Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Olympics, gender policing of females by the IAAF & shackles to limit female elites

Like many, I watch the 2012 Olympics on BBC.

The London Olympics isn’t exactly the collection of amateur athletes trying for personal best anymore, though that might be true for many individuals, politics creeps in more and more. Between the IAAF and the IOC (Olympic Committee) there is a vast majority of old guys deciding what is and isn’t ‘appropriate.’ On the one hand, the idea of athletes not being exhausted with heats, finals and more heats all within a few hours in order to make good TV (compare to the Chariots of Fire film where running races were 1 a day), but based on health needs is the ‘amateur’ aspect which is gone. But as the original organizers felt that the Olympics were to challenge the men and the women were there to give the laurels of admiration and applause, maybe straying from origins isn't all bad. Yet considering the questions about male/female, gender, value and sports that the Olympics bring up, women have moved out of the stands from applause but often are penalized for ‘decorum’ and not sports, or excluded from sports deemed 'not appropriate' (an idea women have been working against at the Olympics for over 100 years).

In gymnastics, a Gold level performance for a female is reduced to sixth place due to penalties based on bra straps showing, or hair not appropriately placed. There is no similar rule for males. The ‘Rings’ are for MEN, as they involve strength, while doing twisting double flips on a beam two inches wide, where a slip causes brain injury is ‘feminine’ and appropriate. It used to be the IOC who policed this and elite female athletes needed to carry with them their 'Certificate of Femininity.' Like Maria Patino, who forgot her certificate at the 1985 World Games. Using a different test, she failed the retesting, due to being an XY female. Ignoring the advise to feign and injury, she came first. The test results came out and her medal were stripped, her records eliminated, her scholarship revoked, her fiance left and she was kicked off the National team. Her appeal took several years, but she finally got her second 'Certificate of Femininity'. Can you imagine the USA men's 4X100 swim team having to scramble because one of them forgot his 'Certificate of Masculinity'? The IOC said, 'No more' and eliminated the gender test entirely.

Why? Because except for one instance in the 30’s, no one was found then or later to be other than female. However athletes like Ewa Klobukowska in 1967 were stripped of metals due to an intersex condition, that one year later (due to the IOC using a DIFFERENT gender test) would have been accepted by the IOC as female.
Instead, a promising multi Olympic gold medal and world record runner was stripped of medals and banned from competing for life. She had to give up sports, got married, pregnant and had a son (while still banned as a cheater and not a female). Only in 1999 did the IOC give her medals back. For an elite athlete, that is part of who you are being taken away, and IOC decided due to damage caused by mistakes and the lack of need for it to stop gender testing.

Last year in 2011, 20 years after the IOC stopped gender testing, the IAAF formally reintroduced it. Based on ‘You know it when you see it’ decision that IAAF male judges had been using; the male dominated IAAF is using gender testing to threaten women who succeed, but do so without enough ‘feminine grace.’

Too bad you can't get to the Olympics, run by the IOC, without qualifying at IAAF events.

Though both men and women produce androgen, of which testosterone is one hormone, the IAAF has stated that testosterone is a ‘male’ hormone, because it builds muscles and strength. But, individual genetic make ups have always played a part in the unexpected success of individuals. For example, athletes from cities at high altitudes do better on field and track events due to the added oxygen in the blood at sea level games like the Olympics. The IAAF have determined the ‘average range’ for men of testosterone. But if a man is twice or three times the top of the ‘average’ range, and that occurs naturally due to a medical condition, that is legal.

The response of
Bruce Kidd, an Olympian and sports rights leader to Alice Drager was, “How can the I.O.C. and I.A.A.F. claim that they support the full inclusion of women when they reimpose a medical test for their very identity? It’s a huge setback for human rights”

The Standford Center for Biomedical Research
agrees, saying it is bad science and discrimination. And published it in the America Journal of Bioethics. That didn’t stop the IAAF instituting the policy before the 2012 Olympics.

One problem is that there is so little testing of what an elite female athlete is or how she develops that no one is sure what ‘normal’ levels for females are?

But according to the IAAF, any female who comes within 55% of a male’s level must be ‘chemically restrained’ or is deemed, ‘not female.’ That is what they will tell you. But the truth is, the IAAF does not care if a woman who looks masculine or has a butch haircut, or is openly a boi comes in 74th. They care if they win. Or come close enough to threaten to get a medal. Because if an organization has stated that hormones that build muscles is MALE, then men will and MUST always be stronger and faster, even if testing show that women may be better in endurance. Which makes any female who wins, and looks muscluar, or wins so much it threatens male records a living counter to the official IAAF statement.

The two cases in the last years, Santhi a teen from India in the Asian games (stipped of medal, declared non female) which resulted her attempting suicide, and Caster Semenya, an 18 year old female from South Africa who burst onto the scene winning the 800 meters at the world championship. Caster then found out while watching TV that the IAAF had stripped her of her medal and her gender didn’t meet the ‘I know she not female when I see it’ IAAF test. South Africa claimed, with good cause, that as the only strong, broader, black female in a group of runners from Russia and Finland, the ‘not feminine’ test was a racial one.

The problem is that with Elite Athletes getting into the World Championships at 16 or 17, from countries where full spectrum testing is rarely done. It is only when they win, or place in medals, does the scrutiny and labels that intersex or genetic conditions, often unkown, are not just cheating, but publicly judged of if you are feminine enough to stay female. That is a heavy stick, and if the IAAF wielded it in secret, like the eight women gender tested for the Olympic games in Atlanta (the last of the IOC gender testing), without names, it might pass as professional. However, the many public releases, the delays in being able to race in ANY gender make the IAAF’s actions punitive, incompetent, or both.

