Fatigue has definitely settled in.

I’m pretty wiped out because of the work schedule I’ve been keeping.  And over the next couple of weeks it shows no signs of letting up. That’s mainly because of the way things have shaken out with the way I’ve been able (or not) to pick up shifts at all of my jobs. I’d really like to not have to scramble each week to earn my living, but unfortunately it has become more common than not to have to do that. But I’m dealing with it. At least I’m trying to.

Just about a week ago Martha,  my wife, and I adopted a dog. A two year-old American Pit Bull. Her name is Louise – actually, we found out her full name is Louise Lily – but we have taken to calling her “Weezy.”


We don’t know a great deal about her, but here’s what we do know. She is approximately two years old. At one point in her early life she had puppies; when she was found her pups were with her, roaming around the greater Atlanta area. The family that originally had adopted her wanted to take her and the other dogs they owned everywhere but couldn’t due to what appears to be issues with socialization. But she was crate trained and housebroken. She has an incredibly sweet disposition. She is also extremely intelligent and is really curious about everything. Plus, she is a couch potato, for the most part. And she won both of our hearts pretty quickly.

I believe the wisdom about rescued dogs is true: when we rescue them, they in fact really rescue us.

It will be fun to get to know her over time more. I think she will be a great companion for both of us, especially for Martha when I work my crazy shifts. And for me on those days when I am off and she is working. We both already are happy she is with us. The other thing is that Martha and I now have one more thing that has both of our interests. Not that we didn’t have enough before, but having a dog gives us more purpose. And that’s okay; it is also true that when we add others to our life, love grows that much more. That is absolutely true. And I’m glad about it.


Justice For Bella

The identification of this little girl has been the subject of many stories in the news media over the past few days. Initially known as “Baby Doe”, she was identified as Bella Bond. She was two years old.


Her parents have also made the news media as well. Her mother, and her boyfriend, have been charged with her murder. Rachelle Bond has been charged as an accessory after the fact, which basically means she knew what happened and hid the little girl’s body. In a refrigerator.

The boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, reportedly said that Bella was possessed by demons. He is alleged to have either suffocated her or beat her to death.

Bella’s father, Joe Amoroso, according to media reports, supposedly tried to gain custody of Bella. Not long after he arrived back in the Boston area to do this is when Bella was identified. And Amoroso has taken the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to task over their handling (or mishandling, depending on who you listen to) of Bella since her birth. Considering that Rachelle, her mother, has had parental rights to her two older children terminated as well as incidents being investigated regarding Bella in 2010 and 2013, perhaps the little girl should have been taken from her as well.

No matter how you look at this case, it stinks. And it stinks from many angles. I say this because this little girl was failed by everybody around her. Not just her mother as well as her father, but by people who were clued into what was going on. As well as the system. And they did nothing.

This affected me when I read about it at the time Bella’s body was found. It really bothered me (as it should anyone who has any sense of right or wrong) that someone could dump a child’s body into the water. Having it be found in the way that it was, on Deer Island, wrapped in a garbage bag, was like being hit with a hammer. And it has affected me further ever since. The reason why is simple: I am a parent and a grandparent. I think about my children and grandchildren every day, worry about their well-being, love them in spite of their not being with me physically, want them to be and do well, and not want anything to happen to them. I especially worry about both of my granddaughters. Not because I fear for their safety or anything like that; I know they are in wonderful hands. But I still worry because it is instinctive for me to do so. Plus I love them like it is nobody’s business, and I expect to do both – love them and worry about them – until the day I die. And because of the way I feel about my children and their children, I can’t imagine how or why anyone would allow such a heinous thing to happen to their child.

