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Duty, Honor, Sacrifice Glory Days The Collapse

Ghosts of the past, present, and future

Exactly twenty years ago. I still remember that morning in more detail than all but of a few of the mornings that have come since. The sky was a beautiful blue, the sun was warm, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A typical Central Florida day. My shift, C shift, had just started our 24 hour workday.

I was driving Engine 2 that morning. Dennis was riding in the seat next to me as the Lieutenant, and Justin was the back seat firefighter. Our shift had begun at 7:30 that morning as it always did. We did our morning routine as we always do. At 8:30, we left the station to do annual flow testing of fire hydrants.

By 8:45, we were behind the Winn Dixie and just about to test our first hydrant. Our Battalion Chief called us and told us to return to the station and turn on the TV. I remember jokingly asking Dennis who the guy on the radio was and what they had done to the Chief, since he would never tell us to watch TV during the day.

We arrived back in the station just in time to see the second plane hit the south tower. I remember watching Fox news and seeing them switch to the DC bureau, where reporters said they could see a column of smoke. Things were happening so fast, I couldn’t figure out what that smoke was coming from. It was then that a fellow firefighter told me that the Pentagon had been hit.

The chief called us, and when I was on the phone with him, the first tower fell. The chief said to me, “Oh my God. 30,000 people just died.” I remember being stunned that so many people could be in a building.

By noon, we had an armed SWAT officer with an MP-5 riding along with us on all of our calls “for security.”

For weeks, we firefighters were stunned at the loss of 343 firefighters. I felt a sense of awe that the guys who went into that second tower after watching the first one fall went into that building, in awe of the guys who were in the second tower when that first one fell, all the while knowing that they would never come out of the second tower. What was going through their minds? I asked myself if I could make the same choice, if I *knew* that I would not come out?

We all wanted to be able to say yes. It isn’t the same thing when you go into an ordinary fire. Firefighters are a cocky, professional bunch. When we run into a burning building, we tell ourselves that we are trained and experienced enough that it will not happen to us. Not so those guys in the towers. They went in KNOWING that they wouldn’t come out. That is a time that you don’t know what you would do until the moment of truth comes.

I just hoped that I would have the fortitude to make the choice that needed to be made, to have the courage to choose duty and honor over self preservation, and the fortune to never be placed in that position. I hoped that I would never have to make that choice.

I spent the majority of my adult life in one uniform or another, dedicated to the protection of American lives and values. I spent six years in the Navy, doing two combat tours in the Persian gulf. I wasn’t a big hero or anything. I, like millions of others did my job. After that, I spent two decades in a firefighter’s uniform. I that time, I ran into hundreds of burning buildings, jumped into a dozen lakes, thousands of medical scenes, and 22 natural disasters. I was injured three times in the line of duty. I saw a couple of thousand dead bodies, dozens of shootings and stabbings, and saved more than a few lives.

In 2011, I retired. I had seen enough death, misery, and blood for one lifetime. I thought that the time of risking life and limb for the good of this nation and its people was over. I had given enough. I deserved to be left alone to grow old and enjoy the rest of my life in as much peace as I could manage.

All I want is to be left alone to grow old in peace. The events of the past 18 months make me believe that this won’t happen. I fear that I may have to make that choice after all.

Categories
COVID Me

COVID

Some COVID facts, straight from my hospital experience. We are still short staffed, but that is more a pay issue than an overcrowding issue. I am still working 60 hours a week.

We are still at higher than normal patient levels. Our admitted patients are almost all either cardiac or COVID patients. We are seeing younger patients now. The typical patient being admitted now is in their early to mid 50s.

More patients are critical and are dying than before. I am seeing an average of 2 to 3 patients die of COVID related problems each day. There were none yesterday at my hospital, but four the day before. Nearly all of the deaths are in older people, but there are a few younger ones.

The treatment for COVID that I am seeing is largely high flow oxygen, Remdesivir, Vitamins C, D, and Zinc. We got a new protocol this week: any COVID patient who is on more than 6 liters of oxygen has to be placed on continuous remote blood oxygen monitoring. We don’t have enough of those for everyone, so surgical patients, those with a DNR, and other low priority patients are having to have their blood O2 checked manually every hour instead of continuously.

