Sunday, 7 February 2016

There's Something in the Water, pt. 1

There’s got to be something in the water.

Specifically, in Edmonton, Alberta, and Newark, New Jersey.

More specifically, the drinking water in the NHL arenas at those locations.

Why would I say such a thing?

Let’s first take a look at the more well-known case of the Edmonton Oilers. Almost 10 years ago, the Edmonton Oilers surprised many by making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes. Though they ended up losing, it was a miraculous run from a team that entered the post-season in 8th place in the Western Conference. It wasn’t that surprising that they made the playoffs; with some good young players who were developing perfectly, a very good captain in Ryan Smyth, a future Hall of Fame defenseman in Chris Pronger, as well as a rag tag group of slightly above average goalies, they were a decent team that could steal the odd game. It seemed as though they were taking over as the next great team from Canada, as the Calgary Flames had impressed in years before, but fallen significantly by 2006. The Oilers were ready to compete again after several years of mediocrity.

Except that was the last time the Oilers made the playoffs.

Everything started falling apart almost immediately after losing to the Hurricanes, starting with Hall of Fame defenseman Pronger demanding to be traded, saying that it was too much pressure to be in Edmonton. Next, Smyth was traded to the shock of many fans and seemingly for Smyth as well. The combined income of those trades were 2 first round picks, a second round pick, and 4 former first round picks. For being put in a difficult situation, it could have be argued that the Oilers came out alright. I definitely thought so back when it happened.

However, I now know how everything turned out.

After Pronger left, everyone seemed to want out. Gone were all the veterans that had been signed for their playoff run. Only one stayed, that being 40 year old goalie Dwayne Roloson. He was the playoff darling, turning the 8th place Oilers into the beast they became. Even being close to death (by NHL standards), he was thought to be the next starter in Edmonton.

He wasn’t.

They ended up finishing in the lowest position in 10 years of team history, but landed them a high pick of their own to add to the two from the trades. Of those picks from the trades, not one player made any significant impact on the roster. That’s rough luck, but explainable, since the draft is often more luck than anything. It’s incredibly lucky, then, to have 3 first round picks in one year and all of them turn into busts.

Of the players acquired in the trades, only one stuck it out for any amount of time, and he wasn’t really that good. Two turned into good players…after they were traded again to other teams. The return for those players were more picks and players that turned into busts and good players elsewhere. So if you’re keeping score, that’s 8 high-end prospects that fizzled out while in Edmonton. Some went on to figure things out later, while others shriveled up and died.

That’s an incredibly unlucky year for the Oilers. And it seems as though they never fully recovered.

2008 – Oilers do slightly better than the year before, still miss the playoffs. They land a Western sniper and Canadian World Junior hero by the name of Jordan Eberle in the 21st pick. So far, it seems to be working out. They also steal (almost literally) a young player from Anaheim, which gains their GM much criticism. It turns out, he wasn’t worth all the trouble.

2009 – Another bad finish, leaving them to pick 10th overall. They pick Magnus Paarjarvi-Svensson, who couldn’t crack 20 points or 50 games. They also try to acquire budding star Dany Heatley from Ottawa, but he refuses to go to Edmonton, even though he grew up in Alberta. Ouch.

2010 – The Oilers finish with their worst record in their franchise history, giving them first overall. They pick Taylor Hall over Tyler Seguin, who some thought they might take instead. Both have turned into very talented players, though Seguin has put up more points and has a Stanley Cup ring. That may have to do with his teammates, however. The Oilers officially enter into their rebuild, sending away anyone who could get them anything, including buying out one of the contracts they originally acquired in the Smyth trade in 2007. And he was originally taken 15th overall. More ouch.

2011 – Again, the Oilers finish dead last. They go for a skinny center from Red Deer named Ryan Nugent-Hopkins over Swede Gabriel Landeskog and future Calder (best rookie) winner Jonathan Huberdeau. Though he’s performed below expectations, he’s still the most second prolific scorer of that draft year (behind Landeskog), so I guess that’s ok. They also sign a bunch of gritty veterans, offensive defensemen and former 3rd overall pick. One of those players work out, and only for one season. And it wasn’t the high pick. We are now adding insult to injury.