Is it because Rachelle Bond was so anesthetized by her drug habit that she didn’t know what she was doing? Or did she really not give a shit? Did Michael McCarthy really think she was possessed? Or did he simply not want her in his life and figured that murdering her and using this as an excuse would be the easy way out? And did Joe Amoroso really try to help his daughter? Or is he another scum-sucking pig that was trying to get his fifteen minutes of fame somehow?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. I don’t think anyone really does except for the people in question. In spite of that, I really hope Bella gets justice. She deserves it.

Justice For Bella


Photo by W. Trachim. May be copied under Fair Use guidelines

This was what I saw when I got to work just before 7PM last night.

The structure is an approximately 100 year-old mill building located on Stevens Street in Haverhill, Massachusetts. For those of you not familiar with the area, Haverhill is an old mill town, just like others that have their presence on the Merrimack River. The river’s headwaters are at the base of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It empties into the Atlantic Ocean in nearby Newburyport, about 15 miles east of where I am right now.

From beginning to end there are towns and cities that utilized the river for power in the many mills that lines its banks. Towns and cities like Franklin, Concord, and Manchester in New Hampshire, and Lawrence, Methuen, and Haverhill in Massachusetts. Drive into any of those communities and you’ll find many of these once magnificent brick buildings. In some places, like Manchester, some of them have been reclaimed for use as office space or residential properties. In others, they haven’t. The building that burned was one of those that fell into category B. My understanding is that the building had been abandoned for quite some time, but there was supposed to be talks between the City and the property management entity as to what to do with it. Since the building itself has been damaged in this way, it would seem to me that it would now come into question as to whether they will happen at all.

I am not aware of injuries to any of the Firefighters that responded to this incident. That is a blessing. It went to eight alarms at its height. I don’t know how many communities sent apparatus in to work on fighting the fire as a result, but I do know that they came from as far away as Londonderry, New Hampshire, which is approximately twenty miles north of Haverhill. As I write, it is now 5AM, and there are still apparatus on scene, presumably monitoring the building in the event of flare-up of hit spots that may be present. And I would think that the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal will be investigating to determine what might have caused the fire to start.

One thing to understand about buildings such as this is that due to how they were built, the wood that makes up flooring construction was saturated with oil, probably Linseed or Cotton oil, mainly to retard wear. And most of these buildings were used as manufacturing facilities, so their would likely be other potentially flammable fluids from lubrication of the machinery present. These presumably would also find their way into the wood surfaces. When fire makes contact, the floors act like huge candles or lamps; those oils I mentioned would burn, and burn, and burn some more. And from other building fires that I’ve seen that were similar to this one, it is very difficult to put the fire out. I think it because of the condition of the wood and the high heat.

I don’t know what the ultimate outcome of this situation will be. But I do know that there is still work happening on scene, more than twelve hours after this incident started. And it continues, at least for now.



The Presidential Circus

Last night I watched the Republican candidates debate on CNN. I was at work, which made it easier, on one hand, because I could cut through the boredom of waiting for the bell to ring by keeping an eye on the events as they made their way across the TV screen in the firehouse’s common area. And I have to say that I’m not sure if I was amused, entertained, unnerved, or disgusted with most of what I saw. Some of it was actually thought-provoking, but not too much. Mainly, it gave me an opportunity to form some opinions about the people who are running for President on the Republican side of the race.

These are my opinions. And they are only that: opinions. I’m listing the candidates in no particular order, and I am not listing all of them, mainly because I’ve lost count, for the most part, as to who is running. There are many who I have no doubt will disagree about much of what I have to say. But I’m okay with that. Come what may, I have little doubt that this is going to be quite fluid over the next few months, especially once the New Year comes.

First, Jeb Bush: face it: he’s a member of the Bush family. There is considerable name recognition there. But he hasn’t done particularly well in polls or in debates. Last night, however, he did a little better than I personally expected. He did have some good give and take with others, especially Donald Trump. And he was a little more fired up than I’d seen him. Overall, not bad.

