Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm Burning Up

I just spent $48.13 to fill the gas tank of my Audi A4. WTF? I mean, DUDE! Exactly what is up with that? Now, on the whole, I have an outstanding staff at my law firm. And by no means are they stupid people.  And in cases like this, most seem to excel in mathmatics. The equation goes something like this...  $15/hr, times 3, is $45, so, if i siphon out Rich's gas tank, I can leave early today. I saw some gas tank siphons for sale on eBay. And they were pretty cheap. 
The siphons were certainly cheaper than what the media has termed "priceless" when referring to the contents of the ceremonial room that was on fire next to the White Hous
e today.  That's all the news report babbled about... the utter treasures in this room next to the white house. 

Oh, also, she mentioned the secretarial
 desks.  This is what makes the news.  Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? There wasn't even a footnote about the firefighters who entered that place.  Is it such a high matter of national security that the windows to this place are bullet proof? And that they are welded and otherwise secured shut? When you're a firefighter, and you are going into this type of situation, you know this much:  the smoke and gasses in th
e room are much more dangerous than the fire itself, which is why you have to VENTILATE VENTILATE VENTILATE.  Failure to do so will result in a flashover. And you will die. Life and Death.  It's that simple. I can't IMAGINE what it was like for these brave souls to go into that death trap, fully aware of the consequences of their actions.  They carried out their duty with courage, poise, and professionalism.  And all that smoke billowing out of the building that served as the basis for the media's trumped up drama was the understated product of these few good men and women firefighters.  If you want to watch a video of the difficulty these firefighters had with the windows, click right here, and play the video- which of course has a commercial that precedes it. 

Apparently, neither the president nor the vice president were anywhere near the building. With all of the technology available to them, not to mention the hordes of their executive staff, you would THINK that it would be easy for them to utter two simple words:  "Thank" and "You".  I mean, the 'important people' can hide themselves in a command center in an AWACS plane in the air, or in some mountain somewhere, they can launch nuclear attacks from their bedrooms, they can recognize the bravery of these firefighters, wait- I guess that's not possible. Congress has to set up a separate budget and task force for that. But hey- there are some really really nice secretarial desks in the building next to the white house. Thank goodness for that. 
How many tanks of gas do you think one of those desks costs?  Here's an idea for all of you car manufacturers, so concerned with America's drivers- forget gas, forget electric and hybrid cars, and gasohol, forget it all- one secretarial desk from the White House should ke
ep a car running for about 5 years or so.  Oh, wait... can't do that.... that would mean my law firm employees could come to WORK and EARN A LIVING SUING YOU.  

I just gave out holiday bonuses to my law firm staff- gift cards to the Hess gas 
station.  And I just called my financial advisor to set up a gas fund for my kids.  Forget the college fund. They won't be able to afford to drive there anyway. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm Not The Only One To Find This Life "Appealing"

The Next time you hear a siren, pull over.  There could be a lawyer on board an ambulance making his case for the benefit of dedication and compassion.   

If you want to play the video, click HERE and play it. Otherwise, read the story below.  

Rock on, brother Ned:

Lawyer Moonlights As St. Louis Paramedic
Created: 11/22/2007 5:08:02 PM
Last updated: 11/22/2007 5:11:38 PM

By Mike Bush

(KSDK) - Let's face it, lawyers are not always the most exciting people.

"I enjoy the research", says attorney Ned Fryer. "I like the
thought processes, the intellectual challenge."

So spellbinding he's not but Fryer is successful.
He's been on the fast track since he got out of college.

"My first job out of law school was being a law clerk for Judge William Webster," says Fryer.

That's the same William Webster who went on to direct both the FBI and the CIA.

These days, he's a partner with Bryan Cave, one of the largest law firms in the country. Even at 60, Fryer still works 12 hour days. And on weekends? Well you'd expect to see him on the golf course. You'd expect that but you'd be wrong.

Some lawyers get a reputation for chasing ambulances. Ned Fryer drives one. When he's got time off, he's a paramedic for the St. Louis Fire Department.

"As a paramedic you're licensed to provide what's called advanced life support," explains Fryer.

On most weekend days and some weekday nights you will find
Fryer saving lives.

It all began when he was asked to be on the board of directors of the old July 4 celebration, the VP fair. His job the first year was driving the golf cart for a paramedic.

"It was a very hot year, the first several years of the VP Fair was very hot and the crowds large and the medical emergencies were numerous. So we had a lot to do," recalled Fryer.

You could say the idea of helping people, appealed to him.
So he went to school to become an EMT and later a full-fledged paramedic.

"When they told me he was a lawyer, I said you guys have to be kidding!" says Yvonne Ewing, a paramedic supervisor with the St. Louis Fire Dept.

Even after seven years with the department there are still people who don't know that Ned Fryer leads a double life.

"Ned is conscientious," says Ewing. "He's a hard worker. He doesn't duck and dodge. He gets down and dirty just like the rest of us."

