Stats and numbers that don’t make sense…

Recently overheard in a break room: “Pretty soon, all Canadians will be homeless because nobody will be able to afford to pay rent.”

Uhm, no, I don’t think so. I didn’t argue with the guy, though. No point. If someone is that negative, there’s nothing you can say that will change his or her mind.

THIS guy, meanwhile, is seen almost daily outside Renfrew SkyTrain Station asking people for money to feed his brother and him. It’s always, “Hey. Hey. Can you spare some change for me and my brother so we can get food?” Always. The same thing. Almost every day, if not every single day (literally).

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I am sure I am not the only one, but I don’t feel sorry for him. I’ve heard others tell him (nicely) to go find a job instead of asking people for money.

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Moving on to sports… I just learned this week that in some places, it’s legal to start gambling when you’re as young as 12 years old!

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this – but there was the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach talking about how he hasn’t watched a Super Bowl – live or on tape – since he was allowed to bet on the sport (ie. when he wasn’t a coach at any level yet)… and proceeded to throw out the number 12 in terms of age. I would think he was exaggerating about that part, though I guess I believe he hasn’t watched a Super Bowl for many years.

And who are those people talking about the Ravens defense? They allowed the Bengals’ Andy Dalton to throw for four TD passes in the first half on Thursday Night Football in Week 2!

Then there’s also the NFL Power Rankings by ESPN.com… some head-scratchers on this one… The Jets blew out the Lions in Week 1 while the Giants lost their game… and yet the Giants (#25) are ahead of the Jets (#26) on the rankings? The Titans (#22) are ahead of the team they lost to – the Dolphins (#24) – for crying out loud! There were others, but those ones were the ones that jumped out…

Finally, the Red Sox in MLB reached 100 wins this week – the first time the franchise has reached that mark since 1946… Wow… That’s a long time. Prior to being a writer, I rooted for the Red Sox. But THAT is woeful. Of course, if they don’t win the Series this year, the season will be regarded as a failure.. .We shall see.

 

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A whipping boy for each team…

On Wednesday, news broke that the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani might require Tommy John surgery, and I had an interesting discussion with a friend about baseball.

Now, I’ve thought all year that the Angels were a team capable of sneaking into the playoffs, and I said this on TSN1040 earlier in the summer even when Seattle had jumped out to a huge lead in the wild-card race. I’m no fan of either ballclub, but I just thought the Mariners were pretenders and the Angels might be a team to catch them.

Regardless, I said from day one that there was too much hype about this Ohtani kid. He’d suffered injuries in Japan prior to coming to North America, and from what i understand, the schedule in Japan is not the same as the 162-game grind in Major League Baseball. So, for me, the fact that Ohtani has had injuries this season is no surprise.

Then, the discussion became the fact that I’ve often criticized Ohtani on the Angels and James Paxton on the Mariners. And Doug Fister, on every team he has pitched for. I acknowledged the fact that on every team, there’s probably a favorite whipping boy for me to pick on.

But I then commented that Mark Shapiro, the president of the Blue Jays, would not be such a person for me – despite the fact that many Toronto fans whom I know like to crucify him.

Why would I not pick on Shapiro? Simple. As a journalist-type, as a writer, I don’t have any bias when it comes to liking or hating various teams. I try to look at it as being objective. I root for people, individuals who have been kind enough to help me along the way.

The writing journey that I’m currently on first began when I was writing Tom Candiotti’s biography. At that time, I emailed or sent letters to players, managers, and executives who had had dealings with Candiotti during his career. General managers and managers such as Joe Klein, Art Howe, Pat Gillick, Doc Edwards, Fred Claire… and Shapiro responded and were receptive to my interview requests.

For me, I don’t forget that. I certainly appreciated their time and the fact they were willing to spend a few minutes chatting with me about that book.

So, in my book, Mark Shapiro is a first-class human being, a guy that I would root for. At the end of the day, it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about the human side of things. Mark Shapiro, in my book, is a Hall of Famer – to me.

I don’t forget these things.

Be careful what you wish for….

