Sunday, August 31, 2008

It Has Begun

We're off!

The Great Wall Rebuild has started. We have a goal to reclaim our backyard and make it into livable space.
It is a multi-phase, multi-year process, mainly because we just don't have the resources or the desire to pay the ridiculously high prices in our area for someone else to do the work.

First Phase is relatively simple. Clear the area of all bio-matter. As the wall has spent most of the summer overgrown with all sorts of weeds, including wild grapes, which I'm considering harvesting, the task of clearing it all is a multi-day process. Today I got this far...

Phase Two consists of rebuilding the wall in three sections... right (2Bravo), center(2Alpha), and left(2Charlie). This is the center section(Alpha Section). It's first up on the list. Here's a close-up, which clearly shows why it needs rebuilding.

The hill is steeper than it looks, and so modern mechanical equipment can't be used. I cleared most of it with a hand held mini scythe, then got the chainsaw into the action for some of the bigger sumac and other trees starting to grow.

When it's clear, we're going to rent a backhoe, dig it out, and rebuild it. But there will be a stairway area in the center. (We are going to have some local concrete guys come do those). Alpha Section is scheduled to be done by the end of September, at the latest.

If there is time before the snow flies I'll try to get to Bravo or Charlie. Otherwise they are scheduled for next spring. The plan is to put a stairway to the North 40 in the center of the wall, and in the Bravo and Charlie sections there will be firewood storage cubbies. The stones that are left over after the rebuilding will be used to raise the height of the wall. Then we'll back fill it so it won't be quite so steep. I don't know if this picture shows it too well, but up in the North 40, the hill is a gentle slope. Then just before it reaches the wall, it cuts sharply down. We want to eliminate that!

So, once the wall is rebuilt, Phase Three is having almost the entire back area poured over in concrete to make a SuperPatio! Now, to those of you thinking 'Oh my gosh! Granola Girl and Tree Hugger Guy are PAVING their backyard??? What gives???' Let me finish telling you the plan.

We want to expand our living space. The patio is going to become our "Summer Quarters". Phase Four is putting in the final touches... There will be a summer kitchen out there, complete with BBQ, prep tables, maybe a woodburning oven and even a sink area on one end, and a living room on the other. This will have a canvas gazebo thingy over it, a play area for the kiddos and fresh air living for all. We had considered building an addition, but decided that we'd like to be closer to the planet. What better way than to make our addition an outdoor living space. In MY dreams, we're even going to have an outdoor movie theater set up. I'll be posting pictures of the whole project all along, as well as before and afters at the end.

It is a daunting project to tackle, and if we had the money, we'd just have it done by someone else. But the cost of that is prohibitive, and we are still young and strong. Besides, the rental fees for the tools and equipment are cheap compared to hiring help, and I am sort of handy around the house. And we were going to start new exercise programs anyway. Might as well get something for all of that sweat equity!

More Later

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Acid Tummy


And I'm not even Jewish. But Oy Vey! Went to a tomato tasting at Seed Savers Exchange today. They had forty, FORTY, different kinds of tomatoes out for tasting!

Two gianormous long tables (white, of course... we'll get to that) with tomato after tomato after tomato. All different colors, shapes and sizes. Red, yellow, orange, purple, black(ish), green, striped, lobed, variegated fun!

It was awesome! The only problem I had come later. Having gone through the line once at the beginning of the event, and again after the line died down considerably, I have collected a good chunk of acid from the tomatoes that is tickling it's way back up my esophagus.

So worth it though.

We met the folks there and I think a good time was had by all. We were a little distracted the first time through, as some guy standing in between the tables was taking picture after picture of The Boyo. Boyo was tasting particular varieties and telling Grammy and anyone else who would listen his opinion on the tomatoes. He loves tomatoes... and a ton of other garden produce. Anyway, by the time we reached the end of the line, we were approached by some people from a magazine who wanted to use those photos in their story about the event. After some talking about it with The Wife, and getting them to agree to not use the pictures online, we decided that it would be OK. National coverage for Boyo! He, naturally, was entirely non-plussed by the whole thing, and promptly went off to play with the other kids on the playset, introducing himself and asking if they wanted to be friends and play.

Dad and I listened to a class on seed saving while Mom and The Wife sat over near the playset with Sweet Pea and watched the Boyo play. Then The Wife and I had a chance to go back through the line of tomatoes and take a little more time tasting.

Before we left for this event, I Googled "tomato tasting palate cleansing" because I wanted to know what best to use between bites so I could experience the flavor of each tomato variety to the fullest. (water, go figure) and read an article saying there is a rise of 'Tomaliers' (pronounced 'toe-mahl-Yeahrs'. It's a spin off of the word Sommeliers, which are wine gurus who taste it and know all the fancy terms for how to describe the taste. It also stated a less pretentious name could be 'Tomato Hero'. I like that one better, as I look down my nose at pretension.

Anyway, there are no schools for such a job, except for tastings and such. And I don't think I have the palate for being a true Tomato Hero. But I'll settle for a good knowledge of them and some of their characteristics.

Here's to the TOMATO. The myriad of varieties to choose from, and the endless number of uses for them! And here's to chewable antacids, allowing people like me to enjoy the tomatoes. Good job God.

Oh, and the white table significance? Apparently the first step in tasting the tomato is looking at the fruit against a white background to get a sense of it's brilliance. I skipped that part and went right to the smelling and eating!

More Later

Friday, August 29, 2008


What a day it has been.

Much activity on the home front, lots of playing with the kiddos.

I had the windshield replaced on our primary vehicle today, it had a crack in it as long as my arm. The guy who came to fix it was talking with The Boyo, who told him he would be President one day. That got us talking about politics a little. I said that I was a McCain fan until he started toeing that Grand Old Party line and falling lockstep with King George the 2nd pertaining to Iraq and the economy and such. The guy doing the glass said that he was a staunch Republican. I gulped a little expecting a tirade. But he said he couldn't go with McCain if it would be another four years like the last eight. He said he could not afford it, literally.

