Episode 004: Where would you place a downtown arena?

I saw Charlie Clark’s email newsletter this week and read his thoughts on the new arena debate.  I didn’t really buy his arguments or rather lack of argument but it started me thinking on where you would put a downtown arena if we wanted to build it.  I grabbed a camera and a tripod and went for a walk. 

I set up the tripod for the last shot and it worked a lot better.  I wish I had for the other ones but I was stopped a couple of times by both police and a City of Saskatoon employee.  All of them were super cool about it, they recognized me and wanted to see what I was up to but it was kind of through me off my game.  The next vlog will be better. 

What was the PM doing this week

Fundraising for the Conservatives

Fundraising note from the Conservatives…

Here are my feelings on travel pieces like this.  Both sides put them out and if they don’t journalists basically do the same thing.  They used to do these all of the time whenever Stephen Harper went to watch a hockey game and a piece would be written about the costs for the flight, security, and even what he paid for out of his own pocket.  It was like it was un-Canadian for a Prime Minister to watch a hockey game.

Now we see it done with the Liberals and it’s just as ridiculous.  It’s almost as if no Canadian Prime Minister should ever travel again for any purpose and it is the most Canadian mindset ever.  It is almost as if we should be ashamed that our Prime Minister travels and takes in meetings or is asked to events.

Take a hike

My leg has been messed up since November of 2014 and I have been told be stay off it.  I did my best and a couple of weeks ago it was healed up enough that I could start to walk on it.  Unfortunately I have been as active as a panda bear during the summer months (hilarious story about that, when the pandas were at the Calgary Zoo, we drove out as a family, stood in a long line, saw the panda just lay in a tree and do nothing.  It could have been a stuffed animal.)

So for all of the advantages of living in a neighborhood where you work is a great and all but my work place is 8 kilometers away from home.  So to make a long story short, Wendy has been driving me to work in the morning and I have been walking the 8 kilometers home.

So far it has been going well.  I got into a yelling match with a goose in Kinsmen Park but he was totally in the wrong.  Yesterday Wendy dropped Mark off at my work and then parked at 33rd Street bridge and then walked to Place Riel where we met up.  Oliver and Marley slowed the pace down considerably as we stopped at the ski jumps.

University of Saskatchewan Ski Jump

University of Saskatchewan Ski Jump

University of Saskatchewan Ski Jump

University of Saskatchewan Ski Jump

There is a beaver lodge at the bottom of the hill so Oliver, Mark, and Marley explored that while Wendy and I sauntered the other way.

On the way over, Marley encountered a train while crossing the CP Rail Bridge.  She was not happy about going across that again but she did and was okay.

So the good news is that it isn’t that bad of walk.  The bad news is that it is an incredibly boring walk, podcasts or not. 

The reality of politics

During the federal election, I remember watching long term Parliament Hill reporters in shock at some of the NDP and Conservative MPs who were losing.  They all said the same thing; they were hard working, not hyper partisan, and cared a lot about constituent issues. 

I was reminded of the same when Cam Broten lost tonight.  I have known Cam for five or six years and have seen him work extremely hard as an MLA on a lot of different issues.  Because of Wendy’s job and the neighborhood we live in, she has referred many people to talk to Cam and seek his help.  Most times they have reported to her that Cam’s office was able to help them sort out their problems; even if it wasn’t a provincial issue.  He was a great MLA.   I was always happy to see him and he has been in Wendy’s and my home.

For a bunch of reasons, it didn’t work out for him as the leader of the opposition.  Winning such a tight leadership race which was essentially the centric base of the NDP versus the left wing made it impossible to consolidate the party.  It also probably didn’t help that the “socialist” Bernie Sanders was making inroads in the Democratic primary and the left wing Rachel Notley is Premier of Alberta (even if she won because of a right wing civil war).  There was this feeling amongst many is that Broten was too centrist for the NDP, even if that is the kind of leader that Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert were.  I don’t think the comments from Ryan Meili were overly helpful.  Neither was him not getting involved to help move the party forward.  It hurt Broten, it hurt the NDP.

