Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Charleston, S.C.

All of the fire service is in mourning. 9 firefighters from Charleston, South Carolina were killed in the line of duty on Monday, June 18. Please show your support to the Charleston firefighters and your local fire department.

Charleston City Fire Department

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My Review (of Drop Dead, My Lovely)

My wife and I just got back from a week in Orlando where I was able to read a few short, "just for fun" books. The first of which, Drop Dead, My Lovely by Ellis Weiner is the story of a PI out of touch with the modern world. Following a head injury, Pete Ingalls awakes believing he is a tough talking, 1940s private investigator and goes forth to open his own PI company.

The story itself is cliched and not too inventive; Pete has a sexy, aspiring actress as his secretary and his clients are "dames in distress" with missing persons work. There's plenty to love and hate about the book, but what I kept in mind is that it's meant to be a fun read. The dialog, often touted in reviews as one of the high points of the book, is noir-ish and rich. However, the dialog is so over the top at times that it hits you over the head and you wonder if the author did this accidentally or intentionally, the intent is often not clear. That said, it's easy to find yourself snickering at the remarks and quips made by Ingalls.

My other grievances are the story lines that at times are difficult to follow as the characters of the clients are difficult to differentiate. I also felt that the author stretches a bit near the end of the book to tie everything together and make sense of the plot.

Those misgivings aside, I found Drop Dead, My Lovely to be a pleasurable, quick read. It was easy to get attached to the absurd character of Pete Ingalls and his intelligent, profanity wielding secretary. This is a recommended read for anyone looking for something fun and easy.

My Markers

My internship seems to be marked more by significant calls than anything else. This morning, my crew and I worked a cardiac arrest and things went exactly the way they were supposed to. It was like the validating run of my whole internship up to this point. I got the intubation on the first attempt, I ran the scene efficiently and smoothly, made good use of the firemen that were there, and literally made every effort to save this person's life. I talked with some of the firemen at the hospital afterwards and they told me that when they walked through the door, they could immediately tell that I was calm, in control, confident, and that I knew exactly what needed to be done. It was such a great thing to hear that I'm actually progressing as a Paramedic intern.

I can look back at certain calls during my internship and pinpoint certain runs where things clicked into place. My first field intubation made me realize that it's nothing like the OR. My first acute MI made me realize that I needed to step it up and be more efficient on scenes. When I went on my first overdose, things went great because everything from school just came together. Now, I've worked in the field as an EMT-Intermediate for 2 years already, which by no means makes my a seasoned veteran, but it definitely gave me a tremendous head start on my internship. On my evaluations that my preceptors note that I'm knowledgeable and skillful, but needed more challenging calls to progress. This morning was the call that marked the "confident intern" point of my internship. I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but I'm not as self-doubting and apprehensive as I was a month ago.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My Dice

US troops in Iraq are holding their first ever game convention for all allied troops and civilian contractors wanting a day of RPGing. Ziggurat Con will be held at Camp Adder/Tallil Airbase on June 9th. Trouble is, the troops are in short supply of gaming essentials, such as books and dice. Those wanting more information, or to make a donation of materials or money, check out the link below. Thanks to Fear the Boot for putting the word out there.


My Review (of Red Mars)

I just finished (well, two weeks ago anyways) Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars and I have to agree with most of the reviews of it that I've read. The story, taken as a whole, is fantastic. However, I put the book down for about three months because the story dragged so much in the middle. I found that some of the characters, especially that of Michel Duval and the entire section of the book dedicated to him, were boring and tedious. The environmentalist views spread throughout the book sometimes beat you over the head. And Robinson obviously uses the novel to promote his own political viewpoints, which is his prerogative.

What I enjoyed the most was how detailed and richly descriptive the novel is. Mars is literally brought to life as if Robinson had been there himself. The science is incredibly researched and believable and is a highlight of reading the book. The story is sweeping, spanning the journey to Mars by the first 100 explorers, the initial frontier settlements and terraforming efforts, to the relative overpopulation of the established city-settlements and the social and economical strife that follows. Robinson does a fantastic job of keeping the individual stories of all his characters distinct and easy to follow as he picks up one and leaves off another. And while frustrating to some, I enjoyed reading different sections of the story from different character's perspectives.

