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Guest Post: Tommy Thumb, Peter Pointer & Buttons

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Hi folks!

I was recently sent this article from my grandfather, Bill Cunning (inventor of “Panic! Crossword Challenge), and thought it was rather clever and insightful — and may even give you people some idea of where I get my knack for nonsense from. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

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Tommy Thumb, Peter Pointer and Buttons

I have always believed in paying tribute to deserving people and so the following missive is dedicated to three “unsung heroes”. It’s hard to believe that they have done up and undone more than 400,000 buttons so far in my life. This does not include many other unnamed buttonings.

Have you ever threaded a needle, or even peeled an orange? If so, did you pay attention to see what natural actions were in motion during the process? Well what actually happened was that your brain told your eyes to see the problem, and then your thumb and first finger grabbed the thread and aimed it toward the eye of the needle held by the other thumb and forefinger. A similar action took place to peel the orange, sometimes with the help of your finger nails. Our brain organized the whole procedure from years of practice of threading needles or peeling oranges or buttoning. All this activity goes on and we probably do not realize it. And what about those similar actions that take place automatically when lacing shoes, scratching your skin, putting on socks, flipping a coin, testing food, zippers, light switches, using a fork at meal times, counting paper money, opening and closing Venetian blinds, playing a guitar, and so on… 101 jobs for them.

Those fingers really do not know what they will do until a problem arises. For instance, when your finger touches a hot pot it doesn’t know it’s hot until it sends a message, via some nerves, to our brain. The brain then tells the finger that “the pot is hot, take your finger off of it”. So that may be how most of our bodily actions take place.

This story is about Tommy Thumb (our thumb), Peter Pointer (our first finger), and Buttons. My education in perfecting the art of doing up and undoing buttons probably began about 80 years ago, born in Regina in wintertime when I was about four or five years old, learning to operate the buttons on my long-john combinations. In those years my pants had three buttons to close the fly (If someone noticed that a button on the fly was undone, they would say, “It’s one o’clock at the water works”). Then came shirts, sweaters and winter coats. Shirt cuffs were quite tight in those days and the buttons had to be undone to be able to get your arm into the sleeve. Thank goodness that manufacturers eventually made a looser cuff. There were usually five or six buttons to close a shirt. My sweaters were also button up as zippers were not common then. Pants braces had six buttons and overcoats either winter or rain, had four or five large buttons. It’s amazing to witness those two digits on both hands go about their business of finding a button and locating a hole to place it in. In time I became proficient in that job and could even do it with my eyes closed.

Now to the point of this article – an estimate of how many buttons I have done up and/or undone on my clothing from age 4 until age 85.

Daily Routine:

Age 4 to 14 days years total buttons total done up
combinations-winter 90 10 900 4 3,600
sweaters-winter 90 10 900 4 3,600
shirts-daily 365 10 3650 5 18,250
pajamas-daily 365 10 3650 4 14,600
overcoats-winter 150 10 1500 4 6,000
Total 46,050         

 

Age 15 to 65     
pajamas-daily           365 50 18,250 4 73,000
shirts-at home           365 50 18,250 5 91,250
shirts-business          260 50 13,000 5 65,000
sweaters-weekly          52 50 2,600 5 15,000
overcoats-winter         150 50 7,500 4 30,000
Total 274,250

                                                 

Age 66 to 85
pyjamas – daily 365 20 7,300 3 21,900
shirts-at home 365 20 7,300 5 36,500
shirts-casual 182 20 3,640 5 18,200
sweaters-casual 182 20 3,640 5 5,200
coats-winter 90 20 1,800 4 7,200
Total 89,000

 

Grand total                      
Age 4 to 14 46,050
   15 to 65 274,250
   65 to 85 89,000
Total buttoned up      409,300

Then I had to unbutton all 409,300 of those buttons!!!!

The next time you are dressing, take a moment to watch the activity as  buttons are being done up. Then give your thanks to our “unsung heroes”.

Thoughts on Gambling and a Hockey Slots Game Review

October 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Hi folks! 

