Alcoholism and yet more firefighter nonsense

Recently one of my FF brethren was suspended…again…for behavior unbecoming. Seems he started in with our officers and a chief. He has been in trouble numerous times in the 4 years I’ve been in the department and it always stems from him being drunk. This kid is ~24 years old and has a vicious drinking problem. When he is sober, great guy. Helpful, pleasant and such…but as soon as he get a beer in his hand, he turns into one of the biggest douchebags ever. Frustrates the hell out of me because he could be a great asset to the company but in his current state, he is a liability. He doesn’t feel he needs any help but he does…desperately. I approached him about it one day and was blown off. I hope he gets his act together.


So we have 3 new probies in our company. Seem to be a good group of kids. One is the son of a member and has been around the dept. most of his life. The other two are off the street (both were in 3 years ago, one went to school and one found vagina) and seem to be scared to death. They get so worried that they will do something wrong and get yelled at. Both of them need to understand that when the captain starts foaming at the mouth it’s just the way he is. Nothing personal. Truthfully it’s pretty comical on the fire scene, cap starts yelling about something, he has that crazed look like Willy Wonka at the end of the movie (the original)…”Get off the truck!!!” as we are getting off the truck. He turns into himself after all is said and done but it makes the new guys nervous. The last thing we need is nervous at a working fire, being timid and hesitant can get someone hurt. I think they will come around, might be a long process but if they want it bad enough it will happen.

Sometimes I am so disappointed with the human race

Ever been so mad you wanted to punch a kitten? Well…me neither but I’ve been close. All to often it is some mouth breathing moron who drives me to such rage. It happens when:

–I order a buttered bagel and there is half an inch of butter on one side none on the other. Spread it out you douche! Same thing with an egg sandwich, is it that hard to put ketchup on the whole thing?! Maybe spread the bacon out a little? Then you have the nerve to have a tip jar on the counter. Here’s a tip, do your damn job the right way!

–A newspaper is full of dopey puns. “Cuomo Beats Weiner”, “Tiger Puts Balls In Wrong Hole”. Give it up. Do you writers sit around and congratulate each other after you come up with such drivel? Just read the NY Post, it’s full of that nonsense.

–Everybody wins! I hear about kids today playing sports where there is no score. Who wins? Everybody wins! Are we that afraid of hurting their self-esteem? What about the kids who put real effort into playing? Why do we have to cater to the lowest common denominator? And stop with the participation trophies dammit!

–The twit in the Mercedes makes a right turn from the left lane. Or that BMW cuts me off in traffic…no one is moving you ass! What exactly do you think you will accomplish by jumping lanes? I really believe the more expensive the car, the less driving skill they have

–Portmanteaus (look it up) referring to men. Bromance. Manscaping. Manbag. Mangina. Murse.  Just stop it!

–People put “gate” after anything controversial. Like deflategate and bridgegate. Watergate happened over 40 years ago. Seriously folks, let it go.

–commercials use ordinary everyday objects for “music”.  Kit-Kat is a big offender. And that one for faucets where the guy was running water on various pots and pans. Not really sure why this pisses me off so much…but there it is.

–Everyone is staring at the goddamn phone! My friend invites me to his house, myself and three other people are sitting around the fire pit and everybody is looking down at their phone. Nobody speaks, everyone is hypnotized by the little screen. Damn kids and their crazy gadgets.


Ahh, glad to get that off my chest even though I know I am the only one reading this.

Thoughts on being an introvert.

It sucks being an introvert. There’s my thought. It’s tough making new friends, whenever I try to strike up a conversation with someone new I get nervous and start stammering. Small talk and general conversational skills don’t come easy to me. I come off as being weird, sometimes creepy. The ladyfolk don’t really like that. lol. Back in my drinking days I would stay in a dark corner until I was good and drunk and then proceed to overdo trying to portray the confidant assertive guy. Usually to my detriment. Way too many mornings of calling people to ask what I did and who I have to apologize to. After those many benders I would want to crawl in a hole and hide. Took a while to find out the cure for introversion is not at the bottom of a Heineken bottle. Or a Jack Daniels bottle.

