Rest In Peace – Dallas Boyko

This past weekend another senseless death was in the local news. Unfortunately a great many deaths are senseless, however this one affected me a bit more than usual, even though I have no personal contact or knowledge of the person who died.

Dallas Boyko was a 51 year old paramedic, driving in an on-duty ambulance with her partner at 4am on a Saturday morning, when a suspected impaired driver crossed the centre line and struck the ambulance head on. She and the driver of the other vehicle died, her partner was injured. Here is the CTV Edmonton news story. (Photo from Facebook – Emergency Services Memorial Page)

This story really struck me for a couple of reasons. A very good, long time friend of mine, on duty as a paramedic, was seriously injured when a vehicle struck the car in which she was tending to a casualty. As well Darren, a good friend and fellow veteran, also a paramedic, came close to not one, but two, head-on collisions while on duty just under a year ago within a one week span.

In Darren’s case, I was prompted to do a podcast after his first incident (link here), and then another after the second (link here).

As veterans most of us have a close affinity, not only to serving military, but also to first responders, such as police, fire and ambulance. Indeed, quite a number, when leaving the military, themselves become first responders.

A person’s death can be quite upsetting under any circumstances. If it occurs while the person is performing their duty it has a greater impact on me, and even more so should it be due to someone else’s careless or negligent actions.

Dallas Boyko, while serving as a paramedic, had most certainly positively affected countless number of lives. She died needlessly while performing her duty. That is a tragedy. May she rest in peace.

Motley Mixture of Matters

Recently I’ve had a real mixture of thoughts bouncing around in my aging brain.

Now, this has both positive and negative aspects to it.

The positive aspect is that I actually have thoughts (note that is plural) in my brain. This indicates to me that to some degree it’s still working. The fact that I can remember at least some of the thoughts is quite positive as well.

A negative aspect is that I have thoughts (still plural) but have not completed the process needed to develop any of them properly.

Hence today’s blog post. Today you will get a smattering of a few thoughts, a motley mixture of matters.

Lately in the news, even on CTV, has been the separation of Lisa LaFlamme and CTV (Bell Media). I say separation as there seems to be much discussion as to what it really was. Perhaps she was terminated for being popular and having high ratings, maybe because CTV (Bell) was downsizing, or she was let go because she was a woman with grey hair. Regardless of why, the process used can be described by the letter “D”. It was a despicable, deplorable, demeaning dismissal. Not the way to part company with an individual who was an extremely well known, respected, public face of your organization.

Another recent, highly publicized, event was the verbal abuse directed towards the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. As heinous as this act was, it is yet another example of the growing verbal assaults or abuse, and at times physical threats, directed towards politicians and journalists, mainly women or persons of colour. In my last blog post I spoke about Finger Pointers, those who declare that a situation is always somebody else’s fault. To me, this seems to often be the type of attitude or behaviour which grows from that, growing more extreme. If that is the case, it’s a sad commentary on what we’re becoming.

On a more positive note, one month ago I rode with Michael Terry, on part of his solo Dispatches Adventure Ride, which goes from coast to coast to coast, across Canada and return. Then two weeks ago Kim and I rode with The Rolling Barrage, which is a Canada coast to coast group ride. Both of these rides are in support of, and to raise awareness for, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a military veteran I know how much an issue PTSD is to some of my comrades, as well as first responders, so it is important to me to support these annual rides every year. Some videos from this year and previous years is available on my YouTube channel. In the future there will be at least one podcast and more blog posts dealing with this issue and these events.

My last item today is about respect. The respect that I have for health care workers. Over the last few months I have been under the care or treatment of a number of nurses, doctors and other medical people for a variety of reasons. In my dealings with them I have been treated with compassion and dignity. Knowing much of the crap (yes crap) that they have gone through over the past couple of years, I have great respect for their attitude and professionalism. Thank you very much.

Well, that’s it for this blog post, something a little different. I decided early in the process not to have specific directions or timing for my blog, and podcast, but rather just talk about whatever strikes me at the time. This blog post actually came together over a few days.

I would really like to hear from you. Like what I post? Look at other parts of my Wee Internet Empire? Want to do a podcast with me? Like to be involved in a live YouTube event? Have something you think I should perhaps address? Let me know.

Take care. Be well.

Weather – Like It Or Not

So… April started out in fine fashion, however has not remained so.

To explain – among other things, I’m a biker.

Hmmm… immediately some of you will get a mental picture – long hair, beard, big belly, tattoos, piercings, leathers, vest with patches, noisy Harley, and so on.

Now lose your mental picture. Bikers are, in reality, a representation of society in general. They come in all sizes, shapes, genders, nationalities and ages, riding a plethora of different machines. They are many different individuals, each their own person.

Now for me, I have a beard, short hair, no tattoos, one piercing, yeah a bit of a belly, wear a leather jacket at times, have a vest with my veteran’s group patch, and ride a Suzuki Boulevard C50 Trike (which is a little noisy).

Anyway, back to April.