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So, other than writing about sports, I am an instructor at a language college, where I teach a university/college preparation course for international students wishing to attend college in Canada.

Anyway, this is meant to be a university/college-prep class, and it’s supposed to be academic. My students are supposed to have passed a prerequisite course in order to join. Now, one student had not met the requirements for my course, but the school’s administrators let him take the program anyway – as long as he hired a private tutor right away to do some extra studying on his own time.

Long story short, this is an academic English course which involved essay writing and speeches. He was essentially failing my course because he simply wasn’t ready for the course and his study skills / habits were suspect to begin with. An example of his poor study habits? He would fold all the handouts I give in class in half, and put them into his bag. I would suggest to him to spend a few dollars to purchase a binder so he could be more organized; doing so might help him study better. He never took my advice. (He did have a habit, however, of spending a few dollars every morning to buy a 7-Eleven hot dog, and he would eat it before class on a daily basis.) Of course, when we had to refer to handouts from previous classes, he would have a hard time finding the relevant sheets.

(Plus, I later found out he never had a tutor and did not follow my suggestions regarding how to improve upon his weaknesses. What he did, instead, was have a Korean friend tutor him – not a real tutor – from the middle of the program onward. When I found out, I told him flat out that if he was serious about improving his skills, asking a Korean friend to explain things in Korean to him was not going to be effective. As I stressed to him, he needed an English-speaking tutor to help him out, using English. But, you know, he preferred his shortcut methods…)

On one essay, I gave him a score of 63% with some constructive feedback written on the paper. What I didn’t find out until later on was that he went behind my back to complain to the school administrators that I was biased against him and he took a photo of that particular assignment as “proof” that I was discriminating against him. (I was also accused of being disrespectful to him – which is not true, by the way – and my actions supposedly weakened his confidence level and caused him to feel depressed… I mean, these were serious allegations.)

As the school director informed me a short time after the assignment was handed back, the student had complained even to his parents in Korea – and they had hired a “university professor” in Korea to look at the mark I had assigned on that one paper (along with the constructive feedback that I had left on there) to see if it was fair or legit. That, according to the student anyway, was his one piece of tangible evidence in his case against me.

But to show the student (and his parents) that he needed to work harder, what I did was something unique. It’s like, “Be careful what you wish for.” From that point on, I sent all of his written assignments and essays (and all of the other students’ too) to an American English teacher acquaintance (who, by the way, has 20+ years’ worth of teaching experience), along with my rubrics, to have her grade all of his work. If I’m going to be accused like that, I want nothing to do with grading his papers moving forward.

Well, maybe that 63% that I had given on that one assignment was way too generous. The marks that the American teacher acquaintance handed back to me for that student’s work… 33%, 60%*, 30%, 50%,* 17%…. Hey, if we look at it a different way, maybe it was my fault. I gave him too high a score to begin with and he let that inflate his ego and overestimate his true abilities.

Well, looking at those scores again… 33, 60, 30, 50, 17, … this is simply a case of “be careful what you wish for.”

I mean, this student’s not a kid. He’s an adult. As far as I’m concerned, if you have any concerns, talk to me before you go making unfounded accusations and complaints. Work harder and follow my advice instead of bitching. Think about where you’ve gone wrong and work on improving yourself instead of being lazy and pointing fingers. Follow the instructions and pay more attention in class instead of doing whatever the heck you want to while ignoring the instructions. You want a “university professor” in Korea to mark these? Fine. I’ll send them all to an American English teacher. Let’s see how that works out.

*There was also a minor dispute about one particular mark I had given him on a speech, on which he did not report the information that was specifically required based on the instructions. He chose to do the speech his own way – even though the day prior to that speech I had given him feedback on what he needed to add to it to make it stronger. Come speech day, he did not do so, and he was, therefore, marked down for missing those specific details. Moving forward, I did things differently. I recorded everyone’s speeches as MP3 files after that and had those graded by a different instructor based on a speech rubric. The 60% and 50% were the speech scores for that student in subsequent speeches.

