30 June 2010

Welcome to Toronto

Sorry to keep bombarding y'all with G20 stuff, but, hey, I find it pretty interesting, and this blog is kind of a compendium of whatever I find interesting at a given moment.

Latest stuff coming out of G20:

- This article, from the Toronto Star, which is a compilation of stories from folks who were detained by police during the summit. Three that I found particularly interesting:

Adam MacIsaac, P.E.I.

MacIsaac, an independent journalist in town for the G20, took out his video camera to document police search methods and says he was aggressively thrown to the ground. Police began kicking him in the ribs and stunning him with a stun gun. “I have a pacemaker!” he screamed repeatedly, but says they didn’t listen.

MacIsaac was eventually taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was handcuffed to a hospital bed. He says officers harassed him; one repeatedly asked if his pacemaker battery was nuclear. He was later taken to the detention centre and left alone in the back of police cruiser. When police let him go seven hours later, they said they had no idea where his $6000 worth of equipment went. They told him to file a complaint.

Amy Miller, Montreal

Miller, an independent journalist, was on her way to the jail solidarity protest Sunday around noon with fellow journalist Adam MacIsaac. She stopped at Bloor and St. Thomas Sts. where she saw police officers searching a group of young people carrying backpacks. She says police attacked her.

“I was throttled at the neck and held down. Next thing you know I was being cuffed and put in one of the wagons.” She says she was threatened and harassed by police at the Eastern Ave. detention centre. “I was told I was going to be raped, I was told I was going to be gangbanged, I was told that they were going to make sure that I was never going to want to act as a journalist again.”

She also says she spoke to numerous young women who were strip-searched by male officers.

Maryam Adrangi, 24

The spokeswoman for the Toronto Community Mobilization Network was arrested Sunday outside activist “convergence space” at Queen and Noble on Sunday afternoon. She said she was driven around the city in an unmarked police van for four hours, taken to the detention centre for about 30 minutes and released without charge.

Adrangi, who was born in Iran, said she endured racist and sexist comments from police, who made fun of her name and the photos they took of her. “I was really angry and frustrated that the cops felt entitled to do that to people,” she said.

“One cop said to me, ‘If you were my daughter I would slap you in the mouth.’ ”

Second article I'm linking to / excerpting from this evening is from the Globe and Mail, and I find it almost more interesting than the first one. Why? Check this out (first few paragraphs of the story) -

Hours after Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair sat in front of a bank of cameras and microphones last Friday morning, defending the powers the province gave police to search, detain or arrest anyone coming within five metres of the G20 summit’s security fence, Toronto police received new information: The regulation specified nothing of the sort.

But police, having papered the area with pamphlets outlining G20-related security rules, felt no need to send out a press release clarifying how the regulation in question worked.

In total, police arrested more than 1,000 people over the course of the G20 summit. But of those, only 263 were charged with anything more serious than breach of peace – 714 people faced that minor charge, and were released unconditionally.

Another 113 were released unconditionally with no charges: They were arrested but not booked, said police spokesman Mark Pugash, who emphasized these numbers aren’t final. He said no one was arrested under the Public Works Protection Act who shouldn't have been.

Fun fun fun, innit? So... they invoked this act, said it gave them special powers to search and arrest anyone they wanted, went on camera defending those powers, then, when they realized they shouldn't actually (legally) have them, conveniently forgot to mention it until after the summit. Huh.

I also find it interesting that of the 1000+ people they arrested over the course of two days, they released 800+ of them without trying to do anything whatsoever to punish them for those oh-so-serious crimes they were supposed to have committed - other than, if we believe the stories of the people they arrested, pepper spraying them, tazing them, kicking them in the face, holding them for 23+ hours without letting them contact anyone outside, and threatening to gangrape them. Isn't that awesome? Oh, Canada... you're trying to be just as big and tough as our cops now, aren't you... don't worry - you'll get there someday!

Dangerous... so very dangerous

From Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, full article c&p because I found it interesting:

Toronto Police staged a display of weaponry to demonstrate “the extent of the criminal conspiracy” among hard-line G20 protesters, but several of the items had nothing to do with the summit.

Facing criticism for their tactics, police invited journalists on Tuesday to view a range of weapons, from a machete and baseball bat to bear spray and crowbars.

Chief Bill Blair, who told reporters the items were evidence of the protesters’ intent, singled out arrows covered in sports socks, which he said were designed to be dipped in a flammable liquid and set ablaze.

However, the arrows belong to Brian Barrett, a 25-year-old landscaper who was heading to a role-playing fantasy game when he was stopped at Union Station on Saturday morning. Police took his jousting gear but let Mr. Barrett go, saying it was a case of bad timing.

In addition to the arrows – which Mr. Barrett made safe for live-action role playing by cutting off the pointy ends and attaching a bit of pool noodle covered in socks – police displayed his metal body armour, foam shields and several clubs made of plastic tubing covered with foam and fabric.

