2017 Vacation Reading

A quick gallery of what I read during this year’s great vacation.

Algonquin 2016 Reading material

Rather than write out the list of the thirty-three books I read (dead tree and audiobook) while camping (that’s about a book and a half per day on average), I took photo/screenshots of the covers so I could get them in order:

Follow up on the events of July 10, 2016

Flowers and candles for Tarique LegerThis post is a direct follow up to my previous post
The blood on my hand, so I suggest you start there if you haven’t read that.

It’s been a bit over two weeks since Tarique Leger lost his life after he was shot leaving the Flatbook unit in our building, becoming Ottawa’s ninth murder of 2016.

One thing that we’d like to be clear about; neither of us considers what we did “courageous”, “heroic”, “worthy of a medal” or anything remotely like that; as some people have suggested to us. There are people who deal with this level of tragedy day in and day out – for years; the police, paramedics, firefighters, emergency room doctors, the 911 dispatchers – they’re a massive team of people who work to keep us safe and help us when our lives are at their worst, and they suffer greatly for it. Those people are heroes.

We did what we thought was the right thing to do; what we’d like to think that others would have done if they’d been in our place.

I’ve said it to a few people; one of the worst things that could have happened to me is if I had done nothing – then the mental repercussions of not having tried; not done anything; that would have been horrible. We tried. We did our best, and eventually I’ll be okay with that.

If you are the kind of person to turn away, I’d like you to take a few minutes in a quiet place and reflect on that. What if it was you? Wouldn’t you want someone to come out and help you? Then you should do the same, because someday, it might *be* you.

Don’t have confidence in your first aid training? Take a refresher. Even if you don’t have any training, the 911 dispatcher will walk you through step by step until help arrives.

Tracey and I have received a wonderful outpouring of support from friends, family and strangers. Thank you all – it’s meant the world to us both. Some of your comments have literally moved me to tears (the good kind, that make you feel loved).

Many have suggested we seek post-trauma counselling; I’ve never been good at talking about things with strangers – I tend to internalize everything, analyze it myself, and deal with it.

Honestly, Tracey and I will be fine. If for any reason we are not, we have each other, our friends, and the ability to reach out for support if we think there is a need.

Aftermath;

The Tuesday afterwards, I left home to meet a client, and came upon people gathered out front of our place; Tarique’s sister and friends. I spent about twenty minutes with them answering heart-breaking questions before I had to head off for a meeting. As I left, I handed them my card, told them if they needed anything to let me know.

Shortly after my meeting wrapped up, Tarique’s father called me to thank Tracey and I for our efforts. I’d planned to spend the rest of the day working at “my office”, but packed up and went home. I arrived, spoke at length with Tarique’s parents – and my heart broke again; they’re the ones who are really suffering – they lost their son, and they don’t know who or why.

Talking with them and Tarique’s friends reminded me of how differently white people and black people see the police, how they’re treated, how the general public understands the machinations of a major investigation, and how it might be possible to improve communication for all involved. I did my best to explain what I understand to be the process, which I think helped, but… I’m going to have to think about this a bit more before I send off the email the Ottawa Police Service about that.

They left flowers and candles; it will be a long time – if ever – before I can walk out of the place and not think of Tarique, his father, mother, sister, and friends I met that day, the dead connecting the living.

We finally managed to get our follow-up video interviews scheduled early Friday morning (eight in the morning is really, really early for me). We went down to the police station, met with the detective and were interviewed separately, which is about the extent of our official involvement in the investigation unless there is a trial, in which case one or both of us may be called upon to testify.

Questions;

I’ve received a fair number of questions since the post, so I thought I’d gather them up and get them out of the way in one bunch.

Do we feel less safe now?

No. We’ve lived in the neighbourhood for going on twenty years, and the character of the area hasn’t changed; if anything I think it’s gotten safer. That said, I did have a conversation with the owner of FlatBook about improving safety and security of their bookings.

How fast were the police there?

I checked my phone log today; the 911 call duration was seven minutes. I’d estimate the first officer arrived in four minutes or less.The call ended (I believe) once I had been relieved by the police officer.

Why didn’t you just stay in your place where it was safe?

Technically we both violated the first rule of first responders; make sure the scene is safe. In the scheme of things, I think it was the correct decision.

Has this changed your position on gun control?

No. I’ve been in favour of restricting access to firearms greatly, registering every existing weapon, and requiring extensive background checks & training for a long time. Tarique’s murder reaffirmed to me that my position is correct.

I received a couple of questions about “the gory details”.

No.

The blood on my hand

July 26, 2016: There is now a follow-up post.

I’m writing this to help me work out what happened. I’ve repeated it often enough to various police officers, but I need work through this.

Last night didn’t go as I expected at all. I got home from work just shy of eleven after a nice walk home in the light rain, chatted with Tracey about our day for a bit, tucked her in, then was editing until about 1:30 on a client project, when I decided to close my eyes for a few minutes on the couch to think… and promptly fell asleep.

I’m a sound sleeper. There was some noise outside – enough to set Sprocket off, even with the fan running in the window, which brought me to semi-consciousness. I heard three pops – which I hazily discounted to leftover fireworks, then maybe the sound of cars driving away. Strange thing to do; set off fireworks and then drive away quickly. Like I said, I was asleep, and when I’m asleep, I tend to want to stay asleep.