Regardless, while the debate over Caster being a man, or ‘not a real women’ was front page for over a week, it took the IAAF over 11 months to verify, in page 8 news, that she was female.
But these ‘new’ guidelines were in place…for any other ‘suspect’ females. So, don’t act right, don’t look right, and some guy will report you for a gender test. Logically, if ‘testosterone’ is a ‘male hormone’ as decided by the IAAF, any male who falls UNDER the ‘average range’ for men should be disqualified as competing as a man. Or any male beyond a certain amount should be ‘chemically restrained.’ Since the IAAF claims it is all about a level playing field. It is too bad that the IAAF has never seen fit to try to bring or allow females the chance to even participate in so many events one would never know what kind of playing field they see as ‘level’.

But, highlighting the issues around why 10% of the population are LGBTI, but there aren’t any ‘out’ elite athletes, particularly with females, the same time Caster was returning home to wait, and wait, to find out if the IAAF declared her female (which they did AFTER she was unable to defend her world championship title), she returned to the South African rape and murder of Eudy Simelane by three men. Eudy, star of the women’s soccer/football team was an open lesbian, and for over a decade a string of gang-bang rapes sometimes leading to murder was an aspect of South African anti lesbian bias. A documentary filmed 10 years ago explained how often the rapes were paid for by the fathers of the lesbian females, as a type of ‘forced heterosexual’.

If gender testing were not a big enough stick to hold over the heads of all the female participants. The IAAF, targeting the very tactics which Rodger Bannister originally broke the four minute mile, decided late in 2011 that ALL ‘mixed gender’ records for the marathon/half marathon would not qualify for world records. Even though many races for men finish with the leader at or under the women’s world record, the IAAF decided that women running with men gives an ‘unfair advantage’ The number of races which are separate make this decision a direct blow against female marathoners, who had to wait nearly a century to be able to run a marathon in 1984 (after creating female marathons, and campaigning the IOC for decades).

In a spiteful attack on women, the IAAF decision was that all ‘mixed gender’ race records would not count, and that was RETROACTIVE. Which, for the USA meant that the female USA record set in 2009 was eliminated because it was in Chicago, a ‘mixed gender’ race, and now the 1984 record is the ‘official’ USA record. And that Paula Radcliffe's marathon run of 2:15...didn't happen, officially (thanks to retroactive IAAF decisions).

Addendum: (thanks to conmment) The rule is announced in Sept 2011, sport illustrated announced it retroactive in Oct. 2011, but due to an appeal and massive opposition, the retroactive rule regarding eliminating the World record retroactively for Paula Radcliffe was lifted Nov. 2011. So she keeps record of 2:15:25. IAAF November 9th, "The 48th IAAF Congress in Daegu, Korea, approved that from now on, a Women’s World Record on the Road can no longer be set in a race in which the record setter is competing against men. At the same time, however, no announcement was made about existing World Records, some of which were achieved in mixed races." How that applies is still not fully understood by April 2012, at the Boston Marathon, and how woman are to set world records.

So, while the records were gone, and now back, no one knows why after 40 years of IAAF approved mixed races did the men of the IAAF decide that ‘mixed races’ didn’t count for women? Because female marathon runners were getting too good, and because there weren’t any women in the boardrooms to oppose what seemed rational to IAAF
leadership. “Skim the masthead of the IAAF and it's testosterone as far as the eye can see: president; general secretary; treasurer; senior vice-president; all three vice-presidents; all five area representatives – all men.”

While it is clear that Paula Radcliffe, using pacers to move her time up 60 or 90 seconds, was the target of the IAAF decision, along with all those who would now imitate her in order to get the ‘international’ level times to qualify for the Olympics. The retroactive elimination of records brought a surge of anger from marathon runners and organizers, as times that are almost a decade old, because the runner couldn’t see what the IAAF would decide years in the future was legal or not, to be removed was extreme. The against females being able to set records in mixed races is still opposed by marathon organizers, runners and organizations: all except the IAAF.

Men’s records set in mixed gender races remain as ‘world records.’

If the bully boy actions of the IAAF, supposedly in the name of ‘fairness’ and done FOR the athletes supported individuals, that might be tolerable. However, when Caster Semenya ran in the 2011 world championships, losing barely to the Russian female who declared it, ‘a victory for REAL females’: there were no fines or sanctions. And while Caster, the lastest 'gender policing victim' carried the flag for South Africa, several female runners say that she isn’t a ‘real female’ to the press this year without sanction, like Italy's Elisa Piccione, a competitor who states, "For me, she is not a woman."

From Sports Illustrated: "Since her return, Semenya has won several races, but she has not come within four seconds of her Berlin time. In other races, she has finished second or third but looked so effortless that spectators have suggested that she is holding back on purpose so as not to reignite controversy." If she wins, she is 'too male', if she loses, then she must be taking hormones and wasn't 'female' before. A lose/lose situation.

Brittney Gringer, a 6’8” black basketball player has become the latest target of ‘what women should be’.
The level of verbal assaults to her face, about her being a man, being a freak, not a real woman, has forced her coach to have her teammates taunt her relentlessly in scrimmage, to try and dull down the slurs screamed at her during games.