Hanging out in general is a daunting task at times too. Friends ask me to come out and when I politely decline they feel it necessary to try to convince me. The more they ask the more I sound like a douche saying no.    People! When your introvert friend declines to go to a party or social gathering, please accept the refusal. We are not being dicks! We really appreciate the fact you thought of us but when you insist, we are incredibly uncomfortable. If we are ready to be sociable we will be. I don’t expect everyone to understand, just respect our wishes. Again, we are not being mean or dismissive.

I often stay home wishing I had the social skills to be around a large group of people, particularly my friends. I’d like nothing more than to be able to comfortably chat about whatever but I just can’t. I am listening to everyone and enjoy the stories being told but if I am asked to contribute to the palaver I fail pretty hard. My stories often come out all sorts of awkward adding to the anxiety. The more anxiety, the more awkward…and down the rabbit hole I go. People politely excuse themselves, awkward silence hovers like a dark cloud, beads of sweat form on my palms and I find a reason to leave the group. The need to be away from these situations can be overwhelming.

Thankfully it is not a guarantee that I never speak to anyone, it sometimes comes and goes. I put a lot of effort into trying to converse like a “normal” person and there have been times when I succeeded. I’m not a hermit after all. :)  I like making people laugh and smile. I like talking about something I’m passionate about. Love useless trivia. Most of all I love learning things. As long as I’m listening! haa…

Being an introvert definitely has significant drawbacks. I come off as being distant and unsociable. I miss out on great opportunities and relationships. I’ve lost many friends because of it too. Do I wish I was more outgoing? Sure I do. I didn’t ask to be as withdrawn as I am but this is how I was wired and I deal with it the best I can.

Dad, I hope I make you proud

I had a conversation with my dad the other night. It was a long talk but I don’t remember too many details. I do remember him asking me when I was going to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary, weird. I told him that I would as soon as I got a boat. We ended the conversation on a good note and I woke up a short time later.

Dad passed away about 5 years ago from cancer. He was a good man and I miss him terribly. He and I didn’t always have the best relationship as we butted heads on a regular basis. I’ll even be so bold as to say we just didn’t get along for much of my life. I feel terrible saying such a thing but there it is. He was closer with my brother, they did many things together with me usually tagging along or not participating at all. From what I understand it is not unheard of for a parent to have a favorite. Pretty sure Michael was his. What bothered me the most was the apparent disinterest he showed with me. If I had a new hobby or activity he rarely participated with me alone. I was always Dad and Michael or Dad, Michael…and me. I always felt like an afterthought. We never played catch or did a science fair project together, or any other traditional bonding stuff.



In my formative years I looked to my scoutmasters as father figures. Mostly Mr. Boz and Mr. Cap. They had as much to do with my upbringing as did my own father. Mr. Boz is a big imposing man with a booming voice that could be as soothing as an embrace or as scary as thunder. He taught me the value of honesty, responsibility, and respect. He was a man you didn’t lie to, he commanded respect by his presence alone. Mr. Cap was a walking fire hydrant with a Santa Clause beard. Dude was scary strong, he punched me in the arm for a mis-timed joke once….once. Learned my lesson! I learned charity and humor from him. So many elaborate breakfasts a his house after sleepovers (his son and I are still best friends BTW. No funny stuff!). I will always love them for enriching my life.

For many years I considered them more of a father(s) than my own. Dad was always in my life just not much emotionally. Probably explains my constant want of acceptance. He rarely told me he was proud of me.

…Oh self pity, how you rear your ugly head…



Dad and I started getting close when I got a motorcycle. It was a shared interest we did together. Fixing them, riding them, or just BS’ing about them. I enjoyed that immensely but all too soon he was diagnosed. Things were getting harder for him with the chemotherapy and he declined rapidly. I was with him at his final breath along with my brother, step-sister, and step-mom. It was a terrible sad day but I wouldn’t change it. I’m happy to know he didn’t die alone and was in no more pain. My brother and I escorted him to he crematorium on our panheads, I didn’t cry that day.