Anyhow, I managed to get the weekend off, so I posting on this blog will be light. I am going to relax for the weekend.

Enjoy your labor day.

Categories
COVID Me

Why get a test?

I just heard from my daughter. Her children (my grandkids) are staying at their (other) grandparents’ house. My granddaughter, the oldest of the two, was complaining of a headache and had a fever. So the grandparents took her to the Doc in a Box, who tested her for COVID.

You guessed it- she has COVID. Now at seven years old, she is unlikely to have much more than a mild illness from it. Any of you who have raised kids know that the little ones get mystery illnesses all of the time, and most of them come with a fever. You treat it with children’s Tylenol, fluids, and rest. What HAS changed is now my daughter can’t go to work, the kids can’t go to school, and my grandson is now going to get tested as well.

I just don’t understand what you gain by getting a COVID test. Whether it is COVID or some other illness, what you do to treat it is the same: Tylenol, fluids, rest, and maybe something for any other symptoms you have. How does knowing that it is COVID change anything? The only thing it changes is transforming you and the other members of your household into pariah for the next two weeks.

If your curiosity simply MUST be satisfied, take the at home test. At least with the at home test, no one else but you has to know if you have COVID.

In case you are keeping score, the members of my family who have had COVID:

  • Daughter in law to be (vaccinated)
  • Father in law (half vaccinated at the time)
  • Mother in law (half vaccinated at the time)
  • Daughter (not vaccinated)
  • Mother (vaccinated)
  • Brother (vaccinated)
  • Granddaughter (not vaccinated)

In addition, I have eight other friends who have had it. Most of them caught it before the vaccines were available. Two of them had COVID after being vaccinated. Not one of them had a serious infection.

The most serious of them were my mother in law and father in law, both of whom were sick at home for a couple of weeks. Everyone else had symptoms best described as a cold.

Again, we need to be spending our resources finding out why a small percentage of the public is having serious problems with this infection. Why them? What is different about them?

Categories
COVID Me

Now my brother

Two days ago, I announced that my mother has COVID, but only had mild symptoms. Last week, my Brother received a so-called booster of the vaccine. Today, he was diagnosed with COVID. It seems that even fully vaccinated people with booster shots can get it.

One of my employees today told me that her mother is in the ICU on a ventilator, with an exceptionally bad case of COVID. The mother is unvaccinated, and there are many people that will view this as: “AHA! If she had been vaccinated, she would be fine!”

They would be ignoring that this woman got sick a month ago, and her doctor diagnosed her with tonsilitis. Three weeks later, she woke up gasping for breath, and passed out. She was taken to the ER, where her advanced case of COVID, which her doctor had misdiagnosed, was finally treated.

So is this a case of no vaccine, or a case of an untreated, serious case of an infection caused by a medical error? How does a doctor not test someone for COVID if they come in to the office sick? Or was the test faulty?

Another 12 hour shift today. Sorry I don’t have anything else for you. Tired. I spent all day in the COVID isolation wing, where I walked 10,000 steps. I am worn out.

Categories
Me Prepping

Thank you to me

There are so many times that I see news that disheartens me. I see our nation dying before my eyes. It saddens me that there are so many signs of what is coming. I truly love this nation and the ideals that it was supposed to stand for. To watch it fall to the communists is tragic. It is easy to allow this to get to you, but I also know that things will get worse. Much worse. This post is a message to future me, and I hope it resonates with others.

I, future me, want to thank past me. Thank you for continuing to prepare for what has yet to come, for keeping at it day after day, even when it was difficult. No matter how dark and disheartening things were, the dark days to come will be so much better because you were prepared.

This nation will continue to fall apart, and things that you cannot even imagine will come to pass. Have the courage and the foresight to keep preparing, and know that you are not alone.

Categories
Me

Lobster, pt 2

Florida surf and turf.

