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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Canada Training

December 7th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [Live Fire] Scott's headed inside a burning building, this weekend. • [Canada Blows] Canada's one of the worst countries for CO2 emissions and policies, according to environmental watch groups.

Live Fire Training

Comox, BC - Randsco chief editor will be joining five other firefighters from the North Cedar Fire Department and participating in a weekend, "Live Fire" training course.

The "Fire & Safety" 171 Course "Live Fire Level I" (FS171), by the Justice Institute of British Columbia is summarized as follows:

A fire fighter completing Level I will have the appropriate mix of theoretical knowledge and practical skills and techniques to function effectively and safely as an integral member of a fire fighting team when engaged in fire suppression activities. Participants will develop the following practical skills and techniques for structural fires, interior/exterior attacks and ventilation: Class A materials - exterior, combustible liquid, vehicle fires, storage containers, class A materials interior. This course is in conformance with NFPA 1001.

If participating in the BC fire fighter certification program this course will attain Module 8 practical for fire fighter level 1.

There you have it. It involves putting out live fires in automobiles, dumpsters, oil pans and inside burning buildings.

"That's hot!" summed up one firefighter.

Canada Blows

Ottawa - Although Canada is cold as a witch's brassier, it's a big contributor to global warming.

Ranking fifty six countries that produce some 90% of the World's carbon dioxide emissions, Canada fell into the bottom five. The ranking was determined by the amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the past year, their reductions (or increases) to emission levels and the strength of their climate-change policies.

The five lowest ranked countries, from worst to only-slightly-better:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Luxembourg

The top five countries for emissions, reductions and policy are:

  • Sweden
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Mexico
  • India

Apparently, Canada is blowing more and more, because they fell from 51st, last year, to 53rd, this year. Source

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Updated: 12-Dec-2007
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Nanaimo River Floods

December 4th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [Nanaimo River Floods] North Cedar Fire Department assists with flood evacuation. River levels at a 10-year high. About 100 residents were evacuated from their homes along the Nanaimo River. The roads were flooded and evacuation was carried out by boat and large trucks.

North Cedar Fire Department Assists Flood Evacuation

The call came in at 7:30AM this morning. I didn't get home till 4:00PM, this afternoon. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured and our prime objective - safely evacuating residents whose homes and properties were threatened by rising flood waters - was achieved. Approximately 75 people were evacuated, via boats and/or large trucks.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to take my camera. The volume and speed of the river is simply amazing. Huge trees, logs and other debris floated by like twigs. Raines road was undercut and missing, for a large stretch. While drivers were irritated at being turned around, we reminded them that there were folks whose homes were flooded, with water levels at 2-3 feet, in every room.

Local news crews were out and will cover the 10-year-high flooding and evacuation on the 5PM and 6PM news shows. (Note: I added one of the videos - and I'm in it! - I'm one of the dudes helping to pump up the yellow inflatable boat that was used to evacuate belongings and residents.)

To the couple at the end of the video: If you have an emergency situation, just call 911 and ask for help. ;)

The following was taken from a press release by the Regional District of Nanaimo. Note: While the river levels have dropped about 10 inches from their high point, keep an eye on the RDN website and local news programs for breaking news.

RDN News Release - December 4, 2007

Flood Conditions Continue In Some Areas of Regional District

The Regional District of Nanaimo Emergency Program and stakeholder groups continue to assist residents affected by flooding along the Nanaimo and Englishman Rivers.

In the North Cedar area, the Snuneymuwx First Nation has experienced flooding in the Raines Road area and is responding to the situation with assistance from the North Cedar Fire Department, the City of Nanaimo, the Regional District of Nanaimo and private citizens and businesses.

Flooding is occurring on the Nanaimo River in the North Cedar area of the Regional District, including Cedar Road, Wilkinson Road, Aikenhead Road and Alice Road. Emergency responders are on scene, and Nanaimo Search and Rescue is carrying out voluntary evacuations of residents in the Wilkinson/Alice Road and Raines Road Areas.