In this job, instead of the statute of limitations he worries about
ventricullar fibrulation. While according to Ned there's still an intellectual challenge, there's also an adrenaline rush.

"That's one aspect of this job as opposed to my other job. Rarely are the moments quite as exciting," says Fryer.

What his colleagues find most impressive is Ned's ability to
stay calm in any situation. What you might find most impressive is that Ned does it all for free.

"I'm paid but I contribute my salary to the St. Louis fire department life saving foundation," says Fryer.

The life saving foundation trains first responders and helps provide the department with up to date equipment and technology.

If you're keeping score at home that's 2 jobs. 12 hours a day.
Often 7 days a week. In making their case, some lawyers tend to overstate things. Ned, apparently is the master of the understatement.

"I have a very understanding family," he says.

So the next time you hear a siren, pull over. There could be a lawyer on board that
ambulance making his case for the benefits of dedication and compassion.

Ned Fryer enjoying a life where there's never a dull moment.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

The white house is painted with lead

Honestly, it makes me want to vomit. All of a sudden, the media is covering the issue of Lead Paint, and how it affects children.  The dangers of lead based paint have been known for decades, and lead paint has been in existence even longer.  In fact, as far back as the late 1800's, there are stories documented about how sick dogs became from lead paint poisoning- lead based paint, which is thought to withstand the elements better than other paints, was often used to color outdoor dog houses.  There have been thousands of cases in the court systems brought by children and their families against landlords for failing to abate lead based paint from apartment houses.  Still, even in the most egregious of cases, there are no cases holding landlords, toy manufacturers, or anyone else, criminally responsible.  Quite the contrary: building insurance companies now specifically disclaim coverage right in their policies for any claims brought by children affected by lead based paint.  This leaves even kids so severely affected by lead paint that they cannot speak, nor maintain their bodily functions, without any recourse whatsoever.  And you can forget the toy companies. Countries such as China and Mexico, where the toys are manufactured and then covered with toxic paint, protect such profiteers.  Take a gander at this article.  

The brain damage caused by lead paint is irreversible.  The lead based paint tastes "sweet", further urging kids to eat even more of it.  Children naturally put things in their mouth anyway, called pica.  But why should any of this matter, when the politicians need something new to embrace in order to create appeal.  Trust me on this one- its going to be a major presidential campaign point. The flames of american nationalism will be fanned.  You will hear how bad foreign countries are towards our american children.  Strangely ironic, though, the statistics show that the vast majority of kids affected by lead are undocumented immigrants.  

I'm conducting some empirical research studies on the issue myself using my own children as subjects.  On occasion, I feed them large doses of matzoh ball soup.  To date, they have not shown any affects of lead based paint.  It seems that Jewish Penicillin is a vaccine against lead paint poisoning.  Who knew? If any of the presidential candidates happen to mention my work, I hope they remember the little people.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A little diddy about faith

It's been a while since I have written. Probably common amongst most bloggers. Ironic as it may be, during this holiday season, I find my faith in so many things in my world challenged on so many levels.  

I think it's very important to understand the difference between faith and religion.  Faith is a feeling. Faith is a hunch- a hunch that there is something bigger connecting it all, and connecting us all together.  

Here's a little diddy, all about my faith in my precious prince and princess:

You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse but

If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do

Some would say I am a lost man in a lost world
You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV
You could say I lost my belief in our politicians
They all seem like game show hosts to me

If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do

There is a part of me hoping that for the things I do as an EMT, some increased degree of goodness, comfort and protection will come to those I love.  It was 4am when the pager went off last Saturday morning- auto accident on the parkway. I didn't hesitate. Fast speed on the parkway + accident + rescue alarm over the pager=something bad. "Make sure you lock the door when you leave" my wife's sleepy voice beckoned.  When my bus got to the scene, the car was fully involved in flames, resting on its side.  Only one car was involved in the accident.  It looked like a movie set.  

The driver literally walked into the ambulance. The odor of alcohol was on his breath. He didn't have a scratch. "Sir, are you hurt anywhere?" "No," he managed to get out of his mouth.  "My son is an EMT".  Sheesh. Talk about a non sequitur.  I don't think it was exactly the good people at Chrysler who kept this man from harm though.  His son's beneficence didn't keep him from getting arrested about an hour later.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I took part in a departmental continuing education class for EMS last Sunday.  There were several stations set up- stretcher operation, stair chair, assisting ALS, things like that. These are the basics.  The things that are so rote, if you will, that you skip every other line while reading about it in a textbook.  But these things, nonetheless, are things you have to know. And know so well.  

One of the stations was how to properly fill out a PCR (patient call report).  One of my preceptors taught me to write "PFA" (psychological first aid) under the "other" category of the sheet when treating a patient.  PFA would consist of saying things to the patient like "Is this your first time in an ambulance? Yeah, mine too." Works wonders, actually.  But how in the world can any EMT get to that point of treating a patient without first getting through these rote basics? And, since there is no specific space on the PCR for indicating that PFA was administered (aside from the "other" line), the EMS system doesn't even expect PFA to be administered.  

