Saturday, February 25, 2012

Something Shiny This Way Comes

So I was at the gym the other day, slogging it out on the treadmill, and noticed a rather industrious woman on the machine next to me reading a nursing textbook whilst she slogged.  It took a moment - a long moment - and then:  Eureka!  I can study my firefighter exam books on the treadmill!  I'm a genius!

The gym is actually a noisy little place, so I fired up my iPod, set up my "Firefighter Exam for Dummies" book up on the little bookstand, and away I went.  Brilliant!  Stupendous!  Two Birds - One Stone!  I am amazing.

This is when it happened...what I like to call my "Something Shiny Syndrome."  My heart, it's pure.  My intentions, noble.  I have every plan, every hope of going all out when I decide to do something...and then BAM!  Something shiny diverts my attention.  I can't help it.  I think, in fact, I should qualify for some sort of disability payment from some Federal agency.  I just haven't been able to focus long enough to research exactly which agency that might be.

So, there I was, reading my little heart out... "Cross ventilation uses the natural wind direction, if possible, to aid in creating a flow of air from the windward to the leeward side of a..."

(Ain't nothin but a heartache, Ain't nothin but a mistake...I never want to hear you saaaayyy....I want it tha.......)

GAH!  Distracted by those Backstreet Boys!  Focus, Tina.  Focus.

"The use of a water fog stream, a hose nozzle that creates a large volume of fine...particles..of...water..."

(I think I better git in line git in line git in line yeah...git in line git in line git in line yeah...cuz every nig...)


"Hazardous material stored in fixed facilities such as tanks or buildings require....proper...iden.tii..ffii..ccccccaaa...."

(There's a CARTOON on the TV in the gym!  Who picked this channel, seriously?  Why would anybody on the cardio machines want to watch cartoons?  And look at that chain that the TV is suspended from.  Wow, that's a big chain.  I wonder where you would buy a chain like that.  I wonder if they got it at Home Depot.  I wonder what time Home Depot closes......)

And on.  And on.  And on.

This lasted for, oh, 45 minutes when I decided to stop trying to read about buildings and hazardous materials and San Fransisco tools and New York tools and ....uh...well, yeah.  My recall fails.  I do know I spent 15 additional study-free minutes on the treadmill watching cartoons.  Those I remember. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Scammer's Paradise

Forgive my absence, dearest reader.  It's been a helluva week.

How helluva, you ask?  Well, in the course of a week - my most precious, closely-held dream was stomped into the ground with a set of rabies-encrusted cleats; I spent Valentine's Day at the gym with a half-dozen other lonely, dateless women; TG and Me ceased to be TG and Me; I may have a stalker; one of my kindred soulmates is dying; and guess what, TG is one tenacious dude, so now I'm not sure if I'm still single or not.

Yeah, and get this.  A lady contacted me after reading a post about Johnny Tierney in my other blog - he's the FDNY hero that I remember in honor of all the fallen heroes of 9/11 - and wove a fascinating story for me about a young woman claiming to be Tierney's daughter, among other things, and how this young woman is using this claim to her advantage in some really pathetic ways.

Okay, don't know her, don't know the lady who posted...but it got me to thinking about the kind of person it takes to fabricate a scam based on the memory of the heroes of 9/11.  I Googled "9/11 Hero Scam" and BINGO!  Plenty of hits.   Here's a few examples to get your blood boiling, courtesy of the AP:

  • Arizona resident Kevin Held reportedly raised $713,000 to create a 9/11 memorial quilt "big enough to cover 25 football fields." He gave himself a a $175,000 salary, a $200 weekly car allowance, "rent reimbursement," and unreported "loans." He paid his family members "consulting fees." He apparently said a Catholic priest was the chairman of his charity's board, but the Catholic priest wasn't even aware of it. He told lies about the origin of his charity. He will soon move into a $660,000 five-bedroom home overlooking a lake, the AP reports. Total memorial quilt output: "several hundred decorated sheets packed in boxes at a storage unit."

  • Connecticut resident John Michelotti reportedly raised $140,000 for his Flag of Honor/Flag of Heroes Project. He used the money to launch a for-profit company that produces flags printed with the names of 9/11's dead for $5 in China, then sells them for $25 a pop stateside under the guise of contributing to a "fund to help those that were affected," the AP reports. He hasn't donated any proceeds to charity, yet, but he says he's going to start soon! He will donate 70 cents from the sale of each flag and keep $19.30 for himself.

