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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?