Also, Brad Wall is incredibly popular.  How do you attack an incredibly popular Premier without upsetting people.  I keep hearing people he should have gone negative even more but that’s hard when people won’t believe it; remember, you have to believe in it for negative ads to work.  Also without the NDP having any rural strength, how do you actually act like a government in waiting.  This election was going to be bad regardless.  I said the upside was 20, the low was 5.  I predicted 14.  They got 10.

In the last week I could feel the vote collapsing for the NDP.  You could feel voters making the move to the Saskatchewan Party.  I don’t know why it happened but once it happens, it’s almost impossible to stop.   If Cam wasn’t the leader of the opposition, he would have survived with his seat but he was and Saskatchewan loses a hard working public servant.  That’s the reality of politics.

Tonight, the NDP need to do some soul searching.  Their party doesn’t exist outside of the inner city Saskatoon, Regina, and part of Prince Albert and now they have the same problem they came into this election with, a new leader, a caucus that didn’t run under the new leader, and nothing close to a rural breakthrough in sight.    It is a party that is a centre left party in a province that has swung to the right.  So whoever it is that is the new leader, have fun because one thing that we have learned is that being the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP could be the most thankless job in Saskatchewan.

Chicago — nicknamed ‘Chiraq’ — sees murder rate rises 80 per cent as gun crime reaches crisis level

Something is horribly wrong in Chicago

There is no doubt Chicago is facing a gun crisis. In the first three months of this year murders are up more than 80 per cent compared with the same period in 2015. A total of 135 people have been shot dead, more than in New York and Los Angeles combined.

At least 727 people have suffered gunshot wounds in the most violent start to a year in two decades. Guns are changing hands for less than US$50. Most of the shootings take place in parts of the city’s South and West Sides, where gangs have splintered into small factions fighting over a few blocks.

Increasingly, death is preceded by social media taunts in what has become known as “cyberbanging.” 

Professor Arthur Lurigio, a criminal justice expert at Loyola University Chicago said: “You have to be hyper-masculine, so if you get insulted on Facebook the only face-saving thing is to go shoot someone. The problem is they can’t shoot, they’ve never been to a practice range, so innocent children are getting hit.”

One of those innocent children was Zarriel Trotter, 13, who had recently appeared in an award-winning Internet campaign against guns. In the film Zarriel says: “I don’t want to live around my community where I’ve got to keep on hearing people getting shot.”

Last week Zarriel was himself shot in the back as he walked home from basketball practice and was left in a critical condition in hospital. According to witnesses, he was passing by as two groups of young boys opened fire following an argument over a girl.

Other incidents also stand out. One was the assassination of Tyshawn Lee, nine. He was murdered in an alleyway, allegedly by gang rivals of his father.

Actually the problem is that they are shooting each other after being insulted on Facebook.

The 501® Jean: Stories of an Original

Levi’s made a short documentary film about the history and cultural impact of the brand’s signature 501 jeans.

We trace the 501 Jean’s roots as a utilitarian garment for coal miners, cowboys, industrial workers, all the way to the creative workers who continue to wear it today.

Also: Just to troll the NDP, there is a lean consultant in the video.

A quick update from Earth

In the past two weeks, the results of three surveys and studies about the Earth’s climate have been released: a paper on a possible dramatic climate shift, a survey of coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef, and a study on the West Antarctic ice sheet. All three investigations tell the story of climate change happening quicker than was previously anticipated.  In short the earth isn’t doing well.

From the paper published last week by former NASA climate scientist James Hansen:

The nations of the world agreed years ago to try to limit global warming to a level they hoped would prove somewhat tolerable. But leading climate scientists warned on Tuesday that permitting a warming of that magnitude would actually be quite dangerous.

