Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ice rescue of dog

I've been on the other end of rescues like this where the outcome was not so good.  Makes me smile to see one go successfully.  Also serves as a good reminder this time of year to stay off the ice, no matter how thick you think it is.  I can tell you from experience you don't want to be in that water.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Opening Supra brand key lock boxes

A couple of shifts ago, we removed a Supra brand lock box from a building that was no longer using it (they had switched to a Knox-Box).  This gave us the opportunity to test out our ability to try to break into this lock box.  Getting our inspiration from Miami Township Fire trying to break into a Knox-Box, we had a go with our Supra box.

First test was to try to remove the hinge holding the locking lid to the back mount.  We tried a Halligan pike, a Rex Tool and a screwdriver in our attempts to drive out the hinge.  None of these were successful.

Second test was to use the pike end of the Halligan tool placed against the lock and strike it with a 8lb axe.

One strike of the axe and it busted the lock mechanism.  The face of the lock fell off giving us access to the inside portion of the lock.

Simply giving the exposed lock a slight twist with a finger popped it out of the housing inside and the Supra box opened up with no further problems.  So, in short, looks like a Halligan will easily defeat a Supra box in our non-scientific experiments.  More detailed pictures below.

Above is the outer ring (lower) that fell off as soon as we hit the lock and the inside lock mechanism (upper) that twisted free and fell into the box once we pushed on it with a finger.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

iTunes, you still suck!

Dear iTunes,

I so want to love you.  Well, I do since you are the only product that will sync my music to any Apple "i" device that I own.  Short of that, you are a crappy product that has not shown any technology updates for years,  with the possible exception of Music Match, which might make you worse.

I am a very technically savvy person.  Have been for decades.  If I can't make your consumer product work, it fails.  I then have my wife try it.  She is very smart.  Works in a high tech field.  She gets frustrated by trying to do a basic feature.  Fail again.

Here is the set-up.  One that I don't think is very different from many other people.  We have 1 Mac in the house running iTunes with a very large (19,000+ song) music library kept on an external drive.  We then have an iMac and 2 MacBook Pros.  None of these machines have the drive space to hold the music library.

So, playing songs from any machine - works fine.  Home sharing works for this.  The problems come with every other thing we want to do.

Want to put songs on an "i" device?  Well, those devices are hooked up to either the iMac or one of the MacBook Pros, depending on the device, not the media server with all the music.  You can't copy songs to the i device without first copying them to the machine you have the i device hooked up to.  This is crap.  I now have 2 options.  Either copy every song I want from the Mac with the music to the Mac with the i device or mount the drive of the Mac with all the music and have iTunes use that drive as its music store.  The latter is the way I have been doing things.

Now, that sort of works.  Until you buy more music or rip a new CD.  I have to copy those songs manually to the drive where all the music is held.  That is step 1.  You would think a program like iTunes that has been around as long as it has would automatically scan a folder for new music.  Nope.  I now have to manually tell iTunes about each and every song I add to the drive.  Fail again.

Enter Home Sharing...  I thought this may solve all the issues.  It was touted as the savior for people in my situation.  I turn it on, plug in the iPod and drag a song from the shared Mac with all the music.  No go.  Can't drag music onto an i device via home sharing.  WTF?!?  It's my music on my devices on my network.  So, again, I make a second copy of every song I want to put on my iPod.

Then comes the magical cloud!  Clouds can fix anything, right?  I spend 4 days syncing my music to the cloud (can't wait for the Comcast bill to arrive for bandwidth use).  I can now see my cloud on all my iTunes.  Pop in the iPod, grab a song from the cloud and drag it to the iPod.  No go.  Now I am pissed.  It's still my music on my cloud trying to go to my iPod and I again have to download every song locally that I want to copy to the iPod.  That means at least 2 copies of my songs, one onto a drive in a MacBook Pro that does not have room for it which is why I moved them all off in the first place.

So, iTunes fails to grasp a simple concept with each new "feature" they add.  Let me keep my music in one place and one place only but put it on any i device that I own without having to make a second copy of that song on the computer my i device is plugged into.

Don't get me started with playlists, or movies.  I stopped using iTunes long ago for video and am very happy with Plex Media Server for all my video needs.  It scans folders and automatically adds new songs, shows, movies, etc.  What a concept.  It lets me watch movies on any device or any TV without making a second copy.  Now, if the very talented people at Plex could make an iTunes replacement app, I'd pay for that!

Apple, perhaps you can get this right in your next 5 versions.  If OS X is any indicator, you will only be taking away features to "simplify" my music experience even more.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Want a white Christmas but have no snow??

I was walking the dog the other day and heard this noise that to me, sounded exactly like a snow making gun. After spending 13 years as a ski patroller, I am very aware of that sound but it was totally out of place in my neighborhood. 

I came around the corner and here is what I found! An actual snow making gun and a large air compressor. So, in case you want a white Christmas this year but mother nature is not working with you, give this guy a call and perhaps you can rent the snow gun and air compressor. 

