Tuesday, November 19

Tribal Road 2

Deep in the southern end of the Res over on the other side of the river is TR2.  None of the old roads had names, they were just  numbered as they were cut.  Not paved mind you, cut.  I can clearly recall the giant tree at the corner of TR22 and TR2 where we'd make the right hand turn and start heading south towards whatever the dispatcher told us was waiting.

I've been thinking of that turn more and more lately and I'm not sure why.

I haven't made that sharp right in almost 20 years but I can almost smell it when I close my eyes.  At night the road was almost impossible to see unless you knew where it was.  Most of the roads weren't marked and those that were were easy enough to see.

TR2 was a tricky turn.

In those days I was 19 and riding alone in a 1976 International 10 speed double clutch 1000 gallon water tender (Yes, we called her Tanker 1).  I didn't run medical calls but did have to head down there for ditch fires, car fires and other various things a water truck can be used for.

I recall one night heading for a report of a gas leak on TR2.  Funny thing about house numbers down there back then, if you moved you took it with you, mail box and all.  It was not uncommon to go from house 1,2, 56, 4423, 8, 16...it got confusing.  We knew where the regulars were but I remember feeling lost.

And not just lost in location but completely unsure how I was going to handle a gas leak alone.  The cab of the tender had the radio, lightbar control unit and siren all mounted to the plastic dash.  It was clear from the large array of holes around it that it has been remounted time and time again.  I never wondered why, but on this night I found out.

As I was moving down TR22 the entire mounted set came crashing down to the floor of the cab.  My lights were still on, but I had no siren control, no radio and no way to turn the lights off.  And now I can't remember which house I'm looking for.  Just as I reach for the radio mic to test it I see the familiar giant tree just in reach of the headlights on the 1976 International.

I'm not going to make the turn.

My 19 year old brain was accessing all former driving experience for options.  Either I can slam the brakes and all 1000 gallons on this gravel road will go sliding Gods know where, or I can slow down, look for a turn out farther down TR22 and make my way back.

Of course I slammed on the brakes, I was 19 and had no idea how that vehicle would react.

Not well.

I lost control turning right and then into the slide like I was in a car commercial except the fine print at the bottom of the screen didn't read 'professional driver, closed course' it said 'A fireman was killed last night...'

The left rear duals left the gravel and I'm headed towards the ditch sideways, red and blue lights flashing out in the middle of nowhere New Mexico.

I never came to a full stop, but did somehow manage to get the front tires back on to TR2 enough to avoid the ditch.  My pulse was over 140 for what seemed like hours after that but I still had the gas leak to find, the radio to fix and this damned siren shut off.   The radio and siren control are on the floor, nothing but wires sticking through the swiss cheese dashboard, but the lightbar continues to turn.

I never did find the house that night.  I drove up and down TR2 waiting for someone to come running out to meet me, I wasn't easy to miss.

When I returned from my response I backed into the old mechanic's shop that passed for a fire station and made some repairs to get the radio working.  Turns out it was a false alarm, no problem after all.

From that night forward I think about Murphy and his law riding shotgun on Tanker 1 that night doing his darndest to get me in trouble.  I got distracted and it nearly cost me.

My thoughts go back to TR2 and that night often recently and I wonder if I'm about to make a big turn and am so distracted I haven't noticed a familiar landmark that can point me in the right direction.

Friday, November 15

San Francisco becomes Gotham City for 5 year old Bat Kid!

San Francisco has been transformed into Gotham City as part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation wish granting for 5 year old Miles.

Learn more HERE and follow the LIVE feed HERE.


Bat Kid is being escorted by the caped crusader himself and has already matched wits with a fellow called the Puzzler, who tied a helpless woman to the tracks in front of a run away cable car.  It is rumored that another fellow called Penguin has been spotted near AT&T Park and famous SF Giant's mascot Lou Seal is missing.

It appears by the names being used that perhaps there is a legal issue with saying he's with Batman, but the almost 10,000 people expected to take part in this boy's adventure don't seem to care.  They're lining the streets to catch a shot of the Batkid in his Batcar fighting crime while fighting Leukemia.

Proud of San Francisco coming together like this to turn what could have been handled with a simple guy in a suit into a truly memorable and inspiring morning.

Your move New York.

