January 24, 2008

What Matters: WGA Strike is not one of them

From a software developer's point of view, here's how I would explain the reason for the strike from my understanding. Think of it as Oracle or Business Objects. They sell you their product for a few thousand (sometimes million) dollars , and then on top of that they charge you licensing fees per user or cpu. That's kind of what's happened with the writers. They want *more* royalties than before. To be precise, they are looking for 0.6% of DVD sales instead of 0.3%. And that's the gist of this entire 11 week strike.

The thing about the writers going on strike is that people are still getting scripts. If you watch CNN or any news, you'll see the anchor person is still reading his or her lines. Surely he or she didn't write all that herself, so there is still someone writing. If you take a look at the newspapers, you see no evidence of the strike. They are still coming out with pretty good articles, and I haven't noticed any change in the thickness of the papers.

Books as well continue to be published, unbeknownst to the striking writers who refuse to work. Just the other day we were at Mitchell's and there was a new book written by Brett Favre's wife about her struggle with breast cancer and her faith pulling her through. I guess she missed the memo about the strike.

It seems to me that the writers who decided not to come to work on November 5, 2007, are the ones who don't simply don't matter. No offense if you are a writer in the WGA, but in the grand scheme of things, you write about things don't matter a whole lot. I might not be able to watch my favorite TV show, or go see a movie actually worth the full $12, but life goes on.

These are people who write simply to entertain. They're sole purpose is not just to tell you something important that has happened, because if they did they'd be journalists. And they're not trying to tell you an important story, because otherwise they could have written a book. They are entertainers, nothing more.

While I'm not saying that it hasn't affect me -- I'll admit I like to be entertained -- the truth of the matter is the reason the strike has gone as long as it has, is because at the end of the day it doesn't affect you and me. I can do other things. I have options, like spending time with my future wife, reading a book, or playing video games. I could even.. work.

They've got a few actors on their side -- but again, no one cares. If you shave your head or have a run-in with the law, we'll read about you and laugh -- but generally we don't care about you either.

5 years ago public service in Toronto decided if they couldn't what they wanted, they would stop picking up garbage. Within a couple weeks, the public felt the full brunt. We were having a heat wave and you could literally smell the stench in the humid air. Every corner had one of those garbage bins filled to the brim and needless to say it was a germy disaster. We were days away from the Pope coming to town. That's the kind of strike people care about because it affects them directly.

This strike on the other hand, how does it really affect anyone besides the billionaire television network executives and movie moguls? So I have to watch American Gladiators instead of a confusing episode of LOST. I have to watch reruns of Two and a Half Men (I really like this show btw) instead of Heroes. Whoop-dee-doo, life goes on.

January 22, 2008

Football is over; Learning Mandarin

I've counted out the Giants on several occasions now. First when they played the Dallas Cowboys, I didn't think there was any chance they could beat them and they did. Then against Green Bay in Lambeau in freezing weather, I thought they couldn't possibly win against the mighty Packers and Brett Favre.

Now against the Patriots, another heavily favored team, I still don't think they have a chance. Despite every reason to cheer against the Patriots, including that they are a flawless unbeaten team, with a cheating coach, an abusive wide receiver (or innocent until proven guilty?) and a quarterback who dates a supermodel despite having a bastard child with another woman -- I still cannot see any possible way that the Giants could pull off this upset, even though the Patriots appear to be Satan's team.

On a positive note, you non-sports readers finally get some reprieve. Football is over.. no more football posts.

Lately I've really felt a genuine appreciation for my parents forcing me to go to Chinese school to learn Mandarin. With the influx of immigrants coming here and speaking chinese, it's been such a blessing for me to be able understand and to communicate with these people.

Although I can't say I ever hated learning Chinese, I definitely felt at times like I was spinning my wheels since, in my earlier years, most Chinese people in Toronto were speaking Cantonese. But since about 10 years ago more and more it's been about Mandarin.

I've appreciated the ability to communicate through my limited pinyin with Chinese kids playing World of Warcraft. Or listening intently to conversations on elevators. I remember one occasion of a child speaking to her mother in Mandarin, it was a pretty comical conversation which I had to explain to Ina later. That little girl was very smart. Recently I discovered that there is a mom in my building who verbally abuses her little boy all the time. I never would have noticed that if I didn't know Mandarin. Also having the ability to communicate with some co-workers who; upon struggling to explain something to me in English, I ask to switch to mandarin to get their point across.

Further to this is an added opportunity of ministry being able to speak the language that over 1 billion people can speak. Considering that I'm fluent in both Mandarin and English means I have a possible mission field of approximately 3-4 billion people.

I think that's pretty neat.

January 18, 2008

Two interesting games left..

I've paid little attention to my Raptors the last few weeks because of the NFL playoffs, but as the NFL post-season winds down, I will slowly shift my attention back to the Raptors.

