storyteller, broadcaster

Archive for September, 2012

Drive Carefully, and Pass the Corn please ..

In a couple of months I will be celebrating a very interesting 48th anniversary. It was a crisp and sunny November day, in 1964, that I passed the only driving test I was ever required to take. I was in my last year of high school, and from that moment on, I have been legal to operate heavy machinery.

It’s because of that realization, and perhaps because of my recent move back to a community of more than 700,000 people that I am more aware of my abilities behind the wheel.

The weather is still close to summer on many days, so there are tons of bicycles on the road, and there are many of those big yellow school buses.

A little over a year ago I actually gave serious thought to becoming a school bus driver, but I thought better of it. It’s a truly awesome responsibility, and I have great admiration for the men and women who transport our future, to and from the classroom.

Outside the cities, the ride on that bus can take more than an hour each way as the little red schoolhouses are just a distant memory. Sooner than any of us would like, the city streets and country roads will include snow and ice, not to mention fog patches and blowing snow. It’s a miracle how few school days we actually lose to weather and road problems on the prairies.

Winnipeg is considering reducing the speed limit on residential streets from 50 kph to 40 K, or possibly even 30 K. Other cities in both Canada and the U.S. have already made such a move, and it may just be an idea whose time has come.

Driving a personal vehicle gives us an incredible sense of freedom, but far too many of us take that freedom for granted. Way more than was the case 48 years ago, I drive very defensively when I get behind the wheel.

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Can there be a greater joy at this time of year than eating fresh, locally grown, corn on the cob? I picked up some delicious peaches and cream recently, four ears for a buck, at Wal-Mart of all places! Hopefully it didn’t come from further away than Taber Alberta, the self-proclaimed corn capital of the prairies.

This is the peak season for farmers markets as local growers gather to sell their produce before the snow flies.

Those markets are growing in popularity all across the country, and along with them comes the ongoing debate over whether the eat local or lovocore movement is really the smart way to go.

The naysayers argue that promoting locally grown food is actually a backward step in the massive effort that’s needed to feed the billions of people on this planet. It’s certainly more efficient to farm more intensively, even if it happens thousands of miles away.

The size of the carbon footprint that results from long hauling trucking is exaggerated they say. I say lighten up already! The hill that farmers markets and local independent grocery stores will have to climb is not going to get less steep as the years go by.

Safeway, Sobey’s and Superstore will undoubtedly increase their market share, and they do a wonderful job of providing affordable food and plenty of choice. Yes, as a percentage of our income, Canadians enjoy one of the cheapest food supplies in the world.

I will never cease to be amazed when I pick up grapes from Chile for not much more than a dollar a pound, virtually every month of the year. I love my coffee in the morning, and my dark chocolate.

But we should get out and enjoy that yummy local corn right now.

Please pass that Canadian-made, supply-managed butter while you’re at it.

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Roger Currie is a writer, blogger and broadcaster.

He lives in Winnipeg and can be reached at .. rogerc@mymts.net

Remembering a brave pioneer, and his gridiron namesake …

Those of us who are old enough to remember July 20, 1969 have looked at the moon somewhat differently since then. It was on that fateful Sunday evening 43 years ago that Neil Armstrong climbed down that ladder in the Sea of Tranquility and made that amazing giant leap for mankind.

Armstrong’s death last month at the age of 82 should make us pause and reflect on the importance of being first. Most of us also recognize the name Buzz Aldrin. He was the second man to climb down that ladder on July 20th. But hands up if you remember the names Pete Conrad and Alan Bean.

They were the moonwalkers of Apollo 12, in November of 1969. They sent back better TV pictures from the lunar surface than Neil and Buzz did, and they were in colour ! Alan Bean is 82, the same age as Armstrong. He became an artist after retiring from the space program and the U.S. Navy.

He is the only artist to ever incorporate dust from the moon’s surface onto a canvas. Pete Conrad was not so lucky. He died in the summer of 1999, after being hurt in a motorcycle accident.

We don’t remember much about Apollo 12, but who could forget Apollo 13, in April of 1970. Chances are that Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise would have been long forgotten by now if they had not almost become the first Americans to die in space.

The story had a miraculous happy ending, which Ron Howard captured beautifully in a terrific movie which immortalized the line “Houston, we have a problem”.

12 human beings left their Footprints on the Moon. Prairie writer Maureen Hunter used that phrase as the title of her play that won a Governor General’s award. Those footprints will outlive us all, but the explorers who made them will not.

Let us cherish their courage and celebrate that history.

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While Neil Armstrong was making history on the surface of the moon, he had a namesake who was a public figure on football fields in Canada. The football Neill ( with 2 L’s ) played and coached in both the CFL and the NFL.

On July 29th 1969, 9 days after his namesake left his footprints on the lunar surface, the other Neill coached the Edmonton Eskimos to a 33-0 shellacking of the Blue Bombers at Winnipeg Stadium. Although I can conjure up no memory of the occasion, I’m certain I was there, probably until I couldn’t stand watching any longer.

It would be 43 years before the Bombers would be shut out again in a regular season game. On Sunday September 2, 2012, the so-called Labour Day Classic they were humiliated 52-0 by the Roughriders 52-0 at Taylor Field.

I was there for that one too, and thankfully I was wearing a Rider jersey.

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Roger Currie can be reached at .. rogerc@mymts.net

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