Thursday, 31 January 2013

Leafs Line - Globe and Mail Gruff

Why I Don't Read the Paper:

I was just reading an article by Robert Macleod of The Globe and Mail today and it inspired me to write this little piece. The article -which you can read here- took some liberties in criticising the rookie defenceman Mike Kostka saying that he (and Phaneuf) are "not delivering despite plenty of ice time".

What Team are YOU Watching?

As it stands right now Toronto has a 3-3-0 record in this modified season. Considering that they've managed to draw to a game a-piece with the Buffalo Sabres who have a record of being Leaf-killers and that they've also managed to oust the highly-regarded Pittsburgh Penguins amongst their wins fans should be happy we're not worse-off than we are.

So maybe his game isn't 'godly' but he's pretty damned
good... Also the resemblance is uncanny.
Although the numbers don't say much about the new Toronto D-man (save for his 3 assists) those who have actually watched the game and his attitude on the ice would know that Kostka is nothing but an asset to a Toronto team that has been so lacking in defencemen willing to put their heart into the game. Now maybe it's just because he's desperate to prove that he deserves the spot he's been given on the team, but even still it's a player displaying real heart and determination, going to lengths that were unheard of from former defenceman Luke Schenn during his time with the club. How Brian Burke managed to ignore Kostka while sporting a raging hockey hard-on for Schenn is beyond me but then again, I'm not a general manager of the Leafs am I? Yeah well neither is Burkie anymore so HA!

Back to the real issue here, Kostka's willing to jump up into the play yet knows when not to push his luck. He's thrown himself across the blue ice in front of the net to prevent goals, and he has no problems hitting when the time calls for it. He has more than kept pace with the (for reasons I'm no longer able to comprehend) much-loved Dion Phaneuf and after all of this, in his rookie start during a season that can be described as nothing other than FUBAR, The Globe and Mail wants to blast him? Give me a break.

Scapegoat Much?

Could it be that TG&M (The Globe & Mail) is just looking to blame someone new for the Leaf's not having an undefeated season? Are they looking for someone expendable to shoulder the blame for shortcomings we as fans have been witness to for the last number of years? It just seems to me that the critics always seem to jump on the backs of the newest team members while ignoring the failings of those before them. I will give Macleod some credit in that he doesn't absolve Phaneuf of HIS sins on the ice, but to start nit-picking the play of Kostka seems a little hasty. Yes he has the second worst +/- in the league, only above Dion Phaneuf, but both of these players have been given -by far- the most ice time per game through the following match-ups:
  • TOR @ MON: 2-1 TOR
  • BUF @ TOR: 2-1 BUF
  • TOR @ PIT: 5-2 TOR
  • NYI @ TOR: 7-4 NYI
  • TOR @ NYR: 5-2 NYR
  • TOR @ BUF: 4-3 TOR
So facing heavy-handed Sabres and Rangers squads, an ever-potent Pittsburgh offence and a sixth-ranked New York Islanders (in the conference) it's no surprise that they could be expecting high goals-against games. Really the killer factors here are that they've been put out on the penalty kill, and that coach Randy Carlyle has admitted to insisting that Dion and often Kostka be out for defensive zone faceoffs... Faceoffs that aren't being won and as such you see the defensive pairing trapped in their own end, typically on fumes with no chance to switch off and get some relief.

The fact is that we've had 20 goals scored against us, while only managing to score 15 ourselves. Consider that a decent few of those have been powerplay goals and as such, would not count towards any positive rating and a clearer picture begins to develop. I honestly don't feel that Kostka of all players really deserves to be thrown under the bus or sniped at with the amount of work he's been doing each game. Some things simply don't show up in numbers, especially not this early in the season.

 Send It Upstairs:

So what's your review readers? How do you feel about our top defensive line's performance thus far? Satisfied? Left wanting? Comment on the post and let me know. Aside from that, until next time...

Enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Leafs Line - Eneuf of Phaneuf

Forgive the title folks.

There used to be this game called hockey, it was a glorious thing. Centremen and wingers knew to tread carefully as they crossed the opposing blue line. Defensemen spent their minutes eagerly awaiting a cocky forward's headstrong approach to their net for which they could answer with a resounding, bench-clearing-brawl-starting hit... May that sport rest in piece.

Hockey as we used to know it died years ago, but some players fought valiantly to prevent the NHL's higher-ups from really putting those last nails in the old gal's coffin. One of those champions of good, full-contact play was none other than Dion Phaneuf. You would hear of him -to borrow from basketball's vernacular- 'posterizing' players with hits that left them wondering which way was up, and they were GOOD hits. He was a player that a young physical player could look up to as a role model for their own style of play. He'd take aim, step up and go body-on-body with anyone crossing the blue line and take them from full-speed to a dead stop in an instant and he was prized for it. Add to that the fact that he could send in bombs from the point and you had a pretty lethal player. Unfortunately it would seem that the Phaneuf we knew, loved, and acquired from Calgary is also dead and gone.

Yeah, about that 'C'...
Now I wasn't all that fond of Phaneuf by the end of the 2011-12 season. I'd set aside a page on my old blog known as "Dion's Phan-omenal Hit List" and for the first two months he gave me something to post about to the tune of a highlight per game. By the end of the season? I'd be lucky to find ANY Leaf with something worth mentioning, much less Phaneuf whose play seemed to die. He lost any 'oomph' he'd had in years past, players just blew by him on the ice... It was as though the game had just gotten too fast for him and he couldn't catch up.