The likely consequences would include killer storms stronger than any in modern times, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets and a rise of the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century, the scientists declared.

“We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control,” said James E. Hansen, the retired NASA climate scientist who led the new research. The findings were released Tuesday morning by a European science journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

A draft version of the paper was released last year, and it provoked a roiling debate among climate scientists. The main conclusions have not changed, and that debate seems likely to be replayed in the coming weeks.

The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift.

Specifically, the authors believe that fresh water pouring into the oceans from melting land ice will set off a feedback loop that will cause parts of the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to disintegrate rapidly.

The paper, written by Dr. Hansen and 18 other authors, dwells on the last time Earth warmed naturally, about 120,000 years ago, when the temperature reached a level estimated to have been only slightly higher than today. Large chunks of the polar ice disintegrated then, and scientists have established that the sea level rose 20 to 30 feet.

Climate scientists agree that humanity is about to cause an equal or greater rise in sea level, but they have tended to assume that such a large increase would take centuries, at least. The new paper argues that it could happen far more rapidly, with the worst case being several feet of sea-level rise over the next 50 years, followed by increases so precipitous that they would force humanity to beat a hasty retreat from the coasts.

In Australia, more than 40% of the Great Barrier Reef has been damaged by coral bleaching.

Scientists who have dedicated their careers to studying the reef and its ecosystem say the current bleaching is unprecedented, and perhaps unrecoverable. The emotion in their responses so far have been palpable.

“I witnessed a sight underwater that no marine biologist, and no person with a love and appreciation for the natural world for that matter, wants to see,” said Australian coral scientist Jodie Rummer in a statement, after spending more than a month at a monitoring station in the Great Barrier Reef.

Though corals comprise only about 0.2 percent of the global oceans, they support perhaps a quarter of all marine species. There’s about 400 years of coral growth rings in the Great Barrier Reef, though no evidence of widespread bleaching before 1998. The current bleaching is the third major episode since then, and the worst yet—driven by the record-setting El Niño and steadily increasing ocean temperatures triggered by human-caused climate change.

“What we’re seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change,” Justin Marshall, a reef scientist from the University of Queensland, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Nick Heath, a representative of the World Wildlife Fund in Brisbane, Australia, lamented that “we have been so complacent on this issue for so long” in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He added that he hopes the current mass bleaching would “trigger us out of our complacency.”

“This will change the Great Barrier Reef forever,” Terry Hughes, the Australian coral scientist who has been conducting the aerial survey, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Hughes said the bleaching was his “worst nightmare” and expects about half the affected coral to die in the coming months. “This has been the saddest research trip of my life,” he said in a statement. More than sadness, though, Hughes said he feels anger at the Australian government, who he thinks should have acted sooner to prevent the current situation.

And just yesterday, a study on the West Antarctic ice sheet was released that says the ice sheet could melt much faster than previously thought, raising global sea levels by 3 feet in less than 90 years. Even the normally staid NY Times is getting really nervous.

For half a century, climate scientists have seen the West Antarctic ice sheet, a remnant of the last ice age, as a sword of Damocles hanging over human civilization.

The great ice sheet, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up. But researchers long assumed the worst effects would take hundreds — if not thousands — of years to occur.

Now, new research suggests the disaster scenario could play out much sooner.

Continued high emissions of heat-trapping gases could launch a disintegration of the ice sheet within decades, according to a studypublished Wednesday, heaving enough water into the ocean to raise the sea level as much as three feet by the end of this century.

With ice melting in other regions, too, the total rise of the sea could reach five or six feet by 2100, the researchers found. That is roughly twice the increase reported as a plausible worst-case scenario by a United Nations panel just three years ago, and so high it would likely provoke a profound crisis within the lifetimes of children being born today.

Of course there has been a bunch of stories lately that Miami might not make it to the end of the century.

In major East Coast cities, where land is sinking at the same time that seas are rising, an independent analysis by Climate Central shows that the rapid Antarctic melting described by the new modeling effort would push tide levels up by between five and six feet this century alone.