The twisted-ness in people…

Earlier, I shared a Tweet response by someone who refers to himself as “Beep Beep Ribby Ribby” in regards to his response to the death of former NHL goalie Ray Emery.

How do I know it’s a “he”? Well, his other Tweets gave him away:

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So, it is a grown man with a teenage son.

This reminds me of a conversation that I overheard in the patio area of a local Starbucks not too long ago. I could hear the conversation because the one guy who was talking was LOUD.

He was saying – loudly – to his group how the government in Canada is screwed up, and he then said the following several times, in his loud voice. He talked about how he has taught his son, “If I die or drop dead at home, do not call 9-1-1. Instead, carry my body out onto the street and leave it there. I’m not paying for any funeral or any [blah blah blah]…”

That’s twisted, just like how B.B.R.R. is twisted. The Starbucks dude was talking about how he wasn’t paying for anything that would benefit the government. And he would “have the last laugh” when he dies, because the government or the city would “be paying for it.”

And he kept repeating the same thing over and over. No, he wasn’t unemployed or anything. From the context – again, he was speaking rather loudly – he had a decent-paying job.

But there you go. Grown men who are twisted with these, well, let’s just say unconventional, views….

Life: Yes, people DO want you to fail… Part 2

Back in June, I had mentioned some interactions with people in the past – people who, essentially, wanted me to fail. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just how some people are. You just have to accept that fact and deal with it.

Today, here’s a sequel. This can also be titled “Reason No. 3,252 Why I Don’t Like Teachers” – but the title above is fitting.

Anyway, here’s some background. This was some time ago. Knowing how passionate and dedicated I was in my classes, the director at the private college called me in for a meeting one afternoon.

She told me something along these lines: “Look, you’re amazing and you really care for our students – it’s obvious… I would like you to continue doing what you’re doing – but at the same time, I would like you to learn how to teach other courses so that you can be No. 2 behind [the principal, who’s also the No. 1 instructor in the school].”

The director mentioned that principal/No. 1 instructor – essentially the head teacher – by name, but for the purposes of this post I will not name any names, so that’s why I put that part in brackets.

Okay, I took her words to heart, and several days later I approached the principal/No. 1 instructor to inquire about one of the courses he was teaching. I explained the conversation I had with the director, and I expressed interest in knowing more about one particular course he was teaching.

His response? “Well, this reminds me of the time a former student thought that by watching eight hours of tennis, he was going to become a Wimbledon pro.”

All right – obviously, there was some lack of communication on the part of the director and the principal/No. 1 instructor. There was no professional development available at this college, but since the director told me, face to face, to learn how to teach additional courses – to be No. 2 behind the principal… who better to consult than the principal himself?

I mean, perhaps the two of them did not talk this over – but I wasn’t privy to the communications they had. That really was none of my business. I merely was trying to follow up because of what the director told me. I waited several days before approaching the principal. And hey, since his title was “principal,” you would think he would perform the responsibilities that came with that title?

Getting back to that conversation, I laughed it off and responded that he wasn’t really comparing me to a student he didn’t like, was he? I didn’t feel the analogy fit in that situation. I even offered to sit in and observe some of his classes if that might be better.

All he did was scoff and continue to be rude, refusing to take back his comment about the tennis-watching student. I mean, just another example of a fellow instructor not wanting to help out to make the college be more efficient.

…and an example of how people simply would rather you fail.

Unfortunately, too many people in our society think like THIS guy….

Last Sunday, news broke about the death of former NHL goaltender Ray Emery. Here’s what one person – who refers to himself as “Beep Beep Ribby Ribby” – decided to write on Twitter:

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That’s disgusting – but, you know, there are lots of people out there who think like that. It just goes to show that some of us don’t treat others like actual human beings. There are those who, unfortunately, look at other human beings as inferior or unworthy.

There are also those who view celebrities – whether they’re athletes or politicians or entertainers – as people to attack and lash out at, particularly on social media. There have been attacks on Twitter and other social media on musicians because of their unwillingness to criticize politicians. There have been attacks on athletes for not making the clutch plays – and even for deciding to go to a new team.

A lot of people out there do not have compassion for other human beings. That’s just plain wrong.

