Monday, July 31, 2006

Go Stallions!

Grande Prairie trip was awesome. We won the game 54-7 and secured a first round bye in the playoffs. The only thing is that it poured rain throughout the first quarter and I don't think I've ever been so cold playing a football game. That's Alberta weather for you...the last game felt like I was playing on a field in Africa (37 degrees) and in this one I thought I was getting hypothermia. I won't comment on any of the capers that took place after the game because what happens on the road stays on the road, but things did get a little crazy.

NFL season is just around the corner with the preseason starting August 12. The Falcons have already suffered a setback, losing clutch receiver Brian Finneran for probably the season during a non-contact practice last week. I keep telling myself that it could be worse; it could have been Dunn, or Abraham, or D'Lo, or Crump, or...You-know-who. It seems like every year a good Falcons player goes down before the season starts. 2003 was You-know-who, 2004 was D'Lo (although he did come back in November,) 2005 was Ed Hartwell, and now Finn in 2006. I don't know how this will affect my preseason prediction, but I'll have to wait and see how the preseason plays itself out and then I'll put up predictions for all teams.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Auto Racing

Yep, that's me last weekend at Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented By The Brick. These two fine ladies were giving away free photos and looked really happy to be there, especially the broad on the left. It was hot that day, probably 32° or more. Look at me, I'm afraid to lay my sweaty hands on them (although my left hand does look like it wants a taste of the blonde broad's left boob.) Maybe it's because I know that so many other guys have already done that over the course of the day and I don't want to get AIDS.

Anyway, it was a good weekend, and it was hot very hot. Champ Car is the greatest ever.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

While you see a chance, take it.

On August 13, 2002, I received a rejection letter from the Canadian Forces. I was dependent upon joining the reserves to finance my education and to give me a challenge, so this turned my world upside down.

Almost four years later, on May 10, 2006, I received a phone call telling me that I did not meet the requirements to graduate from university. After four years of torment and suffering to earn a piece of paper, I was crushed to find out that it wasn’t over.

Both of these were pretty borderline calls. What’s the difference between them? I chose to fight the university decision.

I chose to fight it. And I won.

I can hardly believe it. During the last month or so I had completely resigned myself to the fact that I would have to do one more semester. I had learned to suck it up. But I needed to know for sure from the university that they didn’t make the decision on my graduation status in error. After perusing the university calendar for a loophole, I found one that I might have been able to exploit. As I pointed out earlier, in the Immunology and Infection section of the calendar, it does not state that you need a 2.3 GPA in your final year. This was the basis for my graduation denial. But it does say you need a 2.3 GPA in your final year for other programs. I highlighted this fact in a written letter to the Chair of the department of biological sciences. I knew this was a long shot, so I did not get my hopes up. I guess they decided that they can’t go by rules that aren’t written in the calendar, so they ruled in my favour. Score one for justice! It’s good to know that some people in the ivory tower still have a mind for what is fair. A faculty of science advisor told me not to appeal. My program advisor told me not to bother appealing. The Ombudservice was of no use to me. But I did it anyway.

I’ve spent the last four years feeling incompetent, dumb, inferior, and mediocre. If my Grade 12 self saw what I have become, he would certainly wonder what the fuck happened. My Grade 12 self was a hell of a lot more confident, sometimes to the point where he could come off as smug, arrogant and self-centred. He had a lot of optimism and was excited about leaving high school and pursuing the successes and opportunities that the university experience bestows on everyone. I certainly see things a lot differently now. I used to think that anything was possible if you dedicated yourself and believed in it. I came here expecting to be on the brink of something extraordinary after university. I expected some kind of post-graduate degree to be in the works. These last 8 months, all I wanted to do was pass my classes, get the fuck out, and fly planes for a living. And that got me to thinking…if there’s one thing I learned during my four years here…it’s that I have no business in a career in immunology and infection or health science in general…well, I guess that alone was worth the price of admission. A lot of people go to university to find something they enjoy and constantly change their majors and are here forever. But I think finding out what you don’t enjoy can be just as valuable…sort of. Back in Grade 12, certain people had successfully convinced me when I wanted to pursue a career in aviation, that aviation wasn’t good enough, that a university degree would be necessary to get me toward a good job that I loved, and that being a “glorified bus driver” wasn’t the way to white collar high fucking society. But how can that be more important than being able to look forward to going to work in the morning? Would I be better off if I was an engineer who hated his job? All those people who show up to work because it’s a job and they can make a living from it are all suckers. I think Dane Bullerwell said it best: “Every day I spend doing something because I’m good at it or because it’s tolerable – and not because I really enjoy the work – a little part of me dies.”

I can’t help but feel that this place brought out the worst in me. Whenever someone accomplished something good, I couldn’t be happy for them, I would actually find myself giving them dirty looks. I think it’s because I don’t like being constantly ranked, graded, and evaluated, and that’s all I’ve had throughout my life. Here, it doesn’t matter if you know 90% of the course material inside and out. If everyone else in the class knows more than you, you can still end up with a shitty grade.

If I had it all to do over again, would I? There are definitely things that I would do differently, but I have met a lot of great friends here, and I had the opportunity to play hockey for the first time, it got me a job working in the breweries, and at least it got me the hell out of Strathmore.

