Monday, 30 March 2009

The fluff of dreams

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that might be — could possibly be — is it? — a bud?!?!?!

Could spring be almost nearly just ever so slightly upon us? Dare I hope?

(Photo taken at Telford Lake)

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Flashback: You kids today don't know how easy you have it ...

A series of ads about the "miracle of modern electric living" appeared in the Leduc Representative throughout 1959.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Flashback: Relax ...

Appeared in the Jan. 13, 1911 issue of the Leduc Representative.

(Yeah, I'm immature. Don't lie — so are you.)

Friday, 27 March 2009

Weekly Roundup — March 27

Here's what's making news in Leduc this week:

• County residents got an education in well maintenance at the Working Well Workshop in Calmar

• A small group of women heard real estate advice from two Edmonton-area experts who say women are often not taken seriously in financial transactions

• City council discussed the protection of Telford Lake and increased offsite levys

• Leduc parents will have an opportunity to learn more about how to help their kids make good decisions about drugs and alcohol starting April 15

• A local business has been named the top professional services company in Alberta by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

• Laura discusses drinking and driving in her Blonde Ambition column

All this and much more in the March 27 Rep!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Are you well aware?

Last week, I attended the Working Well Workshop on proper well maintenance and construction in Calmar. As an urban girl who's enjoyed the convenience of city water for most of my life, I had no idea that wells required so much care and attention — but it makes absolute sense to preserve the quality of the natural resource that keeps us alive.

I picked up a lot of materials at the workshop which helped me write my article (which will appear in the March 27 Rep), and they contained links to different websites where well owners can find out more.

I have a bit of a weird pet peeve against writing long, complicated website addresses out in print, which is why I love the RepBlog, because it enables me to send readers to websites via one convenient link.

So, as promised, here are some well resources that are well worth checking out (pun most definitely intended).

Agriculture and Water Quality: Beneficial Management Practices

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada resources

Aquifer Vulnerability Index

Canada Groundwater Association

Groundwater Information System

Water Well Design and Construction

Shock Chlorinating Your Well

About the Working Well Workshop

Monday, 23 March 2009

25 years young

The Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Authority (EDA) celebrated its 25th anniversary in grand style on March 20 with a gala at the Executive Royal Inn in Leduc.

Guests were treated to a sumptuous five-course dinner, including the "pomegranate granite" pictured at left, while local dignitaries and past EDA members shared their congratulations and recollections of this dynamic organization.

For photos and full coverage of the historic celebration, check out the March 27 issue of the Rep.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Flashback: Probably

Ads for dubiously effective cure-all pills appeared in most newspapers up until about the early 1960s. This one appeared in the Leduc Representative in December 1959.

Friday, 20 March 2009

My new view on scary movies

Working at the Rep has given me the opportunity to write about things I feel strongly about. I get to write a news article, features and I have even started writing columns that truly say what I am thinking about at that time.
This is really good when I am frustrated about something like drinking and driving or domestic abuse. It is also nice to write about things I just want to say for the fun of it.
But not everything I have to say is great for the paper. So this is where the blog comes in on days my editor is out of the office. I can write anything I want....
Which is perfect because something has really been bothering me for the past month, and I need to get it off my chest.

I am the kind of person who enjoys to be scared during a movie. I love old movies, new movies and remakes. Anything that can scare me I will watch.
When I heard there was a remake of Friday the 13th I was ecstatic.  
The weekend it was released me and my roommate went to the Leduc Theatre ordered our popcorn and watched Jason kill (Without the music).
We both were really into the movie and didn't say a thing to each other, until the moment that has since changed the way I look at white masked serial killers. Jason ran after a victim!!!
I have been watching scary movies for years now, and every good slasher flick the killer never ran, that is was made it scary. The victim always had a chance, and you had hope they would live but either they would trip, get lost or hit a dead end. And even though the thing chasing them was walking it would still always catch up.
Now Jason runs?!?!
I always thought about what I would do if a giant man with a white mask was trying to chop me into little pieces. I knew I would be one of the first people to go (being a blonde nosy reporter who would likely go up to the person in the mask thinking it was one of my friends), but this is ridiculous, I won't even have a good chase scene!
Even though I am not a fast runner I swore I would watch where I was going and not trip. I would be the person people thought might live, but now that has all changed.

