Category: notes

Minimizing experiment

I’ve just returned from 9 days away on vacation with the family.  You may not have noticed I was gone, and that was deliberate.  Aside from one Instagram slip-up, I tried not to post that I was away from home.  The photo above is of everything I brought, with the exception of a light jacket.  (The shoes are included merely for size reference.)

The vacation was great. I need not share details here.  The packing was an experiment, and it worked fabulously.  I packed light and chose fabrics which were easy to hand wash and hang dry.  I brought along my phone, my Nook, a notebook and a few favorite pens.  I planned one camera and 5 rolls of film; at the last minute I caved, added a second camera, and doubled the film.  Toiletries, a charger, and my CPAP rounded out the ensemble.

It was wonderfully freeing.  It has inspired me to keep downsizing at home.

I missed my dog and my cats.  I would miss my laptop if we had been gone much longer.  I need a car.  I’m unwilling to give up my steam engines or my photography equipment.  Aside from that I think I could live without the rest of my stuff.

Food for thought and inspiration. . .


It was also interesting to note the sheer volume and mass of STUFF that other people carry when they travel. The theme park entrances had long lines of people waiting to have their bags inspected as I strolled past with my camera in hand. Our entire party breezed through 2 airports with one small roller bag each.

It’s not supposed to be about judgement, but it’s hard not to feel pity for folks who feel they cannot live a few days or hours without all those things.

INBOX:zero / Let It go

Ahh, Gmail. That wondrous invention from Google which allows us to never misplace or lose an email. Anything anyone has ever sent us is only a quick search away.

Every FB status, every Twitter notification. Every shipped package. Every unwanted advertisement. More than a few Russian girlfriends and miracle herbal supplements.

It’s no secret that Mrs. Mack505 and I have been struggling with the level of STUFF and complexity in our lives. Today I looked at that mass of information and realized I don’t need it. We would never consider filing every piece of mail we receive, yet we’ve been seduced into doing exactly that with electronic correspondence.

I’ve been at work, so I can’t clean the house.  I can, however, key <Ctrl-A> <delete> repeatedly in my free minutes.  I sent 5 or 6 important things to my Evernote account, converted a few reminders into schedule items, and wielded the virtual flamethrower.

At this moment my entire Gmail account contains 2 – yes, TWO – emails.

In the place of all that clutter, I’ve created three folders: BILLS, ACTION ITEMS, and READ & FILE. Incoming email will be sorted, processed, dealt with, and shredded just like its paper ancestors.

Wish me luck.

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He sits in his hospital chair, staring out past an uneaten breakfast at the city skyline beyond. Frank starts slightly as we enter the room, then turns and smiles. Our routine has begun for the day.

He's a slight wisp of a man, now. Twice my age and half my size, time and disease have not been kind to his body. And yet. . .

Newspaper clippings decorate the cork board in his room, illustrated by recent photos of life in the senior center with his old army buddies. They never speak of what they had to do, yet somehow a reporter found out. Pieces of official records tell the story. D-day, machine gun nests, a silver star. Survival against all odds, one of only a handful. General Patton's Third Army, right until the end.

My brain has trouble shifting gears. George's army liberated my grandfather from a German POW camp. Frank may not have been there in person, but he's the closest I've ever come.

There will be time for a heartfelt thank you later. We have an appointment to keep. Let's go kick this cancer's ass.



It hasn’t been a great week. We ran all the usual EMS annoyances, from truck swaps through ignorant hospital staff to late calls. I’m still adjusting to my new schedule, and my family is having a harder time than I. They’ve all managed to contract the flu.

Yesterday we were reminded that sometimes Evil truly walks the earth, this time in the form of one young man in a small town a mere 180 miles from here. A small town very like this one. . .

Add in early orthodonture and the intricate ballet that is Christmas with three different sets of grandparents, and you can see that I wasn’t spreading much holiday cheer this morning.

And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.

Thank you, Random Jeep Lady. It was a simple gesture, and I surely can afford my own drive-thru order. Your random act reminded me that there are still Good and Nice in the world and came at a time when I really needed it.

Pay it forward, folks. You never know.

Calm before the Storm

I refuse to be frightened by weathermen, and yet. . .