2012 – Surprise, the Oilers are still the worst. They take another center with Russian Nail Yakupov instead of American defenseman Ryan Murray. Many think this is a dumb move, because the Oilers need defense. Many would still agree, as Yakupov has performed well below expectations. They then signed another former first round pick, defenseman Justin Shultz, who initially showed incredible offensive skills. However, he had few (if any) defensive skills, and he has regressed. The open would is now festering. Does somebody have any salt?

2013 – Hey, the Oilers aren’t the worst anymore! They make a big jump up to 7th worst and finally take a defenseman with Darnell Nurse. A labour lockout scrapped the first half of the season, but Taylor Hall looked like a legit star in the second. It’s been painful, but the salt is helping. The future seems…bright.

2014 – After 41 games, or half the season, the Oilers are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They take German Leon Draisaitl at 3rd overall in one of the few occasions the Oilers would not win the draft lottery. New coach Dallas Eakins (the 4th new coach since 2009) is fired half way through the season. We told Edmonton not to pick at the scab, but did it listen? We’ve got a full-blown infection again. Hope is all but dead.

2015 – The Oilers once again win the lottery – their 4th time in 6 years – and take prodigy Connor McDavid first overall. He’s spent 37 of the 53 games on the injured reserve so far this year. The Hockey News publishes an article that claims the Oilers could make the playoffs this year, but Oilers fan have cauterized their open sores and have forgotten what winning feels like. Even with McDavid, they are afraid to feel, for fear of breaking their sores open again.

It’s like watching Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happiness. You want to hope for the guy, you really do, but you know that no matter what, he’s not going to be happy. Pity turns to annoyance as he continually is kicked while he’s down.

“Ugh, another high pick is a bust? Didn’t see that coming.”

(I think. I’ve never seen the movie. I have the Oilers to watch, and that’s enough pain for me)

To compare to other teams who have been the worst before, it took 3 of 4 years for Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay to start becoming regular threats to take the Stanley Cup, and have all won it at least once, with Chicago winning it three times and Los Angeles winning it twice. Tampa is the exception, as they do have one cup, but it came just before they started their most recent bout of sucking, and they made it to the finals last year.

There’s got to be another reason other than the worst luck aside from the Maple Leafs.

Well, Edmonton is the farthest North of all NHL cities. With the air being much colder the further north you go, the drinking water would undoubtedly be affected. My best theory suggests that there are microscopic icicles suspended in the water. When drunk, they immediately go to the brain and restrict information channels, especially those that make good decisions possible. This explains poor play by players who then go on to play well other places, or the choices of management on draft day and through trades (if I got into all of that, this article would never end). When players leave for warmer climates, the ice melts, freeing up the decision making parts of the brain. However, if left too long, the brain will go into a perma-frozen state, unable to ever be revived.

The Oilers dynasty may have appeared to bypass these harmful effects, until you look at their post playing careers of many of them. Craig MacTavish, Keith Acton, Dave Semenko, Glen Sather, Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini and even Wayne Gretzky have had their management careers all but terminated because of terrible trades, bad or questionable picks, and continually icing a team that keeps losing. Only Gretzky didn’t work for the Oilers, though. He screwed up the Phoenix Coyotes for a few years, then they recovered. This year, for the first time since 1980, the Oilers have a GM who didn’t play for the Oilers. That should be a good sign for things to turn around.

I mean, on top of the 4 first overall picks they already have that have worked out so well so far. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Ballad of John Scott

Well isn’t this a pickle.

You may have heard, even if you’re not a big hockey fan, about the NHL All-Star Game. I mean, they have one every year. It’s a big event – or, at least, the NHL wants you to believe it’s a big event. It’s really a time for players to show off, have some fun and let lose while playing hockey, and we fans get to watch them do it.

And this year promised to be even more special, depending on your definition of the word. Well, maybe any definition would work. That’s because once again, the NHL had a fan vote to select the fan-favourite player to ensure he would be in the All-Star Game. It’s a chance, the NHL believes (there’s that word again), for fans to elect a hometown hero or a star who just might have missed the cut. Last year, the Latvians all got together and elected their only NHL star Zemgus Girgensons, which might be one of the greatest names in hockey. Though he was talented, he was young and playing on a dreadful Buffalo Sabres team. But he still got to play in the ASG.

Perfect, thought the NHL. This is exactly what we believe the fan-vote should be.

