Thursday, 9 August 2012

The importance of remembering the possible effects of severe weather

The importance of remembering the possible effects of severe weather

Bobby Roy

The Extra Point

This summer, especially the month of July, has been marked with severe storm after severe storm hammering the capital region.

As someone who is born and raised in the Edmonton region, the F-4 tornado that slammed the city on July 31, 1987 isn’t a memory of mine, since I was only born six months earlier, but is a news event that I have done plenty of reading on.

For the Edmontonians who lived and were affected by the ferocious tornado that took the lives of 27 people, injuring more than 300, destroyed countless properties and caused more than $300 million in damage, it’s an event they never want to see again.

I find weather very fascinating, especially severe weather like thunderstorms and tornadoes, so when nasty weather is forecasted and begins to happen, I like to keep on top of anything that’s happening in the skies. As far as my memory goes back I can’t remember a summer like this one that’s had so many tornado warnings been issued in the province, especially in the capital region.

On July 23, tornado warnings were issued for Edmonton’s neighbouring communities of Beaumont, Leduc and other portions of Leduc County. No tornado was reported to have touched down, but the dark, ominous clouds surely reminded those who lived through the 1987 tornado that it could happen again. Tornado warnings were also issued on July 30 near Olds, Sundre and east of Edmonton. Thankfully, no tornadoes touched down, but with the anniversary of Black Friday the day after, I’m sure memories of that tornado were fresh as warnings popped up around the capital region on July 30.

The frequent amount of tornado warnings is unusual as Alberta only averages 10 tornadoes a year, with just one having the possibility of reaching violent proportions.

Dr. Harold Brooks, a U.S. researcher on tornadoes, reported in one study the odds of a violent tornado hitting Alberta is about once in every 40,000 years.

The odds of Edmonton, Devon, Leduc or Beaumont getting hit by a veracious tornado is slim, but with the recent string of violent weather hitting the region, it feels like those odds increase dramatically even if they actually don’t.

Whenever severe weather starts bubbling up, it’s usually the top story of the day and with popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, when severe weather happens, it’s usually the hot topic of conversation.

It’s fascinating to see how Mother Nature can cook up such violent storms, but it’s more important to remember the possible damage and what effect they can have on people’s livelihoods.

Giving thanks to those who deserve it

Stephanie Dubois
French Connection
How many of us would risk our lives for a loved one or a friend trapped in a burning building? I would like to think most Canadians would raise our hands without hesitation.
But would you be willing to risk your life for a complete stranger? Some may be more reluctant to do so. Thankfully for us, there are some men and women who don’t hesitate for a second to rescue someone trapped in a car or injured from a workplace accident.
Those men and women are the City of Leduc and Leduc County firefighters, as well as the province’s RCMP, sheriffs and peace officers.
It would be safe to say many have the utmost respect for the members of our society who do their part to make sure people are safe, but do we fully understand what they have to deal with on a daily, weekly and yearly basis?
Yes, they respond to fire calls, accidents and commercial reports but there is so much more to their jobs than when we see them helping others on scene.
Although I do not claim to be an expert on the daily routine of our men and women in uniform, I am thankful to be privy to have seen different events in the area, which involves all level of skills and backgrounds.
Most recently, I have seen firefighters from the area and from across the province practice their vehicle extrication skills. From the brand new rookie to the deputy chief with more than 30 years experience, all of them are dedicated to making sure their skills on the most recent extrication tools and technology are up to date so they can best help people.
Being a member of the media, I have often seen police and fire officials working on scene at accidents, residential fire and other incidents, using those skills and further proving how important protective services members are to the community and just how vital their continuous training efforts are. Without their ongoing training and their dedication to their job, society would be missing a crucial service for its citizens.
Specialized training is especially crucial for this area, with growing Leduc County and City of Leduc populations, as well as the Nisku and Leduc business parks holding several hundred businesses.
But even beyond their training, the majority of these men and women firefighters have full time day jobs. Some are volunteer firefighters, most are paid by the call, but either way, they are all dedicated to the cause.
In my opinion, one of the most underappreciated parts of their firefighting and policing jobs is people always assume they will always be there when we need them. Yes, there will always be courageous people willing to step up to the role in a community but what if there isn’t? It’s for that reason that I believe they should know how much their services are appreciated, even if we are fortunate enough to never need them.
I’ve heard from countless police and fire services officials before saying it requires a certain ‘type’ of person to be either a firefighter or police officer and they always look for certain qualities or personality traits when recruiting.
I believe we all have the ability to be brave in an emergency situation but we don’t all have the personalities to encourage us tp run into a burning building or help someone just hit by a car, which is why the men and women in uniform who are willing to do it deserve all the credit they can get.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Gauging Superbowl Sunday

Bobby Roy

Super Sunday is almost here.

It’s a day hardcore and mediocre football fans, half-time show and commercial enthusiasts find a television set to sit around for three plus hours to watch what is more than just a football game these days.

But I’m not going to focus on the commercialism that is the Superbowl. I’m going to focus on the most important part that should be pretty obvious, but isn’t to some — the game.

