Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Long-long-long shift, minimal sleep, up all day today, intubations in the OR in Show Low, about 3 hours away, starting at 0630 tomorrow.  So good night all!  Love and hugs.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Just emailed Tom the Table of Contents and Prologue of VANISHED to look over!  Will be emailing him Chapter One as soon as I give it a quick once-over; should have Chapter Two to him a few days after that.

(Thank you all again for the recent additional proof-reading offers!  May very well take you up on them a little further down the road.)

After years of spinning my wheels, and several weeks of stress and scrambling, it's starting to get exciting again.  With a little bit of luck and some more scrambling I may be done with the book before another June 30 goes by after all.

More Hetalia Clue and hanging out with Sam, Gylde, and their best friends Sandy and AJ today.  So nice to have 'em all around again.

Work tomorrow and Monday, so I'd better sign off for now.  Love and hugs, and Happy Memorial Day weekend, everybody!

Friday, May 27, 2011


Sam's back for the summer.  He, his girlfriend Gylde, and I played Clue last night.  Gylde modified it to include characters from her favorite anime series, Hetalia.  I actually did a lot of work on Chapter One today.  Hope to email it off to Tom in the morning, then hang out with the kids again tomorrow afternoon / evening.

Life is good.

Good night, everybody.  Love and hugs!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Apparently I titled last night's post TORNDADOES?  I remember looking at it, thinking, "Man, when you look at a word long enough, it NEVER looks right."

So yeah, a little tiring, this most recent shift.

Off-duty this morning after another middle-of-the night flight.  Made it back up to Flagstaff, safe and sound.  Spent a little time catching up on Twitter -- some friends in Kansas City had just had a tornado scare.

Spent several hours working up to a nap.  Slept a couple hours.  Breakfast/lunch/dinner (one meal, a Pollo Loco bowl from Sam's Club.  I really love those things, and they're probably not even horribly bad for you:  Some chicken chunks, salsa, rice, black beans), some more Twitter.

Oh!  And!  Sam's officially finished his freshman year of college, and is on his way here from Southern California.  Yay!!!

So now it's midnight, which I think is the equivalent of sundown or so for me today.  Gonna give the computer a little cool-down time, do some light housekeeping, and then try to write some more.

Love and hugs, everybody.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


When you think of tornadoes, you don't normally think of Arizona.  But they do sometimes happen here.

In the early morning hours of October 6, 2010, five tornadoes struck just West of Flagstaff, derailing a train and damaging over 100 homes in the tiny community of Bellemont -- where several of my co-workers and their families live.  Fortunately no one was killed or seriously injured, but the property damage was extensive.  One of our flight crew members found his boat in a neighbor's attic.

The National Weather Service later determined the tornado that hit Bellemont was a category EF-1 tornado, with winds reaching between 86-110 miles-per-hour.

On a flight this morning we passed over the path of one of these tornadoes.  At first it looked like one of the cleared strips of land beneath high-tension power lines, 50-100 feet wide and stretching for at least ten miles through Ponderosa Pine forest.  But as we flew closer we could see that the trees and underbrush hadn't been cleared; they'd been smashed flat.  Thousands upon thousands of giant trees had been knocked over in all directions.  Many had been smashed into jagged stumps surrounded by vehicle-sized splinters of wood.

At one point a second swathe of destruction paralleled the first for a mile or so, until it veered off and then disappeared just past the crest of a small hill.  The main bare strip continued north, straight as an arrow, in the direction of Bellemont.

The tornado that struck Joplin, MO two days ago was an EF-5, the strongest of six categories on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with winds estimated to be in excess of 200 mph (322 kph).  At least 124 people were killed, and more than 1,150 injured, making it the deadliest single U.S. twister since modern record-keeping began 61 years ago.

Today multiple tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma right after my mom called to tell me that she and my dad were on an airliner heading home from visiting relatives in the Tulsa area.  Our pilot and I watched some amazing, frightening live coverage of the storm system from KFOR TV, Channel 4, Oklahoma City.

Dad and mom made it home safely to Southern California a few hours ago.  As far as I know, all of our friends and relatives in Oklahoma are all right -- but there have been multiple fatalities across the state and elsewhere throughout the nation's midsection.

