Saturday, October 18, 2008

Firefighter in China

A friend of mine worked the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in China this past summer. Knowing I was a firefighter and this would amuse me, she snapped this picture. This is what appears to be a temporary fire station near Olympic Village. The station housed 2 fire trucks and only 2 firefighters - one for each truck. The best part (or worst) is, I guess in an attempt to look busy, the 2 firefighters had to stand at attention on that red box all day long. Note the little fire extinguisher on the ground next to them. This seems like a typical attempt to make the outside of the box look as pretty as possible for all the foreigners. I'm sure they don't have to do this every day when the Olympics are not in town.

Monday, September 29, 2008

As hard as I tried, I could not come up with any captions that did this picture justice. Here are some attempts. PLease feel free to comment with your own:

- The Smell of Fear
- Plenty of Seats Still Available
- Holy Shit!
- A River Runs Through It
- United We Stand
- #1 or #2
- Next!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What happens when a cable car stalls

Ever wondered what happens if a San Francisco cable car stops working? Since all the cars on that line use the same cable, 1 car stopping on the tracks not only blocks traffic but it holds up all the other cable cars coming up behind it.

I got to find out on my last trip to San Francisco. We were ridding the Powell line from Union Square to Ghirardelli Square. About 1/2 way to our chocolate dream, the cable car operator could no longer grip the cable running under the street. That basically left us stalled right in the middle of an intersection at the bottom of a very steep hill (like there are any others in SF).

After about 10 minutes of waiting for something to happen, this very large truck with an even larger front bumper pulled up behind us and pushed us to the top of the hill where our driver was able to grab the cable again and off we went.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

CART 2002 Crew Video

After cleaning up my server today, I came across this nearly long forgotten video I put together from the 2002 CHAMP / CART season television crew. If your not familiar with freelance TV life, this is a small glimpse of some of the best in the business - having fun...

Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) 2002 television crew video

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Denver City Council destroys my plan of quick cash at the DNC

So I guess my dream of setting up a Quikrete booth outside the Democratic National Convention for protesters is being smashed by the Denver City Council. This information, reprinted from CBS, explains the new proposal:
Denver leaders are racing to pass a bill aimed at protecting people from protesters at the Democratic National Convention. The proposal bans demonstrators from having certain items. City leaders call it a "very restrictive," but limited ordinance.
"Someone could literally shutdown the convention if they had the right tools," says Doug Linkhart, the chairman of the City Council's Safety Committee.
Linkhart says the proposed bill came directly from the Mayor's Office. It would make it illegal to carry any tool, object, or instrument that can be used to obstruct roadways, sidewalks, or the entrances of buildings. This includes chains, quick setting cement, padlocks, handcuffs and other locking devices.
"We're simply saying you can't have those in a protest or on site if we can prove you're intending to use them," Linkhart says.
The proposed bill would also make it illegal to possess any noxious substance, such as human waste.
It was the "quick setting cement" that I had hoped to make some quick cash on this DNC season. I mean what protester does not want a large bag of quick setting concrete??
 My Plan

Demonstrators Plan

Outside the DNC - this may never happen sadly...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ass Rock

This picture was snapped outside Coors Field during Rockies Opening Day. I used to listen to this radio station but recently started feeling like the music sucked. It seems their marketing slogan has changed to reflect that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bill Gates tries his own software... And fails.

It's rare that I read an article about Bill Gates or Windows and laugh out loud multiple times.  This was too funny and shows another side of Bill Gates that you may not have known about.  The below segment is a copy of an e-mail that Bill sent to some of his management team about his attempt to install MovieMaker on his computer.  Anyone who has ever used a Windows machine for more than 2 minutes has felt this way.  This message was copied from the website:

---- Original Message ----
From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don't drive usability issues.

Let me give you my experience from yesterday.

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack ... so I went to They have a download place so I went there.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

It wasn't in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45.

These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like: C:\Documents and Settings\billg\My Documents\My Pictures seem clear.

They are not filtered by the system ... and so many of the things are strange.

I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying - where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie maker (not moviemaker!).

I tried that. The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of waiting up it came.

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weird dialog boxes.

Doesn't Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?

Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.

This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.

So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn't use it for anything else during this time.

What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy. This is after the download was finished.

Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night -- why should I reboot at that time?

So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.

So I got back up and running and went to Windows Update again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.

So I went back to and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.

What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.

So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.

At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to download.

So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like "Open" or "Save". No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.

The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.

So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.

It is not there.

What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.

Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.

But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for more information.

What an absolute mess.

Moviemaker is just not there at all.

So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus Package.

I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that is a terrible website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don't you just love that root certificate message?)

