Friday, 20 April 2012

Worries that kept me up tonight

Most to least intense:

1. Not getting enough sleep.
2. Behind schedule in my accounting class.
3. Needing a job.
4. Eating too many hot dogs.
5. Dad showing concern for my future.
6. Am I a racist?
7. Falling behind on Centretown Nonsense blog.
8. Do 2, 3, 5, and 7 represent me being inherently lazy or ineffective?
9. I sure hope these aren't the symptoms of clinical depression.
10. Probable coffee addiction.
11. Poor performance in ball hockey.

As a fun game, you can also try to guess how they rank from most to least rational. Your guess may be more accurate than mine on that one.

Brendan looks forward to his retirement.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Grown-up temptations and secret addictions

There are a lot of things a.m.k. won't eat. There are a few things he will always eat.

I don't know when I became grown-up. It's not something that you can normally pinpoint to a certain moment of a particular day, saying "ah! that's when!". It kind of creeps up on you like a snake gobbles up a big dead animal. When I open my proverbial eyes and look around at the environment surrounding me, I am swallowed by the snake-skin of grown-up-ness. It's slightly terrifying.

Case in point, I am a more-or-less robust vegetarian. By more-or-less, I mean I haven't eaten meat once since I decided to become veggie "to try it out". The first week into my new lifestyle, veal cannelonis came on sale. That was and still has been the greatest test I have ever faced.

It's been about five years, and I can only recall one or two times where I had picked meat off of something and still eaten it. Once I was at a restaurant and clearly asked if there was meat in any of what I ordered and the waiter brought me something which had what essentially was pig shavings on top (ew). The other time I wasn't even sure if it was meat. Sometimes eggplant looks suspiciously like fish.

Anyways, I am a pretty stubborn individual so not relenting on my vegetarian-ness isn't too surprising, I suppose. What is sort of interesting is that since I was thirteen years old, I haven't been able to eat eggs. I think the time that triggered my "allergy" was when I was sleeping at my buddy's house, let's call him Pat, in my last year of elementary school. He cooked up omelets while I was in the shower, and by the time I was out, my omelet was cold. I think part of the reason why he decided to cook said omelets while I was showering was to teach me a lesson to take shorter showers (or perhaps just to not wack off in it, which he probably presumed took me more than fifteen seconds). I distinctly remember not taking a particularly long shower, but the omelet was cold when I ate it, and it was disgusting enough to make me as close to non-drinking-induced vomitting as I have ever been since age like six. Over the years since that fateful day, I have tried every so often to eat eggs, even scrambled eggs which I didn't mind so much growing up. No matter what, they make me incredibly nauseous after the third or fourth bite.

It's not a severe allergy in that I can eat things like french toast with eggs as somewhat key ingredients, but if it's the main ingredient, it's probably best that I stay away from it.

That last point brings me to my slight aversion for milk/cream. I've heard from several sources that humans continually become more lactose intolerant as they age. I think I am following the human pattern at a slightly more advanced rate than the average homo sapien (cue childhood story number two). When I was in high school, I worked at a grocery store in the dairy department. I was hooked up with this job by that same friend who cooked me that allergy-instigating omelet (is there a pattern here, "Pat"?). Every few weeks I had to work a midnight shift over the weekend and clean the cooler.

I look back on this now and think that I was probably too young to be working overnights when I was in high school, and I am even more surprised to recall how adamantly my mom encouraged me to work these shifts. Anyway, I had to drink like three cups of Tim Hortons coffee just to get through the night, and even still sometimes I fell asleep on my 4am break at the dairy desk. I was still pretty young and not really into drinking coffee yet so I didn't quite know how to take it, and Tim Hortons was literally the only thing around that I could walk to that was open in the middle of the night. So Timmies coffee it was. After a few overnights, I got so sick of Tim Hortons coffee (pulling all-nighters also makes me feel nauseous, especially as a teen) that even the smell of it made me feel sick. I experimented with different ways of taking it because I had no other means of caffeine to stay up and I didn't yet know where to pick up speed or cocaine, and I discovered that if I got it with sugar but no cream, I didn't feel nearly as sick. I began noticing that cream in general made me feel sick when I had more than just a little of it. Smelling spoiled milk all day (even crazy cleaning supplies doesn't completely get the smell out) probably didn't help.

