Thursday, December 15, 2011

Person Down!

When you call 911, the call is put into a category depending on what you tell the dispatcher over the phone.  This is a  nationally used protocol, created to bring a uniform standard to 911 dispatching.  If the protocol is being used by the center you call, you will get questions asked to you in a way that will best extract the most pertinent information in a timely manner.  That way, the proper services and amount of rescuers are sent to your emergency call.

This is because, unless a dispatcher can actually see what is going on and why you are calling, he is blind and at your mercy to relay what is really going on.

911 calls are made all the time for any reason. But for this post, I will focus on a "Person down." This is different from a "Fall," which is when the caller states the patient was actually seen, heard or told of falling down. A "Person down" is just that, someone on the ground for no reason, or no witnessed reason. 

Most of the time in the area where I work, it is for a homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk, or a drunk person that has passed out and/or is sleeping too.

Oddly, when someone has a seizure, heart attack, or drug overdose,they are usually with someone and/or it is witnessed, and the 911 call comes in as something other than "Person down." Even a suicide or someone who had died on the street comes out as a "DOA." A "Person down" seems to be always someone who is sleeping or drunk.

Many times, it ends up being a false alarm. The caller is sometimes driving in their car and sees someone on the sidewalk and decides to call. A man was kneeling down on his front lawn doing some gardening, and a driver mistook him as being unconscious and on the ground. Silly good Samaritan...... Other times it's someone who is walking by, or lives/works nearby and sees something "wrong." I came on scene to find a man laying on the sidewalk, with the 911 caller standing right next to him. I asked, "What's wrong?" The caller said, "I think he's dead." I looked down at the man, and shouted, "Hello! Are you okay?" The man on the sidewalk said, "Leave me alone, I'm sleeping."

Yes, many times, good Samaritans just call 911 without trying to investigate why they are calling. I guess there's a point where they care, but not that much. Like the many drivers who call 911, but won't circle the block to find out if they are calling for a legitimate reason, and just keep driving on their merry way.

So far,  knock on wood, my "Person Downs" have not had any emergency needing special attention. Most are people who are trying to sleep. Some are too drunk to be left on their own, and are carted off to the hospital. Some are homeless and feign illness because they know it means a warm bed and something to eat, even though it will take up a bed in the Emergency room.

Today's call was different. "Person down, behind the library." We respond lights and sirens through heavy traffic, and finally get to our destination and head for the back of the library. We didn't find anyone. We looked all over, then walked down some steps to an alley. We looked around, nothing..... Then someone pointed to a place that was behind us, and said "He's up there." We looked up a different flight of stairs and saw a bundled blanket in the library's back doorway.

We asked the pointer, "Did you call 911?" He answered, "Yes, I called." We asked, "What happened, why did you call?" The pointer answered, "No movement." By then we were getting nearer to the person who hasn't moved for I don't know how long, but long enough for the caller to be worried. As we got closer, I thought, "We passed this alley to get to the back of the library, why didn't the 911 caller flag us down and tell us to go down this alley instead?" We would have gotten to the patient a little bit sooner, and it would have been much easier to get this person in distress into the ambulance to be quickly whisked away to the hospital.

Were we too late? Could this person who hasn't moved be saved? We wondered as we got closer..... we shouted "Are you okay? Are you okay? No movement........ none at all. We got closer...... We shook the blanket. No movement. We slowly uncovered the blanket....... and found.........
No one. There was no one under the blanket. Surprised? *rolls eyes*

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Wizard

Everyone is well aware of the Coke vs Pepsi, Cola wars. Each one spends millions to get you to drink their cola. Each one tells you how great they taste and how much better they are than the other. I bet you even have your own favorite brand.

But just for a minute, think about this. What if both brands were owned by the same person? That means of course, no matter which one you buy, one person makes money off you. But why would one person do this? Why wouldn't they just market both flavors under one label?

Loyalty. You get the people all riled up to pick a side, and they get in a frenzy. Mob mentality takes over. You are no one unless you drink what "I" drink. And with only two to pick from, all those other independents fall by the wayside. Remember Royal Crown (RC) Cola? It was at one time, a viable third candidate. But now, you can't find it in a store.

So why am I telling you this? I have a sneaking suspicion, and one day it may be revealed, that there really isn't two political parties. Both are working together for one thing, and it's not to make good government. It's to get your money into their pockets.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Made for Women

Have you ever heard the old saying, "Work smart, not hard?" It just means that if you take the time to think things out, you won't have to work as hard to accomplish a goal. You can also use a machine to do things for you, instead of doing it manually, so that it will be faster and easier.

Machines do make our lives easier. Many mundane chores are now being done by a machine. Not being sexist, but most of the time, these jobs were at one time, done by women. Cooking, cleaning, whatever. Think of all the appliances that are available today, and you will see that most of them help women NOT do a job they once did.

Here are some examples of inventions made for women.

Stove and oven, women don't have to gather wood and start a fire anymore.
Washing machine, women don't have to drag clothes to the river and hit them with rocks.
Dryer, women don't have to hang clothes and wait for them to dry.
Vacuum cleaner, women don't have to endlessly sweep and dust all day.
Can opener, women don't have to use their hands. Heck, food comes in pouches now.
Microwave, women don't have to slave over the now obsolete stove and oven.
Computer, women don't have to go out on dates anymore, they can just as easily reject you while sitting comfortably at home in their jammies.
Even the Television. What? The television?

Yes, now that women have more time on their hands because they don't have to do any manual labor, they need something to keep them occupied, so Television and Soap Operas were invented. And you thought it was made for men to watch sports. *shakes head*

Yes there are many appliances that have made life easier for women. What's next, you ask? Well, I was at the Pharmacy today, and I saw a breast pump for sale......... Now women are trying to replace what men are supposed to do......

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lessons Learned?

September 11, 2001, the day the USA changed.