Mr. Barrett said he was “appalled” at the placement of his chain-mail beneath a machete. He regularly takes public transit from his Whitby, Ont., home to Centennial Park to play the game, called Amtgard, while wearing the 85-pound armour and is worried people will think: “Oh my God, that’s one of the terrorists from G20.”

Police also displayed a crossbow and chainsaw seized in an incident on Friday that they said had no ties to the summit. When asked, Chief Blair acknowledged they were unrelated, but said “everything else” had been confiscated from demonstrators.

On Wednesday, however, Michael Went and Doug Kerr e-mailed a letter to Chief Blair saying their bamboo poles may have been included in the exhibit. As they headed to a picnic to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots on Sunday morning, police seized seven or eight of the long poles, citing the G20 summit. The couple had planned to use the poles to fly a rainbow flag and decorate the park.

“It makes you wonder what are the other things that they’ve displayed [that] were taken from people on the street that weren’t doing anything wrong?” asked Mr. Kerr, a 42-year-old management consultant.

Julian Falconer, a Toronto lawyer representing four independent journalists in summit-related police complaints, called the display of unrelated objects a “public-relations exercise [that] borders on the absurd.”

The items, which were laid out on tables in the lobby of police headquarters, also included gas masks, cans of spray paint, a replica gun, saws, pocket knives, a staple gun, a drill, a slingshot, chains and handcuffs. However, there were also objects not normally considered dangerous, including bandanas, skateboard and bicycle helmets, golf balls, tennis balls, goggles, rope and walkie-talkies.

The display came as police face increasing fire for their methods in dealing with demonstrators. Amid calls for a public inquiry, Chief Blair announced an internal police review of summit policing earlier Tuesday.

Lol. Just more proof that anyone who likes to use foam swords is CRAZY and DANGEROUS. Wait what? And why the heck would you seize bike helmets... especially if you're not taking people's bikes? er... and walkie-talkies are weapons now?

Also: Skateboarding is not a crime!

...though, perhaps, wearing goggles is? er... at least against fashion?

Early Morning Blogging

Back from a run, drinking coffee, about to head towards class, here's music.



...and with our powers combined...

Wildbirds & Peacedrums are kind of awesome.

Y'know, I always did think that was kind of goofy. Not that I've ever seen the show, but, y'know, stuff leaks into popular discourse.

Here's a song from Muse. (speaking of stuff that is awesome)

All y'all have a great day.

29 June 2010


...and here's a poem from Edwin Morgan which I think nicely accompanies the song. I'll let y'all draw whatever connections you like.

The First Men on Mercury

– We come in peace from the third planet.
Would you take us to your leader?

– Bawr stretter! Bawr. Bawr. Stretterhawl?

– This is a little plastic model
of the solar system, with working parts.
You are here and we are there and we
are now here with you, is this clear?

– Gawl horrop. Bawr Abawrhannahanna!

– Where we come from is blue and white
with brown, you see we call the brown
here 'land', the blue is 'sea', and the white
is 'clouds' over land and sea, we live
on the surface of the brown land,
all round is sea and clouds. We are 'men'.
Men come –

– Glawp men! Gawrbenner menko. Menhawl?

– Men come in peace from the third planet
which we call 'earth'. We are earthmen.
Take us earthmen to your leader.

– Thmen? Thmen? Bawr. Bawrhossop.
Yuleeda tan hanna. Harrabost yuleeda.

– I am the yuleeda. You see my hands,
we carry no benner, we come in peace.
The spaceways are all stretterhawn.

– Glawn peacemen all horrabhanna tantko!
Tan come at'mstrossop. Glawp yuleeda!

– Atoms are peacegawl in our harraban.
Menbat worrabost from tan hannahanna.

– You men we know bawrhossoptant. Bawr.
We know yuleeda. Go strawg backspetter quick.

– We cantantabawr, tantingko backspetter now!

– Banghapper now! Yes, third planet back.
Yuleeda will go back blue, white, brown
nowhanna! There is no more talk.

– Gawl han fasthapper?

– No. You must go back to your planet.
Go back in peace, take what you have gained
but quickly.

– Stretterworra gawl, gawl…

– Of course, but nothing is ever the same,
now is it? You'll remember Mercury.

28 June 2010

Queen & Spadina

So in my post yesterday, I linked to a CTV article that talked about a "tense and bizarre standoff" between protesters and police at the intersection of Queen & Spadina streets in downtown Toronto.

This morning, there's a Canada National Post article on that same standoff, and I figured I'd link to it and c&p some chunks of it for y'all.

The detained group included protesters, several journalists, many pedestrians who just happened to be passing by and at least a couple of puppies.

The group was made to stand in the rain for well over three hours without food, water, access to bathrooms, rainwear or shelter.

Police did not issue a warning before corralling the group in a thin strip just north of the intersection and afterward refused to explain why they were being detained.