I wonder how many disillusioned Republicans like him there are out there?

I also heard about McCains VP choice today. Clever and amazing and unfortunate. Clever as this will definitely draw some disgruntled Hillerites who wanted a woman in leadership above all else. Amazing as now, no matter who wins, this will be an historic moment for our country. Unfortunate as it seems to me that in choosing Palin, McCain has sort of shot himself in the foot for arguments of Obama's lack of experience on the National scene. Are we to believe that Obama, who has had a meteoric rise to where he is, is not ready to lead, but Palin, also quite the meteor, is ready should something happen to McCain? (72... the guy is 72. That's no spring chicken for four years.) I think he may have lost some credibility on that front.

As the dad of a daughter I do believe that Hillary opened up some seriously big doors. And if McCain gets elected, then this Sarah Palin will open up that many more. And I like the idea that either of my kids could grow up and have Presidential aspirations.

I'll still most likely vote Obama though, and here's why. It really comes down to who I belive is up to the task at hand. The country is a mess. Our foreign policy is a mess. The next POTUS is going to have his hands full of George's Poo Policies. I think McCain could do some good, but I think Obama could do more.

Having been a Marine, I know that good leaders are not always those with the most years in. I've seen twenty - thirty year sergeant majors with cranial-rectum disease, and fresh out of OCS boot 2nd louies who were awesome leaders right from the chute. Experience helps, but is not the only thing. Leadership is the ability to lead others where you would have them follow. I see great leadership traits in both candidates. But Obama has something McCain does not. The ability to get people on every level to come together behind a common cause. McCain can certainly get some cross the aisle agreement. But I have not seen the inspiration in those that follow him at a grassroots level. I have yet to be inspired by his speeches or debates. And I expected him to stick more to the mouthy maverick he once was. That was leadership. Now he seems to be falling in line so he can shoot for 1600 Penn Ave. It is disappointing.

I will watch the RNC closely, as I did the DNC. Because I do believe McCain will be far superior to our current leader (and I use that label fast and loose with 43) I want to hear what he has to say. I want to be inspired and motivated by the speeches. I want to feel, most importantly of all, that if he does win, this country will still be OK and put close to the right track. (I like his environmental stance after all. Sounds like no matter who is in, they both take that more seriously than Not-At-All-Curious George.)

Obama had some great ideas in his speech. And if he can go through the budget line by line (ala the movie "Dave") and find the money to pay for those ideas, it would be great.

I'm ready and willing to listen to McCain. But he'd better be amazing.

As for the fair weather clintonites who have been getting so much press lately... they are doing Hillary a disservice by being all bitter and disgruntled and saying they'll vote McCain or not at all. It's exactly this close minded, bass-ackward thinking that makes people roll their eyes and think 'Grow Up already'. If they want to boycott something, I suggest breathing. It makes just as much sense as voting against the very principles of "your" candidate. Besides, I don't think we've heard the last of Hill.

Anyway, that's my piece.

Tomorrow we're meeting the folks for a good old fashioned tomato tasting. It should be a good time!

More Later

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Boyo the POTUS

Today we got the sprinkler set up for the Boyo. This was after washing Ben the Dog, who took it with a great measure of grace.

The sprinkler was great fun, and after The Wife came out and held Sweet Pea, I even joined him for a trip or two through the wall of water!

Later in the evening, we sat together as a family and watched Barak Obama accept the nomination to be the Dems candidate in the upcoming election.

The Boyo asked who he was, and we explained that he was running for President. Then we explained what it meant to be President. Boyo nodded along and we fell silent againto listen to Obama.

Then he looked up at me and said "I think I should be President someday."

I looked over at his mother, who looked back at me.

"You'll have to ask your mom." I told him.

"Mommy. Is it OK with you if I am President someday?"

She smiled at him. "If you really want to, dearest."

My son... future POTUS. :)

I looked over at Sweet Pea sitting on her mommies lap, staring intently at Obama talking, and thought, "Or maybe my daughter..."

Any way you slice it, it's a brave new world.

I'm looking forward to hearing John McCain speak next week, and I'm almost certain I'll have some opinions to share then.

Guess which one is the North Star?

More Later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ordinary Day

Sweet Pea does not like her carseat.

Not just, fuss a little when she's been in it for a time. But all out screaming and arching of the back as she's set into it. I've checked it many times now for needles, razor blades, broken glass and the like, but can't find any. She, of course, acts like all of those things and more have just come in contact with her posterior, and then we have the audacity to strap her in to this torture device.

Guess long road trips are out for a while.

Tonight though, the wife had her laughing! From the belly, chortling and giggling. It was awesome! Got some on tape for posterity too.

Otherwise, a lazy, rainy day at home.

Last night, just after midnight, I took the camera and a flashlight out for some fun. Here's a few shots from that...

I also wrote a love note to The Wife, but that one's just for her!

More Later

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Day Off

All four of us were home today, for the whole day! This almost never happens since The Wife has gone back to work after maternity leave.

Spent some time running errands, but also grabbed some lunch and headed for the local goose park with playground, which was great fun for all. The Boyo ate his whole lunch quickly so that he could go play on the playground. He spent much of the time reenacting the scene from Evan Almighty where the main character is imploring people to get on the Ark. So imagine if you will, our little man standing at the top of the play structure, leaning out over the slide, arms spread wide to the heavens, and yelling at the top of his lungs to all the passers by...


I was holding the Sweet Pea at the time, else I would have gone with him. The passers by smiled and giggled a little, much to mini-Noah/Evan's dismay. But it was very charming.