So I would like to take this unsupervised time in the office to say thanks to the people who created the new Jason. Thanks for not giving me a chance if I was ever a white masked giant's prey.

Las Vegas in a recession

Last weekend, as I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to depart, I came up with a list of life experiences I wanted to get under my belt during my four days in Las Vegas.

I wanted to visit the lobby of every single hotel and casino on the strip, rack up a $150 restaurant bill, see what a pair of $500 designer shoes looks like in real life, walk the strip at night pretending to be CSI Katherine Willows on the trail of a hot case — you get the picture.

I have champagne taste and a wine cooler budget. I didn’t want to spend money in Vegas so much as I just wanted to soak up the atmosphere of pure luxury that permeates the lobbies of the Mirage, the MGM Grand and the Venetian. I was willing to take the tackier aspects of the strip in stride just for the chance to be in close proximity to money.

I found myself peeking into the “high roller” lounges in each casino, hoping to catch a glimpse of a confident, jaded James Bond type playing baccarat or someone channeling the glory days of the Rat Pack in the cut of their jacket and gentlemanly swagger.

What I saw were lushly carpeted rooms, set back from the noise and smoke of the main casino floor, scented with fresh orchids, gorgeously lit with a soft amber glow … and completely empty.

As were the high-end shops at Caesar’s Palace, and the $65-a-plate restaurants, and the nightclubs that once upon a time could charge $100 cover.

It seems that even in Vegas, the very seat of conspicuous consumption, luxury and excess have fallen out of fashion in this bust economy.

Each morning at our hotel, I read the Las Vegas Review-Journal and gained a clearer understanding of what has taken the wind out of Sin City’s sails.

Nevada leads the United States in foreclosure filings, while Las Vegas ranked second in a report on foreclosure filings in major U.S. cities.

Unemployment stats in Vegas also paint a grim picture of how the recession has affected a city whose main economic driver is tourism. Even with several new resort projects opening or under construction, such as the M Resort and the luxurious Fontainebleau casino, one in 10 people in the Clark County area is unemployed.

An open letter from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority appeared in the March 9 edition of USA Today, begging businesses to consider hosting conferences and trade shows in Vegas despite President Barack Obama’s admonition that large-scale meetings would appear to be a frivolous use of taxpayers’ money.

It’s not just Las Vegas that is having to revamp its image to appeal to a population that has suddenly found itself with a lot less disposable income to play with. For months the covers of upscale fashion magazines have been pushing the idea of “recession chic.” They haven’t actually gone so far as to suggest that you wear last year’s clothes again this year, but they have begun to grudgingly admit that you don’t have to drop $500 on a dress to look like you did.

Maybe one of the advantages of the recession is that we will come to develop a more realistic sense of the value of things.
Monetary value is assigned to goods and experiences partly based on their rarity, with higher cost usually presuming higher quality — a couture gown, a meal prepared by a celebrity chef, a stay in the penthouse of a four-star hotel. But as the pool of individuals able to afford them continues to shrink, they become less desirable icons of status than laughable vestiges of a time when achieving that kind of financial security was even possible.

Consumers still want to have fun with their money, but now we want it to go further as well. If “luxury” businesses are going to ride out the downturn, they’re going to have to become accessible to a wider range of clientele. From a middle class consumer perspective, the time has never been better to live like a rock star while still living within your means.

Weekly Roundup — March 20

Here's what's making news in Leduc and region this week:

• One economic analyst says the recession will be more like a long winter than an ice age.

• People with developmental disabilities are finding new opportunities in the community thanks to the Leduc LINX Connect Centre in this week's feature.

• Laura tagged along with Coldwell Banker realtor Colin Bland for a day in the life.

• A local youth organization hopes to bolster young girls' self-esteem with a special weekend at camp.

• Old Man Winter is refusing to budge from Alberta for at least another month.

• The students of Caledonia Park School are preparing to learn what famine feels like.

