Telling Tales out of School http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/ Fri, 23 Nov 2012 20:56:00 GMT My heritage minute http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3adc14e15d-8ce0-4a70-a86d-d78e62715dca&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 23 Nov 2012 20:56:00 GMT <p> Saturday will be my 60th anniversary of being in Canada.</p> <p> I’ll pause here while you curse Louis St. Laurent and his lax immigration rules.<br /> <br /> I have vague memories of emigrating...a seemingly massive Cunard ship on the docks in Liverpool. My mother and I sharing a cabin with another woman and her daughter (my dad came two months later). Everyone running to the rail when another ship passed in the Atlantic. A steward bringing us a big pitcher of water every day. People around me getting seasick.<br /> <br /> It was Nov. 24, 1952 when we came ashore in St. John’s, and I really don’t remember any of those two days, though when I was next in St. John’s in the 80s and looked down on the harbour, it immediately looked familiar.<br /> <br /> I have no idea if we went through immigration at the famous Pier 21 in Halifax. My mother was Canadian, but I was a British citizen. Whatever, my memory of Halifax was my grandfather from Charlottetown being there and scooping me up, and then we took the train to The Island to start my life as a Canadian. Back then, the locomotive dropped the passengers cars off at the ferry terminal at Cape Tormentine, the cars went on the ferry, and another locomotive was waiting in Borden to take the train into Charlottetown.<br /> <br /> My heritage minute.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:dc14e15d-8ce0-4a70-a86d-d78e62715dca My heritage minute http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a25fa08a2-3f86-4ace-9c76-bb6c9d039357&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 23 Nov 2012 20:55:00 GMT <p> Saturday will be my 60th anniversary of being in Canada.</p> <p> I’ll pause here while you curse Louis St. Laurent and his lax immigration rules.<br /> <br /> I have vague memories of emigrating...a seemingly massive Cunard ship on the docks in Liverpool. My mother and I sharing a cabin with another woman and her daughter (my dad came two months later). Everyone running to the rail when another ship passed in the Atlantic. A steward bringing us a big pitcher of water every day. People around me getting seasick.<br /> <br /> It was Nov. 24, 1952 when we came ashore in St. John’s, and I really don’t remember any of those two days, though when I was next in St. John’s in the 80s and looked down on the harbour, it immediately looked familiar.<br /> <br /> I have no idea if we went through immigration at the famous Pier 21 in Halifax. My mother was Canadian, but I was a British citizen. Whatever, my memory of Halifax was my grandfather from Charlottetown being there and scooping me up, and then we took the train to The Island to start my life as a Canadian. Back then, the locomotive dropped the passengers cars off at the ferry terminal at Cape Tormentine, the cars went on the ferry, and another locomotive was waiting in Borden to take the train into Charlottetown.<br /> <br /> My heritage minute.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:25fa08a2-3f86-4ace-9c76-bb6c9d039357 Sorry, I guess you didn't want public attention http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a408b176c-d156-497e-bc47-101329119e6f&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 20 Nov 2012 22:16:00 GMT <p> It sounded like such a nifty conference at UM.</p> <p> For the first time, a Canadian university would host 90 universities from eight northern countries on education in the far north, the schools making up the University of the Arctic consortium.<br /> <br /> Pretty significant stuff, eh?<br /> <br /> The news release came on a Wednesday, but, alas, it lacked some significant and basic information, such as the dates of the conference and the detailed agenda. So, you know, like, we needed those details so we could cover it, which is usually the purpose in sending out a news release.<br /> <br /> For three days I pumped out emails, and tweeted, suspecting as a trained professional observer that the conference would most likely run Thursday to Saturday. Couldn’t see it on the UM website.<br /> <br /> Finally, late Friday, I get an answer back from UM. Keep in mind, this is the same UM that is far and away the most frequent education source of complaints about me to senior management. UM is so far ahead now of the teachers’ union and the religious right that those two should be ashamed to accept the silver and bronze medals. But I digress.<br /> <br /> Anyway, late Friday, UM tells me that “The purpose of the release was simply to advise media that there was such a meeting of representatives of academics from the circumpolar region, and that the Rectors’ Forum was hosted by the University of Manitoba. Had any media expressed interest in speaking with the president about it, for example, we would have tried to accommodate him or her.”<br /> <br /> Oh. Silly me. You have this enormously significant conference, but you don’t want coverage. It should have been obvious to me that I could just call and ask if the president could tell me what happened.<br /> <br /> Moving along....<br /> <br /> Here’s an email from a communications major at Flagler College in Florida asking me to complete a research survey for her thesis on social media in journalism, fill it in and return it, thank you very much.<br /> <br /> You do understand, this is not how postsecondary research is expected to be conducted, I hope? Researchers are supposed to have an ethics committee that reviews their research, there’s a lengthy protocol about dealing with human subjects — which is jargon for talking to people instead of just analysing data — there are all kinds of forms that have to be filled out and confidentiality agreements signed.<br /> <br /> Every time I write about this, I hear from research administrators amazed that so many students ignore the criteria, and so many schools allow it.<br /> <br /> I still remember the UBC journalism student who sent out an email declaring that his thesis would prove that all journalists are racists, and he provided me with 20 questions to delve into the specific types of racist beliefs I hold. I called the dean and asked about protocols, and he told me that UBC journalism didn’t bother with ethics reviews and all that other stuff.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> This has been quite the intense time for service to readers.<br /> <br /> No, I didn’t say subscribers, I said readers.<br /> <br /> One researcher, possibly in Ontario, emailed a couple of times for all kinds of stats on aboriginal students at UM, and on Metis students. I looked up the appropriate websites that list the information and sent them to her, though it struck me that a researcher could have found that on line in far less time than it took for her to write, and me to reply.<br /> <br /> One guy expected me to know who the architect is on a capital project at a particular school, and in the unlikely event that I didn’t know off the top of my head, for me to find out who it is and get back to him. The two subsequent emails made it clear that it wasn’t acceptable for me just to send the guy the phone number of the school division so he could ask himself.<br /> <br /> Then there was the woman who told me the WFP had recently run a story on a guy with a very common last name who’d lost a lot of weight, and she wanted me to find the story and send it to her. Dunno why me, but hey, away I went, searching through archives and files. Finally, I emailed her and told her I’d struck out. Couple of days later, she gets back to me and says no problem, it wasn’t in the WFP, it was in the Jewish Post.<br /> <br /> Then there was the woman living in the southern U.S., who vented over not having yet received the book on Kelvin’s 100th anniversary for which she’d paid $35.<br /> <br /> So I contacted the school division, found out that the job is taking much longer than the volunteers compiling and publishing the book ever imagined, but they’re assuring everyone it’s coming, and I relayed that information. No, no thanks necessary, as is obvious by your silence.<br /> <br /> Ooh! Ooh! I see something shiny!<br /> <br /> Where was I?<br /> <br /> Can’t remember, so howzabout I mention that my colleague Brad Oswald reported that Last Resort has been cancelled. Doesn’t surprise me.<br /> <br /> It started out well, but went rapidly downhill into absurdity. The conspiracies were muddled way beyond anything Oliver Stone could conjure up.<br /> <br /> Do you think the media would simply stand by and watch as an allegedly rogue boomer full of  nuclear missiles and commanded by a whacko captain surfaced and parked in the magnificent harbour of a diversely inhabited island paradise — one without hotels, government, or, it appears, a landing strip?<br /> <br /> Surely the Washington Post or New York Times would have had the sub commander on the sat phone, and probably would have found a way to get reporters and photographers past the naval barricade and onto the island. Heck, I would have gone in by kayak, if we’d found a Manitoba connection.<br /> <br /> And all that weird stuff going on in Washington, was that all happening in a vacuum, with no one asking questions?<br /> <br /> I won’t miss it.<br /> <br /> And finally....<br /> <br /> I notice that child the elder posted a comment to another WFP blogger, and signed his name to it, taking responsibility for what he says in a public forum. Yes, I agree, the concept of identifying yourself and acting like a grown-up will never catch on with people who rant anonymously on the interweb thingee.<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:408b176c-d156-497e-bc47-101329119e6f You were expecting something different from Maclean's? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3aba3e8c25-9535-4515-9b12-284ba26e32a7&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 13 Nov 2012 20:37:00 GMT <p> My being away in Upper Canada for a week meant that for the first time in living memory, I was doomed to miss out on covering Maclean’s university rankings.</p> <p> Dang!<br /> <br /> Pause while I try to regain my composure.<br /> <br /> Not much changed. U of M was 15th out of 15 large universities with medical schools once again, nine years running being last. U of W fell a bit down the middle of the pack in smaller and predominantly undergrad schools, with Brandon U a few notches further down — a year after the longest faculty strike in Manitoba history.<br /> <br /> For a few years now, a good chunk of Canada’s universities, including some highly-ranked, have refused to co-operate with Maclean’s, because of the methodology the magazine uses to rank schools.<br /> <br /> And once again, what does that tell you, especially if you’re in Grade 12?<br /> <br /> I always pull out the quote from St.-John’s Ravenscourt School’s fulltime university advisor, Peter Brass, who is totally unimpressed by Maclean’s rankings: Brass says that there is not a single public university in Canada at which you will not get a good education. The variables are large or small, specific program, urban or suburban or small town, go away or stay at home — regardless, they’re all good.<br /> <br /> I was doing a thorough analysis of the rankings while I was in Peterborough, maintaining my education duties while on vacation....OK, so I was in the Chapters on Lansdowne, leafing through the hard copy issue, moments before I discovered that Ian Rankin has hit the reset button and brought Rebus out of retirement. But I digress.<br /> <br /> I looked at some of the categories in which UM did splendidly, and in fact, of all the categories on which Maclean’s judges universities, in only one did UM finish 15th. It was, of course, reputation, and as in every year, reputation weighs so heavily that it doomed UM to finish last.<br /> <br /> It was a few years ago that I dissected the reputation category with the help of some data from Maclean’s. Reputation is judged by business executives, the universities themselves, and high school guidance counsellors. The response rate from the three groups hovered right around 10 per cent, give or take a percentile over or below, and they were told just to rate the reputation of universities with which they had first-hand knowledge.<br /> <br /> To paraphrase some of the responses I had when I interviewed high school guidance counsellors, what do most Winnipeg guidance counsellors know about Cape Breton University? Someone at a high school here may be very familiar with the UM or UW faculty of education and the other undergrad program she or he completed, but how much do they know about microbiology or plant sciences or electrical engineering here, let alone in the context of comparing those programs to every other such program in Canada? And what would people outside Manitoba know about our three schools? How many — or how few — individuals were involved in judging UM’s reputation?<br /> <br /> I spent much of the week away on the campus of Trent University, the seventh year one or both of us have been going to Peterborough to visit our kids and watch some university volleyball. It’s a magnificent university, the second-largest campus in Canada, despite having only about 7,000 students. I went for several walks along the riverbank of the Otonabee River which splits the campus in two, river trails which UM may want to have a look at while planning the future of the Southwood area.<br /> <br /> And child the younger and I climbed the steep paths up the drumlin which overlooks the campus, walking the trails through the deep woods. She takes some classes on the drumlin, doing hours of lab work, and we won’t discuss here how some Blair Witch stuff may have been left behind for hikers to find. But it’s a fabulous natural part of the campus, and a wonderful outdoor classroom.<br /> <br /> Physical appearance shouldn’t be the key factor in a university’s reputation, but Trent is one of the greenest schools around. It doesn’t have all that many areas of study, but what it teaches, it teaches exceedingly well, and its profs are regularly honoured.<br /> <br /> In the same category as UW and BU, Trent finished fifth overall — yet it ranked 13th in reputation. What in the world?<br /> <br /> Do with the Maclean’s rankings what you will. Stay home, and you’ll get a good education. If you’re going away for university, or even thinking about it, the very best thing you can do is to visit the campuses and scout around and talk to people. And as Brass says, you can’t go wrong anywhere in choosing a Canadian public university.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:ba3e8c25-9535-4515-9b12-284ba26e32a7 University recruiters invade the city http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3ae72167cd-aa67-40a3-a0fa-56d120a4e573&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 31 Oct 2012 20:46:00 GMT <p> Once again I’m off to Upper Canada, away for a week.</p> <p> Child the younger has three home volleyball matches while I’m in Peterborough, and my usual table is waiting at Hot Belly Mama’s, my favourite restaurant in the entire world — catfish, hush puppies, Kansas City ribs with sweet potato fries, and a pint of Wilde Old Ale from the microbrewery in the basement.<br /> <br /> We’ve got good seats to see Jets’ top prospect Mark Schiefele play the Peterborough Petes.<br /> <br /> And in a weird but neat coincidence, one of my university buddies will be at Trent at the same time. His son is playing for Bishop’s in the stadium in the national lacrosse championships. We’ll have to figure how our genes produced varsity athletes — obviously, attributable to our spouses.<br /> <br /> Moving along to the topic in the headline...<br /> <br /> The annual universities recruiting fair goes next week, and if your kid is in Grade 11 or Grade 12, you should really think seriously about attending one of the two evening events with her or him. Their classes will likely be going to one of the four daytime events, but the evening events are the best opportunities to get some time with recruiters, and the only ones at which parents are welcome.<br /> <br /> The evening events next week are Wednesday at St. John’s-Ravenscourt, and Thursday at Balmoral Hall School, both starting at 6:30 p.m.<br /> <br /> Thursday, schools designated on a regional basis will be visiting the recruiting fair at Sturgeon Heights Collegiate in the morning and Fort Richmond Collegiate in the afternoon; Friday, St. John’s High in the morning and Miles Macdonell in the afternoon.<br /> <br /> SJR universities advisor Peter Brass says that there’ll be dozens of Canadian universities represented again this year.<br /> <br /> British Columbia is showing up in a big way, apparently wanting to boost out-of-province numbers, said Brass. He pointed out Quest University from Squamish, which he said is Canada’s only private university. The U of Victoria only comes every few years, and this is your lucky year if you want to go to UVic, as child the elder has done.<br /> <br /> Changing topics....<br /> <br /> A guy has been giving me grief in a series of emails. I wrote a We Day lead-up story about a girl who went to Kenya to help build a school, and this guy doesn’t believe she carried as much water on her back as she says she did. He wants me to go back to her and give her the third degree, and report back to him with the precise amount of water she carried....sigh.......and he keeps writing, reminding me that he’s still waiting for an answer.<br /> <br /> Guess what? You’ll be waiting for quite a while.<br /> <br /> On another irritation....not that much irritates me, as you all know.....if you call and tell me you want to talk to me about a problem you’re having with the education system, and leave your cell phone number and tell me to call right away, a couple of helpful things: turn on your cell phone, and activate your voice mail account.<br /> <br /> And now for something completely different....<br /> <br /> When I get back, I guess I’ll learn if the latest threat to file a formal complaint about me as a soccer referee has gone anywhere.<br /> <br /> I was reffing little kids, first match was pretty routine, no problems, and after the match — TMI alert! — I went off to diminish my precious bodily fluids, then wandered back to do the paperwork and prep for my next match. And right above me in the bleachers is a man screaming at me.<br /> <br /> I glance up, this guy is in a rage, pointing at me, and bellowing: “You called my kid a cheater, you clown! I’m filing a complaint against you, you piece of (rude word for fecal matter)!!!!!!”<br /> <br /> And with that, he spun on his outraged heel and strode off, leaving me bewildered, the little kids on the pitch somewhat taken aback,  and the parents who were clutching their styrofoam coffees for the next little kids’ match wondering what in the world I’d done to some poor child.<br /> <br /> And I tried to figure out what had set off the guy, since he may go ahead with his threat. I could think of only one thing.<br /> <br /> There’d been several stoppages of play for injuries, none involving fouls, a couple of kids who got a ball in the face and one who’d turned an ankle. Late in the match, a kid goes down while the other team is on the attack and moving towards a good scoring chance. I look, he’s not moving, I look at the ball, I look back at the kid, he’s still not moving, I stop play.<br /> <br /> This is something I always do. A kid is hurt, you stop play, I don’t care where the ball is. This kid has been down for several seconds, and he’s not moving, you stop play. I had one outdoor game in which a bellicose parent explained to me rather forcefully that I’ve misunderstood the advantage rule all these years; apparently, when a child is crumpled on the field in pain, or so the parent told me, you ‘play advantage’ by leaving the kid writihing on the ground and letting the other team carry on its attack until it loses possession or scores a goal. But I digress.<br /> <br /> As soon as I call the coach onto the field, the kid miraculously springs to his feet, tells the coach there’s nothing wrong with him and never was. Not the first time I’ve had this happen this year. I asked him why he lay unmoving on the field, if he was all right. The coach tells me the boy was just tired. I told the coach that if a player is all right, he’s to get up right away. Otherwise, I told the coach, you don’t want me to start thinking that anyone was trying to trick me into denying a clear scoring chance.<br /> <br /> Was that it? Was that what entitles a father to scream at me in front of dozens of children and adults that I’m a piece of fecal matter?<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> After all these matches since May of 2007, well over 1,000 by now, the only one of these threats that I’m aware was carried out was in my first year of refereeing. It was an 11-year-old girls match, the team lost 5-0, absolutely nothing happened on the field, and when the match ended, the losing coach realized that the opposing team’s bench mom’s spouse had brought over his chair to keep her company about 10 feet behind the bench, and I had failed to catch this egregious violation of everything that global soccer holds sacred.<br /> <br /> And he filed a complaint against me.<br /> <br /> Seriously.<br /> <br /> He pursued it for the next three months, despite both WYSA and WSEU repeatedly turning down his complaints.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:e72167cd-aa67-40a3-a0fa-56d120a4e573 University recruiters invade the city http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a1cf87373-cd27-4cb4-953f-19ee787a2623&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 31 Oct 2012 20:45:00 GMT <p> Once again I’m off to Upper Canada, away for a week.</p> <p> Child the younger has three home volleyball matches while I’m in Peterborough, and my usual table is waiting at Hot Belly Mama’s, my favourite restaurant in the entire world — catfish, hush puppies, Kansas City ribs with sweet potato fries, and a pint of Wilde Old Ale from the microbrewery in the basement.<br /> <br /> We’ve got good seats to see Jets’ top prospect Mark Schiefele play the Peterborough Petes.<br /> <br /> And in a weird but neat coincidence, one of my university buddies will be at Trent at the same time. His son is playing for Bishop’s in the stadium in the national lacrosse championships. We’ll have to figure how our genes produced varsity athletes — obviously, attributable to our spouses.<br /> <br /> Moving along to the topic in the headline...<br /> <br /> The annual universities recruiting fair goes next week, and if your kid is in Grade 11 or Grade 12, you should really think seriously about attending one of the two evening events with her or him. Their classes will likely be going to one of the four daytime events, but the evening events are the best opportunities to get some time with recruiters, and the only ones at which parents are welcome.<br /> <br /> The evening events next week are Wednesday at St. John’s-Ravenscourt, and Thursday at Balmoral Hall School, both starting at 6:30 p.m.<br /> <br /> Thursday, schools designated on a regional basis will be visiting the recruiting fair at Sturgeon Heights Collegiate in the morning and Fort Richmond Collegiate in the afternoon; Friday, St. John’s High in the morning and Miles Macdonell in the afternoon.<br /> <br /> SJR universities advisor Peter Brass says that there’ll be dozens of Canadian universities represented again this year.<br /> <br /> British Columbia is showing up in a big way, apparently wanting to boost out-of-province numbers, said Brass. He pointed out Quest University from Squamish, which he said is Canada’s only private university. The U of Victoria only comes every few years, and this is your lucky year if you want to go to UVic, as child the elder has done.<br /> <br /> Changing topics....<br /> <br /> A guy has been giving me grief in a series of emails. I wrote a We Day lead-up story about a girl who went to Kenya to help build a school, and this guy doesn’t believe she carried as much water on her back as she says she did. He wants me to go back to her and give her the third degree, and report back to him with the precise amount of water she carried....sigh.......and he keeps writing, reminding me that he’s still waiting for an answer.<br /> <br /> Guess what? You’ll be waiting for quite a while.<br /> <br /> On another irritation....not that much irritates me, as you all know.....if you call and tell me you want to talk to me about a problem you’re having with the education system, and leave your cell phone number and tell me to call right away, a couple of helpful things: turn on your cell phone, and activate your voice mail account.<br /> <br /> And now for something completely different....<br /> <br /> When I get back, I guess I’ll learn if the latest threat to file a formal complaint about me as a soccer referee has gone anywhere.<br /> <br /> I was reffing little kids, first match was pretty routine, no problems, and after the match — TMI alert! — I went off to diminish my precious bodily fluids, then wandered back to do the paperwork and prep for my next match. And right above me in the bleachers is a man screaming at me.<br /> <br /> I glance up, this guy is in a rage, pointing at me, and bellowing: “You called my kid a cheater, you clown! I’m filing a complaint against you, you piece of (rude word for fecal matter)!!!!!!”<br /> <br /> And with that, he spun on his outraged heel and strode off, leaving me bewildered, the little kids on the pitch somewhat taken aback,  and the parents who were clutching their styrofoam coffees for the next little kids’ match wondering what in the world I’d done to some poor child.<br /> <br /> And I tried to figure out what had set off the guy, since he may go ahead with his threat. I could think of only one thing.<br /> <br /> There’d been several stoppages of play for injuries, none involving fouls, a couple of kids who got a ball in the face and one who’d turned an ankle. Late in the match, a kid goes down while the other team is on the attack and moving towards a good scoring chance. I look, he’s not moving, I look at the ball, I look back at the kid, he’s still not moving, I stop play.<br /> <br /> This is something I always do. A kid is hurt, you stop play, I don’t care where the ball is. This kid has been down for several seconds, and he’s not moving, you stop play. I had one outdoor game in which a bellicose parent explained to me rather forcefully that I’ve misunderstood the advantage rule all these years; apparently, when a child is crumpled on the field in pain, or so the parent told me, you ‘play advantage’ by leaving the kid writihing on the ground and letting the other team carry on its attack until it loses possession or scores a goal. But I digress.<br /> <br /> As soon as I call the coach onto the field, the kid miraculously springs to his feet, tells the coach there’s nothing wrong with him and never was. Not the first time I’ve had this happen this year. I asked him why he lay unmoving on the field, if he was all right. The coach tells me the boy was just tired. I told the coach that if a player is all right, he’s to get up right away. Otherwise, I told the coach, you don’t want me to start thinking that anyone was trying to trick me into denying a clear scoring chance.<br /> <br /> Was that it? Was that what entitles a father to scream at me in front of dozens of children and adults that I’m a piece of fecal matter?<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> After all these matches since May of 2007, well over 1,000 by now, the only one of these threats that I’m aware was carried out was in my first year of refereeing. It was an 11-year-old girls match, the team lost 5-0, absolutely nothing happened on the field, and when the match ended, the losing coach realized that the opposing team’s bench mom’s spouse had brought over his chair to keep her company about 10 feet behind the bench, and I had failed to catch this egregious violation of everything that global soccer holds sacred.<br /> <br /> And he filed a complaint against me.<br /> <br /> Seriously.<br /> <br /> He pursued it for the next three months, despite both WYSA and WSEU repeatedly turning down his complaints.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:1cf87373-cd27-4cb4-953f-19ee787a2623 Yes, I know, we're evil.... http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a08176ceb-98b9-4715-8dec-f7f128c5ca98&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 29 Oct 2012 22:44:00 GMT <p> I’ve never been able to quite figure out why the paper and I are so despised by so many people associated with Gordon Bell High School.</p> <p> Sometimes schools decide for a period of time that we have a serious hate on for them — Elmwood, Maples, Oak Park, Tec Voc fall into that category — but no reaction has been as intense and sustained as the one from Gordon Bell.<br /> <br /> The letters, emails, phone calls, in your face reaction, all of them have been going on for a long time.<br /> <br /> I can recall only two negative stories in which I was involved over the years about Gordon Bell. One was an ecstasy death at a weekend rave, the victim of the tragedy a student attending off-campus programs at Gordon Bell — her death had nothing to do with the school.<br /> <br /> And there was a story we ran, reporting the principal’s decision to ban spectators from a crucial playoff basketball game, after problems during the previous game played in the GBHS senior gym. Several students, who may have imbibed between classes and tip-off, had shown considerable insensitivity to the ethnocultural diversity of the visiting team.<br /> <br /> Yet there is a widespread belief among the greater GBHS community that we sit around each day conspiring how to make the school look bad.<br /> <br /> I remember when our nephew, the GBHS academic and performing arts superstar who’s now in medical school, was trying to convince his cousins to go to Gordon Bell instead of Kelvin, our catchment school, or Grant Park, where both of our kids eventually enrolled. Might have worked, had Gordon Bell had an athletic field.<br /> <br /> Which brings us around to the event at U of W this past Friday in which the Institute for Urban Studies launched a series of booklets on successful inner city grass roots activism, beginning with the story of how GBHS finally obtained its green field on the former car dealership on Portage Avenue.<br /> <br /> A couple of speakers singled out my colleague Gerald Flood for praise, for an op-ed piece he wrote advocating the project.<br /> <br /> The GBHS field of dreams had a daunting history. When the dealership closed, Canada Post bought the site and spent $1 million getting it ready for a new facility. The school and community rallied and refused to give up, and with the help of MP Pat Martin (NDP-Winnipeg Centre), eventually persuaded the Tories to tell Canada Post to back off. Up stepped the NDP government with $5.3 million that allowed Winnipeg School Division to buy the site.