I don’t think a women should have to accept abuse and becoming a ‘non-person’ a ‘non-gender’ if she has the kind of variation that makes males like Lance Armstrong or other male athletes admired. And I don’t think cultural bias of the male heavy IOC and IAAF (who even got a male doctor to make the decisions on what a female athlete ‘should be’). I don’t think it is a conspiracy, I think it is an idiocy. These may be good people, but because they are not stepping back and accepting their own bias, they are making bad decisions, ones which make elite women always under the threat. ‘Don’t be like Paula Radcliffe and succeed too much….or they will retroactively take away your records’, ‘Make sure if you look a bit butch that you run with french nails and in a pink outfit…or your parents will be reading in every newspaper that they didn’t raise a daughter.’

By the by, Paula Radcliffe’s record of 2:15 was the men’s 1960’s Olympic record. In less than 30 years, women have caught up to 70+ years of official male marathons. Female athletes are really starting to fly, and sadly, many are scared of this. Let off the obsessive policing of one gender only, the females, so women athletes can fly to unexpected

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I was to go outside, I was to...

I was to be outside, I just needed to have a quick nap. Except that the two hour ‘nap’ the day before had turned into six hours, the ‘nap’ before that had been 10 hours, the ‘nap’ before that seven hours. Indeed, Linda, who is the accountant of time, can’t remember the last time there was a two hour nap. Which is why if I didn’t have one in just two hours followed by an overnight sleep of five hours, then she would go without me.

I really wanted to go outside. But my body really, really needed sleep.

She woke me up after an overnight sleep of three hours. She decided to have a nap while I was sleeping and forgot that when the alarm for her goes off, I am 22 inches away. It saddens me that when we changed to this positioning three years ago that she still doesn’t remember.

When I got to sleep, I slept and slept and slept. I had asked her to please use the alarm and help me up. She didn’t and so I slept for 22 hours instead of 8, or 12. Which would be unexpected….but that it had occurred three days before, and two days before that, and three days before that, and three days before that, and two days before that, and two days before that…. Maybe the expectations aren’t working anymore.

I want to live. Linda hasn't told me any plan except 'as soon as you get up (on your own, and get to the study, on your own, since that's where the walker is unless Linda is using it as a clothes rack), I'll do your patches' Same patches I begged her not to put so high. Begged and begged. 'Next time,' she said, looking at the chemical burn standing raised, 'I won't put it so high'

But, as we can’t afford more than 2 sets of cold packs, I have no choice but sleep 8 hours or start to overheat, which literally bakes everything in me, like sticking a pig in the oven. Long pig. So, I sleep 12 hours a night at least 2-3 times a week, and I need sometimes to be in bed for 2 or 3 days, but we have no prep to allow that, despite it happens and has been happening for over six months.

Sucks don’t it. Particularly when neither the health authority or the GP will do anything because they decided I should be dead 4 weeks ago.

Onward the Olympics.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Haiku of the day

Red, the summer sun,
falls across the waves at dusk
while I await you.

Heatwave is still going. I am the poet Pope's center of the compass as Linda roams.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Moss Street Paint In Art Festival 2012 Part I

I really feel in the mood for Rolling Skating. Not Roller Blading, but just an old fashioned Roller Skating Rink with the whole 70’s disco ball, kind of like those days of teen fun which didn’t include alcohol. I wonder if there is anything like that around this city anymore, particularly as the nearest Bowling Alley is now across the water. Anyone been Roller Skating recently?

The ‘hottest summer in 30 years’ continues across Canada and though it was overcast and supposed to be raining, the Moss Street Art Faire expected blue skies, and they got them.

Before we went, Linda and I dropped by the James Bay Farmers Market. New designs and animals by Tyler Hayes of Mystic Glass Creations include glass blown octopus and sea turtles with 3-D colours which change as you move.
I have a necklace like that done in an anarchy symbol and Linda has a ‘BC coast tidal pool’ necklace. We picked up a Jam for Ice Cream by Whimsical Jams. Whimsical Jams are the ones who will make Diabetic Jams on request, as many individuals with disabilities also can be fighting diabetes (let me know if you want any, so I can pass on the order). I know the amount of medicine I throw at my liver, kidneys and pancreas has to be giving it a hard time.

Three things to know about Moss Street Art Faire. 1) If it is about art and it is FREE in Victoria, it will be packed! 2) The hill is a steep hill, even in the Wheelchair, it was a challenge, so I am guessing Linda and Cheryl have muscle aches
and 3) It was HOT, or maybe my ability to adapt to temperature was not that good. So I scooted my power chair INDY from shade spot to shade spot. Thankfully there were plenty of trees.

I saw Libby Wray’s Pottery almost first thing. She had just moved here to Victoria and Moss Street. She was selling off some of her pottery pieces she did before she moved, as she didn’t have her glazing and kiln up and running yet.
It was stoneware, so good for microwaves and washing, but very light, likely due to a different clay from Katy, who I buy much of our pottery from. I like well make functional pottery as it is unique, truly ‘one of a kind’ and when surrounded by so many artists, I am fortunate to afford and let the beauty shine into everyday life. I like good primary colours and of the two blue and white mugs she had, I bought one of them for $12. It was the largest, with a good strong handle, and a wide opening, good for drinks, ice cream, smoothies, soup and soba noodles.

Compared to a painting I saw later on ($2,500), or a reproduction of another painting (only $400) I was glad to visit and PURCHASE some original art at the Moss Street art festival. I think Libby Wray might have been priced for someplace not so art focused as Victoria. Linda told me, catching up to me after she had parked the van (she unloaded INDY and I first), that she talked to Libby who told her to pass on to me that since seeing me she had sold out of the Blue, as well as some bowls I had admired.

A good mug AND I am now an official ‘Patron of the Arts’ for Moss Street Art Festival.