Pictures from my trip:

Here is a guy that was on one of the boats. Yes, he dove. Yes, he wore the suit, just not the hat or glasses.
Here are some of our fellow divers and their catch.
Categories
Me

Lobster

The last Wednesday and Thursday of July each year brings the most Florida of events to the state: mini Season. Each year, thousands of people from all over the state head to the Atlantic ocean to hunt. Lobster. I usually look forward to this, and sure enough, my son and I went.

I made sure that I was not scheduled to work during mini season this year, because we didn’t go last year due to the lock downs. I packed up my SCUBA gear and headed down south with my new, $27 dollar fishing license. We managed four dives to a maximum of 95 feet and had some good father son bug hunting time. We were in West Palm Beach, within sight of Mar A Lago, about a mile and a half offshore.

The water was cool for this time of year, but there was plenty of visibility and plenty of wildlife. We had a great time, and there will be more posting later today.

Categories
Me

Back again

The good thing about working where I do is that our normal shift is three- twelve hour days per week. I managed to get the schedule worked, so that I had to work the first three days of the week and the last three days of this week. I refused to work overtime these two weeks. That left me with a continuous eight days scheduled off. I used those eight days to travel to Maine for some fishing.

I have a cabin up there. I keep a boat and some supplies up there. So I went fishing. My wife and in-laws left two weeks before I flew up to join them. We caught bass, pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, and chub. We threw everything back. The fishing up there is incredible. If you aren’t catching a fish every couple of minutes, you need to check your line to see if it’s baited.

The weather was a nice escape from Florida’s oppressive July heat. It was 20+ degrees cooler the entire time we were there. There is a lack of technology in the entire state, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s tough to get any internet there by cell, and even hardline based is slow and unreliable across the entire state, with the exception of the southeast part of the state.

Maine’s future doesn’t look good. I have been fishing there each summer for a decade, and I can see that the cities on the coast are being filled with refugees from the liberal cities of the northeast, especially Boston and New York City. They just made all plastic bags illegal, the cities of Maine are papered and painted in the new rainbow flags, and the laws are slipping to the left. The inland counties hate it. The people I talked to up there don’t want it, but the coastal cities are driving a hard run to the left.

The inland areas are still using plastic bags, still not dying their hair blue, and are resisting, but that won’t last long.

Now it’s time to go back to work.

Categories
Glory Days

Big City Elitism

This is so typical of the people who live in big cities. This guy from New York visited Chicago and Detroit, what people from NYC consider to be ‘small towns’ located in ‘flyover’ country.

I’ve heard some people say that New York has everything and other cities are just small towns — some of my family members have even gone as far as to say the Midwest contains only cornfields.

We all know what they think of the south- it is filled with racist, uneducated, idiot rednecks whose main form of entertainment is going to the Klan meeting after a day of hillbilly hand fishin’.

He was also surprised that there were, you know, things to do.

Chicago and Detroit have chic restaurants, trendy stores, unique bars, and popular clubs. 

This article is a perfect example of exactly the kind of elitist attitude that makes everyone in the country dislike people from New York City. We used to regularly get people from there who would walk into the fire station to sightsee. They were amazed that we had a large fire station that was filled with modern equipment, much of it better than what FDNY has. They were always surprised to find out that more than half of the guys on duty had college degrees in fire science, emergency medicine, or a related field. They were also surprised that about ten percent of the department were women.

Then the stories would start. We would have to hear about how the guy worked for “the New York Fire Department” where he was inevitably a chief, and then we would hear about how that department ran so many more big fires that we did, yada, yada.

So one day, I had had enough. I looked this guy who was telling me about some four alarm fire or some such, and I said, “Yeah, we get fires here too. We don’t get big ones like that, because we put them out while they are still small, because that is our fucking job.”

He walked out at that point, and left us to enjoy the rest of our provincial day in peace.

Categories
Me

Where I piss and moan

If you don’t want to hear me bitch about my job and my lack of time off, you can skip this post.

On our second date nearly eight years ago, my wife and I discussed what we wanted out of a relationship. We both agreed that we wanted to travel and were looking for someone who would be a travel partner and playmate. I think we both found that. I was semi-retired at the time and living off my pension and a small income from my business.

