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A dog(e) lays back on Broadway

Gracious living in Vancouver.

I’m fascinated by those Vancouver dog owners who carry their mutts for a walk the way that a Christian Madonna cradles the sweet baby Jesus, or the way that I would cradle a pooch made of solid platinum that I was taking to the vet for its annual de-worming and polishing.

I saw one of these cosseted canines on Friday (May 25) lounging supinely in the arms of a woman standing on the sidewalk outside the McDonald’s in the 1400 block of West Broadway. She was waiting for her partner, who was ordering food in the restaurant. The dog was clearly accustomed to not have to wait for anything. Read more…

Vancouver police respond with weapons drawn on South Granville

Just before 7 p.m. Wednesday evening (May 16), Vancouver police, wielding firearms and Tasers, converged on the southeast corner of the intersection of South Granville Street and West Broadway Avenue and forcibly took down and briefly restrained a homeless male.

By 7:04 p.m. police had a red-bearded man face down on the sidewalk, with his hands apparently cuffed behind his back.

At least six uniformed police officers and another in plainclothes—who may have been a South Granville loss-prevention officer—calmly stood over the prone man while he yelled at bystanders, telling them that his name was Dennis and urging them to take photos and video of what the police were doing to him.

One of the bystanders could be heard telling others that the man had been seen “waving something” around.

But whatever it was that had led to the serious police response, it did not result in an arrest. By 7:16 p.m. police had released the young man who, looking understandably dazed, quickly ducked out of sight into the mouth of the back alley on the south side of the 1400 block of West Broadway. Click the images to enlarge them.

Three of the darndest things Fairview residents threw away recently

People should always take their old and unneeded prescription medications to a pharmacy for disposal but often they just throw them in the garbage.

The latest in a long line of discarded drugs that I’ve found is worth highlighting; it’s a three-quarter-full bottle of tramadol-acetaminophen—plucked out of a dumpster a few weeks ago.

Tramadol is a strong, prescription-only opioid pain medication, which (like the opioid codeine) becomes more potent when it’s combined with acetaminophen (aka, paracetamol), the active ingredient of over-the-counter pain remedies, such as Tylenol.

The caplet-style tablets are embossed on one side with “APO”, which is short for Apotex—Canada’s largest producer of generic drugs. The other side of the caplets are embossed with “37.5-325”, which refers to the active ingredients: 37.5 mg of tramadol hydrochloride and 325 mg of acetaminophen.

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid that was introduced in 1995 with the expectation that it would be a powerful analgesic with a very low risk of causing dependency. In practice, however, it hasn’t worked out that way. Tramadol is a potent opioid, with much the same dependency and overdose risk inherent with any potent opioid.

Tramadol, however, is made even more dangerous by the contradictory information available about it on the Internet. I can’t think of another opioid drug that is the subject of such polarized reporting.

For every report describing it as a dangerous overdose risk, there seems to be a contrary characterization of tramadol as a comparatively mild and safe opioid.

So a 2011 case study of a single tramadol overdose from the Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare, does not particularly undercut its introductory statement, that tramadol “is considered to have a low abuse potential and [be] devoid of side effects like drug dependence.” At the same time, other reports from 2011 refer to 379 overdose deaths involving Tramadol that year in Florida alone.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to source the above overdose claim. Most overdose statistics, such as those collated by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation lump tramadol in a catch-all “synthetic opioids” category.

In 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) finally classified tramadol as a Schedule IV controlled substance; putting it in the company of drugs like Xanax, Soma, Darvocet, Valium, and Ambien. This at least acknowledged the reality that the drug could be and was being abused.

Perhaps the most alarming thing I’ve read about tramadol is not that it can cause life-threatening overdoses but the possibility (noticed in and around 2011) that naloxone—the magic bullet against opioid overdoses, which makes the harm reduction of supervised injection.consumption sites possible—may not, by itself, reverse tramadol overdoses and may actually make them worse by inducing seizures!

The bottle of tramadol caplets I found in a dumpster is headed straight for a pharmacy in Vancouver, where it will be properly disposed of.

Under the British Columbia Medications Return Program (BCMRP), operated by the Health Products Stewardship Association, all pharmacies across the province accept all surplus and outdated prescription drugs and most over-the-counter drugs.

