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Friday, September 6, 2013

First Day of School

One of those defining moments in life when the world you know suddenly changes, and then you no longer know what your day will be like and what the future has in store.

Just starting out

Lined up and waiting for the school bus.

Time to get'll get used to it.

Home again, but  watch out for those steps!

Mom just came home from her first day of school...but that was a few years ago.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vision of the Future

Vancouver, BC, July 1974 

Dreams I have always dismissed as nothing more than meaningless nonsense and that was if I could even remember them. 

One specific dream I did remember because it was so very different from anything that I could recall having ever dreamed about before. Fragments were so vivid and startlingly too real that for days after I was unable to put the visions out of my thoughts.

I had dreamed that I was married. That in itself was not so unusual; however the lady I had married was Chinese. I clearly saw her face. She had beautiful dark brown Asian eyes, an Asian-shaped face and Chinese black hair. No doubt in my mind because she was definitely Chinese. She was also very beautiful and had told me that she loved me. 

The dream was disturbing and confusing yet at the same time was strangely encouraging. Awake or in a dream, no woman had ever told me that she loved me. I had never before thought it possible that the person of my heart's desires may be of another nationality. I contemplated and prayed about that possibility over the next few days and perhaps those hours had altered my perspectives. Anyway I tried to keep an open mind and at the same time dismissed the probability of that possibility as not likely to ever happen.

If I could not understand the opposite sex of my own kind, then how could I possibly fare any better with the opposite sex of another race? If I was a failure when it came to meeting women from my own nationality, then how could there be any possibility of meeting a woman from any other culture? Crossing those barriers was just too far-fetched a notion to ever happen but details I could recall from my dream had seemed hauntingly too detailed and too real.

Who are you? Where are you?

The Oddblock Station Agent

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Birthday Celebration with the Little Person

Art Linkletter is no longer around to recount to us some of the darndest things that children say and do, however, surely a picture is still worth a few words these days if no longer a thousand. 

These young people, including the older young people, probably have no idea who Art Linkletter was.

Anyway, that's Uncle David on the left and this was actually his birthday celebration; 29 years already, and that was more than a year ago. On the right is Aunt Winnie holding Kiera, known also by Grandpa as the Little Person. 

Let's take a closer look and see what went on.

Helping Uncle David to blow out the birthday candles.

Scene 1
Grandpa to Kiera:  Do you know what to do with that?

It has pink stuff on it... but don't eat the paper.

Scene 2
Kiera to Grandpa:  Did you really have to ask?

No problem figuring out what to do with it.

Scene 3
Grandpa to Kiera:  Do you like it?
Kiera to Grandpa:  Mmm (Meaning: Don't bother me. I'm busy)

Eat your heart out KFC! - this ain't chicken I'm eatin'!!

Scene 4
Kiera to anyone who is listening: Hey! Where did my cake go?

One of life's little lessons: you can't have your cake and eat it too...but you can play with it.

Scene 5

Kiera's Mom & Dad happy to just look on.

What else needs to be said?

That's all folks...probably because that's enough.

January 29, 2012
The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum March 14, 2014

Extra scene

Kiera to everyone: I love Chinese food!

Her expression says it all - her favourite dim-sum food.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Made it thus far!

Day 42 (six weeks)

In the literature the hospitals gave me upon discharge, the six week mark appears to be a turning point in heart attack recovery and most prior activities can be resumed; within reason of course. Climbing the stairways of the CN Tower can wait for another time...probably never. Some procrastination is good!

In some ways I feel as if nothing ever happened. Cardiac arrest came without pain and without recognizable warning; I never had time to suffer, worry about my health and be afraid of the future. Everything was over within two hours of walking into the hospital, transfer to a second hospital and angioplasty surgery. I fully came to my senses in a cardiac care ward. The following day I was up out of bed and felt okay except sore from the CPR that was done.

Reality is that my heart attack did occur and a few lifestyle changes came into immediate effect. In some ways I feel as if my life has been placed on hold because most of my favourite and not-so-favourite activities have all been suspended until some indefinite date in the future. The future is not guaranteed anyway; we just live is if it is.

