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The moment we emerged from the elevator it was apparent to all three of us that we were entering into a passageway cut from the rock beneath the city.
It was no natural cavern, but it also was not made by conventional construction techniques. The walls of the passageway seemed to be cut out of the rock by some precise tool that left them smooth.
The tunnel was dark but as we rounded the first turn we saw that a faint glow was eminating from the rock near the top of he walls casting a light that was just enough to allow us to navigate down the tunnel.
We walked silently, each of us lost in our own thoughts about what had just happened to us. I could feel that the tunnel was descending as we walked.
After walking for what seemed like an eternity, we came to an area where the natural ilumination was brighter and we could see we were approaching some kind of a chamber.
We stopped just outside the chamber entrance and looked at each other.
Nadivah was the first person to speak.
“Porter, what is this place?” She said
“I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Pradosh said.
I looked at both of them while I was formulating my response. They both looked scared.
When I finally spoke I picked my words carefully. I didn’t want to alarm them any more than they already were.
“I’ve been running this same question over in my mind since we stepped off the elevator.” I said
After a brief pause I said. “Here’s what I know so far. The tunnel we are in isn’t listed in any map. I’ve been down here off and on for months and in other parts of the city and I know for sure this area isn’t mapped. The tunnel (if you can call it that). passageway is probably a better word, was not made by any conventional construction techniques I’m aware of and the light that we have isn’t coming from electric lighting, it looks more like natural luminsescence.
My best guess would be this was here long before the city. Native or indigenous people probably made it. “
When I finished Nadivah and Pradosh just nodded.
“Let’s go into this chamber” I said and slowly looked around the edge of the entrance into the chamber. I looked back. Nodded once in the direction of the chamber and started into it.
The chamber was immense. The ceiling had to be at least 60 feet hight. The chamber was obviously made using the same technique as the tunnel. The walls were smooth and went straight up for about 15 feet, then curved gently in a perfect dome and went back down the other side. The chamber was about 50 feet across and in the centre of the chamber there was a circular platform with steps leading up to it. At the centre of the platform was a large arch that you could see through.
We made our way into the middle of the chamber and up the steps to the platform with the arch.
There was a thick layer of dust covering all surfaces and you could see our footprints in layers of dust leading up to the platform we were standing on.
The archway was about 10 feet across and 15 feet high. It was made of stone that looked like it was cut using the same tool as everything else. There was one difference however. The arch had some kind of symbols or pictures carved into its surface all the way around it. About 5 feet off the platform and sticking out from the right side of the arch was a block with a picture symbol on it. It consisted of a spiral and a figure standing with the spiral and a few other markings.
Just as I was about to speak, I noticed something laying on the floor about 3 feet from the platform. There was a flashlight covered in dust just laying there and something flat beside it. I went over and picked up the flashlight and the flat object and brushed the dust off both. What I saw when I wiped the dust off the flat object sent me reeling.
The flat object I held in my hand was an identification card with an alligator clip tether on it.
Written in lettering across the ID Badge was the name Carl Slayden and above the writing was a picture of my father.
I sat down rather abruptly on the edge of the platform. Sat down is probably not accurate, it was more like I crumpled into a sitting position.
Nadivah and Pradosh sprang quickly to my side with a multitude of questions escaping from their lips.
“Porter! are you alright, whats wrong?” Nadivah Said.
“Oh my! Porter!” was all that escaped out of Pradosh that I could understand. The rest was in another language which i assumed was Hindi.
This…Ummm…This is my Father’s…I said breathlessly. My heart was racing and my head was spinning. “But How? How is this possible?” I managed to eek out.
“I don’t understand Porter, what is this? Whats going on?” Nadivah said
“This is my father” I said. “This is my father’s ID Badge, and I assume this is his flashlight too” I finished.
“Your father works for the city?” Pradosh said questioningly.
He did. Over 13 years ago before he disappeared. He was never found and no clues to his whereabouts or what happened to him exist” I said ….”errr existed” I corrected.
“Oh my god Porter, this is amazing!” Nadivah said.
I thought she meant the fact that I had my Father’s ID badge in my hand and had just found evidence of where he was before he disappeared, but when I looked over at her she was examining the arch on the dais.
“These are some kind of indigenous symbols or carvings but they aren’t like anything I’ve ever seen. Nothing in this room is anything like any of the sites I’ve visited in this area or Alberta or any other part of North America on my vacations.” Nadivah said
I could always count on Nad to say something completely unexpected. I chuckled a little and said. “Gee thanks for your concern Nad”
“Sorry Porter, but this room we’re standing in, this passageway, all of this is way out of place….. Nadivah said.
“Yeah so is finding evidence that my father was here at some point” I said sarcastically.
“…..and what is that lighting in the hallway. Where are we and how is this all possible?
Nadivah paused realizing what I had said…”Oh my god, you’re right. I’m so sorry Porter! My curiosity is getting the better of me.” she said.
You mean you have no have no idea what happened to your father for the last 17 years and now you find this? Are you ok?” Nadivah Said.
” I mean, yeah I think so, I’m just a little blown away that’s all. I didn’t expect to ever find any evidence about my Dad, but here we are in this weird place and I have. We need to get out of here and figure out what this place is and what my father was doing here.” I said.
