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Away for a bit, and lots of other stuff

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I don’t know how you’ll ever survive, and it’s really callous to just spring this on you suddenly, but I won’t be posting for a few days — we’re off to Upper Canada to visit the kids and watch some university volleyball.


I’ve had at least three emails, and one phone call, from a Toronto-area PR firm promoting Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week, as declared by the government of Manitoba. The promotions firm is not pointing to any particular events, or giving us any compelling reason to do a story, other than the fact that it’s been hired to flog this special week.

Government sources say that the Selinger government certainly did not hire the PR firm, so I’m wondering, who hires publicity companies for something like this?

And moving right along.......

I hope the lad from a certain very, very large public high school who called one recent Sunday managed to get his assignment done in time.

He called on a Sunday afternoon, for an assignment due Tuesday. Yes, I know, I’ve had two kids go through public school, I know that doesn’t come even remotely close to leaving it to the last minute.

The lad wanted to know all kinds of complex financial information about the WFP, such as intricate details of what it costs to put out each day’s paper, departmental budgets, all kinds of inside stuff. I directed him to management types and advised him to call on Monday.

And I have no idea if we even divulge the kind of stuff he wanted to know, but, the lesson here kiddies is that a lowly proletarian drone such as I, who is not privy to such information, is the one answering the phone on Sundays when you leave it like so totally late to start compiling research for school assignments.

Another segue.....

I’m sticking with V, and starting to get into it. I knew you were all holding your breath.

And my attention span on that one didn’t last past one paragraph......

The woman walking four little kids to school Tuesday morning around 8:40 a.m., presumably to Queenston School — do you really think it’s a great idea to teach tiny little kids that they should run across Academy Road on a red light, hoping heavy traffic will all slow down or hit the brakes?

And having vented my self-righteousness a little, on to.....

Dr. David Suzuki was the keynote speaker at a major environmental conference in Upper Canada this past weekend. He took a pass on his appearance fee, instead asking that the money be used to allow some exceptionally bright young university students to attend the conference. That was a really neat thing to do.

One paragraph per topic today, it seems......

Steven, I don’t normally tell you how to run your theatre productions, but as we’re season ticket holders to both theatres, I’ll take certain liberties. No, I’m not being impertinent, I’ll call him Mr. Schipper if I ever have to interview him, stop interrupting me.....Steven, regardless what is done on your stages, no two words in live theatre are more terrifying for patrons of my vintage than "no intermission".

I’m just saying, OK?

And on to other things......

It didn’t take long to get into trouble refereeing indoor youth soccer. As some miffed players, coaches, and parents found out Saturday, when a coach tells players to stand over the ball to prevent the opponent’s taking a free kick, I do not, repeat NOT, have to march off the yardage and make the player back up, and I do in fact have the right to impose consequences immediately for unsporting behaviour and deliberate delay of the match.


Also, parents, it doesn’t help kids learn how to play the game if you’re bellowing from the bleachers at UM that it’s OK for the keeper to reach outside the box and pick up a ball with her hands, as long as her feet are inside the box.


But my biggest problem was that ongoing delight, the kid with pierced ears that haven’t taken yet, who sticks a piece of tape over the earrings or metal studs and wants to play, even though the players and coaches and parents have all been told umpteen times that the rules absolutely forbid playing with earrings or studs, that the rules ban taping them over, and that the only acceptable things to do are take them out or insert plastic retainers during the match.

And kids want to play, and coaches argue that only a heartless villain would break a young child’s heart by enforcing the rules, when a kid dare not take out the studs for fear the holes will close up. Which, of course, happened Sunday.

It’s a safety issue, we’ve been told over and over and over again by senior soccer officials, not just for the opponents, but for the kid who gets drilled with the ball and has the metal pointy things driven into her head.

And it sure didn’t help my case when the coach tells me that the girl was allowed to play with the studs taped over in three previous matches since the indoor season started, and the timekeeper jumped in taking her side. This would be the timekeeper who’s a paid game official, less than one-quarter my age, who’s supposed to be working with and/or for me, and by definition to be on my side. He tells the coach, "Most of us don’t enforce that rule, but some referees are really uptight about it."

So now I’ll see if the coach files a formal complaint about me.


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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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