I can no longer eat most of my favourite foods and I am learning to eat foods I never wanted to look at before. Maybe this is part of the reason I have lost weight without really trying. To be honest, I would still like to have a bacon sandwich or corned beef hash on Saturday mornings. That's not going to happen with Kie carefully watching over me. 

If I have only one word to say in looking back over these last 42 days, then that word is gratitude. More specifically, gratitude to God for giving me this second chance in life. The cold hard fact is that July 07, 2013, came very, very close to being the date of my obituary.

My advice: enjoy life...because we really have no idea when the end will come.

Aug 17, 2012. The Oddblock Station Agent with favourite walking stick heading home from train watching.

We did see a train too and Kie recorded some scenes. I'm adding one photo I like and limiting it to one for this posting.

An OOCL 40FT Hi-cube container stacked on top of 2 x 20FT containers in a double-stack rail car.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Update October 21, 2013

The seasons and weather have both changed since the above photo was taken. 

First time using the lathe since my heart attack - practicing with a discarded cut-off. All turned out well today.

A scrap of elm from Maine finished in linseed oil.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

You Really Don't Want to Know Do You?

If you think the railways have a problem moving hazardous cargo safely, then think again. Better yet, take a look!

What follows are samplings of a much larger problem that spreads even wider; closer than you may think because you are sharing these same highways, roads and streets. Up close too and probably driving closer than you safely should be.

Only the tip of a larger iceberg... and it's not going to go away.

When was the last time you saw a scene like this when you were driving along a major, controlled-access highway?

Have you ever noticed signs like this on some of the trailers you have may have tail-gated? Or passed too slowly? Or suddenly cut in front of dangerously close? If yes, have you ever wonder what those signs mean? Or wondered why they are there? These are placards, hazardous cargo placards to be more precise.

One or more of these hazardous cargo placards showing on the outside of the trailer means that the cargo that is being carried inside the trailer presents a danger... to you that is and not just the truck driver.

How well has the cargo inside the trailer been packaged and has the load inside been correctly prepared for safe transportation over the highways? 

Is the trailer within the provincial and/or state legal gross weight limits? Or is the trailer overweight?

How roadworthy is the trailer itself? Or the cab pulling the trailer?

Is the driver hauling the trailer aware of the nature of the cargo he is moving? 

Is the truck driver travelling at a safe speed? Or in a safe manner?

Now having asked the question, is anyone on the roads travelling at a safe speed?

What happens when things go wrong, as they often do, and far more often than you are even aware.

You really don't want to know, do you?

Following are just a few of the problems that have been recently reported.


Why carried on a flatbed trailer??

Chemical spill closes Prince George highway

CBC News 
Posted: Aug 16, 2013 8:16 AM PT
Last Updated: Aug 16, 2013 9:47 AM PT

A stretch of Old Cariboo Highway in Prince George is expected to be closed for most of today after a corrosive chemical spilled from a flatbed tractor trailer truck.

Police have blocked off a section of Old Cariboo Highway in Prince George, B.C., after a truck carrying a liquid corrosive material crashed early Friday morning.

Police say the crash involving a flatbed tractor trailer happened just after 6 a.m. PT.

The driver of the truck and an RCMP officer were treated in hospital for exposure to the chemical.

Firefighters and a Hazmat team are on scene.

Officials are asking anyone who may have driven through the spill to head to the hospital immediately.

"From what I understand, there were some people who may have at least drove through it. So it may be on their cars so they may get exposed to it that way," said RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass.

"It is not airborne exposure. It is simply direct contact. So anybody who may have done that this morning is urged to go to the hospital to get checked out to make sure they're okay."

Police say the clean up will likely take most of the day. The highway remains closed between Giscome and Johnson roads.


Thanks for stopping in…

 Diesel spilled in transport truck accident

By Tracy Hughes - Salmon Arm Observer
Published: July 19, 2013 12:00 PM
Updated: July 22, 2013 11:34 AM

RCMP officers survey the scene where a semi-truck went off the Trans-Canada Highway, across a lane of traffic and through a field and two fences before coming to rest just before a residence at 3171 50th Street NE.

