Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I always Carry a Camera

While driving past a local airport the other day, I saw this beauty taking off:

For those of you non-aviation geeks, this is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It is a very rare aircraft, I believe there are only four flying as of now. This is the very first one ever built, it is undergoing FAA airworthy certification testing at various locations around the country.

There is a lot riding on the wings of this aircraft. It is the future of commercial aviation manufacturing in this country, I believe Boeing's survival depends on it's success.

What makes it unique is it's largely composite construction, rather than aluminum skin and structure. It is supposed to be lighter and stronger, thus allowing more payload with less fuel use - very important for airlines.

When I spotted it taking off, I instantly knew what it was by it's very flexible wing and by the plan-form of the wing. I also noticed that the landing gear did not retract, meaning that it was staying very close to the airport. It flew straight out from the end of the runway for about five miles, turned around and returned to land on the runway it had just taken off from.

Really, I don't drive around with my camera on my lap. Well, o.k, not my "big" camera anyway. I had about four minutes to find a place to turn around, find a place to legally park, get my "big" camera out, climb onto the bed of my truck and prepare the camera. I made it with seven seconds to share.

 The above photo was the result, as was this:

The second photo is unique because of the obsolete aircraft in the background. It shows the future and the past of commercial aviation in one shot.

Most of the aircraft in the background will likely be beer cans within a few years. They are being stored here in hopes that they will be needed by an airline or freight hauler before they deteriorate. The arid climate is ideal for storing aircraft, but the economics of the industry make scrapping them and reusing the aluminum a more likely outcome. Those old airliners, especially the jumbos, are just too thirsty.

I was really lucky to get these shots, It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time - with my camera.

Many of us will get to fly on a 787 someday, sales are brisk. The airlines do like a fuel efficient aircraft. When you do, remember that you saw it here first.

Thanks for reading,

First Day Back

Today is my first day back at the healing place. A "mystery meat" crew, umpteen bajillion E-Mails, an in-box stuffed with numerous hard copies of superfluous B.S. and a report of D.C. Newby raising hell with my crew over something which he knows nothing about nor has any business getting involved with greeted me as I walked in the door.

It's great to be back, though I wish I was still up north. We have a quiet schedule today, I should be able to catch up on most of the stuff that I missed while gone.

I really didn't miss any huge excitement while away, though some residents of the K.B.F.P.D. seemed to lose their ability to drive while intoxicated without crashing their cars. I am quite sure it wasn't from a lack of practice.

Tonight, as I walk around the station ensuring it's security, I will gaze up at the dust filled and light polluted sky. I will be thankful for my career and the many blessings which I have been given. I will take note of the seven stars that I see and I will fondly remember the night sky from an elevation of 7800 feet.

Bajillions of stars are far better than bajillions of e-mails.
I'm just sayin".

Thanks for reading,
A grateful Schmoe

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Much of the land that I roam is either desert or semi-desert. That includes the land I must drive through to get to and home from my mountain get-away. The route into the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains is US hwy 395. It starts in Victorville, CA and ends up at the Canadian border.

Until it climbs into the Sierra, Hwy 395 crosses the high Mojave desert, then travels up the Owens Valley before climbing into the mountains. The video below was shot less than a day after I traveled down Hwy 395 on my way home. I am unsure of the exact location of the event, but it looks to be in the Southern end of the Owens Valley, somewhere near Owens Dry Lake.

The mud flow appears to be black. It is speculated that the black color is due to the flow originating in a burn area from a wildfire which occurred last summer. That may be, or it may be that the flow consists of dark pumice from one of several dormant volcanoes in the area.

Regardless, this flow is the result of too much water falling from the sky in too short of a time. The ground is unable to absorb the water and the flow begins. These flash floods often begin miles away from where the damage occurs and catch people by surprise. I am guessing that the driver of the Semi never thought that he would be washed from the highway.

I am very glad that this occurred after we passed through the area rather than during or before. The highway was closed for nearly a day and then only one lane was opened with law enforcement escort. The delays were extreme and the detours were hundreds of miles out of the way. That is often the way of the desert.

Thanks for reading, stay out of flash floods!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rock and Roll

We have a bet. I say that when the "big one" hits, this rock will tumble down and hit the station. Other family members are not so sure.