Overall a great, epic read and I'm looking forward to the following Green Mars and Blue Mars.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Paramedicine

In the shifts following my last post, I've had a significant number of runs involving some seriously ill patients. From that, my level of confidence in my knowledge and skills has increased dramatically. My first successful field intubations occurred in the last few shifts, I've dealt with serious overdoses, I've been assaulted by a belligerent drunk, and I continue to interact and meet wonderfully diverse and interesting patients.

Right now I'm long and hours and short on calls and my shifts have slowed to the point I'm concerned. I had planned to be able to test for my Paramedic certificated in June, but at the rate of progress I'm making it's more realistic to think July or August. I'm disappointed, not in myself, but in the lack of call volume the company has had and how it has adversely affected my progress. It's not anyone's fault, it's just how things are.

Sometimes things are surreal, sometimes mundane. My Paramedic preceptor and I worked a cardiac arrest for over an hour while we transported the patient in from far out of town. The patient was in their 90s and during the course of the transport, Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" came on the radio. The driver turned up the radio so we could hear it in back and it was possibly one of the most surreal experiences of my life. My partner and I sang softly for the patient and felt we had done more by that, than all the CPR and drugs and such that we'd done to try and save her. Ultimately, the patient was gone, but it didn't feel like we'd lost. And ultimatley, the call didn't matter to me as far as the skills I was able use, it mattered because it was a human experience and I cared for the patient.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My Internship

I'm roughly 1/3 of the way through my paramedic field internship and as of yet, I still don't have a lot of confidence in taking care of a complicated patient. That being said, I can handle 98% of all the patients that I run on without any problem at all. After all, I live in town where the geriatric population is high and the majority of the patients we take to the hospital are "I can't poop" or "it hurts when I pee." The minority are a little more serious with complaints like "it's hard to breath" or "I'm having chest pain." I guess what I have problems with is taking charge and having a clear line of thinking on patients that are having the massive heart attack or the flash pulmonary edema event.

I should also realize that I'm only 250 hours into my internship and that I have a lot left ahead of me and that maybe I'm right where I'm supposed to be. It just feels overwhelming--more so than when I was in the class room. Mess up on a test and it's okay; mess up on drug dosages in the field or misdiagnose a patient and there are serious consequences.

I'm also the kind of individual that knows more and responds better under pressure than I think I do. I'm harder on myself than I need to be sometimes, at least that's what my preceptors tell me. I just want to be a good paramedic, not the C average medic that barely passed his test. I want to be the paramedic that when people talk about they say "he's a damn good paramedic. I'd let him take care of my family."

Or maybe that's me being a little too arrogant.

Friday, March 30, 2007

My Favorite Podcast

Check out my favorite podcast, Fear the Boot, a great show for hobby gamers (roleplayers) and non-gamers alike. These guys put together a great, professional quality show about an hour in length. Give 'em some listener support.


My Review (of A Perfect Thing)

So I just finished "The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness" by Steven Levy and maybe my favorite thing about the book is how it made me fall in love with my iPod all over again. Written as a series of essays regarding different aspects of how the iPod changed the Apple company, has affected culture and personalities, and created a new iPod economy, the book "shuffles" the chapters around from copy to copy, making sure each book is as unique as a shuffled playlist. The downside to this format is that the chapters can stand alone as essays and therefore have a certain amount of redundancy from chapter to chapter and there is also little sense of continuity.

I enjoyed the book because the author has an obvious love of technology and his iPod in particular; this is someone who knows iPods (and the Apple company) writing out of love. You'll find lots of great interview with Steve Jobs and others from within Apple. In reading, I learned so much about the iPod development process, the philosophy of the Apple company, and the history of digital music players. Overall, the book is insightful for those interested in the tech industry and written in such a way that it's accessible to everyone.