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

South Canyon Fire memorial trail

It has been 14 years since I was at this location. 14 years earlier on July 6, 1994, 14 dead bodies were pulled from the side of this mountain on a helicopter that landed next to where I was working as a firefighter at the time for Snowmass Village FD. During the South Canyon Fire (also sometimes referred to as the Storm King Mountain fire), conditions rapidly changed on the afternoon of July 6th, resulting in 14 firefighters being over run by fire sweeping up the canyon they were working in.

I won't get into details on the situation. That is covered in depth on line and in books. For me, this was my first wildland fire. I was working as a volunteer for a structure fire department. We sent 1 engine company to this fire at the request of the Forrest Service. Our job was to protect the helicopters as they re-fueled. Since this was a large, active fire, the helicopters would land and keep engines running while they re-fueled. This is obviously dangerous but was allowed at the time. We had a fire engine and 4 people there to put out any fires that may start as a result of this practice. For us, the work was light compared to the crew on the fire line.

I remember clearly when the helicopters landed with the rescued firefighters that survived the blowup. I remember clearly the looks on their faces. They had lost 14 brothers and sisters. I remember the Governor showing up at the helipad to fly up to the disaster site. I remember seeing him wearing his USFS issued nomex fire pants and shirt with his polished wing tip shoes on. I remember watching the body bags be unloaded from the helicopters by the very same firefighters that survived. I remember feeling very insignificant and embarrassed for my relatively easy assignment on this fire.

A few years after the fire, a memorial was built on the mountain side where each of the 14 firefighters was found. I had always wanted to hike this trail and visit those memorials. On June 8, 2008, I had that opportunity to make that hike. To see the canyon the way those 14 had seen it. To try to envision the firestorm that ripped up through that canyon. To try to envision the race for their lives those 14 made.

What I found most amazing from this journey was the location of the 12 firefighters that were together (2 were in a different location on a different task). They were a hand line team working closest to the fire and had the longest run to safety. All 12 of these firefighters were within 100 feet of each other when they died. They were all within 200 feet from safety. Many were only a few feet from each other. They stayed together as a fire team until the very end. To begin to imagine their last moments... Those that could run faster staying back to help and encourage those who were slower. To put your friends, bothers, sisters and team ahead of you during this mad dash for life. To lay next to each other, probably huddled together protecting themselves as the fire roared past. This is what I found most amazing. Being a firefighter myself, I know the importance of team work, trusting your team and staying together as a team. I can't describe seeing memorial stones as close together as these were on the side of this mountain after this team ran hundreds of yards at full speed. This was one team that could not, would not, be separated at any cost.

My pictures of this hike and the memorial sites can be found at:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Torn calf playing volleyball

I am sitting on my couch Google searching torn calf muscle because I just did my left one a few hours ago.  My scenario:  I ski all winter and as spring was just starting here, I went out on a 2 hour bike ride yesterday.  I'll admit, I stretched well half way through the ride but not well after it.   Today, I joined my wife for some recreational volleyball at the park.  No stretching of any sort before playing, of course...

I was at the net and jumped up to hit the ball as it came over the net.  I felt a "pop" in about my mid-calf and it felt like someone threw a rock hard at my calf.  I remember my mind thinking "Why did my wife just kick a rock into me?"  This quickly turned into "Oh no!  I know what just happened!"

Immediate pain in the calf and my toes pointed straight down.  I could not put any weight on the left leg.  Next stop was the ER because my fear was a torn Achilles.  Being an EMT and ski patroller, I have seen my fair share of these injuries and know the symptoms well.  I hear lots of patients describe feeling a "pop" and I always found that an interesting description, having never felt it myself.  It feels exactly like it sounds.

Doc checked it out and decided no complete tear of Achilles but that there was a tear of some grade.  Too hard to tell by x-ray alone but I passed the Achilles total tear test.  Her thought was partial tear but she was worried it was at the ligament junction with the muscle.

After poking around for a while, I was feeling much better.  Doc asked me to put some weight on it.  Sure, why not?  As I gingerly put weight down on my left leg, a sharp pain hit my calf and I nearly collapsed.  Pain went from a "3" at rest to a "9" with weight on it.  OK, half splint (hard on the back, soft on the front) on the lower left leg and an appointment for an ortho and MRI later this week.

As I read much more information about people and their injuries, it is clear there is a wide range of recovery duration and options.  I've been following the standard Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation therapy.  Ice has helped but I find it now very difficult to ice with the cast on.

I'll update as the treatment and therapy continue.  I had just signed up for a big bike ride in July (it's mid April now) that I am very anxious to train for.  Sounds like bike therapy is much better than running.  Good thing since I don't even run when being chased.  I'l take my chances before having to run.

I have found a good description of these injuries at:  Many people refer to that article and if you are reading this because you think you have injured yours, it's a good read.  Also, if you have insurance, use it.  Life's too short to do long term damage because you thought you could tuff this out.