For all this and more, pick up a copy of the Rep or visit our website.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Theatrical thievery

On March 14 at the Maclab Centre for the Performing Arts, Raven the Trickster (played by Jonathan Fisher) hatched a plot to steal the sun, moon and stars from Eesh (Carlos Rivera) and his daughter Seik (Nicole Joy-Fraser) by disguising himself as Eesh's grandson in Red Sky Performance's production of Raven Stole the Sun. Did it work? You'll have to check the March 20 Rep to find out. (Photo by Alex Pope)

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Flashback: Oh, they're talking about baseball

"The Claresholm Review says the boys of that town have been in their holes long enough and they're going to crawl out and shake themselves, locate the old diamond, hunt up last year's sphere with Spaulding on the cover, root their old stick out from behind the door, peel off their coats, throw off their collars and see if they can swat the leather, throw a corkscrew or steal a base."

Appeared in the Leduc Representative on March 15, 1907.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Flashback: Tips for the budding fashionista

"Plaids are even better liked for the small girl's suits than they are for her older sisters. Often she wears a plaid dress, with a thoroughly boyish top coat of covert cloth or melton. But the little plaid suits are most girlish and attractive and, best of all, from a mother's standpoint, are preferable to plain cloth in that they seem not to spot nor soil so readily.

Like her older sister again, the little girl's skirts are carefully shaped — gored and made to flare. Circular models, for obvious reasons, are tabooed for her."

Appeared in the Leduc Enterprise on March 1, 1907.

Friday, 13 March 2009

A little shameless self-promotion

About a year ago, I had my first taste of life as a television actor in Toronto.

An instructor of mine from the University of Western Ontario, Rita Deverell, had written a docu-drama, Not A Drop, based on a real class offered during the 2007 spring semester on diversity journalism. Diversity journalism, as we came to understand it, is about looking at stories from the perspective of a worldview different from our own.

Everyone experiences life through a unique lens and their perceptions are shaped by their culture, race, ethnicity, religion, family background, sexual orientation, economic situation, age and ability. Often, fear of these inherent differences means journalists don't talk to all the people connected to an issue and miss an important part of the story. Overcoming that fear, recognizing one's own prejudices and learning to listen to other voices is at the heart of diversity journalism. 

Rita wrote the script for the docu-drama with certain students in mind for each role, and dramatized our circumstances to make a point about diversity. We all had input into our characters, and the entire process — from vetting drafts of the script to filming scenes at Wallace Studios in Toronto and on location at the Walpole Island First Nation near Sarnia, Ontario — ended up being quite a powerful learning experience for everyone involved.

An excerpt from the press release explains the premise:

When students of diverse backgrounds — Japanese-Chinese (Hiromi Okuyama); caucasian (Alexandra Pope), and Afro-Canadian (Jeremy McDonald) — claim they are already “diverse enough,” their professor, a black, former U.S. southerner (played by Stefanie Samuels) and an Aboriginal activist (Pamela Matthews of One Dead Indian) take up the challenge and assign the class to report on the Walpole Island First Nation, located in what the locals in Windsor, Sarnia, and Detroit call 'Chemical Valley.'

"The people of the Walpole Island First Nation feel they represent all those communities who have not yet been able to say ‘No’ to the toxic living conditions some industries create,” says Rita Deverell, producer/director of Not a Drop. “My message with Not a Drop is that while we as journalists can be serious whistle blowers, taking action isn’t always part of the story – and I am deeply grateful to OMNI for their support in helping focus attention on this particular story, in hopes that real life action will be taken.”

The result of Not a Drop is that its characters — as well as its viewers — are provided with a first-hand learning experience about the deeply troubling issues of so-called “disposable peoples” in North America.

The finished piece premiered in Walpole Island in summer 2008 and at Wallace Studios in December. In honour of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Not a Drop will air in Portuguese on OMNI Television on March 21 at 10 p.m. ET and in English on March 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

If you have an hour to spare, it's worth tuning in.

(Photo: Me taking direction from Rita during filming at Wallace Studios)

Weekly Roundup — Mar. 13

Here's what's making headlines in Leduc this week:
• The Black Gold Rodeo is looking for sponsors.
• Leduc County is trying to stay ahead of the weather.
• A Leduc RCMP officer is making her way to Boston to take part in the famed marathon. Click here to read her story.
• Laptops are making their way to school in a new project.