Heck, even barbers have externship programs set up so that barber students can practice their profession before going out into the real world.  Not law though.  So long as you score high enough on the bar exam, you're good to go.   So, all you newly admitted attorneys out there, remember- give your clients a little PFA once in a while, even if you're not tested on it on the bar exam.  

And, while you're at it, don't be like all the recent law job applicants I have had to face in the last month.  Don't tell me that you "love the law".  Don't tell me that you really expect to "change the world".  Don't tell me that you want to "do some good in this world" with your law degree.  The only good you really want to do is get rich.  It's ok to use the money the way you want to use it, for, by the time you have earned the money, you have earned the right to do with it what you want.  Just be honest about it.  And cut the crap already.  

My dad was my preceptor.  He died some seven years ago or so, but he is still teaching me all about how to fill out the "other" section on my own personal PCR form. But its still so hard for me to get to that spot on the sheet, even more so nowadays in light of my ( almost) 3 year old princess and my sweet 4 year old hockey star.  There's no school to teach the formalities, or objective requirements, of being a daddy.  But no dad can beat themselves up too much over it all, for that would only detract from the kids. 

Learn. Absorb.  Get as much as you can from your preceptors while you still can.  And make sure that when you throw your stone in the pond, the water's ripples caress the shore with lessons of PFA.  If that's too esoteric for you, then just give the form back to the girl at the desk.   

Monday, November 12, 2007

Health Insurers are Leeches

Interesting story out of Minnesota.  Tom Cary lost his wife to medical malpractice.  His health insurance paid for her treatment. He filed a lawsuit against the negligent doctor.  The health insurer, instead of pooling its resources with Tom to fight and recover the money, put a lien on his deceased wife's estate to recover the money it paid out.  Yes, the premium that Tom paid for years didn't matter.  The health insurer wanted to get paid.  

And get paid they did.  $60,000 out of an undisclosed settlement.  And yes, this can and will happen to you if you have an ERISA plan. 

In addtion to all fo the other reasons you have to contact an attorney, you need to see if you have an ERISA policy and if your health insurer may be entitled to reimbursement before you recover any money!!!

Sweet dreams. 

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Just Killin' It

I must have been about 15 years old.  The proportions of the rest of my body had just about caught up with the length of my arms, I was showering everyday, and it was really important to have a boom box. I was the paper boy too.  And upon delivering to one of the houses on my route, I happened upon an outdated amplifier that had a blown fuse.  The visions of stardom erupted.  And my rock star fantasy was ample fuel for my blast-off from paper boy slavery to jukebox hero.  The few days that led up to hooking up my keyboard synthesizer to the amplifier with two other high schoolers who shared my fantasy are blurry at best.  They played guitar and drums.  Together, the three of us rocked, playing cover songs and such.  Well, we never really played for anyone but ourselves, but who cared- we talked a big game.  We were larger than life.  And I brought that feeling home with me.  I talked to my dad about our sound.  He was hesitant to express his true feelings to me at first.  Surely, he was asking himself, 'how could my son, whom I have heard play oversimplified arrangements of broadway tunes on our baby grand piano, want to play a gig in front of a live audience?' He did ask me what the definition of a 'rif' was though.  I was so ready to pounce on the first indication of doubt he might have uttered.  But my dad kept quiet.  Until the next day:
"You know, Rich, there are night clubs in New York City where, if you think you can do it, you can step right up onto the stage, improvise, and play with other musicians.It's mostly jazz bands.  But I will do whatever I can to help you explore it. Who knows where it will take you to." 

What a lucky boy I was. What a good man my dad was.  

Manny Roth was an influential New York City nightclub owner and entertainment entrepeneur.  Manny Roth owned the famous New York establishment Cafe Wha?.  In the early 1960s, Cafe Wha? provided a stage for ameteur acts such as Bob Dylan and Bill Cosby.  Manny Roth is an uncle to David Lee Roth.  So, basically, because I didn't have the balls to pursue my pipe dream, I gave up living a life like Diamond Dave's.  I would have to settle for seeing the Van Halen concert at the Nassau Coleseum a couple of days ago.  Alex Van Halen, the drum player, was a perfect blend of Buddy Rich and 'Animal' from the muppets.  Eddie Van Halen shredded tunes on his guitar. And David Lee Roth was the ultimate entertainer- Bruce Lee spinning back kicks, top hats, outfits, you name it- he pulled out all the stops.   The guy is 53 years old, and he is still 'killin it' out there.  