Significant cooperation amongst jurisdictions, including the North Cedar Fire Department, the City of Nanaimo, Snuneymuwx First Nation, RCMP, Nanaimo Emergency Social Services, Nanaimo Search and Rescue and the Regional District of Nanaimo is ongoing in the Cedar Area to address the current situation.

People requiring Emergency Social Services can go to the Emergency Reception Centre established at the Snuneymuwx First Nation Community Kitchen at 1993 Longhouse Road. This site can be accessed by approaching from the Duke Point side. A flag person is located at Cedar Road and Longhouse Road to direct traffic to this Emergency Reception Centre.

Residents are reminded to stay tuned to local radio stations for updated information. In the event of power outages or minor flooding, citizens should be prepared to take care of themselves for extended periods of time. It is advisable to prepare for power outages to be on the safe side, and to keep candles and flashlights handy. If you live in a flood plain area, have an emergency Grab 'n' Go Bag packed and ready, and have an alternate place to stay in mind in case your home is at risk of flooding.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority has issued a Boil Water Notice on behalf of the City of Nanaimo due to high turbidity levels. All water used for drinking and cooking should be boiled before consumption. Please note that Regional District of Nanaimo Water Service Areas in Nanoose Bay, French Creek, San Pareil, Englishman River (Kaye Road), Surfside, Decourcey and Melrose Terrace are NOT affected by this Boil Water Notice.

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Favicons & 404s

December 3rd, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [Settling In] A new Favicon for Randsco, getting a custom 404 functioning (again) ... other collateral damage from the server move

Settling In

Atlanta, Georgia - In a non-descript building in Atlanta, Georgia, there is a brightly lit room that is filled with humming electronic equipment. Down one of the rows of racked equipment, sits the computer server that's home to this website. The site exists in bits and bytes, tiny particles of magnesium oxide, pushed this way or that, by magnets. On or Off. Nothing more, nothing less.

Since the move to this peachy new server, we've been trying to "settle in". There's lots of things to take care of. Some big, some small. Scripts that need fixing, cron jobs to set up, email accounts to migrate and/or create. The list seems endless.

The custom 404 error page (the page that comes up if there's no such URL on the server) is up. We log each unfound file, so that we can spot bad internal links and keep tabs on the "kiddie scripters" - amateur hackers that are actively hunting for ways to break into our website (good luck, mate!). The 404 page shows the site menu, providing a path for wayward visitors, back to the main site. You can test it here.

We also changed our favicon (the little graphic that shows in the address bar, if you save our page as a bookmark - or favorite - and various other places). After randomly landing on Markus Urban's site, I thought, "It's been ages since I've changed the favicon. I should get a new one!"

Markus graciously made one for us and though I didn't use it, it was the "starting point" for one that I made using his FaviconR tool.

Our old favicon was used for our PCT thru-hike website, in 2002. It was fine and I just borrowed it for Randsco.

It's high time Randsco had it's own favicon, however.

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Alternate or Die

November 25th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [title] blah blah •

Driving Miss Adventures

Halfway Between A and B - It was a dark, but thankfully not, a stormy night. Randsco execs were on their way to a rare dinner engagement. (You know, the adult kind ... sans kid). Speeding through the dark night, a red warning light came on. (The one that looks like a battery).

Following emergency protocols, the pilot of the vehicle instructed all passengers to remain calm and stay in their seats.

The pilot then instructed the co-pilot to pull out the emergency manual from the starboard side of the dash, from the place that has, historically, been used to hold gloves.

After several seconds of fumbling around, the co-pilot found the emergency operators manual and determined that the glowing red light was an indication of a charging system malfunction.

"What shall we do?" inquired the co-pilot. (A very apt question, as the pilot figured that a 'charging system malfunction' was likely not a good thing.

"We need to pull into the nearest gas station, but we're likely running on battery power and the battery will go quickly, with the headlights on."

Against regulatory rules, the pilot disengaged the main headlights, put on the emergency beacon lights and sped along with other traffic. Fortunately, the moon was full and the pilot could see the roadway.

After several minutes of darkened travelling, the pilot maneuvered the vehicle into the bright lights of a service station. Afraid the engine wouldn't start again, he left it running. The pilot then checked the fan belt, the electrical connections, but no amount of cursing or jiggling changed the status of the light.