Taking your old and unneeded medications to a pharmacy for disposal eliminates both the harms of accidental ingestion and environmental contamination. Read more…

Police incident on Granville Bridge backs up Broadway evening rush hour traffic for blocks

Looking east from the 1400 block of West Broadway at 6:15 p.m.—downtown-bound buses backed up for two blocks or more.

The evening rush hour slowed to a near-crawl for motorists on West Broadway Avenue between the cross streets of Burrard and Cambie—basically through the entire length of the Fairview neighbourhood.

Motorists who planned to turn north off West Broadway and onto South Granville—in order to cross the Granville Street Bridge—had to keep going straight, to the Burrard Bridge, if they were travelling west, or the Cambie Bridge, if they were traveling east.

The problem was a police incident on the Granville Bridge, which began some time between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

According to my friend Dustin, who was an eye-witness in the afternoo, a man could plainly be seen standing on the west side walkway of the south end of the bridge, just where the bridge begins to cross False Creek.

Dustin described the man as older and with a scruffy beard. The man had climbed over the railing and was standing on the outside edge of the walkway. He was holding onto the railing with one hand and leaning out over the water. Read more…

Better backup your free Flickr account in case it flickers out

Monday (April 23), along with 75 million other registered Flickr users, I received email explaining that the 14-year-old photo and video sharing service is now under new ownership. But not to worry, nothing will change “immediately” with regard to my Flickr account.

In fact, I have about a month—until May 25, 2018—to download any images I have in my free account before the new owner—a premium hosting service called SmugMug (which has never offered free accounts) takes control.

As the email lays it down:

“We think you are going to love Flickr under SmugMug ownership, but you can choose to not have your Flickr account and data transferred to SmugMug until May 25, 2018. If you want to keep your Flickr account and data from being transferred, you must go to your Flickr account to download the photos and videos you want to keep, then delete your account from your Account Settings by May 25, 2018.

If you do not delete your account by May 25, 2018, your Flickr account and data will transfer to SmugMug and will be governed by SmugMug’s Terms and Privacy Policy.”

SmugMug is an image hosting and sharing service that does very well catering exclusively to professional users willing to pay for premium features.

SmugMug’s purchase of Flickr could be good news for the relatively small percentage of Flickr users who already pay for the Pro tier of service and have been fairly starved for attention and new features for some years. But I honestly expect that it signals the beginning of the end for tens of millions of free Flickr accounts.

In buying Flickr, I believe that SmugMug (which I don’t expect has half as many registered users as Flicker) only has eyes, ultimately, to absorb the upwards of 5 million-or-so paying Flickr Pro users.

I expect the Flicker name to vanish and I will be surprised if SmugMug commits to permanently maintaining a free service tier. At best, I envision some kind of transition period and/or a limited time complimentary offer to free Flickr users which will require them to signup with credit card information.

Personally, I only have about four images stored on my free Flickr account but I have no doubt that there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people who have been using free Flickr accounts as cloud storage and sole backup for gigabytes-worth of photos.

I found it more than a little ominous that SmugMug’s email had nothing to say about what would happen to the data stored in free accounts after May 25. The Flickr blog, however, is at pains to say that nothing will happen to Flickr’s free accounts.

Beyond all free and Pro Flickr accounts coming under the SmugMug terms and privacy policy, the new owner is taking the line that it has no plans to at this time merge the two services.

Which I still take to mean that we all have a month to back up our free Flickr accounts.

Read more…

Do you remember where you were when Twitter died, just now?

At about 11:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time the social media platform Twiter began to balk at posting my pithy little thoughts. I would type something in the “Compose new Tweet” window, hit the “Tweet” button and Twitter would respond with an error message: “Sorry! We did something wrong.”

Again and again and again and again and again I tried and each time Twitter responded with a “Sorry…” error message.

I deleted the Tweet and recreated it from scratch. I deleted the tweet, logged out, logged back in and recreated the Tweet. Each time I received the same error message, over and over again.

Then, ffter hitting the Tweet button a few hundred times or so in manic, machine gun-quick succession, I received a new error message:

“Twitter is over capacity. Please wait a few moments then try again.”

That did it. Feeling like I was contributing to a global phenomenon, I started dinging the Tweet button for all that I was worth—ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding…dang-dong!

Take that Twitter!

Whatever outage there was has now ended. The microblogging platform is back to running normally in my little corner of the world.

But just for a moment there, I felt good, you know? Really good—like I was part of something larger than myself! Click the image to enlarge it.