Tuesday, November 12

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's perfectly thought out excuse for smoking crack

If your homepage news feed is anything like mine you'll know that Emma Thompson forgave Kenneth Branagh's affair, there was a storm where brown people live and Toronto's Mayor, Rob Ford, was filmed smoking crack.

There is a kind of whirlwind around the accusations, which he avoided for months, until a court battle surrounding the release of a video of him smoking crack surfaced.


Look at the surprise on my face.


I would, however, like everyone to dial back on the uproar surrounding crack cocaine use by Toronto's Mayor which he claims was only once and that he is "...not an addict."  Somehow he assumes we would see one instance of a behavior and apply it to the extremes of addiction.

"Did you see Justin drinking a Dr Pepper on the drive home today?"

"Yeah, but he's not an addict."

I thought nothing of this story and wanted it to go away until I read a quote that had me more worried about other aspects of Ford's life.  Aspects that should disqualify him as Mayor, but you likely didn't even notice.

Mr Ford, according to Mr Ford, has a drinking problem.

He is an alcohol addict.  Far worse in my opinion than being a crack addict, but we only apply the stigma to the "illegal" mind altering substances here.  Don't believe me?

When he finally came forward and admitted to smoking crack, he had a totally justifiable and well thought out answer:

"There's been times when I've been a drunken stupor. That's why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I'd like to see this tape. I don't even recall there being a tape and a video and I know that. I want to see the state that I was in," Ford said. -CNN.com

Let me translate:

"Hi, I'm Mayor Ford.  I get so sloppy drunk on a regular basis it's my go to excuse whenever I get caught doing something stupid.  Obviously I wouldn't do that sober, I want to see the tape and prove to people I would never take part in the manufacturing, sales or use of an illicit substance.  I was so fall down drunk I can't even remember what you're talking about.  Did it even happen?  Who knows?  I was sooooo drunk." - Douchebag->English.com

He also added:

"Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago," he said about the cocaine use. -CNN.com

Stupors. Plural.  Dude is Mayor and has a regular habit of becoming so intoxicated he does things he would never do sober.


As if that wasn't enough to disqualify him from cat sitting, let alone Mayor, he decided to say a few words about the camera man.  When asked to comment on his crude words, he responded with a safe "Obviously I was extremely, extremely inebriated. That's all I have to say."  Oh, well nevermind then, go back to Administrating the City and I'll meet you at the pub at 5.

Thanks, Mr Ford.  I thought you were a worthless human being up until it was the alcohol talking.  Now I think that title is an insult to the greater worthless human being community.  Working on an ambulance for 18 years I learned a very valuable lesson: Alcohol amplifies one's inner asshole and you, Mr Ford, go up to 11.




Sunday, November 10

Fear and Wussification

The world isn't fair.

Children are told this from day 1.  Today people like to use helicopter parenting as an excuse for kids who are different, sensitive or don't meet some imaginary standard set by "the good old days" of when they were kids or some book written 1400 years ago regardless of denomination.

Some call it the 'wussification' of America, a belief that being less violent somehow equates with weakness or lack of character.  I know many of you buy into the 'wussification' of America and point to millenials who "expect something for nothing" or come out of college with useless degrees  while working nights at the Burger King only to get upset when they can't find a job in the economy destroyed by the same people who told them they HAD to go to college or else they'll be flipping burgers the rest of their lives.  Ironic when you think about it.

In all the baseless arguments about guns, gun control, 'wussification' and Liberal vs Conservative is an underlying torrent of violence that few are willing to talk about.  We're afraid to admit how afraid we are of being seen as 'not tough enough.'

When someone walks into a school and commits mass murder we blame the shooter, the gun, the gun maker, the mental health system, the President, video games, violence on TV and just about anything but each other.  It is true that it takes a village to raise a child and somewhere along the way a wedge was driven between our kids.

It became us vs them.  There have been cliques since the first caveman hit another one on the head and a third smiled.  there will always be cliques when more than 2 people come together.  But what about when 2 believe the third to be lesser?

The 'other' was made to be lesser, the 'different' to be worse, the 'unusual' to be worthless.

Some kids address their fear with words, calling others fat, nerdy, stupid or worse.

Some kids choose physical violence, picking fights, tripping and pushing the others, the different, the unusual.

Some use knives, guns and other weapons to inflict harm on those they fear.

Yes, fear.

