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September 30, 2008

Chalk Peak Fire, South Big Sur Community Response

Big Sur Kate continues to report on the Chalk Fire. She is on top of the fire (literally) and her coverage is providing vital information for her community.

This is real life stuff folks, read it here!

Note too how the affected residents are using gel to protect homes and out buildings.

Update: 9/30/08 8:00pm
The Chalk Peak Fire has consumed nearly 2,000 acres with minimal containment after four days of active burning. The fire is in an area that has not been burned in more than a generation. I can't any fire history for this particular spot. The Indians Fire and Basin Complex south perimeters will stop any movement to the N/E and N/W. Prevailing winds should keep the fire from touching Highway 1 on the West.

There is a full contingent, that is a full dispatch to this incident and the weather should be moderating soon. My thoughts are with my friend Kate and her community. They have been through enough this fire season.

Update: 10/1,
5,050 Acres, 1,400 Fire Personnel, 13% Containment

GeoMAC shows the Chalk Peak Fire ran to the coast. I would have bet against that happening considering the winds from the West and N/W last night and today. It looks like the fire followed the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road to Highway 1. If so it will try to run south and east. That may account for why the heavy air tankers where painting stripes above the highway yesterday. Big Sur Kate has some outstanding images of the tankers working here.

The good news is showers are predicted Saturday!

The image above from GeoMAC was captured at 9:00 pm 10/1, with a north perspective. The Google Earth image below is a view looking east.

10/2 Chalk Peak Fire view from Nepenthe Webcam looking South. The Chalk Peak Fire has now burned over 9,000 acres, with over 1,440 firefighters on scene. The fire is 20% contained and rain is expected within the next 36 hours.

Update: 10/3 The Chalk Peak Fire looks to have made a break south outside the break lines of Divisions B and C. Earlier today Big Sur Kate referenced on her blog (links above) that earlier in the morning fire resources hurried past her place (south of the fire).
Have a look at the GeoMAC below. Keep in mind GeoMAC is merely a gauge and not truly representative of action on the fire ground.

Rain is much needed to halt the progression of this fire.

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September 28, 2008

Chalk Peak Fire

The Chalk Peak Fire is burning in the Los Padres National Forest. The fire started last night and has burned an estimated 600 acres. Big Sur Kate, who lives in the area is blogging the incident from her mountain top home. Read Kate's blog here.

In this RAMSDIS Sat. Image you can see smoke from the Chalk Peak Fire visible in the lower center of the frame.
Another area blogger, Erin O'Brien is following the fire as well, here.

*Update 8:00 pm PST: The Chalk Peak Fire is reported over 800 acres with zero percent containment.
We are well over 24 hours into this incident and the incident command has failed to post an official ICS-209.
The U.S. Forest Service has been late to this incident from the start.

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September 27, 2008

From The Ashes; Condor Chick Survives The Basin Complex Fire

Good news. A California Condor chick survived the Basin Complex Fire unharmed. Members of Ventana Wilderness Society hiked into the blackened forest to check on the well being of the chick.

Watch the video.

What directed my attention back to the plight of the Ventana condors was a "birding spectacle" in our own backyard here in Central California this evening. My youngest came in from the backyard and alerted the family there were hundreds of giant vultures overhead and landing in the trees.

Dozens of turkey vultures were soaring at roof level, circling the yard and taking turns landing in a couple of our taller cedar trees. While the turkey vulture is not the most visually appealing bird it is one of the largest and watching them skim the rooftops in number was something to see.

More vultures appeared and at one point at least 150 were soaring overhead circling, waiting for a chance to get a spot in a tree.

Numerous neighbors caught this as well and we all agreed this was special occurance. In all my time in the woods and observing nature this event finds a way near the top.

What I found out is we are on the migratory path of the giant bird here in the Valley.
In fact the Audubon Society's Kern River Preserve holds their Autumn "Nature & Vulture Festival" on this weekend every year. In 2004 the group counted over 6,000 turkey vultures near Weldon.
I recorded our informal count on their blog.

Between politics and world financial news getting in touch with something so awesome was much needed.


September 24, 2008

Ike Aftermath

My friend Terry in Tennessee forwarded this link from Boston.com.

