Sunday, August 31, 2008


************************************************************************** Somehow I got on this kick about how different instruments can have the same notes but a totally different 'voice'. You figure that a flute is about the simplest instrument (other than maybe percussion ones) and you can easily vary different things to change the sounds.
These PVC flutes are fun. They cost less than a dollar to make and have a very rich tone. You can get two octaves out of them and even half-notes.
The whole point though was to learn about the different 'voice' options. By altering the endcap inside shape, you get a totally different mood. A cap made convex with so epoxy putty takes on a happy tone; the more concave, the more haunting or sardonic.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The fleet

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Copter 2 arrived today. Some of the fellas flew it back from Tennessee. It's pretty much the same as Copter 1. Very different sound with the rigid four rotor system. Now we have to bolt all the crap to it, and figure out how to use it for rescues. One of the copters and one of the crews will be going down to Brown Field (inland, less than a mile from Mexico) At least now we can always have one flying

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wow. My bike's better than your bike.

A few more details....I need a helmet. I guess I need biking shorts, though I'm reluctant. I need to get the bike from Chico to Cuyamaca.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cedar Fire revisited

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Almost 5 years ago, the Cedar Fire ripped through San Diego County. I didn't know where Annamarie and the kids were, just that they had been evacuated. Chief Clayton of CDF kept saying the entire town of Lake Cuyamaca was incinerated. I was trying to concentrate on the firefighting operations in Scripps Ranch---Perry, Scott and I had assumed Branch IV dispatch when they decentralized dispatch, and it was going so smoothly the Chiefs just kept us there. We all had time on the actual fireline too.... After 96 hours, they turned me loose to go look for my family. After driving all over Southern California, I found them in a little hotel in Mission Valley. The news kept showing Chief Clayton saying Lake Cuyamaca was completely levelled. Annamarie would wake me up every now and then and ask, 'Do you think my wedding dress made it?' or 'Do you think any of our pictures survived?' I told her over and over to accept that everything we owned was in the two cars outside the hotel door.
Captain Visser, whom I had allowed to turkey hunt on my land while I was building, was up at Cuyamaca dooing some Air Ops Branch Director work. He contacted me at 3:30 AM and said, "You are without a doubt the luckiest sonofabitch I ever met". He told me both my houses were just fine, all the houses between my houses were burned up, and there was still lots of fire and I needed to get up there right away.
So, of course, I grabbed Byron. Byron, of course, dropped everything and went. Dropped A.M. and the kids off at the Fiore's (who housed us for a few weeks) and Dr. Joe came with Byron and me.
We drove through miles of moonscape to get to our houses.
This is what we found when we got there----my front yard on fire. Everything burnt around the cabin. Most houses (106 out of 124) burnt to the foundations. Byron set up the shortwave and was the only communication off the hill. The three of us spent the next 48 hours scratching fireline around the remaining houses, taking water from jacuzzis and mixing it with dishsoap to splash out hot spots, and taking all perishable foods out of houses. We set up a night watch in case wind changed directions. Late one night, a thick, thick (unpredicted) fog bank rolled in and soaked everything.
That was when we slept.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't take the bike...YOU"LL KILLL YOURSELF!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Somehow I got it stuck in my head I was going to start biking to work, at least once a 'go around' (4-24 hour shifts).
My big brother Jim has run a bike shop for years, so I asked for his input. His response was to build me the mother of all bicycles. When I showed this picture to co-workers that are avid cyclists, they got excited and envious so I guess it really is going to be a good bike.
The commute is 56 miles, BTW.

Copter 2

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Here's some pictures of our new copter. It's still in Tennesee but will get here in a few weeks after some more flight testing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

More reunion


Here are just a few of the photos for those of you that couldn't make it. It was what we had hoped it would be. The kids all played well, we met new folks, reconnected....The high point for me was setting up the outdoor theatre to watch Diana's 'Made' episode, then the pictures from the old days (Thanks Byron). Byron did a perfect job of getting everyone in the slide show, even people that couldn't be there. Rob set up some new geocaches and people had fun with that. Celeste did all the t-shirts. Kiesters drove the furthest---all the way from Oregon. Shoe took a gang (including Patrick) on the goldmine tour. Carl was a good sport with what would have been overwhelming for me....Thanks for coming and thanks for pitching in