“Mass arrests are illegal,” Natalie DesRosiers, president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said last night. “They are contrary to the presumption of innocence. They are arbitrary arrest. They should not be doing that. They know they should not be doing that.”

Police selected particular members of the crowd for arrest. At around 8 p.m., people began volunteering to be arrested. Later they actually began lining up to be cuffed so they could get out of the rain.

Eventually there were two large groups of people, one in cuffs, each person with an officer next to them; and a second in a large group hemmed in by dozens of officers in full riot gear. Most of the people were in shorts or pants and T-shirts and tank tops. Some could be seen on the television shivering as they were made to wait in the street.

“I’m freezing cold. We have no food, no water, no shelter and I’ve had to pee for the last five hours,” Sammy Katz, a man detained in the intersection, told CP24 by phone from inside the corral.


At a press conference on Sunday, Toronto Police Staff Sergeant Jeff McGuire refused to apologize for the incident.

“We had reasonable grounds to believe that a breach of the peace was going to occur,” he said. “We did the best we could. I’m not saying we’re perfect.”

Sgt. McGuire looked sheepish as he said officers had been working 16 and 18 hours straight over the weekend. “This is a very challenging time for our officers as well,” he said. “I hope the public can continue to support us.”

“I cannot apologize to them, and I won’t,” he added. “The officers had the right to detain them for that breach of the peace.”

At 9:40 p.m., every member of the group was unconditionally released on orders from Police Chief Bill Blair.

All y'all have a good day. Off to study, then off to class.

27 June 2010

No justice, no peace

A few articles coming out of the G20 summit; links, with brief excerpts:

NY Times: "Police Draw Criticism for Treatment of G-20 Supporters"

The protesters, the overwhelming majority of whom were peaceful, promoted a variety of causes. Many were challenging the legitimacy of the Group of 20 and proposing that governments work through the United Nations. Others championed specific issues, particularly in relation to human rights and the environment.

As the police escalated their tactics, reporters were often kept at bay. Steve Paikin, a prominent Toronto journalist, said that he was escorted away by two police officers who saw his media credentials just before they moved to arrest a large number of demonstrators who were protesting the city’s temporary restrictions on civil liberties.

Mr. Paikin said he saw another journalist, Jesse Rosenfeld, a contributor to Web site of The Guardian, the British newspaper, being held by two police officers while a third punched the reporter in the stomach.

Toronto Sun: "Deaf man charged with assaulting cops not protester, friends claim"

Outside a Finch Ave. courthouse, members of two leading organizations for the hearing impaired said they are protesting against police for not providing proper interpretive services during and after the arrest.

"He was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Gary Malkowski, advisor to the president of the Canadian Hearing Society, said in an interview.

"Police did not give him the charges properly," he said. "Police violated their own policy and made a no ha attempt to get him interpretation."

Malkowski said Azorbo was crossing the intersection to buy a bottle of water at a variety store and could not understand police orders.

CTV: "Corralled for 4 hours, crowd dispersed by police"

A tense and bizarre standoff between police and a crowd lingering in central Toronto following a weekend of G20 protests has ended after nearly four hours.

At a busy intersection in the city's core, a large contingent of police boxed in a group of about 200 people in heavy rain. They were not allowed to leave the area.

Dozens were arrested during the police action, which occurred only steps from where police cruisers were torched 24 hours earlier.

Just before 9:45 p.m. local time, police let the remaining crowd go free.

Talking to reporters late Sunday night, Toronto Police Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire was pressed to explain why police had barricaded people for so long in the rain, before simply letting them go.

McGuire said, "We're not perfect in everything we do, but our interest was in the safety of the citizens of Toronto."

25 June 2010

You put the lime in the coconut

...or, in this case, the octopus puts itself in the coconut.

Yes. That's an octopus hiding in a coconut shell. Excerpted from a BBC article:

An octopus and its coconut-carrying antics have surprised scientists.

Underwater footage reveals that the creatures scoop up halved coconut shells before scampering away with them so they can later use them as shelters.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, the team says it is the first example of tool use in octopuses.

One of the researchers, Dr Julian Finn from Australia's Museum Victoria, told BBC News: "I almost drowned laughing when I saw this the first time."

He added: "I could tell it was going to do something, but I didn't expect this - I didn't expect it would pick up the shell and run away with it."

Quick getaway

The veined octopuses (Amphioctopus marginatus) were filmed between 1999 and 2008 off the coasts of Northern Sulawesi and Bali in Indonesia. The bizarre behaviour was spotted on four occasions.

The eight-armed beasts used halved coconuts that had been discarded by humans and had eventually settled in the ocean.

Dr Mark Norman, head of science at Museum Victoria, Melbourne, and one of the authors of the paper, said: "It is amazing watching them excavate one of these shells. They probe their arms down to loosen the mud, then they rotate them out."

I hereby declare these octopuses to be awesome.

Just a little light reading for all y'all to enjoy this Friday evening. Have a good one!