Photo Attribution.


September 23, 2008

Powerful Political Video

No matter what side of the fence you vote on you'll feel a sense of awe after watching this 2 minute video. I'm posting this for the nuns who put up with me in grade school.

September 19, 2008

Thermo-Gel, A Simply Amazing Product

Have a look at this demonstration of Thermo-Gel. If you live in a fire prone area do yourself a favor and visit their website and order a kit. Check the link on the sidebar.


2 + 2 Doesn't Always Equal 4

It's windy here in California's central valley this evening and while I was out doing family taxi duty I saw a heavy air tanker boring into a headwind as it took off from Fresno Air Base. It has to be responding to a fire and the only fire of any significance burning in this part of the State is the Hidden Fire burning in the Sequoia National Forest. The tanker was moving north, not towards the big trees.

So I cruised over to Wildland Fire to see if something was brewing up north. Nothing.

Wind + Air tankers = Fire, but not tonight. That's nice. The guys and gals who worked through June, July and most of August deserve this extended break.

No major fires means little activity on the blog and that's fine. Outside of the blog I take care of two teenage boys, study and invest in stocks and lately follow political blogs. With one kid headed to college next year I need to stay alert for those stock market opportunities that can beef up the college fund accounts.

Our high school senior found a university in Arizona that caters to the computer minded. Apparently computer (network) security is a rapidly growing field and people like the NSA, FBI and private industry need trained bodies. He already has his Cisco CCNA 1&2 and loves sitting at a computer for hours on end.

Between tuition and housing total costs will run well over 100k. Considering what the industry pays those fees could look cheap after a few years of work in the field.
Between our help, scholarships and possibly a couple of loans we'll get it done.

I've always been proud I got my B.S. with minimal assistance as did my wife. Part of our joy will be helping our kids enjoy college without having to work two jobs between classes.

So keeping an eye on the market and making calculated trades is much more than a hobby.

When the fire season picks back up I am ready. This summer was a turning point for the blog. It's still evolving and I look forward to the next turn in the road.

September 13, 2008

Cascadel Fire 200 Acres, 30% Containment

434 firefighters are surrounding this pesky 200 acre brush/timber mixed wildfire burning near North Fork in Madera County.

It appears pot growers had something to do with the cause, possibly a propane tank or unattended warming fire. I hope these crims are caught. One firefighter was injured overnight when a boulder rolled off a slope hitting him in the head. I want to see what the District Attorney charges these would be farmers with once they are caught.

At last report the injured firefighter was doing OK at a hospital in Fresno.

For a look at the terrain and visual summary check out this report from Local News.

How many know North Fork is the geographic center of California?


September 12, 2008

Cascadel Fire, North Fork California

The Cascadel Fire has burned 150 acres in the Madera County town of North Fork. The fire is burning in the Whiskey Creek drainage and as a result is presenting accessibility issues for Cal Fire.
340 residences are threatened according to the Incident 209 thus the call for a heavier dispatch than a typical 150 acre wildland fire calls for.

Air tankers based in Fresno have been making continuous round trip runs since early morning trying to get ahead of this potential runner.

The fire is human caused. From the ICS-209 this narrative is found.

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.)


Sounds like a meth lab blew up but I have no evidence to support that theory. Up in that country it's a toss up between the pot farmers and methamphetamine producers. Both of these groups are known to plant booby traps.

Careful guys!
Will follow.....


"Life Threatening Inundation Likely!"

Says the National Weather Service last night. That is a powerful statement and readers of Houston's Chron.com hopefully got the message. Residents of Galveston where a 20 ft storm surge is expected should be on a road north or west today. This weather event will test local first responders. We wish them all the best!


September 10, 2008

FDNY Firefighter Tommy Dunn, 9-11-01

September 11, 2001, 0000 hrs.
by Tom Dunn, FDNY Firefighter

"FF Dunn relieves FF Jacobs on house watch dept., personal quarters, in good order."

That's the entry I made in the company journal when I took over house watch at midnight.
The night tour was pretty slow, we had a couple runs--nothing worth talking about. At about 8 AM we received an EMS run for a cardiac. To tell you the truth, I don't even remember this run, but I know we had it because I made the entry in the book. When we returned to quarters the day tour was already in. I was working a 24 that day, so I would be staying on duty. It was probably about 8:30. I remained at the housewatch and monitored the radio. The other guys were in the kitchen reading papers and drinking coffee.