Yes, people DO want you to fail…

That’s right. People DO want you to fail. I’ve experienced it. It happens. That’s life. You then shut those people out of your lives.

Up to now, there have been three Dereks in my professional life. All wanted me to fail. That’s rough. But that’s life.

Years ago, I was young and very naïve. I was in some kind of trouble, and Derek #1 was in a position to help me. I sought his assistance, but his response was “I can’t do it.” No, he could, but he didn’t want to. Okay, so, life moved on. I realized, at that young age, I had to do everything myself to get out of that mess. I learned to become independent. Looking back, Derek #1 could have made things easier, but he chose not to. That’s fine.

Fast forward to several years later. I was in a company where I frequently gave input to my boss, Cheryl, so that operations could be smoother and more efficient. Some of my ideas – designed to improve efficiency – were eventually implemented. Cheryl valued me as an employee. But then, the company hired an older woman named Sally, and I believe there might have been some power struggle there, because Cheryl abruptly resigned. During one particular staff meeting (actually, it was the only one Sally called while I was still in the company), when I tried to present an idea, Sally shot me down every time – in fact, interrupting me mid-sentence. Yet, she let others speak.

Either she heard some gossip about me from other employees, or she was against me because I was valued by Cheryl. Maybe even because I’m a short Asian male. Whatever the case was, that was definitely discrimination. Of some sort. Others were allowed to speak, but I was cut off each time.

Derek #2 observed this during the meeting, and he sought to undermine me. When Cheryl was around, the staff was expected to be respectful toward me because I was one of the supervisors. After Cheryl’s departure, Derek #2 knew that he didn’t have to listen to me anymore because he saw that Sally – clearly – was against me and wasn’t on my side. (Previously, Derek #2 often looked like a scared kitten when Cheryl lectured him.)

Anyway, I gave some constructive feedback on the emails he was sending out to clients – giving him pointers to be more professional-sounding in the emails. Derek #2 flatly refused and waged war. (During this time, the environment was toxic, with Amie, a manager, always asking me to step out when she needed a cigarette, to vent about how incompetent Jay, the project manager, was. Because Amie was the manager, I let her speak without interrupting.) Derek #2 somehow got Amie to team up against me, and told Sally things about me in an attempt to get me fired.

I was called into a private meeting with Sally – and Jay, who was there as a witness. I had just completed a tough medical project for the company. But Sally had her poker face on, and she said, “Do you know why you’re here?” (Duh. She’d never called private meetings before, and this was unannounced, so what was her point in being that rude?) In typical fashion, she displayed her discriminatory attitude toward me, saying I had done things harmful to the company. I explained that Derek #2 had threatened me, and that I had some things to say about that. Of course, Sally said that was between me and him and nothing to do with the company. At that point, I knew Sally was the type of two-faced person who pretended to be kind and caring in front of her own bosses, and negative toward me for whatever reason. I left the key on the desk, and walked out, never to return again. I had no interest interacting any further with someone who wanted to be the judge, jury, and executioner. Sally, as far as I was concerned, was the type of person who could drop dead and I would not shed a tear.

Derek #3 was a fellow instructor I encountered sometime later. An arrogant prick, he loved dishing out insults while frequently bragging about himself. Unprompted, he would show people photos of his apartment or his car – or new phone, etc.

I would want to discuss the progress of common students that we were teaching. I saw it as an opportunity to come up with ideas to help those students improve. He would, instead, go on and on about how those students were doing GREAT in his class because he was a superior teacher. I let it go for a while. Finally, one day, tired of his insults, I had the audacity to return the favour. His face turned red and he wanted to fight me, and threatened to throw me to the ground. He then tried to get me fired. He failed, of course, because it was clear to the administration that he was acting childish and being unreasonable.

The point is that all three Dereks wanted me to fail.

There was also the case of Abbie, a person who complained about ex-managers and co-workers from other companies (some hair salon where she worked) as well as ex-managers in the same company – saying they all were against her, blah blah blah, … and oh, a person who wanted to destroy me.

But we can save that one for another time.