<br /> <br /> That’s a very short version.<br /> <br /> There’s a version of events that the community not only had to take on Canada Post and several levels of government, but also the media.<br /> <br /> I was somewhat taken aback at the ferocity of the rant from MLA Rob Altemeyer (NDP-Wolseley).<br /> <br /> Altemeyer said that the grass roots had to overcome media who were completely negative about the project, about the process, and about politicians, he told the gathering at U of W. The media reported nothing but ‘garbage’, and took the position that, “All of the parties suck,” said Altemeyer.<br /> <br /> He said that the media were reporting that the field would be too small and that the project wouldn’t work. “One of the things was the number of naysayers who tried to p*** us off...this usual garbage you hear,” said Altemeyer.<br /> <br /> No, he didn’t specifically name us, but we were on this story as much as any other media, far more than most. Myself, Gerald Flood, Dan Lett, Joe Paraskevas, and other people here wrote dozens of stories about it.<br /> <br /> So did I report that the field was too small?<br /> <br /> In early 2009, I wrote a story about internal reports by Winnipeg School Division which concluded that the field would be too small to play soccer or football. WSD staff had laid down the blueprints for fields at other division high schools over maps of the site, and couldn’t get them to fit using any configuration.<br /> <br /> Subsequently, I interviewed cartographers and athletic staff at U of W, who did their own learned studies, and concluded that soccer and football would indeed fit — probably not large enough to qualify to hold championship games, but big enough for league play, and stacking up well against some other high school fields around the city.<br /> <br /> A third story with principal Arlene Skull contained that same information.<br /> <br /> Yes, I did write a blog that the community activists considered negative.<br /> <br /> That was when they ripped Skull up one side and down the other, attacking the principal for not having stepped in and bought the car dealership before Canada Post could get in its dibs.<br /> <br /> My blog defended Skull, who, hindsight allows us to point out, is not a member of the fire department senior administration — at the time, I merely noted that a high school principal has no authority to buy big parcels of land, let alone the budget to do so. Her bosses at the school division, and the provincial and federal governments, certainly do.<br /> <br /> I know that we didn’t cover every march the students organized from the school to the legislature to lobby for the field, but we did cover a lot of them.<br /> <br /> But I also came across the story that ran Dec. 8, 2009. The afternoon before, Education Minister Nancy Allan had told me she’d be going to the Gordon Bell gym the morning of Dec. 8 to announce that the province was ponying up the $5.3 million to make the successful campaign official.<br /> <br /> Another unrelentingly negative media story, I guess.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:08176ceb-98b9-4715-8dec-f7f128c5ca98 Only in social media, you say? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3aea5e8bd0-1f82-4417-987c-a3acb1fc866c&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 24 Oct 2012 21:13:00 GMT <p> Maybe two examples don’t constitute a trend, but hey, I’m doing this online, so by definition, anything I write must be true.</p> <p> Although, is it still true if I sign my name to what I write on-line?<br /> <br /> We’ve had two examples this month of public education institutions who aren’t sending out oldfashioned news releases. No, by oldfashioned, I don’t mean cranking out a copy on the gestetner and then inserting it in a stamped envelope, and writing our address on it by hand. Nor do I mean fax, which is so 1980s. No, I mean they're not using that prehistoric email thingee device.<br /> <br /> I did a lengthy blog a few weeks back on how little we hear from Red River College, which didn’t go over so well in some circles. Since then, I have since had an interview with president Stephanie Forsyth, which you’ll be reading first in the dead trees edition. I’ve had only one emailed news release, on the appointment of a new vice-president.<br /> <br /> It was suggested to me that if I am aware that RRC tweets and posts on Facebook — of which I am indeed aware — that I should go there to look for positive news about the college.<br /> <br /> Silly me, I cling to this prehistoric notion — after all, I’m not a teenage ‘journo’, so what could I possibly know about communications? — that I shouldn’t have to hunt down news about an institution which the said institution presumably wants known to the world.<br /> <br /> Concomitantly, one of my colleagues told me that there’d been a public consultation meeting in a local school division whose name you’d recognize in a flash, and when my colleague inquired why there’d been no news release, was told that it had been on the division’s Twitter and Facebook pages, and if we were following them regularly, we would have known about the meeting.<br /> <br /> Sigh.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:ea5e8bd0-1f82-4417-987c-a3acb1fc866c Good news about aboriginal education http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a3fe37106-77d2-43f8-ae5a-d54b24095cbe&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 16 Oct 2012 12:56:00 GMT <p> The good people in LondonOnt who publish the Academica’s Top Ten daily roundup of postsecondary news have come up with a new on-line news service, Academica’s Indigenous Top Ten.</p> <p> While not published daily, it’s a regular roundup of postsecondary education news involving “the full spectrum” of aboriginal education in Canada.<br /> <br /> Even more good news — it’s free.<br /> <br /> You can subscribe by contacting http://www.academica.ca/FNMI).<br /> <br /> Meanwhile.....<br /> <br /> I haven’t been writing about soccer lately, as you’ve certainly noticed. Truth is, I’m sulking about soccer, and I’m in a real snit over the actions of the Manitoba Soccer Association and Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association.<br /> <br /> I’m registered later this week for the annual fitness test and refresher class for the indoor soccer season.<br /> <br /> And it was only after I’d signed up that I discovered that — brace yourselves — it’s the same night as the Justin Bieber concert.<br /> <br /> I know, I agree with you, that was an appalling decision.<br /> <br /> If I want to referee this indoor season, I have to — pause while I stifle a sob — miss Justin.<br /> <br /> Hang on a second, I have to regain my composure.<br /> <br /> It’s one thing to have put up since late April with the cold and the wet and the mud and the mosquitoes and the parents, and now driving through snowstorms to get to the pitch, going into U of M before the sun has even started to think about coming up, scraping the windshield before you can go home late at night, but we’re talking The Biebs here.<br /> <br /> Omg, this is like so totally a bummer.</p> <p> Will I be the only elderly person in Winnipeg not sitting in the MTS Centre Thursday night, screaming my lungs out?<br /> <br /> The sacrifices we make to support kids achieving healthy lifestyles through physical activity.<br /> <br /> But, oh, to miss The Biebs, that’s beyond dreadful.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> Staying with soccer.....<br /> <br /> ME: Twwwweeeeeetttttt!<br /> <br /> KID: What was that for?<br /> <br /> ME: You missed the ball and kicked him in the leg.<br /> <br /> KID: No I didn’t, I kicked him in the shin pads — that’s what they’re for.<br /> <br /> And switching topics again....<br /> <br /> Got a peek inside the secret world of principals. I won’t say where I was, but a principal was telling me that at a particular school, on class change, everyone goes in the same direction for five months, then switches direction halfway through the year. It cuts down congestion, cuts down bottlenecks when people stop to chat, eliminates young teens accidentally on purpose bumping into their buddies. Everyone can talk to friends as they move smoothly in one direction. And, of course, one should add that the hallways do allow circular movement.<br /> <br /> All the kids moving like a mighty flowing river.<br /> <br /> And guess which element of the school population sometimes swims against the stream?<br /> <br /> And now for something completely different.<br /> <br /> If you didn’t think those stories were true about nothing ever dying on the Internet, here’s one that popped up on my email.<br /> <br /> I received three very lengthy emails in quick succession, all from the same woman. The short version is that she’d been labelled the world’s worst mom, and her son hated her, because she wouldn’t pony up $500 for the school band trip, along with an extra $100 so her son could go skiing.<br /> <br /> She had a long diatribe about the financial and social pressures exerted on parents, and was seriously dismayed about having already put up a bundle of significant coin for her son’s band instrument for a credit course in a supposedly free public education system.<br /> <br /> Sounds like a good story, thought I, but alas, she hadn’t said which school her son attends.<br /> <br /> And then I noticed the one paragraph in which she said that the band trip is to Whistler, and that even revealing that the family lives within six hours’ drive of Whistler would be enough to identify them in any story.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> So I wrote to her to inquire further, figuring she lives in eastern or interior B.C.<br /> <br /> No, says she, they live in the U.S. The mom was on-line and came across a story I’d written about expensive school trips, in which I invited others to share their experiences with me, and so she did.<br /> <br /> I could off the top think of only one story that matched the criteria, a $1,500-a-child trip by a Winnipeg junior high to Quebec City on March break.<br /> <br /> That story ran Oct. 3, 2002.<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:3fe37106-77d2-43f8-ae5a-d54b24095cbe You don't read much about Red River College http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a31bc0b76-2681-41e6-98ef-3d26998d9f55&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 04 Oct 2012 18:16:00 GMT <p> You don’t read very much in our paper about Red River College.</p> <p> Yes, I know, it’s my job as education reporter to cover community colleges, and I don’t deliberately ignore RRC, but bear with me.<br /> <br /> I went back into our files and found that the most recent major story I’d written about RRC president Stephanie Forsyth was when she appeared before the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. That was Feb. 16.<br /> <br /> February.<br /> <br /> That day, Forsyth told the chamber that Red River was ready to train the 6,000 construction workers that Manitoba’s economy will need over the next five years — if it can raise the $176 million necessary for an enormous skilled trades and technology centre. The province was contributing $60 million, the rest would come from a capital campaign.<br /> <br /> Forsyth was leaving the next day for China — wonder how that turned out?<br /> <br /> She touted plans that February day for the college to offer Manitoba’s first funeral industry training program this fall, a story in which I expressed interest and that would be fascinating to cover, similar to the story I did on RRC training rail yard crew out in Transcona. That one I came across myself, RRC didn’t feed it to me on a platter.<br /> <br /> And, as always, Forsyth talked to the chamber about RRC’s emphasis on providing an education for aboriginal people, incorporating aboriginal culture into every aspect of the college and its curricula.<br /> <br /> I had a brief interview with Forsyth in early April at provincial budget time, when she said that RRC was facing an $11 million budget shortfall because of the level of government support. I haven’t talked to her since.<br /> <br /> It’s not that I haven’t tried.<br /> <br /> I’ve filed request after request after request for an interview with Forsyth, primarily on the college’s strategic plan and the imminent opening of the culinary arts building and program.<br /> <br /> Nothing.<br /> <br /> My latest request was Monday, and I’ve received no response.<br /> <br /> That strategic plan talks about how RRC has ambitious plans to educate our young people to perform the jobs that will be available in the province and which will be vital to Manitoba’s continued economic prosperity. And it talks extensively about educating indigenous people — Forsyth, as an aboriginal educator, has made that her highest priority.<br /> <br /> And I’d like to talk to Forsyth about updating any possible designs on adding the public safety building to the downtown campus, about the capital fundraising campaign, about the efforts to attract more international students and to acquire student residential housing, about the fledgling degree program, and about RRC’s move into applied research.<br /> <br /> Yes, I know that Forsyth doesn’t want to talk about the revolving door on senior administration jobs since she became president two years ago. Who does in that situation? I’ve talked to some of those people who’ve left the top jobs, and they’ve said all the right things one says after agreeing to a non-disclosure clause as part of a severance package.<br /> <br /> Red River College does not appear interested in talking to us, or to having the college covered in our newspaper.<br /> <br /> I know that RRC tweets and blogs and is on Facebook. That’s fine, they do social media, we do social media, but that shouldn’t be the limit of its communications strategy.<br /> <br /> It’s not an exaggeration to say that we get inundated by U of M and U of W with emailed news releases and announcements and events and conferences and speeches and interview opportunities; it’s not exaggerating to say there are days when we hear from each of the two large local schools at least once an hour during working hours.<br /> <br /> No, they don’t all get in the paper, not by a long shot. Some of those releases lead to stories, positive stories we might not otherwise have known about. We Tweet many of those news releases to our breaking news website and to our gazillions of followers, and we do webbies on many, short stories that are published on our website. We sometimes take photos that end up on our website.<br /> <br /> It’s not an exaggeration to say that we get far more news releases from Canadian Mennonite University, Universite de Saint-Boniface, and Providence College than we get from Red River College. One or two a month from RRC would be a busy month.<br /> <br /> I’m following the Twitterverse, and I’m well aware that RRC is not very impressed with the Free Press, whether it’s people in the creative communications program, or individuals who tweet and blog, sometimes under a pseudonym. The latter includes the gatekeeper I need to get past in order to talk to Forsyth, or, indeed, to get any information from the college about the college.<br /> <br /> If Red River College’s strategy is that we’re irrelevant to its purposes, well, so it goes. It didn’t used to be that way. I have no shortage of people in the education system who want a piece of the paper’s time.<br /> <br /> And while Twitter and Facebook may be fine vehicles to reach future students, I daresay that politicians and government bureaucrats and business and industry leaders, and the people liable to have the money to contribute to capital campaigns, do tend to read newspapers.<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:31bc0b76-2681-41e6-98ef-3d26998d9f55 Do teachers dig into their own pockets? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3af6016521-3b5e-4731-b80c-5f23c8dac25f&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 03 Oct 2012 21:17:00 GMT <p> I was all pumped up about a potential story this week, then watched it all disappear.</p> <p> A public relations firm representing a major retail chain told us about a surprise award for a teacher who supposedly dug deep into her own pocket each year to buy school supplies for her kids.<br /> <br /> Given the affluence of the neighbourhood, it didn’t make a lot of sense, and it turned out that the award was more for the school’s green efforts, and would be used for supplies. There was no indication the teacher had found it necessary to spend her own money.<br /> <br /> This is a story I’ve heard about for years, that many teachers have to spend their own money to ensure their students have the necessary school supplies. But just try to get a teacher to talk about it....<br /> <br /> Last week, I called the Manitoba Teachers’ Society with a heads-up about this event, and asked, again, if the union could find several teachers to tell their stories, even if they wanted their names and the names of their schools withheld.<br /> <br /> And again this year, no teachers.<br /> <br /> MTS president Paul Olson was willing to talk about it, but that’s a story we could run every year, the MTS president speaking generally on behalf of 15,000 or so teachers, with no first-hand or specific examples.<br /> <br /> Trustees, superintendents, principals, provincial bureaucrats don’t want teachers to tell their stories about shortcomings that will embarrass them.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> So I’ll make the pitch again. If you’re a teacher who has to spend your own money to ensure your students have the essential tools to learn, will you tell me about it? We won’t name you or your school, if that’s a condition of your talking to me.<br /> <br /> I’m at 204-697-7251 or nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:f6016521-3b5e-4731-b80c-5f23c8dac25f Of Wesmen, Yeowomen, and Thunderchickens http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a91d4d752-3d79-40f9-a02a-44ba057b6efc&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 01 Oct 2012 19:50:00 GMT <p> You may have read my story at the end of last week about U of W looking to change the team name Wesmen to something gender-inclusive by the time the $40 million new UNITED Health and RecPlex complex opens on campus in 2014.</p> <p> You can read my story here, along with 43 and counting comments, mostly from people appalled at political correctness: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Wesmen-does-not-fit-all-at-U-of-W------171788201.html.<br /> <br /> Guilty as charged, I’m politically correct on the issue of gender-exclusive names, and on lots of other stuff, though I have no personal investment in Wesmen.<br /> <br /> I went to York, which had the Yeomen, then added Yeowomen, and in 2003 became the Lions. No, I don't know what Lions has to do with a massive urban camous in North York, or the idyllic wooded/rivered main campus I attended at Glendon College.<br /> <br /> Child the elder was, and child the younger still is, an Excalibur. I can’t imagine the silliness of ever contemplating Lady Excalibur.<br /> <br /> There is an ongoing furore in the U.S. over the use of tribal names by university teams. I have no problem with that campaign, as long as the tribe itself has not agreed to the use of the name — there are varying claims on the Internet about that in one or two cases — and I am appalled that Washington still calls its NFL team the Redskins, and that the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians not only retain their team names, but the racist caricatures and symbology that go with them. The only time I ever cheered for the New York Yankees, was when they played Atlanta in the World Series, and there were Jimmy Carter and Hanoi Jane doing the tomahawk chop....but I digress.<br /> <br /> Michel Belanger, a very helpful communications director with Canadian Interuniversity Sports, was telling me that the ‘Lady’ prefix has disappeared. Acadia has the Axemen and the Axewomen, St. FX the X-Men and X-Women. Alberta, for bizarre reasons you’re welcome to track down yourselves, calls the men Golden Bears and the women Pandas.<br /> <br /> I remember 40 years ago when Stanford decided to abandon the name Indians, and the administration chose the name Cardinals. The student body had a vote, and favoured, as I recall, Thundering Chickens.<br /> <br /> Almost right.<br /> <br /> I’ve checked numerous web sources, including the cardboard.org, which says that the name was actually Thunderchickens, and it was runner-up to Robber Barons, in honour of rail magnate Lenand Stanford. Alas, the administration carried the day.<br /> <br /> Something to keep in mind, letting imagination run free, as people line up on all three sides of the Wesmen issue — change, status quo, indifference.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:91d4d752-3d79-40f9-a02a-44ba057b6efc A weird night with superstar schools http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a4cacf1ff-b154-4ec7-8d8a-534628b5bbb6&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 24 Sep 2012 20:22:00 GMT <p> Well, that was strange.</p> <p> You may have read my story on the recruiters from six Ivy League schools and Stanford coming to Winnipeg last Thursday night: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/top-us-colleges-give-city-a-sniff-170937941.html.<br /> <br /> They come here every three years, and the first time back a ways, it was hosted by St. John’s-Ravenscourt School, there was a huge turnout, and it was a big deal. I talked to a lot of students and parents back then, talked to most of the recruiters, who, I recall, made themselves available to be interviewed ahead of time.<br /> <br /> So, a few weeks ago, SJR universities adviser Peter Brass gave me a heads-up that they were coming again.<br /> <br /> This time, fewer schools came, and this time it was in a meeting room at an airport hotel.<br /> <br /> I arrived to find very little hype. No signs outside, no posters, a few brochures laid out on tables around the room. The crowd seemed far smaller.<br /> <br /> I interviewed some people, and learned that most had only heard about the evening at the last minute — Kelvin staff and students the day before, a family from Garden City Collegiate by reading my blog.<br /> <br /> Brass told me later that he’d been touting the event at a meeting of guidance counsellors earlier in the week, but that as far as he was aware, the touring universities and colleges hadn’t done any promotion. They figure, said Brass, that if you really want to go there, that you’ll be on their websites and checking out when and where the recruiters will be.<br /> <br /> Eventually the seven reps took their seats at the front and started their spiels. An affable and friendly lot, all seven.<br /> <br /> Stanford’s Kiyoe Hashimoto was the evening’s chair, and I thought she was joking when she told the audience that no one was to use a cell phone camera, and no one was to put the evening’s proceedings on YouTube.<br /> <br /> For the next 75 minutes they extolled the prestigious schools, whose undergraduate classes are far smaller than you might imagine. Dartmouth barely the size of Brandon University, any two of the seven adding up pretty much to the size of U of W, any four combined roughly the size of U of M’s undergraduate class.<br /> <br /> It’s really tough to get in, the recruiters emphasized, they turn away lots of really smart people each year, and it’s entirely liberal arts in your undergraduate years.<br /> <br /> I have a liberal arts degree, I won’t argue against the value of a liberal arts degree even in this economic climate, but mine didn’t cost $62,000 U.S. a year in tuition.<br /> <br /> The seven recruiters made it pretty clear they weren’t in Winnipeg to pad their enrolment numbers — they had been in Victoria and Vancouver, were going on to eastern Ontario, and they were looking for the best of the best. Even given how much they were spending on travel, it was clear that if they didn’t sign a single young academic first round draft choice  out of Winnipeg, it was no skin off their schools’ noses.<br /> <br /> Yes, these schools have endowment funds larger than some countries’ GDP, and they offer big bucks on a needs basis; if you’re reasonably middle class, you’re still facing hefty tuition. Harvard, which takes only 1,650 first year undergraduates, has 95 libraries on campus. These are good schools, with great profs, and small classes. One surprising aspect is that several mentioned that their schools guarantee you that you’ll have a residence room on campus for all four undergraduate years — none of this Canadian tendency to rent an old house among a bunch of friends for second year.<br /> <br /> Both our kids have friends and classmates from Grant Park who are at Harvard, and good for them.<br /> <br /> I just point out that every time we do anything on the Maclean’s rankings, that Brass is the guy who says that you won’t get a poor education at any public university in Canada — where you go depends on what you want to study, the size of campus and community you like, your finances. But you get a good education at any Canadian public university, regardless of the rankings.<br /> <br /> Anyway, after 75 minutes the recruiters  wrapped up, and students congregated around the tables.<br /> <br /> I waited until Hashimoto was done with the students who flocked to her, then went up and introduced myself, pen and notepad poised. And all her affability and friendliness disappeared in an instant — it was as though a force field had sprung up.<br /> <br /> She can’t be quoted, Hashimoto said, she can’t give interviews, nothing she says can be on the record.<br /> <br /> And that was that.<br /> <br /> Brass told me the next day that Hashimoto hadn’t been kidding about YouTube. He told me that these prestigious schools aceept maybe five per cent of their applicants, and that in a country as litigious as the U.S., some families whose kids get turned down have sued the schools.<br /> <br /> One recruiter had earlier told the crowd anecdotally that reference letters from Canadians contain far less hyperbole than those that U.S. applicants submit from their teachers. True, said Brass, because Canadian high school teachers don’t really worry about students and their parents suing them if they don’t get into an Ivy League school — American teachers praise the kids to the heavens, lest their letter of reference come back to bite them and be cited in a lawsuit as the reason the Ivy League school turned them down.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, the annual Canadian universities recruiting tour of 40 or so schools will be in Winnipeg Nov. 7 to 9 at six city high schools. As I’ve said before, it’s invaluable to go, if you’re in grades 11 and 12, especially to the two evening sessions at SJR and Balmoral Hall at which parents are welcome. I’ll tell you all about it in a future blog, same batchannel.<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:4cacf1ff-b154-4ec7-8d8a-534628b5bbb6 They're never too old for your help http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3ac52d7649-ebd8-409b-8eff-283c0ee83a99&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 20 Sep 2012 22:34:00 GMT <p> It’s almost 18 months now since child the younger called early in the morning to tell us that her house in Peterborough had burned down.</p> <p> The two young university students who were home at the time got out safely, but all the young women in the house lost everything.<br /> <br /> I know, I should have brought this up sooner in the school year...if your daughter or son has gone off to university, and moved out of residence into a house or apartment, get them a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Don’t skimp, go top of the line, and get fresh batteries too. Even if they’ve got a good landlord, make sure there’s the best device possible in their bedroom.<br /> <br /> Second thing — talk to your insurance agent, make sure your policy covers your kids under 25, at replacement value. Ours does; you won’t believe what it costs to start from scratch as a young adult. And if your insurance doesn’t cover them, make sure they have renters’ insurance.<br /> <br /> Moving along on the same topic....A few months ago, I opened a letter from a lawyer from Markham, representing a collection agency. It was appalling in the threats it made against our daughter, who was then still 19, right up to and including literally warning her that it could disrupt her financial affairs and make her life miserable for the next 20 years.<br /> <br /> Short version, it was for an outstanding cable bill. She thought, erroneously, that she’d signed up on behalf of the entire house in Peterborough for one year, and that the contract had been due to expire a couple of weeks after the fire.<br /> <br /> But in any event, there was no longer any house to which to deliver service.<br /> <br /> I spoke to half a dozen staff members in the cable company, a giant in Ontario, and finally wrote to senior management. The consensus, some responses ruder than others: tough. It’s an open-ended contract. It’s not up to us to know there was a fire. Pay up, now, or we make your daughter’s life miserable.<br /> <br /> Why the cable company sent the collection agency to Winnipeg, but didn’t contact our daughter here about alleged bills the minute they became overdue, when she was home working all summer — that, the cable company would never answer.<br /> <br /> Both our kids have lived in shared housing from second year on, and continue to do so.<br /> <br /> I was witness to child the elder’s discovery that your kids may have roomates who believe that their dirty dishes, including scraps of bone and sauce and veg, will somehow transport themselves from the living room to the kitchen, where they will magically clean themselves.<br /> <br /> I don’t think child the elder has had any problem with clothes, but not so child the younger....the end of this past April, when she moved out of her new shared accommodation, several really nice pieces of clothing were nowhere to be found. Btw, if your kids are going to ‘borrow’ roommates’ clothes and not acknowledge it and not put them back and deny ever having had them, advise them not to wear them at the bar when people are taking photos and posting them immediately on Facebook.<br /> <br /> And then there’s food. I’ve helped unpack groceries — when you visit, always take your kids to the supermarket, the big chain instead of the discount place, and pick up the tab, and throw in some special meat section treats that otherwise might challenge their budgets — and each student has a section of the fridge and freezer, and each has a section of cupboard and shelf space.<br /> <br /> Whatever the house may do about some communal meals and taking turns cooking, the rules are clear, each person’s food is her own.<br /> <br /> So, when stuff goes missing......<br /> <br /> I posted several helpful hints on Facebook, knowing that everyone in the house was FB friends with child the younger.