Nothing but net

The white and grey winged beasts were back again today. The horrid creatures are everywhere across Canada – from the East Coast to the West Coast, still not sure if they’re in the territories but I’ll bet they are.

Like clockwork, Wednesday comes around and the winged beasts’ ear-splitting screeches fill the skies if you aren’t careful and take precautions.

All the people of St. John’s are trying to do is remove their accumulated waste from the week for curbside pickup but the beasts take full advantage and force the clean up on the people that allowed them their fine breakfast.

Seagulls they call them, which isn’t much different from what I’ve known them as. And from what I’ve learned, the good news is they’re usually the only real issue when it comes to garbage. That may be because the small land mammals have a hard time on the steep slops and the aquatic mammals can’t climb the slopes but don’t quote me on that.

“I don’t see skunks or raccoons usually,” said Craig Sanders, a resident in St. John’s, N.L. “We usually just deal with seagulls when it comes to roadside garbage.”

The proud people of Newfoundland and Labrador have found their solution.

Slopes don’t do so well for bins. If the wind doesn’t send the bin or its lid sailing, the garbage man leaving the bin on its side will send the bin to the bottom of the hill instead. But if you’re not careful you’re out at the end of the day cleaning up the warzone the gulls left behind because it’s not like the garbage pickup crew are paid to do it.

So, the Newfoundland solution to this steep dilemma includes anything from a blanket to the ingenious weighted net.

“Garbage must be placed in a bin or covered with an approved net or blanket from April 1 to November 30. All garbage must be completely covered,” is written on the Curb It St. John’s recycling and garbage pickup website.

The good news is the gulls seem to give the people a break during the cold winter months.

It’s a mystery how the net keeps the gulls away. The nets are quite holey; holey enough for a gull to fit it’s head in and snack.

But this is a mystery I’m happy for because at least it means no cleanup. Unfortunately, the nets aren’t cheap, some going for a little over $20. But it’s a small price to pay to avoid cleanup. Just be sure to keep an eye out. The gulls might be getting smarter because some nets disappear. It’s either that or people don’t want to pay for one and a net precariously resting on the sidewalk can be an easy “gift.”


First Canada, next the world

What started as an outlet for a little, shy and awkward girl growing up in Vanier and having troubles with bullies at her school quickly became something she could love.

Fourth-year e-business supply chain management student Sandra Lanois-Bazinet, 22, will be travelling to the United Arab Emirates to represent Canada in the 2014 Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships this April.

She has been entered in the blue belt level female adult light open competition and will face off against contenders weighing in at 145.2 pounds and under.

The road leading to this opportunity was paved with years of practice, knowledge earned in multiple forms of martial arts, and a desire for competition.

“It was hard to believe at first that I’d be a champion,” said Lanois-Bazinet. “But now I’m going to Abu Dhabi and representing Canada. So now it’s about being the best in the world.”

Lanois-Bazinet isn’t so little and not so awkward anymore either, especially when on the mat in front of an opponent. Today, she continues to strive to do better and be as close to perfection in martial arts as she can.

“When I first started my martial arts career, I was a different person with not much self-confidence,” said Lanois-Bazinet. “But the environment from martial arts and the competitions helped mold me and helped me grow to what I am now.”

On August 2008 she competed in a smoker fight, her first mixed martial arts fight. A smoker fight is an amateur fighting competition that gives new fighters some ring time for bigger attempting bigger competitions.

But her first real MMA amateur fight came a year later. This amateur competition allowed her to be labelled the youngest female to compete in amateur MMA. It also fueled her love for competition.

As an added bonus, Lanois-Bazinet is one of Canada’s youngest amateur featherweight champions in mixed martial arts.

She has been honing her skills in multiple forms of martial arts since she kicked off her career under the tutelage of Aline de la Rosa in traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, a martial arts self-defense form also known as Can-Ryu, on her 10th birthday.

“Sandra is very goal-oriented and driven, and always set her goals high,” said Rosa. “Her mental aspect is outstanding, especially when she’s in competition mode. She’s able to enter her own world and put the steps together to get what she wants to achieve. She’s dedicated and trains multiple times a day when she can.”

Lanois-Bazinet later earned her first black belt when she was 16, around the same time she started teaching adults Can-Ryu and children Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Can-Ryu. She continues to teach children and adults today.

“She was great with the kids and she’s just a generally great person and an excellent role model for the kids,” said Chris Ryan, a parent of one of Lanois-Bazinet’s students.