As I’ve gotten older, I can look back at all he taught me. How I became the person I am today. I learned so much from him and never realized it. He gifted me with intelligence, mechanical aptitude, and a desire to help anyone who needed it. He didn’t have a passion for one thing, he had a passion for anything. Be it music or motorcycles or boats, he’d get into it and master it. He raced cars, flew airplanes (RC and real), played banjo with a bluegrass/folk group, was a commander in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, hunted, fished. He could fix anything…no really…anything he put his mind to. If he didn’t know how he learned. Never left it to someone else.

I see much of him in the things I do. Including having trouble expressing emotion. I know how hard it is for me to show love and appreciation and maybe he was the same way. Either way, I just wanted him to be proud of me and maybe he was.


Another Christmas done

2014 Christmas is done. Thank goodness.

I really don’t like this holiday anymore. There is no more magic in it for me. For many it is the happiest time of the year and with good reason. Spending time with family, seeing your children’s eyes light up on Christmas morning, the gift giving and receiving, everyone seems to be smiling.

So what the hell is my problem? It’s all me. I stress out about gifts, what to get the kids, how much to spend. What do kids like these days anyway? Will I be judged for giving a cheap or crappy gift? Will my mom yell at grandma again? The anticipation of it all makes me so uneasy.

I get sad around the holidays too. It would be nice to have someone to exchange special, personal gifts with. Someone to kiss when the ball drops on New Years Eve. You get the idea.

With all my mental issues I tend to be a sad sack during these times. I try to stay away from everyone because I feel like I’m bringing their good time down. They don’t need to see me moping. I want everyone to have the best time they can and I can’t be part of it. Not yet at least.

Liberty Hose Company. Can I live up to such an awesome standard?

My beloved fire truck

My beloved fire truck

I joined the Lindenhurst Fire Department in June of 2011. More specifically Liberty Hose company #1. Hose company is a somewhat archaic term, referring to the horse and buggy days but the term is still used for tradition’s sake. Most fire departments are steeped in tradition and pride.


My company are the ones who go in and actually put water on the fire. Interior attack as it is called. We hit the hydrant, haul the hose through a structure, and extinguish the fire. Hook and ladder companies (the big trucks with the big ladders) do what’s called vent-enter-search. They open the roof and break windows to let smoke and heat out. They are also tasked with victim removal (though any firefighter in any company will remove a victim if need be). Quite an experience being in a room at 500 degrees, smoke obscuring any kind of vision, pumping out 125 gallons per minute through a hose.


My brother and sister firefighters are a unique bunch. We have a retired corrections officer, a painter, a school teacher, village workers, NYPD ESU officer (retired), a plumber, all walks of life. Young and old. Men and women. All family. There is a bond forged in each of the members as strong as blood (some more so) that is difficult to describe in words. We bicker, get on each others nerves, argue, but on the fireground we will lay our life on the line for another member.


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As members of a fire department, we see the stuff of nightmares. We are there during the worst time of someone’s life. If you call us, it’s not because you are having a good day. Grave bodily injuries, massive property loss, impending death, we come to do everything in our power to alleviate danger and pain. Often at the expense of our own well being. Some of my friends have seen things unimaginable to the general public. I’ve heard harrowing stories that would crush a normal persons mind. I won’t go into details of any of the stories as they are not my stories to tell.


I personally have not experienced such horrors yet, I often wonder if I could cope. Will I rise to the occasion? I feel like I am untested. Not that I want anything horrible to happen, I just want to live up to the standard set forth by my forebears. I want to know that I earned that shield on my helmet. Most say that I have and I really appreciate it. I strive to be the best I can, trying to set a good example for the newer members but now my job keeps my away from home and the firehouse. I am not the asset I want to be. I feel like a ghost now. I miss having the time to wax the truck, to respond to calls, make drills. I see no solution as yet and it is killing me. I miss all of you so much.


RIP Cody.

The young racer from the RC track has passed away. He was 21 years old.

I didn’t have much interaction with him but the few times I talked with him he was a very pleasant kid. The others that knew him had no unkind words to describe him. They said he never mentioned the pain he was in, his impending demise, the fact he had no hair from the chemo…he just lived in the moment. Racing with his friends and smiling about it.

Some may question the existence of a God, others may see it as a confirmation of a higher power. All I know is that I hope with all my heart there is a heaven and he is there. Nobody deserves the ordeal he endured.