He again was VERY supportive of the other kids and their attempts at climbing/sliding/running and such. And we all had a good time feeding the friendly "gooses".

After bedtime, The Wife and I watched Hillary speak at the DNC in Denver via our fortified computer. She did a fine job. Now if those pesky Hill-or-Nobody folks will listen to her, Obama might stand a pretty good chance.

Garbage day today, and I have yet to run this weeks deposits and recycling down to the curb, so I'll cut this short. Have a grand day tomorrow and enjoy the weather while it's nice. Judging by the way Mom Nature has been treating us so far, we might have snow by September.

More Later

Monday, August 25, 2008


Here is an addendum I added to the post 'Hypothetically Speaking, of course...' I've had many people concerned about HIPAA and a patients right to privacy. As a health care professional, I do my best to follow the HIPAA rules. Which is why I don't tell facts from cases I've worked on. I tell stories about things I've experienced, sure. And sometimes a 'patient' in my story is an amalgam of a couple or a dozen actual patients I've helped. Often time the stories can be told by any paramedic, anywhere... well... read this...

Addendum 8/25: Many people have wondered if I am violating HIPAA by telling of this hypothetical story. Am I? Can anyone identify a person such as this? What about a drunk driver who kills a family but survives? Did I just violate that persons rights because I mentioned something that actually happens more often than it should? I have mentioned no names, birthdays, identifying traits, medical record numbers, or anything else that violates HIPAA. In any of my stories. I'm sure if you dug enough, you could find a person or two that could be pigeonholed into one of my stories. I stand by my belief that I have not violated any one persons rights by telling stories of a Paramedic. I could be almost any medic, almost anywhere, and would have similar, if not exactly the same stories. That's not a HIPAA violation. That's storytelling.-J

I think this should make it pretty clear that unless someone out there can prove otherwise, these postings could entirely be from my imagination. I'd like very much to calm the worries out there of people who think I'll lose my job or be punished for my stories. And unless you want to dig around and see if a patient like one in my stories exists, please relax and read them for what they are, questions and comments on the human condition...not one specific human. Let me warn you though, digging for facts is hard. HIPAA prevents any of us in the health care world from giving out factual identifiable information. And if they do, they can be punished for it.

Thanks again for reading, enjoy the stories, and enjoy your life! If you are walking, talking and breathing, you've got the majority of my patients beat in the health department!

More Later

Too Late Now

Well, I missed the 24th. Dang. I'd make excuses, but I hate when people do that.

But it was an interesting night at work!

More Later

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And You Thought Random Ramblings were for Thursdays.

(This picture is from Post Secret.
I have not become this guy.)

My friend Patresa is a writer and thinker of considerable talent. In one of her recent blogs she mentions the phrase "unconditional compassion". I'll get to that in a minute.

Another says this...

"Of these, I'm particularly interested in people who establish their worth by being the most of-service. They only feel worth something if they are needed. They will give and give and give of themselves until they are depleted. And this interests me, because according to my theory, it is actually a selfish act. It isn't as much about the people they are helping and more about fulfilling their own need to be needed." -Patresa in Biped.Sideways.

And it made me wonder if I have an 'of-service' or 'hero' complex or just an 'adrenaline' complex. 'Hero' implies that I'm in it for the glory. Which, to a certain extent, if I'm honest, I am. It all stems from my childhood, of course. Swim team was national champs. I held my own pretty well in theater and music. Then came the Marines. I guess I've been chasing some sort of glory my whole life. Goes back to that 'wanting to leave my mark on the world' thing. The worst part of all that is I'm always pretty anonomous in those endeavors. Swimming? I was on the team. Did my part. But wasn't one of the superstars. Theater? Music? Had some parts with lines. Sang some solos. But again, never the superstar. Marines? Please. One of a horde of hard chargers ready to see the world, experience strange cultures, meet new people and kill them. But hardly CMOH material. And I chose to be a paramedic.

When people remember their car crashes or heart attacks or illnesses or what have you, sometimes they write thank you notes. (one in a thousand chance) And they will thank Dr. Joe Schmoe, Nurse Betty and Nurse Pauline, but we are always "the paramedics". OK, OK. Sometimes we are "those nice paramedics" But anonomous. I have received a thank you with my name on it...when I picked up a fellow medic on our service. (differnet service, newer medic friends)

So if I was in it entirely for the glory, I think I'd be much more aggressive about it than I am. I've known medics/Marines/swimmers/actors like that, and for me...not so much. I do like my Ego. I like to let it out to play and preen every now and again. But I don't think I am being led by it entirely yet. Though I do like the feeling of being somewhat Important. Selfish? A little.

As for 'Adrenaline Addict' I'd test positive for that. The rush of a good race, a good performance, the boom of the cannon or the wail of the sirens and flashing lights. Yeah... that's fun.

I do like to be needed. But not to the extent that I am drained. I like, too much, to hole up in the shop and tinker to recharge. Or spend time with my family. I could live on the giggles of my children.

Do I feel worth from being needed? Dunno. If it were just me, I'm almost positive I'd be perfectly happy with just a dog and a million acres of woodland to meander through. (but then, would the dog need me?) One fact is this. I am needed, whether I feel worth from it or not. Not in my job. Anybody could be trained to do my job. And not by The Wife (who wants me around, loves having me around, and who loves me very much, but does not need in a needy way) But by my son and daughter. And I know I am not worthy to be their father, but incredibly lucky and blessed. They need me to be a good role model, a good father. And I strive for that.

As for the job? Patresa summed it up in two words. Unconditional Compassion. That's the goal. Unfortunately, while I can manifest that outwardly to my patients, I fall far short of that in my head. I can strive for that too, I suppose. God can sort out the rest.