I remember where I was and what I was doing 10 years ago. I was at home and asleep, awakened by a friend who told me to turn on the TV. At first I was grumpy from having been disturbed from much needed rest, after being relentlessly tired from working at one of the busiest Paramedic ambulances in LA City. But then, like being slapped in the face, I was shocked wide awake, to see what was happening in New York. I watched as the second plane hit the 2nd tower, and at no time did I ever think anything but terrorist attack. In the beginning, there was speculation as to what was happening, thinking only a small plane had tragically hit the first tower. But I came in late, and immediately saw things as everyone else was now coming to grips to. This was no accident.

Then the reports of the Pentagon being hit, and possibly more planes unaccounted for. To be honest, I was never in fear of an attack here in Los Angeles. I don't know why, I guess I felt like they were targeting the East Coast and Government buildings. Later, we did find out that many places were targeted, with Los Angeles being listed. Though the world was now on alert, I don't remember being called in to staff any extra resources. There may have been some, but I just don't recall any right now. Some Firefighters spent their vacations in New York, working for free on their Fire Engines, while the NY firefighters worked to find survivors in the rubble of the World trade Centers.

From my perspective as a Firefighter, we changed in many ways. Our tactics changed. Our state of alertness changed.

But what is more important is how we changed as people after that day. We were one. We were no longer LAFD or LACountyFD or FDNY. We were Firefighters. We were First Responders. We were Brothers and Sisters. Yes, there were Fire Dept rivalries. Just like USC vs UCLA, people had their pride, sometimes misplaced, sometimes foolish.

As we find out more and more about the tragedy of 9/11, we also find out more about the acts of complete strangers helping out complete strangers. Not just people involved with Public Safety, but just your normal everyday person, who also risked their lives to help others. People with no training, or knowledge of the dangers facing them, who only had one thing on their mind. To help another person live.

We also saw that, how in most "doomsday" predictions, people are "predicted" to turn on each other, killing each other for their money, possessions, food, water, you name it. People are supposed to think only of themselves and throw you over the cliff so that they could live. But it didn't happen. People heard cries for help and helped. Groups that left as a team, found their way out as a team.

I guess this is how it is when the perceived "enemy" is from the outside.

Unfortunately, we seem to be divided again. I guess we didn't learn from the selfless acts of strangers that day, that gave for the greater good. "We" are back to "me, myself, and I." I guess this is how it is when the perceived "enemy" is on the inside. Liberal/Conservative. Republican/Democrat. Fox/CNN.

In the end, we are all just people who want the same thing. Food, shelter, and safety. Together, we can achieve this. Divided, we fail. Now go ahead and blame the other guy for it being this way.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Women - A Foreign Language

Before you read this, you have to read this about how women say one thing, and mean another.

Though I'm not disagreeing with this article, I have never heard any woman say #7, or heard of any man who complained that she said it. I do agree that most women say one thing and mean another. I just don't agree on what men and women have been trying to accomplish, since these types of articles have been written.

Think about it. When you look at something, first you look back to when things were different. Then you think about when things started to change, and then that's when you put two and two together to get five.

In the old days, before there were articles like this, men were men and women were women. There was still miscommunication, but whenever there was a relationship, it was "till death do you part." Men and women stayed married and celebrated decades of marriage together.

But now, with these "guides" to how women think, men have tried to turn into Sherlock Holmes, deciphering what women are really trying to say. And what are the results? Divorces, people having trouble finding someone, the explosion of dating sites, and even stalking. Yes, there are more cases of stalking now because men are trying to decipher what you say.

Oh no, she couldn't have meant leave her alone, when she said, "Leave me alone." And she really didn't mean for me to stay the fuck away from her when she said, "STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!!!!!!"

Women, hahaha, they're so funny that way.

Anyway, now that I just spent 6 months in jail for stalking, I've had a lot of time to think about this. Where did men go wrong? Well, the answer is simple. Men thought they were at fault, and tried to better themselves by trying to be a better listener, and therefore be a better partner to a woman. Men tried to be more sensitive. Tsk tsk, what a mistake.

In reality, women are at fault here. Women are the ones who say things that they don't really mean, not men. Yes it IS your fault. For men and women to start being better communicators with each other, WOMEN have to start saying what they mean.

When you go to McDonald's and want a Quarter Pounder with cheese, you don't ask for a Filet 'o Fish, and if you do and end up with a Filet 'o Fish, you better not complain. Now maybe you could get away with asking for a "Royale with cheese" instead of a Quarter Pounder with cheese, and still get a Quarter Pounder with cheese, but you can't ask for a Filet 'o Fish.

But there is more to this story than meets the eye. You see, if women say one thing and mean another, they they could also possibly interpret things in a way only they can understand.

For example, when men say "I'm hungry," men mean, "I'm hungry." It doesn't mean, "OMG! I'm stressed out from my job because that bitch that I work with is always trying to make me look bad, and always talking about me behind my back, and trying to get the promotion that I deserve, that BITCH!"

But, women aren't totally alone here. Sometimes there is a little more to what men say, but it's just not as bad as what you are thinking. So, here are a few things that men say, that mean a little more than what they are saying, but is still misinterpreted by women.

When men say, "Let's have lunch." Women, you should not think, "OMG! I know what he really wants. He's making reservations at a cheap Motel, there is NO WAY I'm having sex with him." What men really means is, "Let's have lunch, I'm hungry and don't like eating alone."

When men say, "Let's have dinner." Women, you should not think, "OMG! He wants to eventually marry me and is making reservations at a Hotel, there is NO WAY I'm having sex with him." What men really means is, "Let's have dinner, I'm hungry and don't like eating alone, and I'll pay."

When men say, "Let's have sex." Women, you should not think, "OMG! He's so funny! He sure is confident. Wow, that is so sexy. I want him. I really, really want him. Right now. In fact right here in front of everyone in this bar, because I've had a few too many and I'm horny and uninhibited. I can't help myself, I'm gonna leave with him right now and attack him in his car in the parking lot. Oh gosh, I am soooo hot right now..... What men really mean is, "I'm horny, I won't remember your name tomorrow, don't expect me to call you, ever."

Not so hard, is it?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Pina Colada Song

Isn't it funny how people get the wrong impressions from songs? Springsteen's "Born in the USA," was mistaken as a patriotic song. But it was more about what was wrong with the USA at the time, than how great a Country we were.