She has been a practitioner of Can-Ryu for 12 years and has earned her second-degree black belt November 2013 under John Therien in a Therien Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing location in Ottawa, where she also has been attending kickboxing classes under Jean-Yves Theriault for the past five years. She has also been a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for three years and earned her blue belt under Felipe Heidrich and Wade Shanley.

“She’s very strong and her long legs are really good for Jiu-Jitsu,” said Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainer Wade Shanley. “Sandra’s not a quitter. Her only real weakness came at first with her confidence. But then she started winning and now she’s tough and will always go for a win.”

In the past two years Lanois-Bazinet has taken up Muay Thai under James Helmer and started dabbling in Judo, and wrestling under instructor Benjamin Sayah at Algonquin’s Impact Zone in January 2014.

Throughout her martial arts career, Lanois-Bazinet continues to compete on a regular basis in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, and MMA competitions. She has earned multiple podium finishes which include a gold at the Toronto International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Open and double gold at the Ottawa Open.

Between school, work for martial arts clubs, martial arts training and competitions, Lanois-Bazinet barely has time for much else but she still manages to join her friends for a movie night at the theatres, practice the guitar, or attend some salsa dancing classes when she has the chance.

With a long, lean torso and limbs, broad shoulders and an expression so focused and serious on the mat that it unnerves her opponents, Lanois-Bazinet is a well-trained and prepared martial artist that plans on bringing her all to the World Championship of 2014.

What comes next is unclear but Lanois-Bazinet has expressed an interest in travelling internationally to teach what she’s learned in martial arts and see the world. She’d also like to add some more black belts to her collection but said the higher black belt degrees would only come with time, patience, and a lot of travelling.


Algonquin Times

Arkells get five score encore

Bright lights pierced through a thin layer of fog in the Commons Theatre Sept. 4 as an impatient audience stood by the stage, waiting for the main event to begin.

Before long, two-time award winning Hamilton band, the Arkells, composed of lead singer Max Kerman, guitarist Mike DeAngelis, bassist Nick Dika, keyboardist Anthony Carone and drummer Tim Oxford, walked on stage, altering impatience into excitement.

The concert started off with the Arkells fourth hit song, Fake Money, from their newest album High Noon.

“I’ve been following the Arkells for three years now and I’m so glad I finally had the chance to see them live,” said second-year psychology student Samantha Calip.

Opening for the Arkells, the Canadian indie rock band Wildlife was forced to warm up an audience about half the size of what was expected – the other half of the audience only making their appearance after the break between bands.

“The audience was smaller than I’m used to seeing at the Arkells’ shows even after Wildlife was done playing and the extra fans came in. But it was funny to hear people shouting at Wildlife to play some Arkells songs, apparently they actually thought the Arkells were playing,” said second year interactive media design student Geoff Harper who has made it to three of the Arkells’ shows.

But even with a confused and halved audience, Wildlife still gave it their best and gave the audience a little treat as lead vocalist Dean Povinsky climbed off the stage to get as close to the audience as possible when their set was reaching its end.

“You have to find something you’re passionate about, and for me that’s singing” said Povinsky to the Times.

The Arkells had their own chance to get close to fans as three audience members attempted to climb the stage and dance in the sloppy manner easily found in the crowded clubs of the ByWard Market.

“I love the enthusiasm from those drunk guys, but he just took away eight bars from Anthony’s solo,” said Kerman. “So Anthony, how about some more?”

Kerman and Carone shared only a brief glance before the pianist’s fingers started dancing along the keyboard again.

“We usually put up a barricade in front of the stage to keep people back so they can’t climb the stage so easily, but getting close to the band can be fun and we wanted to give the students a chance,” said theatre operations manager Ken MacLeod. “But this time a few guys ruined it for the rest and we aren’t sure if we’ll be able to do the same thing again.”

The standard encore that’s become something of a concert symbol was altered by the Arkells as they returned after a short absence to play five more songs instead of the customary one or two. Of the songs played their second highest rated song Book Club started the encore and the show ended with Whistleblower and applause and cheers from an exhilarated audience.

“This was my second time seeing the Arkells and they were so solid,” said first year introduction to music industry arts student Megs Laver. “The sound was tight and Max’s dance moves were so groovy. Now I just want to run home and play some of their songs.”


Algonquin Times

Unstoppable Thunder in home element

Charcoal-grey clouds carried in a storm and the Thunder girls soccer team brought the boom on Sept. 13 against the Fleming Knights on the Algonquin College soccer complex.