24 June 2010

The Portland Trip: Part the Third

Video/music for y'all to start out with:

The xx - Crystalised

So I figured for today, since I've been studying all evening and I'm about to fall asleep (yes, I know it's still fairly early, but I've been up since 5:00 this morning, so it works out to a fairly long day), I'd just give y'all a rundown of the final scenario we did at the Rosehip training. It was kind of fun. If you're just happening by, here's my first post on the Portland trip, and here's Part Deux. Hurrah Charlie Sheen!

The last day of training (after the first evening, which some of us Seattle folk missed due to the events chronicled in the first post, and the second awesome day, chronicled coincidentally in the second), was pretty awesome. More of fixing stuff, more practice. I'm a wee bit tired right now, so I'll skip straight towards the mid-afternoon scenario.

Situation: we get sent to treat 'protesters' who're waiting for assistance. We approach, broad daylight, people milling about and/or lying/sitting on the ground. Manarchist (portrayed by BL) walks up to the group, bandanna still over his face, gesturing, blood on the side of his pants, second degree burns on right hand, talking to us about how much the other folks needed help.

My partner and I asked if he needed help; he said no, so we moved on towards the rest of the group. One girl was sitting quietly on the ground not really doing anything; we asked her if she was all right, and she said that she'd passed out earlier and was feeling kind of dizzy. Her skin was hot and dry; we checked to make sure she hadn't hit her head or fallen awkwardly (she hadn't), and that she had no other injuries (she didn't) or allergies / other medical conditions (none). After we'd made sure that nothing more immediately pressing was wrong with her, we walked her over to a shaded area and gave her some water.

Awesome. While this was going on, another patient (one who'd been hit in the head) started seizing; he stopped right around the time that one of the Rosehip folks walked up to me, said that, for the purposes of the scenario, he was a friend of mine and that I trusted him. And that the cops were about four minutes away, coming from the east and the west, and we all needed to start heading south immediately.

I talked with my partner, who started walking south with our patient (and with my bottle of water), then started talking with the other trainees who were around, letting them know what was going on. About half the patients were good to walk, so they and their teams started heading out; some of the others, not so much: the patient who'd had the head injury and the seizure was still unconscious; one guy had a spine injury and wasn't safe to move; etc.

Upshot, the 'cops' (rosehips in cop hats) get there, a few of us get 'arrested' (in this case, there was no chance to talk with them and say anything, so we most probably would have been fine in real life), and we're told that the scenario is over, so we should start heading back inside to debrief. We do.

As we're walking back, we hear screaming and yelling behind us; the 'cops' have started pepper-spraying our former patients, who have conveniently wandered back towards them. Hurrah. And at this point, I've got no materials for eye flushes and no more gloves, so BSI (body substance isolation, basically making sure that I don't transfer anything from patient to patient or from patient to me... like, say, AIDS or, in this case, pepper spray) is going to be a problem. Being the brilliant tactician that I am, I immediately start walking towards the screaming, flailing, pseudo-pepper-spray-covered folk, thinking to talk them towards a place where they can get help... and, predictably, take a full blast right in my face.

Fantastic. So now my partner has to pull me away and eyeflush me (which she does quite effectively, I must say), thus depriving the folks we're trying to treat of a very useful medic for a few moments. Oops. Still. We managed to get folks away from the pepper spray area (it was actually just water, but, hey, we could pretend) and treat them (thanks for the gloves, D!) and things turned out pretty well.

Overall, a fairly successful performance from our group; good communication, and nobody panicked when things got a little crazy. I thought I did all right, albeit I made the one stupid mistake, and, hey, it's not like getting pepper sprayed is the end of the world. It sucks, sure, but you can deal with it.

So, yeah. After the training, TM was good enough to give me, BL, and NC a ride back to Seattle (thanks so much!), and I collapsed into my bed in much the manner I'm going to now. All y'all have a great night.

...and here's a picture of some awesome graffiti.

23 June 2010

'Spews' is the right word.

From the AP, via Yahoo! News:

The Gulf continues to get royally f*cked. One of the robots BP's got down there knocked into the tube that was funneling a little of the spilling crude to a container.

And by 'a little', I mean about 42000 gallons an hour. Which translates into 16571 barrels per day - aka 'a little under 17 times what BP originally said was leaking'... also aka 'a little under 1/3 of what they say is leaking now.'

Let's translate these three numbers, eh? In, say, gallons per minute, something that's nice and easy to imagine.

29 gallons per minute
- First BP estimate of leak.
483 gallons per minute
- Amount that was being funneled to the surface.
1750 gallons per minute
- Amount that they think is currently leaking.


And, from the same article, there's a bunch of oil on Pensacola Beach:

Meanwhile, pools of oil washed up along miles of national park and Pensacola Beach shoreline and health advisories against swimming and fishing in the once-pristine waters were extended for 33 miles east from the Alabama border.