Jeremy Roenick, Scott Stevens, Chris Pronger, Cam Neely, Eric Lindros, Wendel Clark, these names all have something in common... They're not in the game anymore. Pronger being the latest to hang up the skates DID manage to hold true and stay relevant in his play however when you're one of the best defencemen to ever play in the NHL, and I believe I'm more than justified in calling him one, you tend to stick around. However, the guys who hit, and did little else, just aren't in the game anymore because the game was simply made too fast for them to follow and I fear that's what's happening to Dion Phaneuf. Players skate by him, he can't get the puck on-target with his slapshots from the point... The man's just not the weapon he used to be.

Now I'm positive that he no longer deserves the 'C' on his jersey. I don't care at this point what he might be like OFF the ice, he's not putting in enough ON ice effort for it to matter. Maybe that's not fair though, maybe he IS putting in the effort, it's just not amounting to anything. Either way, a player who just can't get results isn't usually kept on the team, much less on as the team's captain.

I'm not going to start bringing up who should hold the captaincy over him, because really, there aren't many players who I'd say aren't ahead of him in that race. All I'll say is that it's about time we shopped him around while some of the other clubs may still find value in him and try to pick up someone better. Honestly, if it meant getting a veteran goaltender, I'd sell Phaneuf in a second. It's not that I feel Reimer is inadequate for the job, just that he COULD stand to be mentored by an older, more experienced netminder as opposed to forcing him to get his experience via firing squad as we've been doing the last couple year.

So, to sum this up:

  • Phaneuf's slacking.
  • He sure as hell doesn't deserve the 'C'.
  • He's getting to the point of not earning his roster spot.
  • Shop him around in search of something better (like a bucket of pucks or 10-12 rolls of hockey tape).
Enjoy your swim folks!

Joshua J. Taylor

Fishbowl Favouritism - Welcoming the West

Yeah, I'm Biased:

I'm a Leafs fan, there's no two ways about it. Call'em the Buds, the Boys in Blue, Leafs, Laughs... Yeah, even the Laughs and I'll call'em my team.

As such I've had a Leafs Line series for almost as long as I've had a blog. You've probably read it at least once and yes, I vehemently support Toronto and you'll have noticed that as well. With that said I think it's about time I evened things out a little.

Welcoming the West:

I'm not going to start supporting Boston, Ottawa, or Montreal, but I AM going to be welcoming a second team into the Leafs Line type articles. The team is going to be nominated by my Facebook friends and through comments and suggestions made here by readers. You can pick any Western conference team, comment with the team name or city at the bottom of this post and have your vote counted in the decision. 

Now, in case you're not familiar with the division between the Eastern and Western conference team sets... Actually, if you're not familiar with the East-West division in the NHL you probably shouldn't be voting but hey, democracy lets anyone in these days. In all seriousness, the teams are divided into two conferences that USED to be based on their relative location in North America however with the shuffling of hockey clubs, buying, selling, moving etc. the East-West label is sometimes just an organizational formality. Here's the separation as it exists today.

The Teams:

Note, the ATL Thrashers have become
the Winnipeg Jets.
The conferences are divided top and bottom here. East's on the top, and the West is on the bottom.

The list of teams (just in case you're not so hot with the logos) runs down like this:

Eastern Conference:

  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Boston Bruins
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Carolina Huricanes
  • Florida Panthers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Islanders
  • New York Rangers
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Washington Capitals

Western Conference:

  • Anaheim Mighty Ducks
  • Calgary Flames
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Dallas Stars
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • Minnesota Wild
  • Nashville Predators
  • Phoenix Coyotes
  • San Jose Sharks
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Vancouver Canucks
Just a reminder, you can select ANY team from the Western conference to be the newest member of the NHL News segments here on the blog. The only reason I'm not looking to add in an Eastern Conference team is simply to spread out the focus rather than to bring it in purely on the East. Also, this means you'll get a wider range of news as two teams from two conferences will have a vastly different playing schedule with their respective paths crossing less often.

If you have a favourite team, and I'm sure you do, vote them in. I'll be collecting everything that comes my way and announce the new series addition in about a week.

So vote it in folks! And enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Broadcasting Bullies - Radio Rejected

The Rant Begins:

Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's because I'm a little on the old-fashioned side of life, but sometimes I like to sit and listen to the radio broadcast of a hockey game. Sure, I typically go online to The Fan's website to listen to the broadcast, but it's still radio of a sort, and it has -in my opinion- a certain charm to it.

You avoid some of the colour commentary that comes along with watching the televised game as the announcers can get away with more 'off ice' chatter when the visual is accompanying them. To me this leaves you hanging onto every word of the professional play-by-play men as you envision the scene playing out in your mind. However, in some cases, this isn't an option.

The Real Issue:

Greed, and too God-damned much of it. It's already cost the fans almost half of our regular season games, and now it's costing the fans who don't have specific television packages.

It used to be that, no matter what, I could hit up The Fan 590 to listen to a live radio broadcast of Leafs games. It didn't matter if they had to rout it through local, affiliated broadcasters closer to the location of the road games you were able to get the play-by-play from The Fan. This year however, for the second Leaf game now, I've been greeted on The Fan's "listen live" webpage with a message basically stating that 'due to certain broadcast restrictions, we cannot provide the play-by-play'. Don't worry though, they assure you that the post-game will still be broadcasted... Well that's all fine and dandy for the people who've seen the games, but for the people who're just struggling to GET updates on the games it doesn't do much more than you could get by just Googling the game's final score.

How can it be, with everyone involved in the lockout issue actign SO apologetic to the fans, that there are still squabbles over who can broadcast the games when it wasn't an issue before? I have NEVER been unable to get a radio broadcast of a Leaf game whether home or away until this year.