Monday, August 11, 2008

Just wondering....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I was trying to research how much of the world's oil supply has been tapped. It was baffling. Some people look at the decrease in production from individual wells and conclude we're at the tipping point. Others follows goofy graphs and models based on past production, discounting a drop in exploration.
If global CO2 has dropped from 7000 ppm to 380 ppm, where did it all go? I'm assuming it got converted to plant matter and other biomass and pushed underground by more plant matter and biomass, along with some tectonic shenanigans. Am I on track so far? OK.
Well, if we are drilling into that plant matter and biomass, refining it, then throwing it back in the atmosphere while pushing our cars around a little, and we've only managed to bring it up from 310 ppm to 380 ppm in the last 50 years, doesn't that point to only re-liberating about 1% of the carbon? I realize that the carbon isn't just locked up in hydrocarbons but I bet you could look at the slight atmospheric change and conclude there's still LOTS of oil, coal and natural gas down there. Like, 98-99%.
I think the alternative energy tech bubble is about to burst and oil stocks are artificially low. I'm going to take some of the overtime I earned at the fires and invest in oil. Oil will be the cheapest energy source for a long, long time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Heavy, heavy losses

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I just want to get these over with together, and I hope it doesn't diminish what a huge loss this is. I've realized people are avoiding bringing these up so here goes.
Someone we knew pretty well was lost in the collision in Flagstaff. He rode along and participated in some of our early trainings. Some of the best video we have now of our program is thanks to him. My trainee, TJ, was training at the canyon rim as radio operator and dipatched these guys for the transport.
The Carson ship---one of the pilots killed was the guy who did our annual night vision goggle recurrency training. The Carson 61 crashed out in the Shasta/Trinity area where we were fighting the SShu/Lightning complex.
We've become accustomed to cars as part of our everyday life, and most people knew someone that was injured or killed in a car wreck. You sort of realize it's an unfortunate part of modern life. Helicopters do some real good work that can't be as easily done by any other tool, and we've become dependent on them in the fire/rescue community. Fire/rescue aviation isn't a big community, so you quickly get to know a good percentage of the names and faces
When you lose someone you know to a auto accident, you don't stop driving. Maybe you drive a little more carefully though.
The hardest thing still coming is the accident reviews, picking apart every little thing that led up to the accident. Just try to keep it highly technical and not re-live what your friend must have been going through in the few seconds between everything being just fine to not-so-good.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pad 14

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So I'm paired up with a copter, 3HL. It's basically the same as my copter back home. After all the initial inspection stuff, I just hang out at the helipad waiting for orders. Oh--and I have a trainee, too. My part in fire suppresion right now is filling out paperwork, checking safety things, basically getting other people to the fire......My new name is 3HL manager, Pad 14--on the radio at least.
"3HL manager we have a mission for you. Water dropping in division Lima, contact Helco" "3Hotel Lima copy" ho hum. Teach the trainee more paperwork nonsense. Maybe I'm helping fight the fire by reducing the number of trees through paper waste.
"3HL manager...Umm....your helicopter is down"

For some reason, whenever something happens thqat makes my pulse go from 56 to 200, my reaction is to put on a calm, unaffected attitude. Channel the fast moving brain. Besides, this will be a great learning opportunity for the trainee..."3HL Manager---what was his last position?" I learn the pilot had to put down, and called out a Lat/Long. 'K, that tells me a lot--where he is, he's probably OK, and he's probably just shut down for some mechanical issue. Grab the mechanic. Find the general area on a map. (RBG woulda come in handy here) Call CHP to follow us in, partly to shut the road if needed, partly so we can speed.
After some searching, I contact Helco. They lead us in to the general area, where we find our copter and pilot both lounging righ tnext the the Merced. We scramble down and start pulling things apart. I won't bore you with mechanical details, but we figured a way to get him up and limp back to Pad 14, but I need the state lead mechanic to approve the plan so I drive back to Briceburg and get the nod to fly back. The rest of the day is spent repairing the copter at the base.
OH---'we' saved the park. Again. WE've got it pretty much contained, I'll probably go home soon if there is nothing else burning elsewhere