Climate Central’s analysis combined mid-range values from the new projections for Antarctic melting with previous mid-range projections regarding global sea level rise, along with local factors such as sinking that naturally occurs in some areas. It illuminated the dangerous collective impacts of the different ways that climate change is expected to affect sea levels.

If climate pollution is quickly and dramatically reined in, the analysis shows sea level rise in major East Coast cities, including New York, Boston and Baltimore, could be kept to less than two feet — which could nonetheless see developed stretches of shorelines regularly or permanently flooded.

Problems associated with sea level rise are expected to be worse in Louisiana, where stretches of land are being lost to erosion caused by flood control projects and gas and oil exploration. New Orleans could see more than seven feet of sea level rise by 2100, Climate Central’s analysis of the new findings showed.

West Coast cities would experience four to five feet of sea level rise by 2100, Climate Central found.

Oh and BTW, the maximum extent of sea ice in the Arctic was a record low in 2016, February was an outlier in terms of how unusually hot it was, March, while not as warm, will still be the hottest March ever, and just look at the 2016 trend in the first chart here.

The reality is that most of the world’s leaders are still making half assed attempts of change or in the case of our Premier, wants all climate change proposals to pass an economic test.  Miami is going to disappear, there is a drought so bad in California that the land is actually sinking and Saskatchewan has no climate plan other than a carbon capture program whose main goal is to enable fracking. 

When do we realize we are all in this together and that is going to sacrifices on all of our part.  Technology isn’t going to save us.  Innovation isn’t going to save us.  It’s going to be all of us changing the way we live.  What are the chances of that happening?  Sadly about zero.

Some thoughts on the Saskatchewan Election

Murray Mandryk hits on the NDP campaign here.  My thoughts on his thoughts are here. 

  1. Brad Wall ran the classic front runner incumbent campaign.  It was the same campaign the federal NDP ran last fall and the BC NDP ran in British Columbia.  The difference was that he was the front runner and the incumbent.
  2. I thought the Saskatchewan Party platform was visionless and not worth a second mandate but the NDP didn’t do anything to discredit it or point out that with the economy struggling, some of it’s major planks were not going to happen.  When your major plank is helping people sell more puffed wheat cake and fixing more highways and that is really it, it’s a visionless campaign.
  3. With both parties running candidates with DWIs, neither campaign had any moral high ground.  It’s the first campaign with what is written on Facebook was considered worse than driving while impaired.  Saskatchewan values?
  4. Plus, we all know the next budget will have the Saskatchewan Party saying a) we don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem and b) massive cuts to education, health, social services.  It’s going to be bad for all of us.  I am not saying that it is the wrong path but they do have a revenue and a spending problem and the spending is going to have to stop.
  5. How poor are the candidates for the NDP that it never occurred to them do delete their Facebook accounts when they decided to run or the nomination.  Also, the lack of simple vetting was ridiculous and speaks poorly about Frank Quennel’s leadership of the NDP.  It was a fixed election date, not a snap election.  That cut the knees out from Cam Broten in the first week of the campaign.  They never recovered. 
  6. I really don’t care what NDP candidates in rural Saskatchewan say to me during the campaign about the leader but it does speak to the lack of discipline they have and the state of the party in rural Saskatchewan.  This goes back to the Romanow years and isn’t getting better.  The NDP are very unpopular in rural ridings and nothing we saw in this campaign will change that.   For years the Saskatchewan Party was looking for an urban break through.  Remember Elwin Hermanson’s last campaign?  He lived in Saskatoon and Regina and didn’t see the promised breakthrough.    My point is that I think the NDP have massive problems in rural Saskatchewan an it is going to take them at least one more election before that changes.
  7. For those of you out there who are going to write off the NDP after this election, may I show you about a hundred articles saying the same thing after Stephane Dion and then Michael Ignatieff lost.  Also the Liberals were in third place going into this last provincial election.  Same thing for Mike Harris and the Progressive Conservatives when he won in Ontario the first time. 
  8. Speaking of the Liberals, I think it was a huge mistake for Darrin Lameroux to avoid Twitter and social media during the entire campaign.  It’s free media and it was the only medium the Liberals could use that would give them a provincial voice.  Instead he decided to meet people face to face.  Huge mistake.  It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and.
  9. No campaign took advantage of one of the best political blogs out there and that was Tammy Robert’s musings.  I don’t know what Tammy’s stats are like but it was well read by many politicos and journalists in the province.  Howard Dean got huge play out of posting on Larry Lessig’s blog for a week.  Part of me thinks that it would have been advantageous for Darrin Lameroux or Cam Broten to do some guest posts and interact with commenters during the writ for a day.
  10. Personally I don’t think the NDP should turf Cam Broten.  Dalton McGuinty went through this. Rachel Notley went through this.  Stephen Harper went through this.  Tossing the leader won’t ail what is wrong for the NDP.   Plus a lot is going to change in four years.