That said, a few seconds later, Tracey woke me up and told me someone was in the street, and headed out the door. I grabbed my phone, looked outside, dialled 911, dug out my head phones and followed.

I asked the dispatcher for an ambulance and police, as I thought the person had been shot.

When I got downstairs, I know Tracey said something to me, but I don’t remember what it was as I was answering the 911 dispatcher’s questions. I was transferred to someone who was asking questions as I was trying assess ABC (airway, breathing, circulation). It’s surprisingly hard to remember training when someone else is talking in your ear.

The kid had no measurable pulse that I could find on his wrist or carotid artery. I couldn’t feel breath or see movement. He didn’t respond to anything I did.

About this time, a car quickly turned onto our street, and accelerated hard towards us. For the first time, I was scared. I think I yelled at Tracey to get inside, and I tried to decide if I’d have time to jump behind a nearby car or not.

Fortunately, it was an unmarked police car instead of the shooters returning.

The officer was at my side in seconds, performed the the sternal rub (which I forgot) and we examined kid, found an entry wound, the rolled him over to check for there was an exit wound.

I started CPR, counting off every twenty compressions for the dispatcher so he’d know my progress.

While performing compressions, I remember looking at the wound, marvelling at how very small it was. His eyes, mouth, the way the light from a near by streetlight was falling on his skin. He’s just a kid with cool hair.

I got to a bit over one hundred before the ambulance seemingly appeared out of no where and a police officer relieved me as the paramedics set up. A defibrillator that I didn’t recognize was placed on him (not that I have any specific experience with them – it just doesn’t look like any of the ones I’ve ever seen). By this time, I was asked to move back to the building.

The initial interviews started. What did we see, what did we hear, the order of events, repeated often to different officers.

We were asked to fill out witness statements and that we could go upstairs to do them. Tracey went to her desk and I to mine.

My hand writing is terrible. Always has been, and it shows no promise of getting any better.

I can’t remember his face. I looked into his eyes and I can’t remember his face.

I filled out the witness statement as well as I could.

While I was writing, I noticed that there was a bit of blood on my hand. Could have been his, more likely mine from the rocks that were on the sidewalk while I was on my hands and knees beside him. I put my pen down, walked to the kitchen and washed my hands.

Fucking people with their fucking guns.

Just a couple of days ago, I was discussing my distaste for violence with a friend. It should always be the very last resort, as resorting to violence is the failure of our ability to communicate our differences. Churchill said it differently – “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”.

We finished filling out the statements, brought them downstairs and answered additional questions. I explained what FlatBook was a bunch of times (it’s like Uber, but for apartments).

Guilt.

Cognitively, I understood (and still do) I was at his side as fast as was possible and that getting there any quicker would have made no appreciable difference. Emotionally, however is a different minefield. Could I? What if? How about if? Maybe? If I had?

No.

There was nothing we could have done that would have changed the outcome.

I just wanted to help save him. We both did.

We spent the rest of the morning in a fair state of shock, but the police we dealt with were friendly and kind. We chatted with neighbours, and once we were cleared to leave, we sought out the familiar; Brunch. Bacon. Friends. I did my Final Cut Pro X talk at ByMUG then came home, answered some email, then had a nap.

It’s been over 26 hours since this started. I now know his name; Tarique Leger. Just a kid – the same age I was when I moved to Ottawa. Someone has lost a son. Others have lost a friend.

I’ve seen a bit of speculation online that this was drug-related – I have no idea and honestly, it doesn’t matter.

Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t worth his life.

I think of the blood on my hand and realize that it doesn’t matter at all whose it was.

To my friends; I’m not yet ready to talk about it with anyone except Tracey and the police, as we were all there. When I’m ready, I’ll let you know.

To reporters: No, you may not quote this. It’s not for you. Please respect that.

There is now a follow-up post.

Thank you all for saying yes.

This all started when I found out my friend Laurie was too ill to make it to this year’s Ottawa ComicCon. Over Skype we plotted a few ways she could visit the convention safely – I suggested we get her a functioning biohazard suit with mask – a cool *and* functional costume.

While that would likely keep her safe, it wasn’t worth the risk, so she reluctantly stayed home.

Working the Ottawa Browncoats booth is fun; we basically hang out, promote our big fundraiser in September and generally just talk to Browncoats and sometime encourage people who haven’t seen it to watch it. I promised to take plenty of photos; which I did do, but I had an idea.

I started asking people who stopped by the booth if I could take their photo and record video of them wishing Laurie to get well soon.

This is where I was impressed with the ComicCon community. Every single person or group I asked immediately said yes, and I rapidly accumulated over seventy videos plus a few that Tracey (my wife) and Gailene shot.

My goal was to surprise Laurie, so I had to construct a bit of a ruse at the beginning of the video so she would think that it was just a bunch of photos set to music, then started the get-well videos.  If you want to jump straight to the well-wishes, here you go.

I’m pleased to report that the video worked as I’d hoped. She was surprised and moved.

As a community, I thought it was important point out that a bunch of people spending a two minutes each of time can really help someone going through a tough time. Thank you all for saying yes; it reaffirmed my confidence in people.

Sometimes, it’s the little things, right?