Just like Diamond Dave, I get such a rush outta 'killin it' as an EMT.  Hope I can still do it when I'm 53.  But the types of calls we have been getting lately have really been buzz kills- a guy riding a bicycle gets hit by a car, and refuses medical attention.  An elderly lady falls, bruises her hip, and calls the EMT taxi service.  A guy gets drunk at a local restaurant. But time and time again, I will respond.  I will do whatever I have to do to capture that clarity of thought I experience when I remove all compassion, all emotion, all sympathy- and help- really help a patient.  

I had my son in my car when the tones came across my pager today, so I couldn't respond to the call.  'The Circle of Life' from the Lion King soundtrack began playing on the radio:

"Daddy, is the song about us?" my sweet 4 year old boy asked innocently, yet so much more keenly than he will ever know.  My dad died before my son met him.  

"Yes," I explained.  "It's about us."

Friday, November 9, 2007

Don't Throw Water on a Kitchen Oil Fire

Don't throw water over a grease/oil fire.

This is a dramatic video (30-second, very short) about how to deal
with a common kitchen fire ... oil in a frying pan. Please read
the following introduction and then watch the show .. It's a real
eye-opener !!

At the Fire Fighting Training school they would demonstrate this
with a deep fat fryer set on the fire field. An instructor would
don a fire suit and using an 8 oz cup a t the end of a 10 foot
pole toss water onto the grease fire. The results got the
attention of the students.

The water, being heavier than the oil, sinks to the bottom where
it instantly becomes superheated. The explosive force of the steam
blows the burning oil up and out. On the open field, it became a
thirty foot high fireball that resembled a nuclear blast. Inside
the confines of a kitchen, the fire ball
Hits the ceiling and fills the entire room.

Also, do not throw sugar or flour on a grease fire. One cup
creates the explosive force of two sticks of dynamite.

Please view this video clip by clicking HERE:

Please watch this video, learn, remember, and tell others.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Bet With Your Head, Not Over It

My wife and I actually got to spend some time together for about 24 hours straight.  Spontaneously, after dropping the kids off at my in-laws, we headed down to Atlantic City and scored a couple of tickets to a Police concert, thanks to Sue, the best casino host in the world.  The last time The Police played Atlantic City was 1984.  I was in 10th Grade.  I love their music.  They opened up with "Mesage In A Bottle". They rocked. But they got old. Really old. They were still wearing the same outfits they wore back in the day- Sting with his sleeves cut off, the guitarist Andy Summers with black and white stripes, and the drummer Stewart Copeland sporting a black shirt with the emblem from "Ghost In The Machine".  And there were big Atlantic City style banners all around the concert hall which read "Bet With Your Head, Not Over It."  But who am I, but an almost-40 year old guy who used to hang out at the mall.  I still go to the mall nowadays, just with my wife and kids instead of with any of my teenage friends who were adventurous enough to ride a public bus.  

Back in the day (way way WAY back), I didn't go to any concerts.  My parents were pretty much conditioned by my sister.  She's 8 years older than I am, and she took the liberty of telling my parents all the terrible things that happen at these concerts.  And me, being so naive at the time (I grew up in Pleasantville), I actually started to believe the hype myself.  So I stopped wanting to go, thinking that in all my Pleasantville suburban-ness I would be over my head at such a ruckus.  So I decided instead, back then, to act with my head. 

I still experience that sentiment today on occasion, pausing to decide whether or not to take a risk.  I love emergency medicine.  I love being an emergency responder. And in a perfect world, I would do it 24/7, all instead of being an attorney.  The problem is, the world is far from perfect.  There are so many days I wake up asking myself whether today is the day I will take the plunge out of my finely tailored Armani attorney suit and into my Medic gear.  The attorney , self-sacrificing for my wife and kids, or the Medic, selfish, self-satisfying pursuits of uncelebrated glory.  

Hindsight is 20/20.  So I suppose that no one, including myself, can truly tell whether a decision to become a full time Medic would be betting with or over my head.  Here's part of the rub:  ever hear of a successful gambler who didn't take crazy risks? Ever know a successful business owner who didn't put it all on the line to parlay his hunch into a walk on easy street? Ever think about how any pioneer in any field was prejudged? We marvel at what we now call their foresight.  But take yourself back, if you can, to the very instant they all made their decision to act- were they betting with their head, or over it?

I have tickets to go see Van Halen on Thursday.  David Lee Roth is with them on this tour.  He's an EMT.  

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pleasure: a Temporary Respite from Reality

I took the following from "Monday Monday", a brilliant publication distributed via fax every week, authored by Jay L.T. Breakstone, Esq. Mr. Breakstone is an exceptional attorney and an amazing writer. Mr. Breakstone's website can be found by clicking here.

Mr. Breakstone touches on many of the ideas which serve as common threads between my posts.


Lovely day, yesterday. Perfect temperature for the New York City Marathon. It found us on First Avenue and 89th Street, en famille, like Jean Valjean and Eponine at the barricades. We cheered and clapped, bewildered at the colors and the spectacle, all while looking for an uncle/brother/brother-in-law/son (who finished in sub-3:45 time, besting his past year's performance.) The day was uniquely New York.

