Wednesday, June 08, 2005

More memories…

Having been fishing this past week has me thinking about old friends again.

This time I’d like to tell you a little about a guy who was very good friend of mine, Larry Flint. NO, not ‘the’ Larry Flint, actually that guy spells his name ‘Flynt’… anyway…

I don’t remember exactly how Larry and I first became friends. I’m pretty sure it was as a result of us both being in the North Bay Fire Department, and probably involved us getting our hands dirty in some mechanical repair on one of the trucks, or the facilities, but we became friends all the same.

It turned out we had a lot in common. We were both very ‘self-sufficient’ type guys, took pride in our ability to fix nearly anything, and yet recognized that often the task was made much simpler by having a friend to lend a hand.

I have some interesting memories of working on Fire Trucks late into the night and fighting fires, especially the night the ‘Old Forest Hotel’ in Sylvan Beach burned… It was the middle of winter, colder than cold, and that old place was a 100 year old tinder box.

I’d just come home from night school, probably around 11:00pm or so and had driven by the place on the way. I remember thinking as I came through the Beach and could feel the wind off the lake driving that cold air into my car that I hoped it would be a quiet night.

About twenty minutes later, as I was sitting down to a late dinner of a ham and cheese sandwich I heard the Sylvan Beach Fire Chief on the scanner. “…en-route to a reported structure fire, Old Forest Hotel…”, I remember thinking it must be a false alarm as there had been no sign of anything when I drove through.

Less than five minutes went by and I heard the Chief tell the dispatcher to: “Send me everything from North Bay”. I knew this was going to be one of those get there in time, or we’d be there all night kind of things.

Larry and I were the first two guys at the Firehouse; we crewed up the truck and headed for "the beach". I dropped the hammer on that truck and I didn’t ease back on the throttle until I saw the fireball from the hotel blowing out over the bridge. It was too late, the wind was fueling that fire and the old hotel was fully involved, we were going to be there all night.

We fought that fire, and managed to contain it that night, despite having to cut through three foot of ice in the canal to draft water, bringing in fuel trucks to refuel the fire trucks and having the hoses, equipment, everything really, buried in nearly a foot of ice by daybreak. It was a shame to lose that old landmark, but a miracle we managed to save the adjacent properties. I remember calculating with Larry the next day that there had been in excess of a million gallons of water used that night, and that was a conservative estimate!

It was also one of those evenings that you find out what you and your fellow firefighters are made of. The wind chill that night had to be in the -25F range, all of us out there were volunteers; we were there all night and into the morning, only to have to clean everything up and get ready for the next call. I still remember laying out the hose to dry and repacking the front line trucks with dry equipment from the older trucks almost the entire next day. Is it any wonder I still think they were some of the best people I've ever known?

Larry and I did a lot of things like that; we’d volunteer for just about everything, especially if it had to do with the NBVFD (North Bay Volunteer Fire Department), or even with some neighboring departments. I recall that I wrote an entire piece of software to generate statistics for a ‘Rural Water Supply’ seminar Jack Cotett from Cleveland, NY put on. It was a ‘one off’ deal too as we never ran the seminar again.

Larry’s gone now, died from brain cancer around 18 years ago, I lost touch with his wife Jet, and the two kids Todd and Tammy shortly after that as they all moved away.

There were some great times while they lasted, we rang in a few ‘New Years’, celebrated Memorial days, 4th of Julys, Labor Days, pretty much any excuse to get together and have fun… and I said my goodbyes to Larry at his funeral… I didn't get to talk with him before he died, because once he knew he was ill, he simply dropped off the radar, not wanting anyone to see him weakened by by the disease. I was angry about that for a while, but, eventually I just chose to be saddened by his passing… yet remaining aware that my life was far richer for knowing him.

I’m sure I’ll be writing more about Larry in the future, we shared a lot, far too much for one simple post.

Now an entirely different topic…

Breakdowns….

It’s funny, I seem to just get up to speed set the ‘cruise control’ on my life and then, just when I’m getting comfortable, all of a sudden I’m slowing down again!