Murray Mandryk’s thoughts of the 2016 election

Murray Mandryk has a must read column on the 2016 election.  I agree with most almost all of it but I have a few thoughts on it.

  1. Mandryk has brought up the two homeless guys being sent to B.C. before and the NDP’s inability to do anything about it.  Maybe I have just sucked at it but I have been told by people on both sides of the political spectrum that people don’t care about social issues like homelessness unless it directly impacts them.   It’s why for example that most people on the east side of Saskatoon our outside of Circle Drive don’t care about what is happening in the core neighborhoods.
  2. I have talked to people still inside the NDP who have long felt that Wall’s personal popularity made it impossible to attack him and no come out worse.  People really like Brad Wall and personally connect to him.
  3. Governments are elected, they are defeated and voters don’t think the Saskatchewan Party has done enough to deserve being defeated.  Do I agree with the Saskatchewan Party all of the time?  Not even close.  I have some serious issues with a lot of what they have done.  Emma Graney has reported on them remarkably well and Murray Mandryk has done an excellent job of giving some context to the bigger issues but are they big enough to make the switch?  According to polls, they have not.  People are happy with the direction the government is taking and do feel they are better off than eight years ago.
  4. Back to point #1.  Lean and senior’s care may have gotten the NDP media attention but it didn’t resonate with voters.  Now I spend hours each month waiting for scheduled appointments and have seen the utter chaos and carnage that is ambulatory care at St. Paul’s Hospital.  It is brutal in every way shape and form.  Yet it doesn’t impact enough of people to cause them to vote differently.
  5. For years the focus in Saskatchewan was the economy an even as it cratered, the NDP focus was on health care and education.  I have never understood this unless you accept that the NDP didn’t have the talent in which to attack it credibly (which is part of what Mandryk is getting at).
  6. Speaking of a lack of talent, there is no excuse for any part to get hammered on social media like the NDP have been by the Saskatchewan Party and not do a better job of returning fire.  This is why you have a war room.   The amount of Saskatchewan Party statements left unchallenged was significant and that can never happen in even a losing campaign.  This is now three campaigns where the NDP have been significantly out maneuvered during the writ.
  7. I think the NDP made a strategic mistake in not running harder in 2016.  I have always felt and been told that the goal was 2020.  I don’t know if the NDP are going to lose seats (we’ve been through this before, I am horrible at predicting races) but from what I was told the best case scenario was 20 seats.  Personally I think they will get to 14 but I wouldn’t make a bet on that.
  8. Finally, I predicted this would be a status quo election back in my January column.  It has pretty much played out as I thought.  The lack of star candidates showed that the NDP did not believe this was a party in waiting.

Will Broten be back as leader.  I have watched every single NDP leadership campaign (well all parties leadership conventions) since Ed Broadbent stepped down and they always baffle me.  Understanding the partisan NDP mind is a skill I have never developed but it does make for great television.

