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Thorbjorn Gunnarson attacks the husband of the photographer at the Saskatoon Highland Games. Olaf Erikson is the other Viking in the photo. Both are members of the Saskatoon Vikings club. (Photo by Sandy Hutchinson)
Curling federation gets it right, and not a moment too soon

Curling has been saved from its biggest crisis in 500 years.
The World Curling Federation (WCF) adopted new guidelines last week which will remove directional sweeping from the game. I preferred to call it corrective sweeping because it was minimizing the skill of throwing a rock. Even an old hack like me could make far more shots with Ben Hebert brushing.
A year or so ago, curlers began using high-tech brushes to manipulate the direction and distance of stones. It was horrible for the game and farcical to watch.
Traditionally, brushing had been used to keep a rock from curling and to help it slide farther. Last year, teams were also able to manipulate rocks to make them curl more and stop sooner.


Amati Quartet ready to launch long-awaited recording

A year ago, Marla Cole of the Amati Quartet couldn’t play her violin at all: her hands had gone numb from cancer treatment.
It was an awful irony at the time, because Cole had been given a remarkable gift by the Cameco Touchdown for Dreams. The program funded the recording of a CD for Cole, as a woman fighting cancer.
But Cole was determined not to let the nerve damage to her hands stand between her and her dream. She worked hard to regain feeling, and today her right hand has recovered, although her left has not. She has therefore learned how to play the violin without feeling the strings.
“It’s one of those things,” said Cole philosophically in a recent interview. “If you lose your sight, your hearing is more developed. I did play the violin before, so there is some muscle memory. Your brain just learns to work in a different way.

Zakreskis create hope in Malawi

When Peter and Elaine Zakreski first visited Malawi in 2008, their discoveries were rather shocking and they quickly saw a need for action.
The Saskatoon couple saw there were shortages in drinking water and food. There were scarcely any educational opportunities or health care for children. The villagers were vulnerable in the Domasi region in Malawi, a Central African country bordered by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
Fate would have it that the Zakreskis were travelling on a vacation back from Africa in 2006, when Elaine occupied a seat on the airplane next to Jean Kalinga, who had used most of her life savings to build a safe house for preschoolers in Malawi.
By Christmas time in 2006, Elaine wrote in her annual letter to Santa Claus, “Africa has a special place in my heart. I see it in my mind’s eye, especially the faces of the children. One day I will return for myself and hope that love can make a difference in the world.”

There’s no place for Big Brother Burger in A&W’s family

I have a beef with some people’s beef with A&W Restaurant’s beef.
For years, A&W has been running advertising campaigns based on their choice to only serve beef that is raised without hormones and steroids. This essentially eliminates Canadian beef producers as a supplier to A&W, because Canadian cattlemen use hormones and steroids. Why? If you want a sophisticated answer you should ask them, but from what I understand, they use them to make their cows bigger.
To be clear, there’s nothing harmful about the use of hormones and steroids in beef. Cattle ranchers argue that our own bodies produce hormones, and that the burger bun probably has more unhealthy levels of additives than the beef burger. They’re not wrong.

It’s time to voice your election issues

Who gets to decide what the civic election issues will be — the incumbents or the voters?
Recently it was reported that the transit contract is a labour issue, not a political issue. I beg to differ. Every incumbent is accountable to the public for the illegal lockout of transit workers and the resulting cost to taxpayers.
Although the exact figure has not been substantiated, we can expect it was well over a million bucks, factoring in not just the wages owing to drivers, but loss of revenue and associated administrative and consulting expenses. Clearly council had bad administrative advice, but who in City Hall owns up to that advice and what were the consequences for that “oops”?
According to the labour lawyers I know, the error was so elementary it is embarrassing. And what about the inconvenience to the public?


I belong by the lake, far away from temptation

This summer I did a little bit of travelling. I don’t go out of my neck of the woods often, but every now and then I will take a trip to a city.
For the past several years, I’ve been living in isolation, for the most part. Not totally, but far enough away to work on my health and writing projects.
I live by a huge lake where I spent a part of my childhood. About the only time I travel to the closest town is for supplies and to go to the library. Since I don’t have Internet where I live, I do most of my writing at the library. It’s a small town, but the library is awesome.
Early in the spring I decided to travel a bit. If there is one thing I learned, it is that I am no longer a city person.