Perplexing Take On Improved 911 Response Times

I came across the following headline the other day, which made me do a double take:


I have apparently been under an erroneous impression that the purpose of ambulance response is to deal with life-threatening emergencies; I hadn’t realized this seeming-purpose was a bad thing, and that ambulances were really supposed to be glorified taxis for people with minor ailments.

The article that followed was equally ridiculous, an excerpt of which follows:


I just took a level one first aid course, and if there is anything that I’ve learned on it,  is that every second in a life-threatening emergency counts. So to skim off thirty seconds from a response time is pretty damn amazing.

Kudos to BC Ambulance for their hard work and efforts; this article is simply bunk and hardly worth the paper on which it is printed.

Caveat Tweeter: The Subconscious Is Always Lurking

I came across the following tweet from @UNICEF yesterday:  #NepalEarthquake: “I think everyone is experiencing some level of shock”

They couldn’t come up with a better word than “shock?”

I suspect the fact of the aftershocks was on the writer’s mind when they wrote this tweet, but rather than making a serious statement, the tweet became the kind of pun you laugh at and then immediately regret laughing at it because of the serious situation that the tweet was attempting to highlight.

So, Caveat Tweeter (and I’m likely as guilty of the following as anybody): careful of your wording as you might inadvertently make a pun due to your subconscious picking up on key words that don’t quite fit the tweet.

**Please support the Red Cross in helping the citizens of Nepal**

Nepal earthquake, Kathmandu



I was walking to work the other day, as the weather has warmed up enough, there is now plenty of light in the mornings, and I’m lucky enough to be a half hour walk through the suburbs from my workplace. The walk is great, it gets my body and mind going in the mornings, and helps me walk off the stresses of the day (not that I have many stresses, mind you, just the usual office dribs and drabs, which really aren’t so much stresses as much as Things That Occupy My Mind).

Anyhow, I walk past my old elementary school and church, as I started out at private Catholic school, St. Anthony’s. The building that used to be my school was torn down several years ago, and a new building put up in its place, sort of. The new building doesn’t isn’t in the footprint of the old. It’s strange to walk past the place though, as that old school still comes up as a setting in my dreams ever so often. Even as I write this, all I can see in my mind’s eye is the old building and I can’t even think of what the new ones looks like.

As I was coming upon the block where St. Anthony’s is, I espied at the foot of the driveway to the property a yellow taxi cab with the doors wide open, a large green bag on the pavement behind the cab, an older, slightly stout woman in jeans and a cream jumper pulling out some sort of paperwork from the back seat of the cab, the cab driver placing some additional plastic shopping bags beside the green bag, and the occasional car pulling into the church either because the teachers were coming in early, or people were arriving for the 8am mass.

The giant bag was strange, but I figured it to be one of those sacks that coaches use to haul around sports equipment, and likewise figured the woman to be someone’s grandparent was had volunteered to bring the school’s soccer team’s equipment to a morning practice, and either her car had broken down or she didn’t have a car, hence the cab.

As I neared the scene, the driver jumped back into the cab and took off. The woman, who at this point had strewn some of the papers all over the sidewalk, stood for a moment with something in her hand. I was then close enough to realize several things:

a) the older, slightly stout woman was actually a wiry older homeless man in baggy clothing, clutching a steaming latte in a ceramic travel coffee mug
b) the large green bag was actually a green tarp filled with his belongingsc) the plastic bags and paperwork were the remnants of his possessions that somehow hadn’t fit in the tarp sack

I know knew why the cars going into St. Anthony’s had slowed down as they came across this little vignette and, in true Vancouver fashion, not one of them had stopped to check what the fellow was doing, to ask him if he needed any help, or to do anything at all. As likely as not, they probably had all congregated inside the church to natter on about the situation without doing anything about it, one way or the other.

man, cigarette, latte, coffee, starbucks, smoking, drinking coffeeAs I passed by him, the fellow sat down on the curb with his latte, and lit a cigarette. I thought to myself, surely I can’t just walk past without checking in on him, I mean, what if he’s unstable and needs help? The school children will be arriving shortly and the church is just a few meters away if I need to go in to get help for him.

So I went back and asked him, “Is everything okay?”

To which he replied, perfectly lucidly, “Yup, thanks.”

And that was that. He sounded completely in command of his faculties, lord knows why he happened to catch a cab to the foot a suburban church in the middle of West Vancouver. The closest as I can come to, on this, is that the church isn’t too far from the entrance to Capilano Regional Park, a park to which some homeless people go during the warmer summer months and set up camp in there. Maybe the guy was going to end up in Cap and the cab driver dropped him off four blocks too early. Anyhow, I kept walking.

bumblebeeHalf a block later, I came across an enormous bumblebee lying on its back on the sidewalk, which made me very sad as I really like bees and bumblebees, and used to pet the daft things (the bumblebees) as a child (I’d pick up a clover on which one of these large creatures had alit and was busy gathering up pollen, and I’d pet its furry back very gently was one finger). As I looked down, and this one was particularly huge, almost an inch in length, I saw that its little legs were moving. That morning was on the cooler side, and the bumblebee must have tried to make a go of it but the cold got to it and grounded the wee beastie. I was wearing gloves, so I picked up the bumblebee and set it aright. It started to crawl, which I was delighted to see, so I picked it up again and put it on the grass next to the sidewalk, so at least no one would step on it (eternally optimistic here, and that no bird would attempt to eat it). I felt rather good about the whole thing.