The Solution:

Honestly I don't know what to say other than for these penny-grabbing companies to get their acts together, and allow for the radio broadcasting of the hockey games. Some complain that it somehow harms the attendance of the actual sporting event however, I don't see it as such. I see it as a way for people who CAN'T afford the INSANE ticket prices, or the travel expenses involved with getting to these games (remember, I'm talking about a trip to Buffalo + Admissions since this was an away game) to still enjoy the sport.

It isn't as though listening to the radio broadcast and being at the actual game are the same experiences anyway. It's surprising how many steps these owners will take in attempts to drive people to the arenas BEFORE they're willing to drop ticket prices. Is it not enough that they make money off of corporate endorsements, merchandise sales, and a million other tributary industries that they have to gouge us for every little dime? It would be bad enough if it was ONLY ticket prices, but look at the cost of food and drink at these arenas. Of course they prohibit any and all outside food and drink, so sitting for a number of hours at an event you're inevitably going to need something to eat or drink. I'm surprised they don't charge admission to the fucking restrooms on top of it all... Shouldn't say that too loud though, they might take the idea and run with it.

It's a sad day when you can't enjoy the game you love due to a bunch of territory-marking, money-grubbing, heads-up-their-asses fat-cats/ These men haven't had to worry about their financial situations in decades while the people propping them up in their palaces have to save up for months just to attend a single game. And I don't mean "worry about their financial situations" as in "oh no! I won't be able to keep all 62 of my exotic sports cars this year!" I mean they'll never have to worry about a roof over their head or food in their stomach for the rest of their lives and I can't even catch a game on the damned radio... Stop the greed, play the game, let the game be played, and let it be enjoyed.

Your Thoughts:

This is where I open the floor to the readers. How have you been impacted by the lockout and the resulting changes in the NHL's conduct? Do you have complaints, questions, or maybe an anecdote or two about this lockout or maybe even the full-season loss from a few years back? I'd love to hear them so please take the minute or two to post in the comments section.

Enjoy your swim, and your hockey!

Joshua J. Taylor

Monday, 28 January 2013

Zero to Hero - Early Morning Muscle

Rise and Shine!

Well, I couldn't sleep more than an hour last night, so I figured I'd put my insomnia and terrible sleeping cycle to work. My gym opens at 05:30 on Mondays, then stays open until midnight on Friday when it shifts over to weekend hours so around 04:45 I started getting ready.

Yup, quarter to five and I'm getting up, grabbing a nice, wholesome breakfast, my vitamins, going through "The 3 Morning S's" (sh*t, shower and shave) and after gathering my gym gear I was off through the brisk morning air to go about my newly decided-upon gym routine.

Where're My Morning People At?

I don't drink coffee, but for those
of you who do, HERE :)
The gym apparently. Everyone I ran into today, and there was a surprising turnout for a VERY early start to the day, was energized, pleasant... Hell, they were downright HAPPY!

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am NOT a morning person. I will hit that 'snooze' button until it breaks before I'll willingly haul my sleepy hide out from under the covers but if these are the kinds of people I'll be meeting, I could give being a 'morning person' a try.

I don't what it is about being up and active early (just to come back and get on my laptop, I know) that gets people so pumped and energized. I understand endorphins and all that fine jazz but let's face it folks, naturally produced energy hormones can only take you so far. I'm thinking it's something mental that really pushes these early-risers above and beyond the rest of the late-starting crowd. Whether it's simply that their engines are ignited earlier and are warmed up sooner, or if they actually perceive it as a headstart over everyone else and THAT's what boosts them I don't know. What I DO know is that it works, they're happy, and I'm feeling the bump, and the burn from my morning workout. So if you're not a morning person, and you want in on the extra-energy action, come join me as the doors open at Goodlife Fitness in the Oshawa Centre (or you know, just around 6am on weekdays since Monday's really the only "door opening" day what with them being open 24hrs after that point) and see what the 'morning person' fuss is all about. You'll be glad you did!

Just the Facts Ma'am:

As outlined in the intro post for this "Zero to Hero" series, each gym trip update comes with the workout info from that visit (and yes I realize that I'm still behind on updating my first 'official' post's numbers) so in the words of my favourite Italian... "Here we go!"

The Numbers:

These aren't the only set that'll be done, I feel as though I should post that little heads-up before I get into the data. These are the numbers for my Monday routine which is primarily focuses on my abs, chest and back with some supplementary arm work tossed in.

I figure I'll use Wednesday as 'Leg Day' and Friday for arms will supplementary abs and my mandatory low back extension. Some of you might wonder why I've made hitting the LBE machine a staple for my routines and it's pretty simple really. Ever since highschool I've had a pretty bad back. I don't really know WHY it was so messed up, but I had attacks where I'd wind up immobile and in tears on the floor ultimately requiring a little more extra-strength Advil than the bottle would recommend, and an emergency trip to my chiropractor's. In the summer of 2011 I suffered a couple of major setbacks as I was the victim of a hit and run by a GMC Acadia (large SUV), and I threw my back out while loading a steel pagoda-style gazebo during my employment at Lowe's. Since then I've had to be very careful with both my back, and my right knee since it took quite the beating from the hit and run too.

With all of that said, and with me knocking on the wooden table beside me, I haven't had any major back or knee problems since I started focusing on them in my gym routines (I do still wear a knee brace for safety's sake). It's a wonder what some targeted exercise and good old "sticktoitiveness" can do eh? Well, here're the numbers!