My hopes and prayers are with all of you who've been affected by these storms.  Since Sunday I've wished I could be out there, in Minnesota or Missouri or Oklahoma, helping out.  But for now I'm here in Cottonwood, on Angel 3, ready to help whoever may need help in this corner of the world.

Off duty in the morning.

Good night everybody.  Love and hugs.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Remember how I mentioned yesterday that news breaks first on Twitter?

As I wrote that, I wondered if that meant rumors also propagate wildly on Twitter.  I really hadn't seen any signs of that -- less so, in fact, than in an average week's worth of emails -- so I decided not to mention that thought.

Today, with the Joplin tornado, and now tonight unconfirmed news reports of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, I got double confirmation that breaking news stories do show up on Twitter first. 

I also saw my first probably-false rumors, in the form of tweets that first responders should rush to Joplin.  These were quickly countered by tweets stating that local authorities were following their emergency plan, and did not need to be flooded with out-of-area volunteers.  These tweets arrived amid a swarm of reports on local conditions which seemed to be confirmed by later "official" news, and even a few first-hand reports from Joplin residents.

Tonight came a handful of tweets relaying unconfirmed reports of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Pakistan.  As with the announcement of Osama Bin Laden's death,  and today's tornado reports, they started a good half-hour to an hour ahead of the first "official" news reports.  They appear to have originated from a private Afghan TV network, Tolo TV, quoting unnamed Afghan security sources.  It looks like the Chinese news service Xinhua also received confirmation of the story from an unnamed Afghan intelligence source.  As of a few minutes ago, Pakistani sources and Taliban spokesmen were denying these reports.

There were some tweets referencing a 2008 BBC report of the killing of another Mullah Omar -- and just as many tweets correcting the error.

So overall, I'm pretty impressed with Twitter as a news source.  You hear things there first; unconfirmed reports are pretty clearly labeled as such; and rumors and erroneous reports seem to get corrected at least as quickly as in the conventional news media.

My personal experience with news reports -- from EMS and long-ago campaign work -- leads me to believe that almost all news stories contain some inaccuracies.  One or two little ones per story seems to be the average.  Email "reporting" is far less accurate.

So yeah, I'm thinking you can't go too wrong with Twitter as a first-line news source.

The book?  Yeah, I've been working on that too ... but I'm going to have to email Tom my first batch from work tomorrow / Tuesday, I'm afraid.

I did get a little twitterpated this evening.

Good night, everybody.  Love and hugs!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Hi again, everybody.

Has it actually been nearly a week since I posted here?  Wow.  Sorry 'bout that.

I've actually been ... well, writing.  Chapters 1 and 2 of VANISHED, to be precise.  When one's driven me bonkers long enough, I switch to the other one and beat my head against it for awhile.  Progress is happening.  But it's slow going. 

Still, getting there.  Told Tom that I'd try to have the first chapter or two to him by yesterday.  Thinking at this point that 'by tomorrow' is still a definite possibility.

I've also spent a lot of time avoiding writing, I'm afraid.  Mostly by wandering the sparkly hallways of the endless candy store / junk shop / art gallery / watering hole that is Twitter-Tumblr-FavStar.

(Twitter = micro-blogging:  140-character-or-less "tweets".  You set up an account, @YourUserName.  You tweet.  Anyone can follow you and your tweets (unless you block them).  You can follow anyone else and their tweets (unless they block you).  You can "favorite" ("star") a tweet, or "retweet" it (which means anyone following you can see it too).)

(Tumblr -- and similar sites, although Tumblr seems to be the most common -- is like a scrapbook.  You can post pictures, texts, video, you name it.  You can follow others' Tumblrs,  "like" ("heart") or repost their posts -- and link the whole thing to your Twitter account, if you want, so that each new post generates a tweet with a link to that post.)