"It's pretty ugly, there's no question about it," Gov. Charlie Crist said.

The oil had a chemical stench as it baked in the afternoon heat. The beach looked as if it had been paved with a 6-foot-wide ribbon of asphalt, much different from the tar balls that washed up two weeks earlier.

"This used to be a place where you could come and forget about all your cares in the world," said Nancy Berry, who fought back tears as she watched her two grandsons play in the sand far from the shore.

Park rangers in the Gulf Islands National Seashore helped to rescue an oily young dolphin found beached in the sand.

Similarly awesome.

All right now... I'm off to read about something less depressing.

Y'all have a great evening.

22 June 2010

You know who you look like?!

It's the funniest thing. The last few weeks, a bunch of folks have been saying 'hey, Mike! You look kind of like [insert person's name here]!' This included, recently, one last night and then one this morning. I've thought about it a little bit, and decided that it's more or less harmless, and might even be a little fun.

So... here's a nice little collection of pictures of people that (in the last month or two) my appearance has been compared to. I've ranked them chronologically by when the comparison was made. Some of them I look at and think, 'hey, that's not a horrible comparison' ... some of them, not so much.

A further note: I also haven't included any pictures of, ah, me. I figure most of y'all reading this probably know what I look like, and, frankly, I'd be a little creeped out to put my picture up there with all them folks. Yup.

A further note: erm... I'm also not saying that I'm as good-looking as any of these dudes... or chicks... as I by no means think that I am. I thought the comparisons were a wee bit humorous. And stuff.

Comparison One: Keanu Reeves

Comparison Two: Wentworth Miller (which I also got this morning)

Comparison Three: Channing Tatum

Comparison Four: Tom Welling

Comparison Five: Jet Li

Comparison Six: Michael Ballack

Comparison Seven: Christian Bale

Hmm. Not exactly sure what to make of that list. I do find it kind of funny, though. It's also interesting that both times Wentworth Miller got talked about, it wasn't by name, it was as 'that dude from Prison Break.' Sort of makes me feel bad for the guy. Not exactly sure, either, what my choices of roles for these pictures say about my self-image... i.e. selecting 'Giorgio Armani / Batman Begins' Christian Bale rather than 'The Machinist' or 'American Psycho' Christian Bale, or (perhaps more tellingly) 'Unleashed' Jet Li rather than 'Fearless' or 'The One' or any of his other roles. Hmmm....

Anyways - back to the studying! All y'all have a great day.

21 June 2010

Puerto Rico!

From the New York Times:

MIAMI — Thousands of students at the University of Puerto Rico who went on strike two months ago to oppose severe budget cuts declared victory on Thursday after reaching an agreement with administrators.

As part of a deal brokered by a court-appointed mediator, students would end their strike — one of the largest and longest such walkouts in Puerto Rican history — in exchange for a number of concessions. Most notably, the university’s Board of Regents has agreed to cancel a special fee that would have effectively doubled the cost to attend the university’s 11 public campuses.

The deal also includes a promise that there will be no sanctions against strike organizers, who clashed at times with the police at the main Río Piedras campus outside San Juan.

The accord must still be approved by a general assembly of university students, which is expected Monday. Christopher Powers, a literature professor at the Mayagüez campus, said it was “nearly a complete victory for the students,” noting that they failed to get a promise that there would be no large tuition increase next year. Professor Powers said planned cuts later this year to the salaries and benefits of professors could set off another round of conflict.

“The fact that a student movement was able to force the administration and the government to sit down at the negotiating table and concede to nearly all their demands is a very important precedent,” Professor Powers said. “It will serve as an inspiration.”

The Portland Trip: Part Deux

Read here (only a couple of posts ago, but, hey, it's good stuff) for part one.

Less narrative today, more musings.

The Rosehips' training was pretty awesome. Lots of good knowledge. The most useful thing, I think, for me at least, was learning an organized way to approach & assess a situation before starting treatment... I've picked up ways of dealing with stuff before (whether from NB or other friends with WFR or WEMT training, or from personal experience), but that's less useful if I'm getting myself or other folks around me into situations where we become patients, or if I overlook something that's more immediately important in my rush to treat something obvious.

My reflections on how I did in the scenarios...

Scenario One: Earthquake
The group of trainees were outside after a session and one of the Rosehips came up to us and laid things out: there'd been a significant earthquake, we'd all made sure that our homes/families were safe; the building we were outside had already been checked by engineers and it wasn't about to come down, so we could go in and check to see if anybody was hurt.

Being as how, hey, we were at a street medic training, it was a pretty safe bet that folks were hurt inside. We walked in. Dark room, loud music playing, lots of folks scattered around. My partner and I surveyed the situation, saw a person lying on the ground under a table, guarding her lower abdomen. We identified ourselves, obtained consent for treatment, checked airway (good), breathing (good), external bleeding (none). I began taking her history while my partner administered a full-body exam. Upper left abdomen was rigid and painful to touch [not actually; it felt fine, but we had to pretend], and the patient told us that a chandelier had fallen on her in that area. With nothing else seeming to be wrong (and the patient noting that there was no chance she was pregnant), we figured there was a high chance of internal bleeding and arranged to stay with her until we knew where to take her for more advanced treatment.