<br /> <br /> I suggested that laxatives are a tasty addition to any dish.<br /> <br /> I pointed out that Agatha Christie’s novels contained several colourful and creative potential solutions to deterring food thieves.<br /> <br /> And I posed a scenario in which child the younger would react to the loss of a specific item by charging into the house, shouting, “Omg! I am sooooo glad I haven’t eaten any of those muffins yet! I just read in the daily newspaper that they’re full of e coli and people are being rushed to the hospital all over eastern Ontario!”<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:c52d7649-ebd8-409b-8eff-283c0ee83a99 They're never too old for your help http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a26cd6aa7-e34a-4eb6-ab53-bbac173974fe&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 20 Sep 2012 22:33:00 GMT <p> It’s almost 18 months now since child the younger called early in the morning to tell us that her house in Peterborough had burned down.</p> <p> The two young university students who were home at the time got out safely, but all the young women in the house lost everything.<br /> <br /> I know, I should have brought this up sooner in the school year...if your daughter or son has gone off to university, and moved out of residence into a house or apartment, get them a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Don’t skimp, go top of the line, and get fresh batteries too. Even if they’ve got a good landlord, make sure there’s the best device possible in their bedroom.<br /> <br /> Second thing — talk to your insurance agent, make sure your policy covers your kids under 25, at replacement value. Ours does; you won’t believe what it costs to start from scratch as a young adult. And if your insurance doesn’t cover them, make sure they have renters’ insurance.<br /> <br /> Moving along on the same topic....A few months ago, I opened a letter from a lawyer from Markham, representing a collection agency. It was appalling in the threats it made against our daughter, who was then still 19, right up to and including literally warning her that it could disrupt her financial affairs and make her life miserable for the next 20 years.<br /> <br /> Short version, it was for an outstanding cable bill. She thought, erroneously, that she’d signed up on behalf of the entire house in Peterborough for one year, and that the contract had been due to expire a couple of weeks after the fire.<br /> <br /> But in any event, there was no longer any house to which to deliver service.<br /> <br /> I spoke to half a dozen staff members in the cable company, a giant in Ontario, and finally wrote to senior management. The consensus, some responses ruder than others: tough. It’s an open-ended contract. It’s not up to us to know there was a fire. Pay up, now, or we make your daughter’s life miserable.<br /> <br /> Why the cable company sent the collection agency to Winnipeg, but didn’t contact our daughter here about alleged bills the minute they became overdue, when she was home working all summer — that, the cable company would never answer.<br /> <br /> Both our kids have lived in shared housing from second year on, and continue to do so.<br /> <br /> I was witness to child the elder’s discovery that your kids may have roomates who believe that their dirty dishes, including scraps of bone and sauce and veg, will somehow transport themselves from the living room to the kitchen, where they will magically clean themselves.<br /> <br /> I don’t think child the elder has had any problem with clothes, but not so child the younger....the end of this past April, when she moved out of her new shared accommodation, several really nice pieces of clothing were nowhere to be found. Btw, if your kids are going to ‘borrow’ roommates’ clothes and not acknowledge it and not put them back and deny ever having had them, advise them not to wear them at the bar when people are taking photos and posting them immediately on Facebook.<br /> <br /> And then there’s food. I’ve helped unpack groceries — when you visit, always take your kids to the supermarket, the big chain instead of the discount place, and pick up the tab, and throw in some special meat section treats that otherwise might challenge their budgets — and each student has a section of the fridge and freezer, and each has a section of cupboard and shelf space.<br /> <br /> Whatever the house may do about some communal meals and taking turns cooking, the rules are clear, each person’s food is her own.<br /> <br /> So, when stuff goes missing......<br /> <br /> I posted several helpful hints on Facebook, knowing that everyone in the house was FB friends with child the younger.<br /> <br /> I suggested that laxatives are a tasty addition to any dish.<br /> <br /> I pointed out that Agatha Christie’s novels contained several colourful and creative potential solutions to deterring food thieves.<br /> <br /> And I posed a scenario in which child the younger would react to the loss of a specific item by charging into the house, shouting, “Omg! I am sooooo glad I haven’t eaten any of those muffins yet! I just read in the daily newspaper that they’re full of e coli and people are being rushed to the hospital all over eastern Ontario!”<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:26cd6aa7-e34a-4eb6-ab53-bbac173974fe Maybe try Buck as education critic next? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a1776753d-a046-4913-b07c-4a19e8e6d936&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 11 Sep 2012 17:32:00 GMT <p> The Tories and new leader Brian Pallister have named Kelvin Goertzen as their new education critic, and Stuart Briese as the new critic for advanced education.</p> <p> These people seem to change critics more frequently than the Blue Bombers change starting quarterbacks.<br /> <br /> I’d barely met Cliff Cullen as education critic before it seemed that Cameron Friesen had taken over, though former leader Hugh McFadyen did most of the education interviews. Seems only a month or two since I met Wayne Ewasko in his role as advanced education critic.<br /> <br /> Goertzen is one of the caucus’s heavy hitters, and just a suggestion, Brian, keeping in mind how helpful I am to everyone in politics and public education, maybe if you leave him in the job as long as Heather Stefanson and Ron Schuler held their critic portfolios, he might be around long enough to be effective.<br /> <br /> Nancy, stop seething, I give you lots of free advice too, eh?<br /> <br /> I’ve put in my request for a sitdown meet with Goertzen and Briese, and this time, I’ll dig through my closet and try to figure out if I own any clothes whose colours are not shared by a political party.<br /> <br /> Moving right along.....<br /> <br /> I’ve been exchanging emails with a woman who says she was dropped as a preschool educational assistant because she has three kids but isn’t married. She says someone told someone who told her that that’s why she isn’t there this year.<br /> <br /> And the woman is not happy that she has yet to read screaming headlines in our paper.<br /> <br /> “I don’t understand why my word is not good enough for you,” she told me.<br /> <br /> Her word is not the issue — it’s what we can substantiate in print.<br /> <br /> What we can substantiate is that the woman is no longer working in the school, and that she is going to lodge a complaint with the Manitoba human rights commission.<br /> <br /> Beyond that, administrations don’t discuss personnel issues, she has nothing in writing and no first-hand knowledge of the allegations she’s made against administrators better left unnamed for now, and none of the people whom she says could substantiate her allegations will talk to us.<br /> <br /> And switching topics...<br /> <br /> Someone sent me a very helpful email telling me that a story I wrote was so execrable that it constitutes proof that I should already be retired.<br /> <br /> Um, thanks, I’ll take that under advisement. BTW, you didn’t tell me which story it was that set you off.<br /> <br /> So, at 12:23 a.m., past midnight, you’re sitting at your keyboard, sending a nasty email to a complete stranger — did you ever consider that you might have issues?<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:1776753d-a046-4913-b07c-4a19e8e6d936 Maybe try Buck as education critic next? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3aa566e0fc-926a-4da7-8d65-00da20fb975b&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 11 Sep 2012 17:30:00 GMT <p> The Tories and new leader Brian Pallister have named Kelvin Goertzen as their new education critic, and Stuart Briese as the new critic for advanced education.</p> <p> These people seem to change critics more frequently than the Blue Bombers change starting quarterbacks.<br /> <br /> I’d barely met Cliff Cullen as education critic before it seemed that Cameron Friesen had taken over, though former leader Hugh McFadyen did most of the education interviews. Seems only a month or two since I met Wayne Ewasko in his role as advanced education critic.<br /> <br /> Goertzen is one of the caucus’s heavy hitters, and just a suggestion, Brian, keeping in mind how helpful I am to everyone in politics and public education, maybe if you leave him in the job as long as Heather Stefanson and Ron Schuler held their critic portfolios, he might be around long enough to be effective.<br /> <br /> Nancy, stop seething, I give you lots of free advice too, eh?<br /> <br /> I’ve put in my request for a sitdown meet with Goertzen and Briese, and this time, I’ll dig through my closet and try to figure out if I own any clothes whose colours are not shared by a political party.<br /> <br /> Moving right along.....<br /> <br /> I’ve been exchanging emails with a woman who says she was dropped as a preschool educational assistant because she has three kids but isn’t married. She says someone told someone who told her that that’s why she isn’t there this year.<br /> <br /> And the woman is not happy that she has yet to read screaming headlines in our paper.<br /> <br /> “I don’t understand why my word is not good enough for you,” she told me.<br /> <br /> Her word is not the issue — it’s what we can substantiate in print.<br /> <br /> What we can substantiate is that the woman is no longer working in the school, and that she is going to lodge a complaint with the Manitoba human rights commission.<br /> <br /> Beyond that, administrations don’t discuss personnel issues, she has nothing in writing and no first-hand knowledge of the allegations she’s made against administrators better left unnamed for now, and none of the people whom she says could substantiate her allegations will talk to us.<br /> <br /> And switching topics...<br /> <br /> Someone sent me a very helpful email telling me that a story I wrote was so execrable that it constitutes proof that I should already be retired.<br /> <br /> Um, thanks, I’ll take that under advisement. BTW, you didn’t tell me which story it was that set you off.<br /> <br /> So, at 12:23 a.m., past midnight, you’re sitting at your keyboard, sending a nasty email to a complete stranger — did you ever consider that you might have issues?<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:a566e0fc-926a-4da7-8d65-00da20fb975b Blue Bombers undermine schools with horrible example http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a0be1bef0-b158-4a11-82a0-f8be80f6dd60&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 30 Aug 2012 21:06:00 GMT <p> Every physical education teacher in Manitoba should get up on a social media soapbox and denounce the reprehensible actions taken by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week.</p> <p> Down below about 87 paragraphs from now I write about my recent stadium experience, and I’d originally talked in today’s blog about leaving the football side of things to our sports department.<br /> <br /> Sorry, can’t do that.<br /> <br /> Under new head coach Tim Burke, the Blue Bombers are running ‘gassers’, running on-field sprints at practice as punishment for taking stupid penalties during games. Not as conditioning exercises, but as punishment.<br /> <br /> The key words here are ‘running’ and ‘punishment’.<br /> <br /> Running should never be a punishment. Never.<br /> <br /> Celebrating a healthy cardiovascular system should never be a bad thing.<br /> <br /> Our society, in its sometimes-questionable wisdom, holds professional athletes up as role models to children. Kids pay attention to what the Blue Bombers do, and what the team is doing this week is telling children that running is an appropriate punishment for messing up.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> OK, you’re professionals, Tim and Joe and Garth, and I really know diddly about football, my career being the two plays I got in for when we were up 37-0 against Acton in Grade 13.<br /> <br /> Running is an absolute joy.<br /> <br /> In the 10 years I coached kids’ soccer, I occasionally encountered coaches and parents who wanted to use running as a punishment, and that’s one on which I never budged. The opportunity to run is the most basic reason for children to delight in playing soccer.<br /> <br /> All these sedentary kids, all these kids facing a life of obesity and lifestyle-related illnesses, these kids that the school system is desperate to try to get off their butts — and the oldest professional sports team in the city is telling the world that running is punishment?<br /> <br /> Had I not taken up distance running in the spring of 1982, I’d probably be dead by now. I’ve outlived my father, who died of a heart attack, I’m 12 years older than my late mother was when she was struck by a massive stroke, and even though I’m now in my 65th year, I ran a half marathon this summer and I’ll be able to run with 13-year-old skilled soccer players for 80 minutes this evening.<br /> <br /> The football club is really, totally out to lunch on this one. The province’s gym teachers should tell that to the football club, loud and clear.<br /> <br /> Pause while I try to calm down.....<br /> <br /> Blood pressure dropping, back to our blog....<br /> <br /> The Ivy League is coming back to Winnipeg to recruit, or to be precise, six of the prestigious American universities are coming here.<br /> <br /> And they’re bringing along west coast buddy Stanford, no academic slouch among top U.S. schools.<br /> <br /> The Ivy League drops into Winnipeg every three years, explained Peter Brass, the universities adviser at St. John’s-Ravenscourt School. They’ll be giving short presentations, then meeting individually with students and parents.<br /> <br /> It’s an information session, emphasized Brass, not a tryout — don’t bring your transcript, your science fair project, or your hockey stick.<br /> <br /> Coming from the Ivy League this time will be Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, and Princeton.<br /> <br /> And they’re coming strictly to talk about their undergraduate programs.<br /> <br /> These big schools, unlike our local universities, choose the 2013 first-year class pretty early in the fall, Brass cautioned, so be prepared to apply quickly.<br /> <br /> The session goes Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Airport Hilton.<br /> <br /> Moving right along....<br /> <br /> I’ve been hearing all this whining about the ‘replacement officials’ in the NFL preseason games. I realize that the trade union movement is not in the ascendancy in the 13 Colonies, but why not call the fake zebras what they are — scabs.<br /> <br /> Seamless segue....<br /> <br /> As I said earlier, I should wisely leave it to my colleagues in the sports department to handle the Blue Bombers.<br /> <br /> But going to the stadium, on tickets our family bought with our own money, that’s a different matter.<br /> <br /> Being just as helpful to you as I always am to education and soccer people, a few thoughts for you, Garth.<br /> <br /> When you sell tickets to people in the first row of the upper deck, how about putting special wording on the tickets, such as: “You’re in the front row. There’s no one in front of you. Your view is perfect and unobstructed. The only reason you have to stand up is to block the view of numerous fans seated in the rows behind you.”<br /> <br /> You could also flash that message on the scoreboard regularly. You could film people standing up in the front row of the upper deck while the ball is in play, and then invite the entire stadium to boo them on replay on the giant screen. Like the kiss-cam — maybe call it the hiss-cam.<br /> <br /> And another message could be conveyed to everyone in the stadium except those people in the front row: “The space you have contracted to rent from the Blue Bombers FC extends to within no less than one (1) millimetre of the kidneys and butt of the person(s) sitting in the row in front of you. Keep your feet under control, no matter how much licence you feel you have to kick that person throughout the match.”<br /> <br /> Are you paying attention, section 6A?<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> Finally, Garth, I hark back to my visit last year to a sold-out Taylor Field/Mosaic Whatever, where, at halftime, I was able to diminish my storage of bodily fluids, obtain a hot and tasty food item akin to those you can only obtain outside on the street at WBB home games, and then go to purchase a refreshing cold adult beverage, and still had time to return to my seat before the second half kickoff. Here, you’re touch and go to do one of those things without missing the kickoff. They really are nice people out in Saskatchewan, Garth, the opinions of Troy Westwood notwithstanding — before you open the new stadium, ask them how they do it.<br /> <br /> You’re welcome.<br /> <br /> Changing topics again....<br /> <br /> Interesting that CTV reporter Stacey Ashley used Twitter to announce that she’s the new communications director at Pembina Trails School Division. Nary a syllable about it from the division so far.<br /> <br /> Isn’t announcing that someone has been hired usually a management prerogative?<br /> <br /> And now for something completely different....<br /> <br /> I was doing an adult match at the soccer complex on Waverley, when a bazillion gajillion birds took off from the massive weed patch the other side of the fence and flew right towards us. Everyone looked up, and I said, “I’m the only one here old enough to have seen The Birds first-run — I know what happens next.”<br /> <br /> Yes, I’m certain that I reassured everyone, and set everyone at ease.<br /> <br /> But my attention span is really short today.....<br /> <br /> We haven’t had a Couch Surfers request to stay with us since back in July, and haven’t hosted since the first weekend in May.<br /> <br /> While I asked CS to stop sending us the weekly list of people I could invite to stay — we’d followed through with inviting two pairs of travellers, and got no response from them — I still get CS giving me a handful of people looking for a place to stay in Winnipeg that pops up when I log on.<br /> <br /> I was giving thought to inviting a couple of them, because they’re students and active and in their 20s. One is a member of the national rowing team, going from Victoria to Toronto in September, a likely candidate — but I see he only joined CS on Aug. 15 and hasn’t even bothered to log onto the site for the past week.<br /> <br /> And another is going from Quebec to BC by electric bicycle, and has a CS track record. But no, our profile is there and our kids’ bedrooms and our hospitality are there for anyone who wishes to contact us. Somehow, people throwing out a request and then asking for someone to step forward and invite them, that’s not how we understood CS worked.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, child the elder is encouraging us to consider joining Warm Showers, which is exclusively for touring cyclists. WS has only a handful of hosts in Winnipeg, and there are stricter conditions for joining — sounds as though the WS members are generally more dependable and considerate. While we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the CS members who’ve stayed with us, and I had a great time staying in Regina as a CS last year, so many are people with no profile who sign up and a few minutes later send out an impersonal mass email looking for free lodging, or people who request to stay with us, get accepted, and then are never heard from again...presumably opting for younger hosts who are less active and more able to socialize over a few brews.<br /> <br /> Harumph.<br /> <br /> I watched Jon Stewart from the Republican convention this week on Comedy Central, after realizing he and Colbert come on an hour earlier than they do on our CTV Toronto channel, and flipped over to it, even though it wasn’t an HD channel.<br /> <br /> Is that TMI?<br /> <br /> Anyway, the last few minutes on Comedy Central before Stewart were the end of a show called The Burn, some stand-up comic of whom I had never heard, and this guy was doing a routine ridiculing the suicide of film director Tony Scott, and it was supposed to be funny. It reminded me again of how far out of it I am on popular culture, because I found his routine utterly disgusting — mocking a tragedy.<br /> <br /> How far out of it am I?<br /> <br /> I won’t watch anything with Charlie Sheen in it and won’t do anything that contributes to making him millions, I have no interest in the personal lives of Lindsey Lohan or Justin Bieber or any other celebrity, I won’t watch alleged talent or reality shows in which a panel of obnoxious jerks humiliates people for an international audience’s titillation, I’ve never watched Jersey Shore, and I still think of the Kardashians as villains on Deep Space Nine.<br /> <br /> OK, enough, I’ll go dawdling off now and try to find a Downton Abbey rerun.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:0be1bef0-b158-4a11-82a0-f8be80f6dd60 Blue Bombers undermine schools with horrible example http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a8a0be59b-48da-4293-9d82-676cabdc27c6&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 30 Aug 2012 21:05:00 GMT <p> Every physical education teacher in Manitoba should get up on a social media soapbox and denounce the reprehensible actions taken by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week.</p> <p> Down below about 87 paragraphs from now I write about my recent stadium experience, and I’d originally talked in today’s blog about leaving the football side of things to our sports department.<br /> <br /> Sorry, can’t do that.<br /> <br /> Under new head coach Tim Burke, the Blue Bombers are running ‘gassers’, running on-field sprints at practice as punishment for taking stupid penalties during games. Not as conditioning exercises, but as punishment.<br /> <br /> The key words here are ‘running’ and ‘punishment’.<br /> <br /> Running should never be a punishment. Never.<br /> <br /> Celebrating a healthy cardiovascular system should never be a bad thing.<br /> <br /> Our society, in its sometimes-questionable wisdom, holds professional athletes up as role models to children. Kids pay attention to what the Blue Bombers do, and what the team is doing this week is telling children that running is an appropriate punishment for messing up.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> OK, you’re professionals, Tim and Joe and Garth, and I really know diddly about football, my career being the two plays I got in for when we were up 37-0 against Acton in Grade 13.<br /> <br /> Running is an absolute joy.<br /> <br /> In the 10 years I coached kids’ soccer, I occasionally encountered coaches and parents who wanted to use running as a punishment, and that’s one on which I never budged. The opportunity to run is the most basic reason for children to delight in playing soccer.<br /> <br /> All these sedentary kids, all these kids facing a life of obesity and lifestyle-related illnesses, these kids that the school system is desperate to try to get off their butts — and the oldest professional sports team in the city is telling the world that running is punishment?<br /> <br /> Had I not taken up distance running in the spring of 1982, I’d probably be dead by now. I’ve outlived my father, who died of a heart attack, I’m 12 years older than my late mother was when she was struck by a massive stroke, and even though I’m now in my 65th year, I ran a half marathon this summer and I’ll be able to run with 13-year-old skilled soccer players for 80 minutes this evening.<br /> <br /> The football club is really, totally out to lunch on this one. The province’s gym teachers should tell that to the football club, loud and clear.<br /> <br /> Pause while I try to calm down.....<br /> <br /> Blood pressure dropping, back to our blog....<br /> <br /> The Ivy League is coming back to Winnipeg to recruit, or to be precise, six of the prestigious American universities are coming here.<br /> <br /> And they’re bringing along west coast buddy Stanford, no academic slouch among top U.S. schools.<br /> <br /> The Ivy League drops into Winnipeg every three years, explained Peter Brass, the universities adviser at St. John’s-Ravenscourt School. They’ll be giving short presentations, then meeting individually with students and parents.<br /> <br /> It’s an information session, emphasized Brass, not a tryout — don’t bring your transcript, your science fair project, or your hockey stick.<br /> <br /> Coming from the Ivy League this time will be Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, and Princeton.<br /> <br /> And they’re coming strictly to talk about their undergraduate programs.<br /> <br /> These big schools, unlike our local universities, choose the 2013 first-year class pretty early in the fall, Brass cautioned, so be prepared to apply quickly.<br /> <br /> The session goes Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Airport Hilton.<br /> <br /> Moving right along....<br /> <br /> I’ve been hearing all this whining about the ‘replacement officials’ in the NFL preseason games. I realize that the trade union movement is not in the ascendancy in the 13 Colonies, but why not call the fake zebras what they are — scabs.<br /> <br /> Seamless segue....<br /> <br /> As I said earlier, I should wisely leave it to my colleagues in the sports department to handle the Blue Bombers.<br /> <br /> But going to the stadium, on tickets our family bought with our own money, that’s a different matter.<br /> <br /> Being just as helpful to you as I always am to education and soccer people, a few thoughts for you, Garth.<br /> <br /> When you sell tickets to people in the first row of the upper deck, how about putting special wording on the tickets, such as: “You’re in the front row. There’s no one in front of you. Your view is perfect and unobstructed. The only reason you have to stand up is to block the view of numerous fans seated in the rows behind you.”<br /> <br /> You could also flash that message on the scoreboard regularly. You could film people standing up in the front row of the upper deck while the ball is in play, and then invite the entire stadium to boo them on replay on the giant screen. Like the kiss-cam — maybe call it the hiss-cam.<br /> <br /> And another message could be conveyed to everyone in the stadium except those people in the front row: “The space you have contracted to rent from the Blue Bombers FC extends to within no less than one (1) millimetre of the kidneys and butt of the person(s) sitting in the row in front of you. Keep your feet under control, no matter how much licence you feel you have to kick that person throughout the match.”<br /> <br /> Are you paying attention, section 6A?<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> Finally, Garth, I hark back to my visit last year to a sold-out Taylor Field/Mosaic Whatever, where, at halftime, I was able to diminish my storage of bodily fluids, obtain a hot and tasty food item akin to those you can only obtain outside on the street at WBB home games, and then go to purchase a refreshing cold adult beverage, and still had time to return to my seat before the second half kickoff. Here, you’re touch and go to do one of those things without missing the kickoff. They really are nice people out in Saskatchewan, Garth, the opinions of Troy Westwood notwithstanding — before you open the new stadium, ask them how they do it.<br /> <br /> You’re welcome.<br /> <br /> Changing topics again....<br /> <br /> Interesting that CTV reporter Stacey Ashley used Twitter to announce that she’s the new communications director at Pembina Trails School Division. Nary a syllable about it from the division so far.<br /> <br /> Isn’t announcing that someone has been hired usually a management prerogative?<br /> <br /> And now for something completely different....<br /> <br /> I was doing an adult match at the soccer complex on Waverley, when a bazillion gajillion birds took off from the massive weed patch the other side of the fence and flew right towards us. Everyone looked up, and I said, “I’m the only one here old enough to have seen The Birds first-run — I know what happens next.”<br /> <br /> Yes, I’m certain that I reassured everyone, and set everyone at ease.<br /> <br /> But my attention span is really short today.....<br /> <br /> We haven’t had a Couch Surfers request to stay with us since back in July, and haven’t hosted since the first weekend in May.<br /> <br /> While I asked CS to stop sending us the weekly list of people I could invite to stay — we’d followed through with inviting two pairs of travellers, and got no response from them — I still get CS giving me a handful of people looking for a place to stay in Winnipeg that pops up when I log on.<br /> <br /> I was giving thought to inviting a couple of them, because they’re students and active and in their 20s. One is a member of the national rowing team, going from Victoria to Toronto in September, a likely candidate — but I see he only joined CS on Aug. 15 and hasn’t even bothered to log onto the site for the past week.<br /> <br /> And another is going from Quebec to BC by electric bicycle, and has a CS track record. But no, our profile is there and our kids’ bedrooms and our hospitality are there for anyone who wishes to contact us. Somehow, people throwing out a request and then asking for someone to step forward and invite them, that’s not how we understood CS worked.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, child the elder is encouraging us to consider joining Warm Showers, which is exclusively for touring cyclists. WS has only a handful of hosts in Winnipeg, and there are stricter conditions for joining — sounds as though the WS members are generally more dependable and considerate. While we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the CS members who’ve stayed with us, and I had a great time staying in Regina as a CS last year, so many are people with no profile who sign up and a few minutes later send out an impersonal mass email looking for free lodging, or people who request to stay with us, get accepted, and then are never heard from again...presumably opting for younger hosts who are less active and more able to socialize over a few brews.