“Getting out of here sounds good to me, so how do we do that?” Pradosh said.
We made our way back along the passageway to the elevator. Along the way we looked for any other exits or passageways that might lead up towards the surface, but none were to be found.
Once back at the elevator we opened the trap door in the roof so we could figure out how to get back up the elevator shaft.
Further up the shaft we could see a ladder on the side of the shaft that was there for elevator maintenance techs to use when a decent into the shaft was required.
there were about 4 stories between us and the bottom rung of the ladder. The elevator was pitch black, but we could see some light coming down the elevator shaft from the top which served to illuminate things just enough for us to see once our eyes adjusted.
We decided as a group that we would climb up the elevator cables until we reached the ladder, then we could use the ladder to get out.
We were fortunate because all of us were in decent physical shape, so although the climb proved tough, it was doable for all of us. Pradosh enjoyed rock climbing in his spare time and Nadivah also was into mountain and rock climbing as hobbies, so I was the odd man out as far as cliimbing experience went. Luckily for me I was in good shape, so with a little instruction from both Nad and Pradosh I was able to follow them up the cables to the ladder so we could make our way out.
The fires were raging. The alarm was sounding. It started as a low annoying sound and slowly built in volume and intensity. There was a sense of urgency to the alarm. Run. Get out. Hurry, your life depends on it, it seemed to say to me. There’s no time to waste. Go now.
I stumbled to my feet and started to pull on my pants while shaking the sleep from my head. I was half way through putting my shirt on when I realized I had been dreaming and the alarm that was going off was the first alarm in a series of alarms that I set on my mobile phone to wake me up in the morning for work. I had been dreaming about the fires again. “The fires” were the fires that engulfed Fort McMurray during my last year of high school and caused the entire city to evacuate while our homes burned and our lives disintegrated right before our eyes.
It was a hot and dry spring that year and the fires had started as wild fires but spread quickly. Before we knew what was happening and the scale of it, all of Fort McMurray was burning. Social Media and News Media all over the world reported about the events as they unfolded. People posted videos of their flight out of the city. People posted the video from their live cams from inside their houses as fire crept in and consumed everything. People posted how we all deserved it and it was karma for our dependence on the oil industry. People posted all kinds of things.
The world watched as our city burned. The history books record it as one of the biggest evacuations due to fire in Canadian history.
The evacuation is a bit of a blur to me. We gathered as much of our stuff as we could and evacuated to my Grandmother’s house in Smokey Lake to the south.
We stayed at my grandmother’s house in Smokey Lake for 2 months from May to July, then moved out and rented our own house on Smokey Lake to begin rebuilding our lives. Our house had been completely destroyed by fire and there was no doubt that we’d get insurance money for it, but with all the other insurance claims at the time by all the other people affected by the fire, it would take quite a while before the insurance company would pay out and my mother could decide what to do. Luckily for us, my mother was a teleworker for North West Tel and could work from just about anywhere.
It was just my mother Kate Slayden, my sister Jenni (who was two years my junior) and me Porter Slayden. My father Carl Slayden had disappeared 6 years previously when I was 12. He was presumed dead, but my sister and I weren’t totally convinced that he was dead even to this day. We would hear our mother talking to her friends and crying around the time he disappeared under what most people called mysterious circumstances. We didn’t really know what that meant, but to us it meant, there was still a chance he was alive. My mother had had to accept that he was gone and move on and she had managed pretty well considering she had two young children to look after, a mortgage and a car payment. She had been doing pretty well surviving on her Salary from North West Tel and the insurance company had paid out on my father’s life insurance even though they couldn’t prove he was dead.
My father had worked for the City of Fort McMurray as a City Engineer. He was always venturing into the depths of the city to find problems and organize the repair of water lines and sewers or track down the source of water that was leaking into office building basements, isolating natural gas leaks or organizing the expansion of infrastructure support in the newer sections of the city.
The story as we were told it was that my father had been working on expanding a new part of the city. A project called “West End Growth”. He was overseeing the construction of sewers, water and power for the expanding area of the west end of the city.
One day he went down into a newly dug section of the expansion and just disappeared. There was no cave in, no explosion, no flooding, and no reason for concern of any kind. He just walked into the ground one day and never came out.
The city and the RCMP spent three months searching for him and trying to reconstruct the day he disappeared and the events leading up to his disappearance. The final results were inconclusive and eventually they had to stop the investigation under pressure from the city to re-open the area so the project could continue.
We made it through that tragedy only to once again have our lives turned upside down by the fire in the spring of 2016.
I finished my last year of high school in Smokey Lake and even though I didn’t want to leave, I headed out in 2017 for the University of Toronto Systems Design Program. I had always been a computer geek and I was good with electronics so it was a natural fit for me. I felt like I was abandoning my Mom my Sister after all of the things we’d been through. My Mom convinced me I had to continue on with my life and make the most of it. She insisted she and Jenni would be fine and since we weren’t living in Fort McMurray anymore, there wasn’t any reason for me to stay. I had talked about trying to get a job working on the restoration of the city, but after many long talks and discussions with my Mom and her friends and my teachers, they convinced me that if I really wanted to help, I could make a better contribution if I went to university and got an education. After that if I wanted to come back and help rebuild Fort McMurray, I would be able to make an even bigger difference than just a smart kid out of high school looking to help.