I wrote in the last post about what a great weekend we had. What I didn’t write about was the ‘terrible’ beach weather, as in cool, rainy and foggy (until the morning of our departure!). I snapped that ocean view picture as we were packing to depart, it was so foggy most days you could barely see the ocean!

We had another major set back when, as we pulled into a little diner for breakfast we noticed a considerable amount of smoke/steam rising up from the front end of the Tahoe. A little closer inspection revealed we’d suffered a ruptured heater fitting. A call to Triple-A, a tow truck ride, a cab ride, a few hours and $110 later we had the truck back.

Today, as I’m working on the setups for a fairly large client (that I should have been on site at today) my laptop battery dies, and one of the RAM sticks ceases functioning!

I’ve got parts ordered for the LT, they should be here tomorrow and as long as I’ve got a power connection I can limp along, but damn, that’s a lot of speed bumps for just a couple of days!

The weather… well it didn’t really matter to me. I was more interested in RL and I getting away for a couple of days and relaxing and we certainly accomplished that!

The truck problem, well, I was very impressed with how reasonable the repair was. I mean I was at a resort area, stuck, and they were closing at noon on Saturday. Not only was it done in time, but the part and the labor charge were all well within expected ranges, maybe even a little less than you’d expect. It wasn’t their fault that a different problem stranded me once again today!

The LT? Well it’s a computer, and one that really takes a beating. It goes nearly everywhere with me and has for several years now. I should replace it, it’s definitely paid for itself many times over.

Am I the only person who hates getting a new computer? About the time I start considering that I should get a new one, is about the same time I’ve finally got the one I have ‘tweaked’ just right, so it works exactly the way I’d like it to. Has the right mix of software and utilities, all the ‘connection’ information, and that it’s truly now a productivity enhancing device, and has become as comfortable as an well worn pair of blue jeans.

I bought a replacement PC last fall for one that failed, and yet today, several months later it’s still not 100%. It’s close, but just not yet there yet!

Am I the only one?

15 comments:

Master of None said...

Sorry about the speed bumps. I had my own speed bump last night. Someone broke into my car (detailed on my site).

As for the computer, I'm working with a laptop at work that's just a few shades from being a calculator, so I would love to get a new computer. Of course, I would have a tech staff to ensure that everything was set up properly. Now home is a different story. We are nearing the day when we have to get a new one, and I dread it. The big problem will be getting the router settings correct. I have no talent for this.

Bill said...

Oh man... I hate when that happens... I know it makes me feel 'violated' somehow.

Everytime I even think about a new PC... it makes me long for the old 'DOS' days when you could just install the new OS and then copy everything from one PC to the other and it all worked just fine!

If there's anything I can do to help with your router issues (there really shouldn't be any unless you're using the PC to handle specific routing issues) please feel free to ask.

In most cases, when the 'network adapter' is installed, by default, it will look to your router for an IP address, and, your router, by default will expect to be handing them out. So, unless that's all been changed, everything should just be 'plug-and-go'...

We can hope can't we?

Spirit Of Owl said...

That's a lot of ground covered in one post!

I've never been involved in those sorts of teams that are dealing with such high tension, such life and death situations, but I know that fire crew and soldier camaraderie is legendary. The closest thing I have to relate to is the 1000s of miles in the backs of vans on the road with bands. Things get pretty tight there, too.

But it's strange how life moves on and these people who literally seemed indespensible often drift away in time. It's very sad that someone with whom you remained close suffered such a cruel blow.

You did mention fog briefly in your last post, but I figured it must have been just been a passing evening shroud. You really did have a string of bad luck there. I'd have been a gibbering wreck!

With computers it depends. The upstairs computer is a backup and storage machine that hasn't even got a monitor attached to it any more. It gets the odd new part as and when it needs it. The downstairs computer is the family computer. I built it originally about 1999, but nothing remains of that original build! It keeps getting upgraded and bumped up and bits swapped... bloody games!