So, I can't eat eggs, and if I have things that are too creamy, I get sick. It seems like veganism is the next step, right? I mean, I am against torturing animals already (most dairy farms aren't too nice to their animals, and even if they are "nice", would you want to be milked 24/7?), and besides, I think drinking another mammal's milk is pretty unnatural, especially as an adult. There's only one (or two) problem(s): I really, really like chocolate milk. And ice cream.

Chocolate milk and Haagen Daas ice cream have been the only reasons for my continued survival some nights (followed closely by Miss Vickie's Sea Salt and Vinegar and alcohol. (Editor's note: The alcohol can be further broken down to the following hierarchy: bourbon; scotch; irish whiskey; other whiskeys/sour mash; beer (two exceptions); white wine; vodka; virtually every other type of alcohol; coors light/corona; red wine). Cutting out milk/cream/ice cream, which I did almost eight months ago, hasn't been as easy as I had hoped.

Ever tried chocolate soy milk? That shit's disgusting. I tried it once and almost threw up. Vegan ice cream? Not nearly as bad, but it doesn't really hit the spot the same way Haagen Daas does. Man, do I ever love Haagen Daas. Peanut Butter Chocolate. I haven't seen that around in awhile, but if they stopped making it, I am going to start a protest with egg shells and used toilet paper outside their headquarters.

When I went home for Christmas, my buddy opened his fridge and showed me about a thousand mini bottles of chocolate milk. The good kind. He slowly drank his and I saw that he was refreshed. I couldn't help myself. I drank two very quickly.

After those orgasmic gulps, I couldn't help myself: I started thinking about eating ice cream and chocolate milk again. Since then, there have been two or three times when I have eaten Haagen Daas or some similar delectable treat.

I mean, I guess cutting out meat wasn't that easy either. I liked bacon and fast food, but the only meat I really liked was veal. And the whole reason I became vegetarian in the first place is because some bitch of a Boston Pizza waitress gave me the dirtiest look for ordering it one day (actually we were kind of friends). Plus, veal isn't as common as other meat, so it's not like I ate it every day (except for a brief period right before I became veggie, to indulge; veal TV dinners went on sale, what can I say). However, I had/have intense ice cream and chocolate milk cravings.

Now I don't want to go full-out back to dairy. I was so close to finalizing my veganism and cutting out cheese. I need an excuse to stop eating pizza three days a week anyway. But now, every once in a while, when I feel the need to be a bad-ass and do something reckless, I go out and drink a bunch of chocolate milk.

That's right.

Instead of going out and getting drunk or having wild unprotected sex with strangers, I drink a tall glass of chocolate milk, looking beside and behind me, paranoid of getting caught. Maybe my nervousness is a throw-back to when I used to drink chocolate milk in the cooler at work and throw the empty cartons into the damages crate, I don't know (no cameras). All I know is that I have a severe chocolate milk addiction that causes me to get out of control.

When you feel reckless by going to Quickie and getting a litre of chocolate milk, you know something has drastically changed from when you were a kid, or even a non-adult. If you were to tell me when I was in high school that my weekend walk on the wild side was to drink some chocolate milk and maybe have a helping of Haagen Daas, I would have cried like I do every time I watch Big Fish.

Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe it's a sign of maturity that the morals I bend to "have a good time" are (arguably) not as unquestionable, as say, stealing stop signs or drunkenly vandalizing buildings with big rocks. Or maybe it's just a sign that I was eaten by the snake of adulthood a long time ago and I'm only now starting to wake up from my delusion and recognize where I am.

a.m.k. has been a closet animal rights proclaimer for several years, but has been bashfully taking it to the streets as an activist for the past two.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

On winning the lottery

a.m.k. has found something he can really believe in.