Ah, but something unsettles. There is much valiant, but little aesthetically pleasing about 39,000 ectomorphs running in their skivvies. Perhaps, it's the images of starving people or prison camp survivors. Now, don't jump. We disgustingly large people recognize that we will die young, if full. But don't fool us into believing that the pleasure of running 26.2 miles is equivalent to Junior's cheesecake or a roll in the hay.

Perhaps we see beyond the act of running, to the more difficult question of what one is running from or to. The "runner's high" must disappear if you arrive home, only to find that you forgot to pay the cable bill and your kids can't watch the Disney channel.

So, is there any difference between the act of running and the act of, let us say, drinking a perfect martini? Not really. In both cases, the pleasure is a respite from the difficulty of conquering life's everyday problems. For the moment, whether pounding the pavement or bending the elbow, we have gone beyond, risen above, and spent some time with the gods. The martini is better, however, because at the end, you get an olive and you don't chafe.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Evil Knievel Through a Window

My local library has windows that look exactly like the windows of the library where I grew up in Greenburgh, New York.  The sight of those windows instantly cleared the cobwebs off some of my visions of childhood.  

I remember when I was a little boy, growing up in a garden apartment complex in the early 70's, idolizing Evil Knievel and imitating him by riding my Big Wheels down the hill and "popping a wheelie".  I had the best of friends that all lived within a 3 block radius. I had sleepovers. I told my kindergarden teacher that Nixon was a crook, but I didn't really know why. My sister wore Dr. Scholl's clogs.  And the world was fascinated with bell bottomed jeans. 

As the song goes, "those were the days".  You knew who the bullies were. You knew who the kids you wanted to hang around with were.  And you didn't really care whether the spaghetti you were eating for dinner had ketchup or marinara sauce on it.  Whereas now I would be going to Houlihan's or Ruby Tuesday's, I would go to Burger King or McDonald's back then.  Tres bourgoise!  But it didn't matter.  Everything was OK. You had a bed to sleep in, under a roof to keep you dry, some 33 1/3 speed records, baseball cards, various types of balls, and if you were good, you could stay up late to watch TV.  All of life's essentials.   I remember feeling good back then. Safe. I wasn't even humiliated by my "bowl" haircut or red plaid pants.  Had the seven year old kid I was been asked  back then how my quality of life was, I probably would have responded with a resounding "good" and turn the corners of my mouth upwards just enough to make you wonder whether I was sincere or just a kid with a pleasant disposition who didn't really understand such a question.  

I had been to "John's" house for a 'signal 9' (rescue call) about six months or so ago when his feeding tube came out.  He wasn't smiling yesterday when my bus came to his house again.  He couldn't.  See, he was non-verbal, non communicative, with a long medical history, including a couple of CVAs that had left this frail man in his 80's in the custody of his wife and a specially rigged bed for the remainder of his life.  This time he had managed to bite and mutilate his thumb to such a degree that it got badly infected and required him to be transported to the hospital for further treatment.  His wife was with him. but no other family members were.  They were represented only by old, dusty photographs around the house.  

I never saw such a situation like John's when I was a boy.  I wonder if it would have made me cherish my childhood days with the same inensity then as I do now.  I can tell you that there are a lot of times when I handle legal cases for clients whose situations are something akin to an episode of Maury Povich or Jerry Springer.  I admit, that on occasion, I watch those shows.  And when I do, there is one prevailing thought that goes through my head - "thank GOD that is not me."  When I was treating John, my 'heart' was in it. When I deal with my clients, my 'heart' is not.   Regardless of their situations, I do my best for my patients when I am an EMT, and my clients when I am an attorney.  Nonetheless, there is a "disdain", if you will, that exists for most of my clients.  I think it's because they seem to accept their social status, and refuse to fight their weariness for the benefit of their future generations.  The patients are somehow, more "helpless".  

I went into the library, and I asked the librarian for a book on how to bring up my children the right way.  She chuckled for a second, then stopped laughing when she thought there was a possibility that my question might have been a serious one.  She must have been a mother herself.  She cocked her head a little, flashed a comforting smile, and told me "if you're thinking about it that much, I'm sure they will be fine."  So I took an Ansel Adams book out with loads of black and white photographs of windows.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We're All Islanders!

My sweet boy is only 4.  But he loves hockey. My little 40 pounder is destined for Gretzky greatness. Anything round he sees, he immediately associates with a hockey puck. Anything remotely resmbling a New York Islanders Hockey Team emblem will immediately prompt a "Daddy, look!" shout, with a stiff, outstretched arm and finger pointed right at it.  At the rink where we go for lessons, my boy just had to take another one of those little New York Islanders pocket schedule of games - one of the many now strewn about his room.  After all, we do live on Long Island.  "We're All Islanders!" the schedule cover boasts. 

