Saturday, December 20, 2008

The muck and the yuck

In the extreme south west corner of the contiguous states, there's a garden spot where the Tijuana river flows across the border into the U.S.....It forms a sort of delta that captures all the trash, bodies, and raw sewage Mexico sends our way. There are no real developments here, just a bunch of horse corrals and some shanty houses for ranch hands.
When it rains hard and long the whole valley floods. Every time. Most have the sense to move their horses somewhere else but some of the corrals get 8' or more of water, so some people try to go and let them out. They get stuck. The 'swiftwater response team' takes care of most of them and does a good job letting as many horses out as they can. We flew down and assisted---I think we got a total of 6 people out and up to higher ground. The lifeguards did quite a few more.
Today the river's back down but we have lots of snow in the back country and everyone's off school---Wonder if we'll get a snow rescue

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Solar energy

Annamarie's mood, and therefore the mood of our whole house, is largely dependent on how many excited air molecules collide with her. The more, the better. Unfortunately we live in a location where the molecules of air are spaced further apart, so to excite them into colliding with her requires fusing expensive hydrocarbons with oxygen. Combine with this my family's unwillingness to participate in keeping the excited molecules inside, and you're talking some serious bucks.
Fortunately, there are devices placed around our neighborhood that collect sunlight, pull large amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere, and produce oxygen. They're pretty ingenious. Most of the carbon from the CO2 ends up in the ground where it will become a hydrocarbon so future environmentalists can make future consumers feel bad about exploiting it....Some of the carbon, however, is stored in solid form. It's free for the taking. It takes some effort, but if I spend a good day's work I can collect it and convert it to a useful size. I'll store it in bulk until I need it. We have some devices in our house that you can put it in to reduce it-----the stored sunlight is released in a wavelength that excites the air molecules and another wavelength that's a visual stimulus to further elevate mood.
Yesterday, before our date, I had just enough time to collect two truckloads of the stuff, make it the right size, and store it in a compact manner. Shielding it from precipitation keeps the moisture content low, facilitating the reduction process.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leader of a nation or democrat patsy?

Illinois politics has long been the most insider friendly quid-pro-quo environment (with the possible exception of DC, at least) in the nation. This whole Blagovich thing is a surprise to no one, and kudos to the local dems for keeping him out of the press just long enough.
His dirty political stench will absolutely impact Obama's first days in office.
If Obama is a member of the Illinois democrat inner circle that got him into office, he should encourage a delay in filling the Senate seat he left vacant, so the new Governor can whisk another Democrat insider in. If Obama wants to distance himself from that cesspool and demonstrate he's setting aside partisan politics for the good of the nation, he could very publicly support a special election for the seat. Chances are a Democrat would win it anyway, so the actual political risk is minimal to him.
If he did call for a special election, I would be very impressed by the move. If my character assessment of him is accurate, though, he'll lay low and let politics as usual prevail---why run the risk of losing the senate majority? Please note---my character assessments aren't 100% accurate.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

3 insignificant miracles

This is a picture of Annamarie's miraculous keychain. OK maybe miracle is a stretch, and curiosity fits better.
There are three things that amaze me about her keychain.
20 years ago I bought my first house in Julian. I was in my early 20's and Annamarie and I were dating. I had to cut back a big manzanita bush, and the wood was pretty enough that I carved this heart for Annamarie.
Amazing thing #1---the initials AM + SV scratched onto the surface is more significant now than it was way back then..... Amazing thing #2 I scratched those initials in the exact center of the heart (I have a picture somewhere)---over time they've been slowly drifting to the left (thank God we haven't drifted slowly to the left) Not sure if it'll be an omen if they drift right off the keychain....The most amazing thing is, #3---in 20 years, Annamarie has never lost her keys.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas inspiration

Skipping Christmas is so very tempting. I had a brazillion things to get done, but I had to keep reminding myself that things like Christmas decorating are the extras that make it all worth it. At our home, it starts with my decorating the mantle in the dining room/kitchen area, then Annamarie follows the theme for everywhere else in the house. This year Mckenna did the banister, too. Next yuletide hurdle was the Christmas letter, which Annamarie starts pressuring me to write in July----I woke up at work last night inspired and got it done. So now my job is my job; I picked up an overtime shift at Station 21; this is the view out my window. When I get too old for the copter maybe I'll bid in here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Visit to the George's

Made the drive last night right after school, up to Lake Forest to the George's house. It was a little over 2 hours and well worth it. It's good to see people 'in their nest', to picture what their lives are like. The food was great, playing Wii was fun, and jumping the neighbor's fence to steal guava and limes from the trees was good. Also---Mckenna's math homework has passed my capabilities. Rob helped her out, thank God. She's going to start calling him at work instead of me for homework help. Ina's in the picture hiding.....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just wondering.....