Just like most people think the Pina Colada song is romantic, yet, not really. Yeah, you all know that song..... "If you like Pina Coladas......."

Think about it for a minute. In real life, this is how the song would end.....

You? Why are you writing personal ads?!?!
Why are you ANSWERING personal ads?
You don't drink pina coladas! And you can't stand getting wet in the rain!
Well, I don't like yoga and YOU don't have half a brain!
Well you can't make love at midnight, you're always asleep by 10!
*SPLASH!* Here's your taste of champagne! Now go and escape!

Am I right?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Los Angeles Parking Violations, Parking Tickets

If you received a Parking Ticket in the City of Los Angeles, with only the envelope on your windshield, no ticket inside, then had to pay the fine and late fees, leave a comment.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


As Dirty Harry once said, "A man's gotta know his limitations." This is all relative of course. You never know something, unless you try it. And trying something new or different for the first time usually doesn't disappoint.

But, I'm not writing about things like that. It's more like trying to be a Major League Pitcher when you can't throw the ball over home plate. No, that's not me, it's an example. Some things you are just naturally good at, some things you are not.

Well before my "Reflections" post, I have been reflecting on my life. All aspects, home, family, work, friends, God, you name it, I've been thinking about it. You might have noticed that theme in my blog.

I have known for a long time, that I am not especially good at one thing. I fail miserably all the time. But I kept trying, though admittedly, with much skepticism and being overly cautious when I did, which is probably also why I failed.

For the past 5 years, ever since I became an online personality, I have yearned for a more "normal" life. One that has normal hours of work, and to get more time for myself. But when I tried to change these things, I have run into road blocks.

Wanting this change, I had been neglecting the life I am good at. I have spent less time keeping up with my duties and relationships at work. You see, being a Firefighter is not just a job. It's a different kind of life. I'm beginning to think that wanting a change is not what's in my best interest. I'm starting to believe that, at this point in my life, I should just stick with what I know and do best.

I may even give up my online personality, which is kind of the root cause of my straying from what I was doing. Seeing people do regular things and have a regular life, have made me envious of that life. But that isn't my life. Mine is different, and I have to realize that it is, and accept it again.

I have met some great "friends" online. People that I would never had met or come across in real life. And I would miss them if I left this online world. But there are real people, and there are internet people. Real people are people that you do see, meet, or come across and interact with through work or play. Internet people are just the ones you "see" online, people you may not have even met in person.

I don't think that's healthy. Interacting with real people is not the same as interacting with them online. And many experts agree. They believe that the next generation will have a difficult time having normal interactions with each other. Have you seen people having dinner together, both on their smartphones texting away? How is that normal? It's not. I just hope they are not texting each other, that would be the worst.

Anyway, I am still reflecting on things. Maybe I just need more time to figure it all out. But I do know what I'm good at. At least I can fall back on that.

Besides, most of the time, people are always trying to be/do something that they're not. Whether due to peer pressure or just trying to fit in. It's better to just be yourself, and let people love you for who you are. That's what works for me, as most of the time, I rarely did things because "everyone was doing it." I have to do things my own way. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Divine Intervention?

It would take a long time to explain how I feel about this, explaining how I got to this point, but to make it short, I do believe my life is being guided in some ways.

And sometimes specifically. For example, I wanted to become a Firefighter. Back when I started looking for a job as a Firefighter, it was difficult to get a job as one. Thousands would compete for Firefighter jobs. Depending on the City that was hiring, it could have meant 1 open position or 50 positions. I went everywhere there was a job announcement, from Santa Rosa to San Diego, and even Tuscon, Arizona. I passed most of the tests and even had interviews, but I didn't get hired by anyone except Los Angeles and Monterey Park.

When you want to be a Firefighter, you practice doing mock interviews with common questions given during interviews. Most questions are designed to test your honesty, integrity, and decision making skills. One common question has to do with witnessing a Firefighter possibly stealing something of value from a home that was on fire. You are supposed to answer that in two ways. First, you tell the interviewer that the Firefighter may not have the intent to steal these valuable items, but to collect them and to give them to the owners when he got outside. Second, you are to make sure that you report this incident to superiors to let them be aware of the situation, and that if there was any crime involved, you would not condone it.

I was asked this question with the City of San Diego, and I answered this question wrong and knew it. I tried to justify the answer instead of just saying I made a mistake, and I kept digging myself into a deeper and deeper hole. And I knew it. I was even given a chance to possibly fix this when they asked me if there was anything else I'd like to say. I didn't say anything. This totally blew my chance of being hired as a Firefighter for the City of San Diego.

So why did I blow it? I knew how to answer that question, yet, I didn't. I can only say that maybe it wasn't my destiny to work for the City of San Diego. When I got interviewed for the City of Los Angeles, I passed with flying colors. Yet there was a hiring freeze. I eventually did get hired by Los Angeles, and also got a call from Monterey Park.

So I can conclude that not only was I to become a Firefighter, but a Firefighter for the City of Los Angeles, not anywhere else. And it did feel "right." From training through probation, I did well, and was well liked. I was never given a bad evaluation.

Same with me becoming Paramedic trained. I wasn't taken in the first year I volunteered, but they did take me the next year when they had a new "On Duty" school schedule. I believe this schedule helped me pass Paramedic school, as the other way of "leaving" the Fire Dept for a short time and taking classes 5 days a week would have been a burden on my home life, and I would not have had time to study much.

Back then, the LAFD had a shortage of Paramedics which is why I volunteered to become one, and they were being overworked. When I became a Paramedic I was working on one of the busiest assignments in the City. Eventually I became weary of working as a Paramedic. I transferred to a "slower" spot, but it was still busy enough to keep wearing me down.

I decided I needed a break, and work at a "desk job" with regular 9-5 hours within the LAFD. So I looked for an administrative position at our training center. I found one, but it required certain certifications. I had to take and pass a 40 hour class. I did, paid for it on my own, and attended on my own time. Then I was asked to take one more class so that I could be certified in another section of the same unit. This time, the Fire Dept paid for the class, but I went on my own time.