I was reading pub trivia questions Tuesday night while the NHL draft lottery was on. I paused longer than usual on the questions, with one eye on the TV, neglecting my troupe of followers as they impatiently doodled on their question sheets. The fifth team came up, then the fourth team, and no one got promoted -- the chance of the Oilers winning the lottery had gone up ever so slightly. The third pick went to the Canadiens as scheduled, so it was down to either the Blue Jackets or my precious Oilers for top pick – but the chances were still in Columbus' favour. But when the bald man turned over the large piece of cardboard with the Oilers' symbol, I held back a shriek into the microphone. I started visibly trembling and exclaimed to the crowd that the Oilers had won to pick. The restless souls in my audience couldn't have cared less, but it didn't matter. I texted my girlfriend in jubilance. My heart flooded. I sat down and wept.

OK, I may not have actually wept, but I did tremble a bit at the thought of adding Nail Yakupov in two and a half months. It felt like Christmas morning; except I never celebrate Christmas – for the last three years, the draft lottery has been Christmas. I couldn't sleep that night because my mind was flooding with potential line combinations. I am going to share with you a couple of my favourites, just because I can hardly subdue my excitement:

Choice 1: The Obvious

Yakupov - RNH - Eberle
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Horcoff - Paajarvi
Hartikainen - Lander - Jones
Petrell, VandeVelde

Let our offensive dynamos light up the top two lines and complement them with a bottom two that has good two-way ability with guys who put up respectable points (aside from the centres, but we're not getting rid of Horcoff and Lander will be better next year). This top line is exciting because Yakupov is a left-handed shot so left wing is his natural side, but Eberle looks comfortable when he lines up on left for powerplays, so they could do some fun criss-cross patterns.

I'm going to have Petrell in each of these examples because I think he is a good 13F who should improve next year and put in work even if he keeps getting scratched. I put Vande Velde as the other extra because I don't think another year of the AHL is going to help him any more than being a sometimes player in the NHL, and we could use a healthy scratch guy who can take face offs.

Choice 2: Fun with mixing

Hartikainen - RNH - Eberle
Hall - Gagner - Yakupov
Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky
Jones - Lander - Pajaarvi
Petrell, VandeVelde

He'll go good on the second line.
Each of these lines has some size and scoring ability. We could roll four lines, reunite the vet line as our 3rd line. Lander and Pajaarvi play well together even though they both need some more time, and their size and Pajaarvi's speed could help give Jones a bit of room to score 15-20 goals from up close. If your 4th line scores 40 goals in a year I think that's pretty good, and I think this 4th line can do that, even given that they won't have as much ice time. How are teams going to defend against this? Who do you put your toughs against? You take out one line and you have three more that can score. I don't believe much in the need for grit, because I haven't seen evidence grit-first actually working, but this configuration still has two guys in this top six (Harty and Hall) and all but one of the bottom six (Hemsky) who can play big – which is pretty good for having so many capable goal scorers on each line.

What, you're not ready to give up on Pajaarvi as a top 6 winger? We don't really need him to be a top-6 winger anymore, and I think he could be useful somewhere on the roster -- I also don't think he has much trade value this year, though I could imagine losing him + Gagner to get a top-2 defenceman.

Other plans for the Oilers

It's time to sign Justin Schultz. Why wouldn't he want to come to a team whose forwards look like this, particularly if he'll get play in the top 4? Yes, we could still use a top-2 D, but maybe now we can attract a free agent or pull off a trade with someone if we give them like 10 decent players who we don't need. Of course don't give away the whole farm team, but right now we have a ton of prospects and picks we could give away even for one more top 4 D. Eager, Belanger, Hordichuk, Whitney, Peckham, Teubert, Chorney, Hamilton, Rieder – none of those guys need to come back. We have other enforcements for those positions who won't be much of a drop-off in my opinion. If we could sell all those guys and some picks for even one top-4 D (and I know it would never work quite like that, but after several deals perhaps), I think we're suddenly in a pretty good position. All of a sudden we have a lineup that could attract Josh Harding to be 1B goaltender, and we're rolling.
1B and we're rolling.

With this kind of windfall, the biggest problem I see with the forward group is Gagner at 2C, and that man scored eight points in a night not too long ago. I have a feeling him plus, I don't know, Gernat and Bigos could get even us a bigger 2C who scores 50-60 points a year instead of 40-50. But if he gets to play with Hall and Yakupov, I don't see how Gagner doesn't hit 60 points next year anyway. Work on your faceoffs, young man, and you'll be that much more valuable, maybe we don't even need to get rid of you. Even though you are somehow the oldest player on our top 2 lines.