When I turned 19 and became legal to gamble, of course one of the first things I did was hit our local casino. Not one who enjoys losing money, my trip frequency soon dwindled to a much more affordable rate than at the onset of my legality. One lesson a good friend of mine learned and established early was to set a budget: come in with a set amount of cash to play with, and leave your wallet in the car(bring your ID too though). Whether your night at the tables lasts five minutes or five hours, look at it this way: you could spend $20-??? on dinner, drinks, a movie, or whatever other evening entertainment you’re into, or you could try your luck at making far more than you came in with. Either way, gambling is just entertainment. If you play responsibly, you can have a fun night, not lose more than the cash in your jeans, and get over how fast you lost it.  

If you’re into online gambling more than the real life version, our friends at Lucky Nugget Online Casino have a great hockey themed slot machine game called “Break Away” that they’d love for you to try out. Looks like a great time. Have a read of their review of it, and maybe sign up and (responsibly) play a few pulls!

-SDC 

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Review of Ice Hockey Slots Game Break Away

One of the most appealing aspects of slot machine games is that they are based on a wide range of themes. These themes can be quite varied and taken from pop culture, history, music and sports. For those who are sports lovers, it is of little surprise that they are drawn to sports slot machine. Fans of ice hockey can enjoy a slot machine known as Break Away. Some online slots such as Break Away stays true to the sport without tying in any league or team affiliations. Therefore, no matter who their favourite team is, ice hockey fans can find universal fun with this slot machine game.

One aspect of Break Away that immediately pops out to players is its massive amount of paylines which number 243. This gives players many opportunities to win big with Break Away. The symbols of this game are of course items from ice hockey such as rinks, players and refs. The game also provides realistic sounds that one would expect to hear while at an ice hockey match. Ice Hockey fans will find the design quite pleasing.

While Break Away does offer an additional progressive jackpot, with 243 paylines and an awesome free spin feature, it has a lot going for it already. When the free spin bonus is triggered, the largest amount of spins that can be won are 25. The exact amount is based on the number of scatter symbols that appear. Three of these symbols will results in 15 spins while four will award 20 spins. Of course, five symbols are needed to get all 25 spins. The free spin feature doesn’t stop there. When in this part of the game, any money that is won has a special multipliers added to it which makes winnings soar. The more wins translates to a great multiplier amount.

Wanna Be a Writer? Start As a Blogger.

April 5, 2013 Leave a comment

JDC

Congratulations JDC Junior Journalists on finding this blog! You have been awarded 10 bonus points. The following is my lecture from April 6, 2013.

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What is a “blog”?

1)     An online journal or diary, available for all the world to read — depending on your privacy settings, and ability/desire to publicize and advertise it.

2)     The word is the short form of “weblog”, which is the mashed together version of “web log”, which refers to logging information on the web.

3)     The term “blog” was coined in 1997 when a liberty was taken with the term, shortening it. A person who writes a blog became known as a “blogger”.

4)     Blogs can be any length, but posts of a shorter nature like Twitter’s are known as “micro-blogs”.

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Why blog?

1)     Because you can say anything you want, in any language, about any topic you want – give opinions, write reports, share fiction, poetry, review products, discuss music, sports, history – blogs are a haven of free speech, and a vehicular outlet for people who have something to say but nowhere to say it.

a)     You never know what you might write about – a man in Pakistan inadvertently live-tweeted the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Just write and let the words take you where they will.

b)     You also have the power to edit or delete a blog, if something needs to be updated, or removed altogether.

c)      It can teach you how to write engaging content – invaluable for writers on any platform.

2)     Because you can blog from anywhere that has an internet connection, anytime – home computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

3)     Because you can blog however you want – traditional text, add pictures, blog pictures only (photo blog), video blog (vlog), audio/podcast, and more.

4)     Because it’s free. Purchasing a domain and hosting for a webpage is costly, and requires building, or the hiring of someone to build your page for you. Blogs come with templates to choose from and are user/tech-inept friendly. WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr and amongst the most popular blogging platforms available.

5)     Everybody’s doing it – even newspapers are adding blogs to their publication’s websites in an effort to stay relevant and profitable in the digital age. Their blogs mean opportunity to blog for them, and sometimes even hiring to do so.

6)     Because there’s no wrong way to do it. If you can click “post”, then you can blog.

7)     Because it’s a great way to jump start your writing career and gain some notoriety and confidence while no one cares who you are or wants to publish your writing.

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How can blogging help an established or aspiring journalist?

1)     It keeps you in practice when you may not have other opportunity to write.