Supposedly, a scientist of some sort was hired to determine whether the station is at risk. The scientist allegedly determined that it is safe.

After this view, I am not convinced.

The rock and the station have been living side by side for quite a while with no problems yet. The locals joke about it, but do not appear to be concerned. Time will tell.

The June Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. protects the area in and around June Lake Calif. They have a huge picnic on the second Saturday in August. It is their primary fundraiser and it is a ball. I have attended many of them over the years and plan on attending more. If you ever happen to be in the area on the second Saturday in August, stop by the picnic, eat some BBQ and buy some raffle tickets. You might win something and the food will not disappoint.

If you can't make it for the picnic, just drive through the June Lake loop. Better yet, rent a cabin or camp for a week or so. You won't be disappointed.

We weren't camping in June this year, but stopped by to see a buddy who has lived there for ever. It was a great day with temperatures in the high seventies. It was 107 at home that day.

Thanks for reading,

Back. Back in Black

All good things must come to an end. Some good things are tragically removed from our lives. My return to the world was a bit of both.

As I have previously stated, the Sierra Nevada is a spiritual home for me. The majestic beauty of the granite peaks, the crystal blue clarity of the water and the lack of telecommunication make the area a refuge from the chaos of life.

Due to our itinerary, we were upon occasion, able to occasionally receive text messages. Most of the time, I ignored the messages. However, one series of messages was so horrific that they could not be ignored. A colleague of mine, one from a neighboring agency, lost his teen-aged daughter to a freak accident.

Although this colleague and I are not close, we have worked together on several projects over the years. Our wives know each other well, having worked together many years ago. A nicer couple you will never meet. Out of respect to my colleague and his wife and the enormity of their loss, I decided to end our trip early so that I could accompany The Saint to the funeral.

The schedule dictated that we break camp and depart at daybreak, then make the long trek from my mountain refuge to the sweltering heat of the desert. The trip home was without event, and we arrived home in time for me to park the camper, clean-up, don my Class-A, then attend the services.

Due to professional and social contacts, we knew many people that were attending the service. A close friend had never seen my Class-A uniform and commented on how nice it looked and how we should wear them more often.

She was unprepared for my response. After acknowledging her compliment, I told her that I never want to wear it again and that I wish I could throw it away.

At my current career phase, dragging the uniform from the closet, dusting it off and putting it on means that someone has suffered a loss, one that has changed lives. Changes usually not for the better.  It is a process which I hate, the cruelty of which challenges my understanding of the world that was created for us.  

My Class-A uniform has evolved into a symbol, one of loss and grief. I realize that this is my issue, although I think that others may share this perception. I realize that as I get older, the need to wear it will arise more often. Hopefully my disdain will subside as my maturity increases.

Maybe my discomfort has more to do with my own mortality on some subconscious level. I believe that it has more to do with watching others suffer and with my own sense of loss. It is likely a combination of all three.

Regardless, my colleague and his family are suffering greatly. I can do nothing for them, other than to offer my condolences and support. I can't imagine their sense of loss.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Well, I see you met Moe

I told you he could be crass, he definitely is opinionated. Now you see what I have been dealing with all of my life.

I am still up in the Sierras with #2 son and a friend of his. It is a beautiful part of the country, one which I cherish as a place to go when I need to get away or need emotional and spiritual healing.

Speaking of healing, below are a few pics to put y'all in a happy place after your encounter with Moe.

Bishop Creek - A beautiful place.

The mountain across from our camp. Taken at night with the moon
as the only light source. I love the night up here.

I don't know if Moe is going to post again, he is usually surprised when people don't agree with him. Regardless I'll post again if I can. Til then, take care.

Thanks for reading,
A rested Schmoe

Friday, August 20, 2010

I heard from my loser brother

My name is Morris. My friends call me Morry, Joe calls me Moe. Joe asked me to step in a few times while he is away, like a dumbass, I agreed.

He jumped on me for not posting yet. I have no excuse, except that I it's not as important to me as it is to him.

I don't understand this whole blog thing. Joe feels a need to do it, so more power to him. For him, I don't get why he has this opportunity to shout how he feels about stuff, and he wastes it on pictures, wiener dogs and touchy feely crap. What a pussy.