Is it right that the other reindeer LOVED Rudolph just because of something he did for them? Who is round John virgin, and why was he in the manger? What the hell am I supposed to do with eight lords-a-leaping?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cabin plans

Hopefully this is more interesting than pictures of dirt. Here's a small bit of the cabin plans; actually the easiest part to draw. The other pages are all the technical stuff like framing and wiring that take FOREVER to figure out. With the lot size, and the way the septic system laws are, I ended up with a 20x20 area to build if I move the driveway. I am going to cantilever 4' of deck and a bay window; we'll see what the county feels about that. Unlike the other cabin the bathroom is right off the kitchen. The fireplace is two sided so you can enjoy it from anywhere in the room, and the whole structure is basically a cube so the heat will distribute evenly. There is lots of work to do before I even get to the part where I need my hammer.....The fact that this is across the street from home is great. Annamarie will come up and visit while I'm working, which to me represents a perfect moment 1) building 2) with a great view in the mountains 3) A.M. right there too.
Just don't bother asking when it'll be done. I'm paying for materials while I go, have to continue to work, etc. This is more of a hobby. If I set a schedule it would take the fun out. Ballpark two years, though.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dear Santa,

Here's what I want for Christmas---a CT light sport class airplane. It will hold me, Annamarie, and 55 pounds of luggage (sorry, kids!) cruise speed 120 knots, 1000 mile range. 3-4 gallons per hour fuel consumption. Full frame emergency parachute system. Rotax 100 powered. The light sport class makes it so the only physical I'd need is maintaining a driver's license so the color issue won't be a factor. Prices start at $89,000.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wyckhouse visit

Nice visit from the Wyckhouse family. They stayed the weekend, and everyone had fun. The weather could not have been better, too

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Cabin Progress

Before I get plans approved, I have to install the septic system. Before I do that, I have to move the driveway. The guy in the cabin behind my property got an easement for the easternmost 10' of the property, then put the driveway way out of the easement. I could make him honor the easement, but I think keeping good will with the neighbors is good policy.
I poured concrete right along the property line as far as I could, until there was significant elevation change. Now I'm pouring pilasters on a 12" thick base; boulders will get mortared in between the pilasters. I'll fill behind the new wall with gravel and continue to add on to the driveway. When it's done I'll cut the existing driveway down to the required 10' width. It's a very nice place to be working, and home is right across the street.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


A guy set up a business breeding rats. His plan was to build a bunch of mazes and researchers could pay to see his rats run through the mazes. Demand was pretty high so it was a good plan.
He put the rats in the mazes but they just sort of sat there, sniffing around a little.
A researcher, experienced in such things, recommended keeping the rats a little hungry, and putting some cheese at the far end of the maze. That did the trick---once the cheese was there, a few of the rats figured out if they ran the maze, they got some cheese. The researchers paid well to watch this, so the guy bought more cheese.
Not all the rats would run the maze; some felt it was beneath them. Some felt forced by the man and rebelled. Others made excuses for not maze-running....The maze wasn't designed for rats with their fur color, or, as young rats they'd seen siblings eaten by their parents, and so on. The ones that did run the maze had cheese to spare, and save some of it. They even shared some of it with the other rats. The business owner tried to explain that if every rat ran a maze, the researchers would pay enough that there would be lots of cheese, even fancy cheese, for every one.
The non-maze running rats felt the sharing was done unfairly and complained. They decided to vote on it, each rat having one vote. Since the non maze runners outnumbered the others, they voted the cheese equally distributed. Their banners at their rat rallies showed a cheese wheel, and how the cheese was divided unfairly. Many of the maze running rats realized they got the same amount of cheese either way so stopped running the mazes; after all, the non's were getting to breed more anyway.
Soon, very few rats would run the maze. There wasn't enough cheese to go around, so they voted the runners should work harder. When the runners dropped dead the researchers all went away and the business failed. As the rats starved, they continued to vote themselves bigger cheese allotments, with stronger and stronger entitlement rhetoric but without any talent for production it was futile.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Island of Trash!