<br /> <br /> Harumph.<br /> <br /> I watched Jon Stewart from the Republican convention this week on Comedy Central, after realizing he and Colbert come on an hour earlier than they do on our CTV Toronto channel, and flipped over to it, even though it wasn’t an HD channel.<br /> <br /> Is that TMI?<br /> <br /> Anyway, the last few minutes on Comedy Central before Stewart were the end of a show called The Burn, some stand-up comic of whom I had never heard, and this guy was doing a routine ridiculing the suicide of film director Tony Scott, and it was supposed to be funny. It reminded me again of how far out of it I am on popular culture, because I found his routine utterly disgusting — mocking a tragedy.<br /> <br /> How far out of it am I?<br /> <br /> I won’t watch anything with Charlie Sheen in it and won’t do anything that contributes to making him millions, I have no interest in the personal lives of Lindsey Lohan or Justin Bieber or any other celebrity, I won’t watch alleged talent or reality shows in which a panel of obnoxious jerks humiliates people for an international audience’s titillation, I’ve never watched Jersey Shore, and I still think of the Kardashians as villains on Deep Space Nine.<br /> <br /> OK, enough, I’ll go dawdling off now and try to find a Downton Abbey rerun.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:8a0be59b-48da-4293-9d82-676cabdc27c6 School fires a good educator and decent guy http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a6caacb5e-e8b7-4b31-a4c0-ca536c039dd9&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 30 Aug 2012 16:03:00 GMT <p> I’ve always liked and respected Bill Yaworsky.</p> <p> I’d been to St. Emile School a few times over the years to do stories, the little K-8 school tucked away — next to a bowling alley, I seem to recall — off St. Anne’s Road south of Bishop Grandin.<br /> <br /> Sometimes he called me about a possible story, sometimes I called him.<br /> <br /> I don’t know why his school board suddenly chose last week to fire Yaworsky after 15 years as principal — you can read the story at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/board-fires-principal-of-st-emile-school-167960186.html.<br /> <br /> When the Vatican was in the process of choosing a new pope, St. Emile was the first school I considered calling. Come on down, said Yaworsky, who had several classes of kids eager to tell me what qualities they sought in a new pope.<br /> <br /> The assembled cardinals in Rome subsequently paid no attention to the kids’ favoured young and progressive candidates — the little kids were amazingly knowledgeable about who was who in their church hierarchy. But i digress.<br /> <br /> I talked to Yaworsky quite regularly about plans to raise several millions of dollars for a new and larger school, plans eventually abandoned. We always got along well — Yaworsky never asked me about my personal beliefs, and I always respected the obvious deep faith he held.<br /> <br /> Private schools are run individually by small boards, whose decisions are only rarely ever scrutinized. In the case of Catholic schools, each school's board is made up of the parish priest, parents, and community members. Not surprisingly, the priest and the school board president haven’t returned my calls. The archdiocese’s education director, who said in June that Yaworsky’s job was not in danger over a dispute involving the policy on school uniforms, said he couldn’t comment on personnel decisions.<br /> <br /> I’m only aware of one possible firing of a public school principal in recent years, a principal who mysteriously left overnight during the school year. With elected trustees making such decisions, even behind closed doors, and principals belonging to a powerful union, it’s a whole different ball game. Principals may get transferred to a different school and different job, but they’re rarely fired in the public school system.<br /> <br /> There was a very public private school firing last year that involved the issue of young students being involved in anti-abortion pickets as a school activity.<br /> <br /> There’s been intrigue but no public explanations about the revolving door at the head of school’s office at an elite secular school a few years back.<br /> <br /> A few years ago, the founding principal of a large faith-based school was abruptly fired after 18 years on the job, a church leadership delegation literally coming into her office and telling her she was done.<br /> <br /> I remember that one of my fellow soccer parents had kids at the school, and asked me what had happened. I was surprised, and said, didn’t the church tell you? No, she said, the church would not explain itself to the congregation, to which I replied, if they won’t tell you, do you think they’d tell me?<br /> <br /> It’s unlikely the broader public will ever know what really happened at St. Emile School. Yaworsky has retained legal counsel and isn’t discussing details, and it’s not in the board’s interest, or secretive nature, to talk about it.<br /> <br /> Bill Yaworsky is a really decent guy, and a good educator, and Manitoba kids would be the better for his landing on his feet somewhere.<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:6caacb5e-e8b7-4b31-a4c0-ca536c039dd9 Ultimate answer for school physical activity http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3ae3121ac8-00c3-43bf-acde-e705ec56cda7&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 27 Aug 2012 21:25:00 GMT <p> I’m thinking that ultimate would be a perfect activity for school gym class, intramurals, or extracurricular. Or even for just fun times with some of your buds and BFFs.</p> <p> Ultimate is pretty much non-stop sport, with a lot of sprinting, both flatout and short bursts, emphasizing a wide variety of motor skills while boosting cardio. It looks like heaps of fun.<br /> <br /> And it’s pretty basic. You only need running shoes, a field or lawn, and an ultimate disc — a plastic thingee that I’ve been told should not ever be called a frisbee. Though it looks like a frisbee.<br /> <br /> It’s played with seven people at a time per team, somewhat akin to touch football, though you can’t keep running after you make a catch. Disc possession turns over to the other team as soon as it hits the ground or gets intercepted. Players call their own fouls and work out any disagreements, without officials.<br /> <br /> Remember back when we were kids and played pickup sports? OK, only those 50 or older will remember playing sports without adult supervision and organization...recomember all of that “No fair, wasn’t ready, take it over” stuff? That seems to come in handy in ultimate for dispute resolution.<br /> <br /> Everyone’s involved in every play, no one getting any time for standing around on the field and watching action 60 yards downfield. Teams generally sub after a score, or whenever someone is totally bagged and can’t run another step.<br /> <br /> I’ve seen bits and pieces of ultimate over the years, while refereeing or running in Assiniboine Park, but I’d only previously watched one full match two summers ago, when we were in Peterborough for child the elder’s graduation. He was playing on several teams of different ability levels that summer, and that one night it was a recreational co-ed game, most of the players young professionals in their 30s or 40s. It looked like a lot of fun.<br /> <br /> A week or so ago we watched three exciting matches at a fabulous community sports complex in the heart of Victoria, as child the elder played in the nationals. Certainly, this was competitive ultimate, played by younger people in seriously good shape, but you could really see the game’s appeal and benefits. Possibly, at a recreational level, the disc may hit the ground more often, without the intervention of a defender. And maybe, in less competitive circles, F-bombs might be considered inappropriate, rather than being the automatic response by both sides to pretty much every play.<br /> <br /> They played to 15 points — a touchdown equivalent is one point — or 85 minutes, and it quickly became apparent why no one was moaning about not enough playing time. When they’re on the field, players can’t stop for breath. It was a combo of two or three ‘handlers’ in the back whipping the disc around, like point guards in basketball, keeping it constantly moving, while looking to spot someone downfield, maybe 15 to 20 over the middle, or someone suddenly getting a step on a defender and taking off 50 or 60 yards. Wow, does that disc stay up in the air a long time, allowing players to make up 30 yards and read the swerve and dip no matter how badly they initially appear to be overthrown, giving them time if they run like Usain Bolt to run under it and make a grab or to play free safety and leap to bang it away.<br /> <br /> The thought crossed my mind at one point, watching child the elder haul in a scoring pass, this may be what Joe Mack’s dreams look like, envisioning Jade Etienne transforming into Whit Tucker and catching a touchdown pass eventually, someday....but I digress.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:e3121ac8-00c3-43bf-acde-e705ec56cda7 Being helpful to U of M http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a93034618-90a1-41cd-b810-da0d69e963cf&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 16 Aug 2012 21:08:00 GMT <p> So once again I’m away for a week, this time we’re off to Lotusland to visit child the elder in Victoria.</p> <p> Meanwhile....<br /> <br /> I had an email this week from a fellow in Lagos, a legit email apparently, asking for help in finding PhD programs in peace and conflict studies in Canada.<br /> <br /> Of course, you’d think that would take only a few seconds on the interweb for him to track down the information, but being ever-helpful, I sent the link to the program at U of M, and to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.<br /> <br /> So if you get an application from Nigeria....<br /> <br /> Not that I expect any thanks. While I’ve blogged before how UM is in a league by itself in complaining about me, well beyond the displeasure of the teachers’ union and the religious right, few on campus have unleashed the personal vitriol on me as did this particular program a while back. I’ll tell you that story some time.<br /> <br /> Moving along....<br /> <br /> It really would be helpful if people who go off on vacation would adjust the reply function on their office voice mail, to advise callers that’s they’re away.<br /> <br /> And switching gears....<br /> <br /> I continue to fire off emails to pursue an education story that a large public postsecondary institution — you’d recognize the name — first suggested to me in February. I know you’re there, I can see you tweeting.<br /> <br /> Seamless segue...<br /> <br /> Sam, I know you act instantly on anything I raise, so last night I had a match at Harbour View, and I figured the best way is to take Gateway to Springfield and across. Big mistake, even at 6:30 p.m. the Disraeli was still backed up.<br /> <br /> But up Gateway I go, through a lighted intersection where I saw nary a sign to identify the cross street, kept going, and eventually hit Springield. A right, along I go, and that’s when I see signs that Springfield now dead ends before Lagimodiere, it no longer goes through — the road closed signs which would have been helpful were they placed before you make the right onto Springfield.<br /> <br /> Back I go to Gateway, knew the Chief Peguis extension now came all the way through, but the next lights north on Gateway looked a really long way off, so I turned south to that unidentified cross street. Turned on there, went a ways, finally saw a sign that identified it as McLeod.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> And I get along another ways, and here are another road closed sign and barriers, but there was a way to jog, and eventually, eventually I got onto Lagimodiere and was able to get up to Springfield.<br /> <br /> And nimbly relating this another combo of politicians and soccer, the Fort Whyte provincial by-election is now under way, with a field that includes new Tory leader Brian Pallister, would be a perfect opportunity for the parties to take a position on toilets or porta-potties at all community soccer fields. Do you candidates have any idea just how appallingly few toilet facilities there are at the many soccer fields throughout your suburban riding? And while you’re at it, surely there’s room in the provincial budget to put some nets on the soccer goalposts, eh?<br /> <br /> Um, no, I don’t live in the riding.<br /> <br /> Dang!<br /> <br /> And back to education...<br /> <br /> Reader emailed to say she didn’t have a lot of time for the people in what she called the Waverley Waste megasuburb who are anxious to know when they will get a new school to which their kids can walk. Reader said her friend teaches in an aged inner city school, where her friend has to dig into her own pocket to supply the kids’ with stuff they need for school, and why am I not writing about that?<br /> <br /> So I ask if her friend will talk to me, identified by name or not, and have yet to hear back.<br /> <br /> And wrapping up with postsecondary...<br /> <br /> After doing a story at UM today, and being told to park on the grass at SmartPark, I’m wondering, did someone doing a science project leave the cage open and unleash a plague of locusts on us?</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:93034618-90a1-41cd-b810-da0d69e963cf Am I my spectator's keeper? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a9ac153cb-5bfc-4192-a8ca-c0e8c209c33c&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 13 Aug 2012 15:26:00 GMT <p> So here’s yet another one that I’d never before encountered on a soccer field.</p> <p> Kids’ game, lots of spectators, and here’s a teenaged spectator sitting on the ground along the sidelines, maybe to watch a sibling, and she’s got her phone out and is texting.<br /> <br /> And texting, and texting, head down, paying no attention to the match.<br /> <br /> And, inevitably, she gets hit by the ball. Not very hard, but she got hit nevertheless, and it could have been a lot harder.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> But, I was thinking later, just how far does my responsibility extend? I can move the spectators back if they’re too close to the line, I can stop them smoking, and, in the remotest of possibilities that if any spectator should ever utter an inappropriate word towards me or the players, as unlikely as such a circumstance would be, I could invoke the coaches and referee liaison to take action.<br /> <br /> But am I responsible for saving spectators from themselves?<br /> <br /> Maybe, I was contemplating, if player safety was jeopardized, if I thought their inattention might mean that they wouldn’t get out of the way if players collided right on the line or couldn’t stop in time when chasing a ball, but that would be a stretch.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, with everything that happened in that bronze medal match, there was a play that — what are the chances? — once again called for an indirect free kick inside the Canadian penalty area. This time there was no squawking and I don’t remember that play’s even making the highlights package of all the missed French opportunities.<br /> <br /> There was one of umpteen mad scrambles in front of the Canadian net, and somewhere in all that, one of our defenders was down and the ball got tangled up in her legs. She managed to get to her feet, but the ball somehow had been wedged between her legs. The ref whistled, the French had an IFK, touched it, and put the ball in the 37th row.<br /> <br /> I’d never seen that play or call before. I went to Laws of the Game, under indirect free kicks, and I’m figuring the ref whistled it as dangerous play. It’s one of those situations in which the player puts herself in danger, which is also what happens when everyone cringes when a player ducks really, really low to try to head a ball just off the ground, putting her face down there among all the boots that have every perfect right to be kicking a ball at that height.<br /> <br /> Moving on....<br /> <br /> An Indianapolis publisher was flogging a new book to me, a supposed true-to-life junior high diary by two girls, one a stereotypical popular student, the other a stereotypical brainy student, thus perpetutating the myth that you can’t be both. Sorry, I digress.<br /> <br /> Anyway, the publisher slugged the email “Todo, we’re not in elementary anymore”.....<br /> <br /> Um, shouldn’t that be Toto? And surely if you publish books, wouldn’t you know the difference between compliment and complement?<br /> <br /> And again with our neighbours to the south....<br /> <br /> I call the world’s largest car rental company, the toll-free number for reservations for the U.S. and Canada, for our upcoming visit to child the elder who’s at his summer job at UVic.<br /> <br /> And when I hear the deep, slow drawl, I reckon that there’s a Victoria in Texas, and who knows how many other places in the 13 Colonies, so I very specifically asked for a rental in Victoria, British Columbia.<br /> <br /> And came the reply: “Which state is that in?”<br /> <br /> And now for something completely different.<br /> <br /> This is the first day on the job in Winnipeg School Division communications for Dale Burgos, who moves over from Pembina Trails. Whole new world, Dale, and not just in size.<br /> <br /> The superintendent runs every school division, of course, but no one is in WSD’s league for top-down control.<br /> <br /> And if the Pembina Trails trustees were ever an adventure, they managed to keep it behind closed doors. Like that ever happens in WSD, home to Mike Babinsky, Mark Wasyliw, and the centre-left caucus that calls the shots and whose members sometimes get off-message.<br /> <br /> I’ll be giving Burgos a call to see what his job specifications are. If it’s like his predecessor, who conveyed information and facilitated interviews and visits to schools (after the chief superintendent signed off on everything), but who was never to be quoted by name, this may be the last time you see Burgos’s name until he retires.<br /> <br /> And, finally, here’s one from my PEI cousin who lives in New England, though it may not be original with him:<br /> <br /> “I was visiting my son and daughter-in-law last night when I asked if I could borrow a newspaper. ‘This is the 21st century, dad,’ my son said. ‘We don’t waste money on newspapers. Here, you can borrow my iPad.’<br /> <br /> “I can tell you, that bloody fly never knew what hit it...”</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:9ac153cb-5bfc-4192-a8ca-c0e8c209c33c I might as well take my kicks too... http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a8565f917-54ad-4fc0-9231-3f140cafdce1&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 08 Aug 2012 19:40:00 GMT <p> We were still at the lake Monday when we watched that marvellous match spoiled by an utterly absurd call.</p> <p> For the longest time, I had absolutely no idea what the ref had called, and the commentators seemed to be similarly dumbfounded.<br /> <br /> OK, so keep in mind that I’ve refereed soccer all of six outdoor seasons and four indoor seasons, I only coached kids from 1996 to 2006, and I never played the game. I’m way, way, way, way down the list in Manitoba on referee experience and credentials.<br /> <br /> We’ll pause here while players, coaches, and parents type in comments on just how low down the list I am in levels of competence.<br /> <br /> Pause.<br /> <br /> Have all of you vented enough? Found enough pejoratives in your thesauri?<br /> <br /> OK, back to Monday’s match.<br /> <br /> Yes, the rule is clearly spelled out, but I’ve never seen it called in any kind of professional match. I’ve read stories this week which say that in recent memory, it’s only been called once, with similar consequences, in an English Premier League match a decade ago. Never called at the Olympics, World Cup, Euro, Champions League, the top leagues in Spain, Italy, Germany, nowhere but that one time in an ordinary EPL league match, never in a criticial point of a match potentially for all the marbles. Grant Wahl of si.com was credited with doing that research which uncovered the one lonely incident.<br /> <br /> The rule exists to stop deliberate time-wasting, but I’ve also read that NBC reviewed the tapes and found that Hope Solo took longer on average to get rid of her kicks than Erin McLeod did, and that both keepers exceeded six seconds numerous times.<br /> <br /> I’ve certainly never called it in outdoor soccer. Many times I’ve had to tell a keeper to pick up the pace and get the ball in play, but I’ve never pulled a card or awarded an indirect free kick inside the penalty area.<br /> <br /> I think I’ve called it once or twice in indoor soccer, after umpteen warnings, and with the keeper doing walkabout while her teammates ducked out to get a coffee and made it back without the ball’s yet being put in play.<br /> <br /> Where I’ve seen keepers carded in TV matches is in taking too long to take a goal kick when they’re nursing a lead, but that’s only after increasingly stern verbal warnings. And in local matches you may see a keeper dawdling to fetch the ball after it’s been booted out of play by the opponent, but in those cases you tell them to hustle, and you can always add on time.<br /> <br /> But a keeper who’s about to punt the ball being penalized in such an egregious manner? Never.<br /> <br /> Second element, the penalty kick. A lot of players, coaches, and parents are genetically engineered to scream “Handball!” for any contact.<br /> <br /> I’ve always been taught that hand to ball must be deliberate handling of the ball, and I holler out “ball to hand, play on!” numerous times throughout a match, to which some people react by going: “Huh? What did he say? What on earth is ball to hand?”<br /> <br /> When a player makes no attempt to handle the ball, and her hand and arm are where they’re supposed to be — not extended, not above her head of out from her body, not making herself big to cover a wider area — then there’s no infringement. The Americans drilled a ball from three or four yards away directly at the arm of a Canadian defender who’d turned her back to block the kick, and her arm was precisely where it was supposed to be. It then caromed off the hand of a second Canadian defender who had no time to move, who made no attempt to handle the ball, and whose hand was where it’s supposed to be.<br /> <br /> Inside the penalty area makes no difference at all if it’s ball to hand, I’ve been instructed numerous times at referee clinics here, and that includes both the ball’s hitting a defender, and a ball that contacts an attacker’s hand inadvertently and gives the attacker an advantage.<br /> <br /> Finally, now it’s coming out that Abby Wambach was counting out the seconds, and the referee reacted.<br /> <br /> The ref is in charge. If a player is being obnoxious, the ref can tell that player to knock it off and tell her to just play the match. Maybe you warn the keeper to speed it up, but you don’t let the players call the match. You don’t cave.<br /> <br /> But that call. that astounding call, in those circumstances?<br /> <br /> Monday’s ref was supposed to be world class.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:8565f917-54ad-4fc0-9231-3f140cafdce1 Sorry, I was on vacation http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3ade26ebaf-38a1-4ae0-a5ce-30dfb4ac6d2f&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 08 Aug 2012 15:43:00 GMT <p> I had 653 emails yesterday when I returned from vacation, including one slugged “I know you’re on vacation, but...”</p> <p> This was from a Maclean’s reporter who wanted to discuss a story I’d written, and alas, I didn’t get back to him during my vacation. I did respond yesterday, and so far he hasn’t gotten back to me.<br /> <br /> The point of being on vacation...well, you don’t need a lecture, and I’d sound whiny anyway, like someone who figures that after almost 41 years that I shouldn't work 24 hours a day. If it was something urgent, something that should go in the paper without delay, my out of office message directed people to our city desk, where my esteemed supervisors could deal with it in my absence. And maybe I did possibly occasionally sneak a peek to make sure we weren’t missing out on a good story, and if I hypothetically did that, I would have forwarded the information to Big Editor (not his real name).<br /> <br /> But there’s stuff that could take you out of vacation idyll pretty much every day, without generating a front page story.<br /> <br /> Years ago I made the mistake of checking my voice mail messages when we were on vacation, when the kids were pretty small. There was a message from someone in an education organization — you’d recognize its name immediately — imploring me to call during my holidays for something really, really important, something that my contact assured me justified my leaving the family and driving back into the city to write immediately.<br /> <br /> So I called, and this education contact had a friend who’d be in from Toronto for just one day during my vacation, to flog a private tutoring service that the contact's friend was hoping could open a branch in Winnipeg.<br /> <br /> Sigh.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:de26ebaf-38a1-4ae0-a5ce-30dfb4ac6d2f Why so few women in engineering? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3abd94cd7c-ff7d-46d5-93ad-f07334eb4c9d&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 07 Aug 2012 17:03:00 GMT <p> Just after I left on vacation, my story ran about the gender disparity in U of M’s engineering school, which you can read about at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/u-of-m-tries-to-engineer-gender-balance-fix-163272146.html.</p> <p> At least, some people believe it’s a disparity. Engineering dean Jonathan Beddoes told me that the gender numbers here are pretty much par for North American engineering schools.<br /> <br /> Beddoes also took umbrage at my saying that men continue to dominate in U of M’s engineering school. I did get 100 in algebra in Grade 10, back in 1962, but obviously I haven’t taken the advanced math necessary to be an engineer, so, alas, I’m incapable of understanding how 83 per cent male students, 89 per cent male faculty, and 100 per cent male administration would not be male-dominant.<br /> <br /> Women’s numbers are higher overseas, said Beddoes, and yes, I think it would be worthwhile to find out why.<br /> <br /> Beddoes said that there are no systemic barriers to women in engineering — he wasn’t here during the series of stories two years ago about the engineering magazine Red Lion/Red Loin objectifying women as sex objects for men — and says he can’t get inside the heads of teenage girls to see why they’re not going into engineering.<br /> <br /> Someone should try.<br /> <br /> Yes, I read the emails saying no one should try to force women into a program they don’t want, and that’s certainly true. And I read the letter to the editor about the lack of men in nursing and education, and those are certainly questions worth raising — I’ve written about the lack of men in education, 70-30 some years, and the almost total absence some years of men in faculty of educations’ early years programs.<br /> <br /> But back to engineering. I wrote back in the 1990s about efforts to encourage girls in math and science, and I keep hearing how successful those efforts were. Just look at any science fair, look at the academic awards at any high school, and you’ll see how well girls are doing. U of W Prof. Laura Sokal has done some notable research in the area of girls increasingly dominating in high school academics.<br /> <br /> Young women are taking over universities. U of M is about 54-46 women among students, and the ratio is much closer to two-to-one at predominantly undergraduate liberal arts schools.<br /> <br /> Beddoes said that there’s a 30-by-30 strategy, to have 30 per cent women in engineering programs by 2030.<br /> <br /> That’s 18 years away, 18 years’ worth of Grade 12 graduates.<br /> <br /> No one should try to force girls and women into any area of study, but no one in the 1990s forced girls to embrace math and science either, but they have. Someone should be finding out why young women aren’t going into engineering, and if there are barriers, tear them down — now, not by 2030.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:bd94cd7c-ff7d-46d5-93ad-f07334eb4c9d Last rant before vacation http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3ad6a0636b-7179-4ac3-8391-1151cb418a64&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 19 Jul 2012 20:51:00 GMT <p> I’ll be away until Aug. 7, kayaking, hiking, reading a book a day.</p> <p> Meanwhile, a few rants and disjointed rambling episodes having something vaguely at times to do with education....<br /> <br /> I told you recently about the Brandon School Division field trip in 2008 that burned 53,008 hectares of forest around Grand Rapids, and cost $4.5 million to extinguish. You can read about it at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/elders-seek-healing-circle-with-those-who-started-fire-159161375.html.<br /> <br /> I contacted BSD a few days ago, to see if any of the now-graduated students and the retired teacher who were on that field trip had responded to elders in Grand Rapids who proposed that those responsible come to the community for reconciliation.<br /> <br /> Nothing from them so far, said BSD school board chair Mark Sefton.<br /> <br /> My colleagues at The Brandon Sun have had no more luck than I in persuading the retired teacher who led the field trip to talk to us.<br /> <br /> Change of subject....<br /> <br /> I see by the June issue of Rielity Check that Louis Riel teachers are already looking for committee members to prepare contract proposals for a new deal. The current contract runs to June 30, 2014.<br /> <br /> And moving along....<br /> <br /> It’s always dangerous to clean off your desk and clean out your email.<br /> <br /> Several communications directors are receiving emails even as we speak, asking about promised information and access to officials for stories that have yet to be delivered. Maybe you could take time out from tweeting to check your day job email and get back to me.....<br /> <br /> I found an old email from a school in a division we’ll hypothetically call St. James-Assiniboia, complaining about a story I’d done — yes, I know, thousands of my stories fall into that category — and in this case demanding a ‘correction’. My crime had been writing about a specific school and about a wonderful program called Roots of Empathy, in which little kids spend time each month with a newborn baby, seeing how helpless the baby is, watching her or him develop, getting to understand the baby’s needs, and throughout, developing an empathy for the smaller and the helpless that was meant to alleviate bullying. My correspondent was furious that I’d ignored about three dozen schools offering the same Roots of Empathy program, including hers, and demanded a correction.