Some good news

So that gaping massive ulcer that I have been worried was going to cost me my right leg?  You know the one where I have to wear the Coban Wrap and go to City Hospital multiple times a week over?  It’s gone now.  After 15 months, it is finally healed up enough that I don’t have to go for treatment any longer.

Of course it isn’t quite perfect yet.  Marley jumped on my foot and broke the fourth toe the other day.  That was fun explaining to people.  As the doctor said, “that sure does look like an impact wound” which pretty much describes much of what Marley does. 

They are still worried about inflammation in my ankles so I get to wear $150 pair of compression socks.  That’s fair enough.  As long as I don’t have to go back and wear those horrible Coban wraps.

Now all I have to worry about is the infection that still lives in my leg but that is under control with antibiotics. 

2016 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship

As I wrote about on Thursday, Ford Canada sent Wendy, Oliver, Mark, and myself to the 2016 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship in Swift Current, Saskatchewan on Friday and Saturday.  Not only that but they gave us a 2016 Ford Explorer for the weekend to get us there and back.

2016 Ford Explorer

I was given the vehicle on Thursday which gave me a day to get used to it.  The Explorer is what you would expect from a luxury SUV.  Lot of room, heated seats, air conditioned seats, heated steering wheel.  Six cup holders up front.  Heated seats in the second row.  It also has different traction controls which on Thursday, it looked like I would need as we drove to Rosetown and then down south on Highway 4.

Interior of the 2016 Ford Explorer

On Friday afternoon as we got ready to leave for Swift Current, I was loading the SUV with our bags and I noticed it had a third row of seats.  Immediately Oliver volunteered to sit back there and chill out with his Nintendo 3DS.   I picked up Wendy from work and we headed south with Mark in the middle row.

Interior of 2016 Ford Explorer

While three rows is more than we need, having it is amazing when travelling with a family.  Both boys just did their own thing and didn’t say a word to each other.  Not only that but because they weren’t on each other’s nerves for the ride down, they seemed almost thrilled to hang out again in the hotel and dinner.  Not only did it make for a nicer drive, it made for a better drive.

The ride was the one thing I was curious about.  Last week at this time, summer was here.  Then winter came back and the weather was cool and snowy all week.  I was wondering how the Ford Explorer would handle the roads between here and Swift Current.  For those of you who don’t know, the Ford SUVs are incredible in slippery conditions.  They drop down, add extra stability, and more or less own winter.  Luckily the weather improved and it was a snow and ice free drive from Saskatoon to Swift Current and back.  Not being able to test the all weather capability of the Ford Explorer was okay with me but it is nice to know about when you need it.

Wendy was incredibly sick on Friday and slept for most of the way.  While the highways isn’t the best, the ride was quiet enough and smooth enough that she slept from outside of Saskatoon to almost Swift Current.  She woke up in time for me to discover the seat massager which helped her with a really sore back.  Combine that with heated seats, it made a big difference in her weekend.  Wendy made a good point in writing about the weekend, the heated seats feel amazing if you are under the weather.

Of course the best part of the drive was that we listened to ESPN Radio.  On ESPN, they aired constant commercials for Zyppah which is an anti snoring device.  So Wendy is sleeping and snoring up a storm and every time the commercial comes on, we all crack up.  Well except for Wendy, who was snoring.

Motel 6 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan

When we got down to Swift Current, we check into the Motel 6 suite that Ford booked for us.  It is a great hotel and was fine for the family.  We got unpacked and went for a drive around Swift Current while we decided on dinner.  Everyone we talked to suggested Wong’s Kitchen which is where we ended up.   After ordering an order for 4, we all laughed when it came out.  It was the biggest portions that I have ever seen in my life.  It could have fed 10.  After barely making a dent into pile of food, we called it a night and went  back to the hotel.

