Monday, January 28, 2013

Brazil Fire

Brazil fire

My sympathy to the victims and families of the Brazil fire.

That’s all I have to give. May grief lessen with time and may wounds heal.

I am taken back to Feb. 21, 2003. I woke up to my clock radio playing the news. The lead story was the Station nightclub fire that happened the night before. People had been killed and injured, and much was caught on camera, due to a news crew being there. Here’s a video of the tragedy:

I almost levitated out of bed.

I was supposed to be at the Station that night. A female friend of mine, more interested in hard rock than I am, had tickets to the show. It would be a fun night out for a newly single me and my head-banging friend.

I don’t recall what, but something came up and I could not go. My friend could not either. The tickets went unused. Thank God.

Reading news accounts, it may be that some sort of sound-proofing foam was used in the Brazil nightclub. Fireworks used by the band set the foam on fire. The foam gives off toxic gas when it burns. So it was with the Station, and I am amazed that the lesson was not learned.

Take a smoky, choking atmosphere, fire, panic, too few exits, and you have disaster.

Will we never learn?

My family has been (lightly) touched by this sort of disaster before. My father told the story of how my grandfather was supposed to be at the Cocoanut Grove Nov. 28, 1942 for a Boston College football victory party. BC lost to Holy Cross that year and the party was cancelled.

The nightclub caught fire, probably from a light setting decorations alight, and 492 were killed. Access to emergency exits, and the club’s confusing layout contributed to the carnage.

My father said that he knew his dad was supposed to be going to the nightclub, and was glued to the radio as word of the disaster came in. He and his brothers were relieved when their dad walked in.

Please, we all go places with lots of other people. That is human nature. Just do as most of my family does now: scan for the nearest exit. Look to make sure the doors are not chained. If they are leave, and contact the fire authorities.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Who is laughing now


Ok, sometimes, life hands you a steaming plate of delicious food.

Time to pig out!

No, in this case I want to eat slowly, enjoying each morsel to the fullest. I want every nuance of flavor. Besides, this dish has to cool a bit.

You have heard the one about revenge being served cold, right?

In this case I am enjoying the Boeing 787 mess. Big time.

Another course? Sure! Just let it cool a bit.

For those of you who do not live in southern Alabama, the city of Mobile, along with Airbus, was vying for an Air Force tanker contract a few years ago. Yes, Airbus is a European firm, but we are friends with Europe (at least we were last time I looked) and the planes would be built in Mobile. It would have been a boon to the entire area. And the last time I checked, Mobile is in the United States.

Boeing, after a long set of political moves got the tanker.

Part of what opponents of the Mobile bid spread was the thought that southerners, esp. the ones in Mobile are, well, deficient. There were comments about not trusting us to build trikes.

Well, Mercedes-Benz builds cars in Alabama, and so does Hyundai. I am not saying that every Alabamian is a Harvard professor, but most of us can learn, and do what is needed in a factory. If we need engineers, Auburn serves up some good ones. Just ask Tim Cook (CEO of Apple, and an Auburn grad). We can import them from LSU, if needed. My nephew graduated from there with an engineering degree and his company has no complaints. I guess we can make room for grads from MIT if we have to.

Airbus decided later to build airplanes in Mobile after all. Civilian craft will be assembled here after the plant is built. Work on that is coming now.

Yes, we in southern Alabama did not give up. And we impressed the people of Airbus so that they decided to build a civilian plant here in the Port City.

It’s not the Air Force contract, but I think the area won after all.

Now, if we could trust the Boeing people to build those tricycles. Those are my tax dollars at work!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Money for officers

This was sparked by:

My concern is the money. NOT that children’s safety is not worth it, but $3+ million buys a lot of schoolbooks and other educational needs.

Perhaps this is something that municipalities not school boards should be picking up? Public safety is their responsibility. Why is it suddenly a school problem? Let’s work together, folks.

Better mental health access is a good idea, but not laws that will make MH professionals report just suspicions of danger. There are codes in place now that MH professionals use, and they work pretty well. Nothing is perfect, but this is something the profession has been wrestling with for a while.

My fear is that if laws being proposed right now go into effect, patients/clients will be motivated to lie to their therapists. That is not productive, and could be deadly. It violates the trust a client/patient has with the therapist.

School Resource Officers can be a great thing. I like the idea of an armed, trained officer in the building a lot better than armed teachers. While not perfect, it is better than teachers with guns in the classroom.

A good SRO is a role model, showing ALL students that police are human beings, not just bullies with badges. I have seen SROs intervene subtly with kids, giving them a way to let off steam without hurting anyone, steering them to more productive activities.

Would they be any good if there was an (God forbid) active shooter in the building? Possibly. Or a student might be in the way of a stray bullet and a tragedy will happen. The voices for removing the SROs will be as vociferous as the ones looking for them now.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cop to Corpse

Cop to Corpse

Peter Diamond

Three sniper victims in a relatively small city in a relatively short period of time.

All are police officers.

To say that the local and national police are going a little nuts is an understatement. Career-minded officers see this as a way to promotion. Others just want to see this wrapped up as quickly as possible. The chaos is bad for order

For Peter Diamond, it’s a matter of getting it right.

This is my first exposure to the Diamond series, and I plan to raid my local library for the rest. You see the detective going up and down some blind alleys to tease out the thread that will catch the real culprit.

I like that Diamond is a real person, who gets hurt and a little nervous. He makes mistakes, and his staff gets upset with him.

Read for good characters and a good story.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Brain on Fire

By Susannah Cahalan

You are 24, working at a New York newspaper. You have a nice boyfriend, a devoted family, and while life is hectic, it is also good.

Now you get sick. The kind of sick that takes your mind away. You wake up with memories of what you were, but being able to be that person isn’t an option right now. Most of what happened for the past month is lost.

For a journalist, that is the worst nightmare. Journalists need memories that are, well, sharp.

That’s what Susannah Cahalan faced. Her story of illness and recovery is inspiring. She writes about her illness, using the journals her parents kept and interviewing her doctors, family and caregivers to piece together what happened.

Memoir is not my favorite genre, but Cahalan make the memoir a gripping mystery story. This should be required reading for all medical students and all physicians. The story about Cahalan’s father tossing a full-of-himself doctor who was telling a gaggle of doctors-in-training things the patient did not know in front of the patient is priceless.