This year, however, fans wanted to outdo themselves. A few people from the popular social networking site Reddit decided that it would be hilarious to have 6’8” goon John Scott play in the ASG. Including this year, he has 11 points in 285 games, averaging about 6 minutes a game on the ice. Definitely not an all-star. In fact, Scott is barely considered good enough to be in the NHL. But when the time came for the fan vote, thousands poured in for poor John of the Arizona Coyotes. At first, we took it for what it was – a huge joke. Even Scott urged voters to pick players more deserving on his team, but his pleas were ignored. Even more votes came in for Scott, and soon, it was over, and John Scott was slated to be the captain of the Pacific Division at the ASG.

So now there was a goon attending the ASG. And, with the people speaking very loudly, Scott decided, “Why not?” and confirmed that he would participate in the game. There was even a cash reward for the winning team this year, making it a bigger draw to go. However, the NHL was freaking out. See, they still believed that the ASG was a competitive game to showcase their biggest stars and that this player would make a mockery of the game.

Wait, what?

Didn’t the NHL put in the fan vote in the first place?

It appears that they forgot to take into account the power of stupidity.

The vote allowed anyone to nominate any player to play in the game. Any player. With enough support, anyone could get in, which is exactly what happened. Most fans had stopped paying attention to the game and watched it not for the antics that their favourite stars would perform. Ovechkin wearing a costume, Malkin dressing him up, Price facing shooters backwards. No one was taking these events seriously.

Well, no one except the NHL.

So now they had a dilemma. They asked Scott to decline the invitation, along with his current team, the Coyotes. But Scott had already decided that it would be fun to be on the ice with the best players in the league. He barely got to do that while playing the regular season. And, to top it all off, he would make $90 000 if his team won. For a player on a league minimum salary, that’s a good chunk of change.

But the NHL wasn’t done. The Coyotes took matters into their own hands by orchestrating a trade with Nashville and Montreal, where they ended up sending Scott to the Canadiens. Though a minor trade, it had huge ramifications, since Montreal is in the Metropolitan division in the Eastern Conference, while Arizona is in the Pacific in the West. Then, Montreal promptly sent Scott to the minors. If changing divisions wasn’t enough, the demotion surely was. Scott was no longer allowed to play in the ASG.

This happened all of one day ago. And, as expected, fans and correspondents are furious. Sure, Scott had no place being in a game where the NHL’s best and brightest compete against each other, and note every fan thought it was a good idea he was there, but the NHL’s fan vote allowed him to be there. It was their mistake, and rather than laugh it off and fix it next year, they decided to crush the hopes of a guy just trying to stick a roster spot in the most brutal fashion. Who knows, this might all but end his NHL career for something he had absolutely no control over. Scott never asked to be voted for. He asked people to vote for other players, because he knew his skill level. You know what’s the saddest part? He even made shirts to give his teammates, and they said, “Thanks for believing in me. Love always, The Captain.”

Talk about the nice guy getting screwed.

Now the shirts are being sold to the public and proceeds will go to some charity TBA, so all is not lost, but the NHL really made a bad situation a million times worse. Maybe it’s my fault for getting my hopes up. I was curious to see how he’d fare against the best players in the league. Are they afraid he’d injure someone? He is a specialist in hitting and punching, but why do that at the ASG? No one is going full steam, and the competition level is pretty low (for a professional sport). It’s like going to the rink with a bunch of guys you’ve known forever, along with some other friends of your friends, when a big guy, struggling to skate, comes up and asks to play with you guys. Sure, you’re hesitant at first. No one knows him, and he looks a bit rough (especially with a smile missing several teeth). But you relent when no one seems opposed, and he joins up, Turns out, he’s the nicest guy on the ice and is there just to have fun. He knows he’s no good, but if that was a deterring factor, he wouldn’t have put them on in the first place. You end up having a great time, and at the end you part ways and are left with a unique experience to remember.

I remember playing in the Briercrest rec league on a team that had this one American on it. Though he was from Minnesota (the American hockey capital), he had barely ever used skates. He still wanted to play, though, so he found a bunch of used equipment and suited up. Sure, we were trying to win games and make the playoffs, but no one had issue with him playing. In fact, we cheered him on. We helped him be a better player. And in his last game, he finally got a goal. He made us a better team, I think, because the focus wasn’t on us. It was on the team, and just going out there and doing our best while having fun. Because when it comes down to it, hockey is a game, and games are fun.
But I’m sure many of you can also remember the hyper-competitive guy on the team who ruins the fun for everyone by going way too hard. I played against a few, both on my team and against. They are all about winning, which makes everyone else more stressed and a loss seems that much worse. In Scott’s case, that guy in the NHL (or Gary Bettman, if you’d prefer a name). He wants everything to be taken super seriously to the point where no one has any fun.

