Saturday, September 9, 2017

Eagles of the Empire: Invictus by Simon Scarrow

Invictus BY: Simon Scarrow
3.5 Stars
I haven’t done a review in quite a long time, so please bear with me as I try to get back into the groove.
Cato returns home to Rome and does not get the reception he was counting on. His wife has died and now he must get to know a son he has never met. As his world crumbles around him, he gets the call to go back into the line of duty. Trying to prevent Hispania from leaving the Roman Empire. They are up against a cunning rebel leader who will stop at nothing to stir up rebellion in the colony.

This was off to a slower start than I am used to with Simon Scarrow novels. I did enjoy seeing the personal side of both Cato and Macro as it really assisted in their character developments. It did take quite a while to get into the book and I would not recommend starting with this particular novel in the Eagles of the Empire series. Once they do reach Hispania things pick up pretty quickly, but by this time you are a third of the way through the book. When the fight begins it is up to Scarrow’s usual standards, he has a great way of keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout the battle. Scarrow’s research on these lands and the time/event he is telling of is always impeccable and shines through. The conclusion of course leaves room for another instalment. Overall a good read, just wish he had found a way to make the first third more attention grabbing.  

Monday, July 4, 2016


Lately things have been a real battle for me. I have been diagnosed with depression, PTSD, and OCD. None of which really surprised me. I have been struggling with this for a really long time, and am finally getting the help I need. Discussing it with someone else, and seeking help was the single most difficult thing I have ever chosen to do. Wrote the following poem.  

Pain, sheer agonizing pain, invisible to the naked eye, yet more devastating than the obvious
Sharp shoots from nerve endings as pricks try to distract and relieve what is trapped within
Wish that physical hurts were enough, but are dim in comparison to decades of trauma
Darkness, sadness, despair, all destructive and yet I embrace them with knowing arms
Light, happiness, hope, all long gone, flittering moments in time, cherished yet forgotten
Locked away within my head, a voice which commands, nay demands to be triumphant
Control must be kept, giving in only in brief moments of weakness, shame swift to follow
Shadows of darkness creeping around the fading edges, nipping at the very heels of sanity
Battle lines drawn, wavering, slowly falling, entrapped by inevitable losses, destroyed
Fear, desperate freezing fear, the unknown future, not trusting the brain to do what’s right
Pain whispers from within, calling out, screaming to be unleashed, set free, chains rattled
Tears, wish they would flow, yet not to be found, long since drained, emptied, dried up
Fingers clawing, grasping for a hold, something to keep afloat, drowning in snaring gloom
Eclipsed, falling into the abyss, lost in the blackness, claustrophobic as the walls close in

Blindness, unable to see a clear path, confused by the thick fogginess covering the road

If anyone else is experiencing depression and wants someone to talk with, please feel free to comment on this with contact info. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Proposed Draft Changes and The Oilers

Whenever you hear anything about the NHL draft, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Edmonton Oilers of course! Why is this? Because season after season, draft after draft, the Edmonton Oilers take either first overall or a Top 5 pick. Does it ever seem to help them in any way? No. Year after year they still wind up on the bottom. This will be discussed in more detail later on.

When one team consistently gets Top Pick or Top 5 Picks, it leaves the other teams without. This hardly seems like the right way to operate a draft, not by any intentional fault of the NHL, or any league, but it does leave one to wonder if there is a better way to setup a draft? In any conversation where draft comes up, there is a lot of talk about reformation. The most commonly proposed reforms would be in the amount of Top 5 Picks one team should be allowed to receive within a 5 or 10 year span. Limiting these picks would spread out the wealth and prevent one team from consistently receiving and ruining prospects. Which leads to the proposed draft changes, and this can be applied to any league or level of hockey.

Proposition: No single team should be allowed to receive more than 2 First Overall Draft Picks within a 5 year span, and a maximum of 3 in a ten year span. Never in back-to-back years. Secondly, no single team should receive more than 3 top 5 picks within a 5 year span with a maximum of 5 in a ten year period.

