A Deadly Wandering

** content warning: spoilers & content not typically related to my current blog topic**

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A Deadly Wandering is a story that follows journalist Matt Richtel and Reggie Shaw, a 19-year-old man who killed two scientists along the border of the Rocky Mountains while texting and driving.

Richtel refers to science often throughout the book to show what the consumption of media is doing to our brains on a daily basis. At first I thought it would be filled with “sciency jargon”, but Richtel did a great job of using metaphors and plain language to paint the picture for the reader. One of my favourite references in the book is when Dr. Gazzaley discusses the “cocktail party problem” on page 62.

“The cocktail party effect shows the limitations of attention; after all, you can’t pay attention to two conversations at once. In fact, it’s so limited that if you’re really listening to the person in front of you, there are generally only two things you can pick up in a different conversation: the gender of the person speaking or, in some cases, the sound of your name.”

Dr. Gazzaley further states that many people think they are able to multitask when really you’re only able to focus on one specific thing, not everything in your field of vision.

I found this interesting because in the beginning of the book Reggie denies that he was texting and driving and blamed the accident on the road conditions. Of course this could be possible, but it’s interesting because the accident happened during a time when people weren’t keeping statistics on how many accidents were caused due to texting and driving. Richtel’s decision to push forward and look into the science behind multitasking (or texting and driving) helped unfold the story.

I thought Richtel did a great job of showing objectivity because he discussed with Dr. Gazzaley how maybe people are able to multitask. On page 121, Richtel writes “Despite this research, Dr. Gazzaley believes this is a very open-ended question, and a crucial one. He thinks an argument can be made that the brain might be trained in its ability not just to attend but even to multitask. That’s another of the key emerging areas of science: Researchers explored the underlying mechanisms of focus, they also started to look at pushing the limits of attention. In other words, can the ability to focus, once more fully understood, be expanded? “Is there a limit to how good we can get?” Dr. Gazzaley asked…”

Richtel had to do a lot of digging to write this story. I don’t think these details distract from the narrative. I think they help provide context in the story. For example, on page 110 it reads, “In late October, Reggie took a job. It was at Murdock Chevrolet, a dealership two minutes from his house. That’s where the family had purchased the Chevy Tahoe Reggie had been driving the day of the accident, though he didn’t think much of that fact… Even though it was winter, Reggie wore gym shorts and a ratty, brown, hooded sweatshirt. Tyson, the outgoing detailer and a former running back and football teammate of Reggie, explained the ropes. In a small garage on the dealership property, the detailers used little blue rags to make spotless the used or new cars and ready them for sale. Brushes, screwdrivers, and spray bottles hung on small hooks along the walls.”

Richtel had to find out very specific details, which helped the story come to life. Without them, it would be dry and boring. Richtel uses these kinds of details throughout the entire story. I can’t imagine how long it would’ve taken to gather them all, but I think journalists can learn to gather these types of details to make their stories even better.

Another part I thought was well written were the characters in the story. Again, they were shown with a lot of detail. At the beginning of chapter three on pages 30-32, Richtel uses up the pages to describe Dr. Gazzaley. Many people might find this much detail too much, but I found it made me feel like I was in the story with the people. For example, on page 31 there is a paragraph that describes Dr. Gazzaley: “Dr. Gazzaley himself might pass for a hipster musician. He’s a youthful-looking forty-five, with short-cropped silver hair —not gray but silver—that looks like it’s been dyed to get attention, even though it’s been the same color since it prematurely aged in his early thirties. He wears a serpentine ring on his right index finger. He’s become friends not just with Mickey but also with the lead singer of Thievery Corporation, a rock band, as well as some of the tech billionaires who attend the late-night parties he holds on the first Friday of each month.”

Even as a reader myself I find that I want the writer to just get to the point, but now I understand that these details help the reader understand the story better. I also appreciated Richtel’s writing style because at the beginning of the book I found myself wondering how I could feel sorry for Reggie when he killed two innocent people while texting and driving. At the end, I found myself feeling sympathy for Reggie and understanding how much regret he feels over what he’s done. The story could have been portrayed on either side and I appreciate Richtel’s objectivity of showing both and letting the reader decide in the end how to feel. Overall, I learned I need to ask the harder questions — not just what’s on the surface. It’s important to take the time to do your research and back up what you’re saying with actual facts and research. These facts need to be broken down into plain English for the reader. I learned that characters are what drives the story. I also learned that specific details are extremely important in creating a compelling story. Sure, the story might be longer than it would be without them, but they’re what kept me reading until the end.

 

Q&A with Kate Cameron

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Photo by Andrew Klaver/2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Kate Cameron is a Canadian curler from Thompson, Manitoba. She is a 2017 Manitoba Provincial Champion and 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts silver medallist. She currently plays third on Team Englot. Check out my Q&A with her below! 

KK: How did you get into curling?

KC: I grew up in Northern Manitoba in a small town called Gillam. My dad was a big rink rat and spent most of his evenings there. Since I was basically old enough to walk he’d bring me to the club and throw with me and try to teach me the basics. Ever since then I’ve been hooked.

KK: What do you like to do when you’re not playing?

