Saturday, December 29, 2007


I used to believe there were three main temptations in life. They all come from a good need, and they can all destroy your life if you succumb to them. A fourth desire was recently pointed out to me at a Christmas eve soiree...
The first big temptation is sex. Very necessary for the continuation of species. People are willing to lie, steal, cheat, excel, overcome shyness, all in the pursuit of physical attention. Properly applied it can lead to family. If you don't recognize it for what it is, it can destroy family. Alos at some point you realize you'll never have enough, and your focus turns more to--
Money. You gotta earn some to support the results of the first temptation. (Or for some to satisfy the first temptation) Also earning money is a good way to participate in society. Too much focus though will detract from family instead of supporting it. With money, too, some ealize no amount is ever enough. You tire if travel, the food tastes the same, your assets become liabilities, but it can help you attain--
Power. The old man's temptation. It stems from the need for leadership, but can get bastardized into the desire to control everyone and everything around you. Once again, no amount is enough.
Here's the new one---autonomy. In the pursuit of the other three, you give up your ability to do what you want when you want. Difficulties in marriage are in part a struggle to maintain some autonomy. You spend the early part of a relationship building trust and giving up parts of yourself to form a bond, then have to submit to the loss of autonomy. I really have my dream job, love going to it, get paid pretty well---but I have lots of bosses. I get to actually deliver the service of the department but there's an entire chain of beaurocracy telling me how to do it. My autonomy is reduced to the small amount of time I'm actually doing my job, then I have to document, review, and publicly scrutinize every little decision made. Power? Any power you have as parent, board member, elected official, tyrant, or boss cost you your ability to move freely. You have to be consistent, present, vigilant.
Autonomy applied---Art. Creativity. Annamarie gets up at 03:30 every day just to have the house to herself. I worked overtime at Hazmat and we played volleyball (We are required to do an hour of cardiovascular training so no complaining! Don't take away my autonomy!) we took a picture for the sake of the probationary fireman in the front.... Blogging is a good outlet as well

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Life at work

Our copter is supposed to be the most technologically advanced medium lift copter in the world, with the NVG, IR, microwave downlink, scrolling maps, video tracking, hoist, water tank, hydraulic snorkel, etc.....(For you fellow copter geeks she's a Bell 212 HP++) Our station, though, is another matter......
First off I gotta say they've never shorted us on equipment or training time. They've provided us with everything we need to provide a safe service with up to date equipment and any flight time we need to stay on top of our game.
When we first got our copter our station was a couple beach chairs, a case of water bottles, and a clipboard. We claimed some dirt at the airport. Stu Segall studios (They make 'Veronica Mars' and some other shows) donated some Seatainers so we could make a mechanic's shed. We scrounged up a used doublewide trailer and fixed it up, again with some donated help. A casino bought our fuel truck and gave a little money towards a shelter---I built the structure over the truck, and over the seatainers (they leaked before) and built a deck for some outside space. Our water is from a fire hydrant. We just got shore power---for the first few years a daily job was getting diesel for the generators.
It's a lot like going to the desert used to be. Camp out with the fellas until it's time to go for a ride. The only real complaint though is, our copter is out in the salt air. I really wish we could get it into a hangar.

Obligatory Christmas pic

............................For the record, I coulda done the back bridge with my kids but someone had to take the picture. Mike joined us for Christmas which was great---he's easy company. Everyone got everything requested from Santa except for my time machine---maybe I'll have to be a little better this year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This year's big project

Before taking on a big project like the new cabin, Annamarie insists something big gets done on our house. This year was the guest room. There were a couple things that had to be dealt with---the livingroom floor was bouncy because the joists span too far. The concrete perimeter foundation had a 3' section that water ran underneath in heavy rains, and it was free hanging...The basement would get damp. The worst thing was our trampoline---since we live on a mountainside, one side was 2' lower than the other. The kids could jump but would end up in the neighbor's yard.
So I cut a hole in the cinderblock foundation where the window would go, and spent the summer digging out 22 yards of dirt on bucket at a time. A drystack rock wall holds back the dirt where the trampoline is now level.....Then, mixed concrete and poured the walls (12" thick) carrying the same buckets, now full of concrete, one at a time. Poured concrete against the new wall up under the bad spot on the foundation. Installed a french drain that runs 200' to the street, all gravity run. Supported the livingroom floor over the new walls, so now the floor is nice and stiff.
Now it's just finish work. You'll enter the new guestroom from the basement.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NVG demonstration

This is a demonstration of our Night Vision Goggle system. We can do all the same stuff at night (Hoist rescues, water drop firefighting, longline operations, etc) that we do during the day, the one exception being the hover fill with the snorkel (too many little droplets and the pilot can't keep a good reference) so we just do a ground fill operation instead.