I talked to a painter just up the hill whose had a lot of abstract art, including a series mixing Koi Goldfish and abstract art.
I recognized the abstract style of two planes with squares from some abstract art in both the Welsh National Art Gallery and the Winnipeg Art Gallery (which has a large selection of abstract art), and asked the painter his influences. He said he was influenced by Pollock and Georgia O’Keeffe. I was a wee startled as both artists’ work were VERY different from his, but looking again, I am noticing that the Koi in the pictures have a ‘circumcised’ look to them; particularly the two in the painting in the back. So perhaps his er….introspection of the fish and the bees, the flowers and seeds did have similarities to O’Keeffe’s flower series. He did have a small set of three which screamed ‘I’m from the prairies’ to me (just missing the May ticks and the hordes of insects that take chunks out of you at sunset – which shows the advantages of art).

I enjoyed this fun ode to Penguin Books,
which adds the lads heading off to the Canadian ‘Pop Shop’ to get a summer drink (the standard for Canadian Picnics for the 1980’s and 90’s). It also puts in the West Coast Salish art style of the Native Nations for the penquins: a clever compendium of west coast Canada threaded into the staple of British penguin paperbacks.

Daniel Sali, added his own bit of Canada into this piece which he exhibited in Tokyo before bringing it home to Moss Street.
The long sleeve Kimono indicates the girl is single and usually 25 or under. I love the colours in the fan, but also the Canadian Maple Leaves worked into the pattern of the Kimono.

I’ll finish this first part with one of my favorite local artists, Lisa Hebden (
She paints birds in trees and on telephone wires, people in wheat fields and females, often without faces. You can see her from 2009, which was last time I went to the Moss Street Paint In (the summer strains my autonomic system making it hard to be well on specific days). Plus she paints red heads, so what is not to love. She recognized me, and said she had debated on whether to bring one of the paintings I had liked from last time. I got some of her art cards featuring birds, as she had several series of cards with nature, but none with red headed girls, either back turned or floating in the pool, alas.

Next post I hope to introduce you to an artist from Tokyo who only does urban landscapes, from taxi’s in traffic in New York City to the 1960’s built Laundromat of the small town along Vancouver Island’s winding highway. Also an artist of art brushing who created a living art piece out of a model while a crowd watched. A lot of the artists work on pieces during the Paint In, Moss Street Festival, but not usually on a human body. And Horst Loewel’s Cabinet of the Fantastique, amoung other art experiences.

Art onwards!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Batman Aurora theater shooting: Why did Cinemark’s cinema safety system fail?

Why did a cinema's multiplex fire door allow access the wrong way? Why didn’t the (silent) alarm go off when they were opened? How did four guns, and body armor end up accessible through that door? What happened to the manager who should be checking the fire door when James Holmes left the screen in order to secure it? And why was the Cinemax not put into ‘emergency evacuation’ mode automatically with gas/smoke hitting detectors, the fire door triggering the silent alarm, and a manager hitting the evacuation button?

I don’t know.

As one of the thousands of people who have worked large Cineplex movie houses, I cannot understand how so many things went wrong with the Cinema system to allow this event to occur. Even so far as to have someone in an adjoining theater to end up shot through the wall because the cinema was not evacuated.

Linda and I were both shocked and saddened to hear of the shooting. I was looking forward to the final Batman film by Nolan, like those attending the midnight Premier showing in Aurora, CO. According to the
BBC, James Holmes exited the emergency exit, returned in bulletproof vest, body armor and gloves, a gas mask, with four guns and threw two tear gas grenades before he started shooting. 70 people were injured or killed, 12 died, 11 in critical condition. James Holmes was a Ph.D. candidate who, like many of the film goers to the Premier was dressed up, and told the police when arrested he was ‘The Joker.’ The shooting took place only 20 miles from the Famous Columbine School shooting.

I worked four to five years at a Multiplex of 12 screens during many big openings, including some of the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. So having hundreds line up in costumes in advance is part of movie experience. My job, or specialization was in crowd control and movement during large events.

The Batman screening at the Aurora was in a 16 screen multiplex owned by Cinemark, the second largest cinema chain in the US (probably after ones owned by VIACOM who is part of the group which owns BlockBuster and Coka). My visit last week the Cineplex, and talking to staff showed me that the system from seven years ago is still in place, including the ‘blue shirts’ (managers). Part of staff training from day one is for an event just like the one which happened was, for everyone who worked at the multiplex where I was, a mandatory monthly requirement. And every six months full ‘live’ tests with schools of children bussed in to replicate a potential life threat to the 2,000+ people in the screen was conducted. If what the BBC reported happened, it could not have done so and wouldn’t have done so at the Multiplex/Cineplex where I worked: so what happened here?

The reason there is a higher standard around the world for a Cinema/Theatre is because Cinema’s have regular lethal fires/incidents starting with the death of over 600 at the Iroquois Theatre in 1903; then Laurier Theatre Fire in Montreal (77 dead), but occurring regularly around the world in 1955, 1960, 1977 (694 dead), 1978 (438 dead), 1983, 1997 and 1999 (75 dead). The danger of Cinema’s was due to the extreme flammable nature of old film stock (now replaced with less flammable or digital). Then there is the use of large and complex projectors for 14 hours or more straight, which use oil and can get very hot, as well the number of people in a fixed location, like a concert or club where injury by trampling occurs. All these require high safety standards met by building design, door, alarm, dectors, and other inert safety measures and high levels of staff training.