As I indicated, it started out well, and I brought my bike out from its designated winter parking spot in the back corner of the garage. It fired up right away, oil levels and tire pressures were checked, and shortly we were out on the road for a wee test drive to make sure all was working well.

Riding was done carefully as Spring roads in Edmonton, or any other place for that matter, can be quite trickly with all the crap that’s left from the winter. And… it seems that many drivers seem to have forgotten what a motorcycle is, and we fail to register in their brain, even when they are looking straight at us.

So, from the beginning of April, I was out riding pretty much every day. The weather was good, with promise of being better, albeit a bit cool, in the 4C to 10C range. Then it got warmer, staying over 10C, and eventually working it’s way up to 22C.

Wowzers, now we’re talking. Let’s go!

Wait just a goldarn minute. What’s this, the temperatures are dropping. No, tell me it’s not so.

Over the next few days we went down to 3C, then down to 0C, then (gasp) -3C, followed by -9C. Dammit!

Ah, but we’re not finished. This morning we were at -12C, and worse, there is a skiff of snow.

Yes, this will pass. Yes, this type of thing happens every year at this time. No, the world is not ending.

However to those of us who are bikers, and due to the climate where we live, we have been unable to ride for, in some cases, many months, this is almost like putting salt on a wound that is just about healed.

It is weather – like it or not.

A Story About PTSD

I have been kind of off the grid the past couple of weeks, to a degree with physical issues, but largely due to a self imposed mental isolation (probably a fancy term for some depression).

Today however, I came across an item that I just had to share.

In 2018 a man by the name of Michael Terry rode his motorcycle alone across Canada and up to the Yukon. Just after retirement from the Canadian Army, Michael was suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Please have a look at this video, The Messenger – A Road-Documentary, about Mike and what he went through, and continues to do so. With the support of The Rolling Barrage, the production of this documentary will resume this summer.

During his stop in Edmonton, July 2018, I, along with Rob and Paul, a couple of fellow veterans, had the pleasure, and honour, to spend some time with Mike. I have great respect for him.

Farewell My Friend

Just over two weeks ago I did a blog post and a podcast about attending a special Remembrance Day Ceremony for Mike, a friend and fellow veteran, suffering from Stage 4 prostate cancer. It was a very special event.

Today I got the sad news that he passed away this morning.

Mike was a loving husband and father, a caring friend, a distinguished soldier, a proud veteran and a patriotic Canadian.

He will be greatly missed by all. Condolences and love to his family.

Bravo Zulu Mike, for a life well lived.

A Very Special Remembrance Day

For myself and a couple hundred others, Remembrance Day was different this year.

Not because of the weather, although it was not the usual weather for Remembrance Day in Edmonton. It was sunny, blue skies, and 5C. The weather was excellent.

This year, the location for all of us was different from the usual. We were not at a cenotaph, or a Legion hall, or a high school gym. We were gathered at Mike’s driveway.

Now, why on earth would we gather at Mike’s driveway, and for that matter, who is Mike.

Well, Mike is a friend and fellow veteran. He had 35 years of service, been wounded in Afghanistan, and has not missed a Remembrance Day ceremony for as long as we can figure.

So, why his driveway of all places.

You see, Mike is suffering from stage 4 prostate cancer, and his daughters knew that, because of his dedication to Remembrance Day, he would ignore his pain and travel to attend the local ceremonies. To prevent that, they came up with a plan.

They called out to Mike’s friends, colleagues and fellow veterans, inviting them to take part in a Remembrance Day ceremony of sorts in front of Mike’s house. And thusly came into being, “A Very Special Remembrance Day”.

In response to the efforts, persistence and dedication of Mike’s daughters, many others became involved in various ways and a most wonderful event was the result.

A local cafe provided coffee, cocoa, and special Remembrance Day cookies. There was a piper, another provided a mike and speaker system. One of Mike’s fellow veterans used the PA system on his truck to provide the appropriate Remembrance Day music. There was a chap who called Mike’s daughter and asked if they had a flag. She indicated no, and he indicated, well now you do. Then he proceeded to come by and erect a temporary flag pole in front of the house. During the ceremony the Canadian flag was lowered to half-mast as per protocols thanks to this gentleman.

Mike is a biker, so what should appear, but about half a dozen motorcycles which arrived and parked on the side of his driveway.

At the beginning of this you will recall I had mentioned a couple hundred others. Both directions up and down the street were packed with people.

When the ceremonies began, all serving members and veterans in attendance formed up and came to attention under the direction of Margaret, our honourary sergeant-major. Having had much experience as a military wife during her ninety-five years, she certainly had all of us in order.

After the ceremony there were a few speeches, including a lovely one from Mike’s daughter. There were a few presentations, including one from Mike’s former colleagues at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton.

Mike shared some very emotional words as we came to the end of the event, which touched all of us.

Just at the end, after concluding their own Remembrance Day ceremony, members from the local Royal Canadian Legion arrived, including a colour party, and performed one final presentation to Mike.