For almost two weeks, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants along with each teams’ large following of fans have been chomping at the bit for what should be a great game and rematch of the epic Superbowl XLII. If you’re one of those true, blue (and the colour blue works for both teams in this case) fans, you’ll only have to wait a few more days until the talking is done and the playing can begin.

For all the other hardcore NFL fans whose teams have been eliminated recently or in my case, a long time ago (being a Tampa Bay Bucs fan this year was tough), Superbowl Sunday usually is a good time spent with other football friends dissecting the game, picking who is going to win and watching the unthinkable unfold sometimes.

If this year’s Superbowl is anything like the first matchup in 2008, then football fans and the football world are going to have a lot to talk about for some time.

In 2008 the Patriots were heavy favourites to win the Superbowl as they went into the game undefeated on the season, but were upset 17-14 by a Eli Manning led, hot Giants team. And who can forget the former, where is he now Giant, David Tyree who made a Velcro like catch late in the fourth quarter to set up the winning touchdown for the Giants.

Is a crazy play like that one going to happen again this year?

Who knows, but imagine if something happened like that again. That’s the beauty of the Superbowl, because something crazy always happens.

This year, the Patriots are once against favoured, but not nearly as much compared to the 2008 team. For anyone who followed the 2008 Patriots, it’s hard to think this year’s version of the Patriots could have a better chance at winning, but in some cases it’s true.

The Patriots had a better defense in 2008 and all-star wide receiver Randy Moss catching touchdown after touchdown, but this year they’ve got even more weapons on offense, which most teams haven’t been able to shut down on a consistent basis.

On the other side of the ball are the Giants, who have followed an eerily similar path to the one in 2008. In ’08 they won every game on the road, beginning with an NFC South opponent and beat Green Bay in Lambeau.

This year, they almost did the same.

They beat the Atlanta Falcons first, an NFC South team, took care of business against the seemingly unbeatable Green Bay Packers in Lambeau the week after and squeaked out another road win in San Francisco to clinch the Super Bowl date.

I will bet money only a few had the Giants making it to the Superbowl this year, never mind making the playoffs with four weeks left in the regular season. They have followed the same formula of success they did in ‘08— strong defense, timely offensive plays and fantastic quarterbacking from Eli Manning.

There are so many factors that will be at play in this year’s Superbowl.

Can the Giants’ front four continue to create havoc in the opposing teams’ backfield? Will Brady’s offense continue to pour our points? Can the Pats’ patchwork defense come up with another big performance? Can Eli Manning continue to make perfect throws at key points in the game? Could there be another David Tyree-like play?

Those are just a few of the many questions sports’ reports and football fans have leading up to Sunday.

I could go into in-depth stats and examine past games between the two, but sometimes it’s best to throw things like that all out in a winner takes all game like the Superbowl.

Enough talking, because talking doesn’t create Superbowl moments, the plays do.

Forever lives Super Sunday.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year's resolutions

Bobby Roy

Another year is upon us, which means it's time for people to start adhering to their New Year's "resolutions."
I put "resolutions" in quotations, because most people who choose one or several aspects of their life they would like to change don't actually follow through, and therefore don't resolve that aspect of their life they wanted to.
According to studies, of those who vow to make changes in their lives beginning each year, only 12 per cent actually succeed in doing so.
So, maybe they should be called New Year's "disillusions" instead.
That's a pretty sad number, but not surprising at all when one looks at the common types of resolutions people usually make.
Losing weight, stop smoking, getting out of debt and drinking less are probably tops on the lists of those who make a New Year's resolution.
Kudos to those who actually follow through and nail the goal they set out for themselves, because it's not easy to quickly change an aspect in one's life they've probably been doing for a long time.
It takes hard work, perseverance, will power, a realization there will bumps in the road to success, and support.
For example, getting in shape and being healthy is a lifestyle, not a quick, two month fix. It takes time.
I'm sure most of us want to change one aspect or another in our lives, but who has the time, money, or drive to do it, right?
That's a pretty lazy attitude to have, but I'm sure a lot of people have used this cop out one time or another.
I know I have.
"I'll do it tomorrow." "I'll start it next week." "Maybe another time."
For the most part, New Year's resolutions set people up for failure, because quickly changing one or many aspects in one's life isn't easy.
I can guarantee problems in people's lives don't pop up at the beginning of December and then January is the month to start correcting them.
If you're not at the weight you want to be in July, why not start then?
If you're broke in May, because you know you've been spending too much money for the past couple of years, why not start learning how to budget in June instead of starting in January.
People who truly want to change something in their life should want to do it as soon as possible.
What if one realizes on Mar. 14 they need to get more organized? Start making those changes a few days later, not on Jan. 1, because one will likely be even more behind and less motivated to change on Jan. 1.
Jan. 1 is a date that is too easy, lazy and will likely end in failure months later for whatever resolution one decides to make.
If one feels they need to make a resolution, do it the next day or few days. Waiting will only make it harder to change.