(FavStar ... Favstar is like Twitter's evil, egomaniacal twin.  It's a site that keeps track of all your "favorite"ed and "retweet"ed tweets, and even gives you little virtual trophies if you get enough of either (5 or more).  It's free ... but people can pay a monthly fee, which among other things allows them to nominate one "Tweet of the Day", which is a bigger deal than a mere trophy-thingy.  Trophy-thingies are bigger deals than re-tweets.  Re-tweets are bigger deals than "starring".  It's all very artificial and meaningless -- and highly addictive.  Reminds me of the little consoles where Cold War era lab animals would push buttons or pull levers to get food pellets, or deliver electrical jolts to their brains' pleasure centers.  It's easy to end up sitting at the console all day, tweeting away, hoping for more and more stars and retweets.)

Probably the biggest single focus of everyone's collective attention on Twitter the last few days has been the biblical Rapture that a guy named Camping has been saying would happen today.  He said the same thing in the '90s,  then decided he'd made a mathematical error in his calculations.  Apparently he miscalculated again about today.

I hadn't even heard about "Rapture 5/21/2011" -- or at least it hadn't really registered -- until my San Francisco trip last weekend, when I was treated to dueling billboards (Family Radio versus the Atheists) and multiple joking references on local public radio.  Which makes sense:  Camping lives in Oakland.

But a few days ago on Twitter, the trickle of Rapture-related references (mostly jokes) became a steady flow, then a flood.  No one admitted to taking Camping's prediction seriously -- but almost EVERYONE made some reference to it.  Starting yesterday afternoon, as 5/21 began in the Pacific and worked its way West, some of the jokes started to sound the teensiest bit uneasy.

When reports of earthquakes started popping up -- I've noticed over and over since the day Bin Laden died that breaking news stories DO break on Twitter first --you could actually feel things getting a little tense.

By late last night -- well past Camping's appointed hour in Australia and the far East -- the jokes were all jokey again.  The whistling past the graveyard feeling had pretty much dissipated.  But well into today, it was still the most common topic of humor and conversation.

I wished a non-tweeting friend who's usually pretty up on current events a "Happy Apparently Not Rapture Day" this afternoon.  Turned out she vaguely remembered hearing something about it -- just about like I had a week or so ago.

So was Rapture-Mania 2011 mostly a Twitter / Christian fringe phenomena?  Love to hear your takes on it, everybody.

The whole experience left me sick of Rapture jokes, but more fascinated than ever by Twitter and the people who congregate there.

Up until a couple months ago I thought Twitter was just a place where celebrities kept the world up-to-date on the minutiae of their lives.  So far the corner of it I've been in has been filled mostly with smart, funny, thoughtful, articulate people.  Many of them socially awkward.  Many of them struggling, lonely, unhappy.  Most of them  likable.  A lot of them admirable:  Brave, generous, and caring.

Just about every time I go on Twitter, someone makes me laugh out loud.  Someone breaks my heart a little.  Someone restores my faith in humanity.  Sometimes it's all the same person.

Neat place.  Definitely not G-rated, or even PG-13.  Not terribly politically correct.  But surprisingly cozy and welcoming.

All right, back to working on VANISHED I go.  Or maybe to bed.

Or maybe to Twitter for a little while before bed.

Good night, everybody.  Love and hugs!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


... but our pilot says it may start to clear out in a few hours, so 'guess I'd better sleep while I can.

Good night, all.  Love and hugs!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


 Hey again, everybody!

Had a busy shift last Wednesday / Thursday, followed by a wonderful California trip.  Made it back to Flagstaff a little after midnight last night.  At work again today and tomorrow.  Busy-but-good shift so far:  Three flights, plus several hours of run review.

Gonna see if I can get a little sleep now.   More bloggage soon.

Love and hugs!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Flying, charting, cleaning, or restocking for almost all of the first thirteen hours of the shift.  I'm on my second flight suit already.

Gonna see if I can get some sleep before we start going again.

Good night everyone.  Love and hugs!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I work Angel 3 (Cottonwood) tomorrow and Thursday, then head out for Northern California Friday.  Back late Monday, then Angel 3 again next Tuesday and Wednesday.  Odds are I'll have plenty of time to post at work / in airports, but just in case, have a wonderful next several days, everyone.

Love and Hugs!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Tired tonight.  Bed soon.

