Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.

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Dear Uncle Bill…

… I’m going to take the plunge.

Now, I’m sure you haven’t got any idea what I’m talking about, and really, I may not either, since I “took the plunge” three-and-a-half years ago, and life’s been great ever since, nor do I actually have an Uncle Bill.

So what’s up?

The Uncle Bill I refer to is none other than Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, who, among IT circles and in organizations with a lot of Windows machines and servers, has been affectionately – or in a way with a lot more negative connotations – referred to as Uncle Bill for as long as I can remember.

Now, as for the meat of this entry…

I frequent some message boards, as do a lot of us during our daily travels on the interwebs, and invariably there’s people posting about how to do this and that with their computer, talk about a glitch they’ve run into or problem they’re having, or outright bitch and moan because they’ve gotten the latest virus, and because they’re novice users, they end up wiping their machine and starting all over because they have no idea how to get rid of the virus.

In these forums where I feel most comfortable, I offer up support and advice when I can, and in a few places I’ve become at least a little respected for my opinion, but what really grinds my gears (TM Peter Griffin) is how the moment someone posts that they have a problem and it’s found that user is running Windows, the answer that’s given (with all seriousness intended) is “switch to Mac” or “switch to Linux”.

I’m not going to get into the great debate about how Mac and Linux are “bulletproof” and virus-free and all that jazz, because it’s incorrect. Their systems are a little more protected by default, yes, but even the most securely built system is going to be susceptible to attack, viruses, or other calamities if the person behind the keyboard leaves the front door wide open.

In short, an unprotected system is an open invitation for disaster, regardless of which OS is running on the machine.

I’ve always maintained that a system must be properly guarded and maintained, regardless of OS, or else these situations will inevitably arise, no matter how knowledgeable the end user may be.

So, to answer the “switch to <insert your favorite OS here> critics, I’m embarking on a challenge.

Windows 7 is about to be released, and I was fortunate enough to be chosen to host a launch party, complete with a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (thank you Uncle Bill!!) so here’s what I’m going to do.

Keep in mind, I’m not even that much of a hardcore Windows freak as a lot of others, especially after being exposed to Solaris and AIX through my work. I just want to do this for the hell of it.

The challenge?

When I get my copy of Windows 7, I’m going to install it on my primary machine, my laptop, and from then on, I’m going to make that machine a Microsoft-only machine.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?, you ask? Certainly I’ve gone mad!

You heard me. I’m going to run that machine on Microsoft-only software. If I need to do it, I’m going to do it with software Microsoft provides.

With a couple exceptions: a graphics program who-shall-not-be-named for web design, the freeware application Pidgin for multi-provider instant messaging, Apple’s iTunes for my iPod (for iPod management only; I’ll be using Windows Media Player for listening to music), and a piece of freeware I have for converting iTunes files to MP3.

Everything else? Microsoft only.

And in doing it, I’m willing to bet that by properly protecting and maintaining my system, the problems that these other Nancy-boys are having will be non-existent.

Take that, you nay-sayers!

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A Reboot, Of Sorts

Once upon a time, there was a blog. A very sad, lonely, and most importantly, almost empty, blog.

That blog – who shall not be named – was my previous attempt at blogging. It started off strong, capturing my thoughts on everything from hockey, music, and random horrible drivers, but alas and alack, it started to die a slow, horrible, painful death.

For you see, blogs that are not updated regularly are not happy blogs. If they have no wares to showcase, they quickly and easily fall into the depths of the interwebs, never to be viewed or commented on again.

But this… this my friends, is a new blog. A clean slate. A brand new attempt for me to share my musings, for they are great musings, and should not be trapped in my brain where only I can enjoy the immense wit, comedy, clarity, and common sense that I possess.

Nay, dear internet reader, these thoughts must be posted for the world to share, if only to provide me, as the writer, with a brief escape from the everyday dregs of society, and to provide you, ADD-rattled victim of modern media – a place to rest for just a couple minutes, and in those couple minutes, may I entertain you.

Or at the very least, make you think.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Catching Up

Holy CRAP I’m back!