At approximately 8:50 everything got very crazy. Someone yelled from the kitchen "Tommy, turn on the TV!" I did and saw that one of the towers was on fire. I had no idea what happened, just that it was on fire. The red phone went off announcing that a second alarm had been transmitted for box 8087 The World Trade Center. About a minute past and again the phone went off stating now that a third alarm had been transmitted. Almost immediately the computer went off "Battalion!" followed by the two tone noise that means we have received an alarm. I scanned the job to see if we were going, we weren't, just the chief. I acknowledged the alarm read the job over the loud speaker and rang the four bells that signaled just the Chief was going. I ripped the ticket off the printer, opened the door and got the Chief and aides radios that I had placed on the charger. The Chief on duty that day was Battalion Chief Joseph Grislazk and his aide was Firefighter Michael Bocchino. I gave the Chief the ticket and said "go get em boys, wish we were going." They grabbed their gear got in the car and drove off.

That was the last time anyone from our company would see them.

It was approximately 8:55. The chief had left. I went back to housewatch and was looking at the TV. I started to get excited because I started to think we might get a chance to go. I got my bunker gear close by and then realized, "Damn, I have control." This meant I was the last one on the hose line if we went to a working fire. I knew that it was tour change and I hinted to the LT on duty, Lt. Auciello. I said "Hey, Lou, are we gonna keep the same riding positions or switch 'em up for the day tour?" I was hoping to get the knob because I knew my groups were working and that means you usually get the knob. "OK," he replied, "Dunn, you got the knob, Jacobs, you back him up, Murray control, Winkler, you're driving."

I was happy mission accomplished. I went back to the TV to see what was going on and I now heard that the second tower had been hit by another plane, this was the first point I had heard that this may be some sort of terrorist attack. The phone rang and I answered it. It was my brother, he was saying he was on the west side highway and that the World Trade Center was on fire. I said I know and that I thought we might be going.

I was still on the phone with him when the computer went off "ENGINE!" Followed by the two tones."Jimmy I gotta go. We are going. I love ya, bro," I said and hung up. I did the same routine, acknowledged the alarm read the ticket over the loud speaker, rang the bell once which meant the engine was going, ripped the ticket and opened the door. I gave the ticket to the LT got my gear and got on the rig. It was 9:10. We exited the firehouse and headed down Prospect Ave. to the Prospect Expressway. The Expressway had some light traffic that we were able to get through with the use of the lights and sirens. I continued to suit up getting the bunker gear on, hood, checking for my gloves, flashlight and helmet. We hit the merge of the Prospect Expressway and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. There was heavy traffic almost at a stand still. Winkler weaved in and out of the traffic and got to the HOV lane, which was a little easier to get through.

This was the first glance we got of the actual towers. I stuck my head out of the window and I could see that the towers were really going, a lot of smoke showing. I took a couple pictures. We were all getting psyched up and yelling and trying to get ourselves pumped up for the job. Brooklyn called us over the department radio and instructed us that we were not to go directly to the Trade Center but to help set up a staging area on the Brooklyn side of the Battery Tunnel. I was pretty upset at the time, because, to tell you the truth, I thought that doing this might have taken us out of the picture and we wouldn't get a chance to go to work. Looking back now this saved our lives.

We made it to the tunnel and parked right down the block from L101 quarters. We were to stay there and wait for the Battalion Chief for further orders. It was approximately 9:20. We were the first ones to reach the staging area and units started to show up and we all got out of the rigs and began talking and looking at the Towers. L102 was there and my friend Pat O'Brien was working so I spent most of the time with him. I don't remember exactly what we talked about but it was probably how we couldn't believe this was happening and if we thought they would send us.

I don't remember being scared, just really anxious to get to work and get started. I took another couple pictures and rechecked my gear. John Winkler, our driver, yelled over 240 "let's start getting ready, they are going to send us." We went back to the rig and another ticket came over the computer telling us to respond along with engine 201 to the command post at West Street and Albany Street. It was 9:45.

