Thursday, September 30, 2010

Councilman Stokes Is an Explosion In an Idiot Factory

Someone on Twitter, @RobRiscoe, asked my opinion on this fiasco:

The incident occurred in Jackson, Mississippi and there's been considerable hullabaloo in the EMS community regarding it. Normally I don't voice my opinion on things where the answer is as clear as this situation. But since I was asked...

As you can tell by the title of this article, Councilman Stokes has proved to the world that he knows absolutely nothing about the subject on which he has chosen to pontificate in hilarious ignorance.
"You got to take risks; you can't let citizens die!" In a backwards way, he is correct. The shooter and victim took their risks in whatever behavior preceded the shooting. The EMT's try not to let citizens die. But Councilman Stokes, I must ask you, had the EMT's arrived on an unsafe scene and gotten themselves shot and killed, then wouldn't there be two more citizens dead besides the first victim? We can continue this formula - then two more EMT's show up and get shot, and so on - until all the EMT's in the city are dead. You see, going into that scene and 'taking risks' might not be the best policy.
As every EMT is aware, even scenes that are declared "safe" often remain very unstable and can go downhill to "extremely unsafe" in a heartbeat.

(Should we tell Councilman Stokes about what we do when that happens? Actually leave the scene?)

One of the solutions for this "problem" that Stokes has proposed is having the city go into the ambulance business themselves, rather than contracting with AMR. That's fine. No offense to AMR, but certainly few would have a problem with there actually being more ambulances in the city. Tell us, Mr. Stokes, where will you find the EMT's to staff your city ambulances? No doubt you wouldn't want those wimps from AMR to come over and work for you, with all their insistence on "scene safety" or whatever they call it.

Councilman, I have news for you. Your "problem" isn't with AMR. Every EMT in this country, to be certified as an EMT, has to go through an EMT course approved by the nation's Department of Transportation. And in every single one of those classes, the first lesson on day 1 is "Scene Safety." During that class, it is ingrained into the brains of every prospective EMT that you do NOT go into scenes that are not safe! If the scene becomes unsafe, leave! Every practical exercise that the EMT's will perform during class must include the question "Is my scene safe?" If they do not ask that question and determine scene safety, then no matter how magnificently they perform the practical exercise, they will fail. Every day from day one, scene safety will be burned into their brain.

That, Councilman Stokes, is the culture of the pool of EMT's from which you have to staff your nascent city ambulance service.

Perhaps Councilman Stokes would prefer if the class would go something like this: "Hello and welcome to EMT class. The first thing you should know is if you are called to a scene where gunshots are still going off or cars are still colliding with each other or gangs are stabbing each other all over the place, don't worry, just go right ahead in. Everything will be fine and unicorns and rainbows will sprout from your footsteps."

Really, Councilman Stokes? Would you actually want EMT's who were schooled to take such risks? If they are willing to "take risks" with their own personal safety, then what kind of risks will they take with the care they deliver to their patients? When you're in the back of that ambulance one day, maybe when the medic pulls out some big scary tube or needle to put into your body, will you want the EMT's to say "I've never done this procedure before, but I'm willing to take the risk!" Or maybe "You don't have to sterilize the site where you're going to stick in that needle/tube/scary device. It's a risk that he may die from a horrible infection, but we're willing to take it!"

As a casual aside, according to the news video, which I trust more than the "facts" of either Councilman Stokes' or the outraged mother-in-law of the victim, I notice that AMR is accused of taking 21 minutes to arrive at the patient. But then later in the video, the dispatch, en route, arrival and at-patient times add up to only 7 minutes and 25 seconds. This is well under the national average of 9 minutes. Did Stokes even bother to actually investigate the details of the call? Or is he just taking the word of some emotional, angry woman off the street?
Councilman Stokes, you are a fucking idiot.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

History According To The 64 Crayola Box

All the "Flesh" in my box forced the "Indian Red" into a tiny corner. Then a bunch of "Brown" immigrated from another box, causing the "White" to create an uproar. They pleaded with the leader crayon, "Gray" to do something, but he was only worried about the "Pink" in the crayon military. Meantime, due to tax increases & healthcare reform, "Green" virtually disappeared from the box.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Found Wanting" now available for everyone!

Just wanted to announce the release of my book, "Found Wanting." If you've seen my Facebook profile, you know I've been yammering about various problems with its release. Well, finally, it's out now! It hasn't yet hit retailers like Amazon and the iPad app store, but it's available already! You can get it from the wholesale publishers (for a LOT cheaper than my original publisher!).

If you'd like the print version, a real, actual book, then click this link:
Just click Add to Cart and checkout like any purchase!