Rest in peace Cody. You made the A-main I hope we all qualify for.

Anesthesia, Pulling teeth.

Had the neck shot today. So far cortisone shots suck lol.

Can’t believe they knocked me out for a 5 minute procedure. Not that I’m complaining, it was rather pain free. If you’ve never had general anesthesia before let me try to describe it. After the standard vital signs and too many questions, and an IV stuck in the back of your hand, they wheel you into the room where the magic happens. The anesthetist tells you something to the effect of “You may start to feel drowsy.” Then you are in the recovery room. It’s so quick, as soon as he finishes the word drowsy, you’re done.

This was my third experience with this. The first time was for an MRI. I really don’t like the machine. Claustrophobia is no issue, it’s the fact that I’m being messed with on a molecular level. Never the less, dude finished the word sleepy and I woke up at home with a new screwdriver and a bill from Applebee’s. Apparently, according to my friend who drove me, I HAD to stop by Sears to buy a screwdriver, then I was hungry. No recollection whatsoever. Have to wonder what I talked about…did I mention something I shouldn’t?

Second time was for knee surgery. I woke up rambling to the doctor. As I regained coherent thought, I found myself saying random words that made perfect sense a minute ago. “So purple monkey sticky punch. You know? Spark plug dough has a dinner. If I want to be a red banner I will.”   Doctor just nodded like he understood what I was saying.

So anyway, now I feel like I just got beat up by a purple monkey sticky punch.


Bonus points if you’ve heard the title of this blog before.

Occipital Neuralgia, neurontin, and the joy of disability

So, I’ve been out of work on disability since November 5th. I was getting severe headaches on the left side of my head for a couple months with the pain getting worse by the week. On the 4th I drove into work and couldn’t get out of the car. Bossman saw me sitting there and asked if I was ok. Nope, not ok. I told him I had to go home, don’t even bother paying me for the day. I had enough and decided to finally go to the doctor. Aleve and the like weren’t cutting it anymore. I told the doc about my head and to also check out my right shoulder as I have had trouble with it for the last decade so he sent me for an MRI on both body parts. Now, I hate the MRI machine. It’s not the claustrophobia, the technology of it bothers me. Something about all the protons in my body being manipulated freaks me out. After a general anesthesia the MRI was done.

Turns out I have a herniated disc in my neck between C3 and C4 and is pinching the nerve on the right side, which is weird because the pain is on my left. More on that later. Also my shoulder has three separate tears, I think the rotator cuff is one of them.

I’ve been to three different doctors now. Orthopedic doesn’t want to do anything until I have an EMG test done to make sure all the nerves are working properly before he operates on my shoulder. Ok, fair enough. Have to see the neurologist for that.

I also have to see a neurosurgeon for the neck issues. When I told him about the pain being on the left side of my head he was a bit puzzled. Turns out I also have occipital neuralgia, which is a set of nerves that run under the scalp to the eye being squeezed, irritated or whatever. He doesn’t know what is causing it so he wants to start off with a cortisone shot in my spine to see if that alleviates the pain. Start from the inside and work our way out is what he told me.

The pain isn’t consistent, today is not so bad. Yesterday was a nightmare. The helplessness can be overwhelming. There was nothing I could do to escape, no comfortable position, no respite. I think the oxycodone a friend gave me is helping. Normally I don’t like drugs, including antibiotics and such, but I really really don’t like the opioids and the Neurontin the neuro prescribed for me makes me twitchy and clumsy. Had to make an exception for the oxycodone, I can’t deal with this everyday after all!

So here I am, home waiting for the next appointment. I can get stir crazy pretty fast, I actually spent an entire day talking to the dogs like Captain Jean Luc Picard. lol

It’s not all bad though, I caught up on the laundry, I go to the RC track when I’m not hurting too much. It’s nice to see all my track rat friends again. Dishes are all clean and I even swept the living room. I do miss the guys at work though. Not the commute or the fact I work in the city but my coworkers are a good bunch of folks.