When I was done, I was going to get transferred within a couple of weeks. Then another Firefighter got injured, and was placed in the position that I wanted. That's what we do with injured personnel, give them "desk jobs" until they heal. Then the budget cuts hit, and they streamlined that unit and when the injured Firefighter got better, they cut his position, and there were no more openings for me.

I did find another open position in another training unit, and I thought I was a shoe-in, as I knew both supervisors in charge of the unit. I ended up number 3 out of 3 with only 1 open position. It all worked out though, as budget cuts also cut the positions in that unit. I would have had to look for another position.

It wasn't meant to be, I was meant to stay out in the field as a Paramedic Firefighter. I even tried to transfer out of the Station I am currently at, to a "slower" Station. But that too did not happen. This is really not common, you can usually find administrative positions, or get another spot at another station. Is it Divine intervention or bad luck? I know what it is. The troubling part is, that I don't know why. Or maybe I do, and that's what troubles me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Uncharted Territories

Changes are coming to the Los Angeles Fire Department in July 2011. Budget cuts have forced the Fire Chief to shut down several Fire Companies and this has caused great concern amongst Firefighters. There will be less Firefighters on duty everyday, meaning there will be less coverage for all types of emergencies.

There will be domino effects when one Company is helping someone in their district, and another emergency will have to be covered by another Company from another district farther away, thus creating gaps in coverage. If you could schedule emergencies, this would not happen, but we all know that anything happens at anytime.

Besides the inherent dangers to the public, there will also be dangers to Firefighters. When I taught fire safety to Elementary school children, one line we used was, "Big fires start small." When a fire starts, the more units you send to fight it and prevent it from getting bigger, the faster it is put out. With less companies, that means the potential for more danger is there.

Personally, it also means changes to life at affected Fire Stations. I myself, am working at the Fire Station that serves the area where I grew up. Yes, I work and serve in my hometown neighborhood. I thought it would be the last place that I would work, and that I would retire from here. But I don't like the changes that are coming, so I put in transfers to other Stations. Others felt the same and have already left. This is happening throughout the whole LAFD.

For the past few years, I thought my future was planned out. Now this, along with other recent disappointments, have caused me to question what the future has in store for me. Things that I know, keep me sane. Things that I'm unsure of, makes me think too much. Thinking too much makes you second guess yourself.

I guess I'm not patient enough. Getting older may be making me desperate, as if I am running out of time. I should have more faith in what fate has in store for me, as it really hasn't let me down so far. Still, this not knowing is really getting to me. Transfers come out Wednesday......

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It seems that life is about many things, but mostly it is about changes and changing. Life throws curves at you and you have to adapt your life to fit what comes. Due to some of those curves, I did things differently than the norm, and I took the road less traveled.

In the three phases of school, I seem to change and develop in different ways. In Elementary school, I was the skinny, quiet, timid, non-athletic kid. But even though I was timid, I still was one to jump in between two friends who were fighting, to stop them. I think most of my friends will say my best trait was that I was friendly. I was one of those, “last person to be picked onto teams” type. Because of that, I got C’s or D’s in Physical Education. It had nothing to do with how well I performed in games, but how much I participated. This grade also lowered my average and kept me out of the “Gifted” program, so I was not given a chance to get in advanced programs.

Junior High was a new experience, a different way of learning, and meeting new people. I felt awkward. Still, I adapted and made new friends, some that I still see to this day. This is where I started trying to be more athletic than academic. I guess I felt that that was where I was lacking, and wanted to develop more. I let my academic side lapse and I lost interest in some subjects like English and History. Math and Sciences were the only subjects that kept my interest. Yet I was still not very good at sports. But I tried. Trying is better than not trying at all. You can’t win the Lottery unless you buy a ticket. This was also when I learned how to play the French Horn, and played in both a Marching Band and the School’s Orchestra. I heard I was good at it, but no one told me that at the time. It seems I rarely got encouragement from anyone. I just did what I did, and I only heard about things if I did wrong.

In High school, I became rebellious. I wanted to do my own thing and I didn’t really want to be there. Being in the LAUSD system, I seemed to recognize that in most classes, you were just there to be baby-sat. Learning seemed to be secondary, unless you were in advanced classes. Though I was in some advanced classes, I only tried to do well in Math and Sciences. I dropped out of High School during my Senior year. Yeah, that’s right, I was a juvenile delinquent. I took and passed the GED test, and didn’t look back. That was the second best thing I did in High School. The best thing I did in High School, was to try out for the “B” Football team. I never played in a game, but I was a part of every practice, and did everything that they made us do. I wasn’t the strongest or the fastest, but I wasn’t the weakest or the slowest. This is where I got a little tougher both mentally and physically. I was pushed to where I didn’t know I could go before, and I took a lot of punishment.

After dropping out, I should have continued my education at a Community college, but I didn’t. That would have been the smart thing to do. Instead, I went to work. My best friend’s mother had a boyfriend who was a plumber. We both worked for him and learned a trade. We did new and remodel plumbing, and I got to see how homes were built. I watched and learned.

During this time, my friend found out that the LA City Fire Department was recruiting minorities. This is when I first got the idea to become a Firefighter. Most of my friends will say they saw a light in my eyes early on, when I watched the LAFD in action. I took the written test and passed. I did not continue on because I knew that the job required a lot of physical strength, and I felt I was lacking. So I set out to get in better shape. When my father learned of my desire to become a Firefighter, he told my mother he thought it was too dangerous for me. Still, I think he would have been proud of me upon my graduation from the Fire Academy at 31 years old. Remember that number.

When I was 25 years old, my father died from throat cancer. I can still hear him tell my sister, "Don't worry, I'll be alright." Then my sister calling me, saying, "Daddy's dead!" I ran to his room and it was the first time I did CPR. His death hit me hard. All the guilt from arguing with him when I was rebellious, haunted me. I learned that being “right” is not as important as you think it is, and some things, a lot of things in fact are not worth arguing about. His death changed me in many ways. I grew up right then.

I got out of my then dead-end job, and found another that allowed time to go back to school. I started taking Fire Science classes from East Los Angeles College at night and got my EMT license. I also took some regular classes during the day, Chemistry, Algebra, some others….. and I got all A’s. I even made the Dean’s list. Damn. I think I still have that certificate somewhere. I didn’t get a degree though.