Donald Trump: I figured I’d better get him out of the way because I have a lot of personal opinions about him. The one thing that I can say is that he is not as he seems on television. I’m told by people I know that have encountered him personally that he is a very bright, personable individual. That said, I haven’t seen that in his public performances. And from what I know about his background, it is obviously heavy on business. Because of his business, he negotiates all the time. However, he doesn’t have any foreign policy background nor does he have the expertise; diplomacy appears to not be a strong suit of his. Furthermore, running multi-billion dollar businesses and being head of government/head of state don’t necessarily translate. I’m not convinced.

Carly Fiorina: she has the same problem as Trump does. Her strong business background doesn’t necessarily translate to government. Plus she has never been in any elected position. And I know that some people say that is a plus; I am not one of them. While she was crisp in her performance, I’m not sold. But she has potential.

Chris Christie: I have to admit that I liked his approach. And he has a clue. He attempted to involve “the people” was a great idea. And I actually think he meant it. I am concerned, however, about his temper. He’s not the only one who has one, but his seems to be the most well-known. And he seems to be the weakest link, in terms of its raising his head.

Scott Walker: tool. Plain and simple.

Ben Carson: very smart. He is as laid back as Trump is Type-A. And I like his point of view. But I wasn’t impressed with some of his answers to questions. My feeling is that he took a couple of steps back because of his performance.

Rand Paul: most of the time he has come off as being a bit of a whack job in the past. I have to say that I thought he was on point much more than any other time I’d seen him. And he made a few good points in his answers.

Mike Huckabee: hit or miss. My biggest problem with him is his support of Kim Davis in Kentucky, mainly because I don’t think she deserved it. As for his debate performance, better than I expected. Not my cup of tea, in terms of his views, but he does have personal integrity. And whether you like him or not, that is something you can’t take away from him.

Marco Rubio: I liked him. He is sharp, especially when it comes down to foreign policy. If he doesn’t find his way into the race this time, watch him. My only concern is that he is quitting the Senate at the end of his term. I think that will have some effect on his credibility.

Ted Cruz: smarmy. No other word to describe him. I don’t trust him.

John Kasich: my favorite. He seems to be the most knowledgeable one of the bunch. Plus he’s been around, both at the state and federal level as well as in the private sector. Whether he has a chance, however, remains to be seen. In my view, the reason for this is simply that he doesn’t have the name recognition as his competition. Hopefully that will change over time.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens. While I am not a huge fan of political theater, this is one time where I think it is important to pay attention. Probably more now than at any other time in the past 60 years.

Last thought: my views are not written in stone. Things may happen that would change my views and my observations about these candidates. So don’t be surprised if this winds up being a fluid subject. And I haven’t even talked about the Democrats, mainly because I’m waiting to see the substance of what they have said so far.

The Presidential Circus

Uproar Over A Stethoscope

I didn’t watch the Miss America pageant this past weekend. It has never interested me, other than the occasional peek at the pageant contestants to see how they look in their swimwear. I won’t lie about that; it’s a guy thing, I suppose. But I can’t stand the vapid responses the contestants give to questions asked by the judges. I know there is a level of competition pressure that is present, and most people, no matter how well-prepared they are, would likely say things that may not come out the way they intended. The contestant from Georgia, who actually won, gave a totally inadequate and foolish answer to the question she was asked about Tom Brady and “DeflateGate.”

But that’s not what I’m writing this post about.

I’m writing about Kelley Johnson, Miss Colorado. She was given some grief on an episode of “The View” that aired this week, specifically about her choice of talent presentation. She gave a two-plus minute monologue on why she is a nurse.

I didn’t really give this too much thought until I saw the uproar on social media. Then I watched both the monologue and the clip from “The View.” I found the comments to be, for lack of a better word, tasteless. Plus, there was considerable backlash against the cast from a lot of different people. The main source of this was from nurses, but there was commentary from others, including a decent sized number of EMS personnel, including me.

And yes, Joy Behar – actually everyone on that particular episode of “The View” – owes Kelley Johnson an apology.