After a couple of months of dating, we decided to consolidate households and moved in together. Once that happened, she told me that she didn’t want to go off to work every morning knowing that I was going to be having fun all day, and made a proposal.

The proposal was that I would get a job, and the income from that job could be used for us to travel. Since she was a teacher, I got a job teaching so that our days off would match and we could spend that time with each other.

It was a great idea. We enjoy each other’s company, and there is no one that I would rather spend my time with. I know that it is a cliché, but my wife honestly is my best friend. We once did a 54 day road trip together where we drove from Florida to Seattle, took a cruise to Alaska, then drove back. Two months of driving and travelling most of the USA, and not one argument or fight. In six and a half years, we saw 14 foreign countries and 48 states. We took long weekends to places like Savannah and Niagra Falls. We took 3 or 4 cruises a year, went on longer vacations and road trips, plus a trip to Europe and one year, we spent Christmas in Hawaii.

From the time we moved in together up until this year, we have only slept apart five times: Two nights when I went to a teaching conference in South Florida that was required by my employer, and three nights when my wife had to go help her brother in NY move after his live in girlfriend left him.

Until COVID it was a great idea, that is. The new stuff happening with COVID and all of the other nonsense centered around the election made me want to leave teaching, so I did.

The job I took was supposed to be 3 days a week, and since I was to be the supervisor, I was the one who was going to write the schedule. That sounded sweet. I could work a lot when the wife was working, then work less during school breaks and we could travel.

Two weeks after I was hired, a mass exodus happened. Mostly because employees were angry that an outsider (me) was hired to be in charge. They each felt that THEY should be the one in charge. Within two months, a 14 person department saw three resignations and four transfers. Now there are only seven people left. They tried to hire more people, but one of the ones they wanted to hire wasn’t qualified, yet they wanted to pay him more than I was making. I threw a royal fit and went to HR. They withdrew the offer to employ him, but that royally pissed off my boss. So now I am no longer the one writing the schedule. They took that from me and now have a nurse from another unit writing the schedule.

Now I am working five and six days a week, 12 hours a day. My average is now more than 60 hours a week. It seems like I am always either at work or getting ready to go to work. Since the last week of April.

Back in the first week of June, I managed to get them to schedule me for four 12 hour days for two weeks in a row, with six days off in the middle. I used that to go to Las Vegas. When it was time to come back, my wife said that she didn’t want to cut her time there short because I had to go back to work, so her mother took my place and they spent another week in Vegas. While I was working.

My wife was home for a week, and then left again. This time, she went with her parents, her brother, and some of their friends to Maine, where we have a fishing cabin and a boat. (We used to go there every year to go fishing. Until last year. We didn’t go.) She has been there for a week. I had today off, but I spent it working around the house and getting my laundry done. I was OK until my brother in law’s best friend sent me pictures of my wife winning everyone’s money at the poker table in the cabin.

In two weeks, I have 6 days off in a row coming, because I went to the scheduling nurse and told her that I wanted as many days off in a row as she could give me, essentially begging for the days off that I was promised when I was hired. All in all, I got a week in Vegas and a week in Maine this summer , and spent the rest of it at work. My wife got all but a week travelling and having fun.

So to sum it up, my wife and I had a relationship built on travel and fun for seven years. I got a job so we would have extra money to facilitate that and all was well. Then I changed jobs, so now her life is still about travel and fun, and mine is about work.

This doesn’t mean that I am unhappy with the marriage, just the opposite. I still love and want to be with my wife and I miss being able to spend time with her and do the things we used to do. I don’t blame her for going places- if she were here, all she would be doing is sitting around the house while I was at work. I know she isn’t cheating on me- she is with her family. I just don’t like being here working every day while I could be out having fun with my favorite person.

I know that something has to change. I cannot keep up the number of hours that they want me to work. I can’t spend all of my time at work while my wife gets to have all of the fun. Life is too short for that shit.

This summer is shot and over, so going back to teaching right now will not put that spilt milk back in the bottle. I am not doing this for another summer, though.