Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Five Points to Ponder


A snippet from earlier this week, featuring Coworker Goddess and your favorite Kat:

CWG:  This person lives on “Virginia Street” and there’s a typo on their contract – it says “Virgin Street.”

Kat:  The problem with living on Virgin Street is it never gets plowed.

I will laugh about this for at least the next three days. 

I tell you this story to illustrate not only my rapier wit, but also to serve as a dire warning.  If you want to roll with me, this is what your life will be like.  You will have to tolerate being my straight man until you finally reach the point where you either run for your life and enter the Witness Protection Program, or slowly back away while distracting me with something shiny (and then run).  There are no other options.  Even if you die, I will use your corpse to facilitate my punch line.


My phone keeps making this little jingly noise and alerting me – “new tag collected.”  What in the hell is a tag, and why am I collecting them? 


I have two rather substantial projects going on, and I hope to complete them both by the end of the year, or at least have them self-sustaining by then.  After that, guess what?  I have another substantial project to tackle.  This particular one involves my darling Thor (side note – if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, I highly recommend dating an MBA, they have so many good ideas) and is, well, exciting.  Even if it goes absolutely nowhere, I am looking forward to the journey.  My deadline is February 14th – his is January 1st.  Mine is a little more practical, since I have no intention of really putting forth much effort until February 12th at about 10 pm.  Curious?  Good.  (insert wink here.)


Somebody stole my “Kat’s on Fire” car magnet off the Katmobile.  Well, joke’s on you, douchebag, because I was about to take it off anyway; it was all peeling and bleached-out and yucky-looking.  Unless, of course, you took it because you are secretly in love with me, in which case I take back the “douchebag” part and wish you a happy day.   Plus, I’ll have an even more awesome one this Spring.  (See Point 3...ohhhh…the suspense….)


I don’t have a fifth point, but tradition says every sermon should have 5 points, so insert your own clever point here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

CERT Training - Sort Of.

Community Emergency Response Training.  Eight weeks of first aid, fire safety, search and rescue and emergency preparedness.  Sign Kat up.

I recently had the privilege of attending CERT training at the Spokane Valley Fire Department Training Center.  I made it halfway through – then disaster struck.  Not CERT-ifiable disaster, but disaster nonetheless.  I got sick with the creeping crud, sick to the point where I missed work.  I NEVER MISS WORK.  I’m that girl that shows up sick and infects the entire office, because I CAN’T STAND to admit that I’m less than well.  Anyhow, I missed a CERT session that night, which in and of itself is not tragic.  The next week, however, I was pulled into mandatory overtime about 30 minutes before I was supposed to go home for the day, and ended up working 11 hours.  So, no CERT for 2 weeks in a row.  When one misses 2 sessions, one is not allowed to graduate.  This means our beloved Kat is out.

Our story, therefore, will be a little short, a little sweet, but that’s okay.  Sometimes life happens and we can’t get our blog post done the way we want.  We move onward and upward, do we not?  I will say, I was pretty bummed last week when I realized I wouldn’t graduate.  Thor, who pretty much always knows what to do, gave me a nice embrace and a glass of wine.  That helped.  (Side note, I like white wine, and am accepting donations.  I’m very much a wine connoisseur, however; I prefer the whites that come in bottles with funky labels.)

Without further ado, I present…..


1.       Your tax dollars in 1987 were not wasted.  I remember more of my first aid training from the military than I thought I did.

2.       I’m retaining a significant amount of the firefighter exam prep that I’ve been doing all these months.  Go figure.

3.       I need to find out where certain people in that class live, so that in case of an emergency, I can go to their neighborhood and get taken care of.

4.       I truly think that if I didn’t absolutely want to pass out cold at the THOUGHT of blood and possessed upper body strength greater than that of your average 4-year old, I would be a good first responder.

5.       People with no leadership skills get on my nerves.

6.       I have the book knowledge to triage at a disaster scene, but the first injured/dead child I come across, well, it’s all over at that point.  I will lose it.  Even READING about it upset me.

7.       I love you, Fred, but if I ever end up with a broken wrist, I hope you aren’t the one to set it.

8.       On the other hand, if you ever find yourself with a broken ankle, and have 2 sticks and some bandages handy, I can immobilize the hell out of your leg.  Assuming, of course, I don’t pass out.

9.       Firefighters/Paramedics think that some really sick stuff is funny and/or awesome.

10.   I am profoundly grateful to Honeywell for their sizable cash donation to the SVFD which made the class possible.

11.   I have a mindset that is suited to emergency situations.  Always have, always will.  And I like it.

12.   I want more.

So, there you have it.  I have the helmet, the backpack, the safety goggles and the CERT training book, just no diploma.   (Just like college, only I don’t have to pay student loans off for 12 years.)   If there is a natural disaster, and you live in my vicinity, and you don’t care that I’m not official – I’ll take care of you.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spokane Valley Fire Department Station 8 and Admin Building

Greetings, my little chickadees.