If I have one complaint about the hotel it is that the chain doesn’t have a feedback form online so I can leave comments about how great of stay it was.  Yes some idiots stumbled into the hotel early in the morning and woke everyone up but that isn’t the hotel’s fault.  Being a concrete building, I only heard it on my floor and no clomping around above me.  The room was clean, the service was good, and the free coffee was appreciated.

The next morning was early.  All of us wanted to get up and explore a bit of Swift Current and get a good meal before heading to the Credit Union iPlex for the start of the curling.   We got up, went to Humpty’s, stopped by Cypress Motors Ltd. and picked up our tickets and then checked out downtown Swift Current.

The Imperial Hotel in downtown Swift Current

Innovation Credit Union in Swift Current

Customs and Excise in Swift Current, Saskatchewan

The architecture of First United Church

First United Church in Swift Current, SaskatchewanFirst United Church in Swift Current, SaskatchewanFirst United Church in Swift Current, Saskatchewan

Then it was off to the Credit Union iPlex to get our seats before the Opening Ceremonies began.

Heading into the Credit Union iPlex2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championships2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsMark and Olvier before the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championships

I learned something very important yesterday.  It doesn’t matter how loud you are or how many speakers your public address system has, it means nothing when 13 bag pipers walk into your hockey arena.  The M.C. wasn’t quite done yet when the Pipes and drums from Saskatoon Legion #63 decided to make an entrance.  No matter what needed to be said, the room belonged to these pipers. 

Opening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsOpening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsOpening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championships

There is nothing quite like 13 bag pipers going all out to start an event off right.

Opening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsOpening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsOpening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsOpening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsOpening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsOpening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championships

Before you ask where the photos are of Team Canada, the additional lighting that was installed to illuminate the ice worked great but Team Canada was marched in right in front of us, outside the additional lights.  To make a long story short, my photos of them sucked. 

So the after the pipers, piped, the drummers drummed and the speakers spoke, we had two hours to kill.  I have written about how bad the food was at SaskTel Centre is before.   Then I go to Swift Current where the food is absolutely amazing.   There were so many choices that it was kind of overwhelming.  Not only were there choices beyond burgers and nachos, there were good and exciting choices.  So instead of leaving the arena, we ate there and were thrilled with our choice.

There was a souvenir area that I went in with Wendy.  I wanted to give her a curling rock themed toque but she said absolutely not.  Instead I got her a t-shirt, a coffee cup, and a pair of curling rock shaped earrings.  Oliver wanted a Canadian flag to wave so I got him that and a pin.  Everyone was full and happy when they sat down for the start of the first draw. 

Draw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling ChampionshipsDraw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championships

For you curling fans out there, Canada fell into a deep hole, climbed out of it, gained the lead, lost the lead, and then won in overtime.  It was a little tense for those of us who were right there.  We were all happy and relieved when Team Canada pulled out the win against a great team from Denmark.

Draw 1 of the 2016 Ford World Women's Curling Championships

So this is the Russian skip.  She never said a single word the entire game.  She was playing (and destroying) the Italian team whose skip talked the entire game.  One sheet over was the Japanese team who screamed, pleaded, and begged the rock to do what she wanted it to (it worked as her team won) but the Russian skip was quiet all game.  Never yelled the Russian equivalent of hurry or hard once.  Of course from where I was watching, the Italian team was out classed so maybe she was quiet because she didn’t need to say anything.

After leaving the Credit Union iPlex, we fueled up and started the drive home.  It’s a great driving SUV.  I am still really partial to the Ford Escape, if I was looking for something larger, the Ford Explorer is a great option.  It made a long drive seem effortless.  If you are looking for a larger SUV that seats seven, this is what you are looking for.  I drove over 600 kilometers in it and didn’t have a complaint.  Even more importantly, no one else in the family did either.

Last night w got home in decent time and called it a night.  While the Motel 6 in Swift Current was great, there is nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed, even if that means you have to fight a dog for space and covers.