But, alas, what’s done is done. I’ve lost a lot of interest in the ASG after this, and I think a lot of fans are likewise disappointed in how the NHL handled this. So shame on you for giving a poor guy hope them crushing it in his face. I hope you learn from this, and remember,

It’s just a game. 

Link to the shirt here: 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Dear Rachel

Dear Rachel Noltey,

You should know that I’m not mad.

First, let me clarify – we were never going to agree on a lot of things. I’m a fairly conservative minded individual. I like it when our natural resources are developed in order to boost our economy, as that means we can do more good as a province. I like it when the government has less influence in society, and serves as more of a moderator for the big issues. The NDP is pretty much on the other side of the spectrum. And that’s fine. We don’t have to agree.

When you were elected as the Alberta premier, I was a bit disappointed. Sure, you would not have been my first choice, or second or probably even third. But you won, and there’s not much I can do if I didn’t vote. I’ve been stuck in Saskatchewan for the last year-ish, so I’ve settled as an observer. And initially, I was somewhat optimistic about Alberta’s future. I expected the NDP to implement some more liberal policies while in power, but I also figured that an NDP government wouldn’t try to upset too much of what a long standing Conservative government had previously set up. Alberta had a conservative leader for over 40 years, and the people supporting them don’t just disappear. So, a smart government would work with the conservative-minded Albertans while trying to change some things they can. I can accept that.

But we immediately got off on the wrong foot when your new cabinet was announced. Of the new leaders listed, none of them were from Alberta or represented Alberta values. Some weren’t even Canadians. It was obvious from the get-go that the NDP’s had one agenda, and that was against the oil sands. That thing that has helped Alberta become one of the most prosperous provinces in Canada. Now, I don’t want to say that what they do is perfect; everyone can improve. But when you bring in outsiders who have no real experience with Alberta’s oil sands, then I know your province’s best interests are not central to your platform. Then you went ahead and said that Alberta was the embarrassing cousin that no one wants to talk about.

That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

You’re the leader of our province. Show some pride in the fact you grew up here. Sure, we may need to improve in some areas, especially if you are of a liberal mindset, but having so much extra money that the premier gives each citizen 400 bucks is a sign of prosperity. So someone was doing something right.

Anyways, you seemed to quiet down after that. Made some big statements, then cooled down. And again, I was cautiously optimistic. Being a future teacher, I see the benefits of having an NDP government in power, as more money will go to hiring new teachers. That sounds good for me. I would like a job eventually.

But now this happened.

This, being Bill 6 and the new Carbon Tax. From what I’ve read, these things are incredibly harmful to Albertans. First, the Carbon Tax is going to put a tax on everything. Not only oil and gas, but everything you buy. Alberta has long prided itself on not having a PST, and that helps boost our economy (I’d imagine) as during the holidays, some people from neighboring provinces come to us to buy things. But if it happens, that’s not the absolute worst thing. You kinda get used to it, like I have in Saskatoon.

Bill 6 makes me mad, though. Through the implementation of union laws, the family farm, where I and thousands of other Albertans grew up, is practically ruined. On paper, the bill looks fairly good. It wants to provide health and safety to farm workers, just like every other job. That sounds alright. But under the pretty surface, you find something a little darker and scarier. To make things safer, child labour laws are implemented, meaning kids can’t legally help out with the farm. They’d need to pass certain courses to be able to operate the machinery, rather than learn from parents and grandparents. They wouldn’t learn the value of hard work because it was their responsibility. Instead, with this bill, they’d be treated as employees.

Ok, so maybe having kids not work on a farm is a good thing, you might think. There’s lots of dangerous machinery and lots of kids have gotten injured or killed in accidents. But if they are treated as employees, then farms have to pay more money to unions and other organizations in order to get the manpower they require. Young workers would receive a salary, which would come from the farm, so they would need to have money for that. Then hours per day comes into effect. Breaks, holidays, etc. Do you know how many holidays wheat or cattle take? None. So guess who else doesn’t take holidays. That would be the farmers who care for them.

Sorry cows. No food today. It’s Christmas.

