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September 2017

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 A week ago today, i started noticing a number of condolence messages popping up on my Facebook feed, indicating that someone I used to know had died. This prompted me to do an internet search for news about the accident that was referenced in those posts. What I found was more than a bit of a shock. My old friend, Rod, had been killed in an accident, along with two other employees of the ambulance company he worked for when their car drove under a jackknifed tractor-trailer on the interstate between Syracuse and Watertown, in upstate New York.

I knew Rod from my time at Clarkson University, when I joined the Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad. I took my EMT class with his wife, Patsy, during the fall semester of my junior year, right after I joined the squad. The next autumn, I took my Advanced EMT-Intermediate class with Rod. He was one of my mentors in the squad, and I considered both him and his wife to be friends. I have fond memories of time spent hanging out with Rod at the rescue squad during my senior year at Clarkson. I even returned to Potsdam a couple of times during the first couple of years after I graduated to visit.

However, the distance proved to be too great an obstacle in that pre-World Wide Web world, and I mostly lost touch with them. Eventually, we reconnected on Facebook, but he was apparently not one of those people who spent lots of time there, so our Facebook connection was mostly symbolic. For my part, I felt some nostalgia for my college/rescue squad days when I saw his name, but otherwise there was no real connection to his current life. Specifically, I did not know that he had begun working for R.B. Lawrence Ambulance, a private ambulance company that provides inter-facility medical transport services for the North Country region of New York, and certainly did not know that he had become an EMS Supervisor for the company. I have no idea how active he was with the Potsdam Rescue Squad, but during my time there, I know he was a huge part of the organization. Given what I know about him, I know that he was a huge asset to the emergency services in the communities up there.

This week, I have watched Facebook fill up with notes and photos from his funeral.  It is clear that he was widely respected and that his sudden passing was a shock to the community.  These photos of the funeral procession moved me deeply:


The other surprise were the photos that showed that members of the FDNY Pipes and Drum Corps came up from New York City to pay their respects to a fallen brother. And the photos of the funeral procession passing underneath the giant US Flag hanging between the extended towers of two ladder trucks from different fire departments brought tears to my eyes. This was a funeral on a magnitude that is probably unprecedented in these small communities, and I think it shows just how widely spread the reaction to this tragedy was felt.

There was just no way for me to be able to attend the funeral myself, but I am comforted by the images of the massive outpouring of support. Rod dedicated his life to helping his community, and the community went to great effort to acknowledge his work on their behalf. Well done, all. Rest in peace, Rod. You will certainly be missed.
 My wife and I returned home yesterday after spending last week at an all-inclusive beach resort in Puerto Plata. If you have been paying attention, you may note that this is, in fact, our third trip so far in 2017. When I mentioned that we were hoping to begin travelling more, I was quite serious.

I will need to sort and upload photos, and there will probably be a couple more entries detailing the trip, but this trip was mostly about relaxing on the beach, enjoying endless food and bottomless drinks, while making new friends. And I think we managed to accomplish all of that. We managed to find some quite lovely spots on the beaches, in the shade of the palm and mango trees, where we could relax in the breeze off the Atlantic Ocean, listening to the surf, while sipping cold drinks. The restaurants were good, and a couple of the meals were quite excellent. And we met wonderful people...a young couple from Charleston who were celebrating a slightly delayed honeymoon, and another couple from the Netherlands who were in the middle of a two week stay. 

There were minor bumps along the way, including some drama at the airport before we even really got started. As our flight out of Washington National Airport began boarding, a young man with a guitar rushed to the gate, anxious to get on board. The gate crew pulled him aside...they had already made several announcements about how full the flight was and asking for volunteers to gate check some of the carry-on baggage. I'm sure that the airline personnel simply wanted to make sure there would be enough storage space for this guy's guitar, but he was sure he was going to miss the flight, demanding to be allowed to board. When the gate agent who had been speaking with him turned her back, he dashed down the jetway with his guitar, which prompted calls for security.  He only made it as far as the aircraft doorway, and after a loud debate, he was eventually convinced to return to the gate area, but not before they airline staff had threatened to cancel the entire flight! Needless to say, when we finally finished boarding and departed, he was not on the plane.