First, though -- Sam, you rock.  Thanks for racing over to drop off my Mom's Day basket before class today.

Hey, Gary and Jeff!  Thanks for following me.  It's great to see you both; you're two of the people I was most hoping to get back in touch with.  And hi and thank you to everyone else who's been stopping by.

Another good day.  Cryptic short version:  Beautiful walk (pics on Tumblr); self-inflicted stress; nice people helped me get over it; laughs with another nice person I hadn't talked to in too long; other peoples' cool stuff on Tumblr; occasional spells of productivity; saw elk; micro-hail (bb-sized); read a little.

Which leads me (smooth segue, eh?) to the "favorite things" portion of tonight's agenda.

San Francisco.  My favorite city, located in my favorite part of the world, the Central / Northern California coast.

Which is where I'm going this weekend!

So here are a few of my favorite San Francisco-related things:

1. Two science fiction novels, SUMMER OF LOVE and THE GOLDEN NINETIES, by a fellow recovering attorney named Lisa Mason, who also worked at Matthew Bender & Co. in Oakland when I was a legal writer / software author there in 1990-1991.  SUMMER OF LOVE is set in SF in the summer of 1967.  THE GOLDEN NINETIES is set in SF in 1895-1896.  They do an amazing job of evoking these two eras in the city's history.

2. The Alfred Hitchcock film VERTIGO (1958), starring James Stewart and Kim Novak.  Spooky, suspenseful, and filled with amazing color footage of 1950s San Francisco and environs.

3. My 1990-1991 commute, by bus from Rohnert Park (just south of Santa Rosa) south across the Golden Gate bridge and through the Presidio to downtown SF,  then under the Bay to Oakland via the BART.  At the time it seemed excessively long (dark to dark, most times of the year), but it was by far the most interesting and beautiful commute I've ever made -- and the only one that let me read and write while traveling to and from work.

4. The view from my umpteenth-story office at Matthew Bender across the Bay to SF.  I remember being able to see Coit Tower and the whole SF skyline -- not to mention the pigeons dog-fighting over the abandoned office building next door.

5. Fisherman's Wharf / Ghirardelli Square.

6. Union Square.

7. Lombard Street.

Good night, all.  Love and hugs!


Just got word that Sam's back at his apartment, safe and sound:  A good end to a good weekend.

Besides hanging with the kids, writing, doing some chapter-reviewing, and in general having a fun but mostly indoor weekend, I actually made it outside for awhile today -- which was wonderful.  I need to remember to do that more often.

The weather's been changing today:  windy, and starting to cloud up.  Looks like monsoon season is on its way.  That's when we get a good chunk of our annual moisture, in the form of frequent isolated thunderstorms than can dump a hellacious amount of rain wherever they happen to wander.  It's another beautiful time of year -- not that Flagstaff actually has many bad times of year.  It's a gorgeous place to live.

After a Mothers Day chat with mom I went out and enjoyed the wind in the pines.  Later I stopped by one of the local bookstores, grabbed some dinner at a new burrito place, then drove up to Mars Hill.

Lowell Observatory, where the guy who discovered Pluto thought he saw canals on Mars, sits on top of the hill, right above the local scenic overlook.  I stopped halfway up to let a herd of deer cross the road (did I mention that I love Flagstaff?), then parked at the overlook, munched, and enjoyed the panoramic view of the lights of town, the sound of the wind and passing trains, and the moon peeking out from behind the fast-moving clouds.

On the way back I picked up an old-fashioned bunny-ears antenna for the TV.  Plugged it in, hoping for a channel or two -- and ended up with ten.  Apparently there's still a local network repeater somewhere nearby, 'cause one of the channels -- ABC? -- is crystal-clear.  I also get some fuzzy PBS, Fox, religious, and Spanish channels.  Dunno if I'll watch any of them much, but it's nice to know that for $15 I can if I get the urge.  Plus I get a kick out of the bunny ears poking out from behind the little flat-screen hi-def TV.  It's a nice retro-incongruous look.

It's just started to rain.  Window's open for the sound and smell ... ahhh.