The pilot made a bold decision. He turned off the vehicle.

It restarted.

"Well, maybe it's a sensor malfunction," said the co-pilot, eager to be on her way to the party (we were late).

"Maybe," replied the pilot, mentally cursing every automobile manufacturer he could think of.

The pilot then drove the short distance from the gas station to the party house.

We enjoyed Rachel's Hospital Christmas party (6th floor staff), held at a private home. Pot-luck dinner, karaoke, a gift exchange and plenty of cheer. On the drive home, we quickly realized that the problem with the car was NOT a busted sensor, as the headlights became more dim, with each passing kilometer.

We stopped at an ATM in Cedar, to get cash to pay Alex's babysitter. Scott made the fatal mistake of turning off the car. It wouldn't start again. The battery was too weak.

In our fine clothes, we pushed the vehicle backwards, up to the edge of the small parking lot. Fortunately, there was a slight downhill run to the backside of the small shopping complex. We let let the car coast forward, put it in 2nd gear and let out the clutch. Whew! It started!

The headlights were so dim, we couldn't see a thing. Scott just turned them off. We drove home in the pitch black, following a car down our rural road, as far as we could.

"What is it with our cars?" asked Scott, "We've just been having terrible luck." (We just sold our crappy Chrysler minivan, after the transmission blew up - for the 2nd time - for all of $450 CAD. We have NOT been having much luck with our automobiles.

We suspect the Honda Accord needs a new alternator. (Three guesses as to what Scott will be doing today.) :| After your guess ... hit the Nanaimo weather forecast, at the upper right (morning snow flurries).

:'(
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Eastern Grey Squirrel Infestation

November 19th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [Eastern Grey Squirrel] Score another point for the home team! (Vancouver Island biologists to visit, later today, to document the capture of an Eastern Grey Squirrel - an invasive species).

Home Team Scores Another Point

Hutton House - Reporters learned today, that a third squirrel has been trapped at the 5-acre Randsco campus.

"We're hoping that this means that the squirrel wars are over," said a Randsco company spokesperson, at the impromptu press conference.

The Randsco Rag headquarters have been battling against a family of squirrels, which had invaded the building, using it as their home. The squirrels, besides being early morning risers, also did quite a bit of damage to the exterior of the building, gnawing boards and shingles. The battle to extricate the pests has been ongoing, for nearly a month.

The third (and hopefully the last) squirrel, was caught just this morning.

Responding to a wanted poster put up in a nearby park, Randsco executives phoned the B.C. Ministry, at the telephone number provided on the poster.

Apparently, the Randsco squirrel infestation was perpetrated by a non-native species of squirrel - the Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).

It is believed that the Eastern Grey Squirrel was introduced to Vancouver Island in 1966, in the Metchosin area (on the south-western tip of the island). They've since greatly expanded their range and the Randsco property appears to lie at the northernmost edge of their current range. (Hence the call to arms).

The Eastern Grey Squirrel prefers nesting in attics and is known to cause quite a bit of economic damage, both to nut crops and to structures. It is believed that they push out the indigenous Red Squirrel and take over nests of a variety of native birds.

Biologists at the Vancouver Island Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection are very interested in the Randsco infestation and are sending a team of experts, later today, to investigate the captured squirrel.

"This is very typical behavior for an Eastern Grey Squirrel," said Karen, a Ministry biologist, "We're very interested in the Randsco squirrel and would like to take some morphological measurements. If it is, indeed a juvenile, as you suspect, it provides good evidence that they're having two litters a year, which is something we've expected, but have yet to prove."

Randsco employees were happy to have captured what is believed to be the last of the uninvited guests. Ministry officials seems happy to collect more scientific data on this invasive species. About the only unhappy party, is the trapped Eastern Grey Squirrel!

"They sure are cute little buggers," said one unnamed employee.

Cute? Yes. Pests? Indeed!

"Off with their tiny heads!" exclaimed one Randsco executive.

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Updated: 25-Nov-2007
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