I tested for many Fire Departments, from Santa Rosa, California to San Diego. At my last interview with LA City, they had announced a City-wide hiring freeze. Things looked dim, but I had a good attitude, I wasn’t afraid. I knew I would get hired, but it had to happen at the right time. I just needed to be patient.

The 1992 Riots happened and the hiring freeze ended. Back then, there was an age limit, 31 years old. Remember I told you to remember that number? I just made it. I was in the first class of Firefighters to get hired in over 2 years. I did well during my probation, though there were some hiccups. I did get hired at the right time as everything seem to fall in place, and I had the best ”teachers” from the Training Academy and all through my Field assignments. Little did I know that all those things I learned early on would help me become a Firefighter, even stuff I learned as a Boy Scout. I earned a good reputation as a Firefighter, and after 5 years as one, I signed up to become a Paramedic. That is my main duty for the LAFD now, but I am both a Firefighter and Paramedic.

I never got married or had children. Not that I didn’t want to, but it just never happened. I still wonder if it will happen. My father got married in his 50’s, but I saw how hard it was for him and I don’t know if I want that for me. But, if it’s right, then it will happen, as things seem to happen to me when it’s the right time. Yes, I feel like I’m blessed. “And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be……” Oh sorry…….

180 days. I wrote that on my Facebook page. I didn’t say what it was about, though some guessed that my birthday was in 180 days. Though that was true, it was not exactly what I had in mind. 180 days meant a countdown to my birthday, the day I turn 50. So here I am, near the end of my second 25 years of life, and reflecting on it, 152 days left as of this writing. I had been reflecting on my life since the year started, and decided I needed to do some things differently, and to make some changes before I was 50. No, I won’t change like flipping a light switch, but I hope to evolve and improve.

My first 25 years was about learning about life, developing mentally and physically, gaining skills, and rebelling. Those were the best years when I had the most fun. I learned many things from many people. My father taught me to work hard, and instilled in me my moral values. He also taught me how to drive a stick at 12-13 years old. My mother taught me devotion and perseverance. From my friends, I learned about life, loyalty, mischief making, and “ragging” on each other. Work and hobby experiences gave me some skills in automotive mechanics, plumbing, electrical, and construction work.

My second 25 years was about education, career, priorities, and responsibility. I started looking at the “big picture.” I no longer just lived for today, I also lived for tomorrow. These are the years that were most fulfilling. I feel I helped so many people during this time. I definitely feel that I was a late-bloomer, and I blossomed between the ages of 25-40. Do real men blossom? I don’t think so, but real men don’t care what you think.

My third 25 years should be about something else. I don’t know what it will be, but I know what I want it to be. Sometimes your future is in your hands, sometimes it depends on other things that happen or don’t happen. Sometimes your life has already been planned for you, and you just don’t know it until after it happens.

Life is a mystery; I’ll tell you how this third 25 year mystery ends, 25 years from now. I hope this mystery has a happy ending, and not “the butler did it” kind of ending. Then I’ll write about my fourth and final 25 years. Yes, I plan to live a long and happy rest of my life. Will you be there with me?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Parking Tickets

About a year ago, my co-worker received a parking ticket from the City of Los Angeles. Or at least, he thought he did. There was a red parking ticket envelope under the windshield wiper of his truck, but nothing was inside, it was just an envelope.

Later on, he called the agency in charge, and they told him they could not verify or deny that he had received a parking ticket. They said it was possible that it was not "put into the system" just yet.

Eventually he forgot about it, until he received a "Notice of Delinquent Parking Violation" letter from the Parking Violations Bureau. Not only did he owe a fine for the ticket that he did not receive, he was now responsible for a "Late Fee."

After calling the Parking Violations Bureau, he was given no sympathy and told right then that he had to pay, or face more fines. He decided it was not worth the fight and paid the total fine of over $100.

Recently, I also received a parking ticket, but my circumstances were different. I parked in a "Yellow Loading Only" zone, and went into the store right in front of the space. I was not in the store for 2 minutes when I saw the Parking Enforcement Officer writing a ticket for my car. Being more "in-the-know" about where a person can park legally than most, I decided that I would just let it go, and fight this ticket in Court.

You see, once an Officer starts writing a ticket, it is too late to do anything about it, and it must go through it's paces before it can be dismissed.

However, the business owner was not happy. It's bad enough that the Economy has hit all businesses hard, he did not want his customers to be deterred from shopping in the area by being in fear of getting a parking ticket.

The business owner went outside and told the Officer that I should not get a ticket. The officer explained, rightly, that I did not have Commercial license plates, so I was not legally parked in the Yellow zone.

The business owner reminded the Officer that everyone has 5 minutes to park in a Yellow zone. The Officer agreed, but stated that I was parked there for more than 5 minutes.

The Officer was told again, that I just entered the store, placed my order, and was paying for my goods when I noticed I was getting a ticket, so it was less than 5 minutes.

The Officer left the scene, and the business owner came back into the shop looking disgusted. I told the business owner that it would be okay, and that I would fight the ticket. When I went to my car, I did not find a ticket. The Officer had left without leaving one. The business owner was relieved, and I thanked him for saving me from getting a ticket and the hassle of fighting the ticket.

I received a "Notice of Delinquent Parking Violation" letter from the Parking Violations Bureau on the very day my fine was due, Thursday, May 12. It was too late to do anything about it, and I worked the next day, Friday. I was off on Monday the 16th and went to protest this ticket. I was told to fill out a protest form, and wait for a reply in 10-14 days.

Just 4 days later, my protest was denied. They stated that I waited too long to fight the ticket, and forfeited all of my rights to fight the ticket.

I was now responsible to pay the fine plus the late fee.

Oh, I'm going to fight this one for sure. I may not win, but I sure will make them work for it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Love Affairs - My Weakness

I've been in love on different levels, from infatuation to head-over-heels in love, many times in my life. But it would never work out. For one reason or another my love would disappoint me, and I would have to find a replacement. If it wasn't for this, I think I would have much more money than I have now. Being in love costs a lot of money, especially when you get a new love. When you get a new love, it starts out very expensive. But when you decide it's not working out, it depreciates so much, that you never recover what you invested.