At about this time, another subject approached us, clutching at her throat and struggling to breathe. She indicated that she was having an asthma attack, but had lost her inhaler, and began to panic. My partner began trying to help her calm down, but was unable to do so; subject went unresponsive and stopped breathing. I grabbed another trainee (one who knew CPR) and asked him to begin administering it to our nonbreathing subject. At about this point, one of the Rosehips walked in and informed us that (1) he was a city official, and (2) there were four ambulance spots available; the rest of the group needed to get itself to a treatment area (identified in this case as the back exit from the building). There was, those of us he was not talking directly to found out later, also something about aftershocks and our needing to get out immediately.

So. Four spots. We had one person nonresponsive from a head wound; one painfully responsive but nonmobile with significant ongoing bleeding from a series of glass-induced gashes in his side; one who'd fallen, landed awkwardly, and had what was presenting as a probable (fairly major) c-spine injury and absolutely needed to be secured before being moved; one patient whose major injury I can't, a week later, recall (not being directly involved in his or her treatment); and a number of others. Five serious / life-threatening injuries, none of whom could really be moved, and four spots to get them to the hospital. Hurrah.

Anyways, all moral dilemmas aside, I think my partner and I did pretty well (even though we didn't find out about the aftershocks until after the scenario was over). Neither of us panicked when we were confronted with a situation that was out of control (and explicitly designed to be overwhelming) - we just got in, did what we were able to, helped to keep some people calm and get some people some help, and then got out again.

Scenario two later. Peace!

HH & SH - awesome having you guys out for a bit.
MH - happy Father's Day!
DAJ - tried calling again. your number's changed. you okay?

I've been a bad, bad boy...

I know it's been very nearly a week since I've posted... sorry about that. Gotta run to class now (hurrah summer studying!), but I'll try to get a good post in this afternoon.

In the meantime, here's a Scout Niblett video.

Scout Niblett - Let Thine Heart Be Warned


16 June 2010

Interlude: Bizarre Headline of the Day

[just back from a wonderful morning walking about the u-district with HH & SH]

Headline from the BBC:

Puppy thrown at German biker gang

A German student "mooned" a group of Hell's Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said.

The man drove up to a Hell's Angels clubhouse near Munich, wearing only a pair of shorts and carrying a puppy.

He dropped his shorts and threw the dog, escaping on a bulldozer from a nearby building site.

He was arrested later at home by police. The 26-year-old is said to have stopped taking depression medication.

After making his getaway on the bulldozer, he had driven so slowly that a 5km tailback built up behind him on the motorway.

After driving about 1km, he had abandoned the bulldozer in the middle of the motorway, near Allershausen. He continued his journey by hitchhiking.

"What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell's Angels is currently unclear," a police spokesman said.

The puppy is now being cared for in an animal shelter.

15 June 2010

The Portland Trip: Part One

[in which I, BL, and NC ride bikes for long distances]

So. /weekend.

Generally an awesome time.

In terms of the getting there, we set off Thursday morning, made 50+ miles by early afternoon, stopped for a quick bite to eat, and then hit mechanical troubles that set us back 6+ hours. We wound up, thus, not making it nearly as far as we had hoped, but eventually being able to get back on the road and continue our trek with our spirits less deflated than the series of punctured/pinched/ripped tubes we wound up carrying along with us. Weather-wise, we had some significant rain in the morning, but were able to get through it and into beautiful sunshine and more-beautiful scenery pretty quickly.

So Thursday night we wound up camping in a county park in a little town called Tenino, about 80-85 miles down the road from Seattle. We got in, set up camp, cracked open a couple of beers, BL started cooking some really delicious pasta, and a police officer pulled up. We weren't entirely certain that we were allowed to camp in the park, given that there was a giant chain across the entrance we'd come through, the restroom area was locked up, and the water was turned off (we wound up cooking the pasta in a combination of bottled water and St. Pauli Girl), so we were slightly nervous. The cop was pretty cool, though, as it turned out - just checking that we weren't 'teenage punks' (well, we're not teenagers, anyways...) who were hanging around the park and breaking into cars. Once he assured himself of that, everything was good.

Sitting on the side of the highway while you try to fix a tube (as we spent six hours doing on Thursday) isn't beautiful scenery. Mountains and trees and valleys and fields are beautiful scenery - and we hit a lot of that our second day. Unfortunately (to a certain extent, I suppose), we also hit some rolling hills, which slowed us down. Wanting to make it to the training on time (it began at 6 PM on Friday), we decided by mid-afternoon that we would get to Kelso/Longview and decide whether to bike through or bus or train the rest of the way.