I don’t know what it is, but it always seems like I’ve got something else to do except update my blog. It’s been almost FOUR MONTHS. Unbelieveable. I’ve got to keep on top of things.

DAMN YOU GUITAR HERO II!!!

This post will be just a short one to catch up on what’s been going on since the last post. Then we’ll get back into regular updates.

Sound good?

Ok. We’ll continue.

Work: Crazy. Probably the biggest reason why things are so wild. Not that it’s hard or anything, but over the past month or two, it’s been either I’m on call for a week, or I’ve got some change or implementation or maintenance to do, and it’s an hour or two a night for weeks at a time. Steph is totally swamped at work. Nothing overwhelming, but she’s just a lot busier than she ever was at Allstream. That’s the difference in sheer numbers between the companies. Quite the change for her.

Family: My nephew Zach’s birthday was on the 27th. Fun times. Got him a Star Wars game for the computer that he absolutely loved. SCORE! My birthday was on the 21st, and Steph and I, her mom and dad, Bryon and Noelle, and Mel and Ryan were able to go out for supper at Palatal. Great food, and it was real enjoyable just to be able to sit down and visit with everyone. Haven’t done that in a while. My mom and dad are having some family friends from Ontario come for 10 days starting on the 26th, so we’re going to head out there on the 27th and visit. Should be fun.

Friends: My buddy Jamie’s getting married. June 23rd. I’m in the wedding party! Should be a blast. I’ve known Jamie since we were about 10 years old. Jenn seems like a real nice girl, and I hope they’re going to be realy happy. Good times! Mic has an absolutely STUPID schedule over at Shaw, so I don’t get to see him that often. I haven’t really talked to Bryon and Noelle since my birthday, so I’ve got to get a hold of them. Everyone’s too f*cking busy! Been hanging out more with Mel and Ryan. Good times. Sarah came over last night to torture me while I was watching a Star Trek movie. Put her and Stephanie together, and hilarity ensues with their little comments.

Fuzzy Friends: Well, we’ve got Zoey into “general population”. She’s graduated from her own room, to living with the other cats. I think she’s still a little scared, but she’s adjusting well. Her and Jazz seem to getting along rather well, but she and Kitty still seem to have some issues, although they’re getting better. Cola’s doing well, attending agility, and generally being an all around suck. Cola’s Cola. She’s awesome. Kira went to the vet yesterday because we thought she had kennel cough, but everything turned out OK. Met a new vet from Louisiana who was a Katrina victim. What an awesome woman. Kira’s still in agility as well, but is EXCELLING in Fly Ball. We always thought she was fast at home the way she plays and runs around the yard, but man, when she’s focused, she’s *FAST*!! She’s the best dog in the new group of fly ball dogs. She can run over all four jumps (*FAST*!!), pick up the tennis ball from a person or off the ground, and then come back over all the jumps (*FAST*!!!). We just need to add hitting the box for the tennis ball, and she’ll be ready to race. I went and watched her one Sunday night, and I was BLOWN AWAY by how fast our Kira is. Unbelieveable.

Miscellaneous: My Red Wings are still in the playoffs, and looking to get into the Stanley Cup Final. Awesome news there. We’ve been to a couple concerts recently. Barenaked Ladies and Jann Arden. Both great shows, and we were FIRST ROW for BNL! Good times. Lots of pictures taken. Ryan and I went to a Manitoba Moose hockey game a couple weeks ago. Arena was almost empty, and it was the first playoff game of the season. Wow. Steph and I bought tickets for last night’s game seven in case it happened, but wouldn’t ya know it, the Moose blew a 2-0 lead in game 6 and lost 3-2 in OT, so there was no game 7 to attend. We also attended the Gold Medal game for the Women’s World Championship, and it was GREAT fun to see our Canadian Women rock all over those chumps from the USA. Way to go, girls! And yeah, I’ve been spending WAY too much time playing Guitar Hero II. I can’t put it down. Finally moved up into Medium difficulty, and got Perfect on the first 6 songs, but Pearl Jam’s “Life Wasted” is going to kill me. Steph is even playing, which is awesome!

That’s about it for now. We’re all caught up, so hopefully I can keep this thing going. We eventually want to get blogs for the animals too, but we’ll see how that goes.