These changes would allow for teams to still be in the bottom consistently, get their picks, but prevent teams from abusing the system. It also prevents teams who have a tendency to destroy prospects from hindering growth of players within the NHL or any league. In theory, a team who gets Top 5 Picks should be able to turn their team around within a 3 year period. For example we could look at Pittsburg and Crosby, Washington and Ovechkin, Chicago and Toews, Florida and Ekblad, Los Angeles and Doughty. These teams have all managed to turn into Cup winners or Cup contenders just by drafting high. They did not wallow in the bottom. Which is exactly what the draft order was supposed to do for these teams, give them a shot at winning through rebuilding.

Which brings me to the topic of the Edmonton Oilers. Once again, we see them in the bottom. They have moments of brightness, followed by moments of sheer disaster. Granted they have McDavid injured, but with all the Top Picks on that team they should be able to fill the gap. Are they capable of recouping their season? Yes, but sadly they are incapable of doing so without McDavid. So what is the issue? The issue is the culture of losing they have developed. Once this culture has been developed, it becomes a part of them, difficult to overcome. They stop believing they can score, connect the pass, make the save, prevent a player from getting position. Once it gets in their head, its stuck. Success can't be had by those who believe it can't be had. It takes a good coach, with a lot of player shuffling to drive this culture from a team, and transform them into a winning contender.

Edmonton needs to stop relying on the thought of what the next Top Pick will get them, and focus on what they can do with the picks they already have in their system. Who can they shuffle around to develop and bring in a winning culture. Which players they need to design another rebuild around. Draisaitl, Hall, and Nurse would be great choices for this. Which veterans can they trade a younger prospect for to bring in leadership. Trade Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakapov, suck up your losses and move on. Young people need leadership, not just from their coach, or GM, but from the ice level as well. This is something Edmonton has been sorely lacking, a good leader. The main problem with having so much star power on one team is that they all want, and rightly so, the limelight. As a result they don't mesh, and don't play well together.

They also need to quit taking a player just because he is ranked high. Think of the team's needs. If you need a defenseman, pick one in the draft, don't take the forward because he is ranked one higher. If you need a goalie, draft one, or give something decent up for a decent acquisition. Quit throwing goalies under the bus and blaming losses on them. Get the team to play in front of them, without offensive and defensive support, a goalie will find it very difficult to save a game.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Life As I know It

      Maybe I am just feeling sorry for myself, but my life and hospitals just seem to be permanently entwined. Lets see...Panic Attack... hospital, Heart procedure 1... hospital, heart procedure 2... hospital, extreme rib pain as a result of heart (and no this chronic pain has never left my side, pun intended, since that day), And that brings me to today, return of symptoms that led up to my last seizure (minus the seizure thank the Good Lord) And by hospital I mean overnight stays, I wouldn't count all the day trips.
      Now that this has been discovered to be a chronic condition, they are taking this much more proactively than the last time. Without getting too graphic I will outline how it went last time, which was 2 years ago. Started out with a whole lot of internal bleeding, pain in my abdomen, bouts of diarrhea and constipation, and migraines. I also had lower back pain with varying levels of severity, I couldn't stand or walk at times from the pain. This led into not being able to keep any food down at all, whether liquids or solid. Meals became torture. Eating a quarter of my normal amounts of food, just to solve a hunger my body told me was there, only to have my body reject the food it demanded. The answer was to eat extremely slow, which leads to cold and disgusting food, and bland unseasoned food (which for someone who loves to season his food and have flavourful food, this really is torture). Even then it was a battle to keep my food down. which ultimately led to dehydration and drop in potassium levels. I ended up having my first seizure and after many tests they came up scratching their heads and leaving me with no answers, which was frustrating considering it took me off work for 3 months. Co-operators, curse their souls, would not give me a penny due to it being a "mysterious illness", they required a "diagnosis" in order to give any money. So I went back to work before ready just to get the funds flowing again. eventually just cleared up on its own, and life went on with no answers. Left me 15 pounds lighter, which took me a long time to regain. 
     A few weeks back it began to flare up once again. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, migraines(but they never did stop), slight internal bleeding, and lower back pain. After seeing the doctor, she sent me to see a "specialist". He wanted to wait a few weeks before doing any tests, and didn't really listen when I was in to see him. Then the vomiting and nausea began again. Back to tiny bland meals. Have gone from 145 pounds down to 140 pounds again. I told my family doctor this today and she told me I was going into the hospital, as answers come faster while in there, and she does not want another seizure. Understood, but during the most busy selling season at work, this comes as really tough. 
     While here though, the nurses have been really nice, but keep trying to diagnose what I have, which is just confusing things. I wish they would leave that for the doctors who are trained in such matters. They have put me on a fluids only diet, which sucks as I am starving! But alas I wait to hear from them in regards to what is going on. My Family Doctor has 3 suspects, Chrone's is her number 1, colitis, and very minimal chance of colon cancer. Hopefully God will provide them with speedy answers and results so that I can get back to being at home with my family. As well as return to work so I can do what I enjoy, selling. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Touching Story