A transport truck driver took a rockier ride than expected Friday when he crossed the westbound lane of traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway, went over an embankment, plowed through a farmer's field and two fences before coming to rest on the  patio of a residence at 3171 50th Street NE.

The impact ruptured the truck's front diesel tanks, which began leaking fuel onto the lawn. A containment fence was erected at the site to prevent the fuel from running off into Canoe Creek and an hour after the crash, firefighters were still working to contain the spill. Fortunately the owner of the home had steel gallon drums available, so Salmon Arm Fire Department crews were using those to hold the leaking diesel. Early reports indicated a spill of approximately 300 gallons.

The driver narrowly avoided striking both a car and a van parked near the home; however, the truck did strike some lawn chairs and a kid's plastic swimming pool. While the homeowner was inside the residence at the time of the crash, no one was outside.

The truck driver was taken to hospital for a medical assessment, but he was able to walk to the ambulance without assistance.

RCMP at the scene said they did not suspect alcohol was a factor in the crash, and were awaiting the outcome of the driver's medical evaluation before commenting on why the driver might have gone off the road.

Police said it was remarkable that no one was hurt in the crash, noting a few cars apparently needed to make evasive maneuvers to avoid the eastbound semi as it crossed the westbound lane of heavy summer traffic.

The highway was open to traffic although with some delays for emergency crews to access the site.


Taking care of invasive species...

Tanker Loaded with 35,000 Litres of Jet Fuel Crashes in Creek

Scott Steele   July 27, 2013 
( -- July 27, 2013)

Tanker with Jet Fuel Crashes in Creek

A state of emergency has been declared in British Columbia’s Central Kootenay region after a tanker truck carrying approximately 35,000 liters of jet fuel crashed.

Calgary, AB -- A state of emergency has been declared in British Columbia’s Central Kootenay region after a tanker truck carrying approximately 35,000 litres of jet fuel crashed.

The crash occurred around 5 p.m. Friday morning when the tanker overturned into Lemon Creek in B.C’s Slocan Valley.

Bill Macpherson of the Regional District of Central Kootenay said that, “The RCMP were the first responders and they were unable to get too close to the tanker because of jet fuel fumes.”

Concern for resident’s health and safety is a top priority due to noxious fumes, water contamination and possible explosions. To protect the public approximately 800 residents within a radius of 3 kilometers of the waterways have received a mandatory evacuation order.

Residents in the evacuations zone and within 10 kilometers downstream are being warned not to drink the water because of contamination from leaked fuel.

Highway 6 will be closed from the junction with Highway 3 to the junction with Highway 31 as emergency personnel deal with this situation.

Mr. Macpherson said the regional medical officer issued the evacuation order around 10 p.m. as a precautionary measure to ensure public safety.

According to the Emergency B.C. website, “Jet fuel poses an immediate health risk to people. Exposure can burn skin; inhalation can harm respiratory systems and may cause brain damage. It is also dangerous to consume.”

Affected residents are being asked to register at 3 different area schools. Transportation assistance is being offered to those in need the contact number is 1-800-268-7325.

The truck that crashed was on its way to deliver fuel for helicopters that are battling a wildfire in the Perry Ridge area. The Perry Ridge fire is burning approximately 4.5 kilometers west of Winlaw and is roughly 35 hectares in size.

Approximately 400 people live in the Village of Winlaw. It is located in the Slocan Valley about 20 km north of the junction of Highway 3a and 19 km south of the Village of Slocan.

As the investigation continues there is still no word on the condition of the truck driver and the extent of the possible contamination of the creek that feeds into the Slocan River.

Farm field bonfire

Fatal accident on Hwy. 63 causes gas truck inferno 

Jun 24, 2013 02:30 pm 
The Athabasca Advocate

The Highway 63 collision moments after emergency crews arrived.

UPDATE: RCMP believe only one person killed

Highway 63 traffic near Boyle was rerouted to Highway 831 for much of Monday in the wake of a fiery collision.