2)     It connects you to an audience. If you learn to promote your work through social media, you have the chance to connect to/be seen by 500 million Twitter users, 170 million Tumblr users, 1 billion YouTube users, 1.06 billion Facebook users, and however many users and viewers.

a)     Accruing a high volume following of visitors will make you appear valuable and marketable to advertisers. This can be advantageous in applications for writing positions, selling advertisements, and can also make you more likely to be approached with opportunities.

3)     It connects you with online communities interested in the topic(s) you write about, and may lead to further writing opportunities.

4)     It is advantageous to a blogger that people can click on a free blog from their computer or phone easier than going to a newsstand and buying a newspaper, or even paying for an online subscription.

5)     It can lead to opportunities for interviews, product reviews, and more.

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What are the disadvantages of blogging?

1)     You won’t make any money, at least in the beginning. There are ways to monetize your blog with advertisements and products, but blogging will likely be a “labor of love” for you until you manage to appear on someone important in writing’s radar.

2)     Depending on the community your blog creates, visitor comments can sometimes be rather negative – you’ll have to either develop a “thick skin”, ignore them, or develop some constructive tact in dialoging with people who chose reply with negativity.

3)     Because of the open and unedited nature of blogging, bloggers don’t carry an overly credible reputation with them amongst trained journalists. If you want to be taken seriously as a journalist, eventually you will have to progress to writing for an established publication, or start one yourself.

a)     Further, blogging can leave you open to grammatical and style errors that may out your writing as amateur. You’ll need to pay close attention if you want to impress anyone with your blogs. When in doubt, enlist a proofreader.

4)     It requires a lot of effort and dedication if it’s going to go anywhere – if you’re a procrastinator, or lose interest in blogging regularly, your blog will likely go by the wayside, along with all its potential.

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In conclusion, everything I’ve accomplished in journalism can be directly traced back to my days as a dedicated blogger. I strongly recommend it to any of you as a supplement to your ongoing studies towards a career in writing.

While you’re here, follow me on Twitter:

Not even an undercover CIA agent enjoys hearing their alias has to pretend to follow the Calgary Flames

February 9, 2013 Leave a comment

This clip was from the September 30, 2012 season premier episode of “Homeland” on Showtime, so it’s a little old, but still neat to see hockey and an NHL team referenced in this show. Too bad it had to be the Calgary Flames that got the mention. Oh well. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

UPDATE:

macgyver flamesIt appears that this Flames mentioned in a spy show may not be as random as once thought — MacGyver, perhaps the greatest spy/secret agent of them all, was a Calgary Flames fan, and mentioned the team and often wore their apparel on the show.

It’s odd that Mac was a Flames fan, as his fictional biography notes he was born in Minnesota — which would suggest that he should have aligned with the North Stars. They arrived in Minnesota in 1967, when MacGyver was 16; which is a good age to solidify an allegiance to a team. The Flames didn’t move to Calgary from Atlanta until 1980, when he was 29. And there are no mentions of MacGyver cheering for the Atlanta Flames in the series, only the Calgary version.

Attempts to find the actor that played MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson, aligned with any particular NHL team have proved inconclusive. Though it is well documented that he used to play as a kid, and continues to be involved in hockey through charity games and such.

But more to the Homeland correlation — the most plausible rabbit trail to follow is that Homeland actors Morena Baccarin (aka Jessica Brody) and Diego Klattenhoff (aka Mike Faber) both acted alongside Richard Dean Anderson (aka MacGyver) on Stargate SG-1 at different periods. Anderson was there as Jack O’Neill from 1997-2007, Baccarin appeared as “Adria” in six episodes from 2006-2007, and Klattenhoff appeared as “Team Leader” in one episode in 2005. Faber is also Canadian (born in Nova Scotia), so there’s that too. It’s believable that MacGyver/hockey/the Flames may have come up in conversation between any combination of the three, and then may have popped into Baccarin or Klattenhoff’s mind at a table read or something when it came time to mention a hockey team in the Homeland episode.

Maybe I should work for the CIA.

Calgary lost again? Some things never change.

(Glove bump to “hocko” on Reddit for picking up on the lead)

Hockey Fan Living Abroad? The Best Links to Free Online Streams of Games.