I finished System Design at U of T and went on to get my Masters at MIT in Boston. Now after 7 years, I was finally back in my home town of Fort McMurray. Although 7 years had passed, I still had nightmares about the night we escaped the city. The nightmares had gone away for a while but ever since my return to the partially rebuilt Fort McMurray, the nightmares had started up again. I had nightmares about my Dad from time to time too. It had been almost 13 years since he disappeared. They were really bad right after he first disappeared. I would see him being swallowed up by a big hole in the ground and reaching out to me, but I couldn’t quite reach his hand, then he would be sucked into the swirling vortex in the hole and was gone. My mom had told me I should get into therapy for my nightmares when I was at University, but I was never the kind of person that felt I needed therapy. I could think through and rationalize the reason for my nightmares and even sometimes figure out the causes as I saw them, then move on. The nightmares didn’t rule my life. I was still able to sleep and work and live. A part of me didn’t want the nightmares to be gone because in a way they connected me to my Dad.
I turned off my alarm and laid back on my bed. My smartphone said6:30am. I laid there for a bit thinking about the nightmare I was just having and all that had transpired since that late night drive, then I decided I might as well get up and make some coffee and head to work. Work being WestComm. WestComm was a huge engineering firm that was heading up the rebuilding of Fort McMurray’s Communications infrastructure. I had secured a position as an Infrastructure Systems Engineer while finishing my Masters in Systems Design Methodology at MIT in Boston. I was back in my home town and finally working to help rebuild the city that we lost so many years ago. My Mom and Jenni were living in Fort McMurray again too. Jenni was just finishing College with a PSW diploma and was starting a job with company in Fort McMurray that specialized in home care. Mom was still working for North West Tel from home. Home for her was a new home she had built 4 years previously when she finally received the insurance money from North Western Insurance. Co. They had given her enough to buy a new property and build a new home and furnish it. Jenni was living with Mom for now, but was already looking for her own place to rent now that she was finished school and ready to move out on her own.
I walked out to my kitchen and ground some coffee beans and made a cup of coffee with my one cup coffee maker. As I stood looking out the kitchen window to the back yard drinking my coffee, I noticed that the apple tree in the yard was in full bloom. I wondered if I would be able to eat the apples on the tree once they were ready. It was a nice yard in a nice quiet area of Fort McMurray. My place was pretty small but I liked it. I had rented a 2 bedroom guesthouse from a lady named Malka Cummings. Mrs. Cummings was a nice old lady that knew my Mother via her volunteer work at the nursing home and had a place for rent. My Mother told me Mrs. Cummings had been lonely since her husband died a few years ago. My Mom volunteered at the Pleasant Acres nursing home on weekends and up until a few years ago, Mr. Cummings had been a resident. Mrs. Cummings had had to put him in the nursing home when his health took a turn for the worse. The two of them had been married for 45 years and now that Mr. Cummings was gone, Malka could use the income she received from renting her guest house. I found Mrs. Cummings a little nosey. She knocked on my door a several times a month to check on me and make sure I was putting the septic system tonic into the toilet once a month, that the pipes weren’t leaking, that I had enough food, there were no mice or bugs…and the list went on. Personally I thought she just wanted someone to talk to, but since she didn’t bother me all that often, I didn’t really complain. The rent was really reasonable and I wasn’t ready to buy a house yet, so this was a good arrangement. I had spent a lot on my education, so I really needed to pay my student loans down before I could buy a house. I managed to get a new car when I started my job, but only because part of my compensation package from WestComm was a car allowance. Having a car was a requirement of the job since I often had to travel to job sites. The guest house was a single floor above a 2 car Victorian style garage. I wasn’t sure about having to walk up a set of stairs to get to my house, but now that I was settled in I kind of liked the view. I could see out over the whole yard and the forest across the road. There was a park on the edge of the forest with a big pond in it. It was actually a pretty nice view from the kitchen and the living room.
I finished my coffee, grabbed my laptop satchel and car keys off the key rack near the garage entrance, put on my jacket and went out the door and down the spiral staircase into the garage. Along with the rental of the guest house came the use of the garage, so I could park my new Mini Cooper S inside which was great. Mrs. Cummings didn’t drive and the other side of the garage had been converted into a sort of office/work space. I was using it as my own personal office / computer lab. It gave me lots of room to work and kind of doubled as a party room/rec room when friends came over. I had mounted a 50 inch LED TV on the wall and setup my surround sound in there as well as my music equipment. My old acoustic guitar that I had saved from the fire so long ago hung on the wall in the Lab. It was a long time since I used it and I had purchased a new acoustic guitar a long time ago, but it was kind of a souvenir from another time in my life, so I mounted it on the wall in the lab.
I hopped into my car, pressed the garage door button opener and headed to work.
“You’re listening to the morning drive with Matt and Penny on 97.5 Kick FM”
The radio chimed as I pulled onto the highway that lead to the downtown area.
“And now the news. The rebuilding of Fort McMurray continues. City officials estimate the city rebuild will take another 10 years to complete. In another news conference Mayer McKenna said that WestComm was doing the best it could do to connect the Internet infrastructure throughout the city, but residents are reminded to be patient.”