Farmers learn to be safe enough for the job they’re doing. They knew the risks. Sometimes, accidents happen. But you live and learn. That’s life. And that’s what living on a farm is like. It’s not a job. It’s life. You wake up on the farm, you eat the farm, you breathe the farm, and you sleep on the farm. It doesn’t stop when the work day does.

Now, I emailed the government expressing my opposition to this bill, and they actually sent me a response. I was impressed, to say the least. They said that some amendments were being put in place to clarify that only farms with paid employees would be affected. Family farms would stay just as they are. Farmers can opt in to WCB if they choose to, just like it is now, and nothing is stopping neighbors from helping out or teaching your kids about farming or doing 4H.

Oh, well, that sounds better.

Or does it?

The first thought that I came up with is what is classified as a family farm? A company that has no paid employees? That seems to be the case according to the NDP. So where does that leave my family’s ranch? For most of the year, we don’t have paid employees. But then at harvest, we hire some neighbors to help out, and during the summer, we kids have been paid to work odd jobs around the yard and pastures. Are they considered employees? Does that negate us from being a family farm? We are by no means a large operation compared with much of Alberta. These changes would hurt us if applied, as well as many other farms and ranches that live in our area and do much of the same thing.

The email also mentioned amending the work hours to take into account the seasonal aspect of the job. But that tells me that you just don’t get it. A farmer is ALWAYS a farmer. They get holidays when someone else looks after things for a while, or its winter and they don’t have cattle. And there was no mention regarding age limits on work. Just that they would still be allowed to “teach their children” about farming and ranching. Does that include the experience gained through helping out? Or is that considered child labour now?

So there’s still holes in your Bill, Ms. Notley. But instead of stepping back and re-evaluating the piece of legislation, you’ve decided to go right on ahead despite the numerous protests and public outcry this has caused. You’ve decided to make the changes on the fly, rather than take the time to talk with people who this will affect. Do you care at all for the southern part of your province? Because it sure seems like you don’t.

Of course farming and ranching practices can be improved. We can always be improving. But this isn’t improving. This is…well, I’m not sure what you’re doing, and a lot of other Albertans share my sentiments. And you know what takes the cake? You've been so preoccupied with this and all these other huge pieces of legislation that you haven't done the one thing I expected the NDP's to do: help out the teachers. 

So I’m not mad, Mrs. Notley. I’m disappointed.  

You should know better.

But apparently, you don’t. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

What's a Cecil Worth, Anyways?

Chances are you’ve heard of this lion named Cecil and the dentist who shot him. People are up in arms about it (Ba dum tis). The people over at PETA have even called for the guy to be hanged. I swear, if PETA doesn’t overreact to one of their causes, something’s wrong. But it seems like the majority of North Americans seem to be leaning to that sort of reaction. Jail time. Public shaming. Deportation. It’s getting ridiculous.

Anyways, this got me thinking – what is this guy’s life worth? What is any human life worth? Is it worth a lion?

Well, that means it’s off to do some hasty googling while I write this. If you are the type who enjoys African trophy animals adorning your study, then you could acquire a maned head/shoulder mount for $2500 - $5000 on ebay. That’s probably what the dentist was after, since I heard that the head was cut off. Tough to make a rug then, which would be valued around $2000 - $3000. A full body mount would be closer to $10 000. And that’s not even factoring in shipping and handling.

And those are just the selling values. Trying to get an idea of what a lion shoulder mount would cost, I saw a taxidermy forum say that a guy charged twice as much on a life-size mount as he would for a cougar. Another site was charging $200/linear foot for a cougar shoulder, whatever that means.

Now, we cannot assume that a stuffed lion would be worth the same as if it were alive. It is the top of the food chain in the Saharan plains. It controls the gnus and gazelles from overrunning the continent. On top of looking pretty, the lion controls populations, anchors a food chain, and makes more lions. So let’s triple what a life-size mount would be worth, leaving us with a lion that is worth $30 000.

But is that a male or female? A lion pride can consist of up to three males, around a dozen females and whatever young are still hanging around. So if a male lion is less common than a female, then it would probably be worth more (sorry, ladies). But there’s also the fact that male lions don’t hunt all that often. They just lay around and make babies, while still looking pretty. I would add $15 000 to our first value, rather than using the 4:1 ratio seen in the prides. Basically, we’re just adding what that glorious mane would be worth. Let that be a lesson to you – never underestimate the value of a head of golden locks.