December 30, 2012 13 comments

I’m Canadian, and if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you’ve put together by now that I’m a big hockey fan too. As I’m currently residing in Asia, watching games can be quite the challenge. Major networks like TSN and CBC won’t stream games online outside of Canada. So I’ve been forced to sift through the internet for the best online streams I can find.

You're welcome guys!

You’re welcome guys!

If you’re in the same boat as me, today’s your lucky day. I’ve hacked through all the junk, and compiled a list of all the best links to free hockey games that I’ve found. I’ve got no doubt the game you want to watch can be found at one of them. And for free!

The following links are my go-to’s. You’ll have to wade through them to find the best feed, but it’ll be worth the effort. Most of these sites will require you to close numerous ads to uncover the screen, but they’re all free, and don’t require any players or software to be downloaded.

Here they are:

1) http://www.wiziwig.tv/competition.php?part=sports&discipline=icehockey

2) http://myp2p.mu/index.php

3) http://www.frombar.tv/c-3.html

4) http://livetv.ru/en/allupcomingsports/2/

5) http://atdhe.eu/hockey

6) http://nutjob.eu/njtvx7.html

7) Reddit Hockey’s VLC solution

If you’re ok with downloading software, then download Sopcast. It’s a trustworthy P2P internet TV internal player, and you can stream much higher quality feeds from it than you can from any of the above links. Just be aware through the download process to uncheck all the non-sense it wants you to install along with it. If any of this sounds too risky for you, stick to the links above.

Did I miss any? Leave your favorite links in a comment, and I’ll add them.

Happy hockey watching!

2012: It’s (Not) The End Of The World As We Know It, So I Feel Fine….

December 31, 2011 2 comments

Hi folks!

Thanks for making 2011 another record setting year for Serenity Now… The SDC Blogs. Lots of new developments in readership, product reviews, and writing gigs with media outlets have been fun and welcomed. Looking forward to what the next 365 days will bring!

I thought it appropriate to repost an old blog on the old 2012 end-of-the-world hype, which no one is too worried about anymore. It was originally post for a site that is now defunct, so it’s a good opportunity to get it back in circulation. Enjoy!

-SDC

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Isn’t it great when Hollywood, and other media outlets, inspire panic in people by suggesting in a film or other propoganda that the world is going to end in the very near future? Isn’t it also interesting how much material on the topic becomes purchasable in various formats immediately after the report catches fire?

Contrary to suggestions of the 2009 straight-to-dvd blockbuster, Here’s why 2012 will simply be another year in history, and you can take a break from building your refuge tunnel to the center of the earth:

1) The Mayans did indeed have a calendar that ends on 2012. However, just like any other calendar, all you have to do is start it from the beginning again. Their calendar begins from a time Mayans identified as a point of creation, and then counted forward in units of “tun”. Similar to the way we sequentially write 10, then 20, 30, etc., Mayans change the names after 20 units. 20 tun equals 1 k’atun; 20 k’atun equals 1 b’ak’tun; then piktun, kalabtun, k’inchiltun, and so on. On December 21, 2012, the 13th b’ak’tun cycle will end, and then the 14th will begin. After the completion of 20 b’ak’tun’s, the first cycle of 20 piktun’s will begin October 13, 4772, and so on, and so forth. So if the Mayans already had names for all this, why would they/why should we think the world was ending?

2) There’s no planet or celestial body named “Nibiru” (or anything else) that is on a collision course for earth. NASA’s got plenty of instruments in space, like the Spitzer and Hubble telescopes, that would have relayed a message about a planet on an intercept course by now. NASA launched a spacecraft named Voyager 1 in 1977 (yes, there’s a Voyager 2 as well) that is just now in the process of leaving our solar system. So if it took us 33+ years to get something out of our solar system, don’t you think we’d know about something coming towards us by now? The odds of something that size getting to us through our galaxy in one piece (the Milky Way is filled with much larger and dangerous things like larger planets and asteroid fields) is extremely slim. Besides, if something we actually coming, The US or some other country would put up some sort of missle defence system, or we’d just deal with it ala Armageddon style, right?

3) The earth is subject to solar activity ALL THE TIME, and is able to deal with flares and such due to its magnetic field and atmosphere, which deflect harm. The earth’s magnetic field does reverse polarity once and a while (approximately every 400,000 years), but the effect takes several thousand years to complete, and would not interrupt the earth’s rotation or point of axis.