When we made it into Kelso/Longview, it was about 4:15 PM, and we were still about 50 miles out of Portland. The train was a disappointment, in that its bike spots were full. The bus was a disappointment, in that the last one left just before we found out that the train was full.

E was not a disappointment. E was most definitely not a disappointment; a friend of ours, he was willing to pick the three of us (and our bikes!) up and give us a ride down to Portland, going a good bit out of his way to do so. Much, much appreciation for him from all of us.

So we got into Portland about 10:30 on Friday night, after the training had concluded for the day, but not too late to meet the folks who were putting us up. I wound up staying with K, one of the Rosehip folks, and a real sweetheart (if you're reading this, thanks so much!). After two very long and very stressful days, a hot shower, some hot food, and a soft bed were fantastic, fantastic things to have.

[coming up next time: reflections on the medic training and on biking around Portland]

09 June 2010

You're the best! Around!

Pain does not exist in this dojo!
Fear does not exist in this dojo!
Sleeves do not exist in this dojo!

...yeah. That's some good workout music, right there. Worthy of pumping through your mp3 player directly into your brain.

In other news (that, as you might guess, is the reason for the over-the-top celebratory montage), my first academic year of graduate school is now officially done. All the essays are turned in, etcetera. Actually didn't turn out too horribly stressful; just pushed through, got it done, moved on. We'll see how that worked out once grades come out, but I'm not overly worried.

Now it's time to relax for a little bit, clean my apartment, and get some sleep before I, BL, and NC take off tomorrow morning to head down to Portland. Hurrah!

In honor (or should I say honour?) of the upcoming World Cup:

Last Day, NPH, Hey Ya

Ahh, 5:30 in the morning. That magical time when some of us are just returning from glorious nights out on the town... while others of us, who shall not be named (by which I mean me), are rolling out of our warm beds, wiping our bleary eyes, and sucking the caffeine out of coffee grounds while we push ourselves to make our essays that last little bit of awesome that will make us comfortable turning them in.

Here's a picture of Neil Patrick Harris.

And here's a video of two people covering Outkast. Enjoy.

Have a good one.

08 June 2010

Keep Calm and OMFG

Quick Post

Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man.
Socialism is the exact opposite.

Nobody can fix the economy.
Nobody can be trusted with their finger on the button.
Nobody's perfect.
Vote for Nobody.

...just some stuff that I overheard the other day.

Here's a YouTube video. I'm going to go back to finishing my essays. All y'all have a great day!

Scout Niblett - Kiss

07 June 2010

Teenage Mutant Reservoir Dogs

I ledol significantly.

In other news:

The AP is reporting that between 1/3 and 1/5 of medical tests performed in the US are unnecessary. Hurrah. And we wonder why our healthcare costs are so high? There's one place to start, at least.

...and, many years later, Nolan Ryan is still awesome.

All y'all have a good day.

06 June 2010

...and one more UAW update

6/4/10: Tentative Agreement Ratified

On Friday, June 4th, voting was concluded to ratify our tentative agreement with UW. Members voted by a margin of 71% to 29% in favor of ratifying the agreement. Thank you to all who participated.

So. Now it's time to start gearing up for next year, when we get to go through this whole mess all over again. Yargh.

On the plus side: the quarter's almost over, I'm in halfway decent shape with my essays (not as far along as I'd like to be, but not so far behind schedule I can't dig myself out without too much stress), the break should be awesome (SCH and HEH, looking forward to seeing y'all!), and the summer should be a lot of fun. Time to go grab a shovel and start digging, eh?

All y'all have a great day.

03 June 2010

UAW Update

From the UAW 4121 website:

We have reached a tentative agreement with the UW bargaining committee. Members will have the opportunity to vote to ratify the agreement on Thursday and Friday, June 3rd and 4th.

The bargaining committee is recommending this agreement for ratification. Details will be made available to members at the time of the ratification vote, but generally the agreement includes the following:

-We held on to the significant gains we made with respect to ASE jobs in the College of Arts and Sciences;
-We made an improvement to childcare benefits, such that ASEs with a 50% FTE appointment can now take an additional day of paid leave for child care emergencies;
-We maintained our layoff protections and variable pay;
-UW has agreed to continue paying 100% of our health insurance premiums, and has committed to suing to recover funds overpaid to GAIP, as well as to bargain over any money recovered. Our current health insurance benefits will remain intact.

The specific terms of the tentative agreement can be read here.

These improvements were hard-won, due in large part to the mobilization efforts of UAW 4121 members. However our decision to recommend settlement comes with a call for continued mobilization in the coming year. Our tentative agreement does not include compensation increases or adjustments in our fees. We’ve agreed to a one-year contract –rather than a multi-year deal – because it affords us important protections in the short term while we continue our fight on these fronts.