Ok, so the value for a lion like Cecil would be $45 000. Well, maybe not like Cecil, since this is the value for it alive. Too soon? I don’t care. We’re doing math here.
The dentist paid $55 000 for the trip, which is a bit more than the lion’s worth, so I’m assuming that some of the cost was for the experience and not just getting the lion, since you can literally buy them off ebay.

Now what’s the dentist worth? There’s many ways, according to google, to value the average human life. Health insurance companies have set a standard at $50 000. If that’s true, then PETA isn’t actually all that off in calling for the guy to pay the ultimate price for killing a lion. There is the $5000 difference, but I imagine that’s countered by the fact no one wants to stuff a dentist and place him in their living room.

But Time Magazine claims that researchers at Stanford U says this is too low; it should be closer to $129 000, based on cost of kidney dialysis. So a person is worth almost three lions, or two males and a female (again, sorry, ladies). If that’s the case, the dentist should be allowed to go on two more hunts before people start demanding he’s hanged. It’s only fair.

There was one more number that I found. The US Office of Management and Budget value the average human life between $7 and $9 million. They get this number from looking at job riskiness and stuff. I didn’t get it. But this is the American government’s value on the average human life.
But a dentist isn’t an average person. They went to school for way too long to not get that distinction. Their job isn’t overly risky, but they are paid heavily for their efforts. Now, it’s not that I think this person is better than, say, a coal-miner. But it would be tougher to retrain a competent dentist that it would be for a miner. So it’s the job that adds a bit more value to the dentist. I think adding an extra million to the high number is fair. I don’t think that the personality of a person comes into effect here, though. He could be a scumbag or a saint, but a life is a life.

A dentist’s life, therefore, is worth $10 million. A male lion is worth $45 000.

Something doesn’t add up here.

PETA wants the death penalty to be enacted for his hunting trip. When else is the death penalty enacted in the United States? Murder, child rape and treason are the big three in the states that still carry capital punishment. Economically speaking, those make sense. They are ruining more than just one life in that of the victim, so it’s only fair to balance the books, so to say.

There’s only two ways I see this balancing, then:

1) The price of giving an animal a name is worth $9 9550 000
2) Countless lives in Zimbabwe were permanently negatively affected.

Since the first one would raise a lot more questions and math, like what a person’s name is worth, and I’m tired of math, let’s look to Africa. I read an interesting article, written by a guy from Zimbabwe which stated that people there barely even knew that another lion was gone, let alone one was named Cecil. To them, they’re beasts that are to be feared. It reminded me of the movie The Ghost and the Darkness, which was about two man eating lions who killed and ate somewhere between 10 and 24 people, and was based on a true story. So African’s kinda don’t like them.

So it looks like the only people who were negatively affected were Americans. And really, were they actually affected? This lion was being watched by some university, and people outside came to follow its life. When we watch these giant cats on screens, we see that they’re just big kitties that want to play and cuddle, and forget that they are deadly predators. People have bought lions and tigers as pets, only to one day have them become the prey. They’re not cuddly. They’re wild animals. It takes generations upon generations to domesticate an animal species. That’s why we have house cats, and not pets that can fit our heads between their jaws.

So looking at things from an economic view, things don’t really add up. Even when you factor in that lions are listed as vulnerable, and the hunt may have been less-than-legal, a person is still far more valuable than a lion. And, really, you can’t value a human life with money. Once that person is dead, they are dead forever. They will never come back. And, yes, this is true for the lion, too, but other lions don’t care. They have no powers of reason. They’re wild animals. Sometimes a member of the pride dies, so they make new ones. A lion is a lion, no matter what name it’s been given. They are to be respected, but they will never be more valuable than a person.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Adult Conversation

I’ve always been a fairly childish person. Not immature, but just never afraid to keep doing things that I liked as a kid, and still do to this day. Things like Lego, or looking up every time a plane flies overhead because I still think they’re cool (even though I see a dozen every day is Saskatoon). 

However, I’m also a fairly mature and responsible person, who can do things he needs to when he needs to, take care of bills, make plans with other people, and so on. Both of these sides coexist together inside me peacefully.

Until I enter into an adult conversation.