All this and more in the March 13 issue of the Rep!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Back from Bolivia

They faced peeling sunburns, altitude sickness and some less-than-savory additions to their lemonade, but a seven-member team from Leduc Community Baptist Church says the two weeks they spent outfitting homes in a poor village in Bolivia recently were "life-changing."

This week I spoke to team member Tim Kerber about what the team learned during their stay in Tookma, a small Quechua community in the mountains of central Bolivia, and it sounds like the experience has laid the foundations for a longer partnership between the LCBC and the people of Tookma. Read all about it in the March 13 edition of the Rep.

The team — made up of Kerber, Jake Giesbrecht, Curtis Giesbrecht, Rob Unrau, Ken Boschman, Wilf Kopp and Dwight Paras — also kept a blog where you can read a first-hand account of their adventures.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Flashback: Slow news week

Appeared on the front page of the Leduc Representative on February 23, 1912. FYI: There are weeks when it's awfully tempting to reuse this particular idea.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Flashback: Happily ever after?

Appeared in the Leduc Representative on April 29, 1965. No word on whether Cinderella was ever reunited with her missing shoe.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Artist of the Month

I love paintings. 
I love how some people create shapes, use colours and show the beauty in simply things.
Personally, I can't paint, draw and colouring inside the lines can sometimes be a difficult task. I have learned to accept this and just admire the real artist's in life.
March's Artist of the Month is Gabrielle Argent, a Grade 12 student at the Leduc Comp. I have no doubt that she is a great artist. 
I had the chance to meet with Argent and see some of her work and I was amazed that someone who is still so young was talented.

Weekly Roundup — Mar. 6

Here's what's making headlines in Leduc this week:

• The City of Leduc is the first recipient of the Let Them Be Kids/Kool-Aid award to help the SouthFork moms build a much needed playground in their area.
• Want to know what the airport does with those items you can't take on the plane with you? 
• Leduc County has made a decision on Rabbit Hill road.
• Do you like to play the VLTs? See where some of the money goes.
• The Rep is now on Facebook! Another way to get in contact with us.
• Leduc Junior High slams their wrestling competition.

Hard at work

Looking through the archives is always one of Alex's favourite part of the week. 

Giving back in a big way

It was great to sit down with some of the VLT operators in our community. I was not aware that these businesses were giving so much back to the community and I enjoyed learning about the generosity of these people.
I think I may put a little more into the VLT machines next time — it's not only for fun, but for community enhancement! I tip my hat to these hospitality business owners.
 To read more about who they are and what they do, read the story here.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

LRC Construction

Today I took another tour of the Leduc Recreation Centre (LRC). 
I have taken four tours of the construction site since it started, and it is quite impressive. 
There are on budget and on time with their Fall 2009 opening. The picture is of the field houses. The ground is being prepped for the pouring of the foundation.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

How the magic happens

It's production day here at the Rep, and sometimes, the combination of lack of sleep, too much coffee and our general tendency towards silliness leads us to believe that certain ideas are absolutely genius when in fact they're just crazy.

Like getting up on a desk and taking an illustrative picture of a coworker's hands on a keyboard to fill a one-inch high space for a 300-word story instead of just using a stock photo:

Observe how much our dear editrix Michelle loves having her picture taken.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Banned bottles

If you've been to an airport in the past eight years, you're probably aware of the tight restrictions on what types of items you're allowed to bring onto the plane in your carry-on baggage. Maybe you've even experienced the inconvenience and mild embarrassment of having the contents of your makeup case searched and confiscated by security personnel.

Well, this past weekend, I was interested to discover that in Edmonton, most of those confiscated bottles of shampoo, suntan lotion, moisturizer and various beverages find their way to local people in need thanks to the Leduc and District Food Bank Association.

I rode along with food bank volunteer Gerry Hamilton on one of his daily trips to the Edmonton International Airport to collect all the items that never make it onto the plane. In addition to being shocked and enlightened, I also scored a free (gently used) water bottle:

It's a huge relief to know that a lot of this stuff is going to a new home or being recycled instead of clogging up a landfill, and as I found out, the need in our community is great in these trying economic times. Read more about it in the March 6 Rep.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Flashback: I assume they don't mean the politicians?

Appeared in the Leduc Representative Friday, May 5, 1911.