Let It Be, BeatlesHalf a block after that, “Let It Be” by the Beatles started to play on my iPod, which I thought was a great coincidence on all sorts of levels, notwithstanding the pun on the word ‘Be’ and my “bee” experience, and the zen outlook of the song.

Between all these three coincidences, I had a great zen start to my day.

Later that day, I was meeting my friend, DM, for a walk during our lunch hour, and was telling him about this strange set of morning circumstances, when we came across another mutual friend, EW, who was having a rough day of it and was in some need of moral support and some boosting of her morale. Now the thing is, DM and I were supposed to have met the day previous for lunch but something had come up so we hadn’t been able to, and were going instead on this day. I like to think that we were supposed to be there for EW at that moment when she really needed some friends about to cheer her up, which DM and I did our best to do, with, if I do say so myself, we did so successfully.

So here is where the story comes full circle: EW’s last name ends in ‘-bee.’ So, being a lover of symbolism and great believer in fate (when it fits), think that my picking up of the bumblebee was a metaphor of the -bee that DM and I helped cheer up later that afternoon. Coincidentally, EW was wearing a yellow sweater to boot. Also, St. Anthony is knows as the patron saint of lost things, and EW’s stress was over some seemingly lost paperwork. Coincidence? Serendipity? Fate? The Universe communicating in its mysterious way?

The only thing I can’t place is the homeless guy with a latte, but I like to think that God has a sense of humour and through that one in for a lark.

Gary Larson, Far Side, God has a sense of humour, sense of humor

Envisioning a Colorado Haven for Readers, Nestled Amid Mountains of Books –

Rocky Mountain Land Library

It’s true, print books are on the slow decline, and we haven’t even hit a thousand years of printed materials (I am differentiating print books as those initiated by Guttenburg’s revolutionary invention in the late 15th century). At least the written word is widespread.

I do love this idea of a retreat for books and book lovers. I have my own little library that is my pride and joy, yet I am reducing it as well due to lack of space. I’ve also shifted from reading print news to reading news predominantly online, and end my day by scanning articles from across several sites. Interesting how reading habits are changing within our lifetime.

And, yet, if I ever do end up publishing my book, I do want it to go to print, and not just online. There is something so satisfying about having a paper copy in hand.

Envisioning a Colorado Haven for Readers, Nestled Amid Mountains of Books –

California Road Trip: The End Result

In Summary

Please to share that my parents had a successful research trip down to California, Oregon, and Washington. They took copious tasting notes for all the wines and beers that they sacrificed to their livers, for the sake of my brother’s fine wine and craft beer store: Point McKay Wines.

The photo below is of my brother, Marek, smiling from ear to ear as, in two weeks time, my parents are doing a road trip out to Calgary to share their findings (written and liquid) with him.

Parkdale Week of April 6-April 12

From what I gathered, all the wineries in west Paso Robles were a huge hit, and the wines fantastic. My parents particularly found the customer service in the various wineries there superb, because as soon as people found out that my parents were tasting for a cause, additional wine samples were provided, and an enthusiastic reception to cultivate relationships with interested parties in Canada. I will try to get my mum to provide me a list of wineries that she would recommend visiting.

Favourite craft beer was Deschutes in Portland, both for the beer and for the atmosphere of the brewpub.

All in all, a successful wine tour and road trip down south.

Part 8

California Road Trip Part VIII

Discrete Tornadoes

Last night we were listening to the weather report on the news. The weatherman stated that, in the Midwest, a ” discrete ” tornado devastated a small town. Now from my limited knowledge of tornadoes there is nothing discreet about them and especially when an entire town is devastated.

I know that  Vancouver gets discrete tornadoes. They are so discrete that no one is aware that they have come and gone. Now that is being very discrete. Certainly, in Squamish, we must get very discrete tornadoes as no one has seen or felt anything approaching a tornado.

This reminds me of a poem,Fog,  by Carl Sandburg , where
” The fog comes
On little cat feet….”.

Now that is being discrete. I have read reports regarding tornadoes and the description often states the sound and the fury of such a storm not never that a tornado is so discrete that it sneaks in and out and no one noticed.

Part 7     Part 9


California Road Trip Part VII

lions, safari, California safariCalifornia Safari

On our way from California to Oregon, along the coast, I saw a large road sign advertising a safari zoo. In very large letters it said,” take a walk through our safari.” The zoo also proudly advertises the animals that one encounters on the walk: large cats, all carnivores, all wild.

Now this zoo safari expects visitors to pay in order to enter.

Now I can see the big cats waiting for the visitors, and appraising their dinner. The cats see the visitors as nothing  less than a movable feast.