With teammate support, captain and defensive player Melissa Harrison got the ball rolling with a goal early into the first half, of what would later become a 3 – 0 win.

“It’s important to get on top early in the game,” said Harrison. “Playing at home adds to it too. It’s important to never lose on your home turf.”

The rain barely bothered the Thunder as they gave it their all, sliding and splashing through the soaked field to maintain ball control. The girls danced around the Knights throughout the first half of the game and maintained a strong presence in the opposing team’s zone, only letting up by a small margin in the second half.

“There aren’t a lot of returning players this year so it’s a building process for now, but it helps that we have a lot of talent to work with,” said head coach Dominic Oliveri. “We’re trying to keep it together and we’re working a lot on keeping possession and passing which should help to bring us more goals.”

Some of the talent comes from defensive newcomer Emma Arsenault who held her own on the field, stopping several attempts by the Knights to enter the Thunder’s zone. She has been playing soccer since the age of five and can only remember missing a single year due to an ACL injury.

“It’s been a great experience playing on the college team so far and I’m learning a lot,” said Emma Arsenault. “Everyone on the team is really friendly and I’m looking forward to playing the next three years with them.”

Following the first goal by Harrison, midfield Amy Savage received an opportunity to double their score with a penalty kick. She didn’t disappoint and put the Thunder up 2 – 0. Then it was more ball play until the second half when forward Tori MacFarlane scored, bringing the Thunder up 3 – 0, effectively closing off the Knights’ comeback opportunity.

“It was when I scored the penalty shot that I started telling myself we were going to win this one,” said Savage. “We just need to sort out our runs, shape up a bit, but we moved the ball better as a team and we worked hard to get this win.”

The Thunder’s next game is against Durham Lords on Sept. 14 where the Thunder will defend their home turf once again. The following game will be a visit to St. Lawrence College to challenge the Vikings. The Thunder plan on making both big wins as they reach for provincials.

“We’re hosting provincials this year, win or lose, so we’ve definitely got to be there,” said Oliveri. “But we’re also looking beyond that to another chance at the National championship.”


Algonquin Times

From A to B

There are a lot of ways for a person to get from one place to another. Walking, running, biking, driving, flying, swimming, and so on.

For a guy living in Ottawa, my trip to Newfoundland and Labrador opened my eyes to a new way to travel. Calling the cab.

Luckily, the local newspaper I have been interning with pays for the drives as long as it’s work related, but without that I probably would have taken the buses and missed out on this difference entirely. Buses have their own difference, but none that blow me away so much as the St. John’s, N.L. cab drivers.

In Ottawa, I cabbed plenty of times either to the bars or clubs, the casino, home or groceries. I cabbed all times of the day when buses weren’t an option. And the experiences were less than enjoyable.

Cabbies in Ottawa almost always have a Bluetooth hooked up and in their ear, and a majority of them are talking to someone nowhere near the cab in a language I haven’t put the time in to learn so I can’t really learn anything about the driver by listening. Sure, they’ll say a few words if you talk with them, but I’ve only had experience a select few that would actually hold a conversation with their passenger.

My first thought was, “is it me?” Because that’s just how I think.

Then I flew to St. John’s, N.L. and called my first cab.

“How ya doin’?” asked the cabby. When I asked him if I could use his name for my blog he said he’d rather not, so cabby will be his name.

Already I’m surprised, here’s a guy that pulls up and the moment I open the door he’s starting a conversation.

I tell him I’m doing good and give him the address I want him to take me to.

“Sure thing. You’re not from around here, are you?” he asked.

So, of course I’m thinking, OK, I got a talkative cabby. We spent the rest of the $20 cab drive talking about where I’m from, what I’m doing here and what I plan on doing, and talking about him and his life story.

But as I took more cabs, I found more cabbies liking a conversation.

And the best part, the drivers aren’t crazy. In Ottawa, my first couple times in the cab had me with my hand clutching the suicide bar over my head in the backseat.

This by no way is me saying Newfounlanders are good drivers. They are, they’re just crazy on the road in their own way. The general outlook on life is, ‘no rush’. And that says it all.

“You meet some interesting people on this job,” said the cabby.

And he was right. On both sides. I’ve met a cabby that told me he spent 30 years as a journalist. There have been a bunch of retired old guys just looking for something to keep them busy and have extra money in their pocket. And then there was the drivers who are sick of their job and want something new. They all have stories. Some even have stories about people they’ve driven.

“The trick,” another cabby told me, “is to stay away from the night shift around George Street. It’s good pay but you don’t always have a good time.”