If you'd like to download "Found Wanting" to your mobile device like iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Stanza or other device, then click this link from your mobile device:
You have to register (it's free) and select which format you want. Don't panic!  Pretty much any device will read the .Epub format. If you have a Kindle, you can download the .Mobi file. You can also read a free preview of the book! Just remember to go back and purchase the full copy!

"Found Wanting" will be available via retail outlets like Amazon and the iPhone app store in 4 - 8 weeks, so get your copy now! Why wait?

Thanks to everyone, and enjoy "Found Wanting"! All the best!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Assorted Memories - Regarding Vehicles (and Water)

When I was small, my grandparents would take us to the Lakefront airport, a small airport for private and charter planes. They still referred to it as Shushan Airport, its name back in the old days, like when the Wright brothers were still around. We would watch the planes take off and land. It had a big, beautiful lobby that only much later would I appreciate as being classic art deco. Sometimes military planes would be there, old WW II planes that were still in service - big, gorgeous Constellations with three tail fins or awesome DC-3’s. There were lots of seaplanes too. I was always fascinated with the metal-cast scale models of  airplanes in the huge display cases in the lobby. I wanted to be a pilot.

My mother took us to the Lakefront airport one weekend. My grandparents were out of town. She wasn’t quite sure of the way. She made a wrong turn and we found ourselves at the nearby boat launch. She made a big deal of it. She said “I almost drove into the lake!” about a zillion times. She had me thinking we had almost died.

I’m 12. We’re going to Pensacola to stay at the summer house of a friend of the family, Mr. Chanel. He’s French. And rich. My Dad is driving the station wagon to the beach. The bridge across the bay is very old, narrow and seems rickety. I’m scared the bridge will collapse from age. That night I have a dream which combines my memory of my Mother declaring our near-death by boat launch with the scary bridge. In my dream, we’re driving across a rickety bridge which angles down into the water. I wake up crying. The dream occasionally resurfaces even today, but I don’t cry anymore.

I’m 23. I have a part-time job driving a truck transporting mail at night. I drive from the main post office on Loyola Avenue to Picayune, Mississippi to meet another driver from Jackson, Mississippi. We’d swap trucks and I’d drive his mail truck back into New Orleans. My friend Mike and I share the job; he drives 3 nights a week, I drive the other three nights a week. One night Mike decides to ride with me even though it’s his night off. He wants to meet his girlfriend, Sherry. Sherry is driving back into town on the same highway from a trip. We meet Sherry. Her friend Iliana is riding with her. Mike gets into Sherry’s car and Iliana rides with me in the mail truck. Iliana is from Cuba. I’ve known Iliana for a few months and I like her. She holds my hand as I drive. 

I’m 25. I live in Listowel, Co. Kerry, Ireland. My friend Mike has asked me to come with him on a tour of Europe. On the overnight ferry from Ireland to England, we are bored, so we make up a story to occupy the time. It tells of César and his friend (whose name I can’t remember) and their adventures. The story serves as a running theme for our own adventures all over Europe through the next month.

I’m 34. I have Eric as my permanent partner in the ambulance. He is also a paramedic, so we can swap duties - he drives one call, then I drive one call. We get along incredibly well. He is my partner at work and has also become a friend. I love going to work because we make each other’s day pleasant. Our partnership only lasts two months. I am then assigned to work with the medic that no one else can get along with. I spend several months with my new partner. I am miserable. Eventually, we start to get along. Eventually, I start to like working with my new partner. Eventually, I look forward to coming to work so I can be with my partner. Shortly thereafter, I am assigned a different partner, the latest one that no one wants to work with.

My sister Shannon is in the hospital. She is eleven; I am exactly one year older. We both have the same birthday, a year apart. Shannon is having her tonsils taken out at Hôtel Dieu Hospital. Children are not allowed in the hospital. My parents tell me and my other sister Erin to wait in the car. We do. It’s hot. We’re there forever, it seems.

I’m 30. My parents have entrusted me to keep their car while they’re out of town. My wife and I leave the house; we’re going to take their car to go wherever it is we were planning on going. Their car is no longer in front of our house. It’s been stolen. I file a police report. Four days later I’m working on the ambulance with my partner Mike (not the same Mike as I mentioned). My cell phone rings. It’s the police, saying they’ve found my parents’ car after a police chase and it’s been crashed into a parked car. The driver has been taken to the hospital. Mike and I drive to the scene where I confirm it is my parents’ car. Later at the hospital, I see the punk who stole the car. He’s lying on a spineboard, strapped down. It would be so easy to kill him, or at least beat the living daylights out of him. My partner Mike sees how angry I am and physically pulls me back, away from the teenage punk.