"Pedro" is an islander too.  The island of the Dominican Republic.  He was sitting in the driver seat of his truck on Jericho Turnpike when I found him- the accident victim of a rear end collision.  No airbags deployed, and there was no intrusion into the cabin of the truck. But Pedro had some pretty intense whiplash. Traffic was heavy, so we immobilized him, slapped a collar on, and got him into the bus quickly. He was going to be ok. Pedro didn't
 speak much English though. At least not outwardly. Who could blame him.  Not only was he an accident victim, but he was surrounded by police officers and an indignant perpetrator of the accident, all loudly muttering (and not exactly under their breath at that) innuendos of immigrant encroachment.  

"Alberto" is an islander too.  The island of Cuba.  He came into my law office seeking my representation after he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle one early morning on his way to work at the Car Wash.  He speaks Spanish mostly. His doctor told him he has a fractured pelvis.  Who would have guessed that the insurance company medical examination,
 performed by a highly qualified, handsomely paid long island doctor, would report otherwise. 

We're all islanders, right? So, why is it that some islanders are treated differently than others?  I am an Islander as well. Too often I shun the love of my wife.  I don't talk to my friends about things that bother me.  Sometimes I don't reveal myself to my children.  And I don't seem to take time off from protecting my family- I'm not really sure from what though.  

It has been said that "no man can be an island".  Logically, then, no man should be treated as one. 

"...Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."  John Donne (1572-1631).

PostScript: After reading my blog, Mr. Donne's estate has retained my legal services to pursue a case against the New York Islanders for plagarism, due to the likeness and similarities of the "We're All Islanders" slogan to John Donne's quote.  

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Princess and the Power Ranger

My firehouse had a halloween party today for the kids. We throw one every year. Its always cute. Kids, costumes, games, music, and lots and lots of sugary treats.  My beautiful girl dressed up as a princess, and my sweet boy was a power ranger

"What should I dress up like?" I asked my daughter. 
"Um, like a daddy, smiling as she shouted, as if she solved a major mystery. 
"Oh yeah? OK. What should I wear as a costume?"
My little girl's answer came quickly to her:  "A bagel".  
Wow. A bagel. Esoteric, obscure, humorous, yet round and appetizing all at the same time. 
Anyway....As soon as they put on their costumes, my kids assumed their roles.  Skylar floated down the stairway in her dress that sparkled and flowed just above the floor, yet not high enough to reveal her little feet. And her tiara was just precious. Whereas Skylar floated, Brandon jumped fearlessly down the entire set of stairs.  He flashed his lightning 
bolts, and spun ninja kicks until the sugar wore off.  I hid the nun-chucks from him.  No one got hurt, thankfully.

There's a princess and a power ranger in all of us if you look in the mirror close enough.  I responded with my crew to a 'signal 9' yesterday.  The chief was at the scene before my bus was '22' (arrived) at the house. The chief radioed on fireground:  "Just the monitor." No stretcher, no trauma bag, no oxygen?  I knew "Sam" the patient had already died well before we got there.  I ran an EKG strip as part of the "c/y/a" process.   And as I waited with my brethren for the County medical examiner to arrive I looked around Sam's den for important information (date of birth, family contact info, etc.).   It was, in many respects, the antithesis of his lifeless rigor mortis. On a bookshelf, a collector's card from 'The Terminator" of Arnold  Schwarzenegger (dark glasses, leather jacket, spiked hair); a photograph on his desk of himself with Bill Clinton; trophies; awards; and three empty cans of "Milwaukee's Best" beer. He was 89 when he died. But Sam obviously was a power ranger.    The face of death, however, is just something that can't be disguised. He was stiff. Discolored. With a strange expression frozen on his face.  There was an eerie, thick, silent vibe in the house. It reeked. 

I was wearing my EMT uniform. Some of the crew on scene saw a dead man.  I was in the same room as they were.  Yet, I saw a power ranger.  Subtly,  I left and attempted to honor him with an emotion of laying my EMT jacket over him like a blanket, which would then  turn into the costume of life he once wore. The call was over. I wasn't ready for any other calls just yet though.  My EMT jacket was still with Sam.  I came back home, and soaked up my little princess and power ranger.  They each recharged me. I gave them eac
h a bagel I had bought on the way home.  Toasted. With cream cheese.  They loved it. 

Friday, October 26, 2007

Passion for Hats and Lights

I remember responding to a 'signal 9' (that's my house's code for 'rescue' call) not so long ago. It concerned an elderly lady at an assisted living facility. The terms 'assisted' and 'living' are all relative, evidently. The outside of the building looks nice enough, as does the reception area at its entrance. But do you know that rather odd smell of 'old lady' perfume that mixes with cheap, stale make-up smell and mothballs that emanates from certain closets of the 'maturely challenged'?? Yeah, baby. That's what permeated the facility's hallowed halls beyond the reception area. The residents all seemed depressed, or sleeping. I probably should have checked them for a heartbeat while I was there. The facility's "nursing" staff seemed too removed enough to care. As a matter of fact, they all seemed to do their best to avoid me and my brethren for fear of being asked questions like "what happened"? Frightening indeed.
The facility was right around the corner from the house. My bus was the first to arrive. Understand, that we are a volunteer department, so, when there's sufficient EMS staff on board the bus, it leaves the house to go to the scene. So, here I was, in all of my EMT glory, riding with a more senior EMT (I will call him "senior"). I give dispatch a '22' (arrived at scene), grab trauma, O2, collar bag, and go in, past the pillared entrance.