It has been forever since I last posted anything on here, but today something happened that I have to share. This post will be quite a bit different from my usual posts.

This week I am in a hotel in Calgary for an HR training session, and I have been eating my meals at the hotel's restaurant. During supper, a couple was sitting 2 tables over from me, and was not exactly the quietest in their conversation. I must say I normally try not to listen to people's conversations, but this conversation intrigued me. Here is what that conversation entailed...

Here sits a man in his late fifties, and woman around the same age. They sit awaiting their food. It is clear that this is not there first date, but they are definitely still in the get-to-know-you stage of the relationship, (later in the convo I find out it is a second unofficial date). Since their last date he has found out the news every North American dreads, he has been diagnosed with cancer. She is carrying on about how giddy she is about him and how she couldn't sleep just thinking about him. He then stops her and gives her the news, which he thinks will be a shock to her. She doesn't seem off guard or anything, just says that she would like the opportunity to stand by him in his struggle. He then informs her that he can't continue to have a relationship with her, due to his cancer and his upcoming treatments, He won't put anyone through that. It has nothing to do with her, just his treatments.

Her response is to be extremely understanding and tell him that she understands. She wants him to at least allow her to be there for him as a friend. To text him and ask how he is doing, and to be there for him after each dose of Chemo. Now at this point I am picturing in my head how it ate away ate my grandpa, and slowly took away every once of what he once was. I can understand why no one would want to put anyone through that, and I am not sure if she realizes just what she is asking of him, but if she does then that truly says how precious her personality is. Not sure that I would ever want anyone around during treatments if I should end up down that road, but I do know I would need more support than I could give myself.

She refuses to take no for an answer and he seems to give in, meaning he really does want the support, just feels bad putting someone through that. He then tries to change the subject and ask about her life, which being a man I understand his desire to not focus on himself, but to have the attention brought onto someone else. She is not having that either. She tells him her issues are not life threatening, nor are they important, his are. She wants him to talk about it. He responds with it being the kind of thing for relationships. A correction is given though, Saying that this is the kind of things friends do for one another, she doesn't have any friends, but if she did that is the kind of thing she would want out of a friendship. He gives in by giving consent to her being there for him, just not as a couple. At this point these people are breaking my heart.

What I want to do is to just go over and sit down with them, excuse myself for listening in, but I can't really help hearing, though I could have tried more. I want to shake him, but not too hard as I have no idea where his cancer is, and tell him to screw his cancer, just date the woman already! And just darnwell kiss her! Of course I am far to timid for that kind of thing, and would need a lot of alcohol, not unlike Raj off of Big Bang Theory, in order to have the confidence for that. I was really tempted to pay for their meal though, and my wife texted me that she felt I should write them an anonymous note, but again, I can't really bring myself to inform them their private moment was overheard.

