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I was startled from my half-asleep state early this morning by a news story on CBC Radio about a patient fatality resulting from an overdose of medicine administered through my home institution, the Cross Cancer Institute. I won’t make any specific comments about this case, leaving that to the CCI’s Communications Office because I have no professional connection to the events and know only the facts made available to the media.

But I will wonder about how the design of the medicine administration system allowed such an error to occur. Analysis should include all aspects of the process, including the delivery mechanism, a programmable pump. At an informatics conference I attended in 2004, we learned that usability simulations at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation http://www.ehealthinnovation.org/ have found that some kinds of pumps are, because of their interface design, accidents waiting to happen. Mandating one, two, even three human checks is one after-market way to deal with this, but does not address the root cause. Pump manufacturers should be held to higher premarket standards of design safety.

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One off-season diversion for fans of the National Hockey League has been speculating about which free agent players will end up on which team in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement environment. We’ve read stories this summer about general managers and coaches e-mailing, phoning and even showing up on the doorsteps of players’ homes to express their interest in obtaining their services.

When I left Kingston and the Kingston Leftovers league I became an Unrestricted Free Agent recreational hockey player. I am almost certain my fate was of little interest to anyone by me, and there certainly wasn’t anyone knocking on my door. It was me sending e-mails and making phone calls to the various local leagues I found on the Internet:

  • Alberta Men’s Hockey League
  • Edmonton Recreational Hockey League
  • Green Pepper Hockey League
  • Edmonton Ice Box League

As of tonight, I am off the UFA list, having signed on with the Pond Dogs, a 4-year-old team in Division 6B of the Alberta Men’s Hockey League. There was one open roster spot and five interested players. The tryout consisted of seeing who would pay the registration fee first, and I had the fastest chequebook! With the start of the new season just a few weeks away, it’s a relief to have that settled. Now I can get serious about my fitness regime. 😉

Because of utilities work going on in our alley, I have had to return home from the front of the house this week. Tonji-kun happened to be looking out the living room window today as I approached the house, but disappeared as soon as he saw me. Dorami-chan says he rushed smiling into the kitchen and said something that sounded like “Otoh-san” (“Father” in Japanese). I don’t know who felt happier, him or me.

Parkallen Restaurant

Rating pending

This restaurant was mentioned in the Edmonton Journal around the time the recent troubles broke out in Lebanon. The owner had gone over there to be married, but (Canadian? I’ll have to re-check the story) officials would not allow his bride to return to Edmonton with him.

After an afternoon trial session with a local acupuncturist, Dorami-chan wasn’t feeling up to cooking supper, so we thought about showing our support for Lebanon (or the owner at least) by trying this place on the way home.

AMBIENCE: Upscale – tablecloths! Booths and tables available. No music.
SERVICE: Slow, but there was a large family celebration party going on. High chair, but no seat belt. Takeout and delivery available – may be the best way to experience this place.

FOOD: Unable to assess yet – before our order could be taken, Tonji-kun got restless. We decided bail to avert disaster. But it did seem pricey – double-digit prices for simple appetizers like hummus, for example.

Julio’s Barrio
Whyte Avenue

***

We made our first visit to this popular Mexican eatery on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue strip after seeing a play nearby at the 2006 Fringe Festival.

AMBIENCE: The streetside patio tables were full, but the dark, cool interior was a welcome respite from the hot afternoon sun.

SERVICE: Attractive, friendly and attentive. Baby chair, children’s menu, crayons. Tonji-kun actually started to draw with the crayons briefly before reverting to chewing on them.

FOOD: Portions are large, but execution is heavy handed, either blah or excessively spicy. If chips and salsa are a good indicator – chips edible but thick and hard, and salsa just heat no tomato.

This was not the worst Mexican food I have ever had, but not the best, either. This place owes a lot of its success to its location.

The Chinese Clown Cabararet

Jane and Tair Chen
**

With Tonji-kun now on the scene, we necessarily approached the Fringe Festival this year with a different attitude, exclusively looking for kid-friendly productions. We started with this play – or almost didn’t, as I didn’t look closely enough at the ticket to realize the venue was the only one well away from Fringe Central. After a brisk walk, we were almost last in line, and thus got front row seats (people seem to want to avoid the front row if there is a possibility – threat? – of interaction). I had great hopes for a clown show in the Chinese tradition, but these were diminished when Jane Chen emerged in a Western clown costume. (Tonji-kun was fascinated by her big red nose, though.) No matter, maybe the play’s content would highlight Asian American themes. Unfortunately, what followed was a fairly generic Fringe show that happened to be performed by Asian actors. By that yardstick, the play was long and started to lose steam in the second half.Tonji-kun got restless and we had to bail, but didn’t feel too bad about that.

Austrian Bakery

Off Whyte

****

This place has been around forever apparently, but we only discovered it on our way back from a Fringe show. They offer a wide variety of baked cakes and cookies. We appreciated their restraint wth the use of sugar, unusual in North America. They also make a rum and raisin poundcake that Dorami-chan found a suitable substitute for her favourite hard-to-find ice cream of the same flavour.

The Mill

Off Whyte

****

This restaurant has been an Edmonton fixture for a generation, but we didn’t find it until today on the way back from a Fringe show. Most of the other customers were regulars it seemed.
Dorami-chan ordered the pork hock, a huge plate that reminded me of the great meal we had at Les 3 Brasseurs in Viéux Montreal last winter.

I had a schnitzel plate, which was basically tonkatsu with sauerkraut instead of fresh chopped cabbage. This sauerkraut was actually sour, maybe how it is supposed to taste, unlike the almost sweet, bland stuff supplied at most stadium concession stands these days. It wasn’t bad, but I’ll get the pork hock next time, though – it also comes with sauerkraut.

An accordion player provided appropriate music (Friday nights). Stuffed moose and bison heads in the lobby kept Tonji-kun entertained. High chair available. Service was friendly and attentive.

Shaftebury Draft

***

Since the O’Bs first introduced me to Shaftebury E.S.B. in Vancouver in the early 1990s,  I have enjoyed every kind of character- and flavour-laden beer made by this B.C. brewery. Ihave to rate Draft as a bit of a disappointment, however. There’s very little to distinguish it from the Sleeman’s Draft I reviewed earlier. Not a bad beer, though.

Sleeman’s Genuine Draft

***

A drinkable hot-weather beer. Not enough of the bite I associate with lagers (hmm, maybe it’s an ale, lemme check), but pleasant.