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So this is how it ends

Over three weeks ago Oliver and Mark came down with the flu.  Then Oliver came home with an ear infection and I remember him laying down on the bed beside me and both of us just whined to each other.  I started running these fevers and chills and could not get warm.  I would crawl under a dozen blankets, get the dog on the bed, wear a toque, mittens, and even a scarf and just be frozen until the fever would break.  This has gone on for weeks.

At first it was a virus that needed to run it’s course.  Then the pain moved into my face  and ears and one day I woke up with blood coming out of me ear canals.  I had ruptured my ear drums.  During that time being sick was playing havoc with my blood sugar and one morning I woke up with about 50 small sores all over my body.  I got on some antibiotics for my ears and infection but still I was sick with this never ending fever and pain in my face.  That and the high fevers never broke for long.  I’d work some days but most days I would just spend most of the day hiding in bed.

Wendy and I have always made our bedroom our bedroom.  We have a small house so the master bedroom is tiny as well.  If we were going to hang out somewhere, it would be in the living room.  Since I got ill, if the boys would want to talk to me, they would have to do it in our room.  They thought it was great.  I was like, “Just no one touch me.”

Finally today I woke up and felt like crap and went to head to work.  I looked down at my right foot and noticed that there was a massive pocket of infection, just like the one that cost my mom her leg many years ago.  So instead of heading to work, I went to the hospital where they kind of let me sit for an hour and then a doctor saw me who promptly freaked out.  She looked at my nose, foot, ear, eyes and got a second opinion.  They started to prescribe some more powerful antibiotics which were not available at our neighbourhood pharmacy but I am now drugged up.  Of course there are side effects which are bad but not as bad as what I was infected with.

Antibiotics

The good news is that I should be up and mobile for Christmas.  I had cancelled attending most things but hopefully this will turn the tide and I can enjoy the holidays.

Top 25 Photos of 2014: #17 – River Landing at Dusk

River Landing at Dusk

According to Flickr, this was my 17th most interesting photo of 2014.

Top 25 Photos of 2014: #18 – Don’s Photo & Ace Food Truck

Don's Photo

Flickr thought this was my 18th most interesting photo of 2014.  The Ace Burger Food Truck parked outside of Don’s Photo in Saskatoon.

Top 25 Photos of 2014: #19 – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Top 25 Photos of 2014: #20 – Saskatoon Housing Coalition

Saskatoon Housing Coalition

My 20th Most Interesting Photo from 2014 according to Flickr is of the Saskatoon Housing Coalition offices.

John McGettigan: Candidate for the Saskatchewan Party Nomination in Saskatoon Stonebridge Dakota Constituency

So I heard that John McGettigan was running for the Saskatchewan Party nomination in Saskatoon Stonebridge Dakota.  I then found this speech from a couple of years ago he gave at a Teacher’s Rally where he questioned the Brad Wall lead Saskatchewan Party governments intelligence, passion for education, and commitment to our children.

Now he wants to be a part of the same government he bashed from the front of the legislature.  It’s been a long time since I have been involved in partisan politics but I don’t think it works like that.

Of course it actually gets weirder with this odd campaign announcement on Facebook where he seems to think he is running to be a cabinet minister.

Why is John McGettigan running for the Saskatchewan Party?

So if he isn’t named to cabinet (and given the perks to the position) is he going to quit?  Who makes those kinds of declarations (or doesn’t at least take away his campaign managers computer) as they announce their nomination?

Statement from Darren Cannell

Okay, so the reason the Sask Party has “messed up” education is that they don’t have the information needed to fix it?  The bureaucrats, the meetings with the unions, the work with the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation, meetings with John McGettigan himself … that isn’t getting them the information they need?  So only McGettigan himself once elected and presumably named as Minister of Education will then share this information on how to fix education in this province.

It’s so weird.  It is like he is running to be education minister and that is it which even if you have no idea how the world works, you have to know our system doesn’t work like that.

In case you are wondering if that is all.  No.  There was this statement by his campaign manager.

Darren Cannell

Again, this man needs to have his computer taken away from him.  This may be the most disastrous start to any nomination campaign that I have ever seen.

Top 25 Photos of 2014: #21: Ace Burger Food Truck

Ace Burger Food Truck

My 21st most interesting photo of 2014 was snapped at the PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival.  It’s the famous Ace Burger Food Truck moments before I ate my first Ace Burger.