Beyond that, our travel was mostly uneventful, which is about the most you can hope for these days.  Modern air travel is no longer fun, but a chore to be endured in order to get where you want to be, at least for those of us who can't afford to sit with the 1% up at the front of the aircraft.
This afternoon, we skiied with a work colleague, who is also at Steamboat with his family.  He is a friend and a supervisor (though not directly my boss).  His kids were in lessons today, so we joined him and his wife for lunch and then set out to ski a few runs with them.  I thought he might enjoy a little challenge, so I led him off trail in the the Morningside Park area of the resort, away from the nice groomed trails and into the trees.  I picked a spot that wasn't very steep and where the trees were pretty widely spaced.  He seemed to be enjoying himself, right up to the moment he hit a bump he didn't see because of a shadow and took a pretty nasty spill.  As we gathered him and his equipment, I realized that the rear binding for his right ski had come off the ski.  Of course the ski brake is attached to that binding, so the ski was sliding away down the slope, and my daughter had to chase it down.  Luckily, I was able to reattach the binding to his ski, and we skied with him to the base area, so he could take the skis back to the rental shop to exchange them for a different pair.

Watching him crash was a scary moment, especially since skiing in this area was my idea.  Luckily, he wasn't hurt, and we managed to get him safely down off the mountain.  I have never seen a binding come off of a ski on the mountain before, and as bad as his crash seemed, I don't think it was bad enough to have damaged the binding.  I think these bindings were already damaged before he started using them, and the crash simply revealed the underlying flaw.  I'm just thankful that everything ended up being okay.
When I travel to Colorado in January to go skiing, my expectation is that the weather will be COLD.  Which is exactly what we didn't get today.  The skies were blue without a cloud in sight and it was probably the warmest day we've ever felt her in Steamboat Springs.  The snow was soft and sticky (even slushy in places), which made for less than optimal ski conditions.  But when you have almost 2,000 acres to play on, and no crowds anywhere to be seen, its really hard to complain.  However, I am trying to figure out how to wear fewer layers without risking arrest for indecent exposure...

Besides weather that felt more like the Mid-Atlantic, we also spent parts of the day with people from back home.  At lunch time, we met up with a work colleague and his family, and then we skied a couple of runs with them before we headed off to do our own thing again.  Then, after finishing for the day, we headed down into town to crash the Pentagon Ski Club's group dinner.  It has been many years since we traveled with the club (in fact, our last trip with the club was our first trip to Steamboat, nine years ago), so it was nice to see some familiar faces (and meet some new people as well).  But it seems a little strange to travel all the way out to Colorado to see people who live so close to us back in the DC area.

Tomorrow's forecast is calling for another very warm, sunny day, so I'll have to figure out if there is any way to dress any lighter than today so I don't melt...

My high school friend has another movie coming out. "The Stepfather" opens in theaters across the US on Friday. Not entirely sure if this is my kind of movie, but I'll have to see if there is some way to work a night out into the schedule.
You've seen them, the crosses and flowers by the side of the road. Memorials to lives cut short in violence of a auto collision. They've become part of the landscape in the last couple of decades, marking dangerous intersections and deadly curves. They're now so common that they're easy to ignore. But with each memorial is associated with an untimely death, the grief of family and friends, and should serve as a reminder of the dangers we face in our cars.

I came face-to-face with the automobile fatalities fairly early in my life. I joined my local volunteer fire department when I turned 18, and the very first auto accident I responded to was a fatality. A man with a history of driving under the influence fell asleep at the wheel on his way home from a bar. His car drifted across the double yellow lines on a curved stretch of road and his drove underneath the trailer of a tractor-trailer truck headed the other way. He never woke up.

In the decade that followed, I responded to many other incidents involving motor vehicles, many of them fatal. Somewhere along the way I began to shield myself from the pain. I thought I had stopped feeling for the people who die in these accidents, especially the ones who die from their own mistakes. I was wrong.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted a blog entry about witnessing a fatal accident while visiting her father in Florida. She has written a deeply moving piece about someone she had never met and it brought tears to my eyes. I felt a need to share her story here as well. Her entry is also available here on livejournal in a syndicated feed I created:

So, the next time you drive by one of the many memorials on the side of the road, take a moment to reflect on the life that was lost. And ask yourself if you are being as careful as you could be...

Trivia Town

May. 15th, 2008 04:24 pm
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Patrick CadyI've written before about Patrick Cady, one of my high school friends, who is making a name for himself in Hollywood. My parents just e-mailed me a link to an article in the local paper back home about Patrick and his latest project. He has made a documentary about "The World's Biggest Trivia Contest" which takes place each year in Steven's Point, Wisconsin. This is his debut as a Director and Executive Producer, and now I guess I'll have to buy a DVD...

Check out the film at its website: Triviatown.

Too funny!