I chuckled to myself. “Yep I’m doing the best I can” I said out loud.
The mayor had been taking a lot of grief in the press lately for the cost of the city rebuild. Part of that cost was the exorbitant consulting fees paid to WestComm to connect the cities Communications infrastructure and coordinate the connection of Telus Network connections, Bell Connections and West Hydro Fibre that served as the backbone for the city.
“Good help is hard to find folks” I added.
The drive to work was a short distance. About 20 mins through the now rebuilt part of the city to the WestComm offices. I found a parking spot and headed into the office.
WestComm had leased a single floor sprawling office in the industrial area of the East end of Fort McMurray.
As I went through the front door, the receptionist Penny, gave me a smile and nodded toward the conference room just ahead of the reception area.
“They’re waiting for you in the conference room kid” she said.
Conference room? I thought. I didn’t have a meeting scheduled first thing this morning. I never liked meetings first thing in the morning. “I guess it’s a good thing I came in early huh Penny” I said.
Penny smiled back at me. “Go gettem tiger” she said with a grin.
Penny was a bit of a flirt. She called all the younger guys like myself kid. Not that she was that much older. She was probably in her mid 30’s. She was good looking, but the problem was, she knew it.
When I first started for WestComm, Penny was the first girl I noticed and I almost asked her out until one of the guys in the office told me that she had dated just about the whole accounting department and was still working her way up to the executives. Ok so “Penny is nice, but a bit of a gold digger. Got it.” I had said.
I stuck my head in the conference room and saw that Mr. Finch and Nadivah were in there along with some other guy that I didn’t recognize.
“Hey Porter” Nadivah Said
“Hey Nad, Hi Mr. Finch, You guys mind if I grab a coffee real quick?” I said
“No problem, go ahead.” Mr. Finch said.
I went back to my office and grabbed my coffee mug, grabbed a coffee from the lunch room on the way back toward the conference room and then headed into the conference room.
“Porter, I’d like you to meet Pradosh Cherian” Mr. Finch Said
“Hi Pradosh” I said, “Nice to meet you”
“Hello Porter, nice to meet you too” Pradosh said.
Mr. Finch Said. “Porter, Pradosh is from our Public Relations department. He’s been sent here to shadow you for a few days and get to know you. WestComm has been under a lot of criticism in the press lately and Public relations thinks that getting an article about a local boy working for WestComm to help rebuild Fort McMurray is just what we need to help improve our image.
I looked at Mr. Finch, then at Nadivah, then at Pradosh.
“You’re gonna be a star Slayden” Nadivah Said with a big grin on her face.
Nadivah Brickman was a member of my infrastructure team and she loved to tease me.
Nadivah was 5’5” had long dark hair and blue eyes. She was a little overweight, but just enough to give her curves in all the right places. I liked Nadivah. I especially liked the fact that she got excited about new ideas and projects. I could tell she tended to neglect the more routine aspects of life. Her hair wasn’t always perfect and she seldom wore makeup. She had a great ability to understand concepts and apply logic to find solutions. She was great to work with and once I worked up the courage, I was planning to ask her out.
“Very Funny Nad” I said.
“Mr. Finch, do I really have to do this. I don’t really like the idea of being in the spotlight. I understand that the company could use the positive public spin, but does it have to be at my expense?” I sad.
“You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to Porter, but WestComm would really appreciate your help in this” Mr. Finch said.
Read between the lines, I thought.
I don’t have to do it, but making your employer happy doesn’t hurt.
“OK Mr. Finch, I’ll do it, how does this work?” I said.
“For the next few days, where you go, I go” Pradosh Said.
“Alright, as long as you don’t follow me into the washroom, I’m good” I said with a smirk.
“Oh c’mon Slayden, you’re going to have Pradosh leave out all the most interesting stuff!” Nadivah Said.
“Har Har very funny Nad. Maybe they need an exciting expose on a Jewish Canadian female working in the technology industry…” I said.
“I’m sure you are way more interesting…” Nadivah said with a smile and a toothy grin.
“Alright Pradosh, let’s do this thing then. I need to head down to the west end and check out the grid and fiber ties that were recently completed.” I said.
“Nad, you’re going too right? You need to check out the switches and the controllers don’t you? I said.
“Yep, already to go boss” Nadivah said.
“Alright, let’s check our emails and head out in about 30 then.” I said.
I wasn’t really Nadivah’s boss, but I kind of liked it when she called me that.
“Pradosh, you need to put on some safety shoes and you’ll need a hardhat if you are going with us. Do you have all that?” I said.
“Sure do Boss” Pradosh Said
“Oh great, now I have two smart asses to contend with” I said.
Both Pradosh and Nadivah laughed and smiled at each other.
I went back to my office and Nadivah to hers to check our emails and get ready to head down to the site. Pradosh was setup in the spare office near the conference room. We often put visitors in that office. Usually people just needed a space to put their stuff and access to the network and phone etc.
Approximately 30 minutes later we grabbed our stuff and headed out towards the west end.
We decided to take Nadivah’s Honda Civic instead of my Mini since there were three of us this time. Usually it was just Nadivah and I and we could take my Mini and not be worried about space.