Last Saturday I invaded  attended the Station 8 and Administration Building open house here in sunny Spokane Valley.  I was bouncing around for days beforehand because this is my home station – located within spitting distance of my house, if you are a really, really good spitter.

I pulled in to the station to see Ladder 1 fully extended, sporting the American flag and looking generally awesome.  I wasn’t the first one there, but I was close.  My goal is to arrive early at these events, as I find that the people involved aren’t overly occupied and/or harried, and are willing to give me more of their attention.  Also, when you get there first, the cookies aren’t picked over yet. Win-win.

About this time, the local TV news van pulled up.  As the dominant journalist on site, I immediately approached the van, ordered them off the premises, and then let the air out of their tires (a move which, in retrospect, was self-defeating).    Actually, I had every intention of doing so, but they didn’t stay very long.  They probably recognized me and determined that I had it covered.  Oh, and I did.

My tour started in Station 8, which was not the “new” building.  However, get this – one interesting facet of this open house is the “name the fire station” contest.  Tradition says that the fire station is a community building, a safe spot; a gathering place, if you will.  The local fire hall belongs to the community, and SVFD decided that the community will name it.  So next to the cookie tray, there was a box to cast your ballot for the neighborhood station name.  Being the new girl in town, I know nothing of this neighborhood, so my ability to come up with a catchy, trendy, historically reflective name….nothing.  But there’s no way I’m letting the opportunity to win something pass me by, so of course I submitted one.  I’ll tell you about my vote in a bit.  (In the literary world, we call that a “tease”.)

Fireman/Paramedic Tom Carleton- who is an all-around nice guy, by the way – stepped up to the plate and offered to give me a tour of the station.  My first thought - nice kitchen!  The appliances are gas.  How very city-like.  Anyway, it’s all set up automatically shut off when the crew gets toned out, so they don’t have to remember to shut everything off when they leave.  There’s a reset button on the wall to fire everything back up again when the crew returns home.  I thought, momentarily – “Gee, wouldn’t it be sweet of Kat to stop by and make some dinner for her heroes?”  Momentarily, as I’ve never in my life used a gas stove….and burning down the fire house would be bad form, now wouldn’t it.  But it’s the thought that counts, and I thought it.

Right next to the huge kitchen was a TV room, complete with many, many Lazy Boys.  Tom says that the crew has an activity calendar each day that keeps them pretty busy; no time for TV until after 4:30 each day.   I wanted to ask him how many of those recliners would be filled at 4:35, but I restrained myself.  I figure they deserve a little TV time.

So get this – as is industry standard, the crew prepares and eats dinner as a group.  Turns out that whichever apparatus is out on a call around dinner time, stops off at the local Piggly Wiggly and picks up groceries.  Even firefighters pick up dinner on their way home from work.  I, for one, thought that was hysterical.  In fact, I was the ONLY one that thought that was hysterical.

The basement housed the gym.  The first thing I noticed where various and sundry rings suspended on ropes from the ceiling… a little Fifty Shades, maybe?  But no, they are for pullups/pushups.  Of course.  Cough cough.

After a quick walkthrough of the dorms – which were stark white, we could definitely use a little Pottery Barn-I headed for the Administration Building, where I met up with Chief Thompson.  Two highlights – one, another gym facility.  Chief says that administrative workers get 3 hours a week to use the equipment.  I asked if that included CERT team members….his look told me that the answer was “perhaps not.”  Number two - a beam from the World Trade Center placed in the lobby on September 11, 2011.  Of course I had to take my Tierney dog tag along for the tour, and here’s a photo of it:


You may recall my earlier tease.  My station name submission was “Tierney Station.”  I’m positive that nobody else would know what it means, but I figure Johnny would have gotten a kick out of having a station named after him.  How many probies can make that claim?

And that point, Thor stopped by to squeeze me.  The best part is, he got roped into a facility tour before he found me, so in order to squeeze me, he had to spend like 20 minutes walking through the administration building and looking at cubicles.  It’s actually rather romantic if you think about it.

As with all things, my day at Station 8 came to an end.  I just called the SVFD and learned that the fire station remains unnamed.  Evidently my vote didn’t make the cut; but then again, nobody else's did, either.   I must go now and brainstorm.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Retraction Most Sincere

I have committed an act of a most heinous nature.

In a moment of most audacious thoughtlessness, words flew from my fingertips without reason, without veracity.   The action of that single point in time struck as an arrow to the heart of my buttercup, my heartbeat, my sugarpop.  Words that were so meaningless to me ripped through the soul of my beloved and left him bleeding on the floor, crying out in a torment so intense, known language fails, and the soul can only writhe in agonistic moanings.