I don't like losing more than anyone else but this talent is hard not to get excited about. I can picture at least a playoff push next year, and the year after that I think the Oilers can be contenders. Sometimes incompetent management and luck can breed the building blocks to a great hockey team, even if they can't turn those building blocks into a cup contender. Have I mentioned how we need to get rid of pretty much the entire front office? Another time. For now, let's enjoy winning the lottery.

a.m.k. is pretty sure he could score twenty goals if he played with Eberle and Yakupov.

[Images grabbed from and Oilers Nation.]

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The ethics of Pokemon fights

Guest author! Pam may or may not still live in Centretown.

Today I’m going to talk about something I care about passionately and something that I toyed with in my childhood but quickly grew out of. These things are Pokemon and animal rights, respectively.

This is what they do for fun.
Pokemon is a game developed by Nintendo where your goal is to wander through towns as a ten year old, obtaining creatures equipped with special abilities and various game stats, such as the ability to withstand physical damage, and battle them with other Pokemon obtained by competing NPC trainers. (The careful balancing of types and statistics, plus the side quests in Pokemon breeding, are excellent introductions to the wonder of the Sciences, especially economics and biology, but that can be the subject of a later post.)

An imaginary reader might now ask: if Pokemon are forced to do battle, does this make them victims of animal cruelty?

Consider this: animals fight each other all the time. They fight with members of other species when they feel like their life is threatened, and they fight with members of their own species when competing for food or mates. Often, these fights can result in death or worse. (For example, it is well known that a male lion, when taking over a defeated male’s pride, will actually murder all the cubs and any lionesses he thinks is pregnant. This fact actually made me more disturbed with The Lion King than when I realized Simba and Nala were siblings.) The great thing about Pokemon is that the Pokemon are not allowed to kill each other in battle! The rules of Pokemon battle are as careful and elegant as the rules of Sumo. They, in fact, actually restrain and temper the natural violence of animals, so battling with them is both a release and a safety net for the Pokemon involved. (Any comparison to cock fights is logically invalid because the real illegal part of cock fights is taking bets on the outcome. This is because those bets are difficult to regulate and tax, and the government is worried about all the money exchanged under the table.)

Deep Play: Notes on the Kanto-ese cockfight
The benefits don’t end there. In the anime based on the game, the characters seem to bond very closely with their creatures, even though these creatures are incapable of holding a conversation as they can only futilely communicate by repeating their names. This is the bond of warriors, forged through the heat of battle, similar to what you see in equestrian training and with competitive show dogs. I don’t have as much time to play Pokemon as I did in halcyon days, but I still dream that we could all reconnect with animal-kind by making a society that treats them more like Pokemon. By battling real animals against each other, we as humans can gain a sense of kinship with them not felt since cave times.

I dream of a world where the Humane Society would not need to kill thousands of cats and dogs every year because they could be put to good use: competitive fighting.

Pam is a merciless biologist. She takes apart animals all day just to see how they look on the inside.

[Illustration borrowed from Smogon University.]

Monday, 9 April 2012

Looking forward to the Oilers' draft

a.m.k. starts ball hockey practice Wednesday. He's sort of a Cam Barker type.

As the Oilers' season ends, there are two major things to look forward to between now and the fall: draft day (June 22) and Free Agency (July 1). Of the two, I think draft day will be more interesting because so many possibilities remain: this year, it's trickier for the Oilers than just picking between Hall and Seguin or picking between Nugent-Hopkins and no one. There are about ten different scenarios that could possibily happen for the Oil.

As for Free Agency day, there really aren't that many players the team could successfully target that would be a meaningful or certain upgrade, so it looks like the veteran change will be through trade, which might occur on any given day before camp. My bet: 1-2 free agency signings, 1-3 trades that see the Oil get approximately five new players/picks, and 1-3 players graduated from the minors. I also bet their (first) first round pick plays on the NHL roster this fall as well, provided they don't trade it or trade down.