<br /> <br /> So was it the chair of the school board complaining? The superintendent? The mightily miffed principal? Nope. It was the school secretary. And I guess she’s still awaiting a correction.<br /> <br /> Then there was a whole slew of emails about the short furore over pajama pants a few years back, many of them questioning my sanity for giving it any coverage at all. I guess no one wears pajama pants anymore, since we don’t hear about any kids getting sent home to change, or maybe principals just saw a teachable moment about picking your battles.<br /> <br /> I also came across a form indicating the registration deadline of Aug. 15, 2005, for the new Spanish bilingual school a parent group had organized that was to start in September of 2006 with kindergarten and Grade 1. That’s the school that should have seen its initial cohort reach Grade 7 come this September.<br /> <br /> Don’t notice that school around anywhere?<br /> <br /> Nope again.<br /> <br /> Winnipeg School Division offered the fledgling Spanish bilingual school space in John M. King School, with room to grow. The parents all ran shrieking in outrage the other way, refusing to put their children in an inner city school. Keep in mind, the space was offered for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in classrooms within a safe school environment, the kids weren’t being told to put their desks in an inner city back alley at 2 a.m., or to set up their desks in a corner of the bar at a licenced establishment of questionable repute.<br /> <br /> The parents demanded space in a school of their choosing in an affluent neighbourhood, the division wouldn’t cave to their demands, and the idea was soon never heard of again.<br /> <br /> Moving along.....<br /> <br /> With few people in the education system around, I was doing some web surfing. Earlier I mentioned the Louis Riel teachers’ newsletter, and I read the president’s report on the Seven Oaks teachers’ website...but I couldn’t find the River East Transcona or Winnipeg teachers’ newsletters on the web, and I couldn’t find the Manitoba Teachers’ Society executive meeting minutes.<br /> <br /> Turns out, says MTS, that those minutes are now only accessible to password-equipped union members. Guess maybe MTS didn’t like outsider nosey parkers reading about legal actions and censures, and even worse, writing about them.<br /> <br /> Conspiracy theorists, feel free to speculate....<br /> <br /> OK, so maybe this part isn’t even vaguely education:<br /> <br /> So a player goes to throw in the ball, and several of her teammates all shout, “This time, keep BOTH your feet on the ground! Both of them!” and I’m thinking, not even I could miss knowing where I should be focusing on this play.<br /> <br /> I’m wondering, given how fabulous those two fields are at Red River College, why the gates in the fencing have been set about as far away as they can be placed from both the east and west parking lots, instead of behind the players’ benches. I’m old but dignified, I’m still in good enough shape to walk all the way around, and it appears somewhat unseemly for so many adults to be climbing over the fence to save time.<br /> <br /> Seamless segue....<br /> <br /> How come, as I gallop ever closer to 65, that cashiers no longer ask me if I qualify for the seniors’ discount, or even give it to me without asking, as they rather frequently did when I was a mere 61 or 62?<br /> <br /> Finally, I was thinking that there are two against-the-cliches stories I’d like to do sometime. I’d like to cover an event in which rain did dampen everyone’s spirits; and I’d like to find a small town that isn’t tightly knit, a town in which people didn’t know their neighbours and don’t care about what happened to other people. No, LondonOnt doesn’t count, it’s way too big.<br /> <br /> Off for vacation, the kayak calls, talk to you in August, eh?<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:d6a0636b-7179-4ac3-8391-1151cb418a64 Couches we got --- surfers, not so much http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a7d45c3d4-2042-4589-85a6-540d6d175efe&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 16 Jul 2012 20:35:00 GMT <p> My colleague Carolin Vesely wrote recently about Couch Surfing, the remarkable organization that allows travellers to stay somewhere free of charge, get to know local people, and in turn, to host other travellers.</p> <p> You can read her story at<br /> http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/sofa-so-good-150273715.html.<br /> <br /> You may recall that we joined because child the elder was met with such incredible generosity by CS hosts in the U.S. as he spent eight months on his bicycle in 2010-2011.<br /> <br /> We’ve been hosts for 20 months now, and alas, we’ve only hosted six times.<br /> <br /> All six were wonderful people or groups of people, right from Andreas, our friend from Sweden early on, with whom we still keep in touch. There were three young women from Ontario hitchhiking last summer, a Chinese woman taking the train to Churchill this past fall, older couple John and Serge from Montreal driving across the country last summer. First weekend of May, we had two CS, going by bus in opposite directions — a young German woman seeing Canada during a break from university; and a man in his late 20s who was a PhD from Pakistan, moving to Calgary, and whose second language was French, his third English.<br /> <br /> All great guests.<br /> <br /> But they’re the only people we’ve hosted.<br /> <br /> OK, in the past few weeks we’ve turned down three requests we would have happily accepted, because all of them fell during our vacation this summer. There were a woman in her 70s from Victoria, returning home to Winnipeg for a family wedding; a woman in her 50s from France, spending the summer touring Canada; and four young women from Quebec, university students seeing the country.<br /> <br /> We’ve turned down several requests, which all fell into a pattern — people who were on the road, heard about CS, signed up, and literally within hours of joining, fired off email requests. They’d obviously not read our profile, and listed absolutely no profile details about themselves, and just as obviously had nary a single reference, the things that allow CS to check each other out as surfers and hosts, know who each other is, and see what other CS members had to say about them.<br /> <br /> One guy in his early 20s whom we turned down, was a student who’d just finished the year at McMaster and was hitching his way to Vancouver before flying home to China for the summer. Because he was thumbing it, he wanted to leave his arrival and departure dates, let alone the times, totally up in the air, assuming we’d come and pick him up and put him up whenever and wherever he arrived in Manitoba. And he’d joined CS the day before.<br /> <br /> We’re not totally inflexible, I recognize that young people are more laid back and more “like, whatever” about timing and other arrangements, but our profile does specify that with the way our lives are, we can’t accommodate open-ended requests. And to further complicate things, this young fellow from China via Hamilton planned to bop back and forth across the U.S. border as he worked his way to the coast.<br /> <br /> I did tell him that he might want to check around in Hamilton and look for people experienced in hitchhiking across international borders. I sensed that not many strangers would want to pick up a Chinese national they’d met minutes before and take him past Homeland Security.<br /> <br /> We’ve accepted quite a few CS members who’ve sent us requests, we’ve accepted them, and they never show up. Admittedly, we’re on the upper end of the CS age range, and the vast majority of travellers are much younger. We work, we do stuff many evenings, we go to the cottage, and surfers may well be looking for hosts closer in age who can spend time with them, socialize, drive them around. We can do that, at certain times and with sufficient notice. But most times, such people end up finding other hosts with more time free, and some times they don’t have the courtesy of letting us know they’re not coming.<br /> <br /> That’s what happened with a couple from Rimouski, who gave a date in June on which they’d have precise arrival details. Haven’t heard since, hasn’t been June for quite a while now.<br /> <br /> CS has recently started a new feature, sending hosts a list every week or so of people coming to Winnipeg over the next few weeks, and asking us to consider inviting them to stay with us.<br /> <br /> There was a couple in their late 20s from New England, sounded compatible — one was in my wife’s profession — and the date worked, so off went an invite. No reply.<br /> <br /> Then there are Jay and Homer, from Portland, Oregon, due in Winnipeg this week. The date worked, they were child the elder’s age, they were serious students, child the elder liked Portland on his bike trip so much that he’s since been back after finishing his first year of law in Victoria. No reply.<br /> <br /> Next week, CS again asked me to consider hosting Jay and Homer, so off went another message. No reply.<br /> <br /> And this week, Jay and Homer are listed for the third time; nope, I’ll assume they found somewhere else to stay.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, our vacation looms, and I’ll be changing our couch designation from yes to travelling.<br /> <br /> But we’ll hang in there, keep posting the welcome sign, and maybe someone interesting will want to stay with old farts who are too busy exercising each evening to plan pub crawls, and who still value spending time with people who accept an invitation and show up.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:7d45c3d4-2042-4589-85a6-540d6d175efe Communicating through official statements http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a1390e752-749c-45f4-83f2-1046efc8083a&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Sat, 07 Jul 2012 00:48:00 GMT <p> I know Advanced Education Minister Erin Selby exists, because I follow her on Twitter, and her postings can be quite clever.</p> <p> But I was thinking this week, as I put in yet another request to talk to Selby on a postsecondary matter, that I can’t recall more than just one occasion when I’ve talked to Selby since she became minister.<br /> <br /> This week, as pretty well every time I’ve asked to interview Selby, I received a written statement from the ubiquitous aide to the minister.<br /> <br /> What’s up with this, Greg?<br /> <br /> I get the same response at times from Education Minister Nancy Allan and her own ubiquitous aide, but Allan does talk to me personally a pretty fair chunk of the time, probably more often and certainly sometimes more candidly than the political staff would like.<br /> <br /> Former advanced education minister Diane McGifford was one of the most guarded politicians I’ve ever met, but she talked to me frequently.<br /> <br /> Selby is supposed to be one of cabinet’s brightest young stars, and she’s certainly confident enough and far more than intelligent enough to handle the likes of me without giving away state secrets or saying anything more than she wants to say.<br /> <br /> Moving along......<br /> <br /> I blogged about the new wall of fame at Miles Mac, and now I’ve heard about two more, one of them at Windsor Park Collegiate, the other at Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School.<br /> <br /> The latter includes U of M climate expert Prof. David Barber and Judge Jeffrey Oliphant.<br /> <br /> Yet another switch in topics....<br /> <br /> Yes, old people can adapt to social media. I was sitting here recently, working like totally beyond exceptionally hard, and following colleague Jen Skerritt’s exciting Twitter account of the city hall hearing over Westgate Mennonite Collegiate expansion plans.<br /> <br /> I read that Coun. Jenny Gerbasi told the hearing that Westgate didn’t need to expand, because it could have its pick of empty schools with the provincial government’s lifting of the moratorium on school closures.<br /> <br /> I’m not aware that any high school was threatened with closure prior to the 2008 moratorium, but regardless, I also wasn’t aware of any change in the Selinger government’s policy.<br /> <br /> So I emailed Jen, who emailed back a link to Gerbasi’s speech, I read it, then emailed it to Allan’s ubiquitous aide to the minister, who almost immediately emailed back that there’s no change contemplated to the moratorium, and I was able to Tweet that while Gerbasi was still addressing the committee, all of this done in just a matter of minutes.<br /> <br /> And I didn’t even have to put fresh carbon paper in my Underwood before getting out the news.<br /> <br /> Segue.....<br /> <br /> Any worry over potential imminent confrontation with obstreperous coaches and parents seems somewhat less daunting when you approach a soccer field and see signs that advise “Be bear smart”.....<br /> <br /> So, OK, like, when that really, really huge black dog ran out on the field, I knew from the get-go that it was a dog, eh, like what else could it be? And that sound, kind of like an ‘eek’, that didn’t come from me, that was a whistle malfunction, is everyone clear on that?<br /> <br /> So in another match I’m doing a master soccer match and one of the women tries to foster empathy for her team by pointing out that a teammate is 65 and even older than I am.<br /> <br /> That’s like the time in the past indoor season that a keeper on one team told me before the match that I should keep in mind that her team was old and the other team was young.<br /> <br /> “Nice try,” laughed I, “but I’m old, you’re mature.”<br /> <br /> Back to schools....<br /> <br /> Someone called city desk and wanted to talk about an alleged lack of programming the family’s child faces in the fall. So I called the phone number, and the voice mail answering message consisted of someone sing-songing “Meow! Meow! Meow!” over and over for a good 25 seconds. I did leave my name and number, though I forgot to sign off with meow. And, no one has returned my call.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> And finally....<br /> <br /> Today is the last day on the job for Winnipeg School Division information officer Linda Wilson, who is retiring.<br /> <br /> You’ve never read Wilson’s name in the paper, and you still won’t ever, since this is on-line only. Wilson was never quotable in any story, that was the deal if you wanted your calls returned. Sometimes Wilson would email a statement, and we’d run it as ‘division officials said’. Wilson has been a facilitator and a conveyor of information, and someone who acts as a go-between in setting up stories at schools or getting people on the phone, and she’s been darned good at it. And she knows everyone who works in the division.<br /> <br /> WSD never saw fit to define the job to let Wilson speak on behalf of the division, nor was it ever part of her job description to advise trustees how to get out of trouble with as little damage as possible, or avoid getting in trouble in the first place, and that was WSD’s loss.<br /> <br /> You’ve been great to work with lo these many years, Linda, and you’ve always been civil, even over the 3,467 stories I wrote that your bosses considered negative, and I know you didn’t want a big sendoff or anyone making any kind of a fuss today.<br /> <br /> Enjoy your retirement.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:1390e752-749c-45f4-83f2-1046efc8083a So what in the world went on in Thompson? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a0140f0b4-db31-48c4-9189-1c6923f22d81&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 03 Jul 2012 21:33:00 GMT <p> The deal to end the grievance disputes between no-longer-fired high school principal Ryan Land and Mystery Lake School Division in Thompson avoided costly turmoil, but greatly reduced the possibility that we’ll ever know what in the world has been going on in Thompson.</p> <p> The division rescinded Land’s firing as principal of R.D. Parker Collegiate, Land resigned, everyone agreed not to talk, and life moves on.<br /> <br /> Sworn testimony under questioning by veteran labour lawyers could well have answered a lot of questions about Manitoba’s most troubled school division.<br /> <br /> Alas...<br /> <br /> The division has had three superintendents and eight assistant superintendents in the past four years. R.D. Parker Collegiate has had three principals and nine vice-principals in that time and has had two acting principals since the school board fired Land.<br /> <br /> Trustees took the extraordinary action of publicly rebuking Land, then fired him publicly last year.<br /> <br /> The latest superintendent, Bev Hammond, lasted only 16 months after coming from Alberta. She quit suddenly in January, a move that school board chairman Alexander Ashton said was not a firing or buyout. Hammond has not granted media interviews since leaving Thompson.<br /> <br /> Hammond said last year she had uncovered evidence that at least two dozen high school students graduated under Land’s watch without deserving to do so.<br /> <br /> The division has called off searches for a new superintendent and new high school principal, while denying Mystery Lake is unable to attract qualified candidates because of its many controversies.<br /> <br /> You’ll recall the story I broke back in the early winter about that principal job search. That’s the one in which Mystery Lake required that candidates not be liars — agree to tell the actual truth at all times, to be precise — that they be team players willing to stand alone to defend the division against unnamed outside forces, that they be prepared to monitor the behaviour and interaction of almost 1,000 students and all the staff — stuff you’d never see in a job description anywhere else.<br /> <br /> Then there was the consultant’s report commissioned by Education Minister Nancy Allan, who, though she stopped short of taking over the division, was certainly looking over its shoulder.<br /> <br /> The report said the public did not trust the school trustees, who were split into us-and-them factions representing various agendas and interest groups.<br /> <br /> There was an environment of fear and intimidation and mistrust and apprehension in Mystery Lake in which staff feared for their jobs, said the report.<br /> <br /> There was a revolving door on senior jobs, and Hammond was acting unilaterally without consulting and collaborating with staff or trustees, the report said.<br /> <br /> The report said Mystery Lake operates without policies or direction, including having no policies for hiring.<br /> <br /> Throughout all this, Land declined to be interviewed, though, on one occasion, he told me he’d been surprised to be hired as principal. He was certainly qualified, no doubt that Land believed he was a good principal, but when he was hired, he was head of a small English language school in Ghana, and expected there’d be lots of candidates applying who’d headed large Canadian high schools.<br /> <br /> Apparently not.<br /> <br /> The grievance hearing might have uncovered some of the details of why so many administrators left on their own or others’ initiative, some of those departures having preceded Land and Hammond. People bandied rumours about successful applicants for some jobs not having been on the headhunters’ short lists, of who knew whom, of how much was paid to remove senior administrator after senior administrator.<br /> <br /> The board was apparently aware when hiring Hammond that she had a $5.2 million lawsuit against a former school division employer in Alberta.<br /> <br /> It would have been interesting to hear testimony about how people chose up sides, about trustees with spouses working in the high school and what effect — if any — that had on the situation, about what went on among trustees before they so extraordinarily rebuked Land in public and then fired him in public....the list could go on, and on, and on....<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:0140f0b4-db31-48c4-9189-1c6923f22d81 Miles Mac has a neat idea http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3aa14ac572-5eb3-48e3-9b4a-49c8952886db&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 28 Jun 2012 20:55:00 GMT <p> Miles Macdonell Collegiate launched an Alumni of Distinction wall at the school during the 60th anniversary celebrations of Miles Mac this past weekend.</p> <p> It’s a pretty nifty idea from retiring principal Vivien Laurie. I’m only aware of one other high school that’s recognized its alumni this formally — Shaftesbury has been doing it for years.<br /> <br /> Four alumni were honoured, River East Transcona’s communications staff advised:<br /> <br /> — Actor Len Cariou, who began his acting career with appearances in school plays at Miles Mac in the 1950s, who’s gone on to win three Tony Awards;<br /> <br /> — Bill Masterton, who was the 1955 male athlete of the year at Miles Mac, and went on to the NHL, playing for the Minnesota North Stars in their inaugural season. Tragedy struck in 1968 when his head hit the ice during a game; he died two days later. His death sparked the call to make helmets mandatory in pro hockey. Today, Miles Mac honours his memory with an annual student athlete award.<br /> <br /> — Richard Burzynski, who was student council president in 1977 and is now a leader in AIDS education, prevention, and treatment efforts nationally and globally. Most recently he has worked as a senior advisor for UNAIDS, the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.<br /> <br /> — Patrice Impey, the chief financial officer for the City of Vancouver. Impey has held senior positions with a variety of companies in Canada and the U.S.<br /> <br /> Said Laurie: “I want the existing student population of Miles Macdonell Collegiate to pause as they walk by the wall and to realize that they, too, can make a significant contribution to the local or global community.”<br /> <br /> More schools should be doing this. Kids should look at these people, realize they were also once teenagers in Grade 9, and do some dreaming of their own.<br /> <br /> Moving along....<br /> <br /> I see that the Huffington Post tweeted the moose droppings story, based on a story that HP read in The New York Daily News...three weeks after I broke the story.<br /> <br /> Sigh.<br /> <br /> Speaking of moose droppings, yes, I did call the person who’s been identified as the adult chaperone who tricked the kids into putting moose droppings in their mouths, and — huge surprise — there’s no indication he wants to talk to us.<br /> <br /> Same with the teacher who was in charge when Brandon students on another ill-fortuned field trip started a massive forest fire near Grand Rapids four years ago.<br /> <br /> Change of topic.....<br /> <br /> Here’s a publisher in the Chicago area who wants me to flog a book about weird political stuff — I can get that for free on Jon Stewart every night.<br /> <br /> Anyway, here’s how the publisher’s email was slugged: “Whether your Democrate or Republican,when political screw ups happen, we all laugh”<br /> <br /> I guess we should be glad the publisher didn’t spell it ‘weather’.<br /> <br /> Moving along.....<br /> <br /> What in the world happened to Joe Malone Park? I was there for the first time this season and barely recognized the place. New goalposts, netting, the grass was cut, the lines sharp, and the park itself has been transformed. My kids were playing there back in the 90s, and it was always a mess right through to last year, the grungy old fence on the east side right up against the trees and the sidelines, always swampy long after a rain, the trees and fence and sideline scrunching up everyone. And parking, off Kenaston outside the apartments and townhouses, was always tough.<br /> <br /> So now the fence is long gone and the east side is wide open, with a new berm right behind, and a walking path around the field and winding through the entire complex. It has a feeling now of being a park and being wide open.<br /> <br /> Parking now is in a new lot south of the soccer pitch, with access off Taylor. Looks as though it may be a place to hold a birthday party, given the deflated balloon I saw in the parking lot when I got out of my car.....<br /> <br /> Of course, as always, the park could use a bathroom, even a clean port-a-potty. And if there’s a plaque anywhere to Joe Malone, I’m afraid I haven’t spotted it.<br /> <br /> And no, I didn’t see Joe Malone play, and alas, I don’t have his hockey card.<br /> <br /> And now for something completely different....<br /> <br /> A suggestion to the Manitoba Marathon to help me out next year. When you put up the pace signs in the starting lanes, the ones at which you’re supposed to line up for your anticipated finish time, how about one at the back that says ‘today...I hope’?<br /> <br /> Also, it makes a lot of sense to start events in waves, but it kind of defeats the purpose if you can only hear when your wave is starting if you’re already in the starting chutes. How about a speaker or two back around the intersection at Bison Drive, so people will hear you when they’re supposed to come forward?<br /> <br /> Other stuff....<br /> <br /> I received an email from UM about Winnipeg School Division’s ongoing adventures in disposing of the former Sir John Franklin School property, better known locally as Dog Poop Park. It was signed by my correspondent’s name and full job title at UM, which is somewhat well-placed in the administrative hierarchy.<br /> <br /> So I emailed back and asked what UM’s interest was in the property.<br /> <br /> Yes, I know, but maybe people should have a personal account for personal business, or was it supposed to impress me?<br /> <br /> ....<br /> <br /> Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! I want to see if anyone can help me out with Prometheus, so I’m reaching out to my many fans who still live in their parents’ basement.<br /> <br /> I saw Alien in a studio preview at the huge old University Cinema on Bloor Street, still one of the scariest and best science fiction films ever made, even if it ‘borrowed’ heavily from It — The Terror from Beyond Space. And I’ve never been able to figure out, what did It eat on the barren surface of Mars, when there were no earthlings dropping by? But I digress.<br /> <br /> And I’ve seen all the Alien films, but only the first and second more than once.<br /> <br /> So here goes....don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie.<br /> <br /> I figure they were on a moon of Saturn. It sure looked like Saturn, and Charlize Theron said they’d come half a billion miles, and there was no indication that they had faster-than-light drive. But how did they know to go there, since the cave drawings pointed to the Engineers’ home world, with the sky configuration? Or was that Saturn and its satellites in the cave drawings?<br /> <br /> I knw, I know, it’s a made-up story, but recomember back in the 50s how they completely ignored science, and the astronauts would fly off to other star systems in their souped-up V2s in a day or two?<br /> <br /> And there were what, 18 humans/androids in the film, how come so many of them couldn’t use their real accents? What would it have done to the story had Idris Elba or Charlize used their own accents?<br /> <br /> And as for Fifield....recognizing the actor, I was thinking how much more smoothly my life would go if I had my own Micholetto from The Borgias.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:a14ac572-5eb3-48e3-9b4a-49c8952886db A big one that won't go away http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a31875a0d-3ef7-4039-8e76-64d20af2a11e&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 25 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT <p> The Seven Oaks teachers contract arbitration kind of got lost in a week in which I told you about Grand Marais kids tricked into putting moose droppings in their mouths during a canoe trip, Brandon School Division exploring reconciliation after students on another field trip started a massive forest fire around Grand Rapids, and a UM professor setting off a health scare after improperly testing kids at Southeast Collegiate for diabetes.</p> <p> But the arbitration and its ultimate ruling carry pretty serious implications.<br /> Short version, 34 school divisions have deals at identical terms for raises: two 1.5 per cent phased-in increases between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011; two per cent raises in September of 2011, 2012, and 2013; four years expiring June 30, 2014.</p> <p> Seven Oaks teachers rejected that deal, instead arguing that they deserve parity with Louis Riel teachers, the city’s highest-paid.<br /> <br /> The division countered that the pay scale may be the lowest, at least for Class 5 teachers who’ve maxed out increments, but benefits wipe out any wage disparities.<br /> <br /> Class 5 is the minimum qualification for any teacher being hired these days, an undergraduate degree plus an education degree.<br /> <br /> If Seven Oaks gets parity with Louis Riel, it would cost Seven Oaks millions of dollars. Of course, every other city school division would want the same, and then we’re talking eight figures. And, does anyone doubt that the teachers would want, and deserve, the same benefits?<br /> <br /> It would take a determined accountant with access to the qualifications and seniority of every teacher in Winnipeg to figure out how much it would all cost.<br /> <br /> Comparing class 5 numbers is relatively simple — $1,127 difference between Louis Riel at the top and Seven Oaks at the bottom.<br /> <br /> The Manitoba Teachers’ Society says that the city had 9,636 fulltime equivalent teachers as of the start of the 2010 school year, and that doesn’t include the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine teachers within Winnipeg, or the St. Norbert portion of Seine River S.D.<br /> <br /> To be accurate, you’d need to know how many teachers in each division were at each year of seniority, because there’s absolutely no uniformity in the annual incremental increses. Any bets teachers would argue for all divisions getting the highest incremental increase currently out there at each step?<br /> <br /> And as Seven Oaks argues, benefits are all over the map. When the province imposed amalgamation in 2002, the resulting harmonized contracts got the best benefits of each of the previously existing contracts.<br /> <br /> Suffice to say that the shakeout would be tens of millions of dollars a year in salary, and at a time when capping class sizes and increasing enrolment will require hiring more teachers.<br /> <br /> None of which brings up the question of rural salary scales. The difference there in straight Class 5 maxes is $7,379 between Swan Valley at the bottom and Thompson at the top, as of the summer of 2010. And yes, there are reasons of living costs and remote communities that justify some of those differences.