  • 10 minutes @ 6mph
Low Back Extension:
  • 2 sets of 10 reps @ 240lbs
  • 3 sets of 10 @ 80lbs
Pectoral Fly:
  • 2 sets of 10 @ 75lbs
Lat Pulldown:
  • 2 sets of 10 @ 90lbs
Arms - Triceps:
  • 2 sets of 10 @ 50lbs
Shoulder Press:
  • 2 sets of 10 @ 60
Standing Obliques - Free Weights:
  • 4 sets of ten @ 30lbs (both sides)

The Cooldown:

After my workouts, as HORRIBLY strenuous as they are (yes, sarcasm) I like to sit down for a few minutes in a massage chair, chat with the person who plunks down next to me about whatever the day's news might hold and sip away at my after-routine drink of choice... Strawberry milk.

It's actually the exact drink I was sipping on this morning...
Good stuff!
No, I'm not one of those folk who've taken on milk products after a workout from the damned milk Nazi commercials, I've just always had a love of strawberry milk because well, who WOULDN'T love a beverage that comes from pink cattle? Oh... Oh wait one sec... *aside* -Whoa whoa, you're telling me it DOESN'T come from pink cows? Oh come on, that's just a horrible thing to do to someone... And here I am telling my readers... You know what forget it! Just drop it!- Aaaaand I'm back... So breaking news, it doesn't come from pink cows. Don't worry though, it's still delicious!

My cooldown today was extra-chill however, as I walked outside to find the snow just blowin' down from the sky. It made for a very scenic walk home that otherwise would've been nothing but cold, black tarmac but it wasn't precisely comfortable. I heard that the Peel Catholic School Board has already called off classes because of this but, I'm not Breakfast Television so I'll leave the school closure reporting to the professionals.

That's really all that I have for today. No pics as they're only being updated monthly (I know, you're heartbroken right? Again, sarcasm) but rest-assured, they'll come around when my next major update gets published. Hopefully we'll be seeing just a little bit by then.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Zero to Hero - First Proper Update


If your ideal version of me is one that IS wearing a shirt, you may wish to stop reading now.

Let's Get Going!

Alright everyone, between illness, exhaustion, and a myriad of other excuses, here's the first official update to my "Zero to Hero" article series.

The article banner... I miss 'Old Disney'
As I said, I'd be updating my blog with my workout routine (which went way off-script from the outline I posted originally), my weight, and my weights used alongside the reps of each weight. Honestly, there's nothing impressive in the amount of weight I'm using right now, or the number of reps I'm doing at each weight level. I'm currently just trying to get into a better gym-going routine and find a workout that doesn't leave me too broken to work.

I haven't been doing much concerning my legs the last little bit, simply because they've always been a strong point of mine, and it's my opinion that my upper body needs to catch up with my bottom half. Don't worry, I've seen the "Friends don't let friends skip leg day" photo, and that's not going to be me... I'm a bit of the opposite so as I said I'm trying to even out.

Alright, and without further ado, here's the first update to the Zero to Hero photo series.

Photo Album - Zero 2 Hero #1, 1-4

Regular Standing
As promised, these are the photo updates. I suppose this is less an update and more a baseline image.

I accept that this is the internet, and that there are likely to be people eager to troll the ever-loving hell out of me for this and you may all knock yourselves out. I'm posting these to keep my efforts honest, and to hopefully show some results that inspire my readers to start on their own personal fitness journeys.

Each of these updates will (until I can find someone willing to take the photos that I can't take on my own (back, legs) contain 4 photographs. The first will be just plain and simply me, standing. The second a shot of my right arm flexed, the third will be the left arm, and the fourth will be my stomach. I should note that I'm not doing this to become some chiselled-stone, statuesque figure out of a Greek fresco, but instead to tone the little muscle I have already, and to burn off the excess body fat and improve my general fitness. I'm not bashing the people who ARE out to become body builders and extreme fitness models and professional weight lifters, that's their choice and it's a hard road to travel but that road just isn't one I'm interested in. That's not a lack of faith in myself so don't mistake me. It's simply a difference of desire.
Right Arm Flex

I do hope that no one is utterly repulsed by these photo sets, and I'll post this heads-up to hopefully prevent the comments that no, I will NOT be spray or bed-tanning for any reason at all. I'm not some fake jerk who thinks becoming an oompa-loompa is super hot or cool, and I'm not trying to impress anyone with my skin tone ESPECIALLY if they think that looking like a Jersey Shore wannabe is appealing. Nope, you'll all have to deal with the good ol' "Irish Tan" until summer, and even then you won't see much of a change... Really sucks that I sort of blend in to the wall behind me... I'm calling it urban cam-tan... Sure.

Anyway, here come the last two photos in the series. After that, and some minor babble, I'll be outlining the numbers as they apply to my Z2H series. That means my height, weight, and all of the weights and respective reps done for my gym visits. Obviously these numbers are guidelines as some people won't be able to handle as much weight or as many reps, and most will blow past me with their potential, just giving people an idea of how I get any results that I *might achieve.

Left Arm Flex.
So, now for that random babble I was mentioning. I so hope that some of my readers take the time to comment on these articles, and I don't mean "sit here and praise me", I really don't (for once). What I'm hoping is that people who've either already been through their own journey to personal fitness or people who want to start theirs will comment with what's worked for them thus far, what they feel is holding them back from starting, that sort of thing.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to generate the reader base that my old blog had, which would make getting the comments up and running a lot easier but here's to hope and a little luck right? Right! I want to inspire people, I really do, and if there's even a slim chance that someone will read my updates and think "gee, it really doesn't seem so bad to start exercising more" then I'm going to keep going at this with the best of intentions at heart.

