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A Sad Departure

Posted in Current Events on March 10th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: It was a sombre mood on my campus today. One week ago on March 3rd, 2005, four young constables of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were gunned down by a deranged loner outside of Mayerthorpe, a small town west 130 km northwest of Edmonton. A national memorial service was held today in Edmonton, at the Butterdome Universiade Pavilion at the University of Alberta, where I work. Thousands of RCMP officers, and police from across Canada and the United States attended the service. Dignitaries included the Prime Minister on Canada, Premier of Alberta, and the Governor-General of Canada.

There was a massive police march on the west side of campus before the memorial service. It was apparently quite something to see. Along with two colleagues, we left our office to watch it, only to discover we were late, led to believe it began at 11:30, the time given in the local papers; in fact, it was over by 11:00 o’clock. I did not attend the service, which ran from 1:00-3:00 pm, but walked about the Butterdome area before and afterwards. Classes were still in session, and chances of getting a seat inside the dome were remote at best. I snapped a few pictures with my new digital camera along the way. I spoke with a few officers, includings ones from Victoria, and Ontario. The officer from Victoria said that he was amazed at the glorious weather, noting that it was warmer here than in Victoria. It is still winter, yet the sun was bright and very warm. The average high is -1C, but the temperature was in the low teens. Perhaps a higher power was at work today. In the past 72 hours, most of the snow in the city has melted.

The death of four officers at once was the largest loss of life in the history of the RCMP, and has devastated my country. Having happened so close to where I live makes it seem all the more real. One constable’s wife is expecting their second child, and another was engaged to be married. I watched some of the service on television this evening, and the eulogies delivered for each of the four officers were very moving. We can only hope that their families are able to find some comfort and solace from the support they have received from across the continent, and within their own communities.

:: Checking the CBC site for information on the aforementioned service, I see this headline: “Jetsgo ceases operations; travellers stranded“. Well, this blows chunks. I have a flight booked on Jetsgo to fly to Toronto in June to attend a conference.

Cough, St Helens, Shatner, Smile

Posted in Current Events, Music on October 4th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: Cough is 99% gone, today is the first day I’ve not coughed throughout the day since late August. I’m off to Winnipeg on Wednesday for my cousin Barbara’s wedding on Sat, Oct 7, and will make the round while there, visiting friends and family.

:: Check out the Mt St Helens web cam. I went to Mt St Helens in July 1981, a year after it blew its stack in May, 1980. I was at a conference in Portland OR, and my boss and I rented a car and drove to the mountain, or as close as we could. Much of the devestation was still visible.

I was in Vancouver on May 18, 1980, when St Helens erupted the first time. Later that week, I collected some ash from that eruption into a small container – the ash was on the car of a friend of mine who lived in Pullman WA, on the border with Idaho, and had driven to Vancouver a few days later. I still have it somewhere in my house, and it is the finest powder I’ve ever seen or felt.

:: So William Shatner releases a new album, and the buzz is positive. The album was produced by Ben Folds, and features collaborations with Henry Rollins, novelist Nick Hornby and Joe Jackson. He collaborates on Pulp’s song, “Common People“, with Jackson. I really don’t know what to make of this. Is Shatner’s new album kitsch supreme? I hope I have as much energy as he does now when I’m 73 years old.

:: Brian Wilson has finally released Smile – not the legendary album that never was, but a rerecorded version, just released. Legendary rock journalist Robert Christgau gives it five stars. More reviews and news available here, including the Village Voice.

:: Addendum: I forgot the Krispy Kreme update. A newspaper article in the Edmonton Journal on 30 Sept 04 reported that KK will open up a store at South Edmonton Common in the first half of 2005.