So, I'll continue to write about hypothetical adventures in the ED (it's Emergency Department now, no longer confined to a simple Room) And the greatness that are my kids and wife, and some other silly and rather inconsequential things globally speaking.

And thank you, dear reader, for continuing to read.

More Later

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Closet

Following the call for immediate release of photos from the Closet Cleanout, I respectfully submit the following for your perusal. Ooh and Aah at your leisure.

Several days back I wrote that The Wife had done a closet makeover for a friend of hers as practice and to get some good before and after shots. Here are the shots...
Before (can't open door all the way) After (door opens!)


She was able to create enough room in the closet that the file cabinets could go in. They had previously lived in the bedroom. And with the moving of two more blue bins from bedroom to closet, the owner now has the space in the bedroom to put in a dresser and two nightstands! Ah the power of organization!
More Later

My Folks

Today is the anniversary of my parents wedding, forty some years ago. Let me tell you a little about them.

Mom grew up on a farm with three sisters, her folks, a bunch of cows, chickens, corn, mice, cats, and various other flora and fauna. When she met my dad at the U of I(owa), she was a frat girl, professional piano bar player/singer, and engaged (or nearly so) to a wealthy guy. I think she grew up wanting to be a city girl.

Dad grew up in Iowa City with one sister, four brothers, a small yard (compared to Mom's acres) and very little money in the family. His dad was a lineman for Iowa Electric, and they grew up having a great many adventures in and around town. When he met my mom, he was working his way through school. I'm pretty sure he always wanted to be a farm boy.

The two of them met at a bar, but not in the usual way. It was April Fools Day and Mom's boyfriend/fiance was tending bar and she was moonlighting as a waitress waiting for his shift to end. Dad was also waiting for his date, and I guess mom was his waitress. As she approached the table, he said,

"Hey, you're kind of cute!"

"You're not so bad yourself." She replied.

I have not heard the story for years, but I seem to recall that mom thought of dad as 'that other guy who's fun to be with'. I don't know what exactly happened, but between their painting dates, where they would paint on canvases together, or sitting on benches with wet paint, or perhaps when they swam across the river and Dad had to save Mom, or their driving adventure to meet her folks (a whole gas fiasco thing) Somewhere they fell in love with each other. Less than five months after they met, they were married.

All these years, three kids, and five grandkids later they are still going!

Today I am most thankful for my parents. They raised me to be the man I am. Fatherhood lessons, patience lessons, letting me be who I am, and giving me more support - emotional, financial and otherwise- than I probably deserved. Thanks Mom and Dad, and Happy Anniversary! I love you very much.

More Later

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Random Thursday

After being in my job for awhile I have started to wonder just what the value of a person is.

DISCLAIMER: I know I am not a judge. I know I'm not God. I know I'm not headed for a high tower with a rifle or anything, and I am 100% committed to doing my job regardless of the person I am treating.


When humans are little, they have so very much potential. I see that in the eyes of my own kids. Curious, friendly, accepting, interesting. The Boyo is a friend to everyone. He greeted the pizza delivery guy last night and was very welcoming and nice. He thanked the guy and said goodbye when he left. So I do believe that at a young age, every life is indeed sacred.

Then we grow up.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that somewhere along the line we lose that spark of sacredness? Some people do make their lives worth something. Probably most people. But I get to see the numskull who is a chronic alcoholic and is always drinking, driving and crashing into things. And it makes me wonder, after we have busted our buns extricating, IVing, c-collaring, back boarding, cleaning up blood and other fluids, crawling around and over shattered glass and twisted metal and plastic, transporting, testing, helping and saving such a person... It makes me wonder if, after all we've done, if they died anyway, would it be such a loss?

OK, call me a terrible person. But the human race is not endangered. It's not like we need the extra genes in the pool for the survival of the species. And if that person did exit said pool, perhaps that would save someone else down the line. Someone else that the habitual offender would have crashed into on their next drunken escapade.

Where or when do people cross that line? From perhaps doing something, anything useful with their life, into just existing. Breathing. Passing time until they die from natural causes or causes of their own making. There are so many people putting in their hours to make an honest living, and struggling to stay afloat. And yet so many others who take advantage of others, legally or not. Who use resources that honest folks could use... Ah, whatever. I think I may be burnt out on idiots.

The great part of my job is meeting people like the nice lady at the assisted living place the other night. A caregiver overreacted and called us. Nothing was wrong with this lady, but she was a delight to chat with and care for. Luckily in my line of work, those sorts of calls are about 2-1 with the idiots, so it's not all bad!

I just think the Declaration of Independence was right, but not clear enough. All men (humans) ARE created equal. But that equality goes out the window by adulthood. In my job, we treat everyone as equals, regardless of what we know to be true. It stinks sometimes...but it still beats cutting carpets!

In other news, we have a Downy Woodpecker that thinks that the wall outside our door is the perfect place to mine for grubs. This gets Ben and Emma all worked into a tizzy, and both of them have repeatedly begged me to go out and have a go at the visiting noisemaker.

Of course, Ben has a phobia of wild turkeys since he got attacked by one just after we moved in, and Emma would get outside, take one look around, panic and meow outside the door as if she were drowning. She is not at all an outdoor cat.

Picture Walk later today, after the Sweets awakens for the day. Until then, the Chipmunk Movie and playing with trains! Woot!

More Later

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Big Green Chair

My big green chair is holding the whole world right now.

The Wife
The Boyo
Sweet Pea

More Later

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hypothetically Speaking, of course...

So, here's a hypothetical moral dilemma for those of you who may question your line of work.

story deleted because a co-worker has decided that if they worked hard enough at tracking my hypothetical patient down, they might be able to identify them. Of course, that would mean that this co-worker would need to search through medical records to do that, thereby violating HIPAA themselves just to nail me. Thanks for the overreaction co-worker!

