Well, the clock continues to count down. I now have only one month left before I am officially a retired firefighter. In just over two months, I will be a PA student, and in just over two years, I will be a PA. Time will fly by.
Two year anniversary
I also just realized that today marks the two year anniversary of my bankruptcy filing.
After finding myself owing $240,000 on a home that was only worth about $120,000, and trying to get some help from the banks that were flush with billions of bailout money, I decided that I could either be stuck with 27 more years of mortgage payments totaling over half a million so that I could own a home worth less than $100,000, or I could do the financially wise thing and walk away, I decided to declare bankruptcy.
It was a wise decision. It turns out the bank had sold my loan to 3 other banks at the same time, so no one knows who really owns the loan. They cannot find the loan paperwork, and it turns out that there are no bank records showing who owns the loan, so I still own the home even though I haven’t made the last 25 payments. The bank lied in court, and provided forged papers to try and prove that I owed them money. They got caught, I sued them, and won a not insubstantial pile of money.
I have no debt, a 3 year old, paid for in cash pickup truck, and $40,000 in savings. I have no debt. My credit score of 655 isn’t too bad, considering a two year old bankruptcy.
Blogging milestone passed
Today, I crossed the 25,000 hit mark. I know that I am not in the same league with some of the mega-blogs, but I am impressed that eyeballs have decided to view my writings over 25,000 times over the past 4 years and 3 months. Thank all of you for coming to read.
I am retiring in 45 days, and I will be moving 1100 miles away to become a full time student. In a way, I look forward to what is to come, but I am also a little apprehensive. What will happen? Will I succeed? How difficult will school be? Even though I have budgeted, did I make an error? Will I be broke?
I am flying 1,200 miles to see the admissions committee of a college, so that I can attend Physician Assistant school. I hope to get in, because I think that I am ready to move on from EMS. I still love patient care, and I enjoy what I do.
The problem is that I no longer enjoy the setting. It began when a rash of poor care by fellow paramedics was being actively covered up by my administration. It culminated in my mother being one of the patients who were shortchanged. This planted the seeds of discontent. Now I understand that no profession is immune. I have worked with plenty of nurses and doctors who screw up just as badly, and private ambulance companies are no better, been there, done that. I was willing to suffer through things, since I couldn’t see anywhere or any job where bad employees were not tolerated and protected. I sucked it up.
Until recently, when the public began jumping on the “cushy” pay for firefighters, and the “public employees are evil” bandwagon. I am tired of being spit on and underpaid. It is time to go.
That’s right- underpaid. Starting pay for a firefighter/paramedic is $13.77 an hour. After two promotions and 15 years with the same department, I make $19.23 an hour. I began working a part time second job as a paramedic in a local theme park less than six months ago, and we only perform BLS procedures. Starting pay for a medic with no experience is $16.50 an hour, and $17.50 an hour if you have two or more years of experience. The health plan is better, the hours are better, and the working conditions easier.
So, I am trying to get into school to get my master’s degree. Like me, many firefighters are leaving the profession. Out of the 100 men and women in my department, we have lost 9 in the past year:
1 now drives an ice cream delivery truck
1 left to return to college
2 have left to be nurses
2 left to be firefighters in other states
1 is now a radio DJ
2 retired, and I have no idea where they are now
I also know that one just tested for a department in Colorado, one tested in Arizona, and three have notified the department that they will be retiring between now and June. And now me. If all goes well, I will be leaving by December.
Four years ago today, I began blogging. There have been so many changes in my life. I wonder what the next four years will bring.
Another mile post passed
Indulge me in a bit of self serving praise. The end of another phase of my career as a student. Today, I graduate from Saint Petersburg College with Bachelors of Applied Science in Public Safety Administration and a minor in EMS systems. To achieve this, I took 77 semester hours in just 4 semesters, while maintaining a GPA of 3.82, and while working 2 full time jobs. For those of you who do not know, a person is considered to be a full time student if they are taking 12 hours per semester.
I will walk to get my fourth diploma (Emergency Medicine, Liberal Arts, Fire Science, Public Safety Administration) as a Magnum Cum Laude graduate from my third college. So much for gunowners being uneducated idiots.
For my next trick, I am considering going on to graduate school. Maybe Health Science, so I can be a Physician Assistant? I took the GRE (kind of like SATs for graduate students) and scored in the 90th percentile with a 680 verbal, 780 math (top score is 800).
Apparently, this is considered to be a high score, and I was told that this score, coupled with my GPA and 20+ years of health care experience, will qualify me for pretty much any school I want. My “I love me” wall is getting crowded.
This past week has been a busy one. I went to court to continue my fight against my old mortgage bank, and it was a harrowing experience at first, because I was acting as my own attorney against one of the largest banks in the country. This whole affair was a mess.The bank had royally screwed things up, and faked and falsified paperwork to cover their tracks. I caught them at it, and filed a lawsuit. The foreclosure that I have been fighting for two years finally has a conclusion, as we had a hearing just a few days ago.
I am now living in a house that is paid for. The case was dismissed. Now, there is nothing that will stop another case from being filed, but it is highly unlikely that such a case will be successful, as the bank could not produce the note after a two year fight, so it is unlikely that they will be able to do so in any future case.
It has been twenty-two months (as of next week) since I last made a mortgage payment. I will not make another on this house.
Father’s Day and parenthood.
I carried my father to his grave 6 years ago. Although the pain of it has dulled somewhat, I still continue to mourn his passing. Of my own children, I have a son who is doing well, and a daughter who I have not had very much contact with in the 3 and a half years since her 18th birthday.
On that day, she told me that she had had enough of my “bullshit rules” and she was moving out to live with her “soulmate,” a 20 year old who I had forbidden her from seeing, as he already had a lengthy arrest record that was increasingly violent with each arrest. She broke up with her “soulmate” six months later, and had to get a restraining order to keep him from stalking her. She is still angry with me for that, and for forbidding the previous boyfriend from seeing her, because I didn’t think it was appropriate for a married 26 year old man to be sniffing around a 16 year old girl and called the cops.
The joys of parenthood.
The government advises us all to have three days of supplies, so that we can be self sustaining until the cavalry arrives. From my personal experiences during my responses to various disasters, I can tell you that three days is a minimum. If you are further away from a distribution point than average, it may be more like 4 or 5 days. More if the disaster is more serious.
So, I have put together a bunch of supplies to get me through a disaster. Here is what I have come up with:
Food: I have 8 cases of MREs, and 2 cases of Mountain House freeze dried meals. I also have 3 cases of freeze dried meats and eggs. Round that out with a couple of cases of canned goods (tuna, soup, veggies) and I have enough non perishable food for 172 people meals. That is enough food for 6 people for 9 days. Two weeks if I stretch it.
Food prep: I have propane cooking equipment and enough propane to cook 3 meals a day for a week.
Shelter: Other than the house, I have 3 two man tents, and tarps to make more lean-tos.
Communications: In addition to cell phones, I have 4 FRS radios and 2 HAM radios in the 2 meter band.
Power: I need to work on this. I am thinking about solar chargers for the radios and flashlight batteries. I don’t need to run the whole house just yet.
Water: I have 30 gallons (at one gallon per person/day, this will last 6 people for 5 days) of water containers, and we can and will fill 2 bathtubs for non drinking water. We can boil that water for cooking if needed.
I have ample firearms for security, and plenty of ammo.
There are also medical supplies, lights, and other supplies.
Even though there are only two of us here, I have enough to supply 6 people for two weeks. Longer if I want to cut it down to subsistence rations. Living in hurricane country, it is just prudent.