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Friday, February 29, 2008

Finally Friday!

No Friday Funnies this week; I am off to visit da-nieces for the weekend. Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable weekend...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Being old...

We all get older one day at a time, but we get old at our own rate. I like to consider being old not as a state of age but as a lack of ability to do the things that we enjoy. With that in mind I don't want to get old; I instead want to live until I die. But since when do I get everything that I want out of life, eh?

The state of old is not a pleasant state, there are so many things that can make us old. I have dealt with my share of old people as an emergency responder and I have come to dislike those calls. Not because there is no adrenaline rush like there is with a fire call, extrication or a rescue call, but because of the nature of the call. I often wonder when I reach my advanced stage of life if I am going to end up being just another old guy who is watched over by some underpaid provider. Even those who are able to stay in their own home, there is a certain amount of loneliness that comes when there is no one to check in one you other then to meet their minimum requirement of some contract. That old guy that people avoid so they don't have to listen to the hours of rambling on about the days of their youth.

The fire service has learned from past experience that a person's span of control is three to five. Span of control is defined as the number of entities that one person can monitor, process information from and interact with successfully. I know from experience the "less-that-assistant" living facilities that I have visited have a span of control of around seven to ten, which in my mind means at least five of them are not getting all the care that they are needing. This lack of attention results in a degradation of the level of service that is provided to the residents. I often wondered if people knew what little care was provided to their loved ones in these facilities if they would make other arrangements or if the bottom line is driving the choices they have made. Sometimes the lowest bidder is just that, the lowest level of commitment and service.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be completely dependent on someone else and I hope that I never get to that state where I have to find out what that feels like. Every year there are completely disgusting reports of elderly abuse and neglect. People who are taking advantage of those to weak to take care of themselves. Those who are using the elderly for their retirement of social security checks so they can lead a life that has a few more perks. The few that are so weak themselves that they choose to exert physical violence against the elderly. All of which sickens me to thing that some day I might end up there. That some day I might find myself walking down the edge of the snowy road with no shoes, no coat, no idea where I am going and no idea from whence I came. That some day I will have the eyes of an engine company looking at me with pity and confusion because I can provide them with no details of my life to assist them in providing me with the care I need.

While I could build me up a soap box and holler about the mistreatment of the elderly, I choose instead to challenge everyone put themselves in their shoes. I know I am just as guilty as the rest of the older youngin's at being busy with my own busy life, but as much as we might not want to admit it there are always a few 'important' things in our life that can slide a little giving us a few precious minutes that can be used to look in on those who could use a little looking in on. Who knows maybe some day we all will look forward to those few minutes when someone pops by to say hi or to share a cup of coffee.

If for no other reason, that person who is full of recollections of times before we were a twinkle in our parents eye might someday be us and that recollection might be something along the lines of the Y2K bug.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I have never felt so frustrated with my own intelligence as I do tonight. Just finished up my final exam and even after ten weeks of instruction and homework I do not feel like I have any idea about statistical analysis as it pertains to risk analysis. There is nothing quite like ten weeks of diagrams, flow-charts, probability distribution functions and Monte Carlo simulations to complete suck the gray matter dry of intelligent thoughts. But the one thing that I have learned is that little urban legend about 45% of all statistics being made up, is probably more like 95% of all statistics are calculated from a random number generator. :)

I am off to take a soak and hope that with a little aroma therapy and a tub full of hot water my brain will rehydrate with enough useless knowledge so that I might survive Monday. And if that doesn't work, at least to chase away any nightmares that might arise from the weekend of marinating in probabilities of failure...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Have you challenged yourself lately?

Technology is a wonderful thing and has great potential of taking our children to a magical place. How great is technology? Our cars are now voice activated and can play a song from our personal collection with a simple voice command. We even have cars that will parallel park themselves. HOW AWESOME is that? So while most people see what we have developed as ways for technology to assist in our difficult tasks, I see it as an excuse to be lazy.

I remember back when I took my drivers license exam, parallel parking and starting out from a dead stop were my two biggest worries. But hey, technology has made those problems go away at the touch of a button. I hate to admit that the push button Alison transmission correlates to my laziness when it comes to driving the fire engine, but it really has; My left leg gets a heck of a workout when attempting to respond in the ol' water tender and its four speed-split rear differential.