More Later

Addendum 8/23: I've had many people ask about mandatory reporting, notification of authorities, etc. There is much more to this hypothetical story, of course. But I would be violating HIPAA if I wrote it all out here. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Thanks for reading.

Addendum 8/25: Many people have wondered if I am violating HIPAA by telling of this hypothetical story. Am I? Can anyone identify a person such as this? What about a drunk driver who kills a family but survives? Did I just violate that persons rights because I mentioned something that actually happens more often than it should? I have mentioned no names, birthdays, identifying traits, medical record numbers, or anything else that violates HIPAA. In any of my stories. I'm sure if you dug enough, you could find a person or two that could be pigeonholed into one of my stories. I stand by my belief that I have not violated any one persons rights by telling stories of a Paramedic. I could be almost any medic, almost anywhere, and would have similar, if not exactly the same stories. That's not a HIPAA violation. That's storytelling.

Addendum 12/2: After being called on the carpet at work for my writing here, I have agreed to remove patient scenarios that I wrote to describe the thoughts of a paramedic in certain situations. I continue to believe that no HIPAA rules were broken in my writings. But to protect the reputation of the hospital I work in, I will no longer be able to describe what I do for a living.

Monday, August 18, 2008


The Wife had a job today. She helped organize a friends closet in exchange for before and after photos. They did an amazing job! I need to clear with the friend to post those here, but if I get permission I'll put them up.

I had the kiddos today and had a ball. We went on a Picture Drive today because it was too stinking humid and hot to walk around much. Found some neat places that otherwise we may not have.

Got to talk with an old friend today too. That was fun, but cut short when Sweet Pea had a massive diaper blowout. Leak proof my aunt sally. Anyway, kids are growing like weeds. Garden has gone to weeds. The Wife and I are good. How's life with you?

Boyo said another cute thing today. When we were getting ready for breakfast, his mommy was coming up the stairs and he said to her,

"Come on Mommy, it's time to eat. Would you like to come enjoy us?"

Apparently when we say 'come and join' he hears 'come enjoy'. He's at such a great age right now, and very creative.

Today I am thankful for my friends, near and far. Whether I talk with them once a week or once a year, they are all good people and true friends. I am thankful for their involvement in my development, and hopeful for their good health and happy futures. Love you guys.

More Later

Sunday, August 17, 2008


It's a funny thing, writing here and having it read by friends and family. The Wife has a friend at work who reads this before The Wife does, hilarity ensues. Except that when The Wife gets home, she sometimes has not heard what I have written about. Then it's not as hilarious. Still sort of funny though.

Anyway, tonight the friend at work heard that the friend who sent me the game with the bug attached was her husband. So a note to you J&G... no worries at all. The nice Indian man who was helping me said you probably had your security up, so it just moved right along to my somewhat undefended computer. (Not Indian from our tribe, by the by) But now our little family computer has it's own fortress. Spam killers, bug bombs, sentries 24/7. We're our own little virtual garrison.

So, I should also clarify that I am not quitting my job as a medic, just brainstorming about what else life might hold. Believe me, if I decide to do a radical career change, most of you will know it before you read it here.

So, to sum up... don't stress about the bugs, don't worry about my job, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!

Here's a couple pictures from the Picture Walk I went on with the Boyo and Sweet Pea...

By the way J, of J&G. Join the Picture a Day Challenge. It will be fun! Surely there are other things around to shoot than your daughter. And get that neighbor guy with the program too! :)

More Later

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Learning Languages

So a few days ago I opened an e-mail from a friend of mine who had challenged me to an online game. Embedded in that game link were some vomputer ciruses that caused a great many weird pop ups to disrupt my online time.

It wasn't bad at first, and I tried a few things to get rid of them. But by yesterday, the only thing I could reach online was Google, and I could connect to nothing else. It was a bit frustrating.

So I called my security company and the nice man in India took control of my computer for a time and hunted down those bugs. Then he killed them dead. It was much more fun than watching a lion chase down gazelles on Animal Planet! He spoke with a thick Indian accent, and sometimes I had to ask him to repeat himself. But very quickly I picked up on the dialect and had no troubles understanding his instructions.

At one point near the end, Sweet Pea woke up hungry. I could hear her crying in her crib, but we were about two minutes from being done, so I didn't get up right away to get her. Here is a snippet of the conversation from there.

"OK sir," said the bug killer with a thick Indian accent. "Now we will check those files once more to be sure all of the bugs are dead."

"Great" I said.

"Now, please click yes to the box that I am now opening."

"OK, done."

"Thank you. Now please wait a moment while I clean out these files."

"Very well."

A slight pause, and then...

"OK now goh peek oop your bibi."

So I said.

"Ahhh...Wha? Peek on my what? What do I click on for that?"

"No sir." he said kindly. " Go. Pick. Up. Your. Baby. I can hear the crying."

So I apologized for being the worst parent ever, and grabbed the bottle, and headed for Sweets. She quieted down instantly when I picked her up, and by the time I got back to the computer, the amazing wizard on the other end had cleaned it all out for me.

Ah well,

Some pictures from tonight...

And Happy Birthday My Friend Jen!

More Later

August 15th

My entry for last night would have read like this...

"Mglewunf. Sulprdraber im flaglmstu.


Unfortunately, for the four or so hours I was awake yesterday, I was unable to purge the demons from our computer, and could not access the Internet at all.

Today I had it fixed. more on that later. This is just the catch up post for yesterday when I was unbelievably exhausted.

More Later

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Random Thoughts Today

Third night, all right!

Tonight (tomorrow morning) when I return to my domicile, I shall sleep for a few hours, then play with my kids! I've got the weekend off, though The Wife works both days.

Picture Walks are in order, me thinks. Much playing of cars, trucks, planes and trains. The Boyo has discovered puzzles, and is remarkably good at them. So we may do a few of those too!