  • Based in a church near Ground Zero, Rev. Carl Keyes reportedly raised more than $4 million "to help victims and first responders" with the help of a Christian TV telethon. His 9/11 charity, Urban Life Ministries, has accounted for the use of only $670,000 of its funds since 2001, the AP reports. Keyes says his organization did nothing wrong, they're just "bad managers."

  • Harley aficionado Theodore Sjurseth organizes an annual 9/11 memorial motorcycle ride. His charity had "nearly $2.2 million in gross revenue between 2003 and last year." It reportedly spends less than 20 percent of the money it raises on charitable causes; the rest goes towards hotel rooms, meals, and entertainment for ride participants.

And on....and on...and on.  I think there's a special circle of hell for those who exploit the memory of the dead for their own gain.  It's populated with people who form crap charities, lining their pockets with the money of widows.  It's populated with those morons from that so-called "church" that go around the country and picket at the funerals of our dead soldiers.  It's populated with slick men in nice suits who would steal the pennies off their dead grandmother's eyes if nobody was looking before they closed the casket.  Enjoy your eternity, dirtbags.  If you get thirsty, I'll give you a list of charities you can contact for help.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breaking News

TG and Me are no longer TG and Me.  That's all I'm going to say about that.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Civil Service - Aspiration or Fall-Back Plan?

Greetings, one and all.  You may recall that, in addition to stepping my little heart out in preparation for the stair climb, February is also the start of our "academic" training.  So I've started my first of three exam prep books.  Here it is:

Sorry about the crappy quality; the batteries in my camera are dead and I had to use my phone.

Anyhow, so last night I'm texting Alex about my training (a firefighter who, this morning, is probably questioning the wisdom of ever giving me his cell number in the first place) and it occurs to me...the premise of this book is insulting.  "Firefighter Exam for Dummies"? 

Yeah, I know this is a whole series of hundreds of different books, all with clever titles like "Low-Fat Cooking for Dummies," "Pilates for Dummies," blah blah blah.  I get that.  But I still see a social commentary here; a mindset amongst a certain group of Americans.  It says to me - college is the goal.  College is the perfect plum on the tree for which we reach.  Send your kid to college.  Scrimp, save, plan, sacrifice - do whatever it takes to get your children a college education.  If they don't have the grades, or if you don't have the financial resources, well - they can always "fall back" on the military...police work....EMT....firefighting.  At least they will have a job, right?

Excuse me?  Am I the only person who thinks this sounds ass-backwards? 

How about this.  Serving in the United States Armed Forces is a privilege and an honor.  Following the call of becoming a first responder is a privilege and an honor.  Raise your children to believe that, and guess what - it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The armed forces and first responder units will be populated with the best, the brightest, the most respected and most driven of our society.  Instead of using these career options as a fall-back plan, make them something to reach for...dream about...the elite.  If it turns out that your kid isn't mentally, physically, or emotionally able to perform one of these callings, well, there's always college, and plenty of other career options for them. 

When you are sitting around a table with a bunch of other moms of high school seniors, the words "my kid got into the military!" should result in gasps and tears of motherly pride, not sympathetic little smiles and crap like "oh, good, that's much more suited to his temperament than college."  Civil service is Harvard.  The military is Yale.  You don't just "get in".  You have to work for it, you have to earn it.

This is why I will never support mandatory military service after high school, as some people do.  I understand the reasoning behind it, and think that it would be a good life experience for most of those kids - but it takes away the honor of service and would inevitably dilute the effectiveness of the unit with people who just can't cut it.

I'm sick of hearing losers trash our police forces - our 911 dispatchers - our firefighters - our paramedics when something goes horribly wrong in an emergency situation.  I'm tired of reading about military men and women acting "inappropriately" in wartime situations.  Trust me, my rose-colored glasses are firmly OFF.  I personally know loads of military servicemen and first responders, and yes, some of them are turdbuckets, just like the population in general.  But the majority of them are well-trained professionals who are faced with making life-altering decisions in an emergency situation, and do it to the very best of their ability with the information they have at the time.  I've been in a burning building with a fire hose in my hand.  I wanted to drop it and run.  Thank God there are those among us who have the internal fortitude to stay on scene and do what needs to be done.