We started to pull out and I waved to Pat and we headed into the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. There was no traffic because the tunnel had been closed to emergency traffic only for some time now. I would say it probably took us 3 minutes to make our way through the tunnel and out on to West Street. We proceeded down West Street and past Albany Street (there was nobody there but we could see a Chief the next block up) to Liberty. L113 was parked maybe a 100 feet from the south foot bridge and we were going to pull right up behind them when a cop motioned for us to stop where we were. We did and got out of the rig.

At my feet when I exited the rig was what looked like a piece of one of the air planes. We proceeded to get our hose rollups, put our masks on and walked to the front of the rig. At this point I could see why the cop had stopped us, there was a body directly in front of our rig. It was one of the jumpers from the upper floors and the best way I can describe it is that it looked like a dead animal that you might see on the side of the highway that had been hit by a couple of cars or trucks.

At this point I began to get my bearings. OK, we were on West Street (West Side Highway) between Liberty Street and the southernmost foot bridge. I could see the Marriott and both of the towers and they were both going. There were fires in the street and I could see other units in the area. There were several more bodies that were in the same shape as the one near our rig that were further down West Street.

We proceeded to the Chief's car, which was about 100 feet from our rig. There were three people there, two Chiefs and an aide. I did not know them. I think they were Manhattan Chiefs. We announced to the Chief who we were and he told us to stand by while he radioed to find out where we were needed. We listened to the radio traffic and he patiently attempted to reach a Chief that was in the south tower to see where he needed us.

While we waited I kept looking up and at this point I started to get a little nervous because it was then that I realized the magnitude of this fire and that we were about to enter these buildings that looked more like war zones than any fire ground I had ever seen. My attention turned back to the radio and I heard the Chief from inside saying that we were to start walking up because it was going to take us about an hour to even get to the point he was at. The Chief said "10-4" and proceeded to brief us.

"OK, 240 your going up, you don't need the roll ups, just your air, keep your heads up on the way in because a firefighter was already killed by a jumper. Prepare yourself--this is going to be very gruesome. God be with you!" At this point I began to get really nervous. I mean, here was a Chief with probably 30 years on the job saying stuff like that, and I began to wonder what he knew that I didn't, I would have much rather if he said "Go get 'em, boys!" or something like that. But the choice of words made me feel like we were going somewhere that we weren't coming back from. My heart was going a million miles an hour and I remember thinking, "Let's just go get this over with."

I haven't been to tons of fires in my life, but I do know that at the ones I have been to it was better to get right to work and stay busy than to sit around thinking about what lies ahead.
We began walking toward the Tower. As we were crossing West Street toward the Tower, I heard a loud noise. I don't know how to describe it, but the best thing I could think of to compare it to was a freight train. All of our heads quickly looked up in the direction of the noise. I could very clearly see that the top of the Tower had begun to fall and it was coming right down on us. People began yelling "Run!" and pushing each other to get everyone moving. I would say that we probably had 8-10 seconds of full sprint time before I began seeing debris and metal fall in my periphery.

I ran across West Street toward the World Financial Center. As I ran I saw fellow firefighters and police and civilians diving under cars that lined the street. I remember very clearly making the decision that the cover of a car would not be enough and that I would try to make it to the building if possible. As I ran and approached the corner of West and Liberty I saw that there was a garage up ahead on the right and made that my goal. As I decided that, the sound of the collapse changed from that of a freight train to that of rushing air.

The air instantly went pitch black and I fell to the floor at the point where the wall of the building met the sidewalk. I don't remember ever stopping. I continued to crawl as fast as I could to the point where I had remembered seeing the garage door. I felt my way and got to the point where the garage was, but the roll down gate was down and there was no way to get in, but I later found out that I was between the gate and what was a guard post.

Visibility was zero, and as I breathed I was gagging, choking on the air that was filled with debris. I stayed where I was and could feel other people huddled up along side me. Some were crying. Some were choking. All I remember doing for those couple seconds was cursing. I just said over and over (excuse the language) F***! F***! F***!