Scenario one: Oilers trade their first-round pick (plus other stuff) for an established defenseman

There are many teams that would trade to get a top three pick, because the chances of a top-3 pick completely busting are pretty unlikely. Teams that have a solid core will be thinking about renewing and refreshing their solid core, and adding an elite or very good player at this year's draft will go a long way to continue a strong base from just one transaction. If a team can give up an NHL defenseman aged 20-28, either already a top-4 or top-6 in his early twenties and projecting well, to get a big 1 or 2C, they very well might do it.

97% of you know better.
But there are a few questions about this approach: yes, trading away the pick might make the Oilers better next year, but will they be better in three years? I am more interested in how the team will be in 2-3 years than they will be next year. I want to win games, but I'd rather continue building the core. With what we currently have and the fact that we will be adding something good by virtue of drafting high and having talent bubbling under, I can't see us being worse next year than we were this year, which is a hopeful sign.

I don't want to trade the top pick. Would you trade Hall or RNH for a top 4 defenseman now? 97% of you wouldn't, and neither would I. The guy we're going to be trading is akin to a Hall or an RNH, we just haven't gotten attached to him yet. Whoever we pick will likely have higher trade value a year from now, or else he'll be good enough for us to never mention trading him. Again, I wouldn't trade this pick.

Scenario two (slightly different): Oilers trade down

Is Griffin Reinhart more of an ideal player for the Oilers than Ryan Murray, or similar enough that they don't know who is better at this point? If so, why not trade the #2 or #3 pick down to something 6-10 so we can add a good prospect, maybe a power forward type one or a big centre?

This line of reasoning isn't faulty, but normally, there is something real that separates someone who goes #2 or 3 from someone who goes #8. Of course, there are sometimes #8s who go on to outperform that #2s and 3s of their draft class, but I'm not betting on that. Chances are that Ryan Murray is going to be a better player than Griffen Reinhart, though they both will have good NHL careers. Am I 100% confident? Absolutely not. But it's a guess based on various scouting reports from multiple people. To be more certain of something, it's best to take several opinions into consideration. The Oilers might really like Reinhart, but it's a gamble to overrule what every other scout says. That being said, I have more confidence in Stu MacGregor than virtually anyone else high up with the team, so if he actually thinks Reinhart is as good as Murray, I will skeptically trust him.

I wouldn't trade down, although I would rather trade down than trade the pick entirely. A #2 or 3 overall pick is just too likely to turn out really well.

Scenario three: Winning the lottery

Done deal.
This is one of the few things people agree on. If the Oilers manage to win the lottery, we take the best player available, and the best player available is Nail Yakupov. Yakupov's superiority is perhaps the only thing people agree on, and I don't think you can give him up. I don't care how big he is. That leaves us a big #2 centre away from having a truly elite top 2, and I think it's easier to get that guy if you have a combination of ten spare parts to give away in several different trades to eventually land him. It will take some management work, but I bet it can get done. I like Gagner but not a #2C in an elite group yet. Work on intensity and and two-way play and maybe he can be #3.

If we win the lottery, I take Yakupov. Done deal.

Scenario four: drafting at 2 or 3 overall

It seems likely that the Oilers will draft 2 or 3 overall, though they could fall as low as four. If they are at three, who the Canadiens (or whoever picks at #2) choose could really help the Oilers make their decision for them: if Montreal takes Grigorenko, Oil takes Murray. If Montreal takes Murray, Oil takes Grigorenko.

Is it as simple as that? There is, at least theoretically, something to worry about with pretty much all of the highly-touted draft kids this year. Not only that, but there is not universal agreement that Murray and Grig are 2 and 3, not even close. Some rankings have them each closer to #10. Here's a brief look at the other names that Oilers might consider for a #2 or 3 pick:

Filip Forsberg

Another done deal.
If the Oilers don't take Grig or Murray with #2 or 3, they will most likely take Forsberg. He has the makings of a power forward, which aside from a top 2 defenseman, is arguably the biggest need (#1 goalie is also in that conversation). The thing about the draft is it's a lot easier to add a good forward and be confident about it than it is to add a good defenseman. Also, Forsberg could potentially play in the NHL this fall and do well, while a defenseman might still play in the NHL but not be a significant contributor. However, I hear comparisons between Forsberg and Pajaarvi, and I like Pajaarvi, but he's far from a sure thing. We also have a lot of potentially good power forwards on their way, and I'm not sure how much more of an upgrade Forsberg is. He might be a big upgrade, but I just don't know, and I don't think there is consensus thinking that he is a for sure upgrade. If Oilers draft 4th and Murray, Grig and Yakupov are gone I take him, but I don't think I take him ahead of one of those three.