We left the industrial park and made our way along the highway to the west end loop exit then headed into the west end. Traffic was pretty light because this end of the city wasn’t even close to being finished. Mostly, it was still under construction and only local traffic was allowed, so it made for a quick trip.
We parked near the site entrance, grabbed our gear and headed into the utilities building that served as the entrance to the underground.
As we entered the building I was explaining how things were laid out to Pradosh.
“The city’s Infrastructure utilizes a top down approach to services. The various cables and piping required are layered in levels, so that you have to go down to different levels to reach the various types of infrastructure. Sewers are on the bottom, followed by water piping, then networking and electrical and so on as you head from the bottom up. This allows for water to settle in the bottom with little effect on electrical for example in the event that the bottom levels flooded for whatever reason. Electrical has higher priority than networking so it is the last layer closest to the surface.” I explained.
“So we have to go down to the networking level which should be….two?” Pradosh said.
“Wow he’s a quick one” Said Nadivah with fake admiration and her eyes open really wide.
Pradosh turned a slightly pinkish shade of brown and smiled and said “So what’s it like to be helping rebuild the city of your birth after so many years Porter? How does that make you feel?”
It was my turn to blush apparently.
“I’m really proud to be helping get the city back in working order. I felt bad when I had to leave to go to University, so I’m really glad to be back and making a difference” I said.
“That’s good stuff, can I quote you on that” Pradosh said.
“Sure” I said. “Just don’t quote me on anything unless I give the ok. Alright?” I added.
Pradosh nodded. “Sure thing Boss” he said.
“Don’t start that again” I said with a grin.
We made our way to the elevator that services the lower levels of the infrastructure.
The elevator was a simple box with a pull down cage in the front. I opened the cage and the three of us boarded the elevator. Once we were all in, I closed the gate and pressed number 4. “Let’s go down to the bottom and give Pradosh a quick tour, then work our way back up Nad.” I said.
“Sure, why not, you only live once. ” Nadivah said with a smile
The elevator jerked into movement and began to descend. When it reached 4 we were all expecting it to stop, but it kept going.
The number switched to 5, 6, 7, then the elevator jerked throwing us all off balance, it stopped briefly, then started moving so fast Nadivah let out a scream.
“Jake! What’s happening? She said
“I don’t know, just hang on!” I managed to scream as we plummeted faster down.
Just when we were all expecting a violent crash, the elevator slowed and came to a gentle stop.
When I looked out the cage I was staring into blackness.
We all looked at each other and I could see the relief in the other’s faces. I was pretty sure my face held the same expression.
“How far did we we fall?” Pradosh said
“I don’t know. This doesn’t make any sense. There are only supposed to be four levels.” I said.
“Now what do we do?” Nadivah said reaching for the emergency phone on the panel.
She picked it up and her expression turned dark.
“There’s no dial tone, and it’s not ringing” Nadivah said
“C’mon you guys, your just trying to freak me out aren’t you” Pradosh said
” I wish that was true Pradosh, I really do.” I said.
I had no sooner finished speaking when the elevator light started to flicker and went so dim we could barely see each other.
“Oh this just keeps getting better every minute.” Nadivah said.
I pulled out my iPhone and unlocked the screen. The signal indicator said searching.
“Anyone have a signal”. I said
Pradosh and Nadivah each pulled their respective phones out and checked them.
“Nothing” Pradosh Said
“Same here.” Nadivah said.
I used my thumb and swiped upward on my phone then hit the flashlight icon. I held my iPhone so it was pointing out of the elevator through the gate into the blackness beyond. I could just make out visible traces of what looked like rough rock walls that didn’t resemble anything like the smooth block walls in the upper part of the building.
“Is that rough cut stone?” Nadivah said
“Looks like it.” I said.
We all looked at each other.
“Well, I don’t think we have a choice, we’re going to have to get off the elevator and look out there to see if there’s a set of stairs or an emergency phone somewhere.” I said.
I lifted the metal gate with a screech and the three of us we walked into the blackness.
August 12, 2011 | Timezone 3 – Fort McMurray Alberta, Canada…
A tall man in his late 40’s wearing a hardhat, a bright orange vest and carrying blueprints and a cellular phone walks slowly into a construction tunnel. There is a flash of light and the man is gone.
In a different part of the city, a young boy awakens from a nightmare screaming “Daddy come back!”
May 3rd, 2016 | Timezone 3 – Fort McMurray Alberta, Canada…
The young boy awoke to his mother telling him they were being evacuated. The boy grabbed his acoustic guitar, computer computer bag with his laptop in it, and some clothes which included his favourite jeans and t-shirts. They were mostly band shirts that he’d collected from concerts and a couple other ones he really liked like the Doctor Who shirt his best friend had gotten for him on his last birthday. After grabbing as much as he could and climbing into their Jeep Liberty, the young boy, his younger sister and their mother headed out of the city and down highway 63 with all the other people evacuating the city. The trip was slow and the traffic was terrible. 90,000 people were evacuated along with them so naturally there was a lot of chaos. They passed sections of forest burning on either side of the highway and could feel the heat on the windows of the jeep as they passed. It was like driving through main street in hell; something out of nightmares that seeps into your soul and marks you forever. 6 hours later they arrived in Smokey Lake to the South. The drive normally took 3 hours…
I’ve included a memorial video which Amber Putman created and was displayed at the Visitation for my Dad on Dec 12 & 13, 2018
Text Transcript of Eulogy below:
William James Rosenblath was known by many names to different people. Rosie, Bill, Dad, Poppa, Pa.