4) Planetary alignments also happen ALL THE TIME. They’re called “eclipses”, and chances are, you’ve heard of, or maybe even seen them. Even if all the planets in the solar system aligned (which they won’t), it wouldn’t be cataclysmic. It might be cold for a few hours or so, but that’d be about it until the sun started hitting us directly again. The earth isn’t going to flood, the oceans won’t boil, Hawaii won’t burn down, and the continents aren’t going to crash into each other.

So there’s the scientific explanation of why 2012 will hold nothing to worry about except for living your life. I’m a Christian, and my personal beliefs are to the tune of what Jesus said himself in the Bible,

“No one knows of the hour of the final days, not even the angels in heaven, except for God alone. The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:36, 44)

In other words, none of our fancy methods of determining the end of the earth will be accurate, as it will happen in an incalculable way; no calendars, no psychic or prophetic predictions, it’ll just happen. According to scientific theories, we’ve got a few billion years yet (but no pinpointed time), so don’t pack up or quit your job just yet. Until then, go live and enjoy your life! I’ll do my best to keep you afloat of other catastrophic cosmic events that are of no consequence to your, and everyone else’s, existence.

Happy 2012!

 

Merry Christmas!! A Song by The Fire, & A Christmas Conspiracy.

December 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Merry Christmas everyone!  I wanted to get one Christmas blog in this season.  So here it is.

Back in college, a few friends and I took a closer look at the classic Christmas song, “Walking In A Winter Wonderland”.  Why this particular song came to our attention, I really don’t know; but then again, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably asked yourself that same question about the majority of the content on this blog :)  

Anyways… so when I was young, I remember singing this song and not thinking twice about it; but now after revisiting it in my later years, I might think twice about having my future kids belt this one out in public.   It’s got a nice ring to it and all, but the lyrics may be a little more “adult” than you realize, or depending on how far down the conspiracy rabbit hole you prefer to venture.  Let’s look at the song a little closer, together, so I can show you what I mean:

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Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, [Bells... a calling card, perhaps?]

In the lane, snow is glistening [The lane... some sort of secret meeting spot?]

A beautiful sight,

We’re happy tonight. [Why so happy?? More on this next stanza...]

Walking in a winter wonderland.

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Gone away is the bluebird, [ok, birds fly south for winter, that makes sense. But....]

Here to stay is a new bird [...who is this new bird?? He’s supposed to be at the bottom of the continent by now... apparently he’s here “to stay”... has the bluebird been replaced?? Or does the new bird only come calling when the bluebird is away on business for the winter months??]

He sings a love song, [Love songs? At Christmas? Fishy...]

As we go along,

Walking in a winter wonderland.

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In the meadow we can build a snowman,

Then pretend that he is Parson Brown [A “Parson” is a member of the church with the authority to marry people. Why are they pretending, and why Parson Brown in particular? Do these two have something up their sleeves? Is this a “dry-run” of sorts?]

He’ll say: Are you married?

We’ll say: No man, [In the words of Elaine Benes, they're "just havin' a good time"]

But you can do the job

When you’re in town. [The job?? Is that what she’s calling whatever it is that the new bird does with her while he’s in town and “bluebird” is gone?? Or are the two “birds” planning on a secret Vegas style hitching via their friend, the real life Parson Brown??]

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Later on, we’ll conspire, [con•spire –verb: to agree together, esp. secretly, to do something wrong, evil, or illegal; to plan or agree on (a crime or harmful act) together in secret]

As we dream by the fire

To face unafraid,

The plans that we’ve made, [what plans have you made that would require you to state you’re not afraid of them?? What is the risk/reward ratio of monetary payoff to jail-time in said made plans?]

Walking in a winter wonderland.

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In the meadow we can build a snowman,

And pretend that he’s a circus clown

We’ll have lots of fun with mister snowman,

Until the other kids knock him down.

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When it snows, ain’t it thrilling,

Though your nose gets a chilling

We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way, [and how exactly do the Eskimo Inuit frolic and play? Nose kissing naked in one sleeping bag to keep warm?? I think this one puts us over the open interpretation line...]

Walking in a winter wonderland.