Matthew Dumba

Craig Button from TSN has this guy as #2 overall. A lot of other scouts have him as the highest defenseman. He is also the one guy in the top ten who really worries me and who I hope the Oilers don't take. Anyone described as raw with a high ceiling but making defense mistakes as a defenseman makes me want to hide in the corner and panic. We have about a million players who have potential high ceilings but are rusty, approximately. The last thing I want to do is add another one. Yes, he might put it all together and be a great top 2 guy. He also might not. We also might have 10 quality NHL defenseman already in the system. We have enough chances in the depth pool to make me more than comfortable, we just don't have really any sure things. Dumba is not a sure thing, so don't take him. I know no one is really a share thing, but he is more of a gamble. Oilers do not do well with gambles, it seems. Plus he's small. We also have about a million guys who are too small, approximately. Again, this is the one guy I'd pass on, even if I traded down to something like #8 or 9.

Morgan Rielly

He spent most of the year injured. He is also a defenceman, and since there are a handful of other defencemen who are similarly touted that weren't injured all year, I don't think the Oilers need to make a gamble on him. Also, missing a major developmental year means that he is that much further behind everyone else, and I'd like to have a prospect ready sooner than later to mix with the current talent and developmental paths, and Ds take longer than usual anyway. I'd pass on him almost anywhere in the top 10.

Alex Galchenyuk

Trouba, Dumba, Reinhart, Rielly,
Galchenyuk, and the elegant Radek Faksa.
This is perhaps a player who could go anywhere from 2-lower in the first round. He is a centre, and like Rielly, he has spent most of his draft year injured. Before his injury, he was ranked as one of the top prospects. How much does missing a major developmental year push him back? Should the Oilers risk taking him? Again, because I want our next 2C centre to step in right away, I don't want to take him. However, good centres are hard to find and I'd say can become effective quicker than good D, so I would rather take him than Rielly and think he is a bit less of a gamble. Still a big gamble though. I wouldn't take him before Grig, but if the Oil decide they want a 2C and Grig isn't there anymore, I might want them to take Galchenyuk. Hell, even if Grig is there, I think Galchenyuk should at least be in the conversation if they want to go the C route instead of D.

Radek Faksa

The third and final centre I think who should be in the conversation for the Oilers is Faksa. Grig has the whole attitude/lack of try thing people complain about, and Galchenyuk had the injury, might be further behind others, people aren't sure how much of his offense is him and how much is Yakupov (they play on the same team), etc., but there do not seem to be any doubts about Faksa. Faksa is decently sized and I think he could fill out to be a big enough 2C guy (bigger than Gagner, for example, but not as big as Grig). The only thing is he doesn't seem to be regarded as having the same elite skill as I'm hearing mentioned in the same breath with Galchenyuk and Grig. In that way, he might be a safer bet. #3 seems to be a bit high for him to go, but if the Oil end up taking him, I wouldn't mind. At least that way I could say the team having a legitimate 2C that they need, and I think he projects to be that. Maybe not next year, but the year after I think he could be that guy, and I'd be less worried about him than the other centres on this list. Still, is he enough of a talent to take with the top pick? I think you have to talk about him, but ultimately don't take him that high. Unless, again, you decide you really need a centre and want to pass on Grig and Galchenyuk.

Jacob Trouba

Out of these ten prospects, Trouba is the one I hear least about. From what I understand, he is a good player, calm, and could be a great addition to the blueline. However, he isn't supposed to be as good as the other D on this list, so why take him over any of them? Out of the D, I would consider taking him ahead of Dumba and Rielly because there is some element of worry associated with them, but not above the other two D on this list.