In between gagging and coughing, I waited to die. I was waiting to be hit by some steel at any moment. At some point I turned on my flashlight and that gave me visibility for maybe 1 foot. I grabbed my mask, turned it on and put the face piece on. The face piece was completely filled with debris and when I inhaled I almost threw up in the mask. I removed the face piece and took off my glove to clear out what I could from the mask. All the while I could still hear debris falling and hitting nearby.

I cleared out what I could from the mask and held the face piece to my face and took like two or three good breaths. I had probably four or five people right near me all of whom did not have masks, I think they were either police officers or fire marshals. I gave the face piece to them one at a time to let them get some air, but I guess they didn't know how to use it because after they took their breath they didn't hit the shut off, and the air would bleed freely. I pulled the face piece back and said that they would have to let me hold it while they took breaths so I could control it and not lose the air.

At this point I was assuming we were trapped. Visibility was almost completely zero and debris was piled on top of us and against us and the building. The sound of debris subsided to what sounded like just smaller pieces and we continued to share my mask. I began to hear people in the area and it sounded like they were talking in our direction and they were saying, "You're not trapped, come this way." We followed the direction of the voice. I crawled, trying to feel my way and I ended up feeling a car door, so I knew that I was in the street and away from the building.
I yelled for any other FD units and a guy came over to me. I think he was a truck officer. He asked if I knew where my other guys were and I said we were on West Street when it came down and that we all just ran. He said that West Street was gone and that I was to follow him. We were going to go around the rear of the Financial Center and try to get to another command post that he knew was north of the foot bridges. We began to walk down Liberty street and I was quickly separated from him because of all the people looking for hits off of our masks.
The next 10 minutes or so were spent wandering around blindly trying to find out from any Fire Dept. personnel that I found if there was any type of roll call or meeting area that we should go to. Everyone I met was just as lost as I was. I had no radio because I had the nozzle that day, so I did my best to listen in on others' radios, but traffic was broken up and all I heard were Maydays and broken transmissions. I found a boss who attempted to contact my unit over the radio several times but couldn't get through because everyone was stepping all over each other. At this point I had completely lost my bearings due to wandering around and the poor visibility. I ended up hooking up with a guy from L122 and a guy from E58. The guy from 58 was bleeding from the head but it wasn't bad.

We wandered around trying to figure out where to go and then I heard the same sound I had heard earlier. I later found out that this was the second tower. Again visibility became zero and the process began again: coughing, gagging. Again people came to me for air. I remember wandering around and helping who ever I could, all the while trying to figure out just where we were and if there was a roll call being conducted anywhere. I ended up hearing of guys attempting to stretch hose line from the Hudson River and I joined in that.

I think John Winkler was the first one I saw from Engine 240. He was getting onto a fire boat that we were stretching the line from and he was helping turn some wheel. We stretched 3-inch line for blocks and every couple blocks there was a pumper that we were relaying to. At this point I had found Winkler and Murray from my company. Lt. Auciello may have been there, too, but I don't remember.

We worked stretching these lines for what seemed like forever but was probably maybe an hour. I had already ditched my mask because it became too heavy and it was out of air anyway. We got the lines charged and I told Winkler that I was going off to try to find some water for the men. There was a cafe-type place that two women were in and they filled the buckets that the bus boys carry with bottles of water, soda, and juice. I made my way back to the guys and gave them all out. While I was doing this I ran into my roommate George. I was so thankful that he was alive.

We rested for a couple minutes and then Jacobs, Winkler, and me went to operate hose lines that were on West Street. We started to put out cars and vans that were burning along with rubbish in the streets. Each man in the area had their own hand line. We did this for awhile and Winkler said "Let's go, guys are starting to search the rubble." We made our way up to what I now know was the Vista Hotel. We grabbed tools along the way. I had a 6-foot hook and a rope.
Visibility had improved greatly but there was still heavy smoke and the rubble was a little hard to maneuver around. We made our way fairly deep into the rubble and there were other FDNY members around searching as well. A Chief came by and was yelling "Everyone off the rubble--imminent collapse!"