As far as I know Los Angeles is the only other place in the whole country that will do night firefighting. The wildland/urban interface nature of the areas make the risks with it.

Parent/Teacher night

I had to miss parent/teacher night, so I got clearence for Mckenna and Lauren's teachers to come to my work for an evening. We used them as victims for hoist practice. We're about 200' up just exiting the copter, then the second picture is hooking Scott Copeland up in the 'screamer suit' for extraction. They also got to look through the night vision goggles. The canyon we train in is pitch black at night so good practice.
In the middle of the training we got a real call so we just brought them with us. The next day at school our kids got to watch a whole powerpoint of the evening in front of their class. The report back from the kids was they had a great time and were surprised by how curt and systematic we operated. I guess you do sort of tak eon a different persona at work

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Knott's Scary Farm

I think this was October of 1987. I can identify Bob, Dave's date, Dave Tersigni, Bernie Judd, Tim, Caroline, Vince Moore, (Eric??) Lori Filippini, Steve Tersigni, Shoo, Tina, and Lee's right side. I think he got cut off. I think Caroline had just returned from a deployment with the USS Virginia, judging by her hat.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Disney jurisprudence

I can understand re-writing 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' with a happy ending for the animated feature. It's an OK story in itself. Also 'Anastasia' (I know, not Disney) in the kid's version, she isn't mowed down with her entire family by the Bolsheviks. Not accurate to history, sure, but the kids can follow the fictional version.
Now for Snow White. Going just by the plot in the Disney movie, there is a serious flaw. Unless you don't care about exposing your kids to movies where rules just don't matter, better skip this one.
The queen/witch makes a spell potion and saturates an apple with it. The book of spells is very clear that 'The Sleeping Death' spell can only be broken by LOVE'S FIRST KISS.
After S.W. has a bit of a dancing fling with the seven dwarves, she calms them down with a love story. She states a young girl fell in love with a handsome prince.
Statement from one Mr. Sneezy---"Was the girl....You?"
S.W. admitted---"Uh-huh" and nodded yes.
Question from Mr. Sleepy---"Did ya (sic) steal a kiss?"
(S.W. sang her response) "He was so romantic...I could not resist"
What can we gather from this?
1) S.W. had already fallen in love with Prince C.
2) S.W. had already kissed Prince C.

S.W. of her own free will bit into the apple offered by the queen/witch, even after specific instructions from the homeowners not to let anyone in. She did in fact fall to the 'Sleeping Death'. When Prince C. sought her out and kissed her FOR THE SECOND TIME, the spell was broken. Technically the Prince should be tried for necrophilia and the dwarves charged with witch slaughter after running her off a cliff with no due process whatsoever.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Our copter made the cover of TIME magazine 'year in review'. It was taken while we were saving a part of Rancho Penasquitos. This picture has nothing to do with the Witch fire but I used it because I like it better. We hoisted a firefighter off the ridge with a broken leg just before the ridge burned up, then landed to transfer him to an ambulance (normally we'd just do the hoist rescue and fly right to the hospital, but we were kinda busy) The best thing about this picture is, I look like a yeti following the ground crew while they do all the lifting.

Bad greenhouse gas

Why is it everyone's most concerned with co2 when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions? Scientists agree there is a gas that has much, much more influence on global temperatures, and corporations spew tons of it. So do SUV's.
Dihydrogen monoxide.
Dihydrogen monoxide is responsible for many deaths every year. It is fatal if inhaled. It is so persistent that if your mother ingested any while pregnant with you, it could be found in your bloodstream for the rest of your life.
Why isn't it mentioned more often? Simple. Corporations have become so dependent on DM because it's readily available, relatively cheap, and underregulated.
Just how nasty is this stuff? Consider on the acid/base scale, which is rated from 0-14, sulfuric acid is only a 2. Dihydrogen Monoxide is a solid 7. They use it to produce styrofoam, plastics, concrete, car batteries, and in northern latitudes, in its solid form, indigenous home building. If you tumble dry synthetic clothing in your dryer it can be detected in the dryer vent.
This is a typical example of an issue so big people prefer to keep their heads in the sand about it. If we really want to keep our children safe, and save the planet for future generations, DM should be banned. Science has a responsibility to come up with a suitable alternative.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Here's the kids off to school. (Patrick, Lauren and Mckenna) All straight 'A's, which is either due to getting their Mom's brain DNA or Julian School District's not-to-challenging curriculum. The backpacks may appear full but we add bricks so they'll get more exercise. Our formula for parenting is Plenty sleep, little to no TV, healthy diet, fun consistent household mood. After that it's kind of up to them. They each have a little private space at home but it's seldom used.