It did a great job of covering the lawn with snow and the driveway and sidewalk with a nice thick sheet of ice. I don't see this working out well when they come home and try to pull up the driveway.

I think the kid that lives there sets this up before he goes to school so he can sled in the driveway when we gets home - since I've seen him doing that.  We do have a great sledding hill just down the block, perhaps I'll loan him some hose and extension cords so he can cover it with snow and not his driveway.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A year in the life of a firefighter

  This documentary is called "Burn" and it follows City of Detroit firefighters for 1 year in a city that is rapidly deteriorating. The documentary is not yet fully funded. They are seeking donations to help complete the project and release it. Not only is the firefighting footage amazing, it tells a great story about a group of hard working citizens and the city they are fighting to save.

  Help them make this a reality by clicking on the link below.

BURN Trailer from BURN on Vimeo.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why I am voting them all OUT

Last night, the Senate blocked that $35 billion bill for states and localities to hire firefighters and cops as well as teachers, marking it the 2nd defeat for President Obama's jobs agenda in less than 2 weeks. The bill, which failed in a 50-50 vote, marked the first attempt by Senate Democrats to move pieces of the president's American Jobs Act that was defeated by a Senate filibuster last week. WTF?!? All I hear both sides in Washington say is we need more jobs. We need to protect the jobs we have. Public safety and education are "priorities." But when it comes to actually doing anything about it, you fight, bitch and do nothing to help solve the problems.

I have a new plan that I started with the election this November and will continue until things improve: If you are currently in the office you are running for, I am NOT voting for you. Regardless of party affiliation, I am not voting for any incumbents for state or federal offices. You all suck, seriously. None of you have done anything that even resembles the job you said you would do when you ran. A 2 year-old has better compromise skills than you do.

All I hear is bickering, finger pointing and blaming everyone but yourself. Even your own parties can't agree to get along internally. You all have the lowest approval rating in decades. People are camping out to protest for days (weeks) in cities across this nation. Why? We are all fed up with you. Don't you get it? You really suck and we are tired of it. It's time for all of you to go and enjoy the golden parachutes, consulting jobs, lifetime pensions and health care that you voted for yourselves after your "public service" careers. The only public I see any of you servicing is your own selfish selves, followed by a few high paying special interest groups. You've done nothing to help me or anyone I know. You've done nothing to help the economy. You've done nothing to help job growth. You've done nothing to help this country you have sworn to protect. In fact, it could be argued you have made it worse. You are leaving this world a worse place than how you found it. You couldn't even maintain. If you ran a company, you would have been fired by the board or shareholders long ago. Sadly, you don't run a company, you run a country.

I hope others will follow me and send these idiots a message. That message is: Good Bye!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Firefighter pensions

I'm getting into the habit of sharing interesting videos... Here is one from Connecticut firefighters unions on protecting our pensions. Interesting way of doing it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A way to fix a broken government

Most of us will agree the government is broken. The system, the people, the direction. A relative of mine sent me an email with this in it. I am not one that re-forwards emails like this to friends, however, after reading it and agreeing with everything in it, I thought I'd put it out there for those may not have gotten this from someone they know. Take a look at it and comment on what you think. I'd love to see this get traction.

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.
The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.

Ken Jeong CPR video

Well done and a good message.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Videos from Africa!

I've finally gotten through the videos I show while on safari in Kenya, Africa in July, 2011.  All of these were shot with a Canon 5D Mark II camera in 1080p and a 70mm - 300mm lens.  I did learn after watching these that you should turn off image stabilization while shooting video - you can hear the stabilization motors working the entire time.  Or, get a better microphone...

Link to the playlist:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easter Eggs dropped from helicopter

In Castle Rock, CO, we take the Easter Egg hunt to a whole new level. A helicopter makes a low altitude pass, dropping the eggs out into the field below.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Email signatures

One of my least favorite things people put in email signatures. It seems they are totally useless as well. According to the Economist "Automatic e-mail footers are not just annoying. They are legally useless."

Instead of going green by asking people not to print your email, go green by removing this useless information from your email signature, thus sending less data over the Internet and saving money and energy that way!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Firefighter Olympics

Very cool to watch but I hope this never catches on in the US. I'd hate to see any member of our department wearing spandex...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Are Your Ground Ladders Safely Marked?

Read this article last year and thought it was a great idea. Just finished getting it implemented at work. See comments at the end of the article for on-line sources to purchase the DOT striping tape.

Are Your Ground Ladders Safely Marked? - Firefighter Nation - Firefighter Social Network, Training & News

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Machine Gun Camp??

Couldn't help but notice this ad in front of me in a restroom of a local watering hole... It is advertising machine gun camp. Basically take a day shooting machine guns - presumably at a target of some sort. 

What I found funny was the ad listed a number of "events" that this activity would be appropriate for: Birthdays, Bachelor Parties, Corporate Outings, etc. 

What amused me was the 2 events that were highlighted: Bachelor Parties and Divorce. Nice. You can start and end your marriage with machine guns.