Abdominal Flex
Now, if you have any questions, suggestions, etc. and you don't feel like posting them on here, you can feel more than welcome in sending them to the blog's email address: A note to any would-be spammers etc. Please, don't waste your time or mine. If I get spam email I won't be opening it, I'll be labelling it as junk and reporting your email address as fraudulent and malicious. So once more, don't bother dicking around just because the blog has an email address now. Thank you.

There's really not a lot more that I can think to say except that I recognize that there's really nothing to look at thus far, which is fine, as I'm not posting these in the hope of levying some sort of sex appeal out of it, just creating a photo-documentation chain to help with the overall cataloguing of any changes. As a note these photos were all taken yesterday on Friday January 25th, 2013.

The Numbers:

*Grabbing my notebook, please wait*

The Cooldown:

Well I hope you've enjoyed the first legitimate update on the Z2H (Zero to Hero) journey. Here's hoping for many more, with results aplenty and hopefully a little more skin tone come the warmer months of Canada's Spring-Summer hybrid season that might see me outside more than you know... Negative-21-with-the-windchill weather.

Enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylo

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Gamer Gab - Who's The Bitch Now?

In some form or another, every major game seems to have at least one. Yup, I'm talking about bitches.

You've got it Buzz!
No, I'm not talking about the "bitches and hoes" type, I man the whiners, sulkers, the guy who manages to get his panties in a bunch no matter how epic the people around him continue to be. Yes, I know these people exist in real life but my question is why, in a fantasy world where anything is possible must we always include 'the bitch'?

Let's start off with Skyrim, an obvious favourite of mine and a big winner of gaming honours. You start off being transported on a prison wagon with a headstrong rebel soldier, the leader of the Stormcloak rebellion, and a whiny, jittery little "horse thief  from Rorikstead which happens to be a pretty pathetic town anyway. He bitches and moans for the majority of the opening cinematic ultimately taking an arrow in the back as he flees from the execution area... In case you missed that, the opening cast of characters consists of:

  • The Dragonborn
  • A soon-to-be Stormcloak captain
  • The 'true' High King of Skyrim
  • A bitch
Okay, maybe that's not enough for you, maybe you say he's too small of a part to matter. Fine.

The Cousins Bellic
Yup, you know this guy and what he stands for... Nothing. He's a whiny little punk who still manages to be a leading character in a story centred around the Russian underworld of 'Liberty City'. I really shouldn't have to explain more about it but if that doesn't satisfy you, he winds up hiding in a dumpster... Yup, a dumpster. 

Finally, let's go to my favourite series in Call of Duty. Here's a couple of titles and their corresponding 'bitches'.
  • Modern Warfare: Pvt. Paul Jackson (You. you happen to be ordered around and sent into the worst shit imaginable).
  • World at War: Privates Chernov and Polonsky
  • Modern Warfare 2: Cpl. Dunn (Just reference his entitled griping in The Pit and his freak-out during Second Sun)
  • Black Ops 2: Salazar (generally a bitch) and Hudson (whining, traitor who betrays you and then tries to give you up for dead to save his own ass in the end... Oh yeah SPOILER ALERT).
Hell, in World at War your sergeants do everything BUT literally call these two out as the bitches they are. I'm not saying that war is easy on the mind, but they sure do make a decent focal point out of the two whiniest NPCs.

So folks, why do we do it? Why do we need to inject these characters into an otherwise intense storyline? Comment with your thoughts and maybe we can uncover a little piece of the gamer psyche.

Enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor

Monday, 21 January 2013

Leafs Line - Orr Opens Up the Home Opener

Might as well start with the highlight right?

Orr Cleans House:

If you saw the game, you'll no doubt know what's coming. If you DIDN'T see the game, you missed one hell of a display of what could be called nothing other than 'truculence' from the Toronto Maple Leafs' Colton Orr who stood up to Buffalo's 6'8'', 270lb John Scott.

Orr's no small fry but it looks like David v. Goliath here.
Some of you might have followed Orr from years passed, and you'll likely know about his history with concussion problems and so, as you'll hear in the video, for him to make it through a fight much less to take the other fighter to a knee, and much less for that fighter to be John Scott... Well, it's a pretty big 'welcome home' to the ACC for him to pull that off. In any case, here's the video. Well done Colton, it's good to have you back.
Unfortunately, though this had the majority of the sold-out crowd on its feet, the Leafs were unable to capitalize on any of the energy generated. Here's the rest of a rather sad story.

Joffrey Lupul: Gets an 'A' for Effort, and Results

Everyone who followed the Leafs last year knows about the record season posted by Lupul. the guy was dynamite, he was the key to unlocking a peak-efficiency Phil Kessel, and I spent the entire year posting the question "Why hasn't someone sewn the extra 'C' or 'A' onto his jersey yet. Finally, my prayers have been answered.

Joffrey Lupul took to the ice last night, having signed a tidy 26.25 million dollar, 5-year contract, with the 'A' on his chest (yes he was sporting it against the Habs, but this is his homecoming) and I couldn't be happier. He's put in a lot of hard work to get where he is now, and the results speak for themselves... Well not really but close enough. He had a point-per-game season last year, beat back surgery and a resultant blood infection before coming to the Leafs, and he's become a legitimate top-line left winger.

Good for you Joffrey, good for you!

First Period: Chances Gone to Waste

As I sat watching it, I thought the game had been handed to the Leafs on a blue and white platter. Buffalo was taking penalties left, right and center, the Toronto 3rd line started the game with great forechecking - forcing turnovers in Buffalo's end, and the first line was putting rounds down range resulting in Buffalo being outshot 13-5 in the first period alone. Yup, it looked like a guaranteed cakewalk for Toronto and then they were given the gift of a two-man advantage lasting 1:23. At this point I, and likely every fan in the building was thinking "Oh boy! It's just a matter of seconds until Toronto opens up the scoring" but we were sorely disappointed. The 5-on-3 passes, Buffalo manges yet another penalty late in the existing charges and has to sit a third man in the penalty box giving the Leafs an even more extended opportunity and yet they still managed to go scoreless.