I'm not Mike Score

Honest mistake, though. As I pointed out to Lee, Mike has one more hit song than I do and much better hair. If he asks me to stop using his picture on blogs I will. Don't even bother pointing out the two of us have never been seen at the same place/same time. I wish I could describe to you the personal hell of looking like an ultra famous superstar like Mike but I can't.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More on global warming

I really love this article. I remember teachers all in a tizzy about the coming ice age. The best thing about this article is, it's alot of the same rhetoric used today---'The mountain of evidence is impossible to ignore'....This illustrates, to me at least, how arrogant it is to think we understand the workings of the world.

Here's the most laughable part. Our atmosphere may have once been close to 20% CO2 before plants fixated most of it. Right now it's about .0373%. No one's quite sure if an increase in temperature causes an increase in CO2 in atmosphere. It does in closed terrariums.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What the...??

My pragmatic approach to life, God, family, love, food, etc. has served me well in life. There's one thing that happened recently that I've both pushed aside and been open about. Not sure what to make of the whole thing, really. Draw your own conclusion. This really happened to the wrong person.
A few times a year I get sent to these Dept. of Homeland Security focus group things. Annamarie comes with me if we can get someone to watch the offspring. A few months ago we went to Eastern Kentucky University for one. A.M. came along....
I love to travel but the logistics do get me uptight, I'll admit. Our flight left Lindberg Field at 6 A.M....We got there early, got through security and to our terminal. A.M. needed a potty stop so we went to the restrooms along the corridor.
As usual I got out way first and waited. The corridor was empty, except this couple walking towards me carrying their luggage. He was tall, thinning black hair, maybe 50. Thin. The woman with him was at least a foot shorter with dyed red hair, wearing white pants and one of those jackets that are squares of fabric sewn together like a quilt. She was laying in to him about how he thought he was sooo much better than everyone else, how superior he thought he was, and why did he have to always act like that? He didn't react---just kept walking forward. It was the kind of thing you wouldn't say with anyone else in earshot. They walked right past me, and I wanted to see if he'd reply so after they passed I waited just long enough so as not to be obvious, then turned to look at them.
They were gone.
The hallway was too long for them to go anywhere. I only waited a second or two. There were people way down at the end, and at the other end, but they just were gone.
A.M. came out of the restroom and asked, "What's wrong with you?" Mind you, I was in rush travel mode, in an airport, early morning. This sort of thing was furthest from my mind. I told her what happened, and she said, 'Let's go down the hallway and look for them' which we did.
There was nowhere they could have gone in the time it took me to turn. We saw nothing.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Scariest call ever

I was giving the standard copter dog-and-pony show the other day to a local Fire Department...One of the guys asked what the scariest call ever was. He thought it would be a hoist rescue like we had been talking about...Actually it was this HazMat call. The liquid oxygen truck was leaking LOX all over interstate 5 near the Sea World exit on a hot day.
LOX will saturate asphalt and make it extremely shock sensitive. I had to thaw out the ground with the firehose while walking towards the truck with LOX spilling out....I think it's minus 76 degrees. The valve was one big ice ball, as were the steps leading up to the 'doghouse'. After a steady hose stream they thawed enough to be shut off...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Global warming

I don't believe in global warming. Well, I do believe it's warming, but it has been since the last ice age. I remember the democrats ranting during the Carter administration about global cooling and the coming ice age. They stated with certainty that by the year 2000 wheat couldn't be grown north of Louisiana, the evil corporations had would use up the last of the oil so we couldn't warm ourselves, and the shipping lanes would be choked with ice. Everyone that could would move to the equator and die from malaria.
I think people don't live long enough to understand weather cycles. I also think there's something in the human psyche that predicts a doomsday---the second coming of Christ, nuclear holocaust, the superflu, global warming.
Here's what I believe. The world will still be here, with healthy people on it, thousands of years from now. Furthermore, I believe as communications improve, we head towards a global utopia. Small societies will collapse and there will be wars, but the general direction will be towards improvement. I believe studying history proves this out.