Yes, I've owned so many cars and trucks, I could have started a used car lot. And each one I bought brand new, I rarely kept for more than 2 years. There was always something "wrong" with it.

As I wrote in a recent post, I had a 4 wheel drive truck that was hit by another truck and totaled. I loved that truck, but it got terrible gas mileage. 10 miles to the gallon. With gas costing over $4.00 per gallon now, it would have cost me $400 per month to fill up my tank. That's a car payment!

And I wrote in that same post, that I test drove a Prius, and it just did nothing for me. It had almost no personality. The only thing it had going for it was great gas mileage. At 50 mpg, it would only cost me $80 per month for gasoline. I said it was not for me, and I was not going to buy a Prius.

I bought a Prius. And just in time too. It was before the Earthquake and resulting Tsunami in Japan, which caused a shortage of some cars and car parts from Japan. And it was also before gas prices sky-rocketed to over $4.00 per gallon. I got a great price on the car, and in total, the monthly payments for the Prius plus the monthly cost of gas for the Prius, is about the same monthly cost for gasoline for my truck.

This economic situation has also raised the value of my car. This is a first for me. None of my cars were ever worth more money than I put into it. Oh, I've had my chances, especially if I kept a couple of my cars for a few years longer than I did. Yes, that 1966 Mustang Fastback would be worth at least 5 times what I paid for it, if I sold it today.

So, although my Prius is not sporty, luxurious, manly, or tough, I think I'll have her for a long time. It isn't flashy, pretentious, loud, or needy. Who would have thought that the humble, indistinct, modest, inconspicuous, and dependable one is the right one for me.

Still, I do feel it's missing something.

There's a lesson in here somewhere.......

Friday, May 13, 2011

Anti-Social Network Break

If you've read my earlier Blog posts, you know that my first Social network experience was with Yelp. I was Goggling for a restaurant, and came across Yelp. Being bored, I really got into it, and started participating in the "Talk" section. Because of my irreverent humor, be it witty, sarcastic, obnoxious, or down right not funny, people liked me. It wasn't until some stalking issues came up that I decided that enough was enough, so I deleted my account and eventually joined Facebook. I never did find the restaurant I was looking for.

On Facebook, most of my immediate friends were from Yelp. Eventually, IRL (In Real Life) friends started finding me. Some of my friends have never seen this side of me. Only my really close friends and co-workers have been subjected to my brand of "humor." No, I am not unique in this, as many others have similar tastes as I do. But, most people thought of me as the quiet, serious guy, who exhibited maybe a little bit too much self-control. A nurse friend told me, "You're really funny. I never knew that about you."

I blame my humor on many things. My upbringing amongst many different cultures, my best friend Ernest, and being a Firefighter. Firefighters, Police Officers, as well as people in the Medical industry, develop a different type of humor. Usually referred to as "Gallows" humor, gallows humor can be thought of as extremely insensitive to the average person. But it is used as a coping mechanism, to not let the drama of real life "get" to people who are always in stressful situations.

Yelp helped me learn to express myself, and vent any feelings I had in a way that was more articulate. Most of the time I kept everything to myself, letting it build up inside of me. I'm thankful that I did have this experience to exercise my mind, and to learn how to express myself in a more positive way. I probably wouldn't be writing a Blog if I hadn't found Yelp.

After joining Facebook, I kept up my brand of humor, making salacious comments on people's pages. I even used self-deprecating humor. Really, you shouldn't make fun of anyone if you can't make fun of yourself.

However, being online, you can never judge another person's reaction to what you write, or show what emotion you yourself are expressing. Body language is what's missing from ALL online communications. Eventually, I was blocked and/or de-friended by some people. Oh well, I guess that's life.

One downside to this, was that I was speaking almost anything that was on my mind. Things that I should have kept to myself. Not things that were "TMI," just those thoughts that you think about when you're over analyzing the world and everything that goes with it. You know, when you're writing messages to other people, and you just read too much into something and then go off into your own world, and then people think you're crazy? No? It's never happened to you? Um, er, me neither.... *embarrassed* Well, at least I was truthful....

Anyway, one of my last Facebook posts was "180 days." I won't go into it too much, but one of the pieces to this puzzle of "180 days," is self-improvement. And one way that I must improve is to be better in my real life relationships. In my opinion, I have been closing myself off to my co-workers and some friends by burying myself in this computer. I have had some issues with my new co-workers and had decided to ignore these people and I spent more time online. I have even neglected my close friends by not calling them or trying to set up things to do.

I have also had a lot of work that has been piling up for the last two years. Projects around my rental unit, and my own home. I even promised to repair and repaint parts of a ceiling at a friend's house. But, instead, I spent my extra minutes on Facebook.

The projects at my rental unit and friend's house have not been interrupted by my Facebook addiction, but it has interfered with the projects that needed to be done around my own house.

So my last Facebook post was about how I would take care of these projects and be back in a month or two. I asked that any communication with me be made through E-mail or by telephone. A friend asked that since I would check my E-mails at night, why couldn't I just log on to Facebook only at night?

I guess I made up my mind by then. There was a certain situation where I was not getting "positive feedback," and it seemed that I was just going in circles, again. So with that, nothing was holding me there.

I asked a friend to take over my Facebook account. This way, there would be no way I could access my account. Due to the Privacy settings I have for my Facebook, I can't even see my page. I've been off Facebook for 4 days, and I have absolutely NO clue what's going on in that "world."

I do get bored at night, during that period after dinner and before I go to sleep, as I no longer watch much television. But even before I left Facebook, I started jogging again. So that's what I'm doing now, after dinner. That's another piece of "180 days," getting in better shape.

Now, I hope to be more involved with real people, my friends and co-workers. And if one or more of my Facebook friends wants to meet and do something, then that would be great. It's no longer about Facebook time, it's about face-to-face time.

As of now, I don't want to go back to my old ways on Facebook. I'm hoping that the time off will help me break my addiction. I'll leave the account "active," but I don't want to be as active as I was. For those of you on my Facebook that may read this, Yes, I CAN do it. I can be stubborn at times when it's something important, and I have a little bit too much self-control.