Sep. 13th, 2007 07:40 am
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Two friends of mine, a former co-worker and his wife, live in the Greater Seattle area, and have a blog that the periodically update with little tales from their rather unconventional life. I love these glimpses into their lives, because they remind me of how incredibly diverse people can be. They help me remember that differences help make the world a more interesting and vibrant place.

The most recent entry in their blog has me laughing so hard I'm crying. Here's one way to deal with Mormon missionaries when they come to the door (though I suspect it would work equally well with sales representatives and Jehovah's witnesses, too):

My high school buddy, you know, the film maker, just sent me the following e-mail:


This mass email is to let you know that "Kings of South Beach" will
be premiering on A&E on Monday (March 12th) at 9pm/8c. There is a
website about the movie at:

We shot on HD cameras in Puerto Rico last summer, and it was a hot &
fast shoot. I'm excited to see the final results as I was unable to
be at the final color correction. Please tune in, give it a look,
and support your relative / pal.

Anyone care to guess what I might be doing Monday evening?
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This really isn't my type of movie, but since my best friend from high school is the Director of Photography, I'll probably try to see it. The release date has not yet been officially announced, but it should be out sometime this year.
Better than ants in my pants, I suppose... :o)

I think it was Monday when I saw the vanity license tag that made me smile and think of [ profile] antof9. I meant to post it earlier, but it slipped my mind until just now. Anyway, the tag read "ANT01". A friend of yours, [ profile] antof9?
My best man got married on Saturday (better late than never, as they say), and my wife and I drove up to participate in the festivities. cut for length )


Jul. 26th, 2005 12:30 am
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Its a busy night on LJ tonight! I really should be asleep by now, but I'm having too much fun reading everyone's posts and comments here. Well, almost all. There is one LJ related to my work that struck a nerve, and I had to post a comment (anonymously, since I like my job!) to express my opinion. Thank goodness there's a lot of levity here tonight, or I'd be entirely too annoyed to sleep well. Its been a pleasant evening online, but now I really must call it a night. I'll read any additional posts tomorrow morning. Until then, have a good night friends!
I was beginning to despair of finding anything worth watching tonight when I happened to hit IFC at the beginning of "Jump Tomorrow." I've been wanting to see this movie for a while (it was made in 2001) because the Director of Photography is my best friend from high school, Patrick Cady*. I'm really glad I stopped surfing when I saw that, because it was a great movie. My friend's photography is amazing, and the movie is very funny.

What happens when a Nigerian, a Frenchman, and a Hispanic girl share a ride from New York to Niagara Falls? The result is a wonderful multi-cultural farce. I won't get into the details, but the resulting situations are a lot of fun to watch, and if the end is a bit predictable, well, it still feels right. And yes, the river in the background of the final scene really is the Niagara. However, the road Girard dances down in the closing doesn't really exist within miles of the Falls.

To my friend, done good, boy! I'm proud of you for following through on your dreams. Keep up the good work, and I'm looking forward to your next film...

If you're looking for a good movie, but are tired of the mainstream, mass market movies, look for "Jump Tomorrow" at your local rental outlet. You won't be disappointed.

* Patrick was also Director of Photography for "Girl Fight," another independent release that I would highly recommend and "Sunshine State," which was beautifully shot, but needed better editing, as it ran about 20 minutes too long. He also was Director of Photography for 10 episodes of CBS's "Cold Case" during the 2004-2005 season. I'm proud to say that I knew him when...
I've recently been looking at certain friends and their pursuit of their dreams. I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to make risky choices in order to follow them. One of my oldest friends is slowly making a name for himself in the world of film. Back in high school, he always talked about making movies, and now he is actually doing just that. Patrick Cady has been director of photography/cinematographer for a number of feature films (independent releases, most with only limited distribution), including Girl Fight, Sunshine State, and Jump Tomorrow. I've seen both Girl Fight and Sunshine State and enjoyed them both (I highly recommend Girl Fight--look for it at your local video rental store). At the end of the movie, I sit through the credits, and I get a vicarious thrill when I see his name on the screen. After all, this was one of my closest friends when we were teens.

Another couple I know dreams of building their own boat and sailing the world. Barry was a co-worker of mine in the early 1990's, when we were both fresh out of college. However, neither he nor his wife were satisfied with the idea of a conventional career followed by retirement. They were restless souls who dreamed of travel and adventure, and didn't want to be anchored to jobs they didn't particularly enjoy. So by the mid-1990's they had pulled up roots and relocated to the Pacific Northwest, where they committed themselves to learning the finer points of boats and sailing. In a recent entry in their blog (which I've syndicated here as [ profile] mepsnbarry_adv), they reflect on their dreams and the inspiration they've gotten from others.