I’m 16. My year-younger sister has a license to drive. I do not. I’m in no rush to get one because I don’t really care if I can drive or not. She is driving to school and will drop me off at my school. We pick up her friend Michelle who goes to Shannon’s school. “1999” by Prince comes on the radio. Shannon and Michelle sing and car-dance to Prince. I don’t particularly care for Prince, so I stare glumly out the window.

I’m 3. The school bus picks me up for my first day of school. Mr. Jimmy drives Bus #22. Later, he would also teach Catechism, though it wasn’t a Catholic school. I ride Bus #22 for the next ten years. Forty years later I meet the brother of one of my co-workers. He also rode Mr. Jimmy’s bus, #22, though I don’t remember him. He didn’t go to Mr. Jimmy’s Catechism class because he was Jewish.

I’m newly married at age 28. My wife Grainne and I are driving across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. We watch the ducks, seagulls and cormorants flying and floating on the lake. While driving across the 24 mile-long bridge at 60 miles an hour, she locks the electric door locks. Mystified, I ask her why. She says “You never know who’s going to rob you.” I consider the logic of her statement but can find none. I ask her, “Who do you think is going to rob us? A rogue pelican?” She turns up the radio. 

I’m 10. We’re going to Pontchartrain Beach, a local roller-coaster type theme park. My sisters and I take turns chanting “Pontchar” - “train” - “Beach!” each of us taking a portion of the name, splitting the four syllables as fairly as we could between only three children. I am dying to ride the Zephyr, the biggest roller-coaster New Orleans had ever seen. In the line for the ride, I confide to my Dad that I’m scared and I don’t actually want to ride the Zephyr anymore. We quietly leave the line. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Assorted Memories - Unassorted Memories

Unassorted memories:

I’m 3 years old; I notice that the heavily stuccoed wall next to my bed has a plaster pattern that might be interpreted as a face. I spend the next 3 years talking to the tiny plaster face, wishing I didn’t know it would never understand what I said.

I’m 18. After some sporting event, possibly football, at the Superdome at which my friends Steve & Marty and I got rather drunk, I decide it would be appropriate to punch Steve in the face. Steve is 6’1”, easily 250 pounds and used to be a college linebacker not very long before. He hits me back, after carefully explaining why the recompense is at least as appropriate as my initial punch. I remember groaning on the ground shortly thereafter.

I’m 24. I’ve been in Ireland for a month. My flight home after my vacation is the next day. I use my new friend Henny’s phone to call my parents at home. My youngest brother Michael answers. I  tell him to tell Mom & Dad that I won’t be on the flight home because I’ve decided to stay in Ireland. I remain in Ireland for a year.

I’m 6. My sisters Shannon and Erin and I have made a pastime of watching the new house get built next door. One day, we go to the window in our housekeeper’s bedroom to watch the heavy machinery do its thing. We eat ice cream. Shannon has chocolate. I have chocolate and vanilla. I discover the “swirl,” when your ice cream is just soft enough to swirl the flavors together, resulting in a delicious combination of breathtaking flavors (although it is a disgusting shade of brownish poop color, as Erin points out).

I’m in first grade. I’ve read a book called “Molecules” three times. I have questions about nuclear physics. I ask Ms. Surgi, my first-grade teacher about the cohesive properties of atoms, protons, neutrons & electrons. She is stumped.

I’m 39. My friend Greg and I are at a bar. I’ve recently moved out from the house my wife and I have shared for many years. We take turns discussing our “women problems.” After a few minutes, I literally cry into my beer for half an hour. 

I’m 21. Still living with my parents, I’m walking through my brothers’ bedroom to get to my own bedroom, actually the garage that’s been turned into a garconniere. I ask my brother Patrick a casual question, to which he lies about the answer. I’m incensed that he lied. I recall my parents’ admonishment, “Don’t hit your brother! Don’t hit anyone unless they're your own size!” It occurs to me that Patrick, aged 17, is easily my size, perhaps even a bit bigger.  I allow my anger to get the best of me and slug him several times. He gets a black eye, swollen and barely able to open it. The next day, my Dad has a photo shoot with a local magazine, as he’s running for public office. The photographer takes several pictures of our happy family. The photograph that appears in the magazine pictures my brother with one eye open, the other swollen shut. I’m smiling.

Speaking of photographs, there are very few family pictures in which I am not standing on my tippy-toes, to appear taller than everyone else.

I’m 26. I’ve just gotten back from a contract job in which I maintain aquariums through Bobby’s pet shop, where I work. Dr. McSwain calls Bobby, whose office aquariums I’ve maintained for a year. He’s complaining that ‘his fish are dying.’ Too embarrassed to go back, I ask my co-worker, Chip, to go to his office to check out the mysterious fish deaths. He returns later, and explains that I forgot to hook up an air tube that oxygenates the water in the aquarium. Two hundred dollars worth of tropical saltwater fish have died (this is about three actual fish; Dr. McSwain has a generous aquarium budget). I am too embarrassed to go back; I ask Chip to take over the account. Bobby never deducts the losses from my salary.