You have probably heard there is an 'Island of Trash', twice the size of Texas, floating in the Pacific Ocean some where near Hawaii. That's bad news.
I first became turned off to the eco-movement while serving (which I still do) on the Board of Directors for the Lake Cuyamaca Recreation and Park District. It's a pretty little spot people can hike, birdwatch, hunt, fish, go boating, camp, picnic....It's completely supported by the use fees and is non profit.
Every couple of years, eco-groups come at us for one thing or another, and threaten to shut us down if we don't change some little thing. If you change the little thing, they come up with another, then another, until they get you to a negotiating table and demand a payoff. It's a huge expense that produces nothing. (A great read on the topic is 'Undue Influence', BTW)
Back to our 'Island of Trash'. I was suspicious, because a photo would have been striking. The articles made it sound like a giant, vast mound of trash swirling in the Pacific.
The reality? An area with 'An increased concentration of man-made debris'. A group with an agenda chartered a boat to get some evidence. All they found was the occasional flotsam. The most damning photo they produced is shown here; Damn those coconuts!!! Also...plastic DOES break down over time.
If you want to tell me there is way too much packaging, I agree 100%. We produce way too much trash, and it is unsightly and harms wildlife.
A wealthy nation is in a much better position to be eco friendly than a poor one. A wealthy nation can feed more people with less land, too. When environmental laws and groups leverage public fear to stick it to businesses, it just drives them overseas or bankrupts them. The real island of trash is the fatalistic view of a poisoned planet.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn in Cuyamaca

We are having one of the most beautiful Autumns I can remember. No matter how many pictures I take or how much time we spend outside, it seems we're not taking adequate advantage of it.
Charlie usually shows up about this time of year, and hangs out until New Years' or until his head rots, whichever comes first. This year he's a chef. He's been a pirate, lumberjack, and gardener in the past. Charlie helps soften the blow for Annamarie, as she's connected to her garden at an almost spiritual level and has to say goodbye for the winter. Thanksgiving, then decorating for Christmas, are a good distraction but the fact remains she's most at peace when she can spend some time in her garden every day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some things I don't get

I don't understand the relationship between women and shoes. I don't understand how in 17 years of marriage, the mustard squeeze bottle is eternally almost empty..Even the brands change, but the low level of mustard is a constant. I don't understand how my kids will come home from the government school mad at me for killing the planet with our 1998 Dodge Durango, then they leave all the lights on and the door open with the furnace running....
Another thing I don't get----people enter the country illegally from south of the border, attempting to escape the poverty socialism has brought their home nation although rich in natural resources and work force. Same people illegally register to vote (thanks, Acorn!) then vote socialist.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

He saw this coming

This is James Madison. He's considered the Father of our Constitution (I recently read the original in the hall of records. Very cool.) If you want to delve deeper into the constitution, the federalist papers are a good resource.
Our founding fathers were pretty darned bright. I love it when someone argues about the constitutionality of something or other, but hasn't really put any time into studying it.
My biggest beef with Obama and socialism is the redistribution of wealth---tax the rich to give to the poor....Chimp pointed out that Obama will get elected because most people believe McCain's plan favors the rich, and most are not rich.
(These quotes are from the Federalist papers, No. 10. If someone does me the ultimate honor of actually being interested in this, well, read No. 51 too)
"A number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community" was his definition of a 'faction'. Today we'd call it a special interest.... Anyway, Madison went on: "The most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have forever formed distinct interests in society" I bet just about everyone can agree with that statement. Madison felt a direct democracy posed a threat to individual rights and the right to hold property...
"A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found to be incompatible with personal security or the rights of property and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths"
This is why Madison, (along with Jefferson, Jay, Hamilton, etc) designed our Republic with checks and balances, and a Bill of Rights...Particularly the fifth and fourteenth amendments protecting private ownership from public use without just compensation....
Here's what Madison was saying. In a strict democracy, there is nothing to stop the humble majority from voting themselves into the wealth of the rich minority. The poor are very temporarily a bit wealthier but there is zero incentive for the ones that can make money to continue to do so, and the democracy fails. There has to be ways for people to retain their property, which is for the greater good.
Madison's spinning in his grave.