KC: Relax with my friends and family! It’s hard to spend time with loved ones when you’re constantly on the road. Even harder living up north, I have an extra two days of travel to still get to and from Thompson after weekends on the road.

KK: What was the most difficult moment you’ve experienced in curling?

KC: Losing the 2016 MB Scotties Provincial Final after being exactly where we wanted to be. It was tough for my team to play so good in the round robin and the 1v.2 game then unfortunately I played one of my worst games of the week in the final.

KK: What was your favourite shot you’ve been part of?

KC: A few come to mind here… Michelle made a pistol draw to the lid against Rachel Homan in the quarter-finals of the 2016 Tour Challenge that eventually allowed us to steal the win against Rachel.

KK: Describe what your experience was like at your first Scotties.

KC: Unreal. It was everything I dreamed of and then some! Truly an amazing event and I am so grateful to have finally experienced it.

KK: What was your favourite part about the Scotties?

KC: The entire team experience. Good or bad, win or lose my team does it all together. Being experts there, they truly guided me along through the week and helped me stay calm in what are very exciting moments. This way I feel like I had a really good opportunity to take every moment in – from the opening ceremonies to standing on the podium. Plus, the jewelry was pretty sweet too!

KK: What is something people would find surprising about you?

KC: That I’m actually a big baby! I’m of basically scared of anything – being home alone, bugs, animals (except dogs ha), spooky things, being startled….

KK: What is one rule you would change about curling if you had the chance?

KC: Hog lines – ha.

KK: What is your favourite event to play in?

KC: Well now, I might say the Scotties! But the Grand Slams are wicked fun too!

KK: What is your favourite part about curling?

KC: Friendships. You become pretty close with your teammates, you spend more time with them than your spouses and families. It sure makes dedicating your time to a sport you love more rewarding when you are able to do it with 3 people who are sacrificing the same things you are and are appreciating each and every moment with you.

ironman curling bonspiel

This past weekend was the 16th annual Ironman Outdoor Curling Bonspiel. The spiel takes place at The Forks on the Assiniboine River and raises money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. I’ve never played in it before, but I decided to check it out and discovered one of the coolest events we have in Winnipeg! Not only are you playing out on the frozen river (which is pretty sweet), but people of all skill levels are welcome to play. This is definitely something you should add to your winter to-do list. Check out the pictures below.

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KK.

scotties bound

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Photo by CurlManitoba

If someone told me at the beginning of CreComm I’d be going to the Scotties, it’d be insanely hard to believe. In 2015, I deferred school so I could curl competitively with Cathy Overton-Clapham. The following year, I finally decided to go to school after shedding a few thousand tears knowing I was giving up the sport I love. I was convinced school would take me away from the game. Oddly enough, it was the exact opposite.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join Team Englot this year as their fifth. I went to practices, spared in a couple of spiels, and even got to play a game in provincials with them. These girls (and Coach Ron) have worked so hard to reach their goal. Not only that, but they have made me feel 100% part of their team from day one. Being a fifth can be awkward at times because you’re not entirely sure of what your place is. But these girls have been very welcoming and I’m so thankful they’ve asked me to join them on their search for a maple leaf.

I’m excited to be able to help them in any way I can at nationals. Thank you Team Englot for letting me experience my first Scotties. St. Catharines, here we come.

KK.

q&a wi briane meilleur

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Photo by Anil Mungal/Sportsnet

Briane Meilleur is a Canadian curler from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is a two-time Manitoba Junior Women’s Provincial Champion and 2011 Canadian Junior Women’s bronze medallist. She currently skips her own team with Rhonda Varnes, Janelle Vachon, and Sarah Neufeld. She is seeded fourth going into the 2017 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts starting January 25.

KK: What is one of your favourite shots you have been part of?

BM: That’s a hard one considering I have the worst memory. I would have to say a draw to the 8-foot to win my first junior provincial final in 2010 when I played with Breanne Meakin. It’s not the most extravagant shot, and I did the least work since I was standing in the house, but the meaning behind it makes it very memorable for me.

KK: How did you get into curling?

BM: From what my parents tell me, I wasn’t a fan of skating so hockey was out. They didn’t know what to put me in for a while. My mom has always curled and so when I was 11 years old they tried putting me in the junior program at the Heather Curling Club. I guess you could say I didn’t hate it.

KK: What do you do off the ice to stay in shape?

BM: I try to work out most days of the week at a gym close to my house. I follow a program that I had made specifically for curling so it works for me. Eating well isn’t my strong suit, so working out a little harder is what it has to be. I also know that’s not how it works but maybe I’ll break my bad habits one day.

KK: Your team has had a great season so far. What has your team done to become successful?

BM: Honestly it came down to lots and lots of practice. No one on our team had played together before so the time together, getting to know one another, and how we all play turned out to be key. We have the same drive and goals so that always makes it easier to build success.

KK: How do you feel being seeded fourth in the 2017 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts?

BM: It’s a little surreal. I’m proud of our team and how we played this year. It is a good feeling to be seeded up there as one of the top teams by your peers, but there are so many good teams in the mix this year. It should be a very interesting event.