It’s my fortieth birthday. I’m in Anaheim, California, living as a refugee after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I rejoice that I’m two thousand miles away from anyone that would have a “Lordy, Lordy,  Look Who’s Forty” birthday party for me.

I’m one year old. It’s my birthday. I don’t understand the importance of the one-piece jumper my aunt has given me as a birthday present. I try to escape the festivities the adults are enjoying but the three steps up to the kitchen are too high for me to climb. I learn their drink preferences by overhearing their requests from my Dad, who rarely drinks, but is the party bartender. I don’t know what a “Martini” is yet. An “Old-Fashioned” mystifies me; at a year old, my idea of old-fashioned is last week’s stuff. The thought of a drink “on the rocks” will perplex me until my speech patterns are fixed enough to ask about it years later. Eventually I make it outside, where Maria, the girl next door, plays with me in my round strolly-walker thing.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lasagna, Sean-style

Well, I never thought this blog would turn into a cooking show, but like a thousand folks asked for my lasagna recipe just because I put a picture up on Facebook. Interestingly, I also tweeted the entire cooking experience on Twitter with photos., but hardly anyone responded. Slightly disgruntled at being underappreciated, I'm putting the recipe here like I Twittered it. Because really, who wants to read "spread evenly across the pan" or some crap like that? That's like the Ambien zombie of literature. Anyway, here's the recipe as posted on Twitter with links to pics! Click the http links if you want to have a friggin' clue what I'm talking about!

 Welcome everyone to#seanskitchen!

Today's dish: lasagna! All you vegans out there, cover your eyes.

First orders of business when in #seanskitchen - preparation. Vodka & soda is a good choice.

If someone gives you shit about cocktals at 3:30pm, offer them a cocktail!

Second step in preparation for #seanskitchen - mood music. This is entirely up to you.

Get your shit together. If u don't like italian sausage, go hide with the vegans. #seanskitchen

Get your biggest, most psycho-killer knife and chop up those tomatoes! Show them no mercy! #seanskitchen

Stick those tomatoes in a pot. Turn up the heat. Ignore those who say you should remove the seeds. They're pussies.

When it's all steamy, turn down the heat and torture those tomatoes.

Ad a lot of garlic! Did you think we're not gonna use fucking garlic?

Add some olive oil & italian seasoning. Use a lot! You're seasoning all the lasagna, not just a pot of tomatoes.

Use whatever the hell tomatoes you want! Just use tomatoes!

Take your big scary knife and disembowel the hell out of some italian sausage!

How u gonna cook that big ol' pasta? In a big ol' pan.

Take the skin off the sausage. Save it to make a festive costume.

Brown that fucking sausage. Use a goddamn bigger pan than me.

You're not cooking in #seanskitchen unless you use at least three burners. Fuck you, microwave.

When some sausage falls on the ground, let the dog have it! This is why you need a bigger goddamn pan!

When it's browned, drain it & let the sausage rest. All meat needs to rest after heat! Even human meat!

You're still simmering those tomatoes, right? SIMMER DOWN! Don't make me come over there!

Use whatever crackpot way you want to tell when pasta is ready. Just put some olive oil on it, for Chrissakes!

Let the tomatoes simmer while the meat rests, the pasta drains & you mix another adult beverage.

Welcome back to #seanskitchen! Your pasta is drained, your italian sausage better have rested. Your tomato sauce is saucing.

Is your tomato sauce all thick & gooey now? Good! If you have an Italian grandma who says sauce needs to be cooked forever, kick her ass.

Make a layer of italian sausage in the bottom of a pan. Feel free to use real Italians.

Layer the pasta on the meat. That shit is still hot! It helps if you get pans to fit the pasta, unlike me.

For God's sake, make a layer of ricotta cheese! Don't be stingy; what is this, weight watchers? #seanskitchen

Make another pasta layer. Add some veggies! I'm using artichoke hearts. Or spinach, eggplant, whatever. I don't care

Spread your awesome tomato sauce all over those veggies! Make 'em orgasm.

Oh sweet Jesus, don't forget to preheat your oven!

More pasta! Shred your mozarella! Do it now!

Put those pans in the freaking oven that Jesus reminded you to preheat.

Leftover pasta? Eat it!

Now on #seanskitchen, baking time. I guess 20-25 minutes? We'll have another break

Those of you that take offense to #seanskitchen, no lasagna for you! Yeah, you!

That shit is DONE! this is what golden-brown looks like on#seanskitchen

Let that shit cool down! It's friggin' HOT! Distribute to friends when cool. Thanks for joining #seanskitchen!