No, this isn't goodbye. It's just a way of forcing me to be more involved in the real world, instead of just in cyberspace.

Anyway, I hope I see you soon, because I'll miss your face, but not your Facebook.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Emergency Interuptus

This one will be difficult to explain.

Have you seen a movie or TV show where someone is being taken to an Ambulance and another person runs up to the gurney and asks the person on it, "What happened? Are you okay?"

Well, things like this happen a lot in real life. Sometimes they are concerned neighbors, or coworkers. Sometimes it's a family member who arrives just as we're leaving to go to the hospital.

"So what?" you say"? Well, if the person is being taken to an Ambulance AND they are very sick and/or dying, this act of concern is only preventing the transport of your sick and/or dying loved one to the Hospital where their life can be saved.

Make sense? If they need to go now, they need to go NOW! And you are preventing this from happening.

This happened recently, though it did NOT change the outcome for the patient. Whatever happened would have happened anyway.

We responded to a shooting victim just a few blocks from our Station. When we arrived, the patient was lying in the street, his head being cradled in the lap of a woman. We did a quick assessment, and also found out at the same time, that the woman was just a passer-by, a good Samaritan who stopped to comfort the patient. Because she was in the way, I asked her to leave. Twice. The third time I had to tell her to leave NOW!

What was she doing? well, she was comforting the patient telling him how everything would be okay, and that she was going to leave, and that the "Paramedics" were going to help him.

Well, this patient was shot in the chest. The only way he was going to have a chance to live, was if he got to a hospital to have his wounds taken care of by surgeon. No kind words of comfort would do anything for this patient, or save his life.

Harsh? Yes, but the harsh truth. Did it matter in this case? Did that woman help cause the demise of this patient because she was in the way, and we could not load him into our gurney until she moved out of the way? I don't think so. I think he would have died anyway, just from where the bullet entered his body.

But who knows about the next time? Are you one of those "What happened?" stop the gurney type of person? Are you the kind of person who does not get out of the way once the proper authorities arrive to take over?

For the sake of the patient, I hope not.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sears Craftsman Hand Tools

When I was younger, I liked to work on cars. This meant I needed tools. For just about any job that is done, there is some kind of tool that is needed to do that job. Even a computer could be considered a tool.

Because of their reputation, and lifetime warranty, I bought my first set of tools from Sears. Their Craftsman line was considered one of the best, and had a lifetime warranty. Some people have preferences for tools, for example, they will only buy from one brand name, like Makita.

Those who don't know anything about tools, should always ask questions about what they want from the tools they buy. How is it made and what materials are used? Is it accurate? What kind of warranty comes with the tool?

Tools are made using different materials and specifications. Some lower cost tools can break, due to the type of material/metal/plastic used and it's thickness. And the size of the tool may not be accurate. For example, a 3/8 wrench may not be 3/8 of an inch, it could be +/- some small fraction of an inch.

Tools with Lifetime warranties are made better with stronger materials and tolerances as close to 100% as possible. There are many tools that have Lifetime warranties. One of the better known companies with a Lifetime warranty on their tools is Snap-on.

Sometimes people want to know the difference between expensive Snap-on tools and less expensive Craftsman tools.

If you want to remove a 1/2 inch nut, you would need a 1/2 inch wrench. Both companies make 1/2 inch wrenches in various lengths. If you compare the two, you will see that the Snap-on wrench is thinner and has less material near where the opening is where you would use the wrench on a bolt. Even the shaft is thinner. This means that the metal they use has to be stronger than the metal that the Craftsman brand uses, or else it will fail and break. Also it is obvious that the Snap-on tool is smooth and shiny. That means that after it is cast, it is polished to a mirror shine. This process is time consuming and expensive. These are the reasons why Snap-on tools and others like it, cost more than the Craftsman brand. Craftsman tools are more affordable, and most of the time, they do just as good a job as more expensive "shiny" tools, in my opinion.

Well, I've owned my Craftsman set for over 25 years, adding on more tools here and there. I finally decided to upgrade my wrench and socket sets. There are complete sets of wrenches and sockets available from Sears and I recently ordered them separately. I could use extra wrenches and get sizes that I didn't already have by buying a new set, and the same goes for the sockets. The newer sockets also have special easy-to-read markings.

All was well with ordering the 43 piece standard and metric size wrench set. The socket set cost a lot more, so that was my deterrent to buy it right away. Then, the set was increased from a 299 piece standard and metric socket set to a 311 piece set. Then, it went on sale with free shipping! I placed my order on December 16, 2010.

On December 18,2010, I received an e-mail from Sears, stating that the item I ordered was SHIPPED with a delivery date between December 22-24, and I was given a tracking number for UPS.

On December 20, 2010, my credit card was charged.

I kept checking the UPS tracking number and it said the same thing, “A label for this shipment has been created, but UPS does not yet have possession of this shipment. Once we receive the shipment, the tracking status will be updated.”

After 10 days I contacted Sears about this shipment and was told that it was shipped to me.

I responded by telling Sears that I am aware of that, but I did not receive the shipment, and that there was no Tracking information available for it.

I was sent a follow-up e-mail telling me that the shipment was shipped "from the Warehouse to the store and will take 2-3 more business days before it is shipped to you."

I kept checking the UPS tracking info and nothing changed.

On January 19, 2011, one month after I was told the item was shipped to me, I re-contacted Sears telling them that I still had not received the order but that I still wanted it, even though it now appeared to be out of stock according to the Sears website, and would wait for it to be in stock. I wanted to make sure that they were aware that it was not yet shipped to me.

Sears replied that they would look into it, and see what happened to my order. Another department of Sears wrote back to me stating that I returned the item and they canceled my order right then.

I replied and explained to them what happened, that I never received the item, and therefore never returned it, and that I want my order fulfilled, not canceled.

Their next reply addressed me as “Nasal," mistaking it for my name. And they told me to just re-order it.

I got angry about being called "Nasal," and said that I would not re-order it because it was on sale with free shipping when I bought it, and vow never to buy another Craftsman or Sears product.

They replied explaining to me how sometimes items that show that they are in stock, are not really in stock, due to inventory errors.