Hope all of you had a good weekend too.  Love and hugs!  Good night everybody.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Dang it.  Managed to post something on here every day for twenty-odd days in a row ... and then tonight didn't realize I hadn't posted on here 'til almost 3AM.

Ah well.

'And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well in the end.'

I'd heard this somewhere years ago, and had liked it ever since, but only recently discovered (thank you again, Google) that it was from a book called Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love.  Believed to be the first book written in English by a woman.  Whose author, Julian of Norwich, 1342 - ca. 1416, is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches.

And whose feast day is today, May 8 -- something I just noticed a few minutes ago.

I love serendipity.

Also, in my defense, I have been posting things on Tumblr (which is more or less a blog) since well before midnight.  I've had an account there ( http://vanishedinthewest.tumblr.com/ ) for a week or so now, but just really started to figure out how to use it tonight.  And apparently lost all track of time.

Sam and Gylde (Sam's girlfriend) are here, getting some sleep before Sam drops her off in Tucson and heads back to Southern California later on this morning.  They both had a great time at the Flogging Molly concert last night -- although Gylde decided the mosh pit wasn't her thing.

Sam loved it.  Runs in the family, apparently:  I've always enjoyed the rough-and-tumble of it, along with the fact that most of the time (including last night, according to Sam), no matter how badly you may get tossed around, there are always plenty of hands reaching out to help you if you start to fall.

Well, I guess that's enough Tumblring and Bloggering for tonight.

Good night, everyone.  Love and hugs.  All shall be well.

Friday, May 6, 2011


The helicopter's back.

Gonna make a semi-early night of it, just in case we do any flying tonight.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster.  Here are some color pictures of the surprisingly modern-looking interior of the last of the great passenger airships.

Good night, everybody.  Love and hugs!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


It's weird to arrive at work and see an empty helipad where Angel 3 usually sits.

Most of the time it means the outgoing crew got a late flight.  But when there's also a company van sitting in front of our quarters (like today), it usually means that the helicopter broke down somewhere, and the pilot and/or crew had to drive back.

They actually do that fairly often:  Break down. When I first started out as a flight paramedic, that was worrisome. 

Eventually, though, I realized that breaking down on the ground  is no big deal.  Even breaking down in the air (which doesn't happen nearly as often) usually just means that the equivalent of a "check engine" light came on.

The most common kinds of helicopter "check engine" lights are "chip" lights (which means the helicopter thinks there are tiny metal chips in one of its fluids) and "FADEC" lights (which means it thinks something else is wrong with the engine).

(There's probably a little more to all this, but I'm giving you the med-crew version of Helicopter Mechanics 101 here.)

My personal specialty is starter failures: I've had three of those so far in six years. 

Again, nothing dramatic:  When the pilot tries to start the engine, it makes its usual wind-up whine ... then, instead of the roar of the jet engine kicking in ... it just winds down (the same sound it makes when the pilot cools the engine before starting it in warm weather).  Or sometimes it doesn't make any noise at all, except for a clicking sound back up behind our heads somewhere.

And sometimes -- like today --  they don't exactly break down at all; our mechanics just find something that needs fixing during one of their frequent inspections of our ride.

Today (actually yesterday) they found a bad bearing in the rotor head.  I think that's what the pilot said this morning, anyway.

So no helicopter for us, probably for at least two or three more days.

Usually when one of our helicopters is down for a long time, we get a loaner from Air Methods, the company that supplies our pilots and mechanics.  But when it's just a matter of being without an aircraft for a few days, we turn into a "package crew" for the duration:  When someone needs to be flown out of our hospital, we walk over and package the patient (get report and paperwork, hook 'em up to our equipment, etc.) while our dispatcher sends another aircraft to us to do the actual transport.

It makes for a strange shift:  Just you and your partner, mostly, instead of the two of you, a pilot, and sometimes a mechanic.  All of your medical equipment stacked out in the mechanic's shed.  No scene flights or transports from other hospitals.

And a great big empty helipad where you're used to seeing your helicopter.

It's been a good day, though.  No packages so far.  Time for a long nap, some phone calls, some writing, a little TV watching with my partner.  Even an 8-mile stationary bike ride (in my jeans and t-shirt, since I forgot to bring exercise clothes; "you're such a nerd", my partner said).