Staff who work at a cinema, particularly a multiplex, should be aware, like those who work on a ship, that due to the history of disasters, they are the trained people who will ensure no one dies. After 9/11 we all knew that, like a Stadium, a cinema multiplex, with 2,000-4,000 people at capacity, is a target.

Addition: One news report now states that after the smoke grenades, and 20 shots, a manager turned on the alarm for the building, made an announcement and starting an evacuation. By the time the evacuation started, the police were already present and in the fire exit path in gas masks and body armour. The cinema sceens seemed full and the screens did not go into auto-lock (the film turning off and the house emergency lights coming on). Here is a report from someone in another screen, who was there that night. If you look at the picture at the bottom, you can see that no staff usher ripped the tickets, meaning they entered Screen 1 without having passed a control point and had the ticket stub taken. This indicates the cinema was likely understaffed that night.

So: How did James Holmes leave the fire exit and return without the alarm going off?

Fire Exits are meant to do just that, help people exit in case of fire. At the start of every shift in a cinema, I or someone would have to radio to the central office that I was doing a ‘fire exit’ check. The alarm which would send the fire department was turned off, and I would check every single door at the start of the day, and again at the end of the day to make sure they were not blocked, and the walkway out was not blocked in any way. Then the alarm is turned back on. Where I worked there was a delay, to allow for a visual check before the signal went to the fire department.


Because with 12, or with Century Aurora, CO Cinemark 16 screens, there is no way to be able to tell if there is a fire, or other emergency simply by the working staff seeing it in time (staff are taking tickets, seating, cleaning screens, selling popcorn, selling tickets, cleaning toilets, etc). The opening of a fire door during a film is a signal to check out why, and quickly. So with
Associated Press saying that a Federal Law Enforcement Person told them James Holmes propped open a emergency exit side door during the movie, donned his protective gear and returned to the cinema screen to open fire with guns on the crowd. Again, why when the alarm went off in the office was no one sent to check on this fire door.

Yes, during the five years I worked at the multiplex/cineplex there were maybe hundreds of false alarms to check, over a dozen full evacuations and not one emergency involving loss of life. But that is the job. You check because without checking, and ensuring the door is tight, and that it can swing open for exit easily but cannot be opened the other direction, you are not ready for when trouble comes.

Why does the door only open one way? And why are they inaccessible from the other side?

You may think that the reason is to stop people sneaking in, but no, it is to prevent the spread of fire and loss of life. The reason doors only open one way is that if most movie customers can’t find the bathroom sign when they are looking for it, imagine how hard it is to figure out where to go during an emergency. The last thing needed is to have even ONE person re-entering a cinema that is on fire (and you know they would...because they forgot their cell phone). That is also why each staff person is assigned a screen to evacuate, or when short staffed, two small screens (yes, and bathrooms). And yes, I did evacuate screens because the alarm had gone off. Once a smoker illegally smoked and set off the alarm for the largest screen during Lord of the Rings. And it was raining outside. So having 500+ people want to lynch you for ruining their night out watching Lord of the Rings is part of the job. And no one goes back in, no one goes past you, and no one goes out the front, to make sure people aren’t trampled (enough people will exit the bathrooms or lines for films to end up with a group of people coming out the front anyway).

The building is emptied during an evacuation, all screens, not just the one where the alarm went off. The Fire Department has already been automatically notified and will check the building. They and the managers will have the keys to the evacuation doors. Once cleared, people reenter, after a short delay the movies resume. If it is not cleared, emergency officials take over.

So, the days of sneaking into a cinema, then opening the fire door and sneaking in your friends SHOULD have disappeared decades ago. Because a fire door which can be opened, or accessed or tampered with from the other side is not a safe exit. And creates an unsafe building.

So when news reports say that James put on armour and guns and prepared to shoot people with the fire door propped open for up to 30 minutes, something is VERY WRONG. What happened Cinemark?

Cinemark is saying that they have new ‘safety protocols’ like not allowing fake guns into the cinema during a screening. Uh…..right. But what about basic fire protocols?

As for leaving four guns and full body armor out in a exit causeway? How is that possible? Unless you are working that shift, and checking those doors with the alarm turned off, you should not even have access to the 'exit flow' out to the parking lot. Basic safety protocol BEFORE 9/11 stopped that from happening. And AFTER 9/11, the security increased, because a multiplex has 2,000-4,000 who have handed over their safety for two hours by buying a ticket. So whether the gunman he went to his car and got the guns there or they were in the fire exit path, that was a major safety breach.

Why didn't the grenades going off trigger the detectors, evacuate the building and notify authorities?

If one person smoking can cause an evacuation, then how can the EXPLOSION of two grenades, and the charges in them not set off a detector? This SHOULD have triggered a full evacuation of the building and immediate notification of the fire department for two reasons. The First is that due to the history of lethal disasters and the risk of electrical, oxygen and other types of combustion, there are not only two types of emergency fire extinguishers available for trained staff (I know, as I used one during a fire that occurred beside the cinema). Staff are supposed to pass both written tests but also have hands on training. Yet often that is determined by the corporation in charge. Because of history of fires the detectors in cinemas are much more sensitive for anything which could be considered a threat(remember it was the tear gas grenades that started the fire at Waco, TX). I would think that post 9/11, gas would be included in what would set them off. Even if that wasn't triggering the detector, the powder shock charges blowing open a grenade inside a cinema screen should qualify. Second, Batman was filmed using IMAX and 70mm film, which means a projectionist should have been up in the booth, and the projectionist has their own fire alarm system which they can trigger in case of any problems. The reason is because historically the projector has been the trigger of many fires, often the projection booth is isolated for fire safety, and a small window gives the projectionist a view of the screen and audience.