Griffin Reinhart

Lastly, there is a D prospect who I really like: the Oil Kings' Reinhart. He is not quite as highly-touted as the top 2 or 3 defensive prospects, but it wouldn't be a huge stretch for him to go top 5. I can't see the Oilers taking him ahead of Ryan Murray, since Murray seems to exemplify more of what they're looking for, but he plays for the WHL team in Edmonton, so the Oilers I'm sure have gotten lots of good looks at him. He is big and mobile, and I am not hearing too many negatives about his game. Overall, he seems like a safe bet, but not as elite as the other names on the list, kind of like Faksa. However, like Faksa, I'm not sure the Oilers can take him unless they trade down, which I don't want them to do.

A maker of bold moves?
What I'd like them to do

The final scenario I'm going to mention is what I would like them to do, but let me preface it by saying I don't think it's going to happen. It'd be a bold move, and the Oilers don't seem to make too many of those types of moves. However, I am going to argue why I think it is in the best interest of the organization to make this move.

Keep their top pick and trade for someone else's pick between 6-10.

But that's not going to get us some immediate help, you say, we should be saving our picks to trade for a top-4 defenseman! That is a valid opinion, and I wouldn't cut myself if that happened. But adding both a 2C and good young defender excites me way more. I do not expect to challenge for a cup this year, and I think that adding two of those guys helps more in the long run than adding neither and instead adding a top-4 guy now. If we can get one defender in the off-season via free agency (Justin Schultz would be perfect), I will be happy. Hell, I would even take two defensemen with two top ten picks if everything fell into place that way. If we pick third and Grig and Yakupov are gone, I wouldn't mind seeing Murray and Reinhart picked up. Ideally we would do one of the following scenarios, though:

First pick: Grigorenko
Second pick: Reinhart

First pick: Murray
Second pick: Faksa

First pick: Forsberg
Second pick: Faksa or Reinhart

Right now, I see five major problems for the Oilers. Some of them might be able to be taken care of via farm. Two of those problems are defenders. One is goaltender. Another is a top-6 power winger. The last is a big 2C.

We could fix two of those issues at this draft. The defender might not step in next year, but probably the year after that. I know we'd have to give up something to get that high first round pick. Maybe a couple lower picks and a couple prospects, but I bet there is a market for Peckham and Omark, and I'd even give up some other guys -- maybe a combination of Martindale, Pitlick, Hamilton, Bigos, or Marincin. Think about this in two years:

Hartikainen - RNH - Eberle
Hall - Grig or Faksa - Hemsky
Good bottom 6 players

Murray or Reinhart - Schultz
Fedun - Klefbom
strong vet

These guys might not all work out, but luckily we have about a thousand other prospects bubbling under who can still up their ante and impress enough to make it and be solid contributors. There is so much we can cut loose and still be successful, but I'm hoping we can add more top-level talent and give away some of this bubbling under talent in order to attain it. In the hypothetical world where we're asked to give up Pitlick, Hamilton, Marincin, Teubert, Plante, Martindale, Peckham and Omark just to land Reinhart, I'd do it. We have a huge log jam anyway.

a.m.k. would like a time machine to visit the year 2015, when the first-place Oilers have moved to Gary, Indiana.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Something I should say more often

You're good.

You're good, and I like you. If I haven't paid attention or listened properly, or if I've ignored your birthday or I haven't tried out your favourite music, then I hope I haven't let you down. I've been occupied with myself for so long. But you deserve my attention, because you're good.

You might think that you're a mess or that you don't have your game together, or even worse, you might think that people don't like you. And I can't speak for everyone, but I'm pretty sure we all like you. And you actually seem to have a lot of things figured out. If I could do all the stuff you can do, I'd be in a very strong position in life.

I know I get general or hazy sometimes when I try to pay you a compliment. I'll just say that you're working hard out there, or that you're "getting it done," or even just that you're good. But this is because I don't want to get too personal, or just because I've been too involved with just myself and haven't paid you more attention.