We began running as fast as we could down the rubble, trying to get back out to West Street near the south foot bridge, and as I was running I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle. I continued to hop as fast as I could, but I knew I was hurt. I believed the foot was broken. We evacuated to an area that the Chief told us to go and I rested my ankle. We were now reunited with everyone except Sullivan. I heard he was evacuated due to his eyes getting debris in them.
We waited for awhile for orders from a Chief but the LT said that I was to go get my foot looked at. I was removed by police to an area that EMS had set up to treat people and there was an EMS Chief there who said I was to be evacuated. I said I was not going and that they should just wrap the ankle up so I could go back. We argued and I said, "Chief, with all due respect, I'm not getting on that f***ing boat." He said OK, that he would have the EMT wrap it for me and that I could go back if I stayed for a little while and drank a lot of water. I agreed. I drank some water and said I was going back and the chief turned to me and said " Go with God!" This was the second time someone had said that to me that day.

I hobbled the whole way back to where I last saw my guys. Nobody was there and guys that were in the area had said that they were evacuated by EMS. I wandered around for awhile looking for anyone that I knew. I found no one and attempted to find the EMS place I was at before to see if the guys were there. I couldn't find where I had been and I ran into some police that said they would take me to the main evacuation point to see if they were there. One of them gave me a cell phone and told me to call someone at home to let them know that I was alive.
I looked at the phone and for the life of me I couldn't remember my own phone number. I was like a zombie. I made it to the evacuation point, which turned out to be the ferry terminal, and ran into this firefighter named Dog who was from Staten Island. He tried to help me find my guys but the EMS people we talked to said they were already evacuated and they didn't know where they went. Dog was great, he stayed with me and convinced me to go to the hospital and that there was nothing I was going to be able to do at the Trade Center in this condition.
I was evacuated by EMS to Lutheran Hospital. It was approximately 6 pm.


Firefighter Dunn sent this story to me just after September 11,2001. Tom's story is his property and may not be used or reproduced without his permission.

*On November 12, 2001 Firefighter Dunn responded to another tragedy, the crash of American Airlines flight 587 that claimed the lives of 261 in Queens N.Y. Read his incredible story at Firefighter Exchange.


*As we read Tommy Dunn's story of September 11, 2001 we are reminded how out of touch with reality the rest of the world is. Globally less than half believe Al Qaeda was responsible for the terror attack. Read it here.

Along those lines, these same countries have already made their choice in our upcoming election.

More: Rememberence & Resolve, Michelle.


September 09, 2008

FDNY 343 Tribute As September 11 Approaches


There are many very nice tribute videos here, on Youtube.


September 08, 2008

Take Two, Huricane Ike Eyeing La Isla De la Juventud, Cuba

"La Isla" or the "Isle of Youth" is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Ike.

Ike's track has the storm broadsiding the Island's 100,000 residents from the east. Just last week Hurricane Gustav slammed into the south coast of La Isla De La Juventud.

No deaths were reported on La Isla during Gustav according to official and unofficial accounts. This post invited comment from relatives and friends of residents on the island. All reports support evidence the island was ripped apart.

Can any community survive two cat 3 direct hits in a 10 day period? Has this ever happened before?

The Hurricane Center has the storm tracking west and north above La Isla, however if you take a look at the eye in this image it's bearing west.

Update: Ike passed over the north shore of Juventud after skirting almost the entire south coast of Cuba overnight. As Ike moves away from Cuba later today it will begin a march to US shores. Safe to say Cuba is a mess. It is possible the only undamaged region of the nation is Guantanamo Bay!


September 06, 2008

Football Season Kicks Off, Go Niners!

Tomorrow the NFL season kicks off. I know they had a game on Thursday but the season really begins tomorrow for me. I'm a San Francisco Forty Niner fan.
As a Niner fan I have experienced the highest highs as a fan and the lowest lows. Right now we are in a deep valley searching for a trail that will lead us out of the valley and into the sunlight.

The tools are in place to begin that journey. Coach Mike Nolan brought in offensive guru Mike Martz to run the offense. Martz is all about putting points on the board.

In theory, defensive minded head coach Nolan and offensive minded Martz should compliment each other. Nolan has been building the defense through strategic free agent acquisitions and smart draft positioning.

Martz put his quarterback in the number one slot and he talked the Forty Niners into bringing veteran wide receiver Isaac Bruce. Though Bruce is long on the tooth he will be a positive influence on the stable of youngsters in the receiver corps.