He told me once that he tries to keep his blog from being political. What's up Joe? Afraid of pissing someone off?

When I told Joe that I would post a couple of times for him, I told him that I would write about what I wanted to, not what he wanted me to. He was good with that, not that he had any choice, he has no internet access where he is.

All that crap out of the way, here it is.

What in the hell were you thinking America? You elected a guy president who won't pledge to the flag, has never had a job other than as a community organizer and a politician and who attended a radical "black freedom" church for years, but can't remember anything the preacher says.

He chastised you for clinging to your religion and your guns and refused to take a clear stand on anything while campaigning.

Now, you seem surprised that he has grossly worsened the budget, passed a health care plan that will be a disaster for most concerned and doesn't have a problem with a Mosque being built next to the WTC ground zero.

What did you expect? All of you were so busy stepping all over yourselves because you had the opportunity to elect an educated, articulate black man as president, that you failed to assess the candidate on his position. (not that he would clearly state it)

Even CNN is starting to realize that we as a nation screwed up and has started to call the anointed one out. What a laugh, where were they during the election, when BHO could do no wrong?

Speaking of comedy, It's going to be a real circus to watch his reaction when Israel has enough and goes after Iran. Rhetoric isn't going to cut it when that shit happens.

Let's see if America wakes up this November and puts a stop the Obama agenda. before it's too late.

Take that Joe, I bet you don't give me the keys to the blog the next time you go on vacation!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Are they pals?

Are they pals, or is St. Francis being held against his will?

If I was giving a ride to a saint and a deity, I probably would let them ride in the cab. The pigeon might have to ride in the back though.

Posting may be a little sparse over the next week or so, #2 son and I are headed up to the Sierra Nevada mountains for a little R&R. There is no phone or internet service where we are going, so a few canned posts and a guest post or two from my brother Morris will have to do. I may be able to sneak into town a few times and toss a picture or two your way.

I am not sure having Morris guest post is such a great idea, he is a little less cultured than I and is known to be slightly crass. I am going to apologize in advance, I know he will offend someone.

Have a great weekend, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 13, 2010


In an earlier post, I spoke about a friend of mine who works for an agency which may be dissolved and absorbed by another department. Apparently, that possibility still exists and several other departments in southern California are also at risk of being dissolved.  

Reading headlines throughout the country makes it evident to me that this phenomenon is not unique to So Cal. Nor is it unique to the fire service. I recently came across the following video while visiting a police blog. It really hit home as I listened to it.

Although this is a recording of the last radio transmission of the Maywood-Cudahy Police Department, it might someday be the Kinda Big Fire Protection District or the Medium Sized City F.D. that is being dissolved.

As frustrated as I may get with certain District Commanders or certain Chief Officers, the reality is that I am damn proud of the K.B.F.P.D. and would be devastated if it ceased to exist. Hearing the emotional voices in the video brought it home for me. 

The possibility of my agency being dissolved is very low. That is one advantage of being Kinda Big. I am sure some of the firefighters that wore these patches never thought that their agency would no longer exist either.

Sadly for them, they were wrong.

In these unpredictable economic times, some of our organizations will be forced to make decisions that they never thought they would have to make. Never say never, ya just don't know.

Good luck to the members of the Maywood - Cudahy Police Dept, I truly hope things work out for you.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Irrigation supplies - $160

Two four hours of labor by a four person engine company - $440

Eight gallons of diesel fuel - $26

Look on the clerks face at Lowe's when the muddied fire captain walks through the door for the fifth time in two hours - Priceless.


What should have been a two hour job, (max) was stretched into a four hour ordeal by me screwing up each time we went to Lowe's.

  1. First trip - purchased supplies
  2. Second trip - purchased item that I forgot on trip #1
  3. Third Trip - Exchanged two items from trip #1 that had been placed into the wrong bin. I violated my own rule of looking at each item pulled from the bin to ensure that it was the correct item. My bad.
  4. Fourth trip - purchased two additional items when it became apparent that the original plan was not going to work. These items worked well.
  5. Fifth trip - Purchased an adapter to connect the size pipe the plans SAID it was to the size pipe it ACTUALLY was. A difference of 1/4" inch diameter. Shame on me, I should have dug up the pipe and measured it, rather than relying on the original landscape plan.
After getting interrupted by a couple of runs, we finished this project up just a few minutes before dark. The irrigation system has been successfully modified to meet the watering requirements of the healing place. All of the above strife from a guy who holds a state landscaping license.