Good old Dodge

1993 Dodge Dakota extra cab 4x4 with the 4 liter motor. 200k miles. Left rear and rear window replaced with a sheet of lexan. Windshield cracked, both taillights plastic broken. Rusty. Fuel gauge busted. Radio not working. Holes in truckbed where rocks that outweighed the truck landed. Interior looks like a wolverine was let loose in there....Kind of smells like it, too. Parking brake release is a bare cable.
Runs great.
My Dad, (dead over a decade now) went with me to work the deal when I bought it new. When he died, Mom and I drove it (the truck) to the mortuary then to Home Depot for materials to build his coffin. I brought our first born home from the hospital in it, pulling over every 10 minutes to check on her. (Same daughter is learning to drive now, in the same truck) Middle child may have originated in the same truck. Back when money was tight, made good side cash roofing, building additions, and building decks with this truck. All the materials for our copter station were hauled in it. Rebuilt two homes, totally built one and starting another---hauling way more than the specs say. Moved massive rocks. Spent a Christmas Eve getting people unstuck by pulling them out. Turned it into a big float for Christmas caroling hay rides. Pulled stumps. Erected powerpoles. Drove down Disneyland Mainstreet in it---after hours, to get a tandem axle trailer to recover someone's broken down car again, on Christmas Eve. Been as far south as Loreto, in Baja. Been all the way to Kalamazoo with a cab-over camper.
As long as it keeps plugging along, I'm going to keep it. I doubt I could sell it for what it's worth to me. The one thing that dressed it up a bit was putting really big burly tires on it.

The project starts

Officially started the big project yesterday, 10/23/2008. I'm building a house from the ground up across the street from our house. It will be my second time doing this.
Our long term financial plan has always been to end up with 4 houses--- one for Annamarie and me, and one for each kid to get their foot in the door...They are rentals in the erstwhile. Every property we've ever purchased was distressed in one way or another (only way we could afford them) and this was no exception. It was a probate sale. Cash for the lot, and cash for materials/permits, do all the work ourselves. I know, I know----the housing market is down. I'm still sticking with the plan. I'm hoping to one day be accused of being wealthy. What folks don't see after the fact is the hard work, heart ache, time away from family, and bodily wear and tear it takes to end up with a home, free and clear.
So back to the project. I have the septic permit, which was a huge step. Before I install it I have to move the driveway. In the process, I'm making parking for my neighbor so they can park on the uphill side of their house. If I make the concrete myself (sand, gravel, cement, water) it's $53 a yard. If it's delivered, it's in the hundreds.
That's the theme for these projects. If it's less expensive and better quality, but lots more work, do it that way. That's where you make the profit---sweat equity. (OK so it's lots of fun, too)
This blog's probably going to morph from copters and politics to frequent construction updates. And copters and politics.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why I'm scared

Look, I know pre-election stuff feels a bit like we're on opposing sides of a football game with the left v. right stuff. Really, I distrust most government. I work for a city and get contracted out to state and federal stuff. The people aren't evil, but we often take the path of least resistance, and agencies tend to try to take on more duties to get a bigger slice of the budget pie....So, things just grow.
Like Shoo pointed out, when you have one party in charge of the legislature and one in charge of the executive branch, they sort of bottleneck and limit each other.
Well, the judicial branch has taken to legislating from the bench. The democrats control the house and senate, and we're reaching to the FAR left for the democrat candidate for the presidency.
We are heading for an all left wing government, one that is already starting to defend socialism. This is not what our forefathers had in mind for us. Next time you are in line for the DMV, imagine that you aren't renewing your license, but trying to get medical attention for a very sick child. Imagine you dream of starting a business, but the red tape and stipulations on how you must treat every employee make it impossible. Imagine the unions get so powerful they chase every last industry overseas.
The democrats already have plans to fasttrack quite a few issues dear to them---socialized medicine. More taxes for industry and the real hard working small business owners that work 14 hour days and never take vacations, to make things work and keep people employed. Imagine an eviscerated military, and global threats that are ignored and allowed to fester.
If you plan on voting for Obama/Biden, will you please tell me why? If you are caught up in the charisma, or trying to stick it to somebody, or hate Bush so much you want to send a message, will you please think about the things that have made this nation great and the freedoms you're giving away? Finally, will you explain to me where he money to support it all will come from? This nation is strong, but not indestructible.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Not looking good for the Conservatives