All of this has gotten me thinking about my dreams. Did I ever have a big dream? If so, what happened to it? In some ways, I'm glad I don't have any huge dreams, as I'm pretty risk averse. Besides, having family responsibilities changes the priorities to some extent. It wouldn't be fair to my family to suddenly quit my career to pursue some wild fancy. So maybe its a good thing that my dreams are fairly modest. Someday my wife and I will be able to more of the world traveling that we enjoy. In the meantime, I'll continue to get vicarious enjoyment from watching my friends follow their dreams.
It was another glorious day, comfortable temperatures and blue skies. I spent almost two hours at the grill, cooking chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers, but I still had plenty of opportunity to visit with our friends. We had about fifty people here, half of them kids. The trampoline and pool both got a heavy workout, and the kids went through a LOT of cotton candy, slurpies and home-made ice cream. We did get an afternoon rain shower, but by then almost everyone had left, so it didn't really mess up the day. Overall, I think everyone had a good time, though I'm about ready for bed, even though its only a little after 8pm.
We spent the day getting ready for our annual Memorial Day party tomorrow. I cleaned the deck off, set up a canopy, and scrubbed all the outdoor furniture. The house is tidied and cleaned. We have a big pile of hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken to grill tomorrow. Things are pretty much ready.

It was a gorgeous spring day. The temperature topped out in the high 70's, and the sky was a deep blue, with a few fluffy "good weather" clouds slowly drifting by. After enjoying some yummy pork shoulder steaks from the grill for dinner, I retired to the deck for the evening. It isn't often that I can sit out there after dinner without being eaten alive by the mosquitoes. I took my book and the rest of the bottle of wine from dinner. It was incredibly relaxing to sit out there reading with the breeze gently rustling the leaves in the trees and the birds singing throughout the neighborhood. Just the kind of relaxation I needed.

Tomorrow will be fun, though busy. I have a lot of meat to grill, and we're expecting a lot of guests. But our friends look forward to this party, and it is great to get all these people together for a relaxing afternoon of food and conversation. I probably to get to sleep early tonight, but its hard to end a day as nice as this one has been.

Old friends

Apr. 30th, 2005 10:20 pm
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We had company for dinner last night. My best friend from my college days was in town, and he came over with his fiance for dinner. I haven't seen him in several years, so it was a treat. He was one of my rescue geek buddies during school, and it was fun to rehash the old stories. His fiance is another EMT, so she seemed to enjoy the "war" stories as well. I also enjoyed cooking for company, which I don't get to do very often (I smoked some country-style ribs, and served them with cole slaw, potato salad, and a salad made with black beans, corn, green and red peppers).

My friend and his fiance were came to town to meet his fiance's sister and brother-in-law. Her parents decided to join them, and it eventually grew to become a full fledged family reunion. Unfortunately, that meant that they only had a limited amount of time to spend at our place. As nice as it was to see him again, and meet his fiance, I couldn't help but be disappointed when they left early to meet her relatives for a night time tour of the monuments downtown.

My parents arrive tomorrow evening, so at least I have something to look forward to...
I just noticed that its been almost three weeks since my last post, and closer to four weeks since my last substantive post. There hasn't been much excitement in my life this month (maybe I should consider joining the [ profile] non_entities group!), though I did vicariously enjoy [ profile] skyring's adventures in London, and the various stories from the [ profile] bookcrossing convention in Fort Worth. I've also been following the news coverage of the new Pope, but haven't resolved my own feelings and thoughts about the election enough to post on that topic.

My wife and I have been trying to plan a short getaway as a make up for our anniversary, since the week of our anniversary was a hectic week that didn't leave us any time to do something for ourselves. Unfortunately, we are having trouble finding an affordable destination that we both will enjoy. It has to be a short trip, as we have quite a bit of other travel planned, and work issues are conspiring to limit our travel time. Hopefully we'll come up with something, as we really need to get away, even if its only for a couple of nights.

My best friend from my college days is going to be in town this weekend. I've long considered him to be a bit commitment-phobic on the relationship front, so I was surprised to learn recently that he's engaged. We haven't gotten together in a couple of years, so I'm looking forward to them coming over for dinner on Friday.

On Sunday, my parents arrive to take our younger daughter to the beach for a few days. They'll spend the night Sunday before continuing on to Virginia Beach, and then again on Thursday night before going to visit my brother in Maryland. Its always good to seem my parents, and the girls are looking forward to seeing their grandparents.

So, it looks like I'll be a bit busier for a few days. At least it isn't chores...