Pardon to our neighbors for the bad words that might have been said when the discovery of step five was made and to the clerk at Lowe's for leaving mud at her register. I'll try to do better next time.

Thanks for reading,

Man on Fire

Man on Fire

Click to enlarge

Man in Fire

Click to Enlarge

O.K, not really. In both photos, taken a few seconds apart, the firefighter is safely on the other side of the fire. Fun and games with a telephoto lens.

Thanks to the Big County F.D. for letting me hang out.

Thanks to you for reading,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Demanding Love

I gaze at the vast menu up on the wall. I am trying to decide if I want American or Mexican, lunch or breakfast and if I want to eat healthy or eat crappy. As I am second in line I know I have to decide quickly. While narrowing the multitude of choices down to a few, I can't help but notice that one of the two women ordering their meal at the register in front of me is holding her work ID out in front of her, in the face of the girl behind the register.

At first, I am not quite sure what she is doing. I edge a little closer and see that the ID is from the county and I assume these women work at the welfare office located a few blocks away. As I watch the women, the one holding her ID moves it closer to the face of the restaurant employee and the second one clearly states "we get the government discount".

Are you kidding me? I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing. These two county workers who have a good gubbamint job with bennies and a retirement are demanding a discount from a woman who makes nine bucks an hour. This in a restaurant in a community where 11 percent of the population is unemployed. The gall of these two broads floored me. 

I almost said something, but decided against it. Their brazen insistence that they get a discount told me that they wouldn't take to kindly to criticism. All I need right now is someone calling the District Commander, bitching me off.

I am not above getting a discount for a meal. Some places offer it, some don't. I don't let discounts determine where I eat either.My rule is NEVER ask for it, NEVER expect it. Always have the cash to pay full boat or order something cheaper. Most guys I know follow this practice and it works well. My crew knows how I feel about this issue and agree with my position.

It's demanding behavior like this that will cause a restaurant to stop offering "love" to the rest of us. Who can blame them? We eat at this place a lot. They have good food at a good price and the menu is big enough that everybody on the crew can find something to their liking. We will continue to eat here, whether they show us love or not.

At least now if they stop showing love, I know who to blame.

The picture below is unrelated to this post, I thought I'd post it anyway. There were a few better ones, but the damn power lines were in the way and I couldn't work around them.

Thanks for reading,

Mystery Meat

As I pull through the gate, I quickly scan the lot and take inventory of the vehicles to see who might be here today. I recognize one of them as belonging to one of my crew, three belonging to the regularly assigned off-going crew and two vehicles which I don't recognize.

That means I have at least one visitor today, possibly two. I don't see my engineer's truck in the lot, which means he might be coming from another station or he might be taking the day off.

It's that time of year. People are using their accumulated vacation days, holidays and trades to accommodate the various functions and events the season demands. Although baseball has been over for several weeks for some kids, football has begun. Vacations have been planned and are now being taken. Relatives are vacationing in our area and need to be shown the sights. People just need the time off.

Most All members of the K.B.F.P.D. are trained to a level of competency in their respective job functions, so it really shouldn't matter who occupies a seat on a rig. Yet, somehow it does, at least to me. I think it has more to do with familiarity and comfort levels than it does with competence.

This applies more to the engineer's position than any other. My engineer knows our district and rarely needs help in finding a location. Although I always make sure I know where we are going, I usually only use this knowledge to verify what my engineer already knows.

The same thing applies to the rig, Although most of our rigs a very similar, each has it's own idiosyncrasies and my engineer has ours down cold. I know the way he drives and am comfortable with it. He knows the way I like the unit spotted on scene, my code three driving philosophy and my management style and at the least tolerates my idiosyncrasies.

Personally, I hate it when my engineer takes the day off and finds a replacement that isn't from our station. I never quite relax when a stranger is behind the wheel. Of course, some make me more nervous than others. Some I find quite annoying.

