the other?

So let's bring this back to music once again to try & get my point across:

Atreyu: Hate can be a postive emotion when it forces you to better yourself!

The Offspring: I hate the jocks, I hate the geeks, I hate the trendies, But I also hate the freaks. I hate your band, And I hate TV, I'm only happy when I'm in my misery - It's cool to hate

NoFx: Hatred is not so bad when directed at injustice. You can turn the other cheek, just don’t turn the other way.

Metallica: Don't waste your breath, And I won't waste my hate on you

George Strait: I hate everything

Muse: Hate this and I'll love you

oh, and 1 more that we better not leave out:

"Always Hate Hippies!"

So yes, hate, hate away. Hate me for feeling this way, criticize & critique me. Judge me & get angry. Just please do something. REJECT MORE. QUESTION EVERYTHING. NEVER STOP.


1. C = E + I
2. E = C * I
3. I = C - E
I think all of these make logical sense.
1. A person that is totally resolved with the life he/she is leading is likely ignorant. This person usually has a very low sense of empathy (maybe even E = 0), which would allow for C = I.
2. A person that loses the ignorance but is aware of the issues will tend to see C decline as E goes up. (inversely proportional relationship)
3. A person who has no decency, sould, compassion or sense of reality in present day society is likely complacent, with essentially E = 0, or I = C.
these might need some refining.

February 2, 2009

Hole Filler

Hole Filler
(I will fill your void, Ch. 39)

When you are feeling down & blue,
I will always be there for you.
When the sun won't come out and shine,
I'll bring you lightbulbs - the indoor sunshine lighting kind.
Those days when the piano just sounds out of key,
You can come laugh at my singing - at karaoke!
If you're ever caught wearing some mis-matched socks,
I'll remind you your brain's still bigger than most jocks'.
If having an impact is what you are trying to do,
Don't get discouraged by those short-sighted few.
And when you get shut down & out from him once again,
Always know that I will be your friend.

Okay. So there we go. What a cute (pathetic) little rhyme. I knoooowww!!! Talk about cheesey. But I gotta just say this: How frustrating must it be for a guy who is so stupidly reasonable, patient, open, & do I daresay lonely, to be frustrated by women time & time again. I am not speaking of myself, or any one man in particular, but rather, of all the good guys out there that just can't seem to find themselves in any sort of substantial relationship in his past decade of living. What is it that we (yes, I include myself in this group) are missing? How many *ahem* short-comings have to accumulate before the self-esteem of these men is driven so low that they terminally resign themselves to the fact that they will likely be alone forever? A guy can only put himself out there so much, you know (unless he's a dancer, I think), and when he lacks the resources like: charm, good looks, personality, style, or depth (or length) ((what?!)), what really can he do? Alcohol. (well, duh!!)

I try to convince myself that men really shouldn't need liquid courage in order to talk to the opposite sex. Genuine relationships that might last are based out of first impressions, true; but also, if those first impressions are essentially skewed by babbling alcohol-induced nonsense, then what would a woman with a cool & collected head on her shoulders really see in that? The only chance that the pair really even has is that she is already SOOO effing loaded, that she doesn't see him as an afraid little boy without a clue in his mind as to what he might possibly have to offer her, but rather just go for that One Good F*#@. Then again, I am drinking right now, so all of this is really a bunch of shit.

So as a result this is what you see: middle-aged middle-class career-minded single men, that only can dream of the day that they have enough money in their bank accounts to attract some piece of hot tail half their age. No kidding. If that's not the case, you see the most reasonable of men lowering their standards to such a level that they impregnate the next woman that'll spread'm for him. Like come on! Maybe I am wrong in that these men in fact ARE realizing their own maximum potential and enjoying what they can, while they are still young enough to enjoy anything at all, without the arthritis creeping in, that is...

But as for me, in the meantime, I will continue to go around filling the voids that are in her life. I will be that friend - that confidant and muse. I will tell her funny stories and listen to her complain about the weather. I will be that shoulder for her to cry on and that wallet that can always afford that 1 extra drink @ closing time. A whore, essentially. It's exhausting. She knows it too, but just the same, feels like she owes him nothing more than the occasional phone call or text (which she is perfectly right about, by the way). Even though she thinks about him more than she cares to admit. One day though, as persistent patience plays itself out, he will truly find That One that he has always dreamt about all his life. And when it happens, he won't understand how, why, who, what things in all of thuniverse could have possbily transpired to get him - them - to this stage. Especially after all of this time. All of this patience. And headaches. Loneliness.
(what an emo-ass whiny little bitch - like FUCK. note to self: drink mickey of rum to self this weekend.)