In the same way, if there is a raging fire in screen 5, you don’t want screen 4 and 6 to keep watching their film as the fire grows, that is why the automatic evacuation alarm sends out an automated message. Once the alarm is triggered, the entire multiplex evacuates, and yes it may cost a few bucks but it is better than loss of life. When the alarm occurs, the message comes over the speakers, the film projection is cut, the exit is lit and the audience is informed to proceed to the evacuation point – which is where the staff should be leading them. A few staff then check each screen, each toilet, and under the front ‘masking’ of the screen to ensure the building is evacuated.

So when “Eyewitnesses say bullets from the shooting in theatre nine passed through the theatre walls into adjacent screens, injuring people there also.” (
source) It is the exact opposite of what is supposed to happen.

Why did it? Only Cinemark can answer why the fire exit either had no alarm, or the alarm was not checked. I am guessing, from talks with managers and staff in recent trips to the cinema that the building was extremely understaffed.

Premier Showings and Midnight Showings often call for extra staff, but as most multinational business’ know, it is the staff hours that where profit or loss is often made. One summer the multiplex owned by VIACOM guessed wrong and used up the extra hours on a dud opening. So for the rest of that summer, 12 screens were watched, cleaned and checked by TWO people. It simply isn’t enough. Yet the 10 screen I went to last week had only 1 usher on duty. And at a six screen cinema I attended a few weeks ago, the Manager told me that ALL of the projectors were merely on timers and that the projection booths were locked and that only ONE person had the key to get in. So if a fire started in the projection booth, good luck dealing with it in time.

The staffing levels should be enough on the Screen Usher Level to: check to ensure each customer has a valid ticket and is not sneaking in with a cast off ticket or ‘I forgot it back in my seat’, a manager should be on floor to deal with any issues or complaints, there should be enough working walkie talkies to be sent to check out any problems, and each screen should be checked during trailers and the start of the film to ensure that the masking and focus is correct, and that the surround sound is working (and that the Bass hasn’t tripped the switch to leave the audience with only the forward sound). There would also be enough staff to check each screen a couple times during the film to ensure that there are no problems (from fights, to getting drunk, to vomit, to people throwing popcorn to hauling pedophiles with their pants down out to give to the police – it all happens, including people sometimes having heart attacks during the film).

For a Premier Showing, which would almost always be a full house, a staff member is almost always left in the screen to make sure nothing has or will go wrong. If there is no special advance showing for reviewers then these are the people reviewing the film, or referring it to friends. How this 'Premier' goes is what makes a profit or a loss. But no one has talked about the Cinema staff on the news. I think that is because perhaps they were understaffed and undertrained. Training costs money. Doing fire and emergency drills costs money and while it may save money in the short term – eventually somewhere there is a tragedy.

I don’t know if a manager turned off the silent alarm fire door system, or if it was ‘unwritten policy’ to turn it off in order to save on staffing. But there is no way this could have occurred with a functioning fire detection and door system alarm. People don’t walk INTO multiplex’s through the fire doors unless something is very wrong with the management and training.

Instead of press releases and talking about costumes, guards and fake guns, I hope Cinemark’s Century cinema’s will instead activate the alarm systems they should already have in place. That is on the doors, with the switchboard in the central office, the manager on the floor, and the detector for the changes within the cinema (two grenades go off and no automatic alarm for evacuation?), on the emergency egress, and the training for the staff to prepare them for emergencies.

Our Cinema had a ‘safe room’ for those who were disabled and unable to evacuate in time, which was self contained and had 24 hours of oxygen. ‘So once we bring the person in the wheelchair here, we can leave right?’ one recent hire asked me.

‘No, you represent the safety of this cinema, and where the people who trust you go, you will stay. If you have a problem with that, then you shouldn’t do this job.’ Four of them stayed, one quit. If someone making a low end wage is the foot on the floor, hand on the door of safety, it is the company which buys the equipment then creates and enforces the regulations to ensure safety.

I hope Cinemark realizes that for two hours I haven’t just paid for a film, but for the safety and security they provide.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Panty of the day (and impulse control joke)

I am resting from a medical procedure today. I am and will be posting three times a week now, having a regular schedule of sorts. My panties today are for Pride, or Disability Pride, or getting my Freak and Geek on.

In Seattle
GeekGirl Con on Aug 11 & 12th has not only Burlesque but Nerd Burlesque including a show themed around Josh Whedon. The Saturday panels include two on disabilities: one on disability in comics and the other on why with those with disabilities 1 in 10 (or 1 in 7) is there no representation in SyFy, TV, graphic novels, etc? Linda said it looks good but we have no funds to go, or more specifically to stay in a hotel with controlled air con (seattle hotels are expensive!). But if you are in the area, it looks great.

I am winning against my disease. I realized that I should be celebrating, and find a GP that wants help that continue. I wheeled to the library on Monday, and found out from the security guard, who is from Fiji, that the Judo is now in an accessible location. And Judo has a wheelchair classification. As my boxing coach hasn’t returned, maybe I should take up the art of Judo.

On the way back from the library, I was wheeling up the third block going uphill. My style is ‘push, push, push’ then get to the corner and ‘gasp gasp gasp’. I also encourage/insult myself, ‘Come on, you call that pushing, more,’ Then I growl. This helps deal with the strain and clears the pavement as pedestrians almost run to cross the street. I passed a couple, man with his wife who had advanced MS and we both reached the top of the hill at the same time. “No lack of UP in this city.” I said.