It usually involves what I view to be poor driving habits. Even worse are engineers with abso-freakin-lutely no sense of direction nor any knowledge of my little part of the K.B.F.P.D. Fortunately these individuals are rare, but they do show up on occasion to safely transport me and my crew to emergency calls. It makes my day considerably more difficult.

My crew does not realize it, but while driving to a call, I have a lot of things to do. Some are critical, some less so. The last thing I need, is to do the engineer's job for him and tell him how to get on the freeway or where the mall is. Those are big things and  someone who has been here long enough to be an engineer should know the area good enough as to not require assistance.

As a supervisor, I can't tell my engineer who to trade time with, as much as I'd like to. However, I can express my appreciation when he obtains a replacement that I enjoy working with. Fortunately, this usually works and his replacements work out OK.

As much as I like summer, I will be grateful when fall rolls around and our staffing and routine return to normal.

Of course, that the means the holidays are just around the corner and people will need more time off.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Turds

A couple of months were spent getting ready for today. Hours of labor, toiling in the sun. Hard earned dollars spent on hardscape, drainage and irrigation. Blood spilled when I failed to move my thumb while chiseling block.

The tilled soil raked and compressed. Each imperfection removed to ensure a smooth lawn. Each piece of sod carefully laid, some cut to fit.

Each piece cut and carefully placed, watered in the proper amount. The new lawn rolled, compressing the sod onto the prepared soil. Instant gratification, an instant lawn.

Thirty seconds.  That's how long it took Sydney

file photo

To walk over and leave a steamer on my freshly laid lawn. I know it's not any big deal, it's what dogs do. But, damn dog, can't you wait just five minutes before dropping a deuce on the turf?

Do yourself a favor, don't click to enlarge.
There are just some things you don't want to
see in 18 mp.

I guess I should be grateful she didn't start digging it up. God knows what it will look like when I get home from work tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

And the Winner of the 2010 Joseph R. Schmoe World Peace Lifetime Achievement Awaed is...

 President James Earl Carter!!!

Stay with me folks. I am sure that many of you might be wondering why I am bestowing this prestigious award on President Carter, who is generally considered to be one of our more lackluster presidents.

The answer is quite simple. Although I didn't know about it at the time, in 1978, President Carter signed into law a Senate Amendment which benefited me greatly and which cost me,or anyone else for that matter, nothing. I can't say that about many politicians.

Senate Amendment 3534 essentially allows individuals to brew up to 200 gallons of beer per year without paying taxes on the beverage. It also eliminated several regulations which inhibited people from brewing their own beer, experimenting with different recipes and crafting many unique brews.

As a result, people began to get creative with their brews and began producing exotic craft beers, some of which began to be produced and sold as commercial ventures. The age of the craft beer was born.

The chart below shows the declining number of breweries in the U.S. from a post-prohibition high of over700 breweries in 1936 to a low of less than 100 in 1979. After President Carter signed Senate Amendment 3534 into law, the number of breweries has skyrocketed to over 1500, the majority being craft brewers.

It is estimated that 90% of commercially produced craft beers were first brewed at home. The ability for brewers to master their craft, their brews and their taste while at home has allowed the craft beer industry to flourish since 1979. As one who enjoys many types of craft beers, I appreciate the growth in the industry and the products that they produce.

So tonight when I poured myself a class of Widmer Brothers Drifter Pale Ale, I lifted it skyward in salute to President Jimmy Carter. Without whom it might not have been possible.

Slightly off topic I know, but I feel it's important to write something positive about politicians when I can find something. You don't have to worry about it happening too often.

Thanks for reading,
A peaceful Schmoe

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kangaroo Court

You may not believe this, but occasionally, we screw up. As much as we don't wanna admit it, every so often we run into/ding/dent/scratch some equipment to the point where it can't be "corrected" in the station and must be reported.

As these type of events are potentially very costly to the K.B.F.P.D, the district takes a dim view of motor vehicle accidents and thus is not hesitant to hand out discipline for the negligent actions of our members.

As the membership of the K.B.F.P.D. abhors any form of discipline, no matter how egregious the offense, a very formal process was developed to ensure that our membership is treated fairly when mishaps do occur. A Vehicle Safety Review Committee was formed to affix the blame on motor vehicle accidents and mishaps.

We fondly refer to it as the kangaroo court.