<br /> <br /> We’re at the point at which pretty well all the top-of-scale class 5 teachers will be in at least the low 80s when those current deals expire in the summer of 2014. Compounding raises at two or three per cent a year won’t take all that long to push salaries to $100K.<br /> <br /> Pay attention here — I am not saying that teachers don’t deserve every penny, I’m saying that these are the financial realities.<br /> <br /> If the Seven Oaks teachers win, get set for the top of every existing deal to be the base at which bargaining starts on July 1, 2014.<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:31875a0d-3ef7-4039-8e76-64d20af2a11e Alas, tipsters, unlike anonymous blogs, we have standards http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a17d2319d-fb7d-437e-82ad-d3aa04b228fc&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 13 Jun 2012 20:44:00 GMT <p> The stories we ran on the kids at Walter Whyte School in Grand Marais being tricked into putting moose droppings in their mouths, we knew about that several days before we published anything.</p> <p> The person who first told us wasn’t in a position to be a substantial source, and it took a while to find parents to talk to us whose kids were victimized or who had witnessed what happened.</p> <p> Getting substantiation can be difficult, but we don’t rush to print with every anonymous email or unsigned piece of paper that shows up. Come to think of it, we don’t rush to print with any such unsubstantiated allegation.</p> <p> Right now I’m hearing from anonymous source about a pretty potentially alarming situation at a school, but the sources are anonymous and provide no substantiation, nor do they point to anywhere I can go to find the substantiation.</p> <p> Then there’s yet another person who has contacted me about an alleged scandal at a certain public institution, and while outraged about the alleged situation, won’t provide his/her name or any proof. If you’re the one who sent an unsigned printout with a last line of “Who hired this idiot!!”, we might progress a little further to a possible story if you called or emailed me with your name and phone number, so we can talk about proof, or evidence, or attributable sources.</p> <p> Sigh.</p> <p> A story I’m not writing for the paper came from an anonymous tip from someone purporting to be a teacher in Winnipeg School Division, about the division-wide language arts exams written early last week. Some of the allegations: “What made this year’s exams interesting was the number of errors in the actual final handed out copies. Included in each batch of exams to teachers was a page of corrections. However all errors were not caught and as the students were actually writing the botched exams (sic) emails and faxes were flying between the Division braintrust and each and every school. I heard some schools did not get a complete list of corrections till after the writing was completed.”</p> <p> The tipster went on to question the competence of a whole bunch of senior people.</p> <p> So I started making calls and sending out emails.</p> <p> The division’s explanation, made through two senior officials, was that the exam was proof-read by veteran teachers three times. In the printing process, three lines of text had a few words dropped off the ends of the lines, and one word that should have been lower case was capitalized. The mistakes were caught when the printed exams were checked, and students received corrected copies of the affected lines before they started writing.</p> <p> That was all that happened, said WSD. One senior official told me the name of the teacher who had been in charge of setting the LA exam and who had done the proof reading and who caught the printing problem. Full disclosure, this teacher taught child the elder back in the day, and there are few if any better LA teachers in the province. I pit what I’ve been told by identified people on the record against an anonymous person, who also did not supply any copies of the supposed botched exams.</p> <p> I also checked with the Winnipeg Teachers Association, and so far, the union hadn’t heard of any problems from its members.</p> <p> Trustee Mike Babinsky, never one to shy away from criticizing his own division, talked to some senior people, and concluded it was a simple error that was caught and rectified.</p> <p> As Babinsky said to me: “Do you know who also makes mistakes? The Winnipeg Free Press.”</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:17d2319d-fb7d-437e-82ad-d3aa04b228fc Little school helps to save the planet http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a81918474-19db-4861-929f-bd7a80b79207&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 31 May 2012 20:20:00 GMT <p> This sounds pretty nifty, an event taking place Friday at the school out in Oak Lake west of Brandon, in Fort la Bosse School Division.<br /> <br /> The news release says, “Wind-Powered Electronic Community Message Board to be unveiled on Friday, June 1st!”<br /> <br /> OK, so let’s tell you more, remembering to footnote that I’m lifting direct quotes from the news release: “Oak Lake Community School’s new LED Community Message Board and Sign is powered by energy created by a wind turbine that has been installed on the roof of the school. The purpose of this message board is to share community and school news and events.  </p> <p> “By posting these messages in electronic, paperless format, we will be reducing our paper consumption. Powered by this clean, wind energy, the sign and turbine unit are working in tandem to support the ‘Push For Paperless’ and other sustainability initiatives at our school...This wind-powered sign project is an example of sustainable energy in action.”</p> <p> And skipping ahead a bit in the release, “We are proud to share that Tree Canada has recently selected our school as its National Winner of the ‘Green Schools, Green Futures Award’.   </p> <p> “The unveiling event and celebration for this special project will be held on Friday at 1 p.m. A short assembly will take place in the school gymnasium, with the unveiling ceremony to follow at the front entrance of the school. Light refreshments will also be served.”<br /> <br /> So there you go. Neat, eh?<br /> <br /> And now for something completely different....<br /> <br /> Here’s a reTweet from U of M that’s pretty ominous, full of doom and gloom and foreboding.<br /> <br /> If this doesn’t spark campus-wide protests, fully supported by the outraged profs, not to mention the devastated parents taking their kids to Mini-U:<br /> <br /> RT<br /> U of Manitobaa@umanitoba<br /> FYI :( RT @um_student: Starbucks in the Dafoe Library will be closed for the summer beginning June 2. It will reopen in September.<br /> <br /> Gasp!<br /> <br /> And on to other topics....<br /> <br /> I remember a few years ago when ranking schools and rating teachers were all the rage. Alas, the Fraser Institute finally concluded that the Manitoba government wasn’t compiling and releasing the school-by-school marks in every subject that the right wing think tank needed to anaylse our best and worst high schools.<br /> <br /> One of the ideas being bandied about back then came from another BC think tank, which was touting value-added education.<br /> <br /> As I recall, it ranked schools and teachers based on improvement from year to year, so that it was supposedly irrelevant whether the kids were from low-income, single-family neighbourhoods, or from upper-income families in which both parents are professionals.<br /> <br /> And I asked, wouldn’t it affect a teacher and school adversely if kids had an average of 96 in math one year and ‘only’ 94 the next?<br /> <br /> And here’s evidence of just how absurd some ranking systems can be, from The Huffington Post:<br /> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/16/carolyn-abbott-the-worst-_n_1521933.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003<br /> <br /> We’ll pause now while the right wing ideologues post their anonymous comments....<br /> <br /> How can you tell that someone discussing education is likely a right wing ideologue? When the stakeholder who’s dialoguing is calling students ‘customers’.<br /> <br /> Moving on....<br /> <br /> Urban high school soccer provincials start Friday morning at Glenlawn Collegiate and St. John’s-Ravenscourt fields. OK, so the fields aren’t technically at Glenlawn, they’re called Memorial Park, and you can be within a decent throw-in of the pitch and still be 10 minutes away, if you’re eastbound on Fermor and waiting like totally 4-eeeever to get to St. Mary’s and make the left turn.<br /> <br /> Anyway, reading the tournament rules, here’s one I’ve never seen before in soccer or any other sport. If a team is late and exceeds the grace period, it can lose the match by forfeit, which is pretty universal. But there’s also an option for a tournament official to allow the match to proceed, but to award a goal or goals to the opposing team which was ready to go on time.<br /> <br /> Seriously.<br /> <br /> Switch topics....<br /> <br /> I’ve been bombarded at work lately with emails which I’ll generalize as variations on the Nigerian prince. One of them informed me that my cheque I’d sent for $8.4 million to clear up my debts had failed to go through, and if I were to provide my banking information and to click here....<br /> <br /> One yesterday was from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, alerting me that I’d failed to receive the money to which I am entitled, because I hadn’t provided enough personal information and passwords. Here’s some of what the FBI advised me:<br /> <br /> “The New American President Barrack Obama have made way to all Americans who have not yet received their payment, In recent ages, The American experienced difficulties in receiving their funds because of the former presidents of USA, As you know quite well that Nigeria is a black country and the Past American presidents treats the blacks in the America like slaves, The White Americans practice races against the blacks and the Nigerian Government is not happy about this and this is the main reason why your payment have been delayed with one excuse or the other, Your New President Barrack Obama had a meeting with the Nigerian President some weeks ago and for the fact, Barrack Obama is a black man and will stop races in America, All Americans are eligible to receive their payment now without anymore headaches. This is a good news to you so act fast and receive your payment now without anymore delay.Please I have taken this measure, having observed and known what you have suffered  in your pursuit so far to claim Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in this transaction, you have to be rest assured for this is 100% risk free it is our duty to protect the American Citizens. All I want you to do is to contact the ATM CARD CENTER via email for their requirements to proceed and procure your Approval Slip on your behalf which will cost you $250.00 only and note that your Approval Slip which contains details of the agent who will process your transaction.”<br /> <br /> Thanks, J. Edgar, this is obviously legit, I’m hitting send on all my personal data and codes....<br /> <br /> Back to Twitter for a bit....<br /> <br /> People I’ve never heard of are following me on Twitter, but my followers’ count goes up and down on a daily basis. Could it have anything to do with my posting reTweets (am I spelling that correctly, my FP web and IT overlords?) from Pride, or maybe they’re offended by my forwarding stuff from Runner’s World along with all the education stuff.<br /> <br /> I’m following Phil Kessel, who appears to tweet about as often as he gives at-length interviews. Hang in there, 81, Burkey will find you a centre this summer, and I’ll be staking out my spot on the Bay Street parade route.<br /> <br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:81918474-19db-4861-929f-bd7a80b79207 I'm an idiot, opines soccer dad http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3ac5c9a5a4-aadc-4b5c-9eab-d21452d41060&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Sat, 19 May 2012 01:08:00 GMT <p> It wasn’t really all that much of a shock when a father called me an idiot at the soccer field last night.<br />  </p> <p> That’s pretty much par for the course, and I’m sure there’s a lot of it that I don’t hear because I’m not close enough most of the time.<br />  </p> <p> This time, I was only a few feet away, refereeing a 15-year-old girls game at the Waverley Soccer Complex. And, as a general rule of thumb, the more affluent the neighbourhood from which a team comes, the more likely I am to get this level of obnoxious behaviour.<br />  </p> <p> What was more troubling is how the girls reacted. They said and did nothing, until I stopped the match and started running back across the field to get the team’s coach.<br />  </p> <p> “Is he serious?” “Really?” “I can’t believe he’s doing this.”<br />  </p> <p> The girls had said and done nothing when the father called me an idiot — that appears to be public behaviour they consider reasonable and normal for parents. I can imagine I’d have had quite a different reaction from my kids if I’d ever pulled a stunt like that back in the day, not to mention what my wife’s reaction would have been.<br />  </p> <p> Sigh.<br />  </p> <p> The coach was pretty busy himself hollering at me, but I ran across to the bench side and told him to go across to the bleachers, get the referee liaison, and tell the father that if he opened his mouth again, that he’d be ejected from the park.<br />  </p> <p> And the coach did, one of the few times that coaches have followed WYSA protocol when I requested help, though he yapped at me for a good part of the way across the pitch.<br />  </p> <p> And this is a guy who ended up winning 6-0 — who knows what he’d be like if he lost.<br />  </p> <p> So what evil had I perpetrated to deserve all this?<br />  </p> <p> Several minutes before, his team was on the attack. A girl beat the right fullback, turned the corner and had only the keeper between herself and the net. But the attacker with the ball was way out on the wing, looked up, and saw a teammate ahead of her standing on the edge of the six-yard box. So she passed it — passed it forward, to a teammate who was ahead of her, with only one defender, namely the keeper, between the teammate and the net. And even as this girl received and kicked the ball into the net, I was calling it offside.<br /> <br /> The coach went Vesuvius, berating me over and over again. The coach — let’s call him Joe Rulebook for short — kept telling me that once you beat the second-last defender, no offside can be called.<br /> <br /> Oh.<br /> <br /> Finally, I told him I’d heard enough and that was the end of it.<br /> <br /> But only a few moments later, his team fouled in front of the bleachers, and I awarded the opponent a direct free kick. Immediately, a defender from Joe Rulebook’s team runs over and stands over the ball. I tell her to give the yards immediately, she refuses, tells me I have to count the 10 yards off, and I card her.<br />  </p> <p> And the coach erupts again.<br />  </p> <p> Meanwhile, the girl told me that the rules stipulate that she gets two warnings before I can give her a yellow.<br />  </p> <p> Oh, again.<br />  </p> <p> I bet the NHL would love that rule — Raffi Torres gets two freebies before he can get a penalty.<br />  </p> <p> And that’s when the father called me an idiot.<br />  </p> <p> The coach was all over me for giving her the yellow, chewing me out and insisting that when his player stands over the ball, that I am compelled by the rules to count off 10 yards and wait until she’s complied.<br />  </p> <p> And I pointed out to Joe Rulebook that if you look at number 12 under Laws of the Game, you’ll find a yellow for delaying the restart, and a yellow for failing to give the required distance on a free kick. And, as my assigner later told me before he called the coach’s convenor, that once the player refused the chance I gave her so charitably and generously and selflessly to move back, I could also have carded her for dissent.<br />  </p> <p> Sigh.<br /> <br /> It’s been a pretty quiet spring so far, with a few exceptions.<br />  </p> <p> Last Sunday I had 16-year-old boys, a match that’s usually more fractious and violent than an average episode of Game of Thrones, and I never came close to pulling a card.<br />  </p> <p> The next day I had a tier-two Winnipeg School Division girls match, very low skills, and I handed out five yellow cards. I don’t think I had five yellow cards for girls and women the entire indoor season, and they’re almost always for dissent in female matches, but this match was full of pushing and elbows and body checks and slide tackling, not to mention constant yapping.<br />  </p> <p> When two players both whack away at a ball near the sidelines before the ball skitters out, and I award a throw-in one way and the coach of the losing team thinks it should go the other way, and he’s a teacher and goes all spinning around on the sideline while bellowing<br /> <br /> OHHHHHHHHHHH!<br /> <br /> MYYYYYYYYYYYY!<br /> <br /> GAWWWWWWWWWWD!<br /> <br /> can it really be so surprising that his players will feel free to treat me with contempt?<br /> <br /> I had a different problem earlier this week, and I’m kicking myself — not literally, at my ancient age I’m not that flexible — for not being more assertive in a 13-year-old girls match. Nothing bad happened, but nothing much really happened anytime in the match, because the coaches on both teams spent 70 minutes yelling “Ref! Subs!”<br /> <br /> We’d barely kicked off before they started subbing, and rarely did they go more than two or three stoppages in play before subbing. Ball goes out, pause for subs, throw-in, 10 seconds later the ball goes out, girl goes to throw it in, and they’re calling for subs. They subbed three at a time, then a few seconds later, the other team wants three, and after 30 seconds or so of open play, here’s one team with a lone girl at centre, and barely have we had the restart than the other team is sending one or two to centre. If we had anywhere close to 20 minutes of open play in the first 35, I’d be amazed.<br />  </p> <p> The match had absolutely no flow, and the girls spent most of the evening either jogging on or off the field, or watching other girls jog on or off the field. I’m wishing that I’d called these guys together at the half, told them to send three at a time to centre, and I’d decide when it was an appropriate time to sub, since substituting is at my discretion.<br />  </p> <p> I know that kids are pleading and whining to go back in about 3.7 seconds after reaching the sidelines, but when my kids were 13, we kept them in the match for decent stretches of time and then they sat for a decent amount of time, so they could get into the flow of the match and play could develop a rhythm.<br />  </p> <p> And what soccer rant could be complete without a mention of the conflicting cultures of mini and youth soccer?<br />  </p> <p> Yes, my kids were five once, and they played mini soccer, but as I’ve ranted before, we set out little fields in parks and green space using cones, they didn’t require a tiny patch of an adult-sized field.<br />  </p> <p> So I’m doing a 16-year-old girls match for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff, ironically enough in the neighbourhood from whence last night’s poor wretches ventured only to be tormented by my evil, and here are four mini matches being played in the four corners of the pitch. That’s when I find out our game is pushed back to 7 p.m.<br />  </p> <p> One match wrapped up at 6:45 p.m., two others by 6:55 p.m., but the fourth, the adults only started thinking about wrapping up at 7 p.m.<br />  </p> <p> Finally, I get the girls out on the field and we’re ready to start, well after 7 p.m. And then the parents of the munchkins, who could have easily left by walking down the sidelines, some of them decided they’d just amble across the field as though they had all the time in the world, completely oblivious to the presence on the field of 22 teenagers and one old geezer with a whistle.<br />  </p> <p> A few minutes, and once again we try to kick off. But not once but twice did a couple of little munchkins grab a ball and run back on the field, kicking it among these girls who were several times their size, while their parents stood around and chatted. I went over and asked the parents whose children they were, beseeching them to take care of their kids before they got hurt, and the parents completely ignored me and kept on chatting while I managed to convince the little kids to leave the field.<br />  </p> <p> And so, finally, finally, finally, we’re ready to kick off, right?<br />  </p> <p> As if.<br /> <br /> One parent has left a beach chair sitting on the touch line while he or she chatted up other parents, and when no one would come to fetch it, I had to go over, fold it up, and take it to the sidelines.<br />  </p> <p> I mean, you know, like, come on people, eh? Seriously.<br /> <br /> I reckon that I refereed at least one match in 15 of the past 18 days, 70 to 90 minutes each, hoping that I’m getting enough cardio for next month’s half marathon.<br /> <br /> And for most of the time so far this spring, it’s been a lot of fun.<br /> <br /> I even had a coach from one high school team who told me after the match that she hopes I’ll be refereeing her master’s women’s games this summer. That, I appreciated.<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:c5c9a5a4-aadc-4b5c-9eab-d21452d41060 Russell school has a great idea http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a3eea1dad-2c8c-49e3-b9d0-7b27d8b100d2&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 02 May 2012 20:55:00 GMT <p> Major Pratt School in Russell has the neatest simple idea.<br />  </p> <p> There's a plaque in the awards display in the main lobby which  lists every grad who went on to get a PhD.<br />  </p> <p> Simple, but every student who glances at it knows what she or he can go on to achieve.<br />  </p> <p> Maybe other schools have such displays, but I’ve never seen one in the schools I’ve visited.<br />  </p> <p> Principal Tammy McCulloch says it was the idea of former principal Eldon Montgomery.<br />  </p> <p> Maybe other schools want to consider it — Vincent Massey Collegiate, our family hopes you’re reading this.<br />  </p> <p> Moving along......<br />  </p> <p> I continue to disappoint public relations firms which believe that if they fire off enough emails, and call me often enough, that I’ll cave and do a story on their clients’ projects in Winnipeg.<br />  </p> <p> The one last week, pitching a story about a store giving a school here some computer equipment, the guy in Toronto who phoned me really ought to have found out how to pronounce the name of the school before he dialled.<br />  </p> <p> Sigh.<br />  </p> <p> Some of you may have noticed that I’m now an official twit.<br />  </p> <p> I joined Twitter, using @NickMartin14. Someone thought it must be because Dave Keon was my favourite player — no, that was George Armstrong — but it’s just what Twitter assigned me.<br />  </p> <p> It’s for work purposes, and I’m still getting used to it.<br />  </p> <p> I signed up to follow Nancy Allan, but she turned out to be a teenager in California, as far as I could tell, so I unfollowed her. When I finally found the right one, I clicked follow, but several days later, it still shows ‘pending’, whereas everyone else I’ve signed up to follow happened instantly.<br />  </p> <p> I find it bizarre and more than a little distasteful that Twitter keeps suggesting I follow Jack Layton. It’s his personal account, the last posting having been shortly before his death. Maybe someone should consider archiving it or whatever is done with Twitter accounts.<br />  </p> <p> Oh, and Twitter people, that should be ‘whom to follow’.....<br />  </p> <p> Switching topics....<br />  </p> <p> Update time! Update time!<br />  </p> <p> Don’t you hate it when you read something and get like totally all interested, and then never hear about it again?<br /> <br /> So.....<br /> <br /> I wrote recently about the lurid British murder trial of Jeremy Bamber and its Winnipeg connection to a key witness. Bamber was unsuccessful in his wrongful conviction claim, and the UK courts declined to hear his appeal.<br />  </p> <p> In another matter, I trotted off to Winnipeg School Division board all pumped up about two motions being advocated by trustee Anthony Ramos, both demanding meetings with Premier Greg Selinger.<br />  </p> <p> One motion urged that trustees push Selinger for far greater resources to deal with special needs students.<br />  </p> <p> The second was for capital help in dealing with the enormous influx of new students, largely through immigration, in the division’s northwest schools.<br />  </p> <p> Come the meeting, Ramos asked without explanation that the trustees go behind closed doors to discuss his motions.<br />  </p> <p> Next day, the ubiquitous spokeswoman for the board said that once in camera, Ramos withdrew the motions, and the board did not offer any explanation when it came back into public session.<br />  </p> <p> So far, Ramos has not responded to interview requests sent to his WSD email.<br />  </p> <p> So now you know....or, you don’t know, since it all remains a mystery.<br />  </p> <p> And I ranted a little while ago about the Statistics Canada researcher on household spending who spent 170 minutes in my house making me feel like a moron, telling me that all her other interviews only took 45 minutes, and that every other loyal Canadian whom she interviewed knew the precise details of even the most obscure household spending right down to the penny.<br />  </p> <p> She followed up with two phone interviews, frustrating for her, since she didn’t supply me with the questions I’d been unable to answer to her satisfaction the first time around, and so I didn’t have answers to everything she wanted to know.<br />  </p> <p> That was a couple of weeks ago, and this weekend, on Sunday if you can believe, her supervisor called my wife for even more information, some of which involved consulting our tax records.<br />  </p> <p> And I still want to know, does StatsCan seriously insist that all of this can be done in 45 minutes, if I weren’t a completely incompetent moron?<br />  </p> <p> Sigh.<br />  </p> <p> I did a high school match last night, the girls and young women were pretty skilled and handled themselves well, not many fouls and very little chirping.<br />  </p> <p> On the other hand, the spectator side was a real treat.<br />  </p> <p> To the crowds of loud young men, the 1950s called, and they want their gender stereotypes back.<br />  </p> <p> The parents could learn something from their daughters’ deportment, particularly the one mother who was on me the entire match for, of all things, my calls on players who lifted their foot off the ground or who stepped way out onto the field while making throw-ins.<br />  </p> <p> Alas, there are no referee liaisons in high school soccer, and the teachers were all over on the teams’ sidelines.<br />  </p> <p> Harumph.<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:3eea1dad-2c8c-49e3-b9d0-7b27d8b100d2 Not that old guy with the whistle again this year! http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3ae5a186a2-45cb-48b4-8cf6-4ef9feb2fa50&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 30 Apr 2012 20:48:00 GMT <p> I have some really bad news for you — I passed my soccer refereeing fitness test.<br />  </p> <p> Pause while you have a hissy fit, then collapse in despair at the injustice of this wretched world.<br />  </p> <p> I ran the fitness test about 150 metres more than the distance required in 12 minutes for old people without feeling any great need to push myself or do a finishing kick, so I’ll be refereeing again this year.<br />  </p> <p> I did a high school game last week, and have my first youth match this evening, first of six days I’ll ref this week.<br />  </p> <p> When we were doing our refreshers, both classroom and on the field, I was thinking that I should bring up some amendments to the rules, but then realized it’s better left to the annual meetings of the various associations.<br />  </p> <p> My first motion is that parents who wish to say anything from the sidelines other than “Huzzah my child!” or “Bravely squib-kicked, blood of my blood!” should be required to take a rules test and get at least a B before being allowed any closer than the parking lot. And regardless of the parents’ overall mark, a fail would be automatic for anything less than perfection in questions involving offside, hand to ball, and ball to hand.<br />  </p> <p> Sigh.<br />  </p> <p> Coaches, you’ve had about five weeks to rest your lungs since indoor season ended. Difference now is that it’s tougher to make your innovative cries of “There are two teams on the field!” audible over such a large field, with the wind invariably howling, and the effect of age on my hearing.<br />  </p> <p> Yes, coaches, I’m aware that I’m the only referee in all of creation who enforces that silly rule requiring players to have identification cards certifying that they are who they purport to be and are eligible to play. And, oh yes, absolutely, I know that I’m the only referee anywhere on the planet who enforces that even pettier rule that bans the wearing of jewellery and the taping over of jewellery.<br />  </p> <p> Let’s just agree that I’m a fiend.<br />  </p> <p> Who’s going to be the first coach to tell me that he/she is filing a formal complaint about my calls and telling me I’ll never referee again? Wow, quite a show of hands.<br />  </p> <p> My second motion is that any coach making such a threat and then not following through with a formal complaint, should be required to sit out the next game.<br />  </p> <p> Parents, two of you are going to enjoy an aerobic workout free of charge at each match. If you’re inexperienced enough not to stay in your car until the match has started — the parents in Whyte Ridge could hold a clinic on that art — then the coach or manager may very well come over before kickoff to hand you a flag. This is my flag, and I get it back after the match, preferably handed to me as we shake hands, or set down next to my bag, rather than being thrown at me.<br />  </p> <p> When you have the flag, your job is to hold it straight up in the air whenever the ball goes completely out of play. Not on the line, completely over the line. Don’t point in a direction unless I ask you for help. And no, you don’t get to call offsides or fouls, just balls out of play. That’s it, that’s all there is to your job, you’re a press-ganged volunteer helping your kids enjoy their match.<br />  </p> <p> You are not a match official. Even if you know the signals for offside and fouls, you don’t get to make those signals, because if you do, I’ll conclude you’re trying to make me look inept to the entire park — I need no help to do that, I can do it all by myself, thank you very much — and I’ll give the flag to someone else.