"Where is she?" I ask.
"Oh, back there somewhere," the saggy woman wearing a nurse costume mumbled, as she wiped the sleep away from her eyes. She really looked the part. I mean, she even had white shoes on, and wore a little white hat just like Trixie from "Emergency - The TV Series".
"Can you show me?" I asked with urgency.
"I can't leave my desk", the very nice lady stated authoritatively.
Great. There's a lady in distress somewhere in the building and 'slumber nurse' is playing dress-up with her wardrobe. There seemed to be a ruckus down yonder, so, that's where i headed, but not before slumber nurse complained about how bright the ambulance emergency turret lights were. And why, she wanted to know, do we need those walkie-talkie things on if we're not using them? (Insert cat-fight sound here).

I saw the patient sitting in a puddle of blood down the hall. Blood was pouring out of her nose area at a pretty fast rate. 'Senior' was just looking at her. The zombies costumed as facility staff did their best to run the opposite way. They were all old too though, so they didn't really run. They just opened their eyes wide and kind of 'race walked' in all different directions. The chief radioed for a stretcher. Me, well, I ran over to the patient, did my best to determine the mechanism of injury, and mostly applied direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Turns out the old lady fell and hit her nose. The excessive bleeding was due to the fact that she was the closest thing to a Plavix addict you can be without having pure water for blood.

The whole scenario wasn't very life threatening really. But I often reflect on that call because of its ironic moments. I mean, I was presented with a gusher, sitting in a blood puddle, and I just sprung into action without hesitation or reservation. Others ran. And even others asked 'what happened?' They were the ones who stopped, thought, and decided to concern themselves with...well, themselves. Where was their compassion? Where was their sympathy?
Ah, but then again, where was my own? I did not stop. I did not think. If I did, I might have acted like a zombie similar to the facility staff. I might have even just watched, like "senior" was doing. Instead, I did not concern myself with anything. Something within me took over. I seemed to have removed myself from the situation. I was on some kind of autopilot I suppose. Yes. Automatic. At the very instant when I am supposed to have been compassionate I was apathetic. It's so strange to me, really. I am passionate about being an EMT while at the same time I am dispassionate about my manifestation of being one. I have apathy towards those who I treat because I have compassion for them before I treat them.
My lawyer hat looks nothing like Trixie's. I described to someone what happens when I wear it though: 'my nerves run through every part of my file.' Every week I get at least one resume and cover letter claiming "I have a passion for the law". We, as attorneys 'appeal' to judges - in the 'Court of Appeals' no less. We are told to represent our clients 'zeal
ously'. Yet, we tell jurors to act without sympathy; without prejudice; without passion. We are taught that the law treats the underprivileged and privileged the same way. And (too?) often, we as attorneys turn a blind eye towards the truths of our clients' cases. My lawyer hat is BIG and TALL. That's so I can fit any one of a number of hats underneath it. I could be wearing a hat of compassion or dispassion at any moment. And when common sense tells you to look for one type of hat on my head, you will probably find a different hat there.

I love my wife. I love my children. I kiss my beautiful wife smack on the lips before I leave for the day. My sweet boy and girl cry passionately when I leave the house in the morning to go to the office.

"Daddy, daddy!!! One more kiss and hug, plllleeeaaasssee?" Tears dancing on their cheeks, breakfast syrup on their little chins, standing in the doorway, running in place, half naked. I run from my car at the curb, and give those beautiful kids a kiss and a hug that i hope lasts the rest of the day for them. And then I trudge to my office, and become a slave to its calling.

I get through the day
wearing my attorney hat only by becoming dispassionate about my family. That is to say, I work late because of them; I don't think of them because I have to complete my case assignments so that I earn money to support them; I don't call them during the day. I don't email them.
I am a player of the game of passion everyday. At home, at the office, on a call. When the passion switch in 'on', the passion light is off, and vice versa. (Insert Neil Diamond, 'put on your Heartlight' background music here). I know, I know... confuses the crap out of me too. And let me tell you what wonders it does for my marriage. I have hope though. My wife still turns me 'on' when the lights go 'off'.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fire in California

My thoughts and prayers are with you all out there. 

A good man, and a good attorney, Johnathan G. Stein, is doing some great work in California for the victims of this horrible disaster. As he has stated here, he has graciously offered his services pro bono (yes, that means free).  