Kids are no longer required to develop an imagination. Portable iPod like MP3 players, portable video games, cell phones, internet, yadda yadda yadda...Everything can be found right at the tip of our opposable thumbs. Which I might inject have become considerably stronger than our ancestors. Libraries are places we go to get free wireless internet access and we have traded DNS, IPv4 and IPv6 for the Dewey decimal system. Kidlettes are being born into a society of calculators, high speed internet and all the amenities that makes their lives completely brainless. What ever happened to the slide rule? What an invention that was, can you imagine what kind of knowledge went into developing a sliding scale that did mathematical computations?

Not only is technology making our lives easier but it is allowing us to not even try! As I am typing this there are all sorts of words that are sporting a little red squiggly line. The best part, a quick right click and a left click and all my misspellings are corrected. Of course the word that I choose (wink) might not be correct, but at least it will be properly spelled. As an Engineer, I have an ongoing love affair with spell checkers. I have even been known to use words like 'funner', geekish is my official language. I don't do grammar! I can't imagine what the anal retentive grammatical crowd must think when they read the newspapers, e-mails or even txt msgs these days. I bet some of them could suffer a serious stroke by just reading the Great Falls Tribune. But txt msgs have taught us that of and me are the same, h8 2 go is a complete sentence and even what 'nw r u +?" translates to.

I know I take full advantage of all that technology has to offer and I am just as guilty as the rest of society when it comes to using my technological resources, but even than I do like to challenge my brain on occasion. I shudder to think what society will be like when our great-grandkids are born. Technology has given us the ability to do things better in less time than our forefathers and we have taken advantage of that; as a result we do things with a tenth of the effort with a quarter of the resulting quality.

I will leave you with one simple question, "What would it take for technology to be a tool and not a crutch in my own life?"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I miss...

I really miss my office and I can't wait until I can snuggle down into my office chair again...

What? What did you think I meant? Did you think my work addiction was really that bad? Come on I know I am a workaholic, but even a workaholic has to have a little fun some time.

PS. I played hookie from work the afternoon this was taken. Couldn't ask for a better day for 300 yard targets.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Only happens once a year...

Valentine's Day

Isn't he so adorable? Probably the best Valentines I could have gotten today.

Online Dating Helping Pathetic Women Get Their Hopes Crushed More Efficiently

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another pondering

The rant of the week you wonder, is it going to be as pathetic as last weeks? Probably so, but I will give it my best.

I can't believe how much our 'capitalistic' society takes advantage of certain people. Lets start off with the single crowd. The dating websites have been flooding my inbox with propaganda at an alarming pace. I guess there is something completely wrong and unnatural about being single and I should be more concerned about it than I am. According to these unsolicited e-mails Valentines is just the day for me to spend my $100 and to no longer be single. I guess all it takes is a small fee and they will magically provide me with not only a date, but my soul mate. Is this too good to be true? Can my answering a short survey and a little money actually provide me with the woman of my dreams? Since I am way to close to the situation to truly make a decision about this I have included a couple of free polls at the end of the rant to get everyone's opinion on the matter.

And the terrible thing, is that there is not just one business that is trying to pawn off their clients on other people that they are hoping to become their clients. They have successfully turned meeting new people into a money making scam. Maybe the scam wouldn't be so bad if it was actually fool proof. But these people take whatever you say about yourself to be honest, open and truthful and compare them with those of other people to make the magical connection. Whoopie! After all, I have proven that I am perfectly capable of meeting people on my own and most of them have had their share of 'less than truthful' moments. I just can't imagine this other approaching being any better, but I could be wrong.

So tomorrow is the even day, the one day of the year that guys are expected to do nice, thoughtful, caring, blah, blah blah, things for their significant other; and I hope the last day of the 'Meet her by Valentine's Day" "Make Valentine's Day Special this year" e-mails. But since we are thriving in a capitalistic society I imagine that they won't go away and they will find someway to spin the disappointment of failed expectations into a new marketing routine. At least it will give me something to do when I open my inbox.