But my laptop, my constant companion, my well, my fountain, my tool and toy and most valued possession... Upgrading it is a nightmare, and replacing it is an unspeakable horror. But no, no! I daren't even go near the idea of it breaking! LOL

Thanks for another great read Bill! I'd better sign off now, because mattles will already be complaining about the length of this comment... :p

Bill said...

Spirit: Anytime people share their lives, or life and death situations, they tend to bond. I know I've had that bond with a few folks in my life, Larry was certainly one.

The saddest thing to me, is that my last two memories of him are his funeral, and the last day I saw him alive.

He stopped by my house, shook my hand and said: "It's been great knowing you" we talked briefly, I attempted to dissuade him (unsuccessfully) from his departure, and then he was gone.

I'm still debating which is worse, having to get rid of an old, worn yet soooo comfortable pair of jeans... or my PC...

Write all you want, *I* like long comments!

Kim said...

no, you are not alone my friend, lol.

Bill said...

Heh-heh... somehow I knew you'd give me 'witness' on this one! Thanks for stopping by!

Heather said...

That was a great story about your friend, even if it did have a sad ending.

Bill said...

Hi Heather, thanks for stopping by!

I'll write more about Larry in the future and I usually save the best for last :)

Thanks for your thoughts

MJ said...

Wow, volunteer firefighting! That's so noble! I'm inspired.

Hang in there, Bill. Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate. Remember to breathe, and know that you definitely are not alone.

MJ

Firehawk said...

Bill,

Yet more stories that make me want to go and fight fires! Sorry to hear about Larry. It's strange and sad when someone is gone, and there seems to be so much unfinished business, so many chapters never written.

Car trouble is the pits, but it sounds like you were able to get the problem resolved without it becoming a total fiasco. That's rare, when you're on the road. I just spent the better part of a thousand dollars on my old pickup--thankfully for only upkeep purposes, but I think that, if you have no faith in a vehicle, it's not worth much. If it doesn't run well, it's just a constant source of aggravation. I know there's another 400-500 dollars I need to spend on my truck, and that's not including the fact that it has no paint left and its stereo is slowly dying out. Still, it fits me like a glove. I've been driving it since '92, and it's hard to imagine parting with it.

I've gone through so many computers in the last several years that I'm almost used to having to rebuild everything. I'd hate for anything to happen to my desktop rig now, because I have so many good things set up. It's not perfect (not as much the computer's fault as my own, for only having a certain amount of energy to play with the system), but it's mine, and I need it bad.

Personally, I do love unpacking a new computer and firing it up. It's a big adventure. Still, you really only want to do it while your old one's still in good running order, so that you can take your time with the changing of the guard.

Jay said...

Well it's cool that you focused mainly on the good aspects in your previous post.

Your friend sounds like an upstanding guy and I look forward to hearing more about him.

Bill said...

MJ: I've always got a lot on my plate...seems the natural order of things for me. One thing I've learned "Breathing, is not optional"

Firehawk: I loved firefighting, I guess that's why I did it for nearly 14 years... as for the vehicles, they're mechanical, they break, and like you I get to where I 'fit' one and hate to let it go. This Tahoe, while being a bit problematic lately... has been a great truck.. I think we're past the worst now :)

I agree with you, the only way to smoothly go from one to the other is to have the old one still running! The problem with that, for me, is that I can keep 3 or more busy so I never *really* make that transition!

Jay: Thanks, life is too short to focus on the negative... or at least that's how I see it!

Again, thank you all for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

Trevor Record said...

Sorry to hear about Larry, sounds like a pretty great guy.

You know, I had to reformat my computer just a few months ago, and it's still not quite right.

Bill said...

Hi Trevor, Thanks, he was. So you know exactly what I'm saying... and what's up with that? You'd think with all the 'tech-no-crap' we have available it would be pretty simple... but it's not!

jenbeauty said...

Bill so sorry about your friend. Thanks for sharing part of his story with us. It is a noble thing to be a volunteer fire fighter.

I am tech challenged so I won't even touch the subject! lol