Yeah, we’re crazy.

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I’m a handywoman!

You know those Rona commercials where the housewife has a home improvement project that she wants to do, like hanging a picture, or cutting a hole in the wall so she can see from the kitchen to the living room, and the guy with the voice over is giving her all kinds of positive reinforcement?

He’s telling her how great she is, how empowered she is, and what a great job she’s going to do.

She’s a handywoman.

Meanwhile, the woman is standing in front of this big blank wall holding a huge reciprocating saw, with a look on her face like she’s about to cut down the entire house. Remember those?

That’s what I felt like on Wednesday night. I’ve had this burning desire to clean up the house lately. We moved in at the start of June, and got the new furniture, and everything situated the way we want it, but there’s still a bunch of stuff just floating around that we need to clean up and put away, and little projects to be done to make our home even better.

And I’ve finally had enough.

I love our big new house. I really do. Sometimes, I still can’t even believe that I live there. What a change from our old tiny house. I’d never do anything to hurt our new house. But the first thing I wanted to do was hang up some cubicle wall hangers to hold spots for 3 of our dearly departed pets, Tiffy, Copper, and Roofy. They’ve been stuck in this box in our kitchen, and not to mention not respecting them by keeping them in a box, it was contributing to the clutter as well.

So dammit, come hell or high water, I was going to hang these square holders.

Of course, we have drywall, and you’re not guaranteed to hit a wall stud when you’re doing this kind of stuff. So there I was, standing there, staring at the wall with my measuring tape, wall anchors, and hammer in hand, telling myself that I could do this. It’s not that hard.

I’m a handyman.

Did I mention that I’m not that GREAT at this kind of thing? I’m usually so scared of wrecking something that I talk myself out of this kind of thing. But nope, I’m going to get this house in order, and it has to be done.

So, after getting out my new laser level, my new drill, my wall anchors, my hammer, and my pencil, and after painstakingly measuring each and every angle (no less than 6 times), as well as some choice curses, I’ve got one large cube, and a smaller cube on each side of it, each with one of our babies now being respected inside for all to see.

I did it. I conquered it, and I didn’t hurt the house. That much.

I’m a handywoman.

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The weight of the world

Wow. Just wow.

In recent times I’ve felt like I’m Atlas, punished for fighting a decade-plus long war against the Olympian Gods by being forced to carry the earth and the sky on his shoulders thousands of years ago.

But it’s not really punishment, it’s just the way life works. But now, the earth and sky has been lifted off of my shoulders, and all is right with everything again. Not that there were any real problems, just the hectic pace of so many life-altering changes all happening at once. All the changes have been great ones, so I’m certainly not sorry they’ve happened.

It’s just that now, I can rest, and go back to my normal life.

Here’s a quick rundown of the last five and a half months.

April, 2006: I love my job, I really do. I sit 25 feet away from my (then) girlfriend. I’m the lead Microsoft technician in an IT shop for MTS, and I really couldn’t have a better position. However, over the past few months, I’d been getting tired of not being given new responsibilities (I was promoted a year ago, but my job never changed), and tired of the fact that in spite of the raises and promotions, there are much less-qualified paper-pushers doing a job a monkey can do for much more money than myself and other highly-trained and educated system administrators are making. I had applied for a job at Great-West Life back in September, and missed it by one cut. I was second. But now, I get a call from Great-West Life, asking me if I’m still interested. I think I broke the sound barrier, I answered “Hellz Yeah” so fast. The interview is a 10 minute formality to review my resume, and I get the call with the offer the very next day. No matter what my position, I’m not turning down a near-five-figure raise. Nosireebob.

May, 2006: I start my new job on the 1st. What a change. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Stephanie and I and all the animals have outgrown our little starter home, and no manner of packing things away, re-organizing the clutter, or hard work will give us more room in our house. It’s time to buy a new home. I was hoping to wait two more years, but I think the men in white would have come with the straight-jackets first. We wouldn’t have made it. We find a fantastic home in a wonderful neighborhood. A little farther to drive to work every day, but believe me, it’s worth it. Twice the size of our current home, and a yard the size of a football field (well, not quite THAT big, but it’s HUGE) that the dogs can run around with. More importantly, there’s room for all our stuff. So, now we begin the process of packing all our junk up and fixing the place up to sell it. Huge props to my Dad for his truck, and for Steph, Morris, Michael, and Bryon for busting their asses to help us get our big stuff into storage.