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Haha, I don’t entirely hope I’ve ruined a Christmas classic for you, but I do hope I’ve encouraged you to think twice, or at least re-examine from time to time, the lyrics that you may mindlessly blurt about, just because they sound good, and others are doing it too.

Merry Christmas everyone!! Enjoy the Christmas music by the fire!

2010 Stanley Cup Playoff Final Thoughts, and the DCC Champion Declared!

June 14, 2010 12 comments

First off, congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on winning the Stanley-Freaking-Cup (as though they all are collectively reading this blog and saying, “hey thanks man”), and to Rich Abney of Kelowna for winning the 1st Quadrennial SDC Blogs’ Double Championship Challenge!  Along with his prize, Rich receives 4 years of bragging rights.  Keeeerr-rap (doubly for runner up Ryley Herzog, who will be hearing about it at Chevy’s Source for Sports for the next four years J).  It was looking like Ryley and the Flyers had a chance of pulling one over on all of us with that Bruins/Habs massacre, but alas…

What a great playoffs overall.  Complete with a standard Canucks exit,  Pronger’s puck stealing/Carcillo antagonism vs Byfuglien/everyone, Joe Thornton and San Jose’s meltdown, Pronger vs. Burish chirps, awesome NHL “History Will Be Made/No Words” commercials and CBC video montages, 3rd string goalies becoming starters and fading out 1st stringers while fading in huge contracts next year (see: Rask, Halak, Niemi, Leighton, etc), Keith losing 7 TEETH mid-game and continuing, Crosby and Ovechkin eliminated early by an underdog, Hossa rescinding his Cup curse, Vince Vaughn, the rejuvenation of hockey in Chicago and the end of the longest running championship drought, a mullet and a mystery OT Cup winning goal (and a Crosby-Olympic-Golden-Goal-esque one at that) by Kane, a prophetic mural, the Conn Smythe and yet another championship for overshadowed (until now) Jonathan Toews; hard to find anything bad to say about that guy.

The Stanley Cup is just simply awesome.  Winning it is an un-top-able feat (no, not even Dilbert’s Topper could); truly the most difficult trophy to win in sports, by all accounts of comparison of every other sports’ playoff formats.  In no other sports are you required to win 16 games and not lose more than 3 per series to secure final victory.  And when you do accomplish said task, an achievement-appropriate sized trophy awaits you; also the biggest in all sports.  Often described as the lightest 34 pounds you’ll ever lift over your head, most dreamers will never have the opportunity to find out what that really means.  From the first moment video cameras show the Cup in the building to well after it gets lifted over the captain’s head, I get perma-chills and goosebumps every year.   

Justin Bourne did as good a job as anyone could on describing what winning the Cup means here.

I had one idea about something to change in the playoffs though.  You see, it’s always better to win the Cup at home, in front of your own fans.  The Wachovia Center in Philadelphia was dead silent when Patrick Kane scored to win, and rightfully so.  How much better would that moment looked on TV if the Madhouse on Madison had the chance to chant “Chelsea Dagger” alongside Toews’ Cup hoisting?

So here’s my idea: for sure in the Cup final, and perhaps in the previous series’, once a team has won three games, the remaining games should be played at that team’s home rink; unless the other team wins 3, in which case the series would shift to that team’s rink.  It might play havoc with some arena scheduling, but I think it’d make for a better winning atmosphere.  Your thoughts???

Well, that’s it for hockey for a while.  Cripes (I’m sure the female readers out there are breathing a sigh of relief).  No, I won’t watch baseball in the meantime.  Trying reeeeallly hard to give the World Cup and soccer a chance…. but can someone score a goal or two already?  90 +minutes and 0-0 draws are not helping the cause.  It seems too exciting of a tournament to have play that boring, doesn’t it?

If you’re looking for a hockey fix over the summer, why not check out the Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp in Kelowna this summer?? check out www.bournevents.com for more info!

How To Save $5000 in College / My Hatred of Reading & Love for Writing.

December 5, 2009 12 comments

It’s a marvel that I’ve even gotten myself into writing. 