My partner likes to play World of Warcraft, so it's been a very productive day for him too, I gather.  He also does mysterious stock-market stuff, and cooks (he used to be a professional cook before he became a nurse).

He shared an interesting theory with me today:  One of his online gaming friends dropped out of sight abruptly over the weekend.  No sign of him since Sunday.  My partner says he's starting to wonder if maybe this guy was playing WoW from a compound in Pakistan ...

True story.

I love my job.  Even when there's no helicopter.

Good night everybody.  Love and hugs from Cottonwood.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


After my change-of-pace shift in Kingman on Angel 2 last week, I'm back on Angel 3 in Cottonwood tomorrow and the next day.

Sam's in Flagstaff this weekend.  He and his mom and a bunch of their friends are going to see Flogging Molly at the Orpheum Friday night.  Bummed at missing the show (FM is one of my all-time favorite bands; if you like Celtic music, punk, lots of pirate-themed songs, or just high-energy fun, go see 'em any chance you get), but looking forward to hanging out with Sam after my shift.

Also excited about seeing my oldest friend and one of my newest ones in the Bay area weekend after next!

And in book-related news, the super-nice people who took me to see the crash sites a few years back have graciously agreed to review the draft of  VANISHED for me, a chapter at a time as I finish piecing them together, starting next week (Thanks, Tom and Hazel!).

Getting there, folks.  Finally getting there.

Good night everybody.  More tomorrow from Angel 3.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Hey again, everybody.

I actually did a fair bit of work on VANISHED today, this time tinkering with the Star of the Seine and Mainliner Vancouver chapters.  I also made a little more progress on updating my VANISHED-related email lists, so as to be able to invite more interested folks to this blog.  Plus a bunch of good personal-life stuff.  All in all, it's been a great day.

So now I'm about to give my poor tired laptop (and brain) a rest, and see how far into the "War of the Worlds" DVD I can get before bed.  This is the Tom Cruise / Dakota Fanning version, which I somehow managed to miss; looking forward to seeing how it compares to the book / old movie / radio broadcast.

First, though:  Me and TV.

I discovered several years ago that I'm mostly a passive TV watcher:  I'll watch whatever someone else has turned on, but hardly ever think to turn it on myself except to watch a DVD, or maybe the news.

Don't get me wrong, I like TV well enough (except for the how-badly-can-we-possibly-behave "reality" shows (which I'd so like to believe are really scripted, even though I know a lot of them aren't), and daytime commercials, which always make me feel like I should go out and get a job even when I'm watching them at work).  I just rarely am motivated enough to spontaneously watch it.

There have been a few exceptions:  DEAD LIKE ME; the first season or two of RESCUE ME; BATTLESTAR GALACTICA; BIG LOVE ... and most of those I've actually watched on DVD.  The only two shows I remembered to watch semi-consistently were GHOST HUNTERS (which I'd so like to believe isn't scripted, even though I have my doubts) and KINGS (which got canceled halfway through its first season - argh).

So when I moved -- and moved -- and moved -- last year, I didn't even think to keep a TV.  If I wanted to watch a DVD, I just laptopped it.

I finally broke down and bought the littlest, cheapest TV I could find a couple weeks ago (19 inches, which is probably as big as anything we had growing up -- but it looks tiny), when Sam was out on spring break, just so we wouldn't have to huddle around the laptop trying to both be able to see the screen without bonking heads when we watched TANGLED ...

Which is the best Disney movie I've seen in years, maybe ever, for anyone who hasn't seen it yet -- and I like most Disney movies.

... and because it's kind of nice to have an actual TV.

One of these days I may even get around to buying an antenna, or signing up for cable.  In the meantime, at least I can watch DVDs without having to worry about the picture freezing up, or the screen saver coming on.

Good night, everybody.  See you all tomorrow.

Monday, May 2, 2011


All's well here -- hope all's well with all of you.

Have been doing a lot of non-blog writing and other good stuff.  More here soon.

Love and hugs!

Sunday, May 1, 2011