May 31st, 2006: We take possession of the new house, and rally up family and friends to come help us paint it. Mom, sister Bev, Michael, Aunt Jeanette, Sarah… thanks so much for taking the time to help us out. We get the place painted over the weekend, and now it’s time to move stuff in. In the meantime, crews have been organized throughout the month to come and install a new furnace (the ORIGINAL 1960 furnace just wouldn’t do) and air conditioning. Also, we’ve been out shopping for new furniture (A HUGE TV~!) as well as getting stuff moved in.

June 2006: By the way, did I tell you our wedding is in 3 months? We spend most the month tidying up the new house, and we start dawdling on getting the old house ready. My Mom Laurette, Steph’s Dad Morris, and our friend Michael turns into machines as they help us get the house ready. Michael’s cleaning stuff out. Mom’s painting, Morris is fixing everything. OH! And Rick! Rick has got his hands into everything – fixing up our bathroom, swapping toilets between houses, fixing railings, and general fix-it stuff. My brother-in-law Ian (CARDAC) is coming to install the alarm in the new house. Wow.

July 2006: We’re getting slower on the house. We start focusing more on the wedding. Stuff has to organized, invitations have to go out, menus selected, txues and dresses chosen and fitted… all the hub-bub that goes along with getting a wedding ready. Meanwhile, the house is sitting there, and we’re paying for two mortgages, two sets of bills and house insurances. And a wedding. YIKES! Did I mention that Steph is also in Dragon Boating, and we’ve been taking the dogs to agility classes every week for the last 18 months? Busy? SHIT YEAH!

August 2006: We’re finally ready. After all this time, we’re going to sell the old house. Showings start on the 16th, offers at 5 PM on the 20th. The 20th comes along, and the house is sold at 5:30 PM. YES!!! I feel like someone has picked the sky off my shoulders, and the earthe – the wedding – is only 11 days away. The next 11 days are full of work at our regular jobs, and work late into the night (and usually into the wee hours of the morning) getting things done for the wedding. There were a lot of sleepless nights in this stretch!

September 1st 2006: It’s Stephanie’s birthday! And the wedding is TWO DAYS AWAY!

September 3rd, 2006: It’s the wedding day, and things couldn’t have gone any better. Thanks go out to so many people… Stephanie, Angie, Sarah, Noelle, Bryon, Michael, my cousin Shane, both of our parents for all their guidance (and their checkbooks!), Bridges Golf Course, who gave us EVERYTHING we wanted, Andre our DJ from Great Times Winnipeg, Sally Hull our photographer, Luigi and Shanna at Icon Impressions for the video, Margo Patten for the wonderful job she did as Marriage Commissioner, and to everyone who cared enough to accept our invitation and join us on our day. And to those that couldn’t come, thank you for all your well wishes. The ceremony was awesome (who knew that *I* was going to be the one to cry?), the meal was fantastic, the reception was top notch – Bryon did a great job as MC and Best Man, and Angie was just as good as Maid of Honor – and Andre kept everyone dancing right until we had to shut down. What a day! I even got to golf on my wedding day. How many guys can say THAT? My girlfriend is now my wife!

September 4th, 2006: It’s all over, and after going to bed at 4:00 AM, I sleep until noon-ish and lay around all day until it’s time to go for supper at Steph’s parents. We also get a call that Sally has STAYED UP ALL NIGHT and finished our wedding photos. We go pick those up after supper.

Well, a week off after the wedding, and now we’re back to normal. The earth has been lifted from my shoulders, and you all have NO IDEA what it feels like to have this much stress and change all taken off your back at once. It’s an amazing feeling.

Now, I have to get to those damned thank-you cards, LOL!!

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What I Would Do If I Were Prime Minister

Or… How to put the money back in the hands of the people.

