A Day in Propane Paradise

Yesterday was fun. Columbia River Fire and Rescue invited our department to go play at their new training facility. It's actually not yet complete, but what's there is incredible. Unfortunately I didn't bring a camera, maybe next time.

Nine of us got there around 9am and started with a tour. Around 10ish we donned our turnouts and the play began. Our time centered around 4 propane fired props meant to simulate attacking fires on natural gas or propane devices.

The first one was a pipe coming out of the ground with a couple of shutoff valves and a pressure relief valve. Up against it was a conventional cab that had rammed into it breeching the pipe and causing ignition. There was also a mannequin down, the driver who knocked himself out while attempting to abandon the burning vehicle. For this drill, and the others, we attacked in teams of 5, two nozzle teams advancing with wide fog patterns to form a protective shield and the leader who was to shut off the valves and thus kill the fire. The nozzle teams were to refrain from extinguishing the fire so as to avoid unburned natural gas venting. We attacked this prop a few times, rotating the roles each person played.

The next prop simulated an industrial gas meter which had been breached, the flow of gas was ignited (it takes flame to keep the attention of a bunch of fire-fighters). We attacked this in much the same way as the previous prop with similar results though here the burn was hotter and tended to come back at us more aggressively.

The next prop was a propane tank, similar to hundreds found in our district, we added an initial phase to our attack, cooling the tank before approaching it. Otherwise the drill was getting familiar and we were starting to work more cohesively.

After a couple of attacks on this third prop we moved the the special pizza box prop, several were consumed, and everyone was feeling lethargic at the end of this test.

We then did a few more attacks on the propane tank and moved on. The last prop we got to play with simulated a leak from a storage tank. This was the coolest one because the leader now had a third hose to work with and using the water to push the fire away from the shutoff valve was much more interesting. I shagged hoses for the first 3 evolutions, for the last one I played officer. It was a lot of fun. I think the take-away is that you need to position your crews as close to the fire as you can safely do so their water pressure is as effective as possible in pushing the flame away. The return trip was uneventfull.

I had barely made it home when my pager went off. It was around 5:45 so my first though was tone-test is early. Still I bounded to the livingroom where my pager makes its home and found out that this was not our tone-test, it was an MVA resulting in a motorcyclist at the bottom of a 25 foot embankment. I dashed out to my car and flew to the main. The AC and I waited for a couple more responders in the medic. Several people had other commitments so I ended up driving the medic into Hillsboro (patient choses our destination if s/he is able). By the time we were back at the main it was 10:30pm. I was bushed, we refuled and restocked the medic, did our paperwork and vanished. I actually turned off my pager when I got home.


Christmas tree contest

I know it is a bit early for this, but I need help. Four trees have announced their candidacy for Christmas tree 2007. Since the winner will serve a 3 or 4 year term it is critical that the tree be picked carefully.

Tree 1 is a little cedar who's opted to grow right next to the house. He's now almost 2 years old.

Tree 2 is a little cedar who's also opted to grow right next to the house. He's now almost 1 year old.

Tree 3 is a little fir who's opted to grow right under one of the cedars at the end of the driveway, he's almost 2 years old.

Tree 4 is a little fir who's opted to grow a couple of feet awa from Tree 3. He's almost 1 year old.

Who's willing to help with the selection process? The little guy will also need a name, his predecessors were Joseph & Albert.

of mice and me

The other day the cats brought me bird for breakfast, unfortunately they left feathers all over the place while preparing it for me. As usual my trusty vacuum cleaner came out to clean up after them. As usual I first picked up their toy mice before vacuuming, also as usual, I put them in my pocket. A moment ago I decided to return their mice to them, unfortunately two of the toy mice were not toys, but had probably been meant as an appetizer for the main course (bird). Yuck.


Rite of Passage

Yesterday Killer Dust Bunny caught his first mouse. I tried to get a shot of him prancing around with it dangling in his mouth but by the time I found the camera, battery, CF card and what he'd already finished eating it.


ah to be a bit smarter...