Diaper changes. Smiles. Keeping busy. Lots of fun planned.

Tonight though, I focus on how to save lives. It's been a time since I've reviewed my ACLS stuff (Advanced Cardiac Life Support ) so I'm going to do a review, just in case. Fortunately if those skills feel rusty, it means nobody has needed me to do them in awhile! Unfortunately, I feel rusty!

As I often find in these self reviews, I am not nearly as rusty as I think... I just don't think on them all that often.

Taking pictures for the Picture a Day Challenge gets a little tough during these night shifts too. Between working, driving, and sleeping, there is not much time for just looking around and 'seeing' pictures. Fortunately I have that long drive to and from, and can sometimes find a shot or two in there. Like these turkey vultures in a tree near the hospital.

Or the clouds, which were lovely today after the storms moved through.

In any case, it's fun to be getting into the mindset of 'seeing' pictures. Keeps me a little more attentive to things around me. Keeps me awake on the drive home. And you already know that the medical pros believe that keeping your brain engaged will ward off the evil Altzheimers.

Thankful today for, of all things, a fully functioning urinary system. Sorry if today's thankfulness left you a little scarred.

More Later

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'll always have Paramedicine...

Is all of life change? Or is it just me? Driving home in the early morning for today I stopped about a dozen times to take pictures.

"Oh how I would love to do this for a living!" I thought. "travel around, take pictures, write about it, get paid for it."

And I spent the rest of the drive home trying to figure out how to make it work.

I have a rare disorder known as JRADD, Job Related Attention Deficit Disorder. I can find work. Pay the bills and save some money. But within a couple of years I get a little wanderlusty and want to try something else. Never quite satisfied with what I'm doing at the time. Granted, some of the jobs I've had were such that moving on was a much better option. (see; working fast food) But now I've got a bunch of Ideas about what I want to be when I grow up and an oddly satisfying job that I'm already in, and the conflict in my head is raging!

Stay a medic! It's secure, it's rewarding, it has benefits! You get a paycheck every two weeks! It's challenging and interesting! Every day, every call is different. And the stories you have you wouldn't get making bird feeders or taking pictures of flowers!

No, no you fool! Be a photographer! You love that! Money isn't everything! OHH! Or you could just do stained glass! You love that too! Someday you'll be a famous glass artist. Ooh! Ooh! Grow tomatoes for a living! You could be the TOMATOMAN!

Do you realize how hard it is to concentrate on anything with all of this noise in my head!?! How do I have my cake and eat it too? Stay a medic and be a photographer? Get paid for my 'hobbies'? It is terribly frustrating.

And so, I start a 'business'. I've named it Bluefeather Gardens and Workshop. I'm getting a website built. I've even got business cards. But no time to really get it going. Too busy being a dad/husband/medic. So I'll build it slow. Sell a few things here and there. Hope and Pray that 'The Business' will start bringing income into the family. Then I'll slowly transition from Medic who is an artist on the side, to Artist who's a medic on the side.

Yet, as I've mentioned before, I have a tad bit of the JRADD. And that fills me with fear. For if by some twist of fate my business takes off, and I am able to provide for my family and such... what if I want to do something else then?

The only factual, historical evidence I have that Bluefeather Gardens and Workshop would be different from every other job is from my days as a travelling musician/speaker. I loved that job. Unlike other jobs I've had I continue to play my guitar, write songs, and such. I don't cut carpets for fun. Never drive big rigs just on a lark. We found a way to make our 'passion' somewhat profitable. And it was good!

BGW would be me doing what I already love to do. It would also be a way to get rid of the stockpile of materials and things I've made! Glass, wood, metal, knives, plants, jelly. Great googly-moogly I have too many hobbies! So I don't think JRADD will come into play.

Bottom line I guess, is will I be able to support my family. Provide them with the things that my folks provided me with. Will I be happy. Guess there's only one way to find out. Just get out there and do it.

Oh, and those pictures from this morning? Here's a couple...

More Later

Oh yes, and today's thankfulness?
The rain that fell outside my window, lulling me into a deep sleep. Even though said sleep lasted about five hours, it was peaceful because of the rain. I think I'm water oriented.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Tonight is the first of a three night run for me. 36 hours of paramedic fun out of the next 72. The ER was packed when I arrived, but things have slowed considerably since then.

Guilt sets in for me around the half way point on my commute to work. Hearing the Boyo say "Daddy, I don't want you to go to work tonight." Or "Daddy, will you play cars with me instead of going to work?" Breaks my heart that I have to go. Then I'll feel guilty later when a co-worker or my manager asks if I can pick up a shift here or there, help out as it were. Not nearly the level of guilt I feel about leaving my family, but still... I didn't start a career as a paramedic to NOT help out.

I was talking to The Wife about the trials of my job recently. The biggest problem is not the separation from my family, or the long hours for surprisingly low pay (we make less than teachers to start out), or even the catty co-workers. The biggest problem with my job is that I see just about all the scrudge that the human race can go through. Granted, it's not as bad as cops. Theirs is a job I could never do. But man, we see some real crud.

People who come in with a random pain, and we find terminal cancer. People enjoying a car trip home with their family, and they are hit by another car. (Other driver is very often wasted and unhurt, while family is ripped apart by death and trauma) The old, sick and dying who have nobody else but us in their final moments. You name it, every run I've been on has involved some sort of pain, some sort of bad human condition, some scrudge. And while I do my best to let it roll off my back, some of it still sticks.

Three month old SIDS case. Older couple who pulled in front of a truck. Three brothers out for a joyride who missed the turn and found an old oak. Only one survived. Random scenes of random people.

"Why me?" I've heard more times than I can count. Why not you? I think to myself. Who's to say why these things happen.