Now these are not adult-themed conversations. I’m not going to get into those (and nor should you). I’m referring to the unbelievably normal thing that happens when adults get together and end up talking. If you’re an adult, then you’ve had an adult conversation. Generally, I find that it happens with at least three people, and they sort of form themselves into a circle (standing or sitting) so everyone can be a part of the conversation. Chances are, too, that you’ve never thought anything of it when it happens, and maybe not even noticed it was happening. This may even what you think of when you hear the term “hanging out.”

Then there’s me.

You’ve probably already noticed that I’m referring to these things as “adult conversations” instead of just “conversations.” Well, look at how kids talk and be with each other. They are running around and doing things while they talk. It all happens at once. Adults take out the doing part and just talk. And that’s where I start to get problems.

For the first, say, 15-20 minutes, I’m perfectly fine with being in an adult conversation. I like getting to know people, and learning about things they’ve done, sharing stories and hearing funny stories from others. This is my adult, mature half saying, “Hey, it would be nice to see how this person is doing.”

After the first bit of the conversation, though, I start to get…antsy. It’s like I’ve suddenly decided I’m 6 years old and I don’t want to pretend to be a grown up anymore and I can’t sit still. I itch to get up and do something, but my maturity reminds me that I would look rude and kind of like an idiot.
But the feeling persists.

 So I end up forcing myself to sit and pay attention to what’s being said, but that ship has long sailed by this point. I look around. I get lost in my thoughts, then catch the last bit of a conversation that sounded interesting and want to know what happened before but can’t ask because then they’ll know that I really wasn’t listening at all and that I have the focussing capabilities of a humming bird. Is this what ADHD feels like?

Anyways, I sit silently like this, hoping I can jump into the conversation and force myself to be an adult, even though I know that the topics have departed my realm of knowledge and have no plans of returning to shore. That is, until I find a suitable distraction.
Here’s some real life examples:

1. I’m over at Janelle’s best friend’s house. We go out onto the back deck and hang out in the sunshine. Now, I know her, and we’ve talked briefly before, but I don’t really know her, and Janelle and her have a ton of history together, so I soon find myself sitting on the edge, watching them talk about old jobs and family friends and such. I’ve got nothing, so I start to look around, and let my mind wander…

"There’s a little bag on the shingles above them. Wonder how it got there? How long has it been there? I should take it down. Nope, can’t do that. That’d be weird. Man, there birds everywhere here. Ooh, they’re mentioning the birds! What is the bright orange one? An oriole maybe? I’ll suggest that (I did). Do they come around here, though? Or are they just in Baltimore?"

Suddenly, her little dog comes running out of the house to greet us. Usually, I’m not a fan of little dogs, but this one was pretty cute, and seemed really friendly to me, so I start playing with it. Soon I have it on my lap, and I’m just petting it and scratching it while it sits quietly. After 15 minutes, the dog gets up and leaves, and I realize I totally zoned out of the conversation. Whoops.

2. On that same weekend, Janelle and I went with her extended family to Dinosaur Provincial Park for a BBQ and to hang out with relatives. After the burgers, everyone starts to break off into groups and begin having conversations. Generally, in Janelle’s family, the men break off and talk about farming, while the women talk about…women things. I’m sorry, I can’t remember what they talked about. I usually think that I’m expected to be in the man group, so I listen to them talk about farming. Which I know very little about. Ranching I can get by with, but my farming knowledge ends after stooking. Which no one does anymore.

Anyways, during this picnic, I found myself torn between the two groups. First, I wanted to be with Janelle (because we’re engaged, if you didn’t already know), but I couldn’t contribute a thing to their conversation. I also wanted to hang with the guys, but I could contribute even less (especially since hockey season is over). So there I am, in the middle, listening to both side while not listening at all. Then Janelle’s (my?) nephew comes over and asks if I want to play football with him.

Heck yes, I do.

So I end up spending the rest of the time running around with a 4 year old and a 7 year old, letting them tackle me, wrestling with the younger one, and going to the park with them and hiding under a dinosaur slide, which led to pushing pebbles up through the perforated floor above us.

Now, some people may think that I was just being nice to the kids by playing with them. However, it’s more along the lines that I can’t sit still anyways and was looking for an excuse to go play with them because I freaking love it. I could escape the adult conversations and let my inner child go nuts. So really, I’m not just doing it for the kids. I’m doing it for me, too. Maybe that’s what draws me to elementary teaching.