According to the Boyle RCMP, at 4 a.m. on June 24, "a small vehicle travelling on Highway 663 entered Highway 63 and struck the side of a semi tractor-trailer hauling gasoline. The force of the impact resulted in both vehicles catching fire."

While the driver of the semi tractor-trailer suffered only minor injuries, there were no survivors in the second vehicle. As of 2 p.m., Cpl. John Spaans of the Boyle RCMP said police have a tentative ID on the occupant of of the second vehicle. He added that as far as police can tell, there was only one occupant in that vehicle, though confirmation from the Edmonton Medical Examiner's Office is still needed. 

Spaans said the destroyed vehicle was a minivan or similar vehicle, and that it appeared the driver had run a stop sign. Whether this was due to driver error or environmental factors such as fog remains to be determined, and Spaans pointed out, "We may never find out."


I hope you're not in a rush but…

The next time you are stuck in miles of stopped traffic on the highway something like this may be the reason.


Drive Safely!

The Oddblock Station Agent


Addendum January 24, 2014

Another reason I hate Winter Driving

  Slow down! You're Going too Fast!
On eastbound Highway 401 near Brighton, Ontario.

The Globe and Mail

Already on Friday six people have been injured after a series of crashes on the eastbound Highway 401 near Brighton, Ont., including at least one multivehicle pileup.

Provincial police said they shut down the highway’s eastbound lanes at County Road 30 after the collisions just before noon Friday, one of which involved at least 15 vehicles. Police say a total of 25 vehicles and 12 transport trucks were involved in the collisions.

Front Row Seat

Highway 401 eastbound near Cobourg, Ontario, only a couple of days after and near the mess shown in the previous photo at Brighton, Ontario. My son-in-law took this photo! He was en route to CFB Trenton on a Canadian Forces army bus immediately behind the pile-up but not part of it.


Addendum March 03, 2014 - Nothing really changes...

What happens when those who think they know what they are doing truly have no idea what they are doing? 

This was probably the result of do-it-yourself temperature-control.


  Love that Monday morning commute?

A truck fire forced the closure of both the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard near Jameson Avenue on Monday morning. (Jesse Wente via Twitter)

Be patient... and yeah... have a nice day!

Gardiner, Lake Shore re-open after morning truck fire

Traffic remains backed up after fire forces morning closures
CBC News Posted: Mar 03, 2014 7:51 AM ET

Commuters heading into Toronto from the west end faced a traffic nightmare this morning as a truck fire just after 7 a.m. forced the closure of both the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard in both directions at Jameson Avenue.

The backup was caused when a cube van carrying two propane tanks caught fire on the Gardiner near the Jameson Avenue exit.

To get water to the site, fire crews had to access a hydrant on Lake Shore Boulevard. That left the two major arteries into the city from the west end closed during the height of the morning commute, causing major traffic backups.

At the bottom of this story, you can see a YouTube video a westbound driver shot while driving past the burning truck.

By 10:15 a.m. all lanes had reopened, but eastbound traffic remained backed up all the way to Highway 427. Alternate routes into town from the west end were also busy.

One more look at the aftermath. The irony, perhaps, is St. Joseph's Health Center (Hospital) in the background.


Addendum April 30, 2014 


And just when you thought it was safe to play in the traffic again... 

Hwy. 401 truck fire sends flames, black smoke into the sky

April 17, 2014. A spectacular fire on Highway 401 that consumed a tractor-trailer and created a traffic nightmare in north end Cornwall Thursday. Unknown is what caused the fire. The tractor-trailer was not transporting hazardous material.


Addendum July 23, 2014 


Tragedy at Napanee, Ontario.

 2 dead in fiery Hwy. 401 crash at Napanee


First posted: Monday, July 14, 2014 09:26 AM EDT

Updated: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 08:06 AM EDT

NAPANEE - Two people died along Hwy. 401 early Monday morning when the pickup truck they were driving was crushed between two tractor-trailers and exploded into flames.

At approximately 1:26 two tractor trailers and a pickup truck collided in the righthand lane of the eastbound 401, just one kilometre east of the Palace Road on-ramp in Napanee at mile marker 582.