Bad move to run a centrist against a far left guy.... Still, McCain is far ahead of what I expected, after the media and others painted Bush as both an idiot and a diabolical terrorist. If Obama wins, I won't leave the country--but my money might.

If I could talk to Obama, Here's what I'd tell him.

1) What's good for Wall Street IS what's good for Main Street.

2) If we hadn't gone into Iraq, they'd be much further ahead with a nuclear warfare program than Iran is now.

3) Your tax plan is punitive against some damn hard working Americans. Not only do entitlements discourage people from living to their full potential, but creating a financial ceiling discourages the American entrepreneurial spirit that drives productivity.

4) The GDP doesn't come from the government.

5) Families are the most important thing of all

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

EMS Nostalgia day

The prehospital medical director from Scripps Health asked if I'd do a presentation for the continuing education day. She wanted me to compare Advanced Cardiac Life Support (all the stuff paramedics do for someone in cardiac arrest) 'then and now'. By 'then' she meant when I started out; there has been quite a few changes, but everything I came up with, comparing protocols and such, was just....boring as hell. Last thing I wanna do is get up in front of 50 peers and be boring. So, I didn't go back 22 years. I went back 3,500 years, and chronicled all the things people tried to resuscitate others through the years. Protocols like covering the deceased with burning dung to re-warm the body. Blowing strong tobacco smoke up their.....(There's a long tube in your body with an opening at each end. It wasn't the mouth) and so on. Thank God for Google image search.
It went well and was well received, and they want me to give it again...Rick Kendrick, (inventor of the 'Kendrick Extrication Device') spoke before me....Not exactly a hard act to follow.
UCSD Paramedic Class 36. Only 9 passed. 3 of those 9 counting myself work for San Diego. 2 for poway, 1 for a private ALS provider. Not sure where everyone else ended up

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Television adds 10 pounds; Computers make you fat

While in Yosemite, I was hiking a little and got winded. That bothered me. Sure, it was 10,000 feet up, but it's just walking!!! New rule for me---always spend more time doing aerobic activity than sitting in front of tv/computer/video game. You can blame the current obesity epidemic on convenience food if you want, or latch key kids, or school lunch programs. You can compare the frozen dessert section or the frozen pizza section to the frozen vegetable aisle and see how little space the veggies get. I really think the biggest culprit is getting entertainment, enrichment, competition, everything else all from sitting in front of a computer.

Night drill

Just got back from the preliminary night drill. Everything went 100% perfect!!. We coordinated a rotation so there was never two helicopters in the drop zone at the same time, and practiced who communicates what to whom, it all worked. It's really much clearer through the NVG's than this picture but I just wanted to see what happens if you take a digital picture through a NVG tube. It was pitch black out. I could have taken a picture of that too. Or you can just close your eyes tight and get the same effect. Everyone did super except one of the pilots, Chris. He did extra super-duper!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fire Prevention Week

It's fire prevention week. Bake a plate of cookies and deliver them to our nearest fire station. We always have lots of public events during this week, now doubled with our new agreement with Calfire for night firefighting. We were demonstrating the night firefighting stuff so while doing the groundfill operation I took a picture. It's kind of hard to tell what's going on----there's a firehose with a camlock attached to the tank to fill it. During the day we use the snorkel and just suck up the water, but at night that's not an option.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Busy week

