Never doing that again

While I was doing my taxes, I was playing with Quicken and decided to see what living in my house cost me. I “bought” that house in 2007 for $236,000. Two and a half years later, it was worth only $96,000 and I declared bankruptcy to get that albatross from around my neck. When all was said and done, it came out in court that no one could tell me who owned the mortgage on that house, and so I won a “free” house in court.

Out of the five years since I bought it, I have not paid a dime in mortgage payments since September, 2009. Even so, that house has cost me $44,254 in mortgage payments over the last 5 years. Other expenses for the last five years:
Homeowner’s Association: $1,591
Electric bills: $15,471
A new air conditioner/ heat pump: $4,219
Household maintenance, landscaping, and lawn care: $11,152
New appliances on moving in: $5,408
Insurance: $5160
Property taxes: $6341
That is a total of $93,596 for 58 months. That works out to $1,613 a month. Now keep in mind, I haven’t made payments on that house for half of the time I have been there. If I had been, the monthly cost would increase to about $2,300 a month.

Now, to be truthful, I would have to pay utilities in an apartment, but I included them above because I have never had an apartment with $400 electric bills, which were not all that unusual in this house.

The five previous years in an apartment cost me an average of $1234 a month, including utilities and renter’s insurance. My apartment was nice. It was only 200 square feet smaller than the house I bought, and it had a garage. Does anyone think that the tax advantage of owning a home saves you $14,000 a year in taxes? Not even mentioning that the house is worth $142,000 less than I borrowed on it. Had I not filed bankruptcy and gotten that house, I would still be upside down on it. I am not repeating that mistake. I will rent from now on, thank you very much.

We interrupt this blog

I was going to post a part 2 to yesterday’s post that was the beginning of my theory on the biological reasons for why some people are criminals, but I need to take a minute to vent.

Yesterday, I posted the following image on a social networking site with the caption of “Aren’t we as Americans tired of this yet?”

 In response to this, my ex-sister in law, who is on food stamps, decided to post the following:

More restarants are accepting ebt so families can experience the going out to eat like families who can do it anytime they want, i think that america needs to learn that the unemployment isnt a joke and a lot of ppl have stopped lookin for work cause there isnt anythin out there, so stop complaining about ebt and be happy that if u have a job or are gettin paid to go to school atleast u dont have to deal with struggles like some families do

 Here was the reply that I sent her:

I don’t care if you go out. I do care if you go out and expect me to pay for it. The EBT system is meant for people to not starve, not so they can have luxuries like “experiencing going out to eat.” You have internet access, which tells me that you have at least some money for luxury. It is about priority and about working to get ahead, not about waiting for someone to give you something. I get paid to go to school because I worked and saved in order to do so, not because I sat around and expected handouts. It isn’t luck that I had a job or that I am in school, it is called HARD WORK. There were times that I had to work 3 jobs to make it. It isn’t that there are no jobs, it is that you don’t want to work at the jobs that are there. Get off the internet, stop using the EBT to go to Pizza Hut, put away the pride and take whatever job you can get, but stop asking me to pay your bills.

 It really angers me when someone says that I am somehow lucky to have what I have, or that I somehow fell into having a good life. 
I graduated from a public high school. So did you. We started from the same point.
I couldn’t afford college, so I joined the military.
While in, I got my girlfriend pregnant, and married her. We had a child when I was 19 years old. It was a struggle, but I provided for my family. Try making it on what an E3 makes, and see if you feel fortunate.
When I got out of the military, things were tough. At one point, we were homeless for about three months, and lived in a storeroom at my job. I bathed my kids in a 48 quart ice chest. 
I went from job to job for the next four years, each job paying more than the last, until I could afford to go to school. 
I then went to the fire academy and paramedic school at night and on the weekends while I worked during the day. Then, I got a job with the fire department, and worked my ass off to get promoted twice, and earn a retirement. During this time period, I worked three jobs so that I could save for a rainy day. 
After 12 years of that, I lost everything when the stock and real estate  market crashed. I wound up bankrupt. 
I worked hard some more, and finally retired with about $50,000 in savings so that I could go to school.

Socialists call that “good fortune” or “luck”

I call it hard work.
Get off your asses and get a job, but stop expecting me to pay your bills.

Research project

When I began writing this blog, I intended this to began as an EMS and gun related blog, and it has sort of turned into my soapbox. I have since retired and left the EMS field and continued on to a more advanced program, so I guess we can sort of go back this blog’s roots and talk for a minute about medicine.

For my Master’s degree research project, I have decided to use myself as a case subject for a study relating prediabetic individuals to weight loss. The connection between obesity and diabetes has been well documented, and my intention is to take that research to the next logical step and research the effects of dieting and weight loss on various factors in blood chemistry. My faculty adviser has approved the project, and I am now in the data collection phase of that study.

The gun question

As you know if you have been reading this blog, I am in school to earn my Masters Degree and become a Physician Assistant. We were recently in a class on how to conduct an exam, and were talking about the questions that we are required to ask a patient. One of the questions that they said we are required to ask is whether or not they own a gun, and whether or not that gun is kept in a secure location. Then we should use this as an opportunity to talk to them about the dangers of having a firearm in the home. I spoke up and said that I did not feel like that was a valid medical question, and the answer that I got was that this was about safety.

I then pointed out that we shouldn’t stop there. After all, if this is about safety, why not ask them if they are gay, and of so, lecture them on the dangers of homosexual activity? Of course, the reaction I got was how inappropriate that was. I pointed out that more people die each year from AIDS than are murdered by firearms.