Both the driver and the passenger in the pickup truck were killed.

Fire resulting from the crash destroyed the rear end of the front transport, as well as the pickup truck and the cab of the rear transport.

Napanee OPP, paramedics and Greater Napanee Fire Services responded to the scene. OPP reconstructionists, Traffic Collision Investigators, and the Forensic Identifications Services Unit were on the scene to attempt to determine the cause of the crash.

"There are two fatalities and we're still in the investigative process right now," said Napanee OPP Sgt. Mario Royer. "That's all I can say right now, as we are still investigating."

Eastbound 401 lanes were shut down for more than 12 hours. Police opened one lane open for traffic during the afternoon but because of damage to the highway, one lane remained closed into Tuesday.

The Final Word

Need Anything else be said?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No Prior Warning

This is the name of one of the books I was sent home with and not what the following paragraphs are about. Having said this though, both subjects are related.

A little more than three weeks ago (on Sunday, July 07) I unexpectedly suffered a near fatal heart attack in the Credit Valley Hospital Emergency Department about five minutes after walking in.

Earlier that same Sunday morning and afternoon I had driven home from the Montreal area and had not been feeling too well. We had stopped for a break at the Upper Canada Village Store to see if any leftover bread was for sale. As we were walking back to the car, I began feeling a squeezing sensation around my neck and a weird type of indigestion. That quickly passed after I got into the car. I thought no more about it until the discomfort occurred again as we were driving near Kingston. A few minutes later that passed too and I was feeling okay. During the remainder of our journey home the squeezing sensation on my neck and the weird indigestion came and went; I remember it being particularly uncomfortable as I was passing traffic near Cobourg.

After arriving home a few minutes before 4:00 p.m. we unloaded the car and I walked around the back to look at the gazebo that David had brought over and had set up on the deck while we were away. I was planning to sit out there later to relax and to enjoy a cold beer.

All windows were closed and the air conditioning had been turned off while we were away. The air upstairs was stuffy and it felt like it was 90 degrees. After turning on the air conditioning and waiting for the house to slowly cool, I decided to take a shower. About half way through, that squeezing sensation in my neck returned and I was feeling a slight pressure in the center at the very top of my chest below my neck. I left the shower and decided to lie down and rest; I was struggling a bit to breath normally. I thought it was the stuffy air and heat, so I went downstairs where it was a bit cooler. A minute later I was lying on the living room floor where it was cooler. 

Kie obviously thought something was wrong and she began suggesting that I go to the hospital to get checked out. I refused. The last thing I wanted after six hours of highway travel was to sit for hours more in an over-busy hospital emergency department. At Kie's persistence I finally agreed to talk to Telehealth Ontario for their input. After a few minutes of conversation Telehealth advised me to call 911 and get to a hospital as soon as possible. Again I was refusing, insisting that I was okay and definitely not an ambulance patient. 

Entrance to Credit Valley Hospital Emergency
Kie called David and he came over within 5 minutes to drive us to the hospital. As I stepped out of his vehicle at the entrance to Emergency, I told David and Winnie to go home because we would probably be waiting here all night. As David drove away, Kie and I walked into Emergency around 5:00 p.m. and lined up to wait our turn like everyone else.

After explaining my complaint to the triage personnel, I was told to have a seat and wait. Kie and I compliantly sat where we were instructed to wait and I remarked that we were going to be here all evening. About five minutes later I was called to have an ECG. I was astounded that I was called so quickly. Anyway, I was instructed to lie down on the bed and open my shirt. The technician or nurse, I am not certain which, began hooking up wires all over my chest, started the machine and then walked away. I was feeling normal again and Kie was asking about the numbers on the screen. I looked up and mentioned the BPM probably meant heart beats per minute. As I did that I remember saying to Kie that I felt dizzy...

That was all I would remember until I could hear someone calling to me as if to wake me up. I went into cardiac arrest and immediately passed out. I was a dead man dying. What follows is what I was told afterward.

