Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More on the Carrington Fire

(Please see additional update at bottom of post)

I haven't heard anything about how the Edmonton Police are progressing with their investigation into the fire at the Carrington Seniors Residence, apparently considered an arson.

However, I did receive an email from a man who claimed to be a first responder at the fire and he made some interesting observations backed up with pictures. It seems that the sidewalk immediately outside one of the fire exits was being replaced and there was an excavated trench about 8 inches deep. For seniors with various levels of capabilities, to exit down 3 or 4 flights of stairs, then to try to cross this trench at 3am seems a bit scary. Many of them just couldn't get across the trench without help. It raises an obvious question about the fire code which I'm not qualified to answer. The rule of thumb is you do not block an escape route in any way. The details were forwarded to the Fire Inspector for consideration.

Immediately after the fire, the entire complex was sealed off and fenced. The author of this email claims that he went back the next day and the trench had been filled in. Its a strange allegation. If true, what would be the reason for filling in a hole on a condemned building?

Please keep in mind that the photos are somewhat inconclusive and there are no photos at 3am, at the time of the evacuation. I have no way of knowing if this story is true, but it does concern me.

I would definitely like to see these buildings made easier to get out of. I'm very grateful to these people who responded at the time and prevented loss of life. But some things about the evacuation plan still don't seem right to me.

Update (July 30,2009)

I misconstrued some of the details Jim had sent in previous emails, so here is his latest email point out a couple of my errors:

I read your latest blog and have to point out some errors...

"the sidewalk immediately outside one of the fire exits was being replaced and there was an excavated trench"

not true, there was no work being done, the sidewalk/trough was built to funnel water to the sewer, now the system wont work because the sidewalk is above the sewer feeder trough. It was built that way and had been there for approx 10 years.

"The author of this email claims that he went back the next day"

not true, I went back 3 days later (Wed June 3rd/8:30pm) to find the sidewalk/trough had been back filled and the courtyard had been soden,by 11am Friday there was a sidewalk installed and the staircase had been changed from a wooden one to a concrete staircase.

I just have to keep the facts straight.

Please recommend this post

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Brief Moon Landing Thought

Once my Mom gave me a present. It was a copy of the Edmonton Journal of July 21 or 22, 1969 with the breathtaking picture of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon. It seemed an odd juxtaposition with the Journal's banner in old style Gothic font.

I took it out to show it to someone one day only to find out that my nephew had found it and had used it to color and scribble on. I wasn't really mad. My nephew was quite young and didn't understand the importance of the paper.

The irony of the moon missions is that it forced humans to look inward and ask those big questions about our purpose and place in the universe. To think about those kind of questions while also looking at the scribblings of a child is not a bad thing.

PS Could have been my niece. Still doing the chronology with my slide rule. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Boutilier Should Resign

I wasn't planning on blogging about Guy Boutilier getting punted by Big Daddy. To be honest I find the internecine feuds of Alberta conservatives to be as about interesting as potatoes with no gravy.

There is a tangential issue relating to populism and the basics of what elected official are supposed to be doing for us. However, we've known for over two decades or more that the Alberta Progressive Conservatives are not a populist party. There are far more glaring examples of Alberta's need for democratic reform than a feud between these two C students.

If I were Guy Boutilier, I would resign my seat immediately and force the Premier to call a by-election in Ft. McMurray. Also, I would tender my resignation over the phone. Maybe even by text or Twitter.

Think about it. The Party would have to go into Ft. McMurray and would have to confront an angry riding association. They would no doubt have to disband Boutilier's riding association and create another one loyal to Big Daddy. Good luck with that. That town is pissed off. The entertainment value is unlimited.

In the lead up to the by-election the Health Minister could go to Ft. McMurray, hold a Town Hall and explain why they don't need a long term health care facility, and he could make amusing segues in the Q&A about how he didn't go to Harvard and didn't graduate with Barack Obama. *Sneer*. Assuming there was no riot or heckling by seniors.

I always hate to be the one that shrugs my shoulders and say, Hate to say it but I told you so. We need some change here.... Please recommend this post

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I just heard a man on the radio use the word irregardless, an evil word used more and more these days. Worse, the man was an instructor from Mount Royal College. He may be a full Professor by now given the recent regulatory changes and the College's elevation. Nonetheless I regard the use of this word as careless and perhaps even illiterate.

Since the early 1900's the word was flagged by dictionaries as incorrect. Over time this has eased a bit to now where many dictionaries describe it as merely non-standard.

Language, like Lutefisk, is dynamic and organic, not static. So I won't be surprised if eventually irregardless becomes a first class word. Even if that does happen, I would hope that teachers will mark down use of the word on the grounds of poor style.

Wikipedia claims that irregardless is a portmanteau of irrespective and regardless. This might be true, but I hope not because generally I find portmanteaus very clever and they've often been very good to me.

Irregardless is a double negative and the prefix adds no value to the word at all. Its main appeal is that when spoken it sounds more sophisticated than regardless.

I demand that this word be put under house arrest. Please recommend this post

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cronkite: Dignified and Professional

Everyone is reflecting on their memories of Walter Cronkite. I'm not surprised by the massive outpouring of respectful grief. My main impression is that he was an incredibly poised man who dealt with massive social upheaval in the 1960's, assassination, Watergate, a violent and unacceptable war in Vietnam - in a calm and dignified way.

My own vivid memory is being home from school sick when JFK was killed. I remember sitting in the dark living room on a typical Edmonton November day. I remember Cronkite reading the death announcement and he was barely able to hold it together.

I don't have much of an appetite for nostalgia - the 1960's and 1970's were horrible in so many ways - however, I do think journalism has really gotten smaller, more reactionary, and in some cases more hysterical. Please recommend this post

American Health Care Debate

I'm not an American yet I'm getting fatigued by the ongoing debate over the American health care system. So much stupidity and prejudice on parade. I hope Americans get a better system under President Obama so the average person doesn't have to choose between a simple procedure or owning a home. Or suffering silently then dying.

Here's a video of NY State Senator Tom Duane giving an impassioned and angry speech about people dying needlessly. Via Blabbeando.

Please recommend this post

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shocked But Not Surprised

When you have a radio station that caters to middle age guys who are predominately conservative, what could go wrong when you start a drive home show conversation about aboriginal issues?

On the way home I tuned in briefly to hear the tail end of a conversation about aboriginal property rights and the Indian Act. The two hosts made a segue to the story about the makeshift border crossing re-opening on Cornwall Island. One of the hosts made the comment, and I'm paraphrasing, that the Mohawks obviously don't want armed guards because they're afraid they'll be shot trying to smuggle cigarettes.

Even for talk radio, I found this unusually inflammatory. I guess this is why these people want to end the Human Rights Commissions, so they can make this kind of talk normal and mainstream.

The background to this, I think, is the fact that the Tsuu Tina nation recently rejected a half billion dollar offer from the City of Calgary and the Province to build the south-west ring road through the Nation's land. This rejection has certainly led to a lot of negative commentary about Tsuu Tina, and aboriginals in general. Please recommend this post