I spent the evening outside, cleaning up before the storm. I'm ashamed at how much stuff there was out there. I moved a tailgate, 5 snow tires, an assortment of muck buckets, three extension cords, a lawnmower, a wood chipper, three folding chairs, a quart of oil, and more trash cans than I'm willing to admit. The chainsaw is fueled and ready in the truck, and the yard hasn't looked so good in months. It's now ready for a Nor'easter, but not quite a hurricane.

In the middle of it all I had to pause as I noticed something. SILENCE. No distant traffic, no planes, no TV's, no neighbor's Shop-Vac thing, no wind in the trees, nothing.

The calm before the storm. I've never heard it before. I hope that doesn't mean something.

I'm off to save the city today. I've got my obnoxious yellow raincoat, my old turnout boots, and a flashlight. Wish me luck!


Nostalgia again

The tones drop, just like they have for the majority of my life. I've reached the point where I've been a firefighter for more of my life than not. (Scary thought, that.) A box alarm; routine. At least it's not another medical aid.

Circumstances conspire: maintenance, a detail. The first engine responds as usual, but the second piece will be the Reserve. As I dress I have a clear view across the empty ladder bay to where she gleams in the corner, the last red engine in our slowly whitening fleet. I confess a soft spot for her, as she's been around only slightly longer than I. We were rookies together.

The Captain and the Deputy are both riding tonight and they outrank me in terms of both bugles and service. I climb up into the canopy and take my seat, facing rearwards. A recruit fills the final seat, and I wonder if he fully appreciates this treat. The Captain flips a switch and bells (real genuine BELLS) fill the air warning of Low Oil Pressure!!! and other malfunctions. The Detroit diesel shudders to life in a cacophony of sound garnished with a puff of black smoke. The Deputy flips a switch; a solid THUNK announces that three monster relays have engaged three banks of spinning and blinking halogen lights. Cap drops the shift lever (a lever!) into Drive, and our faithful steed strains against her parking brakes. With a whoosh of escaping air, we flow down the ramp into the night.

I am transported, across town and across a career.


Code Red

I found myself engaged in a bit of reflection today, for various reasons. Then I stumbled across this:

Code Red

I haven’t seen that video in a long time. It looks so old now. I was in Providence attending college and buffing the PFD when it was filmed. In my heart the PFD will always run a fleet of classic Macks and Maxims. They purchased their last Mack, a 1991 CF with body by Ranger, when I was a sophomore. It’s retired now. The modern rigs may be better/faster/safer, but they don’t have the same class.

My local firehouse had a matched pair with custom Fox Point crests on their noses.

Its a calm night on the porch. In the back of my mind I can still hear Ladder 8’s old Maxim diesel roaring up Brook Street.

A tip of the hat to Michael Morse. I knew I’d seen that link somewhere recently.

Feeds, scraping, & titillating Germans

For a while now, I’ve been aware that NfMH was being scraped. I didn’t get too upset about it. Even if my text was being used to hawk tree services in Austin it was still linked back here and hopefully driving traffic my way.

This all changed last week when an aggregator swiped my text, translated it into German, and used it to sell sex toys.

Really. I didn’t know this post was especially titillating, but it would seem the scraperbots thought so.

In an effort to combat this the blog’s RSS feed has been modified to display article summaries only. If you receive my ramblings via email or a reader application you will need to click on the headline to read the whole article. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I draw the line at selling ‘adult’ products for other people.

In the course of effecting repairs, I also discovered the subscribe links were not working properly. I think they’ve been fixed now.

Carry on, and try to keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down.

Blogroll Additions

Please welcome to the blogroll Paramedic Pulp Fiction and the Insomniac Medic.  Both write with the wonderful narrative style for which I strive.  KC at PPF isn’t new to the blogosphere, but somehow I hadn’t discovered him until today.  Ben the Insomniac Medic has been a longtime read of mine; I’m not sure how I’d missed linking him.

If you like them, be sure to check out Pink Warm and Dry, Rescuing Providence, Siren Voices, and Trauma Queen.  And of course the rest of the blogroll.


I was going to title this “Rants” but I don’t really have the energy in my arguments.  Alas, I’m grumpy today, and two things bothered me in particular.

Firstly in the last two weeks I’ve had some version of this conversation at least six times:

“Good morning.  Iced tea please, large with lemon.”

“What size?”

“Large.” Continue reading

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