I then asked if I would be penalized in any way for refusing to participate in a politically charged topic like this. They relented, and I will not be penalized in any way for refusing to ask that question.

“It just works”

“It just works” is the slogan of Apple’s products. The Apple fanboys will go on and on about how the idevices are virus and crash free. Now, I can tell you that I own a windows desktop, an iPad, and an iPhone. Until I bought my iPad last February and my iPhone in December, I had never before owned an Apple product, nor had I used one (with the exception of a former significant other’s machine). I had almost exclusively been a windows person. In fact, I had owned a windows machine (or three) since the days of Windows 3.0, when I bought an Intel 286 machine. We go way back.

So after a year of testing, how true is the claim? Not very. I use my iPad for note taking, and it occasionally needs a reboot. Some software compatibility issues require some tweaking, and there ARE viruses out there that affect Apple equipment. However, I have not had a virus on any machine that I have owned (including my Windows and Apple devices) in over ten years, mostly through some common sense web practices, despite not having any virus protection software running. (Spyware is a different story: but I eventually got a handle on that as well.)

With all of that said, the iPhone 4S is not my first smart phone, but it has been the best one I have had, and I have often wondered during the 2 months that I have had it how I ever got along without it. The iPad is great for taking notes during lectures (I use it to write directly on the Professor’s Powerpoint slides. There is an app that allows you to highlight, write notes, and mark up the slides on your iPad, using only your finger, but that is a post for another day.

So yes, Apple products are good, but bot the evolutionary leap forward that so many claim it is. They and Windows devices, IMO, are on par with each other.

Friends gone

Her name was Angel. I met her when we were just 9 years old, and in the third grade. We were friends, off and on as addresses and life allowed, for over twenty years. She dated my best friend in high school, and I hers. There was many an evening spent during those underage years drinking beer and having fun, in the carefree way that we do as teens. Later, when I was married to my first wife, she was a frequent visitor at my home, and often spent the night on our couch.

I last saw her a week before her thirtieth birthday, just weeks after my divorce was final. She was a little sad that she was turning thirty and not yet married. I told her that I would call her, and that I would listen with a sympathetic ear. That was the last time we spoke, because Angel took her own life 12 days later. That was 13 years ago, and I still think about her from time to time.

Trevor and I used to skip school together. We once skipped and then came back to class bearing McDonald’s hamburgers for the entire class, including the teacher. That was in the tenth grade. Later, we both reconnected when we became firefighters in neighboring fire districts. Missing a toe, he was promoted to Battalion Chief, and earned the nickname of “Chief Nine Toes.” As a chief, he  watched out for and looked after my own son when he became a firefighter. He was a good man, a brave man, and a big man. He towered over others, yet was deathly afraid of small dogs and spiders. He retired less than two years ago.

Trevor, a friend of mine for 28 years, passed away last week of a heart attack at 43 years old. I will miss him. Firefighters often have their lives cut short, the job and its stresses shave years off your life.


I am a bit late posting my summary of 2011, but that is because I was busy moving 1200 miles to my new place. There were a lot of changes for me last year, and I had no advance warning of most of it.

The year began with an early January road trip with my son . We left from Florida, north through Georgia and Tennessee, into Virginia, and on to Washington, DC. We spent several days there, and then came south down the I-95 corridor. Good trip. Later that month, I beat my mortgage bank for lying in court and got a big payday.

February was the month when my wife informed me that she wanted a divorce. A week before my birthday.

In March, I took the GRE exam, and pretty much blew it out of the water.

In May, I graduated from one college, and in June beat the mortgage bank in foreclosure court and got a free house.

In July, I graduated from a second college, and applied to PA school. In September I interviewed for graduate school. In October, I was accepted, and in November I retired. December saw me move from Florida to Missouri, ending the year retired, divorced, and in Missouri, after beginning the year as a married firefighter from Florida. Big changes.

Settled in

I have moved since my last post. I am now several states and over 1,000 miles away, living the retired life. I begin school in two weeks, and I am ready to begin my new life. Two years of school, and I can begin my next career. It will pay more than the $19 an hour I made as a firefighter, I promise you that.


I fought my first fire in the fall 1987. I graduated from EMT school in March of 1989.
I spent my first nine years volunteering to run EMS and fire calls. I decided to take my volunteer status full time for pay.
In the past 25 years, I estimate that I have run 35 or 40 thousand calls. I can honestly say that I have made a real difference in the lives of thousands of people, and I have literally brought dozens back from the dead. I have delivered three babies: one on the floor of a bathroom. I have taught my craft to over a thousand paramedic students, and several times that many EMT students. I have mentored hundreds.
I have been twice injured in the line of duty, and was once told that I had received a “career ending injury” and would never again walk without a cane. I fought through the injury and the pain, and was back to work in just over six months.
A full career by anyone’s standard of measurement. Today is my last day in that career. I am retiring from that career, and am embarking on my next journey, and by the time you read this my final shift will be well underway. I will always remember the good times, and wish my fellow EMS workers the best in their trials. When you paramedics next see me in the ER, I will be that Physician Assistant who (I hope) will never forget where he came from.
One month from today, I will be moving across several states to attend school in order to earn my Master’s degree in Physician Assistant studies. I must admit that I am pretty nervous, leaving my career and my home of the last 18 years in order to attend a very difficult program.