I truly enjoy creating stories in the written format, especially in blogs.  Writing whatever I want, without having to adhere to providing “research”, or “structure” in addition to other guidelines imposed by a professor is a phenomenal feeling.  After all these years, I can finally use all the slang, jargon, fragments, run-on sentences, and general Format Guide rule-breaking I want.  Peer proof-readers can go fly a kite; I edit my own stuff now.  No more shall my writing have its content value be equal to its formatting correctness, and have my grade be brought down because I couldn’t follow simple directions outlined in a readily available and accessible guide a professor had their T.A. mark my paper, and look for formatting errors above substance.  No more shall my writing have red pen ink rivalling the amount of black printer ink on my papers (mostly due to the fact that you can’t shouldn’t be writing on a screen.  If one of my old prof’s gets cheeky and prints a copy of this, marks it up with red pen, and sends it to me, remember, I likely know where you live, if you’re still teaching at the same school).

I only ever had one teacher ever think I was anything above average at writing.  My 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Thompson, at Mount Boucherie Secondary School, gave me the only English award and English “A” that I ever received in my entire secondary and post-secondary career.  So in the unlikely event that she’s reading this, thanks for believing in me, Mrs. Thompson.  I have always, really, appreciated that.

So, all that to say, me in writing is amazing, mostly because I hate hate HATE writing’s necessary and evil equivalent: reading.  Oh, how I loathe thee, reading.   

A writer requires other people to read what he’s written, so it’s an interesting paradox that my labour beckons the very enemy I’ve fought to resist; only now it comes from a mass audience (more than 2 people could be called a mass, right?).  It’s not that I’m no good at reading; my cognitive system is capable of decoding symbols for the intention of deriving and/or constructing meaning just fine.  Silent or aloud reading; no problem.  I just don’t find it fun.  I have no idea how a people can pick up fictitious stories, involve themselves on an emotional level over a lengthy amount of time, and then repeat the process upon completion.  Isn’t that exactly what you do when you watch a TV show or movie, only in a fraction of the time?  Oooo, I had to create the images in my mind instead of seeing them with my eyes on a screen…big deal.  I can watch TV faster than you can read books, any day.  In the age of convenience and info-on-demand, getting the exact same information quickly (TV) rather than slowly (books), is a no-brainer.   If I want to stimulate my imagination, I’ll draw a picture.  Isn’t your imagination’s engagement from books only limited to the author’s vague and open-ended descriptions anyways?  I really feel there’s better ways to get that part of your brain going, if that’s that side of  the argument is for.   If I’m going to read anything, it’s going to be something not made-up (non-fiction).  A good autobiography by someone I like usually works (see: Bret Hart, Mick Foley, Wayne Gretzky, etc), or else something tangible like astronomy, history, or current events will arouse my interest. 

School never helped either.  When you don’t enjoy reading to begin with, being forced to read with the threat of assignment failure if you don’t, is probably the worst thing a non-reader could encounter.  Reading became work, and work isn’t fun.   Once you’ve had to develop the ability to “skim”, you know you’re too far gone.  If you have to skim a book for information, that automatically means the 95% of the book you did not draw information from belongs straight in the trash, does it not?   Obnoxiously large textbooks, research, citing sources, and extended visits to the libra…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The other problem with forced, educational reading is the absurd prices they make you pay to obtain the books that you are required to derive information from.  My first encounter with this screw-job was at Okanagan University College in Kelowna, BC, while enrolled in the Fine Arts program.  I had to take a course called “Visual Forum”, that required me to purchase a 2-inch thick, $200 textbook (that’s $100 per inch, for you math students).  “Well, they said I need it, right?” said the naive freshman that I was, after freshly receiving my parents’ hard-saved college tuition money that was supporting my first year.  A semester later, I swear to you, I passed the class without doing anymore than removing the plastic covering from that book.  I went to return the squandered capital to the bookstore, who denied me and sent me to the used bookstore, who then told me they would consign the book at around a ¼ of my original purchase price.  Upon haggling with the same story I just told you, I found there was no way I was getting that $200 back.  I put that book up for consignment, and to this day, have not seen the money for it.  Reading was dead to me.  I told myself, “Never again.”

The continuance of my post-secondary education was dependant on student loans.  Though some people like to believe their loans being deposited in their bank account is somehow the equivalent of winning the lottery, I was well aware that I would have to repay every dime eventually (National Student Loans likes to remind me of this every month now).  So my college years carved some financial responsibility out of me.  As you’re now aware of my personal vendetta against costly required/unnecessary reading material, textbooks were first on my chopping block.  I vowed never to let the man put the screws to me again, and in 4 years of college, I never spent another dime on a textbook.  Seriously.