In addition to following the 49ers I keep a close eye on league stats. I play Yahoo! Fantasy Football and participate in a family and friend football league on SportingNews.com. The best thing about these leagues is how it makes you a fan of the entire NFL. If your star player plays for Cleveland you are a Cleveland fan for the afternoon. Before fantasy football I only cared about my home team.

Good for me I found this outlet. My 49ers have pretty much dropped off the competitive radar.

Gone are the days of Joe Montana to Jerry Rice or Steve Young to T.O. but we have had our time. As a teenager I was a Raider fan and my parents had season tickets. We lived on the outskirts of Oakland and they were my team. When Raiders owner Al Davis moved the team to Los Angeles in the mid 1970's I turned my back on them. To this day I can't understand how a team owner can build a fan base, gain the support of an entire geographic region and then leave.

Al Davis defines greedy bastard.

Fortunately the Bay Area offered another option. The Forty Niners ended up with 2 wins and 12 loses the first year I dedicated my support to them. I vividly recall the first time Joe Montana came into a game. I remember when Jerry Rice was drafted. Rice had deceptive speed and came from a small school in Mississippi. Bill Walsh was truly a genius, no one else had Rice on their draft sheets. I remember "The Catch" as though it happened yesterday. I still don't care for the Dallas Cowboys. I cheered when T.O. placed the football on the "Dallas Star" at Texas Stadium after scoring a touchdown.

I'm still a Terrell Owens fan and watch the Cowboys to watch him play. You have to cheer for a man who grew up as he did, no Dad, pathologically shy, initially bullied and raised by a devout Christian grandmother. Terrell did pretty well for himself. An American success story.

So tomorrow the TV goes on at 6:00 AM and I'll fire up the laptop to follow the games online and on TV. With Directv's football package I get every game.

Life is back to normal again! :-)

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Hurricane Ike Set To Crucify Cuba

Update: Follow Hurricane Ike live on UStream.TV
(Thanks to reader Rachel for the tip)

Update 2: NOAA (NESDIS) Hurricane Ike live satellite tracker.

Hurricane Ike could be a political game changer for Cuba. Cuba does not possess the resources required to attend to hundreds of thousands of storm victims.

Proof, Cuban victims of Hurricane Gustav on September 2 are not getting help. Relief has been slow to reach La Isla De la Juventud, Cuba. Nearly 100,000 people live on the island and video, images and first hand accounts confirm the island is devastated. Damage is much worse than the Cuban government is letting on.

This post invited numerous comments from relatives and friends of residents of La Isla. One commenter has heard from relatives in Nueva Gerona that disease in the form of dysentery and dehydration is setting in.

Ike has the potential to cripple the Cuban mainland from Guantanamo Bay to Havana.

The Cuban government response to La Isla does not inspire confidence they can handle a disaster bringing devastation many magnitudes greater.

Update: September 7 Hurricane Ike Track....

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September 02, 2008

Air Tanker Crashes While Working the Burnside Fire Near Lake Tahoe

Tanker 09, a P2V firefighting aircraft owned by Neptune Aviation Services in Missoula Montana crashed yesterday, claiming the lives of the three crew members. The Reno Gazette Journal has the story.

"The plane was identified as a twin-engine, Lockheed P2V air tanker that was fighting the Hope Valley Fire south of Lake Tahoe. The plane was fully loaded with fuel and fire retardant and was owned by Neptune Aviation Services of Missoula, Mont., Reno fire officials were told.
“They had been working earlier in the day and were going back for one more drop,” said Steve Frady, Reno Fire Department spokesman.
Crash debris was scattered over five acres, and the fire from the crash up to two acres. Smoke could be seen from several miles away in Reno following a report of an explosion in the area...."

Update: The names of the three crew members who died in the crash; link

Calvin Gene Wahlstrom, 61 of Hunstville, Utah
Gregory Gonsioroski, 41 of Baker, Montana
Zachary Jake Vander-Griend, 25 of Missoula Montana.

Our sincerest condolences to the families of the fallen.

Here is a video that included a look at Tanker 09 after a day of working fires in Southern California last year.

For a closer look at the aircraft from one year ago click here.

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