There's this Department of Homeland Security focus group thing. We give input as to where DHS dollars would be best spent for new technologies for the response community; usually the meetings are back east somewhere. This time, though, we hosted in San Diego. I ran a tour of our dispatch center, and of the helicopter station. A few of the User's Working Group got to go for a night flight to see the night vision technology, mapping data, infrared, microwave downlink, etc. The meeting the next day was somewhat productive....
The UWG Chair is from a state's legislature. We put ihim up in the cabin, and he appreciated the quiet time. We had time for a hike up Cuyamaca Peak which was cool because once at the top, it was a sea of clouds on the coastal side over San Diego.
After the hike I had just enough time to clean up, dust off my 'Class A' uniform and take Annamarie to the retirement ball. It's really fun----they put a slideshow together for each retiree. A 5 minute summary of their entire life, complete with music that captures them. The same guy has been putting these together for years. When you see some of the absolutely incredible lives these people have lived it makes you proud to be part of the same department. They are the ones that make the badge meaningful.
Annamarie has a medical condition that ties her corneal reflex to the shutters of cameras. If the shutter opens, her eyes close.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kid's Fishing Derby

The annual kid's fishing derby was very popular....The kids wanted to go so after taking care of some lake business then going to donate blood, we went out in the boat. The kids wanted to catch more fish for the pond. It really wasn't the best time to fish so we drowned a few worms and quit. I went to check the cleaning station; you can see how people were doing that day by the level of guts in the bucket. There was a bullhead catfish drying out in the sun on the cutting board, and another big one in with the fishguts. They were gasping on occasion. We put some water in a bucket and dropped them in---they immediately swam around. Now Grendel has two companions in our top pond----Harold and Maude.
Ed Zyralski is the outdoors sportsman writer for the Union Tribune. He's doing a story on the derby so he used my our cabin for the weekend. The turkeys were all over, and he's really into turkeys so he just sat and enjoyed them. I'll see if I can post his write-up when it comes out.

CalFire and NVG

There are only two copter programs I know of that do night firefighting. All summer long I heard Calfire folks lecture me on how it's a total waste, the risk/benefit isn't there, and so on. Locally they've been under lots of political pressure to allow it---we're fighting fire at night in the city, and doing more dangerous hoist rescues in CalFire's area at night, so why not fight fire too? We just signed an agreement with them to do just that. Our program will hopefully open the door to sfae nighttime firefighting in other areas too. CalFire desreves some credit for flexibility on this issue. The part I don't understand, though, is we are not to be used for initial attack at night. In my opinion, initial attack is where helicopters do the most good.
After the media event we toured the Sheriff's hangars. Awesome. Lots of copters, Air conditioning, barracks. Then we went home to our MASH compound. Oh well--we still have the most awesome rescue platform ever developed for the kind of work we do.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A first timer's view

Annamarie was in constant awe----she felt like she couldn't find the right words. Riding around the valley floor on the tandem bike was perfect, because she could take it all in. (Don't worry. I was steering. And pedalling) Just when it seemed like she was just looking at a beautiful mural we climbed the mist trail, which gives you a touch of how big and steep it all is. We were starting to get shaky legs from the steep steps built by the conservation corps people, and it felt much further than 1.3 miles to the top---but imagine a 1.3 mile steep staircase. Or, imagine climbing the stairs of a 200 story building. Then, the drive to Sonora through the Stanislaus forest made her question the whole deforestation rhetoric. It far exceeded her expectations, and we should have stayed longer. She's not much for tents so I have to save up for the Ahwahnee, I guess.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our trip so far

After spending most the summer in this part of the state, I felt I had to bring Annamarie here. She's only passed through this part of the state so far. We stayed the first night in a log cabin built in 1915 at Tioga Pass Resort. It was 29 degrees in the morning then it got into the 90's in the valley. We drove down to the valley floor, unloaded the bike, and rode all over the place, including the trailhead for the mist trail up Vernal Falls. Now we're in Sonora for two nights. Annamarie couldn't get over the sheer size of everything, and it brought back quite a few memories for me from coming here as a kid. There was a bear in the store. it didn't want to sell me anything, just give me an ursine blessing of some kind. Not sure the result but I'm craving berries for some reason...I must say---Yosemite looks pretty darned pristine, when you consider the millions that come through here. We drove for hours through thick forest too.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Mckenna and Patrick are staying home with a sitter. Lauren is staying with her cousins up in Costa Mesa. We leave early (4 am) for Tioga Pass Resort (elevation 9,640 feet). We're bringing the tandem bike. This is where I spent most the summer with the fires; Annamarie's never seen Yosemite so we're going. We'll bike around the valley, probably hike the mist trail, then head out to the old gold mining town of Sonora for two nights. Supposed to be good biking there too, we'll see. I've just passed through a lot, never got to really stay.
It wouldn't matter if we were spending three days in El Cajon instead, really. Time alone with Annamarie.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The new digs

