Friday, August 05, 2005

There I was, checking out one of the AHL boards where I post. I'd just gotten home from work; since I only occasionally can look at the internet during the day, I usually check on a few things soon after I come home.

The topic of the new discussion thread was something to the effect of, "Philadelphia Flyers sign...", but no name. There are several Phantoms UFAs that I really want to see us bring back on board, so I clicked on the thread to see if any of them were the player we signed.

In the post, I saw the cut-and-pasted online news article, along with the original link. My first glance at the headline convince me that my eyes were playing tricks on me. I imagined myself going back to the ophthalmologist and saying, "I *just* got these glasses in January, and already they need to be updated! Can you imagine, I thought I read 'Flyers land Forsberg' on my computer screen!"

I blinked. The headline didn't go away, nor did it resolve into a different set of words.

My next thought was, "This is some kind of practical joke. It's GOT to be." I read the text that was pasted from the news article. Hmmm... there's nothing here to give this away as a prank. No obvious factual errors, no grammatical mistakes, no misspellings.

But... this particular poster is NOT given to messing with people's minds like that. I haven't seen her post April-Fool's-Day-like content and try to pass it off as news, ever. Could it be...?

I clicked on the news article link that was also in the post.

BEHOLD... the link led, not to some spoof site, but to a real, live TSN.CA report on the Flyers' latest free-agent signing: Peter Forsberg.

HOLY COW. It was TRUE. The Flyers just signed the guy who is, arguably, the best hockey player out there. And if he's not *THE* best, he's in the top two or three at the very least.

Oh! My! GOD! Imagine me bouncing off the walls and ceiling with glee. :o) Provided we stay healthy, this team is poised to make the Finals. Period. End of sentence. We just became THE team to beat in the East, Tampa Bay (the current Stanley Cup champs) notwithstanding.

Excellent, excellent move. I can't rejoice about it enough.

Unfortunately, since the signing put us over the salary cap limit, we had to trade someone ASAP. And the bummer is that the someone turned out to be a real fave of mine, Jeremy Roenick. He hated to go, but he understood. I hate to see him go, but I understand, too. This salary cap is going to cause a lot of trades like this, all around the league. And IMO, he's going to be a good fit in LA, both on and off the ice. I'll miss the heck out of him, though. He's one of the most fun-to-watch players I've ever seen.

So... on to a more serious note. I can't remember if I've mentioned this in past posts, but the building I work in is across the street from one of the area's major teaching hospitals. It's also got a helicopter pad on the roof, where trauma patients are flown in on a daily basis.

Thanks to this, it's not unusual at all to hear a low-flying helicopter taking off or arriving. I've kind of learned to tell the difference between the two, without looking up. The departing helicopters have a noise that just begins abruptly ("Thup-thup-thup-thup..."). It increases in intensity until you can hear them really gun the engine ("Thup-thup-thup-THUP-THUP-THUP-THUP-THUPTHUPTHUPTHUP..."); it lifts off from the roof shortly after that.

The arriving helicopters, on the other hand, fade rapidly into earshot rather than having a sound that abruptly begins. There's no "gunning" the engine sound. However, depending on where you're standing and what direction the sound is travelling, the noise level can be stupendously loud. If you're caught where the buildings echo the sound RIGHT back at you, there can be some ear-splitting THUPTHUPTHUP noise for a few moments while you're getting both the original engine sound plus the echo at full volume. Fortunately, that only lasts briefly; the angle-of-approach for the sound waves changes as the helicopter continues moving until it lands on the roof.

Either way, my instinct is to bless myself at the sight of these helicopters, the same way I would at the sight of an ambulance. Since their presence means that SOMEbody's having a medical emergency somewhere, I think sending a prayer in their general direction is a good idea. Any one of us could be the one needing the prayers one of these days, so we might as well send a few out when we're not the ones having the immediate crisis.

Anyhow. Today I ate lunch a bit later than usual, so I happened to be in the conference room/lunch room at just the right time to hear a helicopter engine fade into earshot. I thought of M*A*S*H: "Incoming!" and made the sign of the cross. I figured the helicopter would land, and the sound would go away, within a couple of minutes. It always does.

Except that's not what happened this time. The helicopter noise just kept going and going, way past the one-or-two-minutes I expected I'd hear it. And it was LOUD. Finally I thought, "OK, so what in heck's going on out there, anyway?" I wondered if a helicopter had arrived to find the roof area filled to capacity or something, and got up to look out the window.

That's when I noticed three helicopters, not making any attempt to land, but HOVERING in the general vicinity. The closest one was across the street from the hospital (and from us)... and it bore the logo of Channel 3.

What the...?! Why's a NEWS helicopter out there? I looked down to the street. There were at least 15 police and fire vehicles down there, and the streets were closed to traffic. Lots of people were outside the building; the crowd appeared to be a mix of visitors, hospital employees, emergency personnel, and the regular foot traffic that would normally be on the street at that hour of the day. (They most definitely DID NOT look like they'd evacuated any particular part of the hospital -- if they had, the throng would've looked rather like the flight out of Egypt in The Ten Commandments, rather than just a small-to-moderate-sized crowd.)

"All right", I thought, "what in the HECK is going on?" I watched for a while, but nothing in particular appeared to be going on. After a few more minutes, the Channel 3 helicopter turned and flew away. (The other two stuck around.) It was about time I got back to my desk, so I did.

That's when I found out that the reason for the problem is that in the hospital, a small battery pack had exploded at one of the nurse's stations. We got the press release in our email, explaining the goings-on, shortly after I got back to work. Two hospital employees were slightly hurt. But until the reason for the mishap was determined, security responded with a full alert and cops, fire personnel, and the bomb squad (! It never crossed my mind that a hospital would need a visit from them) were on hand.

Thank goodness it turned out to be a great big "err on the side of caution" operation. And I'm glad to know that if, God forbid, there ever was a disaster of some sort at a local hospital, that's the kind of response that the city's prepared to provide.

But I could do without another surprise sighting of a hovering news helicopter outside my building any time soon.

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