The Raptors are playing like crap, in my opinion. I haven't paid too much attention to them over the past month but I know that although they've won half their games, half the teams they've played sucked. There is no urgency or intensity in their approach to the game. When you watch a game, they look like they're expecting something to happen, as if the game will just come to them.

This is a really young team that is still learning what it takes to win games. They play hard very occasionally and half the time it works. Well the problem with this is that kids will work hard and if they don't see results, then why work hard? And then there are times where the hard work pays off, they win, and they play an easy game where they didn't have to work hard, and then the effort reverts to the old way.

The next frustrating part of the team is the misuse of players. Here are my suggestions to Bryan Colangelo and Sam Mitchell:

Kapono needs the ball to score. You're paying him almost $7M/year to shoot the ball but no one passes it to him. He's no good as a decoy if he doesn't score first.

Chris Bosh: If the lane is open, do not pull up for a jump shot. That is what small forwards and shooting guards do. You are the power forward. Note that first word "Power"? Your mid-range jumper has become your bread and butter, when it should only be your secret weapon. Use it when they've clogged the paint and you have no where else to go. I'm more impressed when you score 20 points in the paint than 40 points on jump shots. It helps everyone else, trust me.

Bryan Colangelo: Juan Dixon sucks as a point guard. You know it, I know it. I think even he knows it. Jose needs a real backup.

Since I've got your attention, here's another one: It's not that I've given up on him, but you need to sign someone to help us forget about Andrea Bargnani for a little while. Because Toronto fans expect instant success without any growth period, and it'll take Bargnani longer to reach his potential than fans have patience for. But see, if you don't do something now, media will be all over it and Bargnani will hear the word "bust" too often and it will ruin his confidence and eventually, his career.

In terms of the NFL, this past weekend was disappointing to say the least.

First, the San Diego Chargers beat my beloved Indianapolis Colts, preventing the possibility of watching two awesome games:

1) The most prolific quarterback in the past decade (Peyton Manning) vs the best clutch performing quarterback in the past decade (Tom Brady). And then following that game, we'd see
2) The most prolific quarterback in the past decade (Peyton Manning) vs the best quarterback alive ever period (Brett Favre).

Secondly, the San Diego Chargers lost key players LaDainian Tomlinson and Phillip Rivers, to injury, which means the Patriots have been given a free ride to the Superbowl to face the Packers.

Am I being too quick to write off the New York Giants? I don't think so. The Giants are a team that is required to establish the run before they can have any kind of effectiving passing game. Eli Manning is not a great 'under-pressure' quarterback. Unfortunately for Brandon Jacobs, the Packers are one of the best teams in the league at stopping the run. And then moving on to their offensive line, also formidable. The holes that these guys open up for Grant, Jackson and Jones. Unbelievable.

This'll be a great piece to write about next week when the Superbowl matchup has been set in stone, but can you remember a time when Favre has had the kind of talent he has around him today? I can't. Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Brandon Jackson and Ryan Grant. They're not exactly Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth and Laurence Maroney, but put them up against pretenders like Antonio Freeman, Robert Brooks, Mark Chmura and Dorsey Levens.. that's a whole new ball game.

The same comparison can be made for Tom Brady who has never really had the offensive weapons that he has this year... although the comparison ends right there when you consider all the offensive records Favre holds while Brady, at least statistically, hasn't had much to offer until this season.

January 11, 2008

Can the Jags beat the Patriots?

Everyone is saying they can. Last week's game against the Steelers was one of the best games I've seen all year. The Jags almost blew a huge lead but persevered to win it. David Garrard calling his own number and rushing on 4th and out, that was an unbelievable play. But Pittsburgh isn't even that good. Roethlisberger had a great year by his standards, but overall he was just good. Willie Parker had a great year but he was hurt for the game.

One thing that did surprise me was that the Jags didn't just roll over at the end of the Steelers game when Pittsburgh had surged back. The Jags don't have a whole lot of playoff experience and I kind of saw that mini-collapse coming.. but that they stood their ground at the end, I think that builds character.

Next they play the Patriots who have had an extra week to prepare, and Belicheat says betted on the Jags so they focused on them even before they beat the Steelers, so really they've had nearly 2 full weeks to prepare. They've played only average in December but with those 2 weeks I think they'll be right on track again.

Looking at the matchups, the Jags sacked Big Ben a few times, but Ben pretty much led the league in getting sacked so it's not a huge surprise. I didn't think the Jags had a particularly quick pass rush which a few teams have found to be pretty successful because Brady's got to protect that pretty face of his. Do you see any supermodels dating toothless NHL players? I think not.

Secondly although the Jags also intercepted Big Ben 3(?) times, they were either pretty bad passes, most of them were almost like lobs, or they were deflected or batted down. This rarely happens with Brady's bullet-like passes.

Finally there is the run game. With Brady 'struggling' in December --- I use this term lightly --- Laurence Maroney finally showed why he was on this team of excellent players. He showed that the Pats can also run, when they feel like it. However they'r not great at stopping the run. Their rush defense looks like one of the best, the reality is teams just didn't run on them because they were down 2-5 touchdowns. No one runs when they're down 2 TDs.