What I miss most is my beloved fire department. Because I’m out on medical I am not allowed to any dept functions. They had the Santa ride on Saturday, that’s when one of the members dresses up like Santa Clause and rides the truck around the neighborhood with lights and sirens handing out candy canes to the kids. My company went out of their way to stop here at my house. Of course I was on the bowl when they showed up, lol. But there they were, 3 fire trucks outside and 15 firefighters piled in my house. It’s a brotherhood few experience and it’s one of the most wonderful feelings one can have. I’d follow any one of them to the depths of hell (to put it out of course) and I know they’d do the same for me.

There I go, off on a tangent.

Can’t wait for all this to be done. I just pray that I get cleared for full duty in the end.

The Worksman lives

20141105_123813 In addition to racing RC cars, I love riding bicycles. I have 4 of them, all different and unique in their own way. Now I realize the comedy of a fat man riding a bicycle but who cares? We fat people are punch lines anyway, but I digress.

My favorite bike right now is a heavy steel Worksman. Its upright riding position and sweptback “northroad” bars make for an extremely comfortable ride. I recently decided to upgrade it with a new Brooks sprung saddle, 5 speed Sturmey-Archer internal gear hub with drum brakes. I now have more invested in parts than I paid for the bike itself!

The shop I got it from had two of them kicking about and when I asked how much they go for the owner told me to take them. “Just get them out of here.” he replied. The shop is in Brooklyn and it is unfashionable to have a steel American made bike and these two bikes had been sitting for three years. I gave the owner $50 for the both of them as I have a real problem getting things for free. Gave one to an older (mid 70’s!) friend of mine from the fire dept and kept the other one. It came with a 3 speed coaster brake (hate coaster brakes), anemic front drum brake, and a comically large poofy seat. I got the bright idea to put some better bits on it and do it myself. Yeah…


The seat was pretty easy, bolt it on and go. Aside from a slight issue getting the clamp around the seatpost it went relatively smooth. On to the hubs. Front hub fit beautifully in the forks. Oh yeah, this is going to be awesome. I totally jinxed myself. The rear hub was about 3 centimeters too wide for the frame. goddamitsomuch…I sat staring at the bike giving it the stink-eye hoping it would somehow change its shape on its own. If a ’58 Plymouth named Christine can do it, why can’t my bike? Needless to say I had to come up with something on my own. I tried bending the frame bare handed to no avail. I had a 2×4 wedged in trying to pry the rear of the frame apart (just for an FYI, the horizontal tubes are called the chainstays and the tubes that go up to the seat are called…wait for it…seatstays). I ended up rigging up a Rube Goldberg contraption to get the spread I needed. it fits.

I you noticed, I have only referred to hubs. Just hubs. Hubs are part of the wheel. They are held in the middle of the wheel by 36 spokes. 36 spokes in a very specific pattern called lacing. I didn’t know this pattern.


Taking the old wheels apart was easy enough, remove the tires and that rubber strip. Unscrew all the little spoke nipples (ha) and everything just kinda falls apart. On to hurdle number 2. Being that the new hubs are larger, I needed different spokes. What length spokes? I had no idea. About ish or so, give or take a bit. I tried soliciting help from a bike forum but they just told me I was lazy, use a spoke length calculator. Ok said I, how hard can it be? Looked up said calculator and sat staring at it like a child trying to figure out calculus. Aspect ratio of the over-center actual diameter of the flange…….buh? So I can’t do this completely on my own. I made the trek to my favorite bike shop in Brooklyn (I live no where near Brooklyn BTW) and asked the mechanic for help. He said no problem, I’ll whip you up two sets in 20 minutes. He has a nifty gadget that cuts and threads spokes instantly. Woot! Now we’re cooking with butter! New spokes in hand I went back home with visions of me riding again by nightfall. That was November 11th.

Cue the calculus child again. 1 rim, check. 1 hub, check. 36 little metal sticks, check. 72 holes to fill…hmm. First attempt was a lesson in frustration. It was like trying to manipulate a spiny sea urchin. Fast forward a week and front was all laced up. Now I’m a pro! Rear hub…hates me. The wrong length! goddammitsomuch #2 Fast forward again and $72 later I have the rear done.


Anyway, after that debacle, the rest of the project finally came together tonight. Bike looks way cooler now and has actual brakes. Took it for a quick ride down the block…the Worksman lives.