Anyways, that’s my struggle of being in an adult conversation. One day I might be able to sit still and be all mature, but I highly doubt it. I’ll probably be the old guy playing with puppies and wrestling with his grandkids, while the adults sit around talking. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Proven Performance

“Alright Jenkins, we need to put out a new ad campaign for our line of batteries, so show me what you’ve got.”

“Of course, sir. We’ve designed the new battery just like you wanted us to. We’ve had a team of top-notch graphic designers work on the logo and colouring for months. It is very flashy and eye-catching.”


“Sorry, sir?”

“What about the tests? How did it perform?”

“It did.”

“Excuse me?”

“It did, sir.”

“I’m…I’m not sure what you mean by that, Jenkins.”

“Well, sir, you asked us to test the performance of the batteries. So we asked ourselves, what is the most common use for our product? The answer: a remote control. Our team of researchers then popped in two of our AA batteries and tested to see if the batteries worked. They did.”

“Um, ok, slightly unorthodox, I suppose, but does the trick. What about the competition?”

“They also worked, sir.”

“You’re losing me, Jenkins.”

“You also asked us to test our competitor’s batteries performance, right? Our researchers also put those batteries into the remote. The remote still worked with those batteries.”

“That’s it? That’s all you have for me??”

“I don’t understand, sir. We did everything you asked.”

“I wanted to know HOW the batteries performed, Jenkins! Do they last longer? Run faster? Be...better batteries? I don’t know! That’s your JOB! But you’re telling me, after months of funding and research, that you have discovered that the batteries WORK?!”


“Perfect. Just perfect! We have to release our add campaign TOMORROW! Our designers have everything ready to go, and we can’t even offer them a decent, research supported tag line to entice customers! I should have listened to my mother and become an encyclopedia salesman…”

“Don’t give up hope, sir. I think I have a slogan that will do the trick.”

“Well it will have to, Jenkins. It’s all we’ve got.” 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Believe It or Not

Recently, I was inspired by a post my brother wrote on Facebook, and convicted to do the same, but instead post it on my blog. It has to do with something very important to me, but I don’t talk a lot about it:

My faith.

I consider myself a devout Christian. This is no surprise to many of you who know me. However, I rarely bring it up in talking with strangers or even friends who I didn’t go to Briercrest or church with. I’ve always found it hard to start those conversations, yet have no problem getting into spiritual and theological discussions once the initial topic has been brought up. So I guess I’m should probably start it for once.

Being a Christian means that I believe Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross for my sins, along with the rest of humanity, and rose three days later, confirming his victory over death and breaking its power over us. I believe that we have been saved from a very real place called Hell, where souls are sent to be punished eternally for sin, but I also believe in the place of Heaven where all those who have followed Jesus are taken for eternal rewards. I believe that all of this can be found in the Bible, and it is the recordings of people who were told by God and impacted by Christ. I believe everything written in this book is true, including the stuff that many people struggle to understand, such as Old Testament passages on genocide, homosexuality, polygamy and slavery. I believe that I have been placed on this Earth for a reason, which is to bring glory to God to all his people, and that I owe him my life and try to live for Him every day.

This is a really compressed version of my statement of faith. It is by no means comprehensive. To graduate from Briercrest, I wrote a 4 page document on what I believe. So I’ve had time to think about my choices and whether or not I’ve made the right decision, and I truly believe I have.

But why?

Why would I believe this stuff? Why would I commit my life to something that occurred over two millenniums ago, and that no one can seem to prove today? Why would I believe in something that some people so strongly fight against and claim that it’s completely insane?

Why not?

Why wouldn’t I want to follow the Creator of the universe? If everything in the Bible is true, and I have faith that it is, then we have been given the greatest opportunity in history in following Him. He promises us rewards beyond our wildest imaginations, love that cannot be comprehended by humans, and destruction to our enemies. And all we have to do is believe in Him. That seems like a pretty low-risk/high-reward deal.

There are a lot of other things I could get into, but I feel that this isn’t the place for them. If you’d like to continue the discussion, feel free to contact me via facebook or email or my face or whatever. If there’s any glaring omissions or confusions, then also please let me know so I can clarify myself. Being a Christian is not my religion; it is who I am. In everything I do, God will always come first, and I hope that He also will for you, too.

 There’s a verse in Joshua (24:15) that I would like to end on:

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

May God bless every one of you richly,

Dayton Reimer