<br />  </p> <p> You don’t get special dispensation to yell at me, I don’t have to explain my calls to you, you just get to grasp the flag and run up and down the sidelines in concert with the ball and get a better view than anyone else. Sure, if the sun is shining in your eyes, you can trade sidelines at halftime with the other person. But no, you can’t do the lines while sitting in your lawn chair. And yes, I do insist on an adult, even if the coaches assure me that the seven-year-old to whom he’s given the flag is better qualified than anyone else on the spectator side.<br />  </p> <p> Finally, for the kids — alas, no, I won’t clear the field of goose poop prior to kickoff, although you’re free, and in fact encouraged, to organize your parents to do so. And let’s try waiting until at least three minutes past kickoff before asking me how much time is left in the half.<br />  </p> <p> But as for texting while you’re playing midfield, um, no, gosh, I don’t see anything in the rule book about not allowing that.<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:e5a186a2-45cb-48b4-8cf6-4ef9feb2fa50 WSD not involved in gym planning? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a60f6e757-4723-4791-b9ab-812007ce24ce&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 26 Apr 2012 18:21:00 GMT <p> Today’s story about the Selinger government allowing corporate fundraising for a school capital project certainly raises some issues about just where the province may draw the line. You can read it at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/corporations-tapped-for-school-gym-149015225.html<br />  </p> <p> We’ll examine that part of the story another day.<br />  </p> <p> Right now, I’m scratching my head over Winnipeg School Division’s insistence that so far it’s not involved in the gym campaign as a school board or a senior administration.<br />  </p> <p> WSD, you’ll recall, is one of the most, if not the most, top-down-controlling public institutions in Manitoba.<br />  </p> <p> Colleen McFadden, the River Heights mother and activist who’s been campaigning tirelessly for a gym for Queenston School for the past seven years, says WSD has been in the loop all along, and that “Anything we’ve done has been approved by the division.”<br />  </p> <p> WSD, on the other hand, says that the campaign to raise $450,000 to expand the planned gym is being handled strictly between the Queenston School Gymnasium Committee headed by McFadden, and the Queenston School administration, headed by principal Wade Gregg.<br />  </p> <p> The board of trustees has not been involved so far, and neither has the senior administration been involved.<br />  </p> <p> That information comes from school board chair Rita Hildahl, and from the ubiquitous WSD spokeswoman responding on behalf of senior administration.<br />  </p> <p> Hildahl said that trustees’ first formal involvement was Tuesday evening, when she and fellow south end trustees Jackie Sneesby and Mark Wasyliw were invited as a courtesy to a community meeting about fundraising.<br />  </p> <p> Does this strike anyone as maybe just a tad...let’s be charitable and generous here....disingenuous?<br />  </p> <p> A division that is so hands-on and top-down on so many issues, is taking a hands-off approach to a precedent-setting private campaign involving a major capital project for which the school has been waiting since it opened in 1931?<br />  </p> <p> All these ordinary citizens and the Central Corydon Community Centre are working to raise $450,000, and the board and division say they haven’t signed off, haven’t even formally considered, are not so far involved in any way, in what these people would like to do? There’s nothing from WSD to say it will go along with the residents’ plans, if they do come up with the cash? All these people are working to raise the money by June 30 to add 800 square feet to the gym, 200 square feet to the foyer, and 100 square feet to the storage area, and WSD is saying that the trustees and superintendents are leaving it up to the principal to handle.<br />  </p> <p> It boggles the mind.<br /> <br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:60f6e757-4723-4791-b9ab-812007ce24ce Seven years, not a word about school safety http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3ada591333-3ede-45d3-900c-37286e6e22ef&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 20 Apr 2012 21:39:00 GMT <p> Saturday is an anniversary, seven years since Safe Schools Manitoba severed our professional relationship.<br />  </p> <p> It was April 21, 2005, when Safe Schools Manitoba said that it would no longer be granting me interviews or having anything to do with the Free Press.<br />  </p> <p> Since that time, Safe Schools Manitoba — which is housed in the Manitoba School Boards Association offices, and funded by the department of education, Manitoba justice, and the RCMP — has been true to its word.<br />  </p> <p> I, and as far as I know, the entire Winnipeg Free Press, have received nary a syllable of information or notification these past seven years from Safe Schools Manitoba about any of its programs, services, or events, or its positions on or advice upon any issue of school safety.<br />  </p> <p> Our go-to school safety person remains Keith Thomas, risk manager for the MSBA, and beyond Thomas, school division superintendents remain an excellent source of information about school safety.<br />  </p> <p> Ironically, I am on the mailing list for Safe Schools Saskatchewan, which appears to be quite active and on top of school safety issues.<br />  </p> <p> And which talks to me.<br />  </p> <p> Switching topics...<br />  </p> <p> I’ve had two recent news releases from universities outside Manitoba alerting me to the results of major research studies.<br />  </p> <p> One found that aboriginal students will do better in school if they have the support of their parents, schools, and communities...gosh, who could have foreseen that?<br />  </p> <p> The second concluded that people are more likely to turn the light off as they leave the bathroom, if there is a sign telling them to turn off the light.<br />  </p> <p> No, seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.<br />  </p> <p> Meanwhile.....<br />  </p> <p> Two things I’ve learned recently from listening to the people’s national network: my Mighty Maples last won a Stanley Cup in 1964, and supporting the bazillionaire Boston Red Sox constitutes cheering for the underdog.<br />  </p> <p> You want me to elaborate? Sorry, we’ll have to leave it there....<br />  </p> <p> Moving right along....<br />  </p> <p> This has been quite a week for complaints. The grief I took over my story last weekend while on general assignment shift on the reconciliation ceremony involving Phil Fontaine and three other aboriginal men adopting Archbishop James Weisgerber brought down on me some of the most heated personal attacks I’ve received in quite a while. You can read the story at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/archbishop-delights-in-his-new-brothers-147546535.html<br />  </p> <p> And I’m trying to remember when last a journalist from another media organization contacted one of my colleagues to complain about my story, before it was published, and to try to influence what we published.<br />  </p> <p> Then there was a guy calling from Ireland about my story reporting the Winnipeg link to a sensational British murder/alleged wrongful conviction case. I can’t really get into that phone call very much without publishing all kinds of unsubstantiated allegations. He purports to speak for a miscarriage of justice group that thinks the convicted murderer is guilty. You can read the story at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/city-woman-key-witness-if-uk-judge-allows-appeal-148056175.html.<br />  </p> <p> Closer to home, a professor at Canadian Mennonite University not only wants far more coverage of CMU — that’s not a shock — but also wants CMU treated the same as U of M and U of W, and not just only mentioned when I discuss private schools.<br />  </p> <p> I told that professor that I’m afraid I’ll continue to be a disappointment. The hard reality is, CMU is a private school, as are Providence, Booth, and Steinbach, and I’m betting Providence would argue it’s a larger school than CMU. CMU is far smaller than UM, or UW. I don’t include BU and UCN in every story, and Assiniboine Community College gets far less attention than Red River College. When we look at anything systemic or anything involving more than one school, we can’t include every postsecondary institution in the province in every story, and we haven’t even started talking about all the worthy adult training programs.<br />  </p> <p> Whoops, time to switch topics.....<br />  </p> <p> If I worked for Bridgestone Tires, I might consider running those new commercials with Drew Doughty promoting winter tires a tad earlier than late April. Which, it goes without saying, proves once again why I’m not working in management or marketing.<br />  </p> <p> And those ubiquitous Moxie’s commercials with the really annoying music, what those commercials tell me is that I’m 30 years too old, maybe 35, to set foot in a Moxie’s.<br />  </p> <p> Switching gears.....<br />  </p> <p> I appreciate being copied on complaints sent to MP Candice Hoeppner about a federal government agency, but why in the world would you then put a note at the bottom telling both Hoeppner and myself to keep your name anonymous? Somehow, I don’t think you quite grasp the concept.<br />  </p> <p> And finally....<br />  </p> <p> It was inevitable that texting twits would spread their obnoxious selves to my gym.<br />  </p> <p> I’m in the men’s locker room at the Reh-Fit — btw, why are people allowed to use camera-equipped electronic devices in the locker room? — and this guy in his 40s has finished getting dressed, spreads his bag and towels and stuff out to cover an entire bench, and stands there texting. And texting. And texting. He’s completely oblivious to all the other guys around him, trying to get around him to get into their lockers, and being forced to take their own stuff to the other side of the room, because he’s hogging all this space. And with a perfectly good lounge barely a 15-second walk away.<br />  </p> <p> And as rude and selfish as some people can be in trying to tie up a machine, here’s this young bodybuilder sitting on a weight machine, not resting between sets, but texting. And when I returned from doing 30 reps on another machine, he’s still texting.<br />  </p> <p> Sigh.<br />  </p> <p> Btw, to some of the young bodybuilders who enjoy the Reh-Fit, if you ever glance around the locker room, you’ll notice that the vast majority of members are aged from 50 to somewhere north of 90. If you ever emerge from your self-centred world long enough, you might notice that our vocabulary while in the locker room is devoid of some of your favourite phraseology, such as %&^%$#, (*&^%**!!!!, “+)*$$%#@, and especially *(*^%$@^*+__.<br />  </p> <p> Harumph.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:da591333-3ede-45d3-900c-37286e6e22ef Some workers paused, others not so much http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a25298823-e915-4d20-9d58-6d54b5cbaa3a&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 13 Apr 2012 18:35:00 GMT <p> It seems like such a simple question: are teachers subject to the two-year ‘wage pause’ that the Selinger government wants for all public sector workers?<br />  </p> <p> You may have read my story about the potential strike at U of M by non-teaching support workers, which you can find at<br /> http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/support-staff-at-odds-with-u-of-m-over-wage-freeze-146945985.html.<br />  </p> <p> Going beyond the somewhat bizarre situation in which U of M says it is offering more than the AESES union is asking — and for the vast majority of us who aren’t expert in labour law and bargaining, U of M seems to have a case — and that AESES is threatening to go on strike with a 55 per cent strike mandate and with barely half the membership voting, going beyond all that, the bargaining opens up a big can of worms.<br />  </p> <p> Both sides confirm that Lloyd Schreyer, the province’s secretary to the cabinet compensation committee, attended the last bargaining session a week ago Thursday, and urged them to follow the province’s wishes for a zero increase in the first two years of any deal.<br />  </p> <p> U of M is offering zero, zero, 2.9 and 2.9, plus $215,000 to be divvied up by means yet to be determined. The union rejects any two-year freeze or pause or whatever euphemism is in vogue today, and wants zero, 2.9, zero, 2.9. Outside observers who don’t bargain for a living may be forgiven for seeing a hint or two of common ground to be found.<br />  </p> <p> When I asked the province about Schreyer, and about a two-year public sector wage freeze, here’s what I heard back from one senior aide to the cabinet: “To start, we have been successful at negotiating a two year wage pause in several of the major collective agreements that were signed following the economic downturn. There were some multi-year collective agreements that were signed prior to the downturn, without a wage pause, that are coming up for negotiation now.<br />  </p> <p> “We continue to encourage the broader public sector to exercise restraint when it comes to negotiating wage settlement agreements through collective bargaining process.<br />             </p> <p>  </p> <p> “During this time, we’re also leading by example. Our ministers have taken a 20 per cent pay cut from their salaries each year until we return to balance and all MLAs have had a pay freeze for the past two years. As you’ve probably heard, we made the decision to continue this pay freeze for an additional two years.”<br />  </p> <p> OK, but it didn’t really answer the question, which comes as no shock.<br />  </p> <p> Looking around, I’ve seen the two-year wage freeze pop up in a lot of public sector contracts, though, as U of M pointed out, it hasn’t always been achieved at the bargaining table.<br />  </p> <p> What I don’t see is the two-year wage pause showing up in teachers’ contracts.<br />  </p> <p>  </p> <p> So far, 28 divisions have settled new deals at identical terms — two phased-in retroactive raises of 1.5 per cent each for the 2010-2011 school year (already receding in history), followed by two per cent increases to be paid each of the following three years on four-year deals that will expire June 30, 2014. Anyone spot a freeze in there?<br />  </p> <p> So I asked if I could have a quick interview with Premier Greg Selinger, Finance Minister Stan Struthers, or Education Minister Nancy Allan. I’d put forth simple queries: does the two-year wage pause apply to teachers, and if not, why not?<br />  </p> <p> And no matter how often I put the question or rephrased it, the response was....um....would it be unfair to call it obfuscation?<br />  </p> <p> Here’s an example: “We are not directly involved in the collective bargaining agreements for teachers — but we respect the process.  Like previously mentioned — we encourage restraint when going through this process. This is why we are trying to lead by example. Our Ministers have taken a 20 per cent pay cut and the MLA wage freeze is extending.”<br />  </p> <p> Well, the province isn’t directly involved in the bargaining for postsecondary employees either, but they appear to be paused.<br />  </p> <p> And when I was so rude as to ask the direct question about teachers yet again, came the response: “I’d like to reiterate what I said yesterday — the province is not directly involved in the collective bargaining agreements for teachers. Having said that, we are encouraging all in the public sector to show restraint when working through the bargaining process. Please use this as a comment for your story.”<br />  </p> <p> So Greg, Stan, Nancy — are teachers subject to the two-year wage pause, and if not, why not?<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:25298823-e915-4d20-9d58-6d54b5cbaa3a I'm a great disappointment to Statistics Canada http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a99f06edc-903a-4a68-84cb-cc06cd84b432&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 10 Apr 2012 22:18:00 GMT <p> It’s rare that at my age and with my confident feeling of competence and empowerment, that I can be reduced to feeling like a completely incompetent moron.</p> <p> But that’s how I felt last week, sitting on the sofa in my own living room, after close to three hours with a Statistics Canada researcher.</p> <p> It started the week before when I was out of town. My wife told me we’d received a letter from StatsCan, informing us we’d been selected randomly for an extensive survey interview on household spending. SC wanted to talk to the adult who did the majority of handling the finances — the curse of my proclaiming my ability in math coming back to haunt me.</p> <p> I was barely home from my trip last Monday when a woman came to the door, brandishing her StatsCan ID. She told me she’d be the one interviewing me, and that we had to set up an appointment for the earliest possible date.</p> <p> So we arranged that she would come to the house two evenings hence. She said she’d conduct it on-line, and that it would take 45 minutes.</p> <p> My mistake was in going back immediately to what I had been doing before she knocked on the door, and in not reading the letter.</p> <p> Come Wednesday evening, SC arrived, set up a laptop and a mic for recording, with a notebook by her side. She gave me a booklet of questions to follow along, which covered some of the areas with which I was to deal, answering verbally to her spoken questions, while she typed in my responses. And she propped up a little sign so I’d know the inclusive dates if asked about the last month, last three months, last 12 months.</p> <p> And away we went, covering an enormously-wide range of personal data and spending.</p> <p> It soon bogged down. I can’t remember where we first went off the tracks, but it may have been on utilities. Hydro and gas are on the same bill, and I had a fairly good idea how much we spend on each, though it varies by the month, and I certainly don’t know how much we spend to the penny. But SC wanted to know, and I had to go fetch the last bill.</p> <p> Same with phones, and Internet, and cable. Knowing roughly how much the bundle costs us each month didn’t cut it — it had to be to the penny, and broken down into how much we spend on each. SC seemed taken aback that I wouldn’t know this off the top of my head, and that she had to wait while I fetched the bill.</p> <p> Same with water. There, I reported a credit on the last bill, because I’d finally gotten my act together and had taken the little card, read the meter in the corner of the basement, and phoned the numbers in to the city. I suggested that a credit would skew the data, that I should be reporting how much we’d paid for the water we used, rather than reporting our net benefit for finally getting away from an estimated bill. But a credit it would be.</p> <p> And on and on. Knowing we spend about 65 bucks on something wasn’t enough — I had to track down the document that said it’s $66.24.</p> <p> As the range of topics broadened and became quite eclectic, the clock ticked on inexorably, and time after time I told SC that I didn’t know how much we spend. And she began telling me, over and over again, that everyone else she interviews knows these numbers, that these interviews usually take 45 minutes and never, not ever more than 75 minutes, and we’d barely begun.</p> <p> And I began feeling stupid and frustrated.</p> <p> SC would make a note in pen on a pad each time there was something I didn’t know. And she’d look at me and say, “You’ll have this number when I call you back next week.” And it wasn’t a question, it was a statement.</p> <p> Or she would say, “You will ask your wife and you’ll have that number when I call you back next week.” And it wasn’t a question.</p> <p> As we passed an hour, her observation that every other respondent knows this information and that they’re done in 45 minutes came more and more frequently.</p> <p> I won’t take you through it all, but let’s toss out a few examples.</p> <p> Do you know to the penny how much you spent on haircuts in a given period? Do you know how much your spouse spent? You do? And I thought I was anal, and I sure didn’t know the dollars and cents our house spends.</p> <p> Do you know how much you spent in your last mortgage payment on individual principal and individual interest, broken down to the penny? No, not ballpark numbers, precisely? Why on Earth wouldn’t I have those numbers memorized, those numbers that change with every miniscule shift of principal paid down?</p> <p> Because our adult children have been at home for at least 30 days in the past year, they’re part of it.</p> <p> No, I don’t know how much my daughter spent on clothing in the past three months, or how much her cell phone bill was. No, I don’t know how much my son has spent taking the bus and ferry from Victoria to Vancouver and back a couple of times since he started at UVic last summer.</p> <p> And even after I told SC that there’s no way that my kids can take the time to compile that information during final exams, she told me, over and over, “You will get that information from your son/daughter and have the number for me when I phone you next week.”</p> <p> My wife bought a couple of cordless phones when our main floor phone died. I don’t know how much they cost, though apparently every other Canadian would know. And, it goes without saying, another note, another admonition to ask my wife and have the number ready for next week’s call.</p> <p> I know ballpark what we spend on groceries, but I don’t memorize the bills, nor do I keep them. Each week one or both of us goes to some combination of the supermarket, the fruit and vegetable shop, sometimes the fish shop...and I’m to come up with a figure for the last month. Do any of you keep all those bills, and have them all together in a handy place with a running total? Really? In which parallel universe do you live?</p> <p> Do you know how much you spent on taxis in the past three months, or on hotels in the past year? Apparently most people have that in their heads.</p> <p> How often have I been on a commuter bus and commuter train in the past three months? Well, we don’t have them in Winnipeg, but yes, I did happen to be on the GO Bus and GO Train when in Upper Canada the week before, when it was cheaper to take the GO Bus than to park my rental close to the Air Canada Centre. But surely that would skew the data, since I hadn’t been on GO in years and have no idea when I’ll be on GO again. But yes, I will figure out the fares and have that ready when SC calls me this week.</p> <p> Alcohol? No, I don’t know if my wife had a glass of wine when she went out with one of her friends for dinner in the last three months, and if she did, how much she spent. Another jotted note, another admonition.</p> <p> My own alcohol consumption? Again, surely that would skew the data, since I’d had microbrewed draft at Hot Belly Mama’s in Peterborough and C’Est What near the St. Lawrence Market, since I was walking or getting back to my lodging by GO. That’s something I’d never do in Winnipeg on a weekday and rarely on weekends, it’s not typical household spending, but no matter. And I’m to look up how much I spent and be ready when she phones.</p> <p> StatsCan wants to know how much each of us has spent on footwear in the past three months. How much have we spent on gifts of footwear to people who aren’t members of the household?</p> <p> Why don’t I know how much we paid the handyman to fix the dripping tap or broken screen door last year? Why don’t I know how much my wife paid someone to paint the trim around our shutters?</p> <p> We moved the discussion into vacation properties. Yes, we do own non-motorized watercraft, not purchased within the past 12 months. It was of vital interest to Statistics Canada to document that one kayak was red and the other yellow — seriously.</p> <p> We went through the red kayak — no, we don’t have to register it, no, we don’t require a licence, no, we don’t pay a docking fee. And then we did the same list of questions for the yellow kayak, and then went through it all again for the ancient canoe that had been gifted to us.</p> <p> We were well into the third hour, she’d jotted down dozens of notes on items requiring further information, and I’d lost count of how many times SC had said in disbelief that this never takes more than 75 minutes.</p> <p> I told her I’d have to spend the long weekend tracking down all these figures she craved, and she seemed genuinely surprised that it wouldn’t take me more than a few minutes.</p> <p> As amazing as it seems to anyone who knows me, I eventually let my irritation show, and when for the umpteenth time she told me to get a number and have it ready when she calls this week, I allowed an edge to creep into my tone and told her I’d have it ready, that I’m well aware that Statistics Canada can prosecute me if I don’t provide the information she wants on whatever item it was. And she looked surprised and said, no, we wouldn’t charge you over that.</p> <p> I did have the impertinence towards the end to comment on what she didn’t ask me. StatsCan wants to know how much we spent on getting our little dog with the tangly fur groomed in the past year — astoundingly, I didn’t know — but has no interest in knowing if we subscribe to a newspaper or magazine. StatsCan doesn’t care how much we spend in a year on performing arts, on tickets for the theatre and opera and ballet and movies, how much we spend visiting art galleries. StatsCan has no interest in how much we spent going to see the Jets — I wish — or Blue Bombers, or Goldeyes, or how much I spent watching the Leafs and Raptors the week before after quaffing those microbrewed drafts whose price I haven’t committed to memory.</p> <p> It took us 170 minutes.</p> <p> I can’t believe that 45 minutes would even be sufficient for SC to read out all the questions, but apparently every other Canadian respondent does it in 45 minutes to 75 minutes max. Only I alone among this country’s populace can’t do it.</p> <p> At one point, her concerned husband called to see if she was OK, it was taking so long.</p> <p> When we were pretty much done, SC asked for my consent for her to access our tax records from Revenue Canada, even though she’d already asked about earnings. And my consent would not be in writing, either. What federal privacy legislation is there that allows me to give verbal consent for her to get into my wife’s and adult children’s taxes? I’m betting child the elder would at the very least get a paper for law school out of it, if he tried. Maybe he’d take StatsCan to court, for course credit. But I digress.</p> <p> The evening ended with my feeling like a total idiot. She undertook to email me her list of dozens of items on which she needed additional information. And she told me again that no one had ever taken more than 75 minutes, because everyone else who gets interviewed knows this information.</p> <p> I don’t want to come off here sounding like one of those libertarian yahoos who believes the government has no right to know anything about me. I’m not an anti-government survivalist living off the grid in a log cabin hidden off somewhere in the mountains. I know that there are many legitimate reasons for reseachers to require accurate and comprehensive data.</p> <p> But, to quote Linus in Peanuts, I felt somewhat akin to a fool.</p> <p> When my wife got home and I told her what had happened, she put the obvious question to me — why had I gone through this, since it was voluntary?</p> <p> Doh.</p> <p> As Linus said...</p> <p> We looked at the letter, the first time I’d read it, and then went on line at the StatsCan site, and there it was. It was entirely my call to consent voluntarily to this interview, I’d be a swell guy and it would be really cool if I helped out StatsCan, but it was completely voluntary on my part.</p> <p> And yes, there are a few survey topics that are compulsory, and you can be charged if you don’t co-operate, but household spending isn’t one of them.</p> <p> Sigh.</p> <p> SC called me back the following day. Her supervisor was equally amazed at how long I’d taken, and at how much I didn’t know off the top of my head. But the supervisor wouldn’t allow her to email me the questions, fearing the email could fall into the wrong hands — StatsCan’s questions were the national security issue, not my answers — and furthermore, the supervisor had decided I could give estimates rather than precise figures to the penny.</p> <p> That’s when I told her that I hadn’t seen the letter when she came to my door the first time, that I was unaware that it was voluntary, and that she had not asked if I was willing to be interviewed, she’d instead told me that I had to arrange the appointment with her right away. SC told me that she assumes everyone has read the letter and that it’s up to me to raise it if I don’t want to co-operate.</p> <p> And I felt even worse than I did before.</p> <p> Now I await her phone call. I still don’t know what purpose some of these data could possibly have, or why StatsCan wants to know trivia but doesn’t care about significant household spending.</p> <p> Sigh.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:99f06edc-903a-4a68-84cb-cc06cd84b432 Wasyliw not eager to join the club http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3afba484c0-457a-436b-94c8-8a1be3a8f453&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 05 Apr 2012 18:53:00 GMT <p> OK, so we’ve established that Mark Wasyliw isn’t shy.</p> <p>  </p> <p> The outspoken rookie Winnipeg School Division trustee was back in the paper again this week, advocating that the province’s largest division undertake extensive recognition of the history and impact of residential schools. You can read it at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/residential-schools-put-in-spotlight-146234415.html.<br />  </p> <p> In the last month, I’ve heard Wasyliw on the CBC criticizing the board’s budget for what he says is a lack of appropriate resources for special needs children. There was a recorded vote on the budget, and Wasyliw, Mike Babinsky, and Jackie Sneesby voted against it.<br />  </p> <p> Then Wasyliw got in all kinds of trouble for his ill-advised remarks about alleged violence in North End schools, for which he apologized and for which the rest of the board censured him.</p> <p>  </p> <p> Wasyliw’s notice of motion about educating kids and the community about residential schools comes up on the board agenda April 16, and assuming he gets a seconder, will be debated and voted upon May 7.</p> <p>  </p> <p> Wasyliw sent me a copy of his motion, and when I called him about it, he told me that, no, he hadn’t told his colleagues about it yet.</p> <p>  </p> <p> Oh.