Fear of what they've been told is the lesser, the worse, the worthless.  Fear that they will not be seen as tough enough by their peers, parents and the greater community.  Trouble is that for every person who believes that is another of their peers who feels the same way, yet thinks they are alone.  In other words, a lie told enough times becomes truth in a vacuum of information.

Fear is a powerful motivator and kids today are so afraid to be seen as 'wussified' they'll take their fear to extremes using any means they can.  Words become pushes, pushes become punches, punches become a lighter/knife/gun/bat/car.

Take the recent attempted murder of Sasha Fleischman in California.  Sasha could easily be labeled by outsiders as an other, different and certainly unusual.  Sasha did not self identify as male or female, preferring to be called agender.  Many of you would point to this person's beliefs as a classic case of 'wussification.'  "What parent would raise a boy and allow them to think of themselves as anything different?  It's their own fault."  Nice knee jerk.  Blame the parents for their son being set on fire?

Yes, set on fire.  You see, 18 year old Sasha was comfortable wearing skirts to school and some kids there didn't like that.  I'm positive Sasha was called names, pushed, the usual incidents from every kid's childhood when seen as different.  I got picked on and hit growing up and all I did was join the computer club.

On November 4th Sasha was on a City bus asleep heading home from school when a 16 year lit Sasha on fire.

A coward who's name I will not mention thought Sasha a threat to his masculinity.  That's not my opinion, that's what this 16 year old attacker told police was the reason for this act.  He was afraid Sasha was a gay man.

So afraid of being seen as a 'wuss' by his peers, so afraid that talking to Sasha might influence his own opinions, so afraid Shasha might grow up to get one of those disastrous gay marriages, this 16 year old child reached for the only solution he thought would secure his masculinity: violence.

I'm sure that had this kid had access to an axe, knife or gun those likely would have been used but a quick click of the lighter and, fwoosh, he's more of a man in his mind.  The threat of the other, the different, the unusual has been removed.

This is what goes through the minds of children like this 16 year old.  Children not told by their parents to think of other people as equals.  Children who's parents are either a constant negative influence or an absent positive influence.  Parents who allow their children to do whatever they want and parents that smother children with rules so strict prison would be a vacation.

My point is that the 16 year old attacker must be seen as the weird, the different, the unusual and it must be addressed on a large scale.  Not by telling everyone to come to Town Square and sing Give Peace a Chance, but perhaps encourage parents to be mindful of the hate they share with their children.  While we can remove the threat of certain violent acts in some cases the emotion, hatred and misguided belief that the other is the enemy will eventually boil over and violence will ensue.

I'm less afraid of the boys at my daughters' school pointing their fingers like a gun and going "pew" while on the playground as I am of one of those kids one day thinking my daughter as so weird because she wears different colored socks, so different because she loves to read or so unusual for some reason I don't even know about that he feels so fearful of her the solution is to set her on fire.

That is the 'wussification' of America I'm afraid of.  Shasha Fleischman was a threat to no one yet will likely be blamed for being lit on fire by a coward.  Figure that one out.

Saturday, November 9

Talk about tough luck

I actually got to do some patient care this morning.  Calm yourselves.


A car locked up their brakes on the Bay Bridge and the following motorcycle did his best not to hit it.  In the process he got hurt a touch.

It happened just ahead of me around a turn near a tunnel (Yes we have a tunnel in the middle of our bridge) so when the lane stopped and a person ahead got out and ran ahead, I knew I had to help.  That's just what we do, right?  I carry no kit, so as cars go around I pull forward, hit the hazard lights, change out of my driving slippers (Yes, I wear slippers when I make my 3 hour daily roundtrip) and approach the bike.


Secondary assessment is being completed when over my shoulder I hear "Justin!  What do you need!?"

"Wow" I think to myself, "48's got here freaking fast!"

I turn to look and who's coming up to help?

My CQI counterpart from one of our competitors/partners.

2 CQIs alone in a tunnel on a bridge.  Sounds like a bitchin romance novel, but no, it was all this person had for a few minutes until the engine and medic units arrived and were able to complete a full assessment and render care.


As the patient was loaded in the ambulance I gave him my info and told the medic "I'm reading this chart later."

He shook his hands in the "Ohhhh, I'm soooo scared" fashion and smiled, then got right back to patient care.