I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother Me

I run a server which serves among other things xyz.com. Unfortunately doing this makes me an early target for every attack possible. Fortunately I don't run Windows so most attacks don't affect me. I do however have to worry about the few security issues that are found in FreeBSD. Until very recently I ran version 4.X.X as that had been good enough for many years, why change? To keep things secure I've been manually adding patches where I felt they were needed. Recently I decided to upgrade to the latest version of php5, to do so I would have had to do one of two things; a) hack php to not require getopt_long(), or b) hack libc to include getopt_long(). Unfortunately I chose "b". I built libc, I linked it into a few programs that needed getopt_long, invoked them. All was good in my world. What would you do next? Here's a hint,

    cp libc.so.4 /usr/lib
is the wrong answer if you want your system to keep running. Unfortunately it's what I did. There's no recovery from this, short of booting into single-user and restoring the file. Unfortunately when you make use of a colo facility, single user mode is a luxury you don't get because the console is far away. I'd been building up a replacement box running FreeBSD 7.0 anyhow so I decided to accelerate the schedule on the new box so I could just schedule a quick run downtown and swap the two. I've always been an optimist, what was going to be a quick and easy swap required a dozen or so hours of clean-up. The bright side of things is that I can now do the standard FreeBSD cvsup, make world, make kernel, reboot and be immediately up-to-date.


I just had an epiphany... A blog is something you write in when your life is so boring you can take the time to write. This explains why most blogs (especially this one) are so boring, they talk about a period of complete boredom.


take me for granted

My first home UNIX box, long ago... A PDP 11/23+ (Q-BUS rocks baby) which required me to unplug everything in the apartment before I powered it up, particularly the two 5 meg RL01 disks and the 10 meg RL02. In those days we would reboot a UNIX box which had been up for a week, we might not have known why, but we knew the price of not doing so. Fast-forward some 20+years. Last year my FreeBSD box which serves xyz.com and many other domains, rebooted for reasons that I never quite understood. I was miffed, the previous reboot had only been three years prior. The same box (on which I'm now typing) has since only been up for less than 8 months. I find myself resentfull of the fact that I've a new server built and configured, ready to replace it, after all, who has any business rebooting a box with less than a year of uptime? What do they think, that I run windows? In the early days we used to not run UNIX on desktopish boxen because it (in the form of SCO Xenix 286) was such a resource hog. MS-DOS rules baby, who needs more than 640K anyhow? The box I mentioned above runs a 700MHz celeron with all of 512meg of memory. Try running windows XP (or god forbid vista) on that. Funny how our perspectives change with time.


EMT cognitive test

NREMT (national registry of emergency medical technicians) out-sources their testing to an outfit called Pearson. This is apparently the norm in this industry as yesterday morning when I presented myself to take the test there were a number of nursing students present. Some of the security precautions taken by Pearson seemed a bit extreme. When I got there the guy in the lobby carefully examined my passport and Oregon driver's license, he photographed me, and scanned my right index finger print. He then had me place all my belongings (watch, walled, everything) in a locker. I was only allowed to take the locker key and my license with me. I dutifully took those items to the next step (about 10 feet away) where I was compared to the picture that had been taken of my no more than 2 minutes before, my driver's license was again scrutinized, and my right index finger was again scanned and the print compared to what it had been so long ago. I was now ushered into the testing room where I was placed in a 4' by 4' cubicle which contained the PC (dell, yuck) I would test on. The whole time I was testing all sound in the room was being recorded and each of the 15 or so cubicles was being video-taped. This was of course in addition to the proctor who was visually monitoring us all from a glass enclosure. NREMT told us we'd have 2 hours 15 minutes, Pearson told us we only had 2 hours, I decided not to panic quite yet. It didn't tell me HOW I had done, just that I was done. The test is one of those adaptive deals. You can get as few as 70 questions or as many as 150. As you do better the computer asks you harder questions, though ultimately fewer of them. I assume that once you achieve some maximum number of incorrect answers it will just stop on you too. About 35 minutes later the system told me I was done. I had no idea if this was because I'd messed up too much or because I'd done well. I've been checking back on the NREMT web site virtually every hour since I left the test yesterday. An hour or so ago I finally got my result:
Examination Scored
Congratulations on passing the NREMT cognitive examination. Your passing result on the cognitive examination will remain valid for a one year period from the date of the examination, 7/26/2007 (provided you meet all current requirements for National EMS Certification.) Please allow 2 weeks for the NREMT to mail out results letters.



Today was really warm, we got to 94F. The bees preferred hanging out outdoors rather than with their queen. The bumble-bee didn't need a choke to start. So Bob and I did what we've been doing virtually every spare moment for the last week and change. We invoked our co-conspirators, we'll call them orange and blue for the sake of anonimity. Initially we had this, converted it to this, then this, all to acomplish this, and finally end up with this. The reward is this.


Class is Done!