Yesterday I worked at the new station (my old copter, but new station) It's at station 43, a half mile north of the Otay border crossing. It's a huge firestation, set up for three crews---but there's only one crew there, and it sits on Brown Field airport land. Good things---it's in controlled airspace, with no one to complain about noise. There's plenty of bedspace the department already owns. It's a nice station and the crews there, so far, seem to be glad we're there. Bad parts---we have to fly to Montgomery Field for daily inspection. Strategically, you can only respond North and East---South, you're in Mexico. West, you're in the Pacific ocean. The weather is an issue, as the coastal fog comes in to stay from evening until late morning pretty regularly. Also it's a really long commute to get there.
I set up the necessary equipment for the groundfill; if you want to take off and show up to the fire with water, you start with a groundfill. Also, at night, groundfill is your only option as drafting with the snorkel using NVG is a bad idea. I sure liked being back in a firestation though--no thick dust layer, great food, card games; you can take a hot shower, flush the toilet, and use the microwave without tripping a breaker. The Chief is a long way away too and sudden drop-ins are unlikely. Not that that's a problem, it's just more relaxed atmosphere.

'Racism will keep him from the presidency'

I read today that racism will keep Obama from getting elected. The very next segment on CNN was Obama lecturing about how McCain's deregulation led to the current financial problems....Then, he said mcCain wants to deregulate healthcare and cause the same problems in healthcare he caused in the housing market.
Well, Barack, just in case you read my blog---I really listened to what you were saying. I'm invested heavily in the real estate market, but never bought something I couldn't afford. I've followed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae's 'fair housing rules' that directly opened to door to home loans that could never be repaid, by people who were not yet ready, financially at least, for home ownership. All in the name of 'fair' housing. You, and other democrats that took campaign funding from Freddie and Fannie, (McCain didn't get a nickel), made federal laws that mandated making bad loans or face discrimination suits. In my opinion, your manipulation of a free market led to this mess, not 'deregulation'.
Deregulating healthcare----YES, YES, YES. There are so many nonsensical rules the feds put on healthcare, a private industry, that they just can't exist. You must treat everyone that comes through the door (federal rules) But, we won't pay for it. Want to fix healthcare? Open one government hospital in each county for the un and under insured. All the same treatments, but recovery is in a less expensive ward, and it will be a teaching hospital...Still held to the same medical standards. All the for-profit hospitals can make their own rules and rely on competition, not groups like JCAHO that only serve to add layers of expense between the patient and caregiver.
So, I won't vote for you. When I look at you I don't see a black man, or a muslim. I see a socialist. Your blatant proposals to have government redistibute wealth will kill the very thing that makes America exceptional. So far I haven't seen any evidence that you want to preserve the exceptional nature of our nation. If you want to be the world's friend by turning us into a second world socialist economy, I guess people won't want to hate us anymore. Say goodbye to all innovation, disaster response, military protection, and foreign aid we provide the world now, though.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jim's visit

My older brother, Jim, not only built me the ultimate bike, he even delivered it. I tried to plan the ultimate Saturday for him. He rested after his LOOONG drive, hung out with the family, cleaned up a bit, and off we went. We loaded up his bike along with my new one. Off we went for Montgomery Field where I had jumped through the hoops to approve a training flight with Jim as the victim. We dropped him off along with Scott (Scott took Jim's camera, Jim forwarded these pics) and we did the pickoff. I'm pretty sure Jim enjoyed it and the map of the earth flight that followed.
After, we rode into downtown---kind of a shakedown cruise. Dinner was at 'Mr. Tiki's Maitai lounge', an excellent sushi/pupus meal. On the way back to the car Jim took a photo of the skyline. Hour drive home then he slept at the cabin; haven't seen him since and the kids complained I bogarted Uncle Jim.