I have maligned my darling Thor.

In my last post, I made a parenthetical reference to the fact that I “haven’t gotten flowers in quite a while.” I was reminded today that, in fact, my dearest heart Thor brought flowers to me in August.  He left them on my doorstep on his way to work so that I would find them as I went out the door in the morning.  How sweet is that?  Only a man of the highest integrity, of the deepest intellect, possessing the highest degree of technical savvy, who is handsome beyond words and is an amazing kisser could have come up with such an idea.  Bestill my heart.

(insert dramatic sigh with hand on forehead here)

So here you have it, dearest reader.  My official retraction.  Don’t send me flowers, I warrant them not.   May I be devoured by a pack of ravenous, rabid mongoose for what I’ve done.  (Mongooses?  Mongeese? Whatever, you get it.)
Here's a shot of us last weekend.  It is my personal opinion that we might be the cutest couple ever.  If you agree, please tell me; if you don't, well, get your own blog.
Thus endeth the retraction.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pound the Alarm

So if you are wanting to send me flowers (which isn’t a bad idea, I haven’t actually gotten flowers in quite a while) – here’s a shot of the building I work in:

Do you see what’s parked out front, dearest reader?  (Besides the giant black truck.)  Yes, that’s a Spokane Valley Fire Department apparatus.  That’s right, kiddies, it’s time for a …. FIRE DRILL!!

The word went out weeks ago.  “Fire Drill at 9:00 a.m.  Here’s your evacuation plan.  Proceed to your check point and wait until given the all-clear.”  I devoted hours of my day to memorizing the layout – tracing the arrows marking the route to freedom with my finger – imagining the chaos that I, alone, could control.  Others were caught up with “working”, wasting those precious hours between 8:30 and 5:30.  Pshah.  I am Kat – your only hope.

I went to my supervisor.  “Do not worry.  I am a Community Emergency Response Team trainee.  I will make sure that this office is evacuated in an orderly fashion with few or no casualties.”

Her response was seeping with her overwhelming relief at the revelation of my skill set - “Uh, ok.”

Then the magical morning finally arrived.  The sun was still low in the sky on this early autumn day, a sky which was hazed over by the smoke from ACTUAL fires (this is eastern Washington, folks).  It lent an ethereal quality to the scene, settling about the fire truck and the half-dozen or so firefighters who stood around it.  They were tense with excitement and anticipation, but expertly masked it with a long-practiced expression of boredom.  This was, of course, intentionally done to keep us calm.

I’m in my cubicle, staring at the clock…8:58, 8:58 and 30 seconds, 8:59, 8:59 and 30 seconds….ready to pounce.  My lioness instincts, finely honed during my months of fire training and firefighter fantasizing, strain my patience. 

Then the alarm lights start to flash – and a blaring siren sounds.  I am on my feet in a flash.  My coworkers, in their untrained ignorance, fail to realize the gravity of the situation as they lock desks, log out of computers, reach for handbags.

(I must admit, it did momentarily occur to me to grab my $250 purse.  But then I realized that the building was on fire and I would need both hands free to tend to the wounded.  So I left it in my desk.)

After wasting precious seconds gathering their stuff, my cohorts shuffled toward the exits, intoxicated by the green illumination which beckoned them to their safety.  I stood in the closest doorway, directing, reassuring, Katting.  A few of the more chivalrous held the door for me and offered to let me through.  Of course, as captain of the ship, I must be the last to leave.  With a shrug, they move on.  Poor, untrained souls.

Once outside and at the designated rendezvous point, all heads present and accounted for, no spurting blood injuries, I felt I could finally let my guard down a little and step out of my zone.  I recognized the Fire Marshal from my Spokane Valley Open House trip, but since he was involved in a discussion with the building administrator, I kept my distance.  Our eyes met briefly, I gave him a “thumbs up.”  He nodded in return, as one professional hero to another, an unspoken, unseen vibration which can only be detected by the most valiant passing between us.  Good work, Kat.

Back at my desk 20 minutes later, I stood in my cubicle and surveyed my territory.  My charges had all returned to their jobs, innocent heads bent over a series of worn keyboards.  I wonder how many of them realize how close they had just come to a simulated fiery death.  But such is the burden of the first responder.  We carry the weight of the rescue, the thrill of the charge – and after; alone, ungratified, we ponder the universe.

Such is the burden of the fire drill.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Disaster Strikes

Remember the ending of Titanic? The Hindenburg disaster footage?   How you felt when you realized that Santa was actually your mom?

Child's play compared to the heartbreak that was served up on September 29, 2012 in Rathdrum, Idaho.

I didn't win the fire truck.

Inconsolable, I called my old buddy, Adam Morrison.  This was his response to my news:

Thanks for keepin it real, A-man.