KK: You’ve had a lot of junior success. How does that help you going into Grand Slam events and the provincials?

BM: I’m very grateful for the junior success I have had in the past. I feel it can make a huge difference when you get exposed to that kind of pressure and atmosphere at a young age. It definitely takes down the shock factor a bit when playing at a Slam or provincial event. I still get nervous, but I have always liked a little bit of nerves.

KK: You haven’t skipped since juniors. How do you feel skipping in the provincials this week?

BM: It’s a weird feeling. I’m both really excited and yet a little nervous at the same time. I’m confident in myself and our team, but it will be a first for me. I feel different than I have going into women’s provincials in previous years because it’s a new role I’m taking on. But I feel good and I can’t wait to get on the ice.

KK: What do you enjoy most about curling?

BM: That’s a good question. I’ve never really thought about that in depth. I do love competition and being challenged, but I think what I appreciate the most would be the friends I’ve made and the respect there is among competitors. The curling world is like a big family, and it’s so different from any other sport I’ve played.

KK: If you weren’t a curler, what do you think you’d be doing?

BM: Well I grew up playing softball and played competitively for years. I always had the dream of playing college softball in the U.S. so that was my plan for a long time. I think I decided to go for curling instead when I was around 16 or 17 years old. I still love baseball and that was my life for a long time, but I believe I made the right choice switching gears. I do wonder what it would of been like sometimes though.

KK: Name your top 5 snacks you eat between games.

BM: This is going to get me in big trouble, but I’ll be honest. Double Stuff Oreos, Doritos, Hickory Sticks, Fruit Source bars, and Chocolate Boost. I’m working on it, okay?

Follow Team Meilleur next week at the 2017 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts at http://www.curlmanitoba.org/eventdetails.php?txtEventID=4414#.WIZT4zKZMdU

KK.

new year, new blog

Hey guys!

It’s semester two of my CreComm adventure and that means a new blog topic. Instead of getting blog challenges from school, I’ll be writing about one topic throughout the semester. And that topic will be — surprise! Curling! What else do you expect?

A few of the upcoming posts are going to be about bonspiels, Q&A’s, and interviews with local elite and club curlers.

To kick it off, I’d like to give a little bit of background info on myself and the sport.

I started curling when I was ten years old. My parents had curled as well, and decided to put me in it to see if I’d like it. Gymnastics, swimming, and dance didn’t seem to stick to well, but finally something did.

Flash forward four years later and I started to play competitively with one of my best friends Whitney. Below is an embarrassing picture of us and our former team circa 2005. Yes, I had a mushroom cut.

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As the years went by, I got more and more competitive and decided I wanted to go as far as I can in the sport. I was lucky enough a couple years ago to be invited to my first Grand Slam event, which only made my love for the game grow more. In September, I had to make the difficult decision to leave the sport competitively for two years. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, but I’m so thankful that I did it. Not only am I in Creative Communications, a program that I love, but I get to be involved on the other side of curling. I’ve covered a few big curling events and got to interview athletes and take on-ice photos. It’s been an amazing experience, and I’m looking forward to finding out where else school will take me.

On that note, I’m excited to blog about something I’m so passionate about. Make sure to check back every week for new posts!

KK.

Putting the spotlight on Spotlight

BLOG CHALLENGE

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Photo by KERRY HAYES/IMDB

The movie Spotlight was released in 2015, and follows the true story about Boston Globe reporters uncovering the accusations of Catholic priests molesting children. The film won an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

Rachel McAdams plays Sacha Pfeiffer, one of the reporters on the Spotlight team. I admired her character the most in the film because of her determination to uncover the story, respect for those she interviews, and her style of interviewing.

Pfeiffer interviewed a victim of molestation in the film, and I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to talk about this sensitive topic. I can only imagine myself brushing off specific questions, not because I don’t want to uncover the story, but because I wouldn’t want to upset the victim I’m interviewing. I admire how when the discussion got heavy, she kept asking the victim for specific details in a respectful manner, explaining to the victim how important it was to expose the facts to the world. Pfeiffer also comforts the victim when he gets upset about something, and I appreciate her persistence and respect.

In one scene, Pfeiffer is shown phoning the victim to get clarification on whether he went to see a lawyer. This question alone was so important in uncovering the story and his answer would affect her investigation. As a first-year journalism student, I know it can be scary to interview people, but I really liked that Pfeiffer wanted to get all of her facts right and digs for more and more information on the case.

In another scene, Pfeiffer is shown going door to door around Boston to talk to accused priests. This was another situation that would take a lot of courage. Going door to door would be time consuming, but Pfeiffer didn’t give up and even ended up talking to a priest for a short period of time. The priest revealed that he was raped himself, and Pfeiffer takes the information back to the Spotlight team to help uncover the case further.

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as an ‘ideal journalist’. You certainly have to have a sense of determination, respect, and will to uncover a story. You also have to know your boundaries. I think Sacha Pfeiffer has the right combination of all of these traits. She doesn’t hide from details or specifics. Instead her determination shines through to tell the victims story respectfully, and is a role model for any beginner journalist to look up to.