Sometimes the patient invites fate to step in. The guy who "has a thing" against wearing seat belts. His wife was in some time ago for a random sickness. He came in and died after a completely survivable accident...if he had been wearing a belt.

More often the patient is seemingly plucked at random by fate for some random crash or fall or cancer or pick your poison.

Now, as a hospital based medic, the majority of people who come through the doors are not really in bad shape. Most could/should have waited until morning and called their regular doc. But some people get a little panicky, and some just need to hear that there isn't anything wrong with them.

But the ones who come in with scrudge, well they leave a little bit on me. And it gets draining. My commute home is an hour, and that's a great time to decompress. Still, a little stays with me.

Today, remarkably, I am thankful for that scrudge. I am thankful for the times when in my head I am griping because my arms are tired from carrying Sweet Pea around for three hours, that scrudge comes out and says "Is it really that bad? What about the guy who..." and suddenly my arms don't really hurt that bad. I am pretty healthy, as are the wife and kids. And I am thankful for the people I have treated, however briefly, that have touched my life and made me appreciate what I have all the more.

More Later

Monday, August 11, 2008


Today I played electrician a little bit. The power cord for our trusty computer is frayed. (scared out of it's little mind) and I took it out to the shop, played with the soldering iron a bit, wrapped it all in way too much black electricians tape and plugged it in for a test run.

It still works!

First thing I did after the computer was all charged up again?

Bought a brand new power cord. As much as I trust my ability with all things electrical, I decided I'd be better off with a new, non-sparking one, and use the original as a back up.

Also, I got a new toy for my Nikon. It's the fantastically, futuristically named 'ML-L3 infrared remote'!

With this new and remarkably inexpensive piece of gear, I can now push the remote button once to open the shutter, and again to close it, thereby being able to completely control the time the shutter is open.

I took it out for test run tonight and got these shots...

The little streaky thing is an airplane that was passing.

And, for a reference to how dark it was while I was shooting, I give you this shot...

A ten second exposure of a star and the moon behind some clouds. It was DARK!

I'm really looking forward to going someplace with almost no light pollution (Island) and getting some star shots for the picture a day challenge!

I've got a few night shifts in a row coming up, with little by way of sleep, so I'm signing off for now.

More Later

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lazy Sunday

After church today we went to a local playground for a picnic. Totally stellar time! Shade over the table, nice breeze blowing. The Boyo ate all his food. But then he had a playground maddeningly close and could not go play until he finished his lunch.

Soon enough he was off like a rocket, playing all over the castle thingy, sliding, chasing other kids, generally being a kid. There were about a dozen other kids there, all roughly his age. I noticed a difference between them and him today.

He is exceedingly friendly and unbelievably kind!

Every child he met he would say hello to. He would ask their name and tell them his. He would encourage them to try new things.

There was a bridge spanning two areas that was made with a bouncy, rubber type floor. After he bounced his way across, he turned to the next kid and said,

"Come on, boy! You can do it!"

And as the child made it to the half way point, he said,

"You're doing great! I'm so proud of you!"

And when the little boy finished,

"Good job, boy! You did it!"

He is incredibly outgoing. Other kids just kind of look at him silently, or ignored him completely, absorbed in their own play. Once while he was in line with some others at the top of the curly-q slide I heard him ask another little boy if he wanted to be friends. The other boy said sure, and the two of them came zipping down the slide, laughing and giggling.

Later this evening, we pulled out the play doh and 'made fish'. The Boyo would roll out the doh, cut the shape, then hand it to me and command me to 'put a face on it'.

Here are the results

Don't be scared to be different and swim against the flow. I don't think the Boyo will have any problems with that!

Tonight The Wife and I watched a tape of the Olympic opening ceremonies. They were quite impressive! I'm looking forward to seeing China in person in a couple of years. The ceremonies were followed by the traditional parade of athletes. Almost made me want to start training for something - anything - so I could count myself in their numbers some day. Almost. If they had an Olympic event for a random job pentathlon I could probably medal. I've had so many jobs in so many areas it borders on the silly. At one time in my life I was going to try and be an Olympic paddler, but I didn't have the money for the gear. Ah well, I'll chase other dreams!

Sweet Pea is a bit fussy tonight, and The Wife works in the morning. Life with two is definitely a bit more challenging, but so very worth it when the Sweets smiles at me.

Today I'm thankful for my parents, who thoughtfully taped the opening ceremonies and brought them up. And for bringing me into this world in the first place. As a parent, I am learning every day just how much my little ones learn from me. And it's not what I try and teach them, it's my actions and emotions that guide them the most.

My parents gave to me a sense of compassion for the world around me, and a zen like mental attitude whereby much of life's scrudge rolls off me like water off a duck's back. For that I am thankful.

More Later

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tractor Fun

The folks came up today and we all went to look at old tractors! It was actually much more fun than that last sentence makes it sound. Mom grew up on a farm, and Dad helped out around said farm after he and Mom got together, so they recognized some of the gear. The Boyo just loved all the moving machinery, and even The Wife and Sweet Pea had a pretty good time. We got to see how soap was made, how corn was ground, how rocks were crushed and how Alpacas make sweaters. (knitting their poor little hooves to the bone)

Chinese for supper, as it is a clan favorite, and Mom and Dad headed home. My little family meanwhile has settled in for the night after an exhaustingly enjoyable day.

More Later

Friday, August 8, 2008

Post Birthday

Today I gave The Wife a day off of kid patrol... or as best I could. Kiddos and I went to the park again for a picture walk, a playground play, and a diaper filling good time! The Wife got a few hours to herself, though due to nature and God planning on the mothers feeding the offspring, I didn't stay gone too long. As it was the Sweet Pea was very angry with me for keeping her away from her mom for too long. Here's a couple of photo's from the walk.

Here's what I'm thankful for today... clean water.