The court consists of four members:
  • A District Commander from the K.B.F.P.D, usually one assigned to days so they won't have to pay hi/her overtime for the meetings.
  • A representative from the Sheriff's Department, usually the senior motor officer. He drags the session down with inane drabble such as the vehicle code and other pertinent laws.
  • A representative from a city that we protect. For the last ten years, a cousin of  mine has filled this position. (where the hell was he when I was an engineer and could have used a friend on the court?)
  • A representative from the K.B.F.P.D. Firefighters Association. Hopefully not one who is kissing managements ass by serving on the committee. (you never know who wants to make District Commander one day)
The committee meets once every two months or so, depending on committee member availability. They announce the meeting about a week or so ahead of time . Miscreants who have damaged District vehicles have the option of attending the meeting when their case is heard. Some do, some do not. Those that do are given an opportunity to present a defense as to why they backed over that old lady. My cousin tells me the good excuses, most are pretty lame.

If a member is unfortunate enough to have a second accident within a year, his attendance at the kangaroo court is mandatory. A member appearing in this situation will likely present his side of the event and will do so in a very impassioned manner. That person is looking at a couple of days off, which hurts the wallet.

The committee can determine three findings pertaining to an accident:
  • Preventable - This places blame solely on the driver/operator. Sorry Bozo, you screwed up.
  • Non-preventable - This absolves the driver of any blame for the incident. This is usually the finding when one of our rigs is hit while parked at an emergency scene or someone runs a red light and hits us.
  • Preventable, driver not at fault - This is used when another member of the K.B.F.P.D. causes the accident, other than the driver. An example might be that a firefighter is serving as a back-up man and guides the engineer into a pole. Another might be that the firefighter who controls the door remote prematurely presses the closed button, causing the apparatus bat door to close on the rig.( I have had both happen to me)
Once the committee determines the cause of the event, the offender is notified of the determination and the findings are also forwarded to district staff. The operations chief determines discipline based on S.O.P. and on the driver's history, the severity of the event and what will hold up under a grievance hearing. Punishment ranges from a letter in your file to time off, to demotion, then to termination.

About three months after the incident, the hammer will finally come down and the pee-pee whacking will commence. I always found it disheartening, as once you start to heal from the event, another part of the process will arise and scratch off the newly formed scab. By the end of the process, one is usually pretty worn from the length of the ordeal.

I guess the answer is not to screw up. Easier said than done for some of us.

Any body wanna guess what this is and how it came to be in my garage? Here is a hint-

Click to enlarge

All I will say for now about these two pics, is that I went to the kangaroo court committee on the matter and presented no defense. I was guilty as charged and got a nasty letter in my file. Whaddayagonnado?

They say there are two kinds of driver/operators in the K.B.F.P.D. Those that have hit something and those that will. As I am a captain and rarely drive, it is unlikely that I will to appear in front of the court again.  If I am forced to do so,  I just hope my cousin is still on the committee.

Thanks for reading,
A safe Schmoe

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Russia Burning

While the American west has had a typical fire season so far this year, the Russians have had their asses handed to them over the past few weeks.

 Russian military personnel take a break while fighting wildfires.
Image kyped from the internet.

Record heat and drought have caused 520 fires to burn over 728 square miles and 2000 homes during the current siege, with the death toll at least 250.  Over 2500 square miles have burned since the current fire season began.

I know nothing about the Russian Fire service or how they handle wildfires. My guess is that they are hard pressed to handle this many serious fires and things won't die down until the weather changes.

As usual, has amassed some of the best images available of the conflagration and have posted them on their Big Picture Blog. What I like about this post is that the human toll of the disaster is reflected, as well as the imagery of the flames and the smoke. Very touching work, I recommend that you stop and take a look.

While we are talking about the Russian wildfire situation, the video below was first posted on The Fire Geezer's web site yesterday. It shows a car fleeing the flames as the fire approaches a small town in Russia. The occupants of the car might have waited a little too long before leaving and enter some extreme fire conditions.

There is a lot of profanity in the audio, but you won't be offended unless you speak Russian.

It's a pretty impressive video. For those of you that live in the urban/wildland interface, think about this video when making your wildfire escape plan.