I don’t even really know what brought this post on, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past week or so. There isn’t really anything in the news about it even, but for some reason, it’s been gnawing away at me like last week’s 11 PM pizza run.

The Canadian Government says there’s no money. No money for the farmers who are faced with their third or fourth drought year in a row. No money to pay doctors and nurses. No money for wildlife programs. No money for police officers. The list goes on and on and on.

And who suffers for it?

You and me. The little people.

You can bet your kid’s college fund – that’s right, the one that’ll get you a couple Slurpee’s and an Oscar Meyer over at 7-11 – that it’s not the politicians suffering – they’re living in the lap of luxury on the backs of yours and my hard work and tax dollars.

The number of instances where our so-called “leaders” are making like Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible and pulling off the heist of the century have been well-documented throughout the media. Most recently, the Gomery Inquiry (Sponsorship Scandal) has opened our (or at least my) eyes to these people who are doing their best to hijack my money and line their own pockets with it. Here’s just a couple highlights of the Scandal:

- That Canadian racecar driver Jacques Villeneuve was secretly paid $12 million from the sponsorship fund to wear a Canadian logo.

- Don Boudria was minister of public works for five months after Alfonso Gagliano was appointed ambassador to Denmark. He was removed from the post after it was revealed that he had stayed at a luxury chalet belonging to the owner of Groupe Everest, a Quebec firm that did millions of dollars in business with the government.

- Head of Communication Coffin, a small Montreal advertising company. The company handled sponsorship deals on behalf of Public Works Canada between 1997 and 2002, worth $3.4 million. The RCMP charged him with 18 counts of fraud for allegedly submitting $2 million in fake invoices to the government. According to Elections Canada, Coffin’s company donated $13,000 to the Liberals in 1999 and another $11,000 over the next two years.

And our Government PAYS these people. We have two kinds of financial idiots in our Government. Those that use their status to help their friends in return for Party donations, and those that choose to help themselves – with our dollars.

What can we do? First, we need to fire all the paper-pushing, unwashed losers that make up our offices and blindly sign anything shoved in front of them for a lift of the skirt or the wave of a wad of cash. Replace them with people who actually READ invoices, monitor our public contracts, and actually CARE about doing the right thing and have the brass nuts to actually QUESTION something put in front of them they think is wrong.

But what about the other kind of idiot? The ones that use taxpayer’s money to take extravagant vacations, take limo trips hundreds of miles, or like our FORMER Prime Minister Jean Chretien, purchase executive jets rather than retrofit our Atlantic Coast’s aging Emergency Response helicopters?

These people obviously have a license to spend money for business purposes, but what we need is a more responsible and ACCOUNTABLE process. Don’t just let them hand in a receipt and pay the bill, or turn over a Parliamentary credit card with a limit so high you’d have to leap off of Mount Everest to reach it. These people – our politicans, our elected Members of Parliament – those we elect to represent ourselves – make a truckload of money for doling out opinions on issues that can be bought and sold like a pack of gum – and we pay for it.

It’s time to make THEM accountable. Have your meetings in your office – during work hours – not at the most plush private golf course wooing a potential donator, or dining on veal at the most lavish restaurants – all on my dollar.

And when you DO need to purchase something/have dinner/get your back waxed/whatever, PAY FOR IT OUT OF YOUR OWN POCKET, and submit a form to get reimbursed for it. Have someone audit these submissions, and if they’re ludicrous – like a $10,000 limo ride – REJECT IT!!!! Don’t just put it on the taxpayer’s tab. It doesn’t work that way.

Run the country like a frigging business, not a charity case!

If we do this, maybe – just maybe – the Canadian Government will stop handing out money to itself and their friends, and giving it to those that need it the most.

The people that put them in office to begin with.

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What’s shaking the house?


So, things have been getting pretty cool over in Cadence Thump land, as I said in my last post. Dave and I recorded a ton of guitar tracks so that I can sit down and write some bass lines.

Well, I wanted to be able to write some cool bass lines, and therefore I figured an easy way might be to have more notes available to play with.

Who am I kidding? I’ve wanted a six-string bass since I was 16 years old. And finally, on Friday, after 15 long years, I got my wish.

Feast your eyes on THIS!