Beyond this the Leafs were their normal self, and the lack of practice preceding the start of this shortened season was extremely evident. Passes were falling short or being sent too far almost all night, there was an easily discernible lack of cohesion amongst the players... All-in-all although they managed to out-shoot the Sabres, they really managed to lose the period more than Buffalo won it.

Buffalo DID score at 8:51 of the first period on a tip-in by Hodgson from Ehrhoff and Pominville and not only was it an odd last-second deflection off what appeared to be the inside of Hodgson's arm, but it came through traffic and went past a completely screened Scrivens. I'm not making any excuses for the guy, none need be made as his goaltending was solid however the team really let him down on their side of the blue line.

Rotten Refs:

It needs to be pointed out that the refs really turned on Toronto after this point. Tyler Myers leaving the penalty box early was allowed to slide, Leaf goaltender Ben Scrivens -the only reason the Leafs managed to stay in the game at all- was run-over by a Buffalo player without a call, and a number of hooks, trips, and a poor call of goaltender interference against Phil Kessel later and Toronto was struggling to keep out of the penalty box, much less in the game.

Second Period: Definite Double Standard

More chances went spoiled in the 2nd period, but Toronto did manage to kill off a penalty early. Just after the penalty kill, Kessel flubs a great chance at a goal, and shortly after runs into Ryan Miller which earned them another penalty. I have to point out that in this case, Kessel was looking to the point for a shot, being jostled by a Buffalo player, and Miller moved up to be in behind Kessel as he came past the crease. Was it a case of goaltender interference? Not by my books but unfortunately I'm not the one officiating these games. It was much more innocent than when Hesch ran over Scrivens without another soul around him, but everyone and their mother seemed to shit a collective brick when Kessel bumped Miller "with Buffalo's history and Miller's concussion problems last year" piped the colour commentators and the 1st intermission Sportsnet panel.

Honestly folks, if you want to see a goalie stopped by a head-hit, you need look no further than the Leaf bench. Reimer went his second straight game without starting, and this after he came to the team like God's rookie gift to Toronto goaltending. He was doing splendidly until hits from Ottawa's Folino and Montreal's Brian Gionta rattled his cage and scrambled his eggs for the rest of the season. Since then Reimer's never been the same man on the ice and yet everyone's willing to cry over Miller... I'm just sayin' is all.

Buffalo scored again to make it a 2-0 hockey game.

Great Expectations: Mike Kostka

Now here's a guy who knows his job, and gets it done. Mike Kostka, who's finally been given his chance at the big-time after years in the Marlies, has had two great showings in the first games of this shortened season putting up huge on-ice minutes and doing a lot with them. For some reason people seem overly quick to commend Dion Phaneuf for putting in big minutes on the ice but frankly, he hasn't done shit-all with what he's been given. to illustrate my point, here's an illustration!

Notice the difference?
On the left if a very rough rendering of how most players look at the opposing net. they look past the goaltender, aiming at the open pockets around him where they have a shot at scoring a goal, and the pipes and crossbar only apply to tell them the boundaries, beyond which is ignored.

On the right however, is how scientists believe Dion Phaneuf sees the opposing net, this time with Ryan Miller clearly visible, and nothing else but the goalposts and crossbar factor into the image processed by his brain. It is still a medical mystery as to why Phaneuf's brain interprets information differently than most shooters though he may just really have a hatred for goaltenders, and the colour red. Who knows?

The point here is that Phaneuf damned near manages to break the bloody crossbar at least once a a game and does little else. I'm pretty sure I've even seen him dressed in orange to serve as a pylon during practices... Okay, that's enough against him. Maybe he'll pick up his game but it just feels as though the pace it too quick for him.

Third Period: At Least it was Interesting

Not much went on the in 3rd. Right near the end Toronto's Nazem Kadri puts his second goal in the net in as many games, and brings the Leafs back into the game... With around 2 minutes left to play, so nothing much was made of the last-minute attempt.

The fans were given a show, albeit a disappointing end, Ryan Miller stole the game for Buffalo along with his cohorts on the officiating team and Toronto's lost it's first game which means their season has ACTUALLY begun because we all know a season can't be considered legitimate until the Leafs blow it at home... Which usually isn't long of a wait.

Enjoy your swim, and sticks on the ice folks!

Joshua J. Taylor

Pandora's Box - Pros and COMs

This one's for ALL of you!
I'm back from The Vault with some extremely useful information for the rest of you Vault hunters, so listen up.