“You can say that again.” He replied. But I didn’t (see, my impulse control joke of the day).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Film review of Snow white plus Sibera burns, ecosystem and intellect dulled to destruction

Linda says that it is the forests on fire in Sibera making the plume of smoke, turned by sun into a Maxfield Parish backdrop.
We were out, date night, to the film Snow White and the Huntsman. Pic from just before we went in.

In the trailers was a paid advert to ‘boost’ the new pipeline china wants to build through two national parks, nature reserves, some provincial parks and two sovereign native nations. It will run from the Alberta sands to the BC coast, where Chinese Supertankers will navigate hundreds of miles into deep winding ex glacial sea twists. The ‘easy’ part, around Hartley Bay, before navigation is really bad, which is still where the Queen of the North sank six years ago in the water deep and swift so the people lost were never recovered.

The rupturing of the side of a supertanker, or sinking of it is not a possible tragedy to the pipeline builders, it is an ‘acceptable loss.’

We have lost ourselves as Canadians and custodians of the animals in the land we cohabit. Two days ago I saw a heron flying at eve, roosting in the trees. Across the strait in Port Angeles, the lumber company, bought several years ago by a Japanese firm, is stocking and shipping to Japan the full trees, in order to rebuild the temples, houses, shrines and areas from the earthquake. They value the land, the customs, the way of living. We, on the other hand, treat non-renewable resources as a garage and boot sale. We don’t cut and develop the 800-1,000 year old trees, or the oil, the diamonds, the platinum, gold, silver, or other resources have (Canada is in the top 3 for almost every resource). Sell the whole fields to another country? Sure. Have them put a pipeline through preserves? Sure. Except that when that oil transport hits, and sinks, every species that migrates, that lives in the area (and many of the birds and wildlife in the area are endangered) will move or die.

There will be no more pods of killer whales through the strait every year, or humpbacks migrating from Hawaii, or the Grey whales or the whales from Antarctica in order to give birth where the pipeline comes out. Blue Whales, the rarest, can only give birth in our warmer waters and only to one calf. Three whales use Vancouver Island as permanent homes. What happens when oil saturates the water?

I live where there are pods of whales I see at least one a year. Most people are pleased to see one whale in a lifetime. I go out 4 times a week if lucky and I still see wild heron, blue heron, and a host of wildlife. I don’t need to see documentaries of Meercats, I need to go to the park three blocks away. I sailed to where the seals give pups and sun them with the disability sailing program. Killer Whales, otters, seals and deer are just part of the Mark Mallison - plus other area Orca pics

In all of the world, this is one of the few loci for animals, particularly whales and birds. They travel 20,000+ miles to get here, and the question isn’t ‘Are we going to screw it up?’ but ‘How long?’ How long until we find out if the humpbacks whales will be able to survive, or the Blue’s give birth?

But hey, at least the revenue from 2009 or 2010 will be good. China has already bought the oil, we get the disaster and cleanup for free. ‘Part of BC’s future’ the screen tells me. Yeah.

Good thing: The trailer for Hugh Jackson in Les Miserables played (sorry google seems to have tripled the ads, you need to mouse click the x, right corner if they appear).

It reminded me that I lived my life saying, ‘naked, shaved head, in a camp, I will remain.’ Such a simple view of life when the body is so out of wack that there is no control, from starvation eating 2 times what I eat now to swelling in a matter of seconds depending on the heat. The depression, Linda’s unemployment, the medical merry-go-round, and people like Fran the manager who still put so much effort into making other’s lives harder to live, have beaten me down. I thought that I would die but still have control in some way, as living without control is the terror of falling down an endless darkness, helpless. I have nightmares where I wake up screaming every day, where a giant man, made of darkness, stands at the end of my bed. Been a couple weeks of that.

Yet, knowing all I know: naked, shaved head, in a camp, I will defy, I will remain.

The film, Snow White, was sadly a combination of all the problems of a ‘writers room’ with a stack of symbols ripped from Ghibli, Russian and German films but failed to have a basic pre-story, story, minor climax, downfall, major climax, resolution, after story. At one point, after 20 minutes of ‘Dwarf Singing’, I whispered to Linda, “When did this turn into Lord of the Rings?”

She whispered back, “I was thinking the same thing??”

Coming home, we saw lighting strikes, and went to bed with the window open and sheets of lightning lighting up the room. ‘Like camp, or a sleepover’ after we had been, ‘See that one!’ for the latest sheet or deep rumble of thunder.

I have found cinema disappointing lately. There is a sad poverty of ideas being accepted as brilliant.

Every time there is a remake an angel gets beaten to death by kittens.

Knowing that, is a remake of Spider man, less than 10 years since….Spider Man, where it just tries to add in a Kick Ass style really worth it? And how does ’21 Jump Street’ the film rate a high as Hurt Locker (by a female director, winning 6 oscars and 87 awards?)? It is higher than Jarhead (the book was so…graphic that I avoided the movie for a long time – turns out long term illness and war has a lot in common: the daily routines, the bizarre humor, the rules that often make no sense, the emergencies when time slows down and speeds up, the stuff that simply can’t be talked about or described and the way it places you outside society).

The top US TV shows like Homeland don’t bother to tell you they are an American simplified version of Isreali TV show called Prisoners of War. But then, when ‘The Killing’ has to be redone, asian films have to be redone, and even British series like Being Human or Little Britain get remade for the lowest common denominator, what should I expect?