Someone immediately issued the Code Blue and doctors and nurses raced to save my life. A doctor jumped on the bed and started CPR on me while another prepared to shock me with the defibrillator to try and restart my heart. Others were inserting intravenous tubes into my arms to administer medications. I really was dead to the world and saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing and was not aware of anything including time.

At some point I awakened from the darkness and heard someone calling my name. I could only faintly see lights and felt as if I was groping my way out of a very different, deep darkness. I was aware that a group of people were standing around me and someone was asking me questions. I was finally asked to take two aspirin and lift my tongue for nitro spray. Someone informed me that I had just suffered a heart attack and they wanted to know how much pain I was in. I was not in any pain at all and said so. They kept asking so I repeated the same answer and mentioned some discomfort. I was also informed that Kie was present and so was David. I don't remember Kie being there but I do remember David saying something to me. Kie told me later that I spoke to her in Indonesian but I cannot recall that part.

As the medical team continued to work on me I was able to hear things going on but I was unable to see properly. I was then informed I was going to be transferred over to the cardiac unit at Trillium. Most of what occurred was nothing more than a blur. Maybe I was drifting in and out of consciousness because someone kept saying, "Stay with us. Stay with us."

I was quickly prepared and loaded into an ambulance for the transfer to Trillium. A doctor and nurse also made the trip over to the hospital as they worked to keep me alive. I recall hearing the ambulance siren and feeling like I was going to fall out of the stretcher as we rounded corners. When I was lingering between life and death in the ambulance, there was nothing I was able do to fight to hang on and stay or, to give up let go and pass away. That choice was completely beyond anything I could do.

Upon arrival at Trillium I was immediately rolled into surgery and the last I can remember was a Doctor Watson telling me that he was going to do an angiogram and angioplasty. The next thing I know I was in the Cardiac Care Unit and Kie, David, Winnie and Tim were standing around. I was able to see normally again. The time was about 7:00 p.m.

In those hours that followed I was informed that one artery had been 100% blocked and had caused my heart to stop. The angioplasty was done to insert a stent and open the blockage. From the outset and afterward I never felt any pain. The new chest pain I was now feeling was from the CPR and resulting bruising, a small price to pay for someone trying to save my life,

If Kie had not been persistent that I go to hospital emergency to get checked then I would never have gone, thinking that nothing was really wrong. Had I gone into cardiac arrest anywhere else that Sunday, I would not be here today.

Day 3: Not dead yet and I'd rather be at home
I never had any warning signs at all except while I was driving home that afternoon and I was not even aware of what those signs were.

A heart attack may not seem like much of anything but they do require quite a bit of time to recover from. Recovery depends entirely upon how much damage has occurred to the heart and arteries. None of that is visible from the outside. Many people can never make a full recovery or return to a reasonably normal life.

I was in two different hospitals for two days each and in both places I was the only CCU heart patient who could get up out of bed and go to the bathroom or sit in the chair without assistance. I felt as if nothing had happened but I was only one of the lucky ones. Luck is not the right word; God's favour was upon me.

I am at home now and recovering quite well although it will take some time; weeks and months the medical experts say. I do have some permanent heart damage, which is to be expected, but I am grateful that I'm able to get around the house and even go outside for short walks normally and without any difficulty. So far my recovery has been uneventful and without sign of relapse but I am always wary that something could happen again without warning. I cannot do anything to prevent that so I don't worry about it.

Fruits and vegetables have never been high on my list of favourites but now I have to eat them several times a day. While in the hospital I was informed that constipation is hard on the heart. That's not the only place constipation can be hard on. Anyway, if I don't make these dietary and other lifestyle changes such as exercise, then most likely I'll end up back in the hospital with another heart attack...or possibly worse.

Day 22: On top of the hill overlooking the other CPR
Again last evening Kie and I went out for a walk to watch trains and we did see a few pass by. Knowing the best times to go there does help. That activity may not sound very exciting but going to watch for trains is an incentive to do walking. Walking every day is also on the top of the list of changes to make.

Life is certainly unpredictable, but I know that God has given me this second chance at life. For this I am truly grateful. Today is day 23 since my heart attack occurred and I can only look at each day since as a bonus.

 The Oddblock Station Agent