We recognize that we are far from being the only target of the University’s policy towards workers charged with carrying out its research, service and teaching missions. Currently President Emmert is making a move to gut annual faculty increases, and UW is likely to refuse across-the-board compensation packages to other bargaining units on campus whose contracts are up for negotiations. This is despite the fact that top administrative payroll has gone up exponentially in the last few years: ironically those responsible for carelessly spending University resources to overpay health insurance premiums are being rewarded. This naturally begs the question, where are the University’s priorities?

Beginning now and through the next year, we will continue to work to change the University's priorities and ensure greater fairness for those who make UW work.

This week, ratification voting will take place on Thursday, June 3rd in front of the HUB West Entrance from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and on Friday, June 4th in the Physics/Astronomy Courtyard from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In addition union activists will bring ballot boxes to ASEs throughout campus. If you wish to vote and cannot come to one of the polling places, please contact us at uaw4121@uaw4121.org. We also will be holding informational sessions for interested members on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. in LOW 112 and Friday and noon in RAI 107.

I'm not going to comment on this news at the current time, though I will say that it might have been nice to have another couple of days (and maybe at some period before the last week of classes) to discuss the proposed contract. I voted earlier this afternoon, and I'm planning on heading to the noon Friday info session. We'll see what happens. I'll update again after the voting results are tallied.

Bright Morning

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

- T.S. Eliot, from 'Ash Wednesday'

01 June 2010

The Most Awesome Thing Ever

Which, coincidentally, happens to be (in my finding it thus) proof that I'm a huge nerd.

Thanks to Qwantz for the link.

Article from Technology Review:

Virtual Labor Lost

Academics are flocking to use virtual worlds and multiplayer games as ways to research everything from economics to epidemiology, and to turn these environments into educational tools. But one such highly anticipated effort--a multiplayer game about Shakespeare meant to teach people about the world of the bard while serving as a place for social-science experiments--is becoming its own tragedy.

The game, called Arden, the World of Shakespeare, was a project out of Indiana University funded with a $250,000 MacArthur Foundation grant. Its creator, Edward Castronova, an associate professor of telecommunications at the university, wanted to use the world to test economic theories: by manipulating the rules of the game, he hoped to find insights into the way that money works in the real world. Players can enter the game and explore a town called Ilminster, where they encounter characters from Shakespeare, along with many plots and quotations. They can answer trivia questions to improve their characters and play card games with other players. Coming from Castronova, a pioneer in the field, the game was expected by many to show the power of virtual-world-based research.

But Castronova says that there's a problem with the game: "It's no fun." While focusing on including references to the bard, he says, his team ended up sidelining some of the fundamental features of a game. "You need puzzles and monsters," he says, "or people won't want to play ... Since what I really need is a world with lots of players in it for me to run experiments on, I decided I needed a completely different approach."

G20 Security, UAW Negotiations Continue


The G8 and G20 summits are coming up later this month in Toronto. Should be interesting.

The security budget for the summits has gone up just about 500% since, uh, March, according to the Montreal Gazette.

OTTAWA — Security costs for the G8 and G20 summits, which are being billed as the biggest security events in Canadian history, are expected to increase fivefold over original estimates and reach almost $1 billion.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews acknowledged Tuesday that the federal government has budgeted up to $930 million —a dramatic increase over the $179 million set aside in the March budget.

Christine Csversko said the costs are based on a "medium-level threat assessment" and she cautioned that the final bill will not be known until the summits are over.

"The scope and magnitude of the security operations associated with hosting two major summits back to back is unprecedented — representing the largest deployment of security personnel for a major event in Canadian history," Csversko wrote in an e-mail.

"As hosts of the G8 and G20 summits we will be prepared to respond to any possible situation or threat. And we will take all measures necessary to ensure Canadians, delegates and international visitors remain safe."

Her comments followed revelations, in spending estimates tabled Tuesday in Parliament, that the federal government had revised its spending estimates to $833 million, with the majority of the money going to the RCMP.

Do they really think that dumping more debt on a region that's already having financial difficulty is going to work in their favor?

The security detail will include more than 10,000 police officers, private guards and soldiers, intelligence analysts, aerial surveillance, motorcades of up to 50 vehicles, expansive three-metre-high security fences erected around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Deerhurst resort in Huntsville and airport-style security checks within wide security perimeters.

Awesome. Because putting cops, cameras, and wire up everywhere when you're hosting an event that your people have already said they don't want is exactly the way you want to make your country look good.

Kevin Gaudet, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says that spending on the 2010 summits is money down the drain at a time when Canada is struggling with a major deficit.

"It's a gabfest for politicians to flap their gums at one another and feel good about it and it's a huge waste of cash," he said, calculating the security bill for three days at about $3,600 per second.


In other news, today's the latest negotiating deadline for the new UAW contract. Still no new word from the union negotiating team. Hopefully we'll have good news (or any news) from the union tonight. Makes me nervous that we're getting so close to the end of the academic year, though.

All y'all have a great day. Back to work!