Dad was Born Aug 12,1941, in Kingston ON. and was raised in Denbigh Ontario.
He suffered the loss of his mother at the young age of 11 and then then left home at 13 to work on a farm in Kingston, Ontario.
Dad Joined military after just turning 17.in 1958. His father signed the papers to allow entry under the age 18.
Dad would end up spending 8 years in the military.
He was assigned to the Canadian Guards.
After basic training he Went to Germany for 3 years on his first deployment. Dad remarked on this once with wonder saying . “There I was 18 years old and walking down a street in Amsterdam.”
When you consider Dads age, he basically grew up in those years in the military, making friendships with fellow guardsman like Ron Cooney , Bill Cook, Roger Cormier, Roger St Jean and Ed Parady to name a few. Friendships that would last a lifetime. Dad always spoke fondly of that time in his life and there was always a gleam in his eye when he talked about it..
In 1962 Dad returned to Canada and was . Stationed at Camp Picton with the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Guards.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Canadian Guards, they were known as the Queens Guard of Canada and fashioned after the Queens Guard in England. They were recognized for their sharp dress uniforms of red with those tall bearskin hats. Buzzbees I believe they are called. Every possible surface that could be shined in their uniform had to be perfect, shoes, buttons, the brim of their hats etc.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, Join the navy and see the world.” Dad said jokingly with the guards it was “Join the guards and shine the world”
Dad met my Mom Deanna Christine Nutley Easter weekend 1964 through a fellow guardsman who was dating mom’s friend Diane Hudgin.
Dad was scheduled for peace keeping duty in cypress so after a whirlwind romance Mom and Dad were married on August 10th 1964 at the First Baptist Church in Picton….(54 years) They honeymooned in that exotic honeymoon destination visited by so many young couples every year from all over the world. Ottawa, and then spent time.visiting relatives in Denbigh Ontario.
Dad left for cypress 7 weeks after getting married and spent 6 months on peacekeeping duty with NATO helping with the conflict between the Greeks and the Turks.
Growing up , I heard many stories of Dads time overseas in the military, too many to really get into here, but lets just say, they were filled with his special brand of mischief and fun that was a definite part of his character.
He returned to Canada in the spring of 1965.
Dad had learned many valuable trades while in the military including automotive mechanics, and cooking and the operation of heavy equipment. After his return and discharge from the military, He went to work for Bob McNally operating heavy equipment during the day and doing truck repairs at night.
After this he went to work for McFarland Construction for one season and was laid off after the season ended. The day he was laid off he came home and received a phone call asking if he wanted to come and help build an addition on CML Snider school in wellington and so he did.
Mom and Dad bought their first and only property on lake street in 1967 and shortly after this Dad started working for
The Prince Edward County Roads Department as a heavy equipment operator for what turned out to be a 31 year career from which he retired in 1998. Mom will proudly tell you that Dad was only out of work for 3 days during his lifetime.
I was born in 1969 a couple years after Dad started working for the county and that’s when their lives got really complicated.
In 1973 Mom and Dad built their current home with their own hands over the course of 23 months, paycheck to paycheck without a mortgage and moved in in 1975.
My brother James came along in November 1978 just 9 short years after I was born. It took them some time to recover from me and be ready for another child, but I broke them in. 🙂
Dad spent lots of time teaching us boys how to fish, play baseball, shovel snow, cut grass, shoot rifles and do carpentry, and along with Mom giving us a love for music, all the while impressing upon us a strong work ethic and sense.of responsibility both personal and social.
Mom and Dad opened their home to many people over the years who needed a safe place to be and grow. Anytime any kids with troubled home lives needed a place to stay my parents were there. I fondly refer to our home back then as the Rosenblath hostel.
Dad was an avid reader of western novels and history books and also enjoyed historical documentaries. Over his lifetime he read thousands of books , so many in fact that the Picton Library had to pull books in from other libraries in his preferred genres to keep up with him. They said he was the 4th highest reader of all their members and published that in their Newsletter. in the past few years Dad transitioned to using a tablet for reading and learned to download books.
Dad was a country music fan and enjoyed bluegrass as well. Mom and Dad often traveled to various bluegrass festivals around Ontario for many years and enjoyed those fun times with their many friends.
Dad retained his farming roots and grew many crops of vegetables that helped feed the family over the years. When I was young, He kept chickens and rabbits and traded those with the local butcher as well. I was often surprised by my Dads knowledge of plants . in addition to food plants, He was quite knowledgeable about natural plant based remedies and medicine.
Dad maintained his love for travel and adventure and when i was younger we went on trips with our camper van around lake Ontario and different places . Later in life he and Mom went on trips to Venezuela, Cuba, the Europe the US and various parts eastern Canada.
