Letters Dec. 13: Octopus grabbed fisherman’s leg and wouldn’t let go; walk-in clinics

I know how eagle felt (honest, true story)

Re: “Helping hand disarms octopus, freeing bald eagle,” Dec. 11.

I remember fishing one night off the rocks at Ogden Point. I was catching rock cod like crazy and releasing them. I swear this is true, not a fish story!

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It was 1973 — fishing was great then. All of a sudden, a huge thing wrapped around my leg. I had Snoot Boots on (hey — it was 1973, remember).

Then another tentacle wrapped around the same leg. This octopus had me. I could not free myself. It was pulling hard and my boot would not slip off.

I yelled at a couple walking along the breakwater and they laughed. About two minutes later, an engineer from the pilot boats that dock down there came to my rescue.

The second the engineer got close to me, the octopus let lose. The engineer had a knife in his hand.

I read that octopus have eight brains. It was smart to let go. His taste for a midnight snack sucks — really sucks.

Robert P. Nicholas
View Royal

Clinic wait times often stretch into next day

Re: “Region’s clinic waits longest in six provinces, survey finds,” Dec. 11.

Your article describing increasing wait times in walk-in clinics is not only no surprise, but considerably understates the problems.

First, the measured wait time does not take into account the fact that in most clinics, the daily maximum is reached before noon (no more patients allowed), so a patient’s wait time will extend until the next day.

The data described only applies to the time from being booked in and subsequently seen.

But we need to ask again and again why the gross deficiency in the availability of family doctors persists year after year. Indeed, it has worsened over time.

Many different players are responsible. Clearly the ministers of health are ultimately responsible and over many years, regardless of political party, have failed miserably to address the issue.

The College of Family Physicians is mandated to “advocate on behalf of the specialty of family medicine, family physicians and their patients.” I have frequently looked at their newsletters, websites and resolutions at their annual meetings. Nothing about the 30 per cent of the public who cannot find a general practitioner.

What about the Canadian Medical Association, whose mandate is “ongoing health advocacy”? A continual deafening silence.

I would encourage all patients who cannot find a family doctor to protest to their MLAs, Island Health and the above-mentioned professional bodies.

Adrian Fine, MD

Encourage use of rakes, electric blowers

Leaf blowers produce harmful noise levels (up to 80 decibels at 15 metres) and high levels of pollutants (one hour of use is equal to driving a Camry 1,770 kilometres), and put harmful particles into the air.

They’re banned in Washington, D.C., and parts of California. However, there’s no reason landscapers should suffer for using leaf blowers.

Taxes are an effective way of discouraging harmful behaviour, either positive tax (carbon tax) or negative tax (rebates on electric cars).

Money would be better spent on encouraging the use of electric leaf blowers and rakes than many other environmental initiatives.

Robert St. Clair
Oak Bay

Gardeners could use portable generators

On the one hand, we have the public subjected, without choice, to loud, unrestricted and highly stressing urban noise, much of it caused by the commercial use of gas-powered leaf blowers.

On the other hand, we have gardening contractors arguing that anything but unrestricted use of gas-powered leaf blowers — and more often than not, two blowers operating concurrently, one in each hand — will lead to the immediate loss of some of their business. Their lament is bolstered by alluding to increased costs to homeowners for leaf removal if the deafeningly noisy Stihl leaf blower is not allowed to remain the commercial tool of choice.

If almost all gas-powered leaf-removal equipment is, as it is, intolerably noisy, and battery-pack cordless blowers lack the power and duration to complete some leaf-removal jobs, here is my suggestion: Commercial contractors should equip themselves with Honda portable generators, easily mounted in the backs of their pickup trucks.

Connect to an extension cord of a length adequate for the job, and an electric leaf blower. Turn on the leaf blower, remove leaves. Simple. Any remaining leaves can be removed manually with that old, much underused but still-effective tool, the garden rake.

If there is a time and cost increase for gardening contractors, that’s the price the homeowner pays for a leaf-free property achieved without subjecting their non-consenting neighbours to unrestricted noise.

If any increased cost for electric leaf removal seems excessive, do it yourself with a rake on the weekend.

For the information of the gardening-challenged among us, a new bamboo garden rake can be purchased at Capital Iron for less than $12. This would seem not a lot of money to pay for a greater quiet in the neighbourhood where you live.

Michael Bell

No realistic way to achieve goal

Re: “School district seems to have no climate plan,” comment, Dec. 1.

The authors administer a pretty severe tongue-lashing to the Greater Victoria school board for its failure to implement a plan to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. In doing so, however, they expose the unreality of their demands.

In the first place, the board seems to be completely in sympathy with their wishes; it has passed a motion consistent with the authors’ demands. There are obviously no climate-change skeptics in their midst. Still, they have failed to come up with a plan to accomplish their objectives.

The reason for this is simple: Such a plan does not exist.

Here is a plan that might achieve those goals: Close down 45 per cent of the schools. This might come pretty close to getting the job done, but would probably generate some opposition from the teachers’ union, not to mention the students and their families.

Why don’t the authors propose their own plan of action on how to achieve the reductions they demand? Because they have no more idea than anyone else how to accomplish this.

A realistic and acceptable plan to achieve these demands simply does not exist. In the real world, there is no sufficient alternative to the use of fossil fuels to provide enough energy to maintain our present quality of life.

Windmills, solar panels and other energy technologies might someday help get the job done, but that day isn’t here yet. Nor will it arrive before 2030. When it does, I expect the board will be happy to adopt it.

Michel Murray

Use downtown schools for shelter?

In 1958, I was hitchhiking through (then) Yugoslavia with very little money in the middle of winter. I arrived in Belgrade as night was falling and, with the help of a friendly policeman, was directed to a local school.

There, in a classroom where the desks had been pushed to the side, several folding cots were set up. A towel was on the bed and washrooms with showers were down the hall.

No food or drink was provided and the charge was less than a dollar. I shared the room with fellow indigents, having been told I had to be out by 7:30 the next morning — just as students were beginning to arrive.

In Greater Victoria, we have a lot of people who need a bed for the night. We also have schools in the downtown core that have unused space and facilities between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. A gym might be preferable to a classroom, but could something like this not be considered?

Chris Harker
North Saanich

Impact of permanent daylight time

A gentle reminder to Premier John Horgan and those who support switching to daylight time permanently. If you are awake and moving at 7 a.m. these days, look out the window. This is the new 8 o’clock.

Then check an hour later for the new 9 o’clock.

I hope California will be the rational one on the Left Coast and push for permanent standard time, even though they are less affected than those to the north.

Steve Newman

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