As I had indicted in my podcast earlier, it was a different, and most excellent, Remembrance Day ceremony. One of the best that I have attended.

Here are a few photos to give you an idea of the event.

It was indeed – A Very Special Remembrance Day

Crash of BOXTOP 22

It has been suggested by friends that I write and podcast about my military career, and I have decided to do just that from time to time moving forward.

First however, I am writing about something that happened shortly after I retired, but not to me.

As part of my time in the Canadian Armed Forces, I had four tours of duty at Canadian Forces Station Alert, in Canada’s Far North. We would travel there by CC130 Hercules aircraft, flying from Trenton, Ontario, quite often via Thule, Greenland.

Later in the year that I retired, such a flight, callsign “BOXTOP 22”, crashed on approach to Alert. There were eighteen passengers and crew on board, and almost miraculously, thirteen survived.

Earlier today on Facebook I posted an article from the Canadian Military Family Magazine remembering the crash, as well as a photo of the aircraft wreckage on the ground in Alert now. Here is the link to that article.

Shortly after I had posted the article, a fellow trade member, and a crash survivor, posted a short video about the event. He kindly sent it to me and I shared it on Facebook and also share it here.

Although I had retired from the military by then, when I watched the video this morning I found myself to be quite emotional. Knowing people who were on that aircraft, and actually having flown on that particular plane, CC130 – 130322, a couple of occasions previously, it struck very close to home.

Below is the video and then the photo of the plane as it is currently.

Roll Call (courtesy of Monty Montgomery)
Here is the aircraft as it is today. (Courtesy of veterans.gc.ca)

My thanks to Monty for sharing the video.

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Put Down Your #&%#$ Phone!

The Blinky Thing

Whilst on the World Wide Web today I came across this image. I shared it as a bit of humour on a Canada veterans group to which I belong, applying the remark “This could really work if more drivers got their face out of their phones.”

I had typed that remark because many of my fellow veterans are, like myself, motorcycle riders, and vehicle driver phone use is a sore point with us. Not only us actually, but all bikers. As I posted the photo my mind said, “Hmm, there could be a blog post about this”, and sure enough, here we are.

Like many bikers, I started riding long before cellphones were a thing. In the ’40s and ’50s, what was perhaps the cell phone’s predecessor, existed for many of us in the form of Dick Tracy’s wrist radio.

As a person who rides a motorcycle, there are few things that upset me more than those who use their cellphones in anything other than hands-free mode. They are doing something that seriously takes their attention away from their driving and becomes a major danger to other vehicles on the road, particularly motorcycles as many drivers don’t notice us all that well at the best of times.

Unfortunately, I, like many in the motorcycle community, know fellow riders who have been killed or seriously injured as a result of improper cellphone use. These events cut very close to home, and I have narrowly avoided a very bad situation a couple of times myself.

If a text, or any other cellphone related activity, is so important to risk a person’s life, then bloody well pull off to the side of the road, stop, and stay there until you are done. Otherwise, as the title of this blog says, “Put Down Your #&%#$ Phone!”

Please don’t use your phone. The possible tragedy which can result is something that you will have to live with the rest of your life. Unfortunately we may not.

As always, comments and feedback are always welcome.

There Is Here

Like so many others across Canada and beyond, I am doing as I should, and staying home during this COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-February we traveled to visit family in Malaysia and while gone, seeing as how the car would just sit in the garage, I put parked car insurance on it. When we returned to Edmonton, we did 16 days isolation and then, due to the situation, any travel for me was restricted to a limited number of places. So, being retired, I just stayed home, and my car insurance remained unchanged.

Don’t get the idea that I had no desire to get out once in a while. Of course I did. And also, in the garage, I had a way to make that happen. My motorcycle!

Now, seeing as how a motorcycle is not a car, I couldn’t get parked car insurance for it, therefore its insurance remained in full force. So I could get out and move around a bit – right?

There was, unfortunately, a bit of an issue however. Mother Nature. Seems that this year, she had decided that Spring would be delayed. And delayed. And delayed. The last two years, I was able to get out on my bike end of March, beginning of April. Not this year. First day out, when the roads and weather were fairly decent, was April 15. And more importantly, the #%&*@^ ice was finally gone from the laneway in front of the garage.

In the month since my first journey out this year, I have been out on the bike about twenty times. There were a few blank days due to low temperatures or rain, with a wee bit of snow thrown in as well. It is Alberta after all.

The question is, with all this COVID-19 stuff, where do I go. You may have heard an expression, “you can’t get there from here”. In my case, I can. Because, you see, there is here.

I would go out for a ride, sometimes 150 to 200 kilometres, and my destination was always my start, so, there is here. The only stop I might make on a ride was to fuel up, and that was seldom as my bike gets very good fuel mileage.

I know I am not alone in this type of endeavor. I have a number of retired military comrades who also ride, and for many of them the experience is the same.

Bottom line. It is really nice to get out, see different areas of surrounding countryside, receive “wind therapy” as we call the ride. However, until such time as we can actually go more places, this fact will remain accurate.

There is here!