I am tired of ‘The Lowest Common Denominator’, aren’t you? In the same way, I was tired of Hollywood having the Queen in Snow White TELLING me what I had just SEEN in the film, on the assumption that I was too stupid to figure it out, then telling it to me AGAIN. Please, please, let the mavericks out! Then I can watch North American shows again (though the most popular right now happen to be Canadian, like Rookie Blues or Murdock Mysteries), instead of having to watch only Nordic Noir, French series, Korean, Japanese, and UK shows. When I watch a UK series like Silk, complexly layered, I feel the brain engaging. I am EXPECTED to think in order to view it. It almost makes me cry from relief, the idea that any viewer or reader is expected to match the writer and actor in understanding the complexities and the human emotions which come with that.

Please, to the writers, the directors, producers: don’t dumb it down, don’t remake it. Accept that we think, and like thinking, and take that as a challenge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

'Let there be life', Linda decrees

Linda gave me life: now we both just want to spend time living it.

Linda was using the ambi-bag in wee hours of the morn, to breathe for me, but I was still suffocating because my diaphragm wasn’t letting the air out correctly. She moved to massaging the diaphragm itself so I could both take in and let out a breath. I have only the vaguest memory: after a while of the chest hurting, and the throat burning, there is a feeling of fizz in the blood, bubbling super fast and the need for breathing, after being so desperate goes away.

I don’t know how long she was breathing for me, I was already on continuos oxygen for sleeping, but it wasn’t working and I remember thinking at some point, “If she calls 911 now, I’ll be on a tube the next time I wake up.” Then the blackness overwhelming me when she got the diaphragm to work. It is a bit scary as I don’t know if I am going to wake up ever again, and it is a bit of a surprise when I do.

“Hey, still here.” I think, and try to move my head, noticing that I’m still on full bore oxygen.

I had shut down on Sunday completely for two days, which is what it has been like for the last few weeks. The heat is making things hard. I was out of it, in bed, then finally able to get up, went through about 7 hours of almost unspeakable hell; when it takes two hours of concentration to take sips of water and a melted smoothie. Like a cheap car in the rain, some systems just didn’t want to go when I needed them the most, and when I went to go for a nap, I just….stalled. The breathing stopped, and stayed stopped for a long time.

For us, it is the long road with minimal hope. A lot of ‘If’s’, finding out that Linda came second for a top job was hard, and still struggling to just keep the lights on, not to mention now three years of patch and parts. There is a feeling that right around the corner, things will improve: I just have to try and get my body stable to hang in there. The list of professionals who say I ‘should be’ dead is long and no one saying ‘Hey, here’s why she’s alive.’ – which is treated like a crime in our budget cutting medical system.

Linda works hard, not just physically but emotionally. And I am thankful for each comment, effort, thought, deed and choice of caring she makes. After over a year of miscommunication and the hurts on both side, she is responding back in a way I can understand (at least most of the time). I’ve been trying for the last 6 months or more to be conscious and responsible for my actions, despite problems in understanding, reaction and hyper-emotion due to reasons I can’t talk about because VIHA would love to slap me in chemical restraint drugs.

Emotional liability, either due to a body/brain connection that is not known, or due to lack of oxygen and rerouting dead pathways.  At the same time, for the same reasons, my dyslexia in reading is high, and dealing with hurts is hard because in my head and what I feel emotionally there is no space between the ‘then’ and the ‘now.’ And so when working out an issue, several emotional ‘hurts’ may be discussed, which is like having them all happen 20 minutes ago (it isn’t PTSD, I am not reliving it, it is sort of like a box sealed at the height of emotional pain, and even if that is resolved, talking about it opens the box, which is always at that strongest emotional point).

Vulnerable takes strength and is painful and difficult, while being hard and stony is easy. Closing yourself off is easy. The risk of staying vulnerable to hurt is high, but without being open to that hurt, there is no way to share, to bond, to achieve an ‘us.’

I hope that in the near future finances and the stress that causes can be lifted. Also, hoping the 10 days of heat and 14 predicted can be survived.

Recognizing the strong reactions and trying to take five or 10 minutes to just sit there, or listen to some music, or watch something that literally changes my mood, viewpoint, and mindset is what I can and will continue to attempt. The realization that I have the strong emotions of a child does not absolve me, but informs me to try harder. But it sure is draining.

Linda has been listening to “I won’t give up” (on us):

While, when trying to work out the ‘Grrr’, mine is ‘What the Hell’

Linda: “So, how many images do you think they have stolen from you?”

Beth: “Honestly, probably a few.” (the problem of importing original art from Japan and using it is that then it becomes a ‘rip fest’ – and the cost and hours of Linda and I photographing the art can be eliminated by a right click and save – After supporting many of the more obscure circles in Japan, though it is much harder now, I hope others do as well).

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Happy 'Make stuff go Bang!' Day!

Lesson of the firework: Upward and onward (or: 'if you go boom, make it count!).

Yeah, Things are still hard. What I can do about that, I will. VIHA is trying to get workers to not come in, and I wish I could say that my GP, the health authority, my care manager and the gang have not lost sight of the name and purpose of their authority: caring.  But they have.  Still, I continue to hope that they realize it is not about having or holding control but helping others. 

Still, a group with no oversight, and a province with no regulation or transparency adds up to a disaster.  And not the pretty, 'watch it burn' or 'see the rainbow' kind.   So, I found fun in fire. 

 As for me, I found out between Canada Day, July 4th and Bastille Day that blowing shit up is fun. Especially if it makes pretty sparkles.

I’ll keep on working to find the wonder in life even if the wonder needs to come to me, sometimes. Two organizations I relied on have changed, one folded and the other changed it’s name. That change mean I have to write a new will (seriously), but more on that later. I hope you had a nice time with friends and some time off recently.