 Many people amass a bookshelf’s worth of textbooks after their college days.  Such a display usually at least creates the illusion that you had or currently have some level of intelligence.  My bookshelf is nearly bare; beyond the elementary school book-fair books that my parents bought for me that are still as unread as they were 20 years ago.  Make your own jokes, but read the rest of this post, and then tell me who’s smarter out of 2 people with the same degree;  the one with or without a pile of books collecting dust on a shelf that he’ll never read or use ever again? So if you share some of the same sentiments that I do, you may want to pay attention to the next few things.  Here’s how I did it:

1)      Some people aren’t that great in social interactions, which is fine.  But if you have the necessary social skills that are required to make friends with other humanoids, then you’ll likely be able to do so with some fellow students who have already taken the classes you are enrolled in, and be able to borrow their old textbooks, as they’ve probably found them to be quite useless outside of the class.  Just don’t be-friend people only on this basis, most people find this to be “shallow”.

2)      This is by far the payload of advice on this topic, so if you pay attention to only one thing in this whole post, let this be it.  To thwart your enemy, sometimes you have to march right through the gates of hell, and enter the dwelling place of the beast itself.  That’s right, you’re going to have to go to the library.  As soon as you get your Course Outline, find your required texts, and take that list to your school’s book repository.  You’re likely going to find every single one of those books on file.  As long as you have a library card, and don’t have outstanding fines, simply sign out every book you need for the term.  If something’s not available, reserve it, and hold out until it comes back in (now that I’ve made this information public, you may want to hurry, as others may have caught on before you).  Once you get the books, keep renewing them all semester.  You’re home-free.  It’s a proven, effective, corner-cutting method.  You’re welcome.  “Genius” comments are welcome at the bottom of this post. 

So there you have it, a tale of woe that comes full circle and presents you with invaluable information.  Learn from my mistakes.  Use this information to stick the screws right back to the people holding the drill.  Take away some lessons from your college experience that have nothing to do with the classroom, besides where you can buy the cheapest ramen noodles.

CFL Popularily Primer, Horse Happiness, and the Male Pink Perversion.

November 9, 2009 14 comments

Is it possible that the CFL could gain more popularity if they simply built stadiums that allowed fans to sit closer to the field, like in the NFL and NCAA? Why does the CFL make its attendees sit 50 feet away from all points of the field? You can nearly get field-side seats for American games; and the atmosphere shows its appreciation. Don’t CFL games look rather poorly attended on TV, comparatively?

football stadium comparison

Canada (left), US (right)

 

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 How happy are horses to be out of the common workforce? If horses are able to communicate with each other the way we are, I’m sure the elder horses have been passing down stories for years to the young ones about how they used to have to haul EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME until cars were invented. Oh, and they also had to fight in wars (well, carry people into some sort of big fracas the horses didn’t understand the meaning of, and maybe die for some reason). And take people everywhere. We still make them run as fast as they can in a circle so that people can make money off them, and trot people around in carriages and trail rides from time to time, but I’m sure the reduction in labour over the last 60 years has been more than acceptable.

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 Boys wear blue, girls wear pink. Everybody knows this. For some reason, some “men” recently got this strange notion in their head that it’s ok for them to be wearing pink. For every guy challenging the status quo by telling people their shirt was “salmon” colored, there were another two drinking dark ale, making fun of them. And so they danced.

Somewhere along the lines, it got really popular to support Breast Cancer research by wearing those loopy little ribbons, adorned with the color pink. An incredibly aggressive promotional push led to pink clothing, pink sports jerseys, pink sports equipment, and everything else you can think of lambasted pink all in the good name of supporting and funding research for the cure of Breast Cancer (please don’t get me wrong, I am in full support of curing the disease).

This has led to a loophole in the equilibrium of gender coloring. Now, allThe pink and black attack. those male fuchsia flirters trying to be edgy are able to hide from masculine scorn behind what has become an immunity idol of wearing the color most commonly associated with femininity; pink. Who in their right mind is going to make fun of someone supporting cancer research?

The only male I can give a non-cancer-related-wearing-pink free-pass to is Bret “Hitman” Hart, who did just fine with it, always wearing an equal amount of black with pink.

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