COMs or Class Optimization Modules (Class Mods) can be your best friends (aside from your guns of course) when you're trekking around, gunning down baddies and generally trying to keep your ass alive. some will only benefit you, where others will benefit your entire team in different ways from increasing accuracy, decreasing reload times, increasing magazine sizes, damage output... really, if you can name it, COMs will usually be able to have some effect or another on it. It's important to know what you're doing when it comes to these items though as they can make you almost invincible when wielded right, but are useless when equipped to a person with the wrong style of play. As an example, here's the "Ranger" COM made by Tediore and Hyperion:

Ranger COMs:

  • +28% - 60% Team Accuracy
  • 0-5 Predator Skill Boost: Decreases bloodwing cooldown time.
  • 0-5 Bird Of Prey Skill Boost: Increases the number of enemies bloodwing will attack in a single deployment.
  • 0-5 Focus Skill Boost: Increases accuracy with all weapon types and decreases sniper rifle sway.
  • 0% - 84% Team Critical Hit Damage Boost
  • 0% - 84% Team Accuracy Recovery (Though this may not be in effect in some patches).
If you have a well-levelled, or highly elemental bloodwing, this is the class for you. You should note that for ANY class mod skill boosts to work, you HAVE to have at least one skill point already attributed to the listed skill to gain the bonus. In this case though you'll see a bloodwing strike that can strike up to ten targets, or ten times when rotating between targets, and that can then be used just moments after bloodwing returns to Mordecai (literally only one second of 'cooldown' when a +4 boost from a mod, and a standard skill value of 5 are put together). With this set-up the player becomes almost secondary to Bloodwing as far as combat is concerned. You need only pull the trigger on your action skill button and let Bloodwing go to town on the enemies around you.

Now this class won't work for everyone, but it's a great start. It allows someone using the otherwise vulnerable Mordecai to inflict massive damage in a ridiculously short period of time, and allows them to do it over and over again. Also, if you have to choose between cooldown speed and number of enemies hit per send-out, choose cooldown. It's more effective to immediately send out Bloodwing than it is to get one extra attack, but spend more time waiting to send him out on another run.

Another favourite of mine, especially when playing alongside friends is Roland's Support Gunner classs. It incorporates team ammo regeneration with team magazine size and team accuracy, not to mention the boosts to his Stockpile, Impact and Barrage skills. Essentially you get a class that boosts everyone on your team so the more players you have at any one time, the more this class will do. It's not an offensive or defensive class really, just a balanced boost to everyone's potential leaving the players to make the most of the benefits rather than doing all the work itself (like with the Ranger class mod used on Mordecai).

So, what have we learned today?
  • Put COMs to use at all times.
  • Pick COMs that fit your style of play.
  • COM skill boosts ONLY affect skills you've already given points to.
  • Try to pick a COM that will also benefit your team.
  • Mordecai is an absolutely devastating killing machine with a high-grade Ranger mod and an elemental Bloodwing.
Enjoy your swim, and best luck with the Borderlands!

Joshua J. Taylor

Ahmed Al-Khabaz - Malevolent Montrealer or Student Saviour?

You probably won't know the name to read it, but if you were a Dawson College student you'd likely have heard all about Mr. Ahmed Al-Khabaz by now.

Al-Khabaz is one of two students credited with exposing a flaw in the security coding for the system that handles the delicate personal information of students from most of Quebec's colleges. These colleges use a system created by Skytech to store this information and while attempting to design a mobile app for students seeking to access their information on-the-go, he stumbled across what he calls "a flaw which left the personal information of thousands of students... vulnerable". He immediately contacted the college about the issue saying that he felt it was his "moral obligation" to do so, and was initially thanked for his actions and told that Skytech would work immediately to resolve the issue.

So far, so good right? Right. Up to this point there was no issue held by the college or by Skytech against al-Khabaz or his colleague Ovidiu Mija. However, the story develops further and it is with these developments that the real issues come out.

Ahmed ran a program to test against the security breach some time after reporting it to the college and having the meeting to discuss the issue with college and Skytech representatives. After running this program he was contacted by Skytech at which time they notified him that what he was doing was considered a cyber attack, regardless of intentions, and they are reported to have mentioned that jail time and prosecution could result from his actions. Now it has not yet been determined in what manner these statements were made, that being whether they were issued as threats or simply as advice to a student, however the real issue is that Ahmed Al-Khabaz was expelled from college through a meeting held a short time later.

So my question to you, the reader, is this:

Should Ahmed Al-Khabaz be allowed to return to his program, and have his record wiped clean of what is being called a "serious professional conduct issue".

As you could imagine, this kind of labelling could ruin any chance that Al-Khabaz would ever have of getting into another computer sciences program, or any post-secondary program at all much less into a stable employment position. He has also incurred an amount of financial aide debt because of his expulsion, further inconveniencing him.

To me this is a case of someone going farther than they should have with the best of motives at heart. Although the road to hell is rumoured to be paved with good intentions, I can see where he could've found the justification to run the breach-checking program as he was, after all, one of the students who discovered and reported the issue in the first place. You would think, and likely HE thought, that his actions would be seen as simple due diligence, and that they should have even garnered him some level of gratitude to make sure that all the angles were covered. In essence, he was helping Skytech to cover their asses and he was crucified for it. So much for not shooting the messenger. It's a wonder we have any whistle-blowers in today's society where no matter how pure your motives are, or how much people stand to actually benefit from your actions, when you expose a flaw in a business all hell will be brought down upon you.

I hope you've enjoyed your swim, please comment with your views readers!

Joshua J. Taylor

Quotes and general info first taken from:

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Pandora's Box - The Borderlands Begin

Welcome to the Badlands: Fun and Games Sold Separately

Meet your new best friends.

So you're looking for The Vault huh? No, I don't mean the Vault Tech, super-tech, underground trash cans no, I mean THE Vault. Well good, you've come to the right place.

The Magic Bus: Meet the Class

Okay, so it ain't so magical, but it's where you start your journey like it or not. Driven by a fat, middle-aged man who reminds me quite a bit of Roman Bellic from GTA: IV, this thing seems more like an APC than what I'd call a bus but hey, when you're driving through skag-infested deserts on Pandora you need all the protection you can get.