It's the goal, folks.  It's the aspiration.  These are the rock stars, these are the superheroes.  That kid who decided to study fire science in the evenings at community college and go to work at the local fire department, rather than going to a four-year school like the rest of the kids in his senior class?  He could be hauling your smoke-inhaled sorry ass down a couple flights of stairs someday.  So give his hand an extra-firm shake when he tells you his plans, and save your sympathetic smile for that kid who's going to college for an "undetermined" major.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Back to the Stairs.

So after I regained consciousness last week....I noticed that my left knee was sore.  Overly sore.  Extremely sore.  Okay, it hurt like hell and I couldn't bend it for 5 days.

The prevailing opinion, according to Dr. Internet, is that I managed to pull a ligament or give myself some little tiny cartilage tears.  Lucky me.  But you know what?  This morning, I actually was able to get back out of bed and bend my knee!  So back to stair training we went.

Set up - the same as last week.  But friends, this week I didn't start hearing color and tripping over the step and swearing under my breath until I hit floor 32.  Progress!  Progress!  PROGRESS!

I absolutely, completely and firmly believe that tomorrow morning I won't be able to bend my leg again. But fire training is all about pain-sacrifice-dedication-perseverance, is it not? 

Speaking of tomorrow, I'll be taking the day off to do some fundraising for the stair climb.  If you see me in your neighborhood, please ignore your first impulse (running and hiding) and go with your second impulse (writing me a generous check).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Can't Feel My Legs At The Moment.

Well, the Stair Climb is rapidly approaching - a month away.  My Stevens County boys have been training their sweet little hearts out.  1311 stairs - 60+ pounds of gear - these are my boys. 

To show my support for the team, as the Internet's reigning Firefighter Advocate, I decided yesterday that I would start training with them (remotely, of course, because they are 150 miles away).  There's no "practice building" for me here in the middle of nowhere, but I have a step and a lap counter.  If my boys can do this with all that gear, certainly I can do it with just little old me, right?  I have, after all, DAYS of fitness training behind me.  Why, in March, I'll just JOG to the top of the tower for my volunteer post!  No elevator for me, thank you.

So, with counter in hand and King of the Hill on the TV, off I went.  Step-click-step-click-step-click-step-step-click- DAMN!

Focus, Tina.  Focus.

About 10 minutes into it, I noticed a not unpleasant burning in my calves.  Wow, this feels great!  I must be halfway up the building by now.  Firefighters throw rose petals at my feet as I jog past.

Five minutes later, it was more of a  ""  We must pace ourselves, after all.

It all gets foggy around now as I fall in and out of consciousness, but I do recall a "" sound before I hit the floor.

As I lay there, staring up my sweet bachelorette pad ceiling (gee, when did it get textured?) I flopped my head back and forth spasmodically, looking for my little tally counter.  Turns out it rolled out of my lifeless hand and landed under the futon.  I reached for it...flipped it over...and it said:  523.

523.   That puts me somewhere around floor 27.

Scene - The Columbia Tower, Floor 27, during the Scott Stair Climb. Firefighter Mike and Firefighter Sean come rumbling up the stairs, taking 2 at a time, when Mike catches an inert object out of the corner of his eye.

Firefighter Mike:  Do you see that?  What is it?

Firefighter Sean:  It looks like a woman.  Sort of.

Tina:  gargraahhhh arrgghhlll.

FM:  Dude, what do we do?  I was really hoping to shave a few minutes off my time this year.

FS:  (Throwing what's left of Tina over his broad shoulder) No problem, I'll just carry her the rest of the way.  We're only looking at 40 more stories.

Tina:  graagghhh rrrlll mmmmrrrddd??

FS:  What did she say?

FM:  I think she just asked you if you are married.

FS:  Wow, Firefighter Mike!  Do you know who this is???!!!!  This is KAT!!!!!  I read her stuff every day!!!!  I can't believe how FORTUNATE I am to carry her up these stairs!!!

FM:  Uh, I think she just threw up a little on you.


I have a month....I can only go up from here, right?  Tomorrow I bet I can make it to, uh, FLOOR 28!  WHO'S WITH ME?