However, that point was moot because the item was shipped to me, and upon the first investigation, it was supposedly at a Sears store, being readied to ship to me.

During this time I researched Craftsman tools and found out that Craftsman tools from when I originally purchased them, were made by a company that was replaced in 1994 by another company. The tools that I own were manufactured by the old company, and they now make tools for Home Depot.

So, I no longer need to buy Craftsman tools, as the Home Depot brand also with a Lifetime warranty is made by the same company that made the tools that I currently own.

In fact, I no longer need Sears for anything. No wonder Sears is not doing well.

As a parting note, I wrote this to Sears.

"Good luck staying in business,


Their last reply to me, addressed me as "Nasal" again.

Test Driving a Prius

I got into a car accident at the beginning of the year. It wasn't my fault, and no one was injured. However, my Truck was no longer drivable, due to the damage. More on this in another post after it is all settled.

So, I needed a car to drive. I called my brother, who, due to the death of his Father-in-law, had an extra car. This car happened to be a second generation Toyota Prius. I have never driven a Prius before. It is "different."

It is designed as a "futuristic" car, with many displays and controls that are digital, electronic, and/or computerized. This can be a hassle to deal with. For example, instead of moving a lever or turning a knob to adjust the heater, you have to press the "Climate" button, look for the temperature adjustment on the computer screen, then press the up or down button and set the temperature to whatever degree you want. That in itself is a hassle. What's better, 72 degrees? 73 degrees? 74 degrees? You get the picture. How much easier it is to just turn a knob. Hotter? Turn the knob to the right. Cooler? Turn the knob to the left.

Then there's the "Speedometer." It is digital, and more or less in the left center of the dash board. All this information, engine temperature, oil pressure, fuel level, and speed should be right in front of the Driver's eyes, not towards the center of the car. And the center touch screen for the Climate, Audio, etc, controls is in the center of the car, below the dash.

This means that the Driver is constantly taking his eyes off the road in front of him, to look left or center and down, to make adjustments to his speed, temperature, radio stations, etc. This is dangerous. You have to "learn" how to disregard all of this and keep your eyes on the road. A friend of mine has said that she always sees Prius drivers in accidents. Personally, I haven't seen an increase in accidents involving Prius Drivers, but if it does happen, I wouldn't doubt it.

But, I did consider buying one to replace my wrecked truck. So I rented the newer 3rd generation Prius. The Dash board info center is even closer to center than the 2nd generation! It is better that they put it deep inside a "hole" in the dash to help with sun glare, but more to the center? They should have moved it more to the Driver's side.

Some of the controls were made more in tune with conventional cars, as the climate control is now separate buttons NOT on a computer touch screen.

The radio in the cheaper models are also separate manual buttons not on the computer touch screen.

The one I rented had the Navigation option which had all the radio controls on the computer touch screen. And it came with a GPS navigation system. This too was a distracting device, but it can be turned off, and since it includes a back-up camera when you put the car in reverse, it is a good option for safety.

Performance wise, the engine has more "Pep" than the 2nd generation. It also can be placed in 3 different modes, Electric, Evo, and Power. Electric means it will run only on the electric motor up to a certain speed, about 20 mph. Evo means it is in "normal" mode, and drives much like the 2nd generation. Power mode makes noticeable "OOMPH." In this mode, the car uses more of the gasoline engine to power the car and thus gets less miles per gallon.

As I drove this car for 2 days, it impressed me for what it does best, save gas. I got over 50 miles per gallon in a combination of City and Highway driving. I did notice a drop when in power mode.

But it did not impress me as the kind of car I need for my everyday duties. For me, it would be a great second car, just to go to work, IF I had a long commute, which I don't.

And also, it does not make sense to me, but the older 2nd generation one seems to be better than the new one. The newer one has better controls and comforts, even more power. But the older one seems to do it's job better, even though I got less miles per gallon.

If you're interested in a Prius, it is a comfortable roomy car and gets excellent gas mileage. And with gasoline prices set to rise over 4 dollars per gallon in the United States, it may be the hot car to have. I may regret not buying one, but we'll see what happens.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My First Post of 2011

Well, sorry if you've been waiting but I have not had many experiences that I wished to write about. Though I have written about Political things, I really don't like to, and am considering erasing all of my Political posts. Anyway, I recently got into a car accident and thought I'd share something.

I grew up near Downtown LA. It was a great lower class neighborhood that had lots of hard working people, as well as poor unemployed people.

It was a safe area, though there were some street gangs. Things did get a little rough in the early 80's to 90's, but no one in my family was ever hurt or felt scared. But we all developed "Street Smarts" or so, I thought we all did.

All of my brothers and sisters moved out of the area and now live in better neighborhoods. I now work in the area. We all visit our Mother often.

As I was coming over one night, Another driver hit my truck and caused damage to my rear axle, making my car undrivable. I had it towed to my Mother's house and left it there.

The only one I told about my accident was my brother because I had to borrow his car. But it is pretty obvious that I was involved in a car accident, as the damage to my rear axle is obvious.

I was sure that my sister could figure this out, as she came over to the house the next day, and would wonder why my truck was in the yard when I was supposed to be at work.

A few days later, while I was working, an Insurance adjuster came over to assess the damage. I let him in, then had to leave and go on a call. While he was doing his job looking over my truck, my sister came over again to visit our Mother.

When she saw a stranger in our yard looking at my truck, she panicked. "WHAT IS A STRANGE MAN DOING IN THERE!" she was probably thinking. She then called me, left a voicemail AND a text telling me what was happening in the yard.

Obviously, though we all grew-up here and have some “Street Smarts,” my sister has lost some "Street cred." When witnessing someone doing something unusual, one could come to the conclusion that someone dressed like a gang member, with a gun, knife, bat, stick, and/or screwdriver, etc, and sneaking around looking for things COULD be a criminal, and the situation could be dangerous.

However, a short man, thin build, wearing glasses, a pullover sweater, dress pants and dress shoes, taking pictures and measurements of my truck, and writing things down on a pad, doesn't really fall into the category of a threat.

At my sister's expense, I'm still laughing over this.