This is where you get to meet our four intrepid... Heroes? Sure, for lack or a better term let's call'em heroes. You've got Mordecai "The Hunter", Lilith "The Siren", Roland "The Soldier" and Brick "as Himself". Just for future reference, Brick's the massive mountain of muscle in the middle of the title image, Roland's the armoured dude to the right, Mordecai's the twiggy-looking four-eyes bastard and Lilith well, I'm betting you can figure out which one SHE is... Get it? Good. Moving on.

Each character has their own traits, skills, specialities and so fourth but for this little series of articles we'll be focusing on Mordecai as he fits my style of gaming the best.

Mordecai: The Hunt Begins

"Another million for that
annoying bird."
Listed as 39 years old (though that's not stated as for Borderlands 2 or the original), colour-blind and with a negligible appetite, this skinny dude is your typical marksmen. He likes covert strolls in the moonlight, high-calibre rifles and falconry. He and his pet "Bloodwing" make a daunting duo so it's no small wonder his bounty is listed (provided Bloodwing is killed as well) as the second highest of the original vault hunters next to Brick's.

It was a no-brainer for me picking Mort (as I'll be calling him) for my character. A solitary sniper with first-strike, first-kill capabilities? Always a good choice so long as you can keep your distance. As an alternative fighting style to sniper rifles, Mort's skills can also be used to buffer his effectiveness with handguns giving you great long and short range potential. Now this DOES technically leave out the mid-range stuff like assault rifles and SMGs as well as completely neglecting launcher skill but really, there's not a lot to be changed with skills involving SMGs and rifles... They tend to function regardless of who uses them whereas if you botch an attack with a sniper rifle or pistol... You can be in for a world of hurt so every bit counts. Not to mention when you're GOOD with rifles and pistols the skill boosts can make you nigh-untouchable.

Well, now that we've got you acquainted with the attitude-to-be of this series, let's REALLY get started shall we?

Light My Fyre: Outpost Fyrestone

-Dr. Zed's Shop (Not really an MD)-
You start your adventure, at least the part you control, just outside of a sleepy little outpost called Fyrestone. Why the name? No idea. Maybe Pandora's hot as hell and it sure is rocky so, there, rocks and hot weather gets you Fyrestone... And inbred people trying to spell gets you the 'creative' name. Regardless it's a pothole on the road to the vault but a rather important one because this is where your primary armoury and medical facilities are until you branch out into the other, larger settlements.

Here you'll find Zed, a non-doc who's here to keep you stitched up and in the fight. After a mission or two the armoury will open up and you can start buying and selling weapons to suit your needs... Depending on what the shop has in its inventory. Since you're Mordecai (provided you're following in my footsteps) you'll want to look at sniper rifles and pistols first and foremost. Everything else is just shiny little bonuses. Staying with handguns and snipers will provide the best bang for your buck.

Making the Most of Mordecai:

Now I'm not going to be doing some detailed walkthrough as to how you should take on the quests and bounties, no sir. I'm going to giving you universally applicable tricks to help you take down ranges of enemies rather than spend time honing in on just one or two. Occasionally this series is going to put a spotlight on a certain individual or individuals but mostly? I'll be teaching you how to make the most of Mordecai.

I hope you'll tune back in when I release the next article. This has just been a brief introduction to adventure. Come back soon for the main course.

Enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor

Friday, 4 January 2013

Alchemical Corner - A Profitable Potion

I posted this in the comments of my last post however I think that this little recipe requires its own article.

This potion is the most valuable alchemy combination so listen up as it stands to make you a pretty penny when you're down on your coin because well, we can all admit that every now and then we wind up spending more of our gold than we should. Oh, and picking alchemy ingredients IS free after all.


  • Blue Butterfly Wing - Extremely common in the temperate regions of Skyrim especially in the woods around Riverwood and the foothills west of Whiterun. You'll see the butterflies hovering over flowers and tundra cotton which will help you locate the next ingredient.
    SR-icon-ingredient-Blue Butterfly Wing.png
  • Blue Mountain Flower - As I said, butterflies will be fluttering over most flowers and as such, blue mountain flowers will be part of that grouping. As you'll find one with the other, look again to the foothills west of Whiterun and the forests between Riverwood and Falkreath. The mountain that contains Bleak Falls Barrow will host mountain flowers all around its base, and at the base of the connected mountains. My advice? Just do a lap of these mountains and you'll leave with a great stock of butterfly wings AND blue mountain flowers.
    SR-icon-ingredient-Blue Mountain Flower.png
  • Giant's Toe - ALSO available in the foothills and plains west of Whiterun, you can acquire giant's toes by, how else? Killing giants. Yes, they also sell them in alchemy shops but actually killing giants is typically a bounty mission from local Jarls as well as a great way to gain general experience and items when looting the chests that giants almost always have in or around their camps.
    SR-icon-ingredient-Giants Toe.png


  • Fortify Conjuration - 75
  • Damage Magicka Regeneration - 265
  • Damage Stamina - 43
  • Fortify Health - 485
  • Value - 868 gold
Now you'll need to remember that when you select the perks that remove positive traits from poisons, and negative traits from potions this potion in particular, might be impossible to create. Since the best potions and poisons typically don't come with effects strong enough to offset the positives or negatives that you're looking for, I'd avoid these perks for as long as possible. Remember folks, the value of each potion is dictated by the power of its effects and your speechcraft perks so the 868 gold value of the potion is only an initial one, and will increase with the power of the potion's effects as they're boosted by your skills and perks.

I hope this has helped you out folks. I know the potion is really 'down the middle' as far as effects go. You're working with two positives and two negatives so you can't really make it into an effect potion or poison but it WILL make you a good pocket of coin if you use it right.

Enjoy your swim folks!

Joshua J. Taylor