I learned so much about where I should go while in Newfoundland, things I should see, stuff I should do. I knew only my brother while I’ve been in Newfoundland and he’s a student so he knows mostly things involving George Street. So the cabbies are the ones who saved me from six weeks of boredom in my internship with the Telegram.

I’m not sure what cab drivers are like in other provinces, but I feel like trying them out even if I don’t have to because here in Newfoundland it’s all so different from Ottawa. Whether the change is because of the strong patriotism Newfoundlanders have for their province or because the province is separated from Ontario by land and Ocean, the change is good.



Welcome to your job

Starting at my internship at the Telegram on my first day, I had no idea what to expect. Here I am, in a new province, a new environment, around new people.

Would the office be serious or strict? How much work would I get? Will I be successful? Will the people in the office even like me? Will I like them? Will I like this job?

It’s safe to say I was stressed.

“Are you having fun, Erich?” asked my editor, Steve Bartlett.

Normally, I’d say yes to this question out of some sense I have in thinking it’d be rude to say otherwise. But it wasn’t so easy to say that and that’s a good thing.

The office was great. Get your work done and have fun doing it. The office was full of laughs. Bartlett always joked around and people were friendly and helpful.

I started feeling myself falling into the role of a proper journalist and seeing my name in the paper was plenty exciting. It has all been thanks to the people in the office.

The only stress any of these journalists appeared to deal with involved getting their stories in on time and being able to contact a source. Though I’m certain a few of them still had a mickey or flask hiding in their desk for emergencies.

This has been my first taste of a real job. A job you work as an adult. This isn’t the corner store or a call center. The thing is, the only jobs I worked back in Ottawa were the student jobs so to say I see a difference would be wrong. I have nothing but those student jobs to measure by.

“Open heart surgery, that’s stressful,” said Bartlett. “We just write about the stressful situations, there shouldn’t be stress her. Have fun.”

If the people and the job here is anything like what’ll I’ll be working with in Ottawa or elsewhere, I’m more than happy. And if not, I guess that’s just another reason why Newfoundland is awesome.

Rain scares the apocalypse away

Algonquin Students’ Association and the Fitness Zone employees worked together to make their five-kilometer Zombie Run a bigger success than its previous year, but Mother Nature had other plans.

The fun-run kicked off in the late morning of Oct. 9 with dark rain clouds and cool winds adding to the ominous atmosphere of a zombie apocalypse that the Halloween props had already begun to create. But even zombies could be deterred from fresh brains when threatened with rain.

This five-kilometer zombie run promised double the registered runners and volunteer zombies of the previous year, except over half of the participants on both sides failed to make an appearance. The seriously damaged numbers didn’t stop the fun however, as a small group of runners and zombies were more than happy to play, rain or shine.

“The weather makes me a little nervous,” said first-year upgrading program student Kaylea Ariss, a zombie stalking the first infected zone. “A little rain is ok but I don’t want to get soaked. I’m still going through with this though.”

Corn starch, red food colouring and syrup made up most of the blood that covered the undead, and ripped clothing completed the zombie look.

“We went with some less coordinated zombies,” said Fitness and Wellness coordinator Wayne Boucher who was in charge of the event. “We wanted to make it less like World War Z and more like Walking Dead where the zombies stumble around and lunge when you get close.”

Sent in heats of 15 to avoid collisions and too much chaos, the first group of runners began with stretches at the starting line to prepare themselves for the mini hordes of zombies in the two designated infected zones.

“When we came to the infected zones there’d be someone that goes ahead and I’d pair with them whether they knew it or not,” said first-year medical radiation technology student Alesha Sim. “I’d run just behind them because you don’t want to be first in or last out so I let whoever ran ahead attract all the zombies and hoped for the best.”

For the runners that weren’t paying attention in the pre-run briefing there was some closure as the two infected zones gave off plenty of warnings with limbs, cobwebs and other large obstacles decorating the area.

Unlike the standard zombie apocalypse that is featured in Hollywood movies and the more famous television show Walking Dead, the survivors had two lives – towels tucked in at their waist. The objective was to run the course, through the zombies, and reach the finish line with at least one life still attached. Runners could continue the run if they lost their lives but bragging rights were only given to those who finished with a towel.

“I’ll be doing it again as a runner for sure,” said first-year business administration student Laura Kelly. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s a 5k so you run some and walk some. Just be sure to catch your breath between zombie hordes or you could be in trouble.”


Algonquin Times