Enjoy the photos and the video and, as always, thanks for reading,

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good Times in Boston

Some friends of mine flew back to Boston and caught a game at Fenway. While there, they stopped by the home of Engine 33 / Ladder 15, which is right next to Fenway Park. From the looks of the following pic, it looks like they had a great time.

If H. (the shortest of the four) smiles any bigger, his face is going to break!

Thanks to the E33 / L15 crews for taking care of my friends. If any of my readers from MA know these crews, pass along a thanks from Schmoe.

Thanks for reading,

Sorry. No really I am.

I am sorry. I should have been sitting at the keyboard typing up a post, but I wanted to take advantage of a relatively clear night and head up to the mountain to get a shot of the suburban desert.

There it is, not quite what I wanted but it will have to do. I found out my tripod is not as stable as I thought it was and that the camera will pick up haze in the air better than my eyes will. I still like the shot as I can pick our a few landmarks.

Any way, I promise to do better tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Peace to you... brother in green.

(click to enlarge)

I stopped in the mountains the other day to grab a bite to eat and play with the long lens on my new camera. I was trying to catch motorcycles as they came down the hill and didn't notice this Forest Service engine pass me on it's way up the hill. I took a couple of shots and didn't look at them until this morning. It was then that I noticed the passenger was giving me the peace sign.

The gestures that I usually receive from passing vehicles involve a single extended digit, so this was a welcome surprise.

So peace to you my brother in green. This looks like it may be a busy season later on, so remember your tens and eighteens and have a great season.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reflection In The Mirror

Drinking a beer before pulling wire through the hot attic had seemed like a good idea. After an hour in the attic, crawling through 38 years of dust while sweating 2 gallons an hour, I wasn't so sure. I looked forward to the relative coolness of my 95 degree garage.

I noticed the the crew cab truck cruise by as I worked on the electrical connections down in the garage. Only a year or two old, the paint was almost as shiny as the alloy wheels. Lifted, with 38 inch tires, the truck was immaculate. I was a little surprised as it glided up to the curb and a young man about the same age as my oldest kid popped out.

He walked up the driveway, I stopped what I was doing and met him at the door. He introduced himself as Landon and asked if #1 son was home, Just about that time, #1 son stepped into the garage.

The three of us started to talk, with Landon doing most of the work. Landon is one of my kid's newer friends. With many of his friends away at college or in the service, his social circle has been forced to expand.

Landon seemed like a nice enough kid. He told us about current drama with his main squeeze and some other events in his life. He mentioned that he was a volunteer firefighter with a department in the next county, and how much he enjoyed the experience. He said that he wants to finish school, then get hired full time on a paid department.

It was probably about then that he noticed that I was wearing a K.B.F.P.D. T-Shirt.. He asked if I was a firefighter and when I answered in the affirmative, the course of the conversation changed.

I got the rundown on how busy his station was, how awesome his equipment was, how many helmets they managed to melt in the flash-over simulator and who the shot-callers were at his station.

I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'm done with busy, I like our equipment better, the people that I knew from his station have long since left or retired and that if you are consistently melting helmets in the flash-over simulator, you're letting it get too hot or you're leaving them in there too long.

Most of it was me, but I soon grew weary from the barrage of  details regarding his station. I was filthy and soaked from my session in the attic and I still had a lot of work to do before I could finish it up. Landon had a hard-charger personality that, when combined with his youthful exuberance, soon made the transition from redundant to annoying. The Saint that I am married to would have been proud, I remained polite as Landon prattled on about his year of experience in the fire service. I nodded and smiled in the proper places even listened to what he was saying, despite having heard it a few times before.
Landon typifies many of the young guys that darken our door. They are into big trucks, competitive toy buying, playing hard and striving for the dream.They buy into the image of the young firefighter, full of macho, with a garage full of toys and a pocket full of cash.  It isn't until later that most grow out of that phase and buy into the reality of our lives, savoring the living of it, rather than the image of it. Some never grow out of it,  some don't figure it out until their bills become more than they can handle and the overtime dries up.

After a while, the lads went into the house and I returned to my chores in the garage. I reflected on my conversation with Landon and became introspective as I analyzed the content of it. I had to laugh after a few minutes as I realized the truth of the matter.

Landon was me, thirty years ago. Only without the cash.

Thanks for reading,

Just a another Schmoe, keeping the wolves from the door.