Whatever one might say about Saskatoon City Council, they really got food trucks right.  When you look at the massive mess quite a few other cities have made of their food truck by-laws and licensing, we really did it right here.

Top 25 Photos of 2014: #22: Affinity Campus

Affinity Campus

Affinity Campus was my 22nd most interesting photo of 2014 according to Flickr.  It was also the most popular photo on Bridge City throughout most of the year.

The holidays have begun

Wendy made lefse.

Lefse pile

In case you don’t know what lefse is, it is the food that you will eat in heaven.  In case you want to try some before you get there, there is a lefse recipe posted to The Cooking Blog.

Can someone help Kevin Lowe up from under that bus

Well that was an awkward press conference

Is it MacTavish’s fault? His intense forensic investigation has discovered that ….

… no.

No, this is totally not his fault, according to no less an authority as Craig MacTavish.

When grouped in with Kevin Lowe and Scott Howson as part of the Oilers’ braintrust, MacTavish bristled.

 “I’ve been on the job for 18 months. So you want to lop me in … I coached the team for a long time, but I have nothing to do with management. So don’t lop me into a situation of power and influence in the management level of this organization,” he said.

MacTavish coached the Oilers for eight seasons. The idea that he didn’t have input on player personnel decisions is, frankly, nonsensical. So essentially here he’s passed the buck for the poor construction of this roster over the years to former GM Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe, who is MacTavish’s boss and currently being helped from under a bus.

But MacTavish has attempted to position himself not as another example of the franchise’s addiction to nostalgia and cronyism, but as an “outsider” that is coming in to fix this mess. And claiming this isn’t his mess – and he lack of restructuring in both the roster and the team’s maligned scouting department says it is, at least partially – helps establish that persona.

“I’m pissed off. No one lives it more than me. And our fans are pissed off,” said the Rebel GM.

“We’re going to continue making rational, responsible decisions based on the situation that we’re in.”

No panic buttons. Stay the course. Patience with the young players. 

More of the same. Another year in the basement.

The Mess that is the Washington Football Club

This is a train wreck in Washington

Less than a year after a showdown over Robert Griffin III, another appears to be brewing. Jay Gruden’s desire to part ways with the ineffective quarterback may put him at odds with owner Daniel Snyder and President and General Manager Bruce Allen, potentially leaving the Washington Redskins searching for a coach yet again.

Late last week, battle lines were drawn between the coaching staff and senior management at Redskins Park after multiple team employees revealed Gruden is done with Griffin, as much because of the 24-year-old’s spotlight-craving antics as his shortcomings in the pocket. Prompted by the news of Gruden’s position, an unnamed Redskins official told ESPN that Griffin could start again during the team’s final four games, lending credibility to the notion that Gruden’s bosses still are committed to the league’s 2012 offensive rookie of the year.

This mess has been going on since Dan Snyder bought the team

Snyder supported the risky move to trade four high-round picks in order to select Griffin second overall in the 2012 draft. A former high-ranking team official said at the time of the trade the move would weaken the franchise for as much as a decade if Griffin failed to become a longtime superstar.

Considering his substantial investment in Griffin and how well the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner played in his rookie season, it wouldn’t be surprising if Snyder took a wait-and-see approach. Also, Snyder and Griffin developed a personal relationship, sharing high-dollar dinners and mingling with Hollywood stars. For Allen, trading Griffin could be a career-killer.

Allen strongly encouraged Shanahan, who had roster control, to move up in the draft to select Griffin, people within the organization say. Internally, Shanahan expressed major reservations about giving up so much for a college quarterback who did not play in a pro-style system.

But Shanahan agreed to the deal, in part, because of Allen’s persistence. After botching his first offseason in charge of the roster, trading Griffin would signal yet another failure on Allen’s part.

Allen had no role in hiring Shanahan and benefitted from Shanahan being ousted from power when Snyder gave him final say over the roster and added team president to his title. In contrast, Allen hand-picked Gruden to lead Washington after they worked together in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ organization.

I haven’t watched a game this season but even while avoiding the NFL I can’t avoid the train wreck that is the Washington football team.

