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.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 flyover

We met up with Copter 1 and did a fly-over for a 911 memorial. We flew orbits over southbay until our ground contact called us in. Low, fast, and loud. Beautiful day for it.
This country is worth the money and sacrifice to protect. Nobody WANTS war, nobody likes the idea of spending billions on defense--from the TSA shoe checkers to the special force guys. It's just niave to think you can negotiate your way out of everything. Where was our opportunity for negotiating on 9/10?
Thanks to all who earn money and produce, to support the protectors. Thanks, George Bush, for keeping us safe to the point some could even deny there was even a threat to start with. Thanks, especially, to the families of those lost on 911 and the following war on terror.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Del Mar/Torrey Pines

________________________________________________________________ Thanks for the pictures, Don (Don Rock was working Truck 44 and got these pictures) Victim did OK

Friday, September 5, 2008

For helicopter geeks only

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Helicopters are cool machines. They are proof that if you put enough horsepower into anything, it'll fly. I've never flown in my favorite helicopter--- a Bell 214 ST. Maybe someday. It's the ultimate 'musclecar' of the copter world.....
Here's a list of helicopters I've flown on, smallest to biggest, with the common nickname if any. Bell 47 (like in M*A*S*H). Robinson R44 (little entry level copter). MD500 ('Angry Egg' like in Magnum PI). B-3 'A-Star'. 206 (Jet Ranger). 206L (Long Ranger). UH-1H (Huey). 205, (the old copter 2). 212 (Copter One). 412 (the new Copter 2). Aerospatiale Dauphine. CH-46. (Sea Knight) UH-60 (three versions---SeaHawk, FireHawk, BlackHawk) BV-107, and the CH-47 (Chinook).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day at work

*************************************************************************************************************** First priority is feed everybody. We have lots of people right now at work, but we'll be back down to just 3 after tomorrow....Made a HUGE chicken potpie (8 pounds of chicken thighs!!) The new copter didn't have any sort of floor protection. The floor surface is actually a structural member so you have to be careful....We've tried rubber matting (No good--Heavy, and can't slide the victim in after a rescue) 1/8" plywood (works well but soaks up blood and gets pretty gross pretty fast) Then one day in a public restroom was looking at the plastic they put on the walls with a pebble grain....That worked great. Light, easy to clean, just slippery enough. Now to custom fit it to the new copter.....This is one of two pieces. Finally----we were ready to actually try a hoist with the new machine. The crewchief said the honor of the first hoist extraction goes to the most expendable rescue medic....I thought it was 'cuz I'm most senior but whatever. There are a few bugs to work out but it works great. Very stiff and responsive, and the hoist is MUCH faster. Tomorrow is the big media event with all the city brass. Hope everything works