This is a winning combination for the safari owners: they get money, the cats get food, and the visitors get an experience, should they survive, that they will never forget.

Part 6     Part 8

California Road Trip Part VI


We usually try to get a hotel that serves breakfast because, early in the morning, it is difficult to go out of the hotel to find a place that serves breakfast; we love the convenience of having breakfast at the hotel, and we are also lazy and half asleep.

The breakfast usually consists of apples, bananas, or oranges; dry cereals, muffins, and danishes. A few hotels serve bagels, toast bread, butter, cream cheese, jellies, and yogurts. These same hotels serve eggs, scrambled or hard boiled.

There are Michelin-starred chefs who have perfected the edible foam. What edible foam means is converting a perfectly good fruit, vegetable or egg, into a foam easily digested by babies and those with no teeth. Hotels have  perfected a new way of serving eggs: edible sponge. Under the name scrambled eggs, we get a sponge that has been cut up into small pieces. All the years that I have made scrambled eggs, I have never been able to make egg sponge, a rather tasteless concoction but egg yellow in colour, and of a definite sponge consistency.

As I mentioned previously, all the hotels serve a muffin or danish or sweet roll. One hotel told us that breakfast would  consist of fresh fruit, bananas, and sweet rolls. In the morning, I went to get a banana and some sweet rolls. On a tray was a row of mummified items, encased in transparent wrappings. These ancient items had not been disturbed in ages. Obviously they belonged to the owners of the hotel, since they were displayed in the most prominent place of the foyer.  I reached for one mummified roll but withdrew my hand. I wouldn’t want to be accused of stealing antiquities or holy relics.

Part 5     Part 7

danish, danish pastry, pastries

California Road Trip Part V

California hotels, California, Little RiverHotels

Usually we try to stay in one of the Marriott hotels, that is, Courtyard, Residences, and  Fairfield.

In Eugene, Oregon, we stayed in  the Courtesy motel. An old but clean and simple place, located in the downtown area. Actually, this motel had 6 brewpubs within a radius of 1 kilometer. Since our assignment from Marek was to visit wineries and breweries, this motel was ideal.

In Redding, California, we stayed at the Fairfield, the best hotel so far. Not only was the room exactly according to our wishes, no feather pillows and a fridge, but the staff was friendly, accommodating, and knowledgeable. When we asked if any brewpubs were located in the vicinity, the lady behind the counter gave us a printout with the name, address, and directions to the pub.  The manager of the hotel invited us to an evening of micro brewery beer or wine, and  a choice of two soups with a bread roll.

In Salinas, we stayed again at a Fairfield, nice and clean hotel with a friendly staff but the furniture showed its age and the carpet was a little worn.

In Palm Desert we stayed at the Marriott Residence. Of course, this town being a chic town, used to chic tourists, we expected the hotel to be chic. It was not.  As we walked to our room, we noticed the room maid in front of our room with two pillows on the floor outside the door.  She placed the pillows on the floor so she could open the door.  We walked into our room together with the maid.  She proceeded to replace two feather pillows withe the pillows that she had placed on the floor.  We noticed that there was no fridge in the room so we asked that a fridge be put inside the room.  This was done. However, in such a 3 star hotel the fridge should have been in place prior to our arrival, and certainly there should not have been any feather pillows in the room and no pillow should be placed on the floor, especially since we had booked the room 4 weeks prior to our arrival.

When I checked the bathroom, the sink had a large and obvious crack,  the ice bucket had something that looked like a large bird dropping, something found in a no star hotel.  We went out the next afternoon for the birthday party. When we came back,  our keys could not open the door. We went to the front desk and asked for help. We were told that our keys were demagnetized and that is why we could not open the door. The desk person gave us another set of keys.  We went back to our room. The second set of keys also could not open our room door. Back to the front desk. This time the lady came with us. She tried our keys, her key and finally she phoned the maintenance man who, after a few minutes, was finally able to open our door.

The next day as I went out of our room to get some water from a cooler, I noticed on the hallway floor a bag with two small bags of chips and a bottle of water.  I returned the bag to the front desk. The lady thanked me and said ” we give these bags to our special guests”.  I thought all hotel guests are special but we did not get a goody bag, therefore we were not special.

The following morning, just before we left the hotel, I went to the bathroom. On leaving, I could not open the door. With cool panic in my voice I asked dad to get me out. He could not, but he said ” don’t worry, I’ll get the maintenance man” . the maintenance man worked for 5 minutes before the door was opened, and I was released from the bathroom.

In Pasadena and Atascadero we stayed in a Best Western Plus.  Both hotels were very good and the breakfast was very tasty.

We are now in Sunnyvale in a Quality Inn. The room is clean, the pillows are synthetic, and a fridge and microwave oven are also in the room. The only complaint is the bathroom. There is no tub, only a shower stall which is so small that it is difficult to rinse the soap off our body, especially the nether regions properly. Now I have to be very discreet when I fart, in case I blow soap bubbles.

Part 4     Part 6