It’s hard to sum up a life in a short discourse like this, but All of these accomplishments and all of these experiences combined form what I consider a well lived life full of family, love and laughter. Life had its ups and downs, over the years and our family like all families has lost our share of loved ones including parents and grandparents and more recently my brother James in 2010 at the young age of 31, but through it all Dad was a pillar of strength for us and for me a role model. I’m going to miss you Dad, we all are, but we will always remember you and cherish the time we had with you. Thanks for being A poppa, a pa, a brother, a loving husband and my Dad.
Rest in Piece.
Project | Mediacenter/PVR | Raspberry Pi hardware with LibreElec (linux) OS & KODI Media Center | HDHomeRun Network Tuner | Part 1
This past weekend I began work on a new project to prototype a new PVR/Media Centre device that runs on the Raspberry Pi 3B hardware platform using the LibreElec OS.
My plan was to combine the PVR/Media centre Device with an HDHomeRun Network Tuner to receive Free To Air TV Channels and still offer all of the benefits of running Kodi Media Centre. This gives someone the most flexibility in choosing how to receive and watch TV.
There are multiple scenarios to consider but for the purposes of this article I’ll just use my own scenario:
In my case I am using a couple HD antennae mounted on a 30′ TV Tower and get 30 or 40 channels depending on the weather, but we want to be able to pause and record these channels. At the same time you can subscribe to international IPTV services which gives us other channels from various networks around the globe. This gives me my fix of specialty channels and then I throw Netflix in to the mix to watch movies. I also have a hard drive full of DVD Rips sitting on a 2TB external Drive from my vast collection of DVD’s so I want all this in one easy to use interface.
The Project: Raspberry Pi, LibreElec, HDHomeRun & Kodi media Centre Project.
1. Raspberry Pi Media Centre Kit which includes: Retail Price: $89.95
- Raspberry Pi Model 3 B
- Class 10 16GB MicroSD Card pre-loaded with XBMC (OpenELEC)
- Our very own HighPi Raspberry Pi Model B+/2/3 Case
- 5.25V 2.4A Power Supply
- Cat6 Ethernet Network Cable
- High Quality 3ft HDMI Cable
- Aluminum CPU and GPU Heatsinks to keep your Pi running cool
2. 2 TB External Hard Drive – Western Digital (Already Had this) – Approximate Cost now $50-100
3. NuRoMedia Mini Keyboard (Already Had this) – Retail Price $25.00
4. HDHomeRun Connect DUO – Retail Price: $159.95
Pictures of all equipment below:
Setup the RaspBerry Pi:
The Raspberry Pi Media Center Kit comes with a 16GB micro SD card with the openelec build with Kodi etc already on it. I discovered that OpenElec is no longer being supported very well by the project owners (its an open source project) so I went to LibreElec instead. LibreElec is what is known as a code fork. In this case it’s a code fork of OpenElec (A Code Fork is when another group takes the source code and changes the name, creates their own project and begins working on it).
LibreELEC (short for Libre Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) is a non-profit fork of OpenELEC as an open source just enough OS (JeOS) Linux software appliance distro for Kodi. This fork of OpenELEC announced in March 2016 as a split from the OpenELEC team after “creative differences”, taking most of its active developers at the time to join the new LibreELEC project. This is a conservative fork of the OpenELEC project with a stronger focus on pre-release testing and post-release change management.
When building a device such as this, you rely on your own ability to maintain the system, so choosing an appliance OS that’s being actively supported by people that love what they do (they have to, because they don’t make any money off of it.) is important. If you are saying to yourself….why would anyone work on something like this and produce code if they aren’t making any money? …. Take some time to read about open source software and the open source software movement and GNU/GPL foundation…..you’ll understand better.
The people supporting the LibreElec OS are dedicated to better pre-release testing and post-release change management, so from this we can expect more stable releases that have all the bugs worked out before released for General use to people like us.
1. Download the LibreElect image. (at the time of this article : LibreELEC-RPi2.arm-8.2.4.img.gz (info)) Go to LibreElec–>Downloads to see what the latest is and download for the Raspberry pi version that matches your hardware. Ours is Version 3B
After This it starts to get more complicated because you need to know how to write an image to a Flash.
Basically you take the downloaded GZip file and run a command or a program to uncompress and write this image to the SD card, thus making it a bootable OS.
The way to do this is different on Mac Vs Linux and Different yet still in Windows.
To make this easier, our friends at LibreElec created a program to write the Flash for us.
To create bootable USB or SD Card installation media for any LibreELEC supported platform, download the “LibreELEC USB-SD Creator” app and run it with administrator rights: https://libreelec.tv/downloads/
If you’re using Linux, the method for Linux is below, below that you’ll see the mac OSX method that I used.
A(1): Linux | Download and Uncompress LibreELEC to MicroSD Card
Use the following instructions to download and write the LibreELEC image to the microSD card.
- Insert the MicroSD card into your computer.