‘Mumbai is on the verge of imploding’

Residents of this overburdened and polluted megacity are held hostage by a politician-builder nexus that allows rampant ‘development’ to fuel its descent into urban hell

Consider these statistics. Rubbish could be its Mount Vesuvius. Some 7,000 metric tonnes of refuse is spewed out each day. Dumping grounds are choked, yet there is no government-mandated separation or recycling.

Around 7.5 million commuters cram themselves into local trains every day and the fledgling metro and monorail are unlikely to make a perceptible difference in the near future.

There are 700,000 cars on the road and the authorities indirectly encourage private vehicle ownership by adding flyovers and expressways, instead of building or speeding up mass rapid transit systems. Private vehicle numbers have grown by 57% in the past eight years, compared with a 23% increase in public buses.

Toxic nitric oxide and nitrogen oxide levels stand at 252 microgrammes per cubic metre (mcg/m3) more than three times the safe limit of 80 mcg/m3. Protests against sound pollution fall on deaf ears.

There’s less than 0.03 acres of open space per 1,000 people. The global norm is four; London has a profligate 12.

There are 12.7 million people jammed into the 480 sq km that comprise today’s Greater Mumbai, that’s 20,680 people per sq km. We are the world’s eighth most-populated city – and dying to prove it.

As a consequence, every sixth Mumbaikar lives in a slum. The premium on land was exacerbated by the Rent Control Act of 1947, which wasn’t amended till 1999. Too little, too late. Real estate prices are unreal. It’s cheaper to buy a flat in Manhattan than in Malabar Hill, and you can be sure that shoddy materials will shortchange you in Mumbai.

Considering that housing is the city’s biggest shortfall, it’s ironic that unbridled construction is indisputably its biggest problem. Many villains have been blamed for Mumbai’s descent into urban hell, from mafia dons to impoverished migrants, but for the past three decades the main culprit is the “politician-builder nexus”. 

In 2005, the entire city was held hostage for three days. On 26 July, suburban Mumbai was lashed by 668 mm of rain in just 12 hours. Unwarned commuters and children in school buses were left high, but not dry, as roads and railway tracks disappeared. Slums and BMWs went under the deluge without discernment for their economic standing. It may have been the country’s financial capital, but in the photographs that followed, swaggering Mumbai didn’t look much different from a monsoon-marooned Bihar village.

For this humbling disaster, the finger pointed at that same culprit: the developer and his facilitator, the politician. There was nowhere for the rainwater to go. For decades the concrete army had been allowed to commandeer all open spaces, and illegal encroachments had done the rest. Public parks, verdant hills, salt-pans, school compounds, private garden plots, beaches, mangroves – nothing was spared.

U.S. Defends America’s Cup in… Bermuda?

Long time readers of this blog know how much I love the America’s Cup, partly because I find it to be the world’s purest sport; a sport contested by billionaires and their lawyers as amateur sport should be but this is kind of crazy.  The United States is defending the cup not at home but in Bermuda.

The America’s Cup has generated some strange partnerships and situations in its 163 years. A yacht club from landlocked Switzerland once won the Cup in New Zealand with a crew full of New Zealanders. Another Cup match was an unfair fight between a big, single-hulled boat and a nimble, wing-masted catamaran.

But Tuesday provided one of the oddest plot twists in the long-running story line of the event, sailing’s most prestigious, as an American team chose — with no outside pressure — to defend the Cup outside the United States.

Larry Ellison, an American software magnate and one of the world’s wealthiest men, spent hundreds of millions of dollars — only some of it on lawyers — hunting down the Cup, and then defending it in San Francisco Bay in 2013 with his syndicate Oracle Team USA. But after considering domestic options, above all San Diego, Ellison’s team announced Tuesday that it had chosen Bermuda as the site of the next Cup, in June 2017.

This was a first for an American team. And it was only more symbolic that the announcement came in New York, home to the New York Yacht Club, which zealously kept the Cup in the United States for 132 years.

”I think it’s a curious choice,” said Gary Jobson, a former Cup sailor who is now a broadcaster. “It’s not in the United States, which I find very disappointing as a past president of US Sailing. The whole thing makes me scratch my head.”

Bermuda has long caused sailors concern — consider the Triangle — but the worries this time are that it offers too small a commercial base for teams in search of sponsors and too small a fan base, with its population of 65,000 perched on a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Bermuda is a fine and picturesque place for a sailboat race. It has a rich maritime history and is already the finish line of the Newport-Bermuda Race, held every two years. Many of the Cup’s stars, including Ainslie and Oracle’s skipper, James Spithill, know the islands and their waters well.