I had the privilege of going to redneck-mart last weekend, man how I love that place. I figured since it was the second weekend of the month there shouldn't be too many people crowding the aisles. Oh boy was that flawed. While the store wasn't exactly bursting at the corners there was a copious amount of people that got on my nerves. Of course the best ones are the love birds that insist on shuffling hand in hand down the aisle while they have thirty people queued up behind them just dieing to get around them. Grrrrrr, get a room! ;) Of course, that is not the worse thing, being stuck in the line and have the person behind you keep running over the back of your shoes. Nothing quite like the constant reminder that you are moving very slow like the constant prodding of a shopping cart. Now I sound like an incredibly impatient person who can't stand people, well might not really be truthful nor a stretch. I just don't like shopping; shopping means grabbing the needed items, hitting the checkout and getting out of dodge. Shopping doesn't have to be a competitive event does it?

So we have the capitalist who is trying to find me a soul mate, those that have found their soul mate trying to prove to me that slowing down with your true love brings you great happiness while simultaneously annoying other people; what else could there be? How about me? Yeah, I even annoy myself, maybe it is just people who annoy me...

Anyways, tomorrow is the day...Hope y'all have a Happy Valentine's Day and receive the pampering that you deserve. :) Oh and the things that are annoying you, might just be a hidden message. For me...Money can't replace or buy true love and when you find it, slow down and marinate in the marvel of it all; otherwise you might go speeding past.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I know we all cherish the words of advice that were repetitively forced into our brains by our Mothers, but have you ever wondered if some of that wisdom is, okay I won't say wrong, but not the best words of wisdom? You all know the one about covering your mouth when you cough, right? Well, lately that has become like a huge pet peeve of mine. Have you ever watched someone sneeze or cough? NO? It looks something like this.

The basic look is for the hand to be covering the mouth completely which catches all the disease infested spittle from being sprayed in the general anterior area. Great form, right? Possibly, but the next step is often skipped; The step of cleansing the hand(s). Ugh!

Now lets look at the 'I really don't want my hand to be slimy' form. I love this one, the placing of the hand or the cupped hands about eight inches in front of the mouth. For the love of fluid dynamics! All this does is direct the spittle laced effluent in other directions and still results in the high speed broadcast of all things germ carrying. Lets all say it together, EWWWWWWWWW!

Am I the only person who has thought about all this or have you? Now lets contemplate what happens after the Sneeze, like answering the phone. Cough, pick up the tongs to access the bagels. So while the 'germies' were kept from being broadcast at the speed of a sneeze all over the place they have been strategically placed in high concentration right where some un-expecting person will place their hand. How does that make you feel? Not enough Purell in the universe to protect us. Which by the way I don't recommend using very often, because I feel we need to be exposed to some bacteria on a daily basis to keep the white blood cells suited and booted for battle. But it does have some very good uses and applications.

So what can we do to help from spreading all this disease invested effluents? Well, there was a very good method that was passed on to me by a kindergarten teacher that I dated for awhile. Her solution, which I just happen to think as being VERY in genius, was to cough into your elbow. Might sound a little strange, but the crook of the elbow is typically covered during cold and flu season with a long sleeve shirt, which would make a decent filter. So catching a cough or a sneeze there would help to keep all them germies from spreading very far. Of course, if one was to place their hand on the inside of someone's elbow I guess they could get exposed to the little bad guys. So while I am not expecting everyone to change overnight after I post this, but just some thoughts to pass along. Oh and if you do choose to catch'em in your hands, make sure to cleanse them before you go a touchin' things. *Grin*

Saturday, February 9, 2008

ISTP, huh?

Have you ever wondered how your personality might determine your path in life? Recently I took a Myers-Briggs personality test and found out I have an ISTP personality. Which for those that know me is probably not much of a surprise but what I found to be surprising is how much that actually matched my life. Here is what can be said about the ISTP personality...

According to Myers-Briggs, ISTPs excel at analyzing situations to reach the heart of a problem so that they can swiftly implement a functional repair, making them ideally suited to the field of engineering. Naturally quiet people, they are interested in understanding how systems operate, focusing on efficient operation and structure. They are open to new information and approaches. But contrary to their seemingly detached natures, ISTPs are often capable of humorously insightful observations about the world around them, and can be closet "daredevils" who gravitate toward fast-moving and/or risky hobbies (such as bungee jumping, hang gliding, motorcycling, parachuting, SCUBA diving, etc.), recreational sports (such as downhill skiing, ice hockey, racing, etc.), and careers (such as aviation, firefighting, etc.).