Class is done with! It would seem that the majority of the Mist-Birkenfeld crew passed, I got the A that I'd hoped for but not as comfortably as I'd hoped. Still... Tomorrow morning we have our skills test for the state, some time later we get the written/computer based test. Then we finally get to practice. Yay! Unfortunately the spare time I'd dreamt of while class was still going isn't going to happen, it will take me at least a month to catch up on life.

Killer Dust Bunny update

How quickly they grow up...


Killer Dust Bunny

The kitten saga has progressed. Mama cat took two of the three back but rejected the smallest (all gray) one. Clearly this wasn't' an acceptable state of affairs so I pulled all the stops on my maternal instincts and found nothing there. Time to improvise. My laundry basket made a fine home for a few days but was quickly outgrown, the bathroom has been taken over. I'm still bottle feeding him kitten formula, we're now up to 5 or 6 60cc bottles a day. One night I brought him to the station for drill and Ann named him "Killer Dust Bunny". Good name, it can be Killer, Dusty, or DB, depending on what the little guy's been up to. He's now about 3 times larger than he was when I first found him. Here's a picture of him at about 2.5 weeks.

class update

Class has been killing me, but it's all been fun. A few weeks ago we all gave ourselves injections in class. Contrary to predictions I didn't pass out while giving or getting. The furious pace of tests, lectures, and skills practice hasn't slowed down at all. If ever things got busier for me, last Sunday I got to spend all day in the ER at Tuality which was an eye opener and a heck of a learning experience. The Sunday prior I spent all day in a MetroWest ambulance, there too I had a great time and learned a lot from my betters. Last night we had the exam on the second half of the material, I managed a 91% which closely matches the 92% I have for the rest of the course. The only things left now are the final exam and practice for the national and state written and skill tests. It's so close I can almost taste having a day off.


cats everywhere!

After all the chores were done I pulled the truck into the barn to load up some hay for a friend. Once done I circled the truck to be certain all was clear and secure. I got growled at. I poked around a bit and located a cat glaring at me. She looked a lot like my cats, almost all gray, white socks, white chest, short fur in this case. I kept on looking because there's only one reason a cat will growl at you and not run. I found the OMG kittens. Brought them in, they now live in the bathroom in a laundry basket. I then rushed off to Longview, WA to get them kitty formula and a bottle. As I was trying to feed them my pager goes off, 'tis a car on fire. I abandoned them and went to do my duty. I got home and will now apparently spend the rest of the night feeding kittens. It could be so much worse, it's not clear that it could be much better.


What a night...

Background; Mark, one of the cats I serve, had been missing since Friday morning. I've spent hours wandering around calling his name :-(.

Class was rough last night, I didn't get the Princes put away at the station 'til 10pm, by the time I got in bed it was almost 11pm. It had been warm and the house was really toasty so I opened the window wide before settling in.

Around midnight a horrid yowling awakened me. I rush out to investigate, mostly naked but with shotgun and flashlight in hand. I found nothing so I returned to bed. I'd not seen Monique that evening but this isn't unusual. After the yowling, I had a nasty feeling so I settled into bed and tossed and tumbled 'til 4am when it was time to rise and shine.

I could feel 3 cats on the bed with me, but I didn't have the inclination (or the courage) to find out which they were. I turned the light on and to my astonishment found both Mark and Nini were there looking at me expectantly, I glanced back into the bedroom and Monique, Certosino, and Loquito were on the bed.

Once more I have 5 felines to serve, I hope your day started out as happily as mine did


Second EMS Test

Today was our second big test. It covered chapters 6, 7, and 8 (airway managment, scene size-up, and initial assessment). I only got 95% on this one, the trend is disturbing. How long 'til I'm failing if I lose 5% each time?

Fortunately we had a couple of extra credit questions, with their help I got a 105% which will presumably be truncated to 100%. I can live with this :-).

We also learned and practiced basic life support (BLS) and lifting/moving patients. Fun stuff.

Watch cats

I feel so safe from mice around here. I have 5 very protective barn cats keeping an eye on things for me. Ooopppsss, well there's one more someplace, I'm certain that she will take care of things. Errrr, maybe I'll go chase mice myself.


First Big EMS Test

Last night I aced my first EMT-B test (human anatomy). Given my past academic history (not good) this is a near miracle. It gets better. Today Ann (our EMS head cheese) assigned me my very own stethoscope. I feel so official. The hardest thing I'll be doing in the next three months is remembering that I cannot use anything I've been learning until I've gone through all the testing by the feds, state, and (I assume) my department. Sigh.