Here is some gut wrenching video footage of a family evacuating after holding out until the very last moment, and some footage that I found striking, including two firefighters who saved at least four houses from certain destruction.  

Channel IconChannel Icon

Two false alarms, the same man trapped.

There were two fire calls on my way to the office today- the pager and siren went off just as I opened my door. Frankly, it was kind of creepy the way that i seemed to have set off two fire alarms just by opening the door to my car. "I'm not gonna lie," as my EMT buddy Joe always tells me- I loved the sound of the pager tones.  And when they stopped, the town's horn siren filled in the gap between the repeat pager tones.  I was excited. No, more exhilarated than excited. Whatever. It was a positive, energizing sentiment- almost like what I feel in vegas after chain drinking Red Bulls and smoking a non-filtered cig while looking at a winning hand of blackjack with a bet just big enough to make me worry.  Last time I got that feeling while wearing my attorney hat was... I can't really remember. Let's just say eons ago for now

I don't cherish the reasons for the calls, that is for certain. I do, nonetheless, crave that 'rush' of going from Zero to 100 MPH in an instant, and all else that goes along with it.  And being kept from feeling it more often than I do by my Attorney responsibilities doesn't make missing that rush any easier. It's a balancing act all around, that's for sure. Walking the tightrope between the fire/rescue rush and providing my family with more and better life opportunities vis a vis and all of its glory. 

Then again, there is always the cloud of retirement that lingers.  But hasn't the whole concept of retirement, as in total leisure lifestyle without any income at all, sort of become passe at this point, even in this Country? There are those I know who speak of retirement at 55, 60 or 65, but I don't think many of them actually think they will actually retire then. I think the vast majority of people now expect - or if they don't they have to expect -  to work at least part time even well into their 70's.  Maybe, a better plan than retirement is to find some kind of work that I enjoy doing- and striving to do it well into my 70's. I mean, is 'old school' retirement really healthy anyway? I'm probably better off doing my best to keep body, mind and soul active.  What am I really going to do if I retire at like 65 or 70 anyway? I will most likely be rife with back pain or some other 'old man ailment' that would hinder any adventurous plans of mine. 

 I want to enjoy my life now. I don't want to wait. I shouldn't have to. But how can I do what I want to do and still keep my family in the balance?

Oh. The two fire calls this morning were false alarms. Thankfully, none of my brethren (and sistren?) got hurt on their way to the station house.  Maybe that's what my worry is- a false alarm.  I hope I'm not hurting myself by worrying. Or worse, my kids. I'm still trying to listen for those pager tones and sirens. Are they real or just in my head?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mean lawyer, a laywer mean.

No calls last night. Or, maybe there were, and the County just saved all of them for themselves. 

I took my sweet girl to the pediatric urologist this morning. Nothing too serious, especially since she doesn't feel embarrassed at her tender age about frequent urination, or "accidents".

 "Where are we going today, daddy?" 
"We're going to visit a special doctor," I tell her in a tone that any adult would consider patronizing.
 "Well, sweet girl, there's doctors there that will help us feel better," I say to her.
"Why don't we just call the firehouse? Isn't that where you go to help all the people?"

I love the fact that she has that idea in her head. I love the fact that I have been able to communicate the idea to her.  And I love the prospect of having my sweet daughter carry on the notion of helping others long after I'm gone.  

Now, all I have to do is find a way for her to afford health care coverage when she is an adult. My co-pay today was $40 dollars, and, from what I see health insurance carriers paying out these days, the doctor's office won't get paid much more than that. So why, then, did my law office's health insurance rates go up 14%, and where exactly is this money going? The rate of inflation in this country is less than half of that.  Oh. By the way... its not the lawyers' fault. Don't go there. Physician insurance only goes up half of that.  In fact, there were hardly ANY change in prices for several years before that for physician insurance.   
"Magic wand, stat!"

Me, I'm still a volunteer emergency responder. I don't get paid for what I do. Nor does my breathren. Instead, I have grown a thick layer of skin to deal with all of the lawyer jokes, the adversity within the legal system, and my circus-like office (I swear they can do a reality show on all of the characters in my firm.  That's the skin many see. That is the callous that has become the attorney means to my EMT end.  My sweet boy and girl, well, they don't see that skin. They see a man who helps people. And they sense the importance of it.   

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Just learning how to post on this thing. And trying to focus my ideas into a theme of sorts. But while I do, take a look at a quote from a TV series that used to be on TNT, called "Saved"

I just wanna say.... I wanna say I love my job. How many people can say that?  And I love my real family- who really are selfless- they are people who do things not to be noticed nor celebrated, but just because they can.  Right here, right now.  Sometimes I feel invisible.  I feel invisible now.  But not when I'm doing my job.  I'm a paramedic.  

Here is a link to the show:  Saved- the TV series

They canned the series.  I thought it was one of the best on TV.  I guess the whole idea of a conflicted and confronted paramedic wasn't appealing enough to all of those potential patients out there.