They finish eating at the same time I do, As she is leaving she tells him that she wanted him to know that she really enjoyed talking with him, and that she thinks he is a wonderful man. I got the feeling that these 2 are just a couple of genuine, kind-hearted individuals. I can't help but say a little prayer for them. I pray that he makes it through the treatments, defeats the cancer, and that he allows her to stand by him throughout that time. And that it all works into them being an official couple. I know, call me a sappy romantic, little does anyone know that I have cried during my wife's chick-flicks (well now I guess everyone knows). I ask that you all pray the same! And God please forgive my eavesdropping!!!!!!! No lightning please. Remember I have 2 precious children who need a father.

O Lord, Thy sovereign grace endures, arms open wide
Suffering shapes this world, Satan's warped humour
Who are we to judge you God for allowing such pain
But Mercy Divine, take this beast and thrust it down
Destroy its very being, and make it bow at Your feet!
Only You in all Your wisdom can make this be so
Cancer be gone, set this world free from your grips!
You have touched every soul, saddened all hearts
Satan be gone, spare the world your fiendish snares!
You have destroyed what is good, torched all souls!
Jesus Take the saddle!
Ride Your White Horse among us!
Let Your Grace wash over us
Turn our black hearts to white!

Tony Peters

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ryan Kesler and the Canucks

I will start by saying that I am a devoted Canuck fan and always have been. I am in no way bashing the Canucks, just expressing displeasure with the way fans are treating him.

Lately I have been reading a lot from Canucks fans about how angry they are with Ryan Kesler for leaving. Talk is that they will boo him during his return game, and are calling him self-centered. This is a total dishonor to what he has done for the team over the years. He spent 10 years playing for them, putting up great numbers, sacrificing his body, and giving his all every game. He carried the team during their playoff runs, when the better paid Sedins did not produce. He had already requested a trade last year, and when that didn't happen, he still continued to sweat blood for the Canucks every game, playing ridiculous ice time each game, wearing him thin.

Can you really blame the guy if he wants to win a cup in the near future? Isn't that every single players dream? Iginla is trying the same after leaving the Flames, and Alfredsson did the same after Ottawa, that's only a couple of examples. Why is it so bad that Kesler wishes the same? He isn't getting any younger and the Canucks won't be cup ready for 4-5 years yet as their young talent develops. Is it a little self-centered? Yeah sure it is, but if he wants to accomplish his Stanley Cup dream before he has to retire, he kind of has to think about himself. At the end of the day he wants to play and he wants to win. Why shouldn't such a hard working, skilled player have a true shot at a Cup ring?

What Canuck fans should be doing is cheering his move, and wishing him all the best in his future NHL endeavors. He gets to play with another class act, Ryan Getzlaf, so be happy for that. take a page from the Flames book, and give him an honor screen at the first game back at the Rogers Arena, just like with Iginla, thus giving the guy the respect he deserves. I personally hope that Anaheim has a deeper playoff run this year and that Kesler can win his Cup the year, getting that out of his system, so that he can return to the Canucks satisfied and use his Cup Ring to inspire the young Canuck prospects to strive for just that. It may make him a better leader in the end.

So stop being a bunch of whiners and grow up, such is the world of sports!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: Buried Children by Daniel Farcas

Buried Children by Daniel Farcas  2/5 Stars

This is a write Daniel has at the beginning: In an effort to increase Romania’s population, the communist dictator Nicolae 
Ceausescu authorized Decree 770 in 1967 that criminalized contraception and abortion.
Abandoned and unwanted by their parents, thousands of children ended up in state 
orphanages where they were neglected and abused, and later become homeless on 
Bucharest streets. This is the journal entries of one of them.

Loved the heart felt honesty of the story. For someone to share this so openly demands respect. The book tells the story of several orphans as the grow and struggle with the aftereffects of the cruelty. It does a good job of making one feel for the characters. I found it to be kind of choppy though, lacking a flow or rhythm. with a little bit of filling out and working on the flow issues it could be improved greatly. The end (last quarter) was about the best written and flowed the best out of the book. It was difficult at times to connect with the characters, as they weren't really filled out. They came and went so often, although part of this is due to the fact that they would have actually been doing that and it is a true story.