Drop-D tuning be damned!

The Ibanez SR506.

What a machine! It’s a little lighter than my Peavey Fury IV, but I gotta tell you, the extra width on the neck is crazy. I have smaller hands to begin with – my fingers are short – I can’t touch my brain when I pick my nose some some people can – so it’s almost like learning to play bass all over again.

Looks like there’ll be some long nights ahead re-playing scales and such to get used to having that extra string in the way, and to reach across that neck.

However, I love it, and I wouldn’t trade that rumbling, earth-shaking low B and C now that I’ve got it for anything.

Well, maybe a Snickers.

Just kidding.

Now all I need is a bigger amp. :)

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Thumpin’ Right Along…

What a week it’s been for Cadence Thump (bloggy) this past week.

I know Dave was a little frustrated that we weren’t moving along as fast as he’d liked. Dave is uber-passionate about this band, and wants it to succeed so much, he can actually taste it. He really can. Last week, we really only had one song in the can, but this week it’s like someone hit a switch, and the group just suddenly had all this chemistry, it was just crazy.

At the end of a long jam session, Nemmy just started playing Shinedown’s Simple Man out of the blue, and the rest of the band just kicked in, and it was like someone had waved a magic wand, and it was awesome. We’d NEVER attempted to play the song together before, but it came out perfect, and Victor showed us the pipes of a god in that song. He was just GOLD.

Gold to the point where Nemmy dropped a F-Bomb in front of my fiancee’s dad. It was great.

So now, we pretty much have 2 originals ready – just have to get me going on backup vox – as well as covers of Clapton’s “Cocaine”, Bon Jovi’s “Dead Or Alive”, the aforementioned Shinedown’s “Simple Man”, and The Scorpions’ “Big City Lights”.

I’m happy to provide a lot of input as well – from timing cues for Patrick on drums, to suggesting alternate arrangements, I’m just having a ball.

Things are looking up for Cadence Thump, and soon enough, we’re going to be thumpin’ in a club near you.

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What Goes “Thump” In The Night?

Winnipeg’s newest rock and roll quintet, that’s what.

After being screwed around in the last band I was in a couple years ago, I finally got the itch to play again, and it just so happened that a friend of a friend was looking to put a project together.

So, my aforementioned friend Nemmy (whose real name will never be used online in this blog, but can be found over at MySpace here) introduced me to his friend Dave (clicky).

We met, hit it off, and thought we might be able to accomplish something together.

Wait a minute, that sounds a lot like a first date. But it wasn’t. You get the picture.

With Dave screaming his licks on guitar, Nemmy scorching the keys (and also joining in on guitar), and me on bass, the picture was almost complete. Enter Patrick to pound on the skins, and Victor to belt out the vocals, and Cadence Thump (clicky) was born.

Dave has written a ton of material, I have some kicking around from the old days, as does Nem. We’ve pretty much gotten down one song of Dave’s, and we’re working on another already. I’m having a blast so far, and I think this project of Dave’s can really be kicked into high gear. We’ve got a good bunch of guys, and some real good music on tap so far.

If all goes well, look for us to hit the clubs hopefully in the fall, and launch an official web site and album around the same time.

I’m really looking forward to it.

Thump, thump, thump….

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He Shoots…. HE SCORES~!

I could have also titled this: “You’re Welcome, Edmonton.”

I should be an NHL coach.

Either that, or some Internet gnome told Oiler coach Craig MacTavish to read my blog, because the Oilers did the unthinkable and won Game 5, while on the brink of elimination.

What did I say? SHOOT THE PUCK!

What did the Oilers do?

They SHOT THE PUCK.

They scored their first goal on a deflected shot from the blueline. EXACTLY WHAT I SUGGESTED. The second goal was a laser beam from Hemsky from the top of the circle. The third goal was a crash play in front of the net. EXACTLY WHAT I SUGGESTED.

Then there was that wonderful breakaway goal in OT.

And – get this – the Oil OUTSHOT Carolina 29-24.

NHL teams looking for a coach – I could use a big payday. I may not win you the Stanley Cup the first year in, but I guarantee you’ll finish higher than Toronto.