And maybe, I worried about things too much. I was sick of always worrying about that next midterm, the due date of that assignment, how much money was in my bank account, etc. And the worst part is that I just let out all my neg-head downer shit on everyone else. I was pretty miserable to my friends, roommates, classmates, and family, especially in the last 8 months. This is just selfish and inexcusable. So I guess the truth is that I’m a bad person. But, that's going to change - I'm going to change. This is the last of that sort of thing. Now I'm cleaning up and I'm moving on, going straight and choosing life. I'm looking forward to it already. I'm going to be just like you. The job, the family, the fucking big television. The washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electric tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisure wear, luggage, three piece suit, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing gutters, getting by, looking ahead, the day you die.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mid-Summer Crisis (part two)

Here's an update:

-Still have to go back to university in the fall.
-I hung around with Andre and Wallace over the weekend and Mick and Lamar on Monday, so that was good. Dustin will be up this Friday or Saturday for his semi-annual liver damaging trip to Edmonton.
-Going flying next Monday. Still, I don't know when the next one after that will be as the financial picture is still not very clear.
-The Stallions experiment still resembles a sinking battleship. I think that we've hit the mid-season wall as a team though, so maybe it's not just me. The road trip to Calgary was a blast, other than the game ending at halftime because of lightning, the food at the bar after the game taking two and a half hours, and a couple of guys on the team coming to blows later on. I hate seeing that. I suppose when you mix booze and boiled up tension with your teammates, people will shoot their mouths off and you just have to try to ignore it, but it's still not a pretty sight. But yeah, other than that, a good time.
-I'm becoming more efficient at my job, which is why I can take the time to write this blog post. Still, the 4:30 AM wake-up every day still gets on my nerves. We've had 6 managers quit in the last 6 weeks which makes me wonder what's going on with the leadership, but that's fine, we can manage.

Oh yeah, my dad's unemployed now too, so I don't know what's going to happen. The folks may be moving again, who knows. That's just what I need, more uncertainty. The goddamn human comedy continues.

And why does it seem that the Eskimos only lose to crappy teams? They're underachievers one week and then world beaters the next. All my teams that I cheer for are schizophrenic like that (the Oilers lost three times to the worst team in hockey last season), but it does make things more interesting. If I knew exactly how each team was going to perform before the game even started, there would be no point watching it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Weekend Movie Recap

Over the past 3 days, I've been watching movies almost non-stop, putting a big dent in my "Movies To Watch" list. And now I'm blogging about them. Clearly, I'm obsessed.

Match Point: Not your typical Woody Allen film. There is no neurotic nerd who gets into relationship problems of some kind, it's set in London instead of New York, and Allen does no acting at all. This one isn't particularly funny either. But Woody claims that this was his best work ever. I might be inclined to agree had it not been about 40 minutes too long. It still deserved to be nominated for the original screenplay Oscar, but it definitely did not deserve to win, like how Crash didn't deserve to win. Still, I liked the theme of the was kind of about how some people are lucky and some are unlucky, like a tennis ball striking the net can either go over it, in which case you win, or it can bounce back to your side and you lose.

American Splendor: I only picked this one up because of Paul Giamatti. I didn't really know much about it beforehand, except that this was supposedly Giamatti's strongest performance. After seeing it, I'm inclined to agree, although there were some striking similarities between Harvey in this movie and Miles in Sideways. Both are kind of hard luck characters who think that the world is screwing them over. The writing was spectacular. This one actually won a shitload of writing awards, but couldn't stop the Lord of the Rings sweep of 2004 to win the Oscar. Anybody who likes indie film is probably well-acquainted with this one already, but if not, it should definitely be high on your list.

The Squid and the Whale: Again, I didn't have too much prior knowledge of this one, only that it was nominated for writing at the last Oscars. When I think of movies about divorce, I automatically think Kramer vs. Kramer, but this was significantly different from it. After I got into it, I started noticing elements of The Royal Tenenbaums, and then in the closing credits, I found out it was produced by Wes Anderson, go figure. The writer (Noah Baumbach) also did The Life Aquatic, so there's that too. It does a really excellent job portraying how joint custody can screw up the kids. I don't have any firsthand experience with this but I did notice that at some of my brother's hockey games, separated parents with joint custody would usually sit at opposite ends of the arena. It would be hard to grow up normal in that kind of environment. Frigging brilliant, excellent movie.

A History of Violence: Yikes. I have no idea what to make of this one. I was kind of hoping it would keep me on the edge of my seat, but the best action occurs in the first 15 minutes. And in stark contrast to Match Point, this one is about 40 minutes too short. I thought they could have dug into the main character's past a lot more than they did because it left quite a bit unanswered. Or maybe I just wasn't paying attention. And they might have given William Hurt a bigger part. He did a 5 minute bit and then the movie was over. I can't believe this was written by the same guy who wrote Judge stars. Overall, I was pretty disappointed by this one. It just didn't live up to its hype.

24: Season One: I don't even watch TV anymore. I just rent the DVDs. You don't have to wait a week between episodes and there aren't any commercials. But you may have to wait all night outside the video store, like when my roommate Marc stayed up all night watching 24, talked of going to Movie Studio as soon as it opened so he could get the next episodes because he was so hooked on the show. Thankfully, that hasn't happened with me. I'm amazed at how the writers could keep this thing going for 24 episodes and in real time. It must have been hard to think up things for all the characters to be doing at any one time. I guess sometimes they gave the characters busy the time Rick spent 40 minutes digging a grave, and the time Terri and Kim spent a whole hour debriefing with Nina. But for the most part, the show moves fairly quickly, and Tommy Douglas III gives a pretty strong performance. I'm sure that if I ever had a day like that at that pace, I'd be passed out before noon. I'm still 8 episodes away from finishing, so I might comment more later.

After all the dust has settled...

Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka, and Doug Lynch for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, a 1st round pick in '07, a 2nd round pick in '08, and a possible 1st round pick in '08. I like this trade.

Who's Chris Pronger?