People are often very, very nice to me. I heard from a friend, maybe a month ago, that every teacher in high school really liked me. And it's really great to have that going on, and I hope you can have it too -- I hope it's happening to you already. Frankly, from knowing how people treat me, and from knowing what both of us are like, I can't see how you wouldn't deserve to be treated just as nicely.

This is sort of a fluffy twee thing to write, and it might come off insincere since I haven't written it to you personally, so I hope you'll trust me that I think this of you. If you doubt these sentiments coming from me, then I hope you can think of other people who know you better than I do and realize that they think this of you.

If you have anything coming up today that's going to worry you or stress you out, I can't promise that it will be easy, but I really hope it won't make you feel bad about yourself. Feeling bad about yourself is always terrible, and it's also always wrong. There are a lot of people who know that you're good, even if you don't want to fish for the compliments, and even if you don't believe them when you hear them.

Please like yourself, today and every day. It would be an enormous shame if you didn't know that you really are very good.

Brendan is just trying to keep it positive.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Life on the wait list

a.m.k. got wait-listed at a school he'd really like to go to.

I heard somewhere that we spend 1/5 of our waking lives waiting in lines. My personal least favourite might be at the grocery store -- one of the many reasons why I refuse to grocery shop more than once every 2-3 months. But nobody ever likes waiting.

Being on a wait list is possibly the worst thing that can ever happen to you.

I know being on a waiting list is not the same as physically standing and waiting somewhere, but in some ways it's worse. Yes, I can go about my day and do other things while on this waiting list, unlike at the grocery store, but also unlike at the grocery store, I can't see any sign that the line is getting shorter. I don't have any idea about how much longer I will be stuck in it. I don't know if there is one other person on this list or one million.

Okay, so I did about a billion hours of research on wait lists at the school I am waiting on (everything short of stalking), and I know there are at least seven others waiting, which makes it likely that there are another seven out there that I couldn't find. For a program that admits 15 people annually, that's a big list. Will they tell me what position I am in line on this list? No. I merely have to wait it out, and I could be waiting all the way until September.

Of course, chances are, if I am in I will hear about it by the end of April. Most people have to decide where to go by about April 15th (some the 30th), so if people reject their offers to this school I should get a call sometime around then. Of course if I am not one of the first on the list I just won't get a call, forever to remain in waiting limbo.

At least if they had said no, I would know where I stood. I would know what I should be doing, what kind of job should I be looking for (4 month contract or 1 year and 4 month contract?), if I should continue looking into grad schools, if I should be writing entrance exams like my MCATs -- which I'll probably need to study for. Instead, I am either twiddling my thumbs hoping for my phone to buzz (and then hoping it's not my bank using yet another different number trying to catch me to pick up my phone telling me my chequing account is overdrawn) to hear that, Congratulations!: You are admitted to this school that didn't really want you in the first place, but the people we really wanted decided they had something better to do. Big ego boost. And of course I'll still jump in the air, let out a yell and dreamily exclaim "they want me! someone really wants me!"

a.m.k. waits for the bus to a good psych program.
OK, so I did get in somewhere else too, but that school also wants about 27 billion dollars in tuition, which is the kind of money I don't really have, which is why I only applied to programs that I would be funded at (if not full funding, close to it). And as great as it was to see my name in the same sentence as "outstanding candidate" and "accepted for admission", the fact that the letter didn't mention funding didn't bode well. Do I take out a ginormous loan to pursue an education that might not even land me a steady job?

The answer is no, but at least this school lets defer acceptance for a year in case nothing better comes along in the next round of applications -- granted that my Plan A doesn't turn from a wait-list into admittance. See where the not knowing gets annoying? At least someone is giving some time to figure out how I can pay the insane tuition fees. My backup school is actually willing to wait for me.

Being on a wait list is about as bad for someone's mental health as anything else in such a transitory period of life. I don't know what I want to do, and of the things I might or might not want to do, I don't know how to do them. I just want to be happy, not be bored, and make enough money to build my own house with a study, recording studio, publishing house, hot tub, and have a TV that I can watch while soaking in the bathtub. Is that too much to ask?

a.m.k. might go to grad school next year, or he might not. It's kind of out of his hands for now.

[Picture from Ghost World.]