</p> <p>  </p> <p> I remember a few years ago when current board chair Rita Hildahl was new to the board, and filed a notice of motion calling on WSD to get rid of the remaining smoking zones on school property. I saw it posted on the division wesbite and called her for an interview, which she gave me. Next board meeting, the world came down on Hildahl’s head, led by (former) trustee Roman Yereniuk. It was a major transgression for anyone who wanted to be a member of the club, to give a media interview before the board had dealt with the issue.</p> <p>  </p> <p> Anyway, Wasyliw doesn’t seem particularly worried about what the rest of the board may say.</p> <p>  </p> <p> Wasyliw told me he plans to be another Babinsky, who’s been speaking his mind going on 17 years now, though not winning many popularity contests within the board. Babinsky, who’s definitely not a member of the club, has never been chair of a major committee.</p> <p>  </p> <p> What’s different about Wasyliw is that he’s a card-carrying N-Dipper, proudly proclaiming the NDP’s endorsement when he ran in the by-election a few months back. While it’s possible to get into the club without being a member of the NDP — Anita Neville, Joyce Bateman, Hildahl, for example — I can’t recall any New Democrat so eager to stand outside looking in.</p> <p>  </p> <p> “The atmosphere is very much about message control, controlling the message so there’s no controversy,” Wasyliw told me earlier this week.</p> <p>  </p> <p> We had a talk in which I filled him in about the board’s decision a few years back to deny the public access to the agenda and its accompanying reports ahead of meetings. Those agenda packages used to be available to anyone who wanted them on the Friday prior to the Monday night meetings. Now, spectators get a skeletal agenda at the meeting that doesn’t really tell them much.</p> <p>  </p> <p> And I filled Wasyliw in on the board’s decision years back to stop publishing correspondence and the names and addresses of correspondents on the public agenda, even when people demanded, in writing, significant policy changes of the board. That ban came about because of a story I wrote during the anti-homophobia education debate in 1999. Two men — one a senior civil servant, the other a business person and former professional athlete — threatened to pull their children out of public schools and move them into private schools unless WSD abandoned its anti-homophobia plans. Both men freaked when they realized that their demands were on the public record, and the trustees reacted to their howls of dismay by soon thereafter eliminating correspondence from the public documents.</p> <p>  </p> <p> Wasyliw says he expects to be outspoken about WSD issues and about board business. You won’t hear me discouraging him.<br />  </p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:fba484c0-457a-436b-94c8-8a1be3a8f453 Radio hailed the video stars http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a58b1742e-6ad9-4392-a35d-620eb33f577b&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 03 Apr 2012 20:59:00 GMT <p> I was on the campus of McMaster University Saturday morning when the sun was barely starting to come up, which is not how I’d envisaged being on vacation in Upper Canada.</p> <p> But it was a hoot.</p> <p> McMaster is another of the growing list of Canadian universities with which our family has some connection, child the elder having worked there for a while last summer, and will again for part of the upcoming summer. I wasn’t getting paid for being at Mac, though, to be fair, Gord bought my Timmy’s neither-neither and my raisin scone.</p> <p> Having started the week by visiting child the younger in Peterborough, I had worked my way down to Hamilton to visit my friend Gord, formerly (twice) of Winnipeg. Gord is in his 70s, and had moved out here in the 90s, and then moved back here several years ago.</p> <p> Gord had really liked Winnipeg, it was the first place he’d been comfortable in being totally out, but ultimately had decided he’d make his final permanent move back to his hometown, encouraged in no small part by the state of Winnipeg’s rental market.</p> <p> So what were we doing skulking around a major university early on a Saturday morning?</p> <p> Gord has two radio shows on the Mac station. No, he’s not a student, but he does a Wednesday show on community issues — think of a mellower Nick Ternette speaking far more slowly and exceedingly more quietly — and a Saturday morning show at 8 a.m. on movies.</p> <p> Gord managed movie theatres for many years, and if you’ve ever been in a conversation with us, you’ll know that every sentence is likely to contain a line from a movie. But I digress.</p> <p> I’ve never paid all that much attention to campus radio stations, --- here come the nasty comments ---  and was a little surprised that a non-student would have two shows. Gord told me that there aren’t enough students eager to be on the air to cover all slots, especially at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Gosh, who could have foreseen that?</p> <p> Anyway, we go into the student centre, and down in the basement is a pretty spiffy little radio station. No tech on duty, Gord was it, and I was quite impressed watching him work the board and pop CDs in and out, avoiding the dreaded dead air.</p> <p> When we got there, there was a previously-recorded local program going, involving some kind of conspiracy theorists. Gord said they often discussed UFOs, but alas, this particular Saturday they were ranting on about conspiracies involving the federal reserve in the U.S., and Obama and Israel plotting against Iran. Oh well, your student ancillary fees at work, I guess.</p> <p> The guy following Gord is a retired teacher named Jim who does a program on folk music, which would have had me doing Phil Ochs karaoke had I been in control of the mic.</p> <p> We talked for two hours, and it went amazingly quickly. Gord had planned a discussion of our favourite crime, western, and 50s sci-fi flicks, interspersed with his playing music from a whole whack of films. It was wonderful to have the studio filled with the main theme from Once Upon a Time in the West just before I expounded brilliantly and eloquently on Sergio Leone’s masterpiece.</p> <p> A great time in Hamilton. Yes, that is so totally not a contradiction in terms, and if you’ve never had the opportunity to appreciate some of the neat places in Hamilton, such as Gage Park or the workers’ labour museum or Chester’s Beers of the World, or the views of the lake and of Burlington Bay as you do the 30-km Around the Bay race, the loss is yours.</p> <p> I must acknowledge that there seemed to be a shortage of stories in town while I was there, about Jim Balsillie's bringing an NHL team....but I digress.</p> <p> We drove from Mac to Mount Hope airport on the edge of town, listening to Jim’s folk music show on the campus station, to where we met my old friends Jim and Barb, who’d driven in from Brantord, to visit the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.</p> <p> I’d somehow never been there before. I won’t get maudlin here about my late father the RAF pilot, I’ll save that for Nov. 11 one of these years, but it’s a huge though unprepossessing museum in which you can appreciate Canada’s military history and the tragedy of lost youth, without feeling pressured to having to buy into contemporary government foreign policy while you’re doing it.</p> <p> I learned things in the display area which I’d never known before, about which you may read one of these days. Yes, there were Winnipeg connections.</p> <p> The museum has more than two dozen airplanes, all able to fly, all from wartime vintage, trainers, fighters, bombers.</p> <p> I’d never seen a Spitfire or a Hurricane outside of the U.K. before, and I’d never before seen a Lancaster. They’re enormous, yet the space for the humans inside was so tiny.</p> <p> The Lancaster is designated the Mynarski Lancaster, in honour of Winnipeg’s Andrew Mynarski, V.C., yet in all the biographical information displayed about his life and about his sacrifice while saving a friend, there is only one reference to Winnipeg, and you really have to look for it. That's just not right.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:58b1742e-6ad9-4392-a35d-620eb33f577b Upper Canada beckons, and lots of other stuff http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a996a5b70-e151-445c-be75-e27bc6a3c9eb&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 26 Mar 2012 01:43:00 GMT <p> Once again you’ll have to try to survive without me for a week.</p> <p> One of the things about being old is that you’ve been around long enough to get heaps of vacation, so I’m off for Upper Canada. Among the activities planned, child the younger and I will be going to see my Mighty Maples, not currently bound for Stanley Cup glory.</p> <p> Sigh.</p> <p> This bizarre weather had me really off balance. I thought I’d go over to Toronto Island one afternoon to rent a bicycle...but meanwhile, back on the planet’s surface, it’s still March. The ferry doesn’t go to Centre Island until mid-April, only to Ward’s Island where people live, so chances are there won’t be any bikes for rent.</p> <p> But you came here to hear about education, didn’t you?</p> <p> The four public meetings in Garden Valley School Division last week drew 142 people total to discuss how kids will be divvied up between the old and the new high school in Winkler.</p> <p> The one I attended was super-civil. People asked reasonable questions, and no one was having a hissy fit or going all squirrelly over which school his or her kid would attend, or getting into any us and them nonsense.</p> <p> I contrasted that to the meeting I attended a few years ago, when combining Silver Heights and Sturgeon Creek collegiates into one school was first discussed publicly. Granted, GVSD has been preparing people for a couple of years for the decisions that the school board will make come October, for the opening in September of 2013 of the $32.1 million Northlands Parkway Collegiate. </p> <p> But, still....that meeting in Winnipeg was downright nasty at times.</p> <p> And are you trustees and staff in Winkler always so nice to each other, and always so nice to the public and the media, and always get along so well? What’s that all about?</p> <p> Meanwhile, when I was heading out Inkster past Sturgeon to make the drive to Winkler in late afternoon, I got behind an 18-wheeler with driver training banners all over it. The truck was going a tad slowly, and a couple of drivers did incredibly stupid things to get past it, but I just bided my time. This is just another facet of education, I reckoned.</p> <p> We get to the turnoff to the Perimeter, and the training truck turns onto the ramp. There on the ramp, another 18-wheeler was parked on the shoulder. And what does the training truck do? It just stops dead beside it — no signal, no flashing lights, no hazards, just stops dead beside the other 18-wheeler and sits there, blocking the ramp onto the southbound Perimeter. Traffic is backing up in a huge hurry, but the trainee just sits there. The only way around it was for drivers to cross into the oncoming lane — the off ramp from the southbound Perimeter onto Inkster.</p> <p> Does anyone want to let me know what the lesson plan was there, what part of the curriculum that the trainee trucker was covering?</p> <p> Harumph.</p> <p> Changing topics effortlessly, can anyone identify one adult in the English-speaking world who can speak a sentence without using the word ‘actually’?</p> <p> And seguing into a somewhat related thingee, is there a CRTC regulation that decrees that all radio interviews must end with “We’ll have to leave it there”?</p> <p> Moving on....</p> <p> Well, that was quite the season finale on The Walking Dead, eh? What was with that helicopter in the opening scene? I figured with the end scene of the penultimate episode suggesting an Alamo scene was imminent, that things wouldn’t go too well for Herschel’s kinfolk, the ones always seen in the background who never got any speaking lines, reminiscent of the extras who played the Ensign Ricky role on the Enterprise away teams.</p> <p> The PVR will be busy this week, with Mercer, 22 Minutes, Alcatraz, King, Fringe, Justified, and the return of Game of Thrones.</p> <p> Anyone got any idea when we’ll get some new shows on Masterpiece Mystery/Classic/Contemporary, and most importantly of all, when in the world we’ll get season five of Murdoch Mysteries? Preferably shown at the same time each week and in sequence.</p> <p> Speaking of age, as I was a while ago, and thinking of flying tomorrow, do I get to preboard flights when I’m 65? And I’m betting that even then, I’ll find there’s some able-bodied 30-year-old in row 4 blocking the aisle for five minutes while fiddling with the contents of his carry-on.</p> <p> Grump, grump, grump....</p> <p> Soccer is over for a little bit; I’ve got my fitness test in less than four weeks. At my age, in fact, for anyone over 51, we only have to run 2,050 metres in 12 minutes.</p> <p> I had one I’d never had before, though firsts happen pretty often, come to think of it. It was an adult match, the team changed keepers at the half, which is relatively common at rec levels. So the first half keeper is playing defence in the second half, and first minute, the ball is bouncing rather harmlessly in her penalty area, well away from the goal. And she very calmly reaches out and grabs it with both hands. Pause one beat. Pause a second beat. Then the light bulb flashed over her head. And for once there was nary a hint of complaint when I awarded the penalty kick.</p> <p> This past week I’m doing city finals. Two adult refs were assigned each match, so I’m timekeeping the second game and standing at centre to watch for anything behind the play. It surely inspired confidence in all assembled to see two older zebras putting on glasses and trying to figure out how to work the remote that works the clock — I was terrified the match would go overtime, because I had no clue how to set the clock for five minutes. Anyway, I’m standing there at centre where I can hear all the yapping from both sets of coaches, the stuff that you can make out only occasionally amid the din when you’re running up and down the field, and at times it was downright comical. One coach was constantly hollering, “Come on, ref, call it both ways, there are two teams out there!” and at that time his team had been called for two fouls and the opponent for six. And he’s spotting foul after egregious foul and attempts on the lives of his players that my colleague failed to spot, yet when the ref called a foul against this coach’s team, he was astonished at the injustice of this wretched world, and pleaded, “Coooommmmmmmme ooooonnnnnn, you’ve got to let them pppplllllaaaayyyyy!”</p> <p> It was ever thus.</p> <p> Speaking of football, and of my recent difficulty with Winnipeg School Division over my positive references to immigration, it’s a good time to be a Geordie. That would be Newcastle United tied with Chelsea for fifth, and that would be Sunderland breathing down the neck of mighty Liverpool. And while they’re on the Tees and not the Tyne, that would be Middlesbrough in position to make the Championship playoffs for promotion to the EPL.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:996a5b70-e151-445c-be75-e27bc6a3c9eb The Chair Objects http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a6bd1e516-eabd-4139-9387-48de3528708f&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 23 Mar 2012 16:45:00 GMT <p> I haven’t exactly been riding high in the polls this week with Winnipeg School Division trustees, but the discussion I had with board chair Rita Hildahl came right out of left field.<br /> <br /> Hildahl doesn’t want me to write any more stories in which I refer to immigrant students.<br /> <br /> Hildahl said that I’m making new Canadians feel badly about themselves, by labelling students as immigrants, and said that I’m evoking feelings within new Canadians akin to the way people felt in the late 1940s when they were labelled DPs.<br /> <br /> Um, well, no, I don’t think I am, with respect to the chair.<br /> <br /> For those not old enough, and those who haven’t heard reference to DPs in decades, they were displaced persons, people uprooted from their homelands by the destruction and devestation of World War Two, trying to find new lands in which to settle. As I recall, it was considered a very pejorative and insulting term.<br /> <br /> I was a postwar immigrant, though we came here by choice, and my late mother was Canadian. I’ve never seen immigration as negative.<br /> <br /> I’ve referred quite often in recent months to immigration and its effects on enrolment in our public schools, particularly here in Winnipeg, and in Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach, and Winkler. Public school enrolment is up province-wide for the second straight year, after 16 years of decline, and it’s thanks to immigration.<br /> <br /> Statistics Canada had predicted inexorable declining enrolment in our public schools, and StatsCan certainly wasn’t wrong about the birthrate among the people who were here when the agency made its predictions.<br /> <br /> But StatsCan couldn’t have foreseen the success of the provincial immigration program, which is bringing tens of thousands of people to the province.<br /> <br /> WSD is up by more than 800 children this year. Seven Oaks has gained 1,300 students in three years, and expects a net gain of 400 students in September. By next year, all seven city divisions could be enjoying net growth, regardless of empty nesters and declining birthrates.<br /> <br /> Education Minister Nancy Allan, the superintendents of the city school divisions, even superintendents in Hildahl’s own division, talk about the positive effects of immigration, and why it’s terrific to welcome immigrants and refugees and new Canadians, all settling here. I haven’t talked to anyone within the public school system who doesn’t see immigration as anything but a positive term.<br /> <br /> Hildahl says I should refer to the students as new students. Not new Canadians, just new students. That could mean anything. That does nothing to explain demographic trends, or pressures to provide more teachers and more classroom space, more resources and services, more English as an additional language services.<br /> <br /> No, Hildahl didn’t use the R-word to me, but when she makes comparisons between what I write and a term as denigrating as DPs....<br /> <br /> I see nothing wrong with being an immigrant. Immigrants become Canadians, and one way or another, most of us who weren’t part of the First Peoples immigrated. I’m an immigrant, I’m betting that Hildahl’s ancestors were immigrants at some point. I’ll take my chances with using the term, Rita.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:6bd1e516-eabd-4139-9387-48de3528708f Game changers galore http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a9323ff58-1277-4c93-b1e7-a355276ae8ac&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 19 Mar 2012 17:09:00 GMT <p> It's looking pretty official --- game changers is the flavour of the month in public education.</p> <p> That term got bandied about quite a bit during the annual convention of the Manitoba School Boards Association.</p> <p> Apparently, game changers are people who can make decisions and change policy --- people who can get something done, rather than just talk about it.</p> <p> Education game changers would certainly be stakeholders in the education system, though not all stakeholders can be game changers, or many of them for that matter. Students and parents and teachers would not often be game changers.</p> <p> Same thing with education partners, though you might find more game changers on a percentage basis.</p> <p> And game changers would absolutely be part of the community, though, once again, few members of the community could hope to be game changers.</p> <p> Undoubtedly, game changers would likely be involved in tipping points, and it goes without saying that synergy would be part of the games they changed...though, I have to admit it's been a while since I heard the word 'synergy' used in education discussions as frequently as words such as 'the' and 'a'.</p> <p> Meanwhile, how long until 'game changers' gets surpassed by new jargon? Maybe only the game changers have the ability to decide that, though only after full and frank consultation with stakeholders.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:9323ff58-1277-4c93-b1e7-a355276ae8ac Nancy, I was ever so rude http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a1f2f6245-9c42-4972-9cda-01586a2fbb8d&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 08 Mar 2012 22:05:00 GMT <p>I must acknowledge that I was kind of snippy with the staff of Education Minister Nancy Allan a few days ago, very uncouth behaviour for one who values couthness above all else.</p> <p>I was seeking comment on the provincial enrolment report, only to be told that Allan was out of the province and wouldn’t be commenting. And I replied with a query wondering when she would reach a country or continent that has telephones.</p> <p>Shame.</p> <p>Moving right along...</p> <p>I’ll have to figure out how to add this to my favourite blogs, listed off to the right over there...pause while you look to your right.....which starts with child the elder doing a school field trip to ride along with the Victoria police one night. Quite educational. You might want to have a look at the first two entries, if your teenagers are going clubbing on the weekends. You can read about it at http://viclawkids.blogspot.com/2012/03/officer-chris-ride-along-with-vic-pd.html</p> <p>Changing topics...</p> <p>I got yet another email from that American publisher wanting me to interview the author of the book about Abraham Lincoln time-travelling to confront Obama, and slugging it, “Simple Strategies to Defeat Obama.”</p> <p>To that publisher, I can only say bravo, and urge her to keep encouraging these people: the more attention they get, the better Obama’s chances of being re-elected.</p> <p>Oops — I’m kind of killing my chances of ever being hired by Fox News...</p> <p>In another matter, the American Civil Liberties Union spent a virtual stamp to let me know about a high school principal in Tennessee who resigned after the school board disgareed with her edict that she’d expel gay and lesbian students who showed public affection.</p> <p>Change of topic...</p> <p>Wondering after our recent holiday and specifically our flights, when was it exactly that people began to be able to take carry-on luggage that’s bigger than the steamer trunks we had when we emigrated on the Cunard liner in 1952?</p> <p>And a little tip...when you use an aircraft washroom, and you get inside and the main lights don’t go on, if you slide the little handle over to lock the door, the lights not only come on, but outside it says occupied rather than vacant, and then you don’t have to get miffed when someone comes along and opens the door.</p> <p>Lights fade, change of scenery on stage, lights up...</p> <p>Among the many, many things I don’t understand on Alcatraz — such as why Hauser just doesn’t ask the doctor how he got here, and why he didn’t ask the psychiatrist pre-coma the same question — why did one 63 ask what the Internet is, while another 63 arrived knowing how to use a pre-paid credit card?</p> <p>And while we’re on the subject of TV, why are we paying all this money for cable, when the Leafs are blacked out every time they’re on Rogers?</p> <p>Harumph.</p> <p>Of course, soccer is deep into playoffs, and the adults are getting ever more vexatious.</p> <p>Still waiting to see what the fallout will be from a recent 8 a.m. match I refereed.</p> <p>I arrived at UM to see that my field was occupied and rented by a group of men, playing an apparently informal no-referee match; in fact, it looked as though a couple of them were playing full-contact rugby.  When I came out of the dressing room, one 10-year-old girls recreational team was already there on the sidelines. with their match still 15 minutes away.</p> <p>The head coach already appeared to be verbally engaged with the men on the field, and appeared to be ordering them off. Two of the UM venue staff were trying to get the team of little girls off the sidelines and out into the corridor.</p> <p>I hustled over to join the staff and told the kids and three male coaches that the group on the field had the field until 8 a.m., and that the girls had to get outside the netting and into the corridor. Instead, the three coaches were arguing with the venue staff and their players were running up and down the sideline to loosen up, despite all these enormous adults running furiously around the field only steps away.</p> <p>The men on the field were very big and very fast, and were playing quite aggressively; not only did they have the right to have the field, but these little girls were in danger of getting creamed.</p> <p>It took several minutes to get the girls off the sidelines and out into the corridor. One assistant coach was demanding very aggressively that the venue staff give him their names; I stepped in and told the coach that the only name they were getting was mine, and they’d find it on the scoresheet.</p> <p>I dealt primarily with the head coach, who was very upset with what was happening. He demanded that I clear the field; I told him that these men had rented the field until 8 a.m., and that his team was not to come near the field until 8 a.m. The coach told me that his team has the right to the field 10 minutes before the 8 a.m. start, to warm up; I told him that his slot starts at 8, and told him that there are other users on the pitches until 8 a.m. every Saturday.</p> <p>The head coach complained that the venue staff had been rude to him and had demanded he leave the field. They may very well have demanded, since these coaches and their players did not leave the area when asked to do so. The coach said that he wasn’t about to have a 16-year-old girl tell him what to do; I told him that the venue person is not a girl, she’s a woman, and that in fact she’s in charge.</p> <p>The coach made it clear that he did not care for my attitude, complained that I was talking instead of listening to his perspective; I told him the perspective that was pertinent is that I and the venue staff were seeing to it that the people who rented the field got to use it without interference, and that I and the venue staff were trying to protect the girls on his team.</p> <p>Sigh.</p> <p>As I was leaving at 1030 a.m., I ran into the woman from the venue, who told me that the head coach had sought her out after the match, and had come to the booth at the front entrance to confront her. He told her that she should learn some manners; throughout, these three male coaches seemed to treat the venue staff not as adults in charge, but as minors who should be deferential to them.</p> <p>And these coaches are the ones complaining about the behaviour of me and the venue staff?</p> <p>Sigh.</p> <p>Another day, another obstreperous coach, who so far hasn’t carried through on his threat to file a formal complaint against me.</p> <p>These were pre-teen boys, skilled level. A player from the team of the obstreperous coach (OC) chops down an opponent in the defending half, I award a free kick, opponent lines up to take it. One of the OC’s players runs over and stands over the ball, I tell him to move, he doesn’t budge, I give him a yellow card. OC goes Vesuvius.</p> <p>He’s hollering that I have to count off five meters, which I certainly don’t have to do, the defending player has to give the meters. Halftime, he’s still on my back, demanding I show him the rule. After the match, he demands again that I show him the rule.</p> <p>So I do.</p> <p>The rules specify a yellow card for delaying the restart.</p> <p>And OC has a Gotcha! moment, and points in triumph to the wording. There is no restart, he says, until the attacking player puts foot to ball, so since his player’s standing over the ball had prevented the restart’s occurring, then there was no infringement, because there was no restart that had been delayed.</p> <p>Pause while you sort through OC’s logic.</p> <p>Then OC goes on...if his player doesn’t go and stand over the ball, then the other team could take the kick before his team is set up on defence, before it’s had time to set up its wall. Precisely, I responded, and that’s why it’s an infringement, because OC’s player had prevented the opponent’s taking the kick as soon as he was ready to hammer it.</p> <p>Gosh, ref, if we’re not allowed to hook and hold and trip Evander Kane, he might take a shot on our net.</p> <p>And then the coup de grace from OC, who told me that he’s a referee — I’ve never seen him ref, and none of my colleagues that day knew the name — and he’s never called that an infraction anytime in his entire refereeing career.</p> <p>Sigh.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:1f2f6245-9c42-4972-9cda-01586a2fbb8d A positive real world message, from Archie of all people http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/martin/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53e&plckPostId=Blog%3a0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost%3a727116ec-6e00-412f-9d04-659fa6b9ac14&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 07 Mar 2012 18:52:00 GMT <p> My brother-in-law down in South America posted links on Facebook to coverage of the latest celebrity wedding, one Kevin Keller, formerly of Riverdale High, and Clay Walker.</p> <p> This is news because it’s a same sex wedding, and mothers in the religious right are outraged that the wedding is featured in Archie comics available in certain stores that the religious right has targeted in the U.S.</p> <p> Here’s a sample of coverage, this from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/25/kevin-keller-gay-archie-comic-wedding_n_1113035.html.</p> <p> I was aware that the Archie comics had introduced an openly gay character, but I haven’t read Archie for a very long time.</p> <p> As I responded to my brother-in-law, howcum Kevin gets to grow up and get married, yet every other young character in Archie remains perpetually 16 and an eternal student at Riverdale High and brainless?</p> <p> Given the gender stereotypes that Archie has maintained, I had shuddered on what the comic book would do with a gay character, but apparently it’s been positively received, at least by the GBLTQ community among its readership.</p> <p> I’ve never been able to understand the character of Archie, why such a fickle airhead would be presented as someone to whom teenaged girls should positively gravitate with cartooned hearts dancing around their heads, why it should be the goal of every teenage girl to win the attention of such a twit, nor have I ever figured out why in the world that any sane parent would want Betty and Veronica to be the role models for the ways in which their daughters behaved towards boys and towards their female friends.</p> <p> Whatever....good luck to the young couple, and to the reading kids who’ll be better people for learning that this is part of a normal world.</p> Blog:0e7aec6e-1262-4c77-8ca6-641c18c2a53ePost:727116ec-6e00-412f-9d04-659fa6b9ac14