After a hot, muggy day of playing and picture taking and kid wrangling, I came home and filled a glass with ice and water. Ahh, so very refreshing. And all I had to do was turn on the faucet.

Are you aware of how many people in the world don't have clean water to drink? (Google it, I'll bet it's a bunch) We are so privileged to have clear, clean, good tasting water where I live. So today I tip a cold, frosty glass of H2O to the folks who provide such great water to my house. I am thankful for their efforts.

Recouping from my birthday today. I don't drink ETOH anymore (can't would be a better way to put it) but ate way too much good food, followed by a big piece of spice cake that The Wife made for the occasion. Feeling bloated still today.

More Later

Thursday, August 7, 2008

You Say it's your Birthday

It's my birthday too, yeah. And a fun one at that. The Wife took me and the kiddos on a surprise adventure to a place where you can glaze your own pottery. We made a really fun cookie jar and the Boyo decorated a plate. A good time was had by all.

Dinner was at an authentic Japanese restaurant. (Owned by a Japanese guy, our cook was of Latin descent) But it was great. He (the chef) did all of the cool cooking tricks, and was very impressive. The food was great, and the owner even took a picture of us and gave it to me as a birthday present before we left. We'll be going back!

My mother in law saw this picture and thought it looked like a past president... any guess who? The Wife and I both thought it looked like G. Washington's head on top of a noseless A. Lincoln. Ah... cloud art!

On this, the beginning of my 38th year (yes I did the math right, each birthday is a celebration of the completion of the year that you say you are) I am looking forward with great anticipation the coming years and adventures. Today I am thankful, most very much thankful, for The Wife. She lets me chase my dreams and helps me focus on what is important. She is beautiful inside and out. Without her (or the kids) I would have been forever lost.

Thanks to all who have sent birthday greetings and best wishes.

As a last note... when we returned home from dinner, we played all of the phone messages of various friends and family singing the happy birthday song. By an amazing, nay miraculous, coincidence, each group that sang (and there were five of them) all started on the exact same note!

Time for bed, it was a very nice birthday!

More Later

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Double Rainbow Evening

The Wife worked today, so Boyo, Sweet Pea and I went to a local lake to take in a 'picture walk' and do some serious playground playing. Well, the Boyo played feverishly on the playground while Sweets and I slept and watched respectively.

We spent the whole morning out and about, then headed home to rest and recoup. Boyo napped on the couch, Sweets in my arms. After we picked up the wife and had a huge and delicious Mexican meal out, we were treated to a fantastic rainbow vista.

So today I'm thankful for double rainbows, and being doubly blessed with my children. I'm thankful for being paired with The Wife, and for her memory... as she just reminded me that the groceries which we bought after dinner are still in the car. Am I too young for the home? Gotta go...

More Later

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Busy Day

Hugely busy day here! Shop cleanout continues, and I'm looking forward to having not only a clean space to work, but an organized one as well!

The Boyo and I have gone on a couple of 'Photo Walks' to take pics for the Picture a Day Challenge. Here are some that didn't make the cut.

I'm discovering new and wonderous things when I go to take pictures. Even more so from the Boyo, who sees things that I don't as a 'grown up'. Some of his pictures are quite good for a pre-pre schooler! He has opened my eyes, and helped me 'see' things to shoot. Today I am thankful for his child sight. Thankful that he is teaching me every day what is really important. He cares very little for money or things, and sees the world around with a great sense of adventure and wonder. And is still ecstatic at going poo in the potty! It's the little things really, that mean so very much!

More Later

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Bro

Yesterday I was all about the sleep. Long night shift, long drive home, but thankful for the smiles of my family upon my return. And very thankful to my kind and loving wife who sent me to bed early!

Today I am thankful for my brother. He turns 35 today. He is one of the most talented people I know, musically and otherwise. Totally dedicated to his family, a great example of a dad.

We don't spend near enough time together anymore, but neither of us can convince the other to move to their neck of the woods!

So today I am thankful for his influence on my life. He often took the road less travelled, and that led him to a great many adventures... schooling in England, performing operas in Rome, he played golf in high school his senior year, instead of just sticking to swimming like I did. He learned to play violin in college and played in the orchestra. He does his own thing, a great lesson for me. Even though he's my little brother, I still learned a lot from him over the years.

Love you bro.

More Later

Sunday, August 3, 2008

uff da

Going to sleep today.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Better Get Started

Events have occured today that are very unmotivating to me. Job stuff, personal stuff, that sort of thing. Suffice to say, I'll be having words with some passive-aggressive co-workers about talking behind someone's back.

What I am thankful for today are friends who talk straight to me, animals I've known who live without guile, and beautiful weather to drive in.

More Later

Friday, August 1, 2008

Photographers Take Your Mark...GO!

The Great Picture a Day Challenge begins today! I'm so excited...I may vomit!

Or, I'll grab the ol' D60 and start shooting!

Here's a shot from yesterday driving home in the early, foggy morning....

Doesn't count for pic-a-day, but I sorta like it.

Also, in keeping with my goal to stay positive this month, here is what I'm thankful for today...

My sister was born on this day! I am so very glad she was. She is incredibly talented and smart, has a wonderful family and has lived an amazing life thus far. (though she may think otherwise) She believes her husband is too good for her, but she's wrong. They are perfectly suited for each other. He is a wonderful man, and a perfect compliment to her. you should see them dance!

My sis has always been one of my very best friends (though we had some rough times growing up, but who didn't in their tween and teen years?) She taught me to dance, but more importantly, taught me to be comfortable in my own skin, regardless of my shape. All these years later it is still paying off, as that lesson has helped me become who I am today.

I am thankful today for my sister on her birthday.

I am still waiting for her to officially accept the invitation for the pic-a-day challenge.

More Later