- Determine the which /dev/device it is.
dmesg | tail
$ dmesg | tail [ 227.218363] sdhci-pci 0000:01:00.2: PCI INT A -> GSI 16 (level, low) -> IRQ 16 [ 227.218396] sdhci-pci 0000:01:00.2: Refusing to bind to secondary interface. [ 227.218413] sdhci-pci 0000:01:00.2: PCI INT A disabled [ 227.218884] jmb38x_ms 0000:01:00.3: enabling device (0000 -> 0002) [ 227.218906] jmb38x_ms 0000:01:00.3: PCI INT A -> GSI 16 (level, low) -> IRQ 16 [ 227.218931] jmb38x_ms 0000:01:00.3: setting latency timer to 64 [ 227.617315] mmc1: new SDHC card at address 0001 [ 227.617720] mmcblk1: mmc1:0001 SD8GB 7.32 GiB [ 227.621661] mmcblk1: p1 p2 [ 228.753036] EXT4-fs (mmcblk1p2): mounted filesystem with ordered data mode. Opts: (null)
From above output the device is /dev/mmcblk1 (we ignore the partition portion p2).
WARNING: It is very important to identify the correct device. Use of the wrong device path can result in loss of data and/or the operating system.
- Ensure that the device is unmounted by checking the output from df to see if the device is in use.Example output:
$ df Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on /dev/sda1 6734812 5612328 780368 88% / udev 499152 4 499148 1% /dev none 506428 8 506420 1% /tmp tmpfs 101288 844 100444 1% /run none 5120 0 5120 0% /run/lock none 506428 72 506356 1% /run/shm none 506428 572 505856 1% /var/log none 506428 0 506428 0% /var/tmp /dev/mmcblk0p1 15615056 1183088 14431968 8% /media/mmcard16gb /dev/mmcblk1p1 261868 111280 150588 43% /media/0F39-638F /dev/mmcblk1p2 7177771 83036 7094735 2% /media/0c0676d8-24f7-43c4-8bed-d19e6ea3a147
If the device is in use then unmount each mount point.
Using the example above we unmount two locations from mmcblk1:
sudo umount /media/0F39-638F sudo umount /media/0c0676d8-24f7-43c4-8bed-d19e6ea3a147
- Write the image to the microSD Card.Be sure to use the correctly identified device! In this example the device path is /dev/mmcblk1.
zcat ~/Downloads/LibreELEC-*.img.gz | sudo dd of=/dev/mmcblk1 bs=4M sync
- Remove the microSD Card.
A(2): MAC OSX High Sierra
1. Use Finder and go to the Gzip File and uncompress it with your file compression app.
2. Once uncompressed, you’ll have a .img file. In this case the file name is LibreELEC-RPi2.arm-8.2.4.img
Now you go to a terminal window from the utilities folder.
At the terminal window you will first determine what devicename the SD Card is on the MAC, then flash it
See your list of disks:
- Identify the disk (not the partition) of your SD card, e.g.
- Unmount your SD card by using the disk identifier, to prepare it for copying data:
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk<disk# from diskutil>where
diskis your BSD name e.g.
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk3
- Copy the data to your SD card:
sudo dd bs=1m if=image.img of=/dev/rdisk<disk# from diskutil> conv=syncwhere
diskis your BSD name e.g.
sudo dd bs=1m if=2018-03-13-raspbian-stretch.img of=/dev/rdisk4 conv=sync
- This may result in a
dd: invalid number '1m'error if you have GNU coreutils installed. In that case, you need to use a block size of
bs=section, as follows:
sudo dd bs=1M if=image.img of=/dev/rdisk<disk# from diskutil> conv=sync
This will take a few minutes, depending on the image file size. You can check the progress by sending a
SIGINFOsignal (press Ctrl+T).
- If this command still fails, try using
rdisk, for example:
sudo dd bs=1m if=2018-03-13-raspbian-stretch.img of=/dev/disk4 conv=sync
sudo dd bs=1M if=2018-03-13-raspbian-stretch.img of=/dev/disk4 conv=sync
- This may result in a
The OS is ready to go on the SD now, so now we can Move on to the next step.
Assemble your Raspberry Pi and put it in its case etc. Put the feet on, but don’t plug it into the power yet. Insert to the SD card into the Raspberry Pi Card Slot.
At first power up the image will be resized to use the entire microSD card, and then the RPi3 will reboot.
- At Welcome to LibreELEC screen choose Next.
- At Hostname prompt change or leave name LibreELEC and choose Next.
- At Networking screen with Wired and Wireless networks listed choose Next.
- At Sharing and Remote Access screen under Configure Services enable SSH and disable Samba. Choose Next.Enable Samba if you wish to access Windows network shares.Note that username is root and pasword is libreelec.
- At Thank you screen choose Next.
From here you go through and setup KODI. There are lots of Guides on how to do that so I won’t get into it.
In the Next Article in this series I will go through the physical setup of the HDHomeRun Device and the Raspberry Pi and how to Connect to the HDHomeRun Device from not only the Raspberry Pi, but also from your Tablet or PC. We also have choices on how to setup the DVR Services at this point. if you don’t mind paying 35.00 per year to HDHomeRUN you can setup the HDHomeRun DVR Service and use that. If you don’t want to pay for the HDHomeRun DVR Service, you can setup another piece of software called TVHeadEnd and use that. It has it’s upsides and downsides and I’ll explore those further in the next few articles in this series.
Here’s a teaser shot of what HDHomeRun Looks Like when watching TV on the Raspberry Pi after Setup.
Till Next time….Cheers!
Wil Roseblath – March 26, 2018
I recently decided to try out IPTV services since I have internet but no cable services. I found a great provider called RocketStreams, if you are interested in great streams at a low cost per month, check them out.