Wendy writes about her weekend with the Ford Explorer and the 2016 World Women’s Championships here.

Overheard in Swift Current

I was down in Swift Current this weekend.  It’s a gorgeous city that has benefitted from the oil boom tremendously.  You see it everywhere from box seats in the Credit Union iPlex to new buildings throughout town.  Better wheat and grain prices haven’t hurt either.

Every conversation I was a part of… while checking into the hotel to breakfast at the Humpty’s to the conversations around me at the curling contained one word; layoffs and how scared people were as they hit closer and close to home.

Oil is the economy in Swift Current.  Oil and farming.  With the family farm nearly extinct (something you really notice driving down Highway 4), there  are less and less opportunities to make money.  That was the boom of the oil fields.  People who had no choice to go to Alberta for work could stay at home and get jobs.  Now neither option is on the table and people are scared.

I have heard some people say, “why can’t they go back and farm”.  40 years ago that was an option.  Family farms were smaller which meant smaller and less expensive machinery, land values were smaller and you could make a living on a section or a section and a half of land.  I’ve had friends who have tried to start up farming.  It was almost impossible to do, even with family help.  Equipment costs are one hurdle but with corporate farms able to pay well above market rate for farmland, the small farmer doesn’t stand a chance.

So what’s the plan for the provincial government?  Not a lot actually.  Neither the Saskatchewan Party (let’s be honest, they’ve run out of ideas) and the NDP (who are ignoring rural Saskatchewan in this election) don’t have any.  The Saskatchewan Party is paving highways and is going to replenish the rainy day fund (which they have depleted running deficit after deficit when times were good) when oil hits $75 a barrel. 

Are they delusional?

Note to the rest of us, $75 a barrel oil is delusional.  It may not return for years.

Which gets to my point.  The Sask Party is more or less telling us that this is a momentary blip and things will be okay on the other side.  It’s good politics but horrible governance because they don’t know if things get better ever again.   It reminds me of when Grant Devine used to say and believe that things will be okay as soon as the rain returns and the prices rebound.  It never did in his time in power and people were hurt.

There isn’t an easy solution.  Saskatchewan doesn’t have a large manufacturing  base but part of me wonders that small targeted investing and mentoring in larger Saskatchewan towns and smaller cities as a way to help people start and grow small businesses is needed.  We have the same kind of things in the city with Ideas Inc and whatever it is that SREDA is doing (basically the same thing as Ideas Inc is doing but I am too lazy to Google it.  Oh wait, it’s called Square One and it the same kind of thing as Ideas Inc but without office space.) 

Make it competitive.  Go after only the  best ideas.  Keep politicians out of it.  Use the model of Y! Combinator.

Twice a year we invest a small amount of money ($120k) in a large number of startups (most recently 107).

The startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months, during which we work intensively with them to get the company into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors. Each cycle culminates in Demo Day, when the startups present their companies to a carefully selected, invite-only audience.

Maybe that is the wrong model, maybe it is the right one.  All I know is there needs to be a long game of building entrepreneurial capacity and hope in Saskatchewan that isn’t based solely on the price of Brent crude.   The Saskatchewan Party kind of flails at the topic when they suggest it to be easier for more home made food to be sold in gas stations.  Outside of the entire discussion of food safe practices and the rather demeaning nature of this policy, they are right in that it needs to be easier for home based businesses to make money and hopefully hire employees.

The easy option will be to try  to do this with government spending on mega projects or pie in the sky schemes to attract manufacturers to Saskatchewan.  Anyone recall that airplane manufacturer that was going to make airplanes in Saskatoon?  That turned out well didn’t it?  I can go on and on about the NDP schemes as well.  Megaprojects aren’t saving rural Saskatchewan.

The only thing going on in rural Saskatchewan is resource extraction of some sort and unless we want to keep living a boom and bust cycle, finding ways for rural Saskatchewan to be about more than oil, farming, and government jobs, something has to change and right now, it isn’t even a political discussion.

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