Uproar Over A Stethoscope

Where Were You On 9/11/01?

Do you remember where you were?

I certainly remember where I was.

At the time I was working as a network engineer for the Information Technology department in one of Manchester’s hospitals. I remember being in the office when one of the operations center folks came into our office area and said, “you’re not gonna believe it! A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!” My initial response was, “uh huh. You’re kidding, right?” And I was met with silence.

Needless to say, that got my attention. I walked into the conference room where there was a television. It was tuned to CNN, and I watched briefly to see if I could get a look at some of the coverage and find out what was going on. It was at that moment that the second plane crashed into the other tower.

I remember being stunned. I remember being horrified.  And I remember becoming really angry as the day went on.

Even now, when I think about what happened that day, I get upset. But I also remember that there was a great deal of behavior that, in spite of the nasty, cowardly, evil act that was inflicted on so many innocent people, was simply heroic and instrumental in saving many lives. There were people like Gerry Dewan, a New York City Firefighter. He was on Ladder 3 that day. The whole company was lost in the collapse, while they were doing their job, actively conducting rescue operations. I didn’t know him, but his nephew Mike is a dear friend of mine. It is incredibly personal for him. And I know he honors Gerry in everything he does.

Or Rick Rescorla, the chief of security for the investment firm Morgan Stanley. He had nothing to prove to anyone; he was a retired, highly decorated Army infantry officer who had served both his native England as well as the United States. And he was instrumental in getting approximately 2500 people out of both towers before losing his own life.

Or Fr. Mychal Judge, the Catholic priest who was an FDNY Chaplain, ministering to all of those affected on the scene. He was killed when debris from the building which was falling landed on him, crushing him. The firefighters who found his body carried him back to his church and laid him down in front of the altar.

These are only a few examples of people who set an example with the actions they took that day. There were so many others who behaved in a similar manner. Too many to name. All heroes.

The total loss of life in New York that day was approximately 2700, including 343 responders. That doesn’t include the casualties at the Pentagon or the heroic actions on board Flight 93 which caused that aircraft to go down.

I for one will never, ever forget the events of September 11, 2001, and how it changed the world we live in. My feeling is that the vast majority of people who witnessed the events of that day, directly or otherwise, are affected in the same way.

Where Were You On 9/11/01?

Urgent Care

Some would consider that a contradiction in terms. Maybe it is. But it works better than the alternative, at least for most people.
I’m sitting in the waiting room of the clinic I normally go to when something indeed minor is going on. It indeed is a minor issue; an issue with my skin likely related to the heat we’ve been having. I don’t want to bother my PCP, and there is absolutely no need for me to go to the Emergency Department at the hospital. So I’m here. Waiting to be seen.

So why is it when people need minor medical care in many cases they still go to the Emergency Department? Part of it is related to whether or not people have insurance. Many clinics won’t accept patients if they have no ability to pay. I know that the Affordable Care Act was supposed to have fixed that, but there are still many people who are uninsured. And even those that are insured under ACA coverage plans still can’t afford the deductible they’re responsible for. Consequently, many won’t be seen in an urgent care setting. And they end up going to the Emergency Department, taking bed space that should be available for emergencies. That’s a problem. And it shouldn’t be that way. Unfortunately it is a reality we all pay for.

This is to be continued. It’s my turn to be seen.

(Three hours later)

I was in and out in approximately 45 minutes. Turned out what I thought was going on indeed caused my discomfort. So I was prescribed medication that is substantially stronger than the over-the-counter solutions I’d used. I should be better in a couple of days. And I am working tonight.

I consider myself fortunate. I have the ability to manage my own health needs, at least for now. I’m generally quite healthy. And I’m not a heavy user of the system. Plus, I see both sides of the story because I have a unique perspective, simply because of my line of work. And I can’t say I’m encouraged by much of what I see. And, frankly, it worries me.

Urgent Care