So I think the key to this game, if the Jags have a prayer, is to keep the score close or low. The Pats do not want a close game here because it enables the Jags to run and I mean, you saw it last week, you can't stop Jones-Drew and Taylor. Either your defense lines up one way and Drew burns you, or another way and Taylor runs through you.

My prediction is the Pats come out with the mindset "Crush" and jump out to an early 14-3 lead, and then from there it's cruise mode for Brady and his awesome defense.

Key matchup to look out for are the Jags cornerbacks and Patriots receivers. You can't really compare Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes to Randy Moss, I mean these two combined aren't as good as Randy. And then there's still that pesky Welker.

I will be cheering for the Jags, but really I think this game is going to be won by the Pats handily. There is far more pressure on them to win because they're the best team in the league. They also want the privilege of trying to crack last year's champions, and get their revenge on the Colts next week. Unfortunately the Pats thrive on pressure, so this one is going to be a Pats win -- 31-13.

January 07, 2008


Roger, just admit that you took steroids. We all know you took it. It's not like anyone was surprised. This whole drug case is not something that will just boil over. This is not just a fun report that people will talk about for a couple years and forget all about it. It's a federal case.

Admit you took steroids. It's okay. I still respect you for the amazing things you did earlier in your career -- so what, you stole a few Cy Young's from the league. America will forgive you. See how the media rarely talks about Mark McGwire and only attacks Barry Bonds? The media will be the same way with you -- they will give you another chance because you are white, because you've always been friendly with the media (well, at least most of the time), and because you're somewhat of a fan favorite and feel-good story. Don't be like Barry, digging his hole deeper and deeper.

Just admit what you've done and be over and done with it. You can retire with some dignity at least.

January 03, 2008


whewt. whewt. whewt.

Crazy stuff happening today at Metro Hall. I came about 15 minutes late for work and as I scurried along the PATH, whewt-whewt-whewt-whewt! I discovered the hallway leading up to Metro Hall was closed off, a bunch of guys there were doing some mopping. So I had to turn back and take a detour into the Allstream building instead. whewt. whewt.

This unfortunately forced me to head outdoors, which of course I'm rarely ever equipped for and certainly was not today. Since I hadn't planned to go out I had just my thin black jacket on and a scarf. So anyway I ran quickly outside, whewt-whewt ducked behind as many walls as I could to avoid the icy -15C winds and ducked back into Metro Hall through the side door. whewt-whewt-whewt-whewt

To my surprise I was met by a wall of humidity as I walked into the building. It felt like I'd gone from the arctic tundra straight into the amazonian rain forest. My glasses fogged up immediately and I had to stop dead in my tracks since I couldn't see a thing. silence.

The smell. The smell reminded me of something that I had hoped for a long time to block from my memory. It was the smell of water soaked drywall, water seeping through floorboards, joists and concrete. Over to my right I saw a crowd of about 150 people lined up in front of the freight elevator with another 150 people standing around hoping to wait it out. Over to my left, I saw what had happened. It seems some kind of pipe had bursted, and was now pouring down into the main front entrance of the building. It appeared to be hot water, because it was steaming up the entire foyer. If you've ever seen Metro Hall, you'll know how much steam is required to fill the foyer.. it's huge. There had to be a foot of water, and it was pouring down, like a water fall. Metro Hall had turned into Metro Falls. You'd think with a building full of engineers, someone might have turned off the main valve by now?

whewt-whewtwhewt-whewt I gave my boss a call and he said to just grab a coffee and take my time getting upstairs. The alternative to lining up for the freight was to take the stairs, and I wasn't about to sacrifice my totally awesome physique to 27 flights of steps.

I took some pictures with my awesome 2-megapixel phone and went for coffee. whewt-whewt! whewt-whewt!

As it turns out what had happened is a heating water coil had become frozen due to low flow condition, due to the super cold temperatures. It bursted and unfortunately it was almost impossible to shut off because the leak was right beside the shut-off valve was, and the water was hot. No one could get in there to turn it off without scalding themselves badly. What a mess it turned out to be, I didn't get to my desk until about 10:30am, and the elevator power wasn't restored until about 12:30pm.

During the entire time that the elevators were down, the emergency strobe lights (found every few meters on the ceiling), were flashing non-stop every 3 seconds. Very very annoying. Almost as annoying as the whewt-whewt. They even have these things in the bathroom, so when I was doing my business, the lights were flashing. I felt like a celebrity with paparazzi all around me, taking pictures of me while I went pee.

What's worse now is that the hall leading down to the PATH is completely barred off. Apparently water seeped all the way down there and it's no longer safe to venture down there. I heard one guy say "the whole thing could collapse at any minute".

What a disaster.. I'll have to wear a thicker jacket tomorrow. whewt-whewt