I never liked the name Black Friday.
Twenty-five years ago today I lived through a natural disaster that has stuck with me through the years. It was the worst natural disaster in Alberta’s history, a F4 tornado that missed being classified as a F5 by 3km/hr wind speed. Twenty-seven people died, many were injured and the damages (per wikipedia) were $332.27 million (converts to $586.7 million in 2011 dollars).
From the memory of a 7 year old:
We were on summer vacation from school, and had enjoyed a hot and muggy week. When the storm rolled in, we were at Safeway. The rain/hail started pounding down as we went through the check out. Mum decided to make the run to the car and come back and pick us up at the door. She recounts starting the car and the first words she heard on the radio were “tornado” and “take cover now”. She stayed calm as we piled the groceries into her new 1986 Hyundai Excel and sped home. By the time we arrived home, the hail had picked up and Mother Nature was spewing golf balls, within minutes they turned into baseballs.
By that time, we had all burrowed down into the basement with my red ghetto blaster (awesome) running on 4 DD batteries tuned to 630 ched, waiting for the storm to pass. We sat in the cold basement, with flashlights on, playing games and staying calm. We were lucky, the tornado went through our neighbourhood, but we were relatively unscathed. My mum’s car was in pretty rough shape though with the hail damage.
Upon receiving the all clear, we went outside and it was unlike any weather I have again experienced. It was quiet. The sky was on fire. We stood outside in silence, no power to our houses, no vehicles on the roads, no kids playing in sprinklers. These pictures are amazing, but I am still not sure they do it justice.
Lives were changed forever, some temporarily, some permanently. For days afterwards, the stories rolled in, my friend’s roof was torn off her house, stories were told with a strange excitement. Amidst the excitement was fear and apprehension, it happened once, could it happen again. What can we do better to be better prepared? How do we keep safe all that we love?
The parallels between my first and my second Black Friday are not insignificant. It came upon us suddenly and without much warning. Although there was always a chance it could happen, we all felt it to be unlikely. Tornados never hit big cities, right? During both disasters, there was panic, rumours, and speculation. What was going on? How long would this last? Does the call of “all clear” really mean we are safe? As the acuteness of the event wore off, people were saddened at the losses, unsure how to proceed, scared to see who may have been effected and to what extent, and lastly mad, so mad at not having had enough (or any) warning, angry at having been betrayed by people we entrusted to keep our lives (or money) out of harms way.
So this morning, when Ryan came and woke me up saying “it’s done, the deal is done”, there was relief but no massive celebrations in our home, rather, many more questions and uncertainty for what “the deal” will actually mean for us. Personally, I have no money tied up in Full Tilt; however, I certainly am interested in watching PokerStars and their role in what will be a monumental change in the online poker world.
It comes to me as no surprize that PokerStars was able to come to an agreement with the DOJ. My last year with PokerStars Team Online has been exceptional, full of all kinds of up and downs, twists and turns, but without a doubt I am certain that this is the best possible outcome for my second Black Friday.
My Black Fridays ended twenty-five years ago (almost to the minute) and 7 hours ago, respectively. I am still looking about quietly, uncertain what the next few days, weeks, years will bring, but resolute that I can face anything, will learn lessons and continue to grow as a person and poker player. With PokerStars at the helm, online poker will have no choice but to grow and thrive through all the obstacles and challenges it faces.
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