But shipping the Cup to Bermuda certainly does not seem like the ideal route to building big interest in the event in the United States, which was one of Ellison’s stated goals before the last edition. Oracle’s historic comeback against Emirates Team New Zealand, in which it rallied from an 8-1 deficit by winning eight straight races, generated real buzz at home as well as abroad. But instead of riding that wave in San Francisco, Ellison and Russell Coutts, Oracle Team USA’s chief executive, have chosen to start anew in a British overseas territory — as close as the British have come to staging the Cup since they lost the inaugural regatta at home off the Isle of Wight in 1851.

“Well, we’re halfway there,” said Ben Ainslie, a British yachtsman who sailed for Ellison in 2013 but is now the head of a British team, Ben Ainslie Racing.

Moving the race closer to Europe was a major reason for choosing Bermuda, Coutts said, as was the territory’s proposal to build a central base for teams and spectators. For now, there are five confirmed challengers for the 2017 Cup: Team New Zealand, Ben Ainslie Racing, Artemis, Luna Rossa and Team France. Four of those teams are from Europe.
Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyFinding the right time zone for European television “was absolutely critical to us,” Coutts said in an interview Tuesday.

WestJet Christmas Miracle: Spirit of Giving

Way to go WestJet.  Incredible idea.  Incredible video.

The Decline of Yosemite

Eric Michael Johnson writes in Scientific American, the belief in the myth of pristine wilderness by naturalist John Muir has had a negative impact on the biodiversity and the ability to prevent catastrophic fire damage in Yosemite National Park.

The results of this analysis were statistically significant (p < 0.01) and revealed that shade-tolerant species such as White fir and incense cedar had increased to such an extent that Yosemite Valley was now two times more densely packed than it had been in the nineteenth century. These smaller and more flammable trees had pushed out the shade-intolerant species, such as oak or pine, and reduced their numbers by half. After a century of fire suppression in the Yosemite Valley biodiversity had actually declined, trees were now 20 percent smaller, and the forest was more vulnerable to catastrophic fires than it had been before the U.S. Army and armed vigilantes expelled the native population.

In other words, the native population of Yosemite managed the forest far better than the park service and conservationists that came after them.

It wasn’t only Muir who was struck by the ordered beauty of Yosemite Valley. Lafayette Bunnell, the New York physician who accompanied Savage on his exploits in 1851, recalled that “the valley at the time of discovery presented the appearance of a well kept park.” Likewise, Galen Clark who was the state guardian of the Yosemite Grant after it was ceded to California, remembered similar conditions when he first visited in 1855. “At the time,” Clark wrote, “there was no undergrowth of young trees to obstruct clear open views in any part of the valley from one side of the Merced River across to the base of the opposite wall.”

However, these conditions didn’t stay that way for long. Forty years later Clark found that Yosemite’s open meadowland had all but disappeared, estimating that it had been “at least four times as large as at the present time.” The reason for this, known in the nineteenth century but little appreciated until recently, were the many ways that Yosemite’s first inhabitants had transformed their environment over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Chief among these was the strategic use of fire.

“Native Americans’ uses of fire pervaded their everyday lives,” explains University of California, Davis, ecologist M. Kat Anderson, whose research appears in the edited volume Fire in California’s Ecosystems. The approach centered on setting fires to keep the land open and aid in travel, a wildlife management tool to burn off detritus and increase pasturage for deer, as well as for fire prevention purposes.

“Native Americans thoroughly understood the necessity of ‘fighting fire with fire,’” Anderson says. “Their deliberately set fires were often designed to preclude the kinds of catastrophic fires that regularly devastate large areas today.”

These fires may also have played an important role in promoting biodiversity. In 1996 Anderson wrote the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project’s final report to U.S. Congress (pdf here), co-authored with Californa State University, Fresno, archaeologist Michael Moratto. In their report the authors state that most plants useful to the tribes of the Sierra Nevada were shade-intolerant varieties that required regular burning in order to thrive. These species included deer grass for use in basketry, edible native grasses, as well as a variety bulb, corm, and tuber species. By setting intentional fires throughout the forest “gaps or grassy openings were created, maintained, or enlarged within diverse plant communities,” the authors wrote. “The result was that plant diversity was maximized.”