Scary Eh? How well does your Myers-Briggs indicator predict your life?

Friday, February 8, 2008


I am almost there! Today I received my notice of acceptance for graduation at the end of the spring term. So you all know what this means...

Hum, Since graduation is happening in Maryland I won't be walking the walk, but that doesn't mean we can't have a little PARTY!!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Weekly Rant

I know you all have been waiting impatiently for my next temper-tantrum so I will try to not disappoint. It was a tough week as there was not many completely obnoxious happenings that got me all in a pinch. There has to be something to rant and rave about and the simple truth that I have nothing to really get me going is not a good excuse. I know I could carry on for a long while about Ladies driving urban assault vehicles, I should probably save that for a different audience. According to Google, my blog audience is comprised of a majority of women, some of which I am sure use an Urban Assault vehicle as their main mode of transportation. But I am sure NONE of you would have committed any of the annoying things on my list of MANY annoyances.

Hum, this really isn't working out as well as I thought but at least my blood pressure has been down all week...

On a positive note, my plan roll has been working out quite well and I have received interesting comments and review of the contraption.

Okay, so maybe I really do have something to rant about, it would seem that while I was out of the office for the first part of the week there was a little bit of passing the buck action going on. Grrrrr, that really irks me. How difficult is it to accept responsibility for a mistake that you made? Does it really do any good to blame it on the guy who is out of the office and unable to respond to his e-mail? Why can't one just say, "I apologize for not getting the information to you and I will prioritize getting everything together and get it sent" I guess it is so much easier to say, "What? Didn't Carl forward that to you? I know he was working on it because I assisted him in getting the information together." When the truth of the matter was, they were supposed to include EVERY thing into one submittal and get it sent off a YEAR ago.

The lengths some people will go to shirk the blame that they are deserving of is unreal. Maybe I am just a push-over and over zealous to claim responsibility for my mistakes. Instead of getting irritated, this might be a lesson in how I should react in the future. Pass the buck, shirk the blame, smoke mirrors and misdirection...

But instead I get to craft a politically correct explanation why the information was never collected into a submittal and sent to the proper individual for processing. Of course by now the damage is done, but the black eye will eventually heal, right?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The New Project...

Well, today marks the start of my next project. My favorite site visit bag suffered some severe damage during the last site trip to Dillon. I would like to blame the extent of the damage on the cold temperatures compromising the vinyl material, but I think it was just old age and experience that caused the catastrophic failure of the bag. I was really attached to the bag, and have tried to replace it on several occasions but never managed to forge a long term bond and relationship with any of the replacements.

For those who don't know me, I am a picky man (hence why I am still unattached) so finding a new bag has not been just as easy as going shopping. I did manage to find a few bags that I could make work, but their price tag had three digits and my heritage wouldn't allow things to go down that way. Today I brain stormed with Mom and put some sketches down on paper on how I would envision my perfect site visit bag. There was even a trip to the fabric store, man how I used to hate the trips to the fabric store. I used to beg Mom to let me stay home and now I am inviting Mom along for these trips. Since I am so picky, I will be forced to make my own pattern which will make things really interesting. So there will be a lot of brainstorming, sample patterns, failures, sketches and discarded ideas, but I think I might just luck out.

I will keep everyone posted on how the progress of the project and hopefully the finished project is functional and satisfy my desire to have the perfect work bag. I plan on taking pictures throughout the process, so maybe it will be a future Do-it-Yourself blog.

Today I made a plan roll, but forgot to take my camera over to the house to take pictures of assembly. This was just a taste as to what this next project will be like. I even sewed the binding on all by myself; a project I would normally talk Mom into doing for me.

Keeping plans clean and un-tattered is a chore and often gets accomplished through the use of plan tubes. I personally don't care for the bulk that plan tubes have so I have created this device. Nothing more than a piece of Cordura with webbing straps that gets wrapped around the roll of plans to protect. The nice part is it can be folded or rolled when not needed and doesn't have the bulk of a tube. It will accommodate a 5" Dia plan roll which is typically more than one would want to carry around. It has attachment points for a carrying handle or a strap, and I hope to incorporate an attachment point for this on my site bag. It should help to keep the plan edges clean and protect the plans from getting wet in inclement weather.