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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Husband Thinks He's Superman

What is a nice, expensive, new car without some random mishap that damages it? And what is a husband that doesn't know his own strengths?? Well, that would be my husband and my car...

We were leaving the grocery store yesterday when Shawn went to open the trunk of my vehicle to put the groceries in. He reached and pulled on what he thought was the lever... it wasn't moving. The trunk didn't open. So he put some more umphf into it. Nothing. The trunk was still closed. Then he tried a third time, leaning back, putting his weight into it and suddenly... crack! A very large piece of the back of my vehicle broke and flew through the air. Of course, the trunk was still closed.

Was it locked?

Nope. Not at all.

Well what the heck happened??

Then...lightbulb! With the piece missing from my vehicle it was clear to see that he had not been pulling on the handle at all, but instead was yanking on the car itself. He did not even know his own strengths (or how to correctly open the trunk) until he had ripped a piece of it clean off.

Fortunately it is an easy fix, requiring only a new piece and four screws. Unfortunately that new piece costs over $150 to get and won't arrive until Monday. In the meantime I must drive around with my tag lights showing and everyone behind me wondering "what did she run into??", while Shawn drives his pristine, brand new truck that he gets irritated with me when I shut the doors 'too hard' on it.

I must remind myself...I love my husband... I love my husband... I love my husband.

Another Winter Storm.

Its January in Vermont, what else is to be expected, but cold temperatures and snow! Today we could be looking at snowfall rates of 2-3" per hour and some areas are forecasted to see over 20 inches of snow! I believe that those numbers in the image above are modest, and don't take into account the heavy snowfall rate, which will affect only certain areas. ...Can you tell I used to be a meteorology major in a former life?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Learning How to Rescue People... As a Firefighter

A great deal of my life since I have gotten married (literally since the day after we got back from our honeymoon) I have been working hard and giving up a phenomenal amount of free time to receive some formal training and certification in firefighting. Anyone can play firefighter, but it takes a lot of time, education, and camaraderie to become a firefighter.

Sometimes my class is down right boring, or a gigantic pain in know what. Between the once of week nigh class and the early weekend classes every other weekend it is draining and making me feel like I am never home. But truth be told, it is actually fun - most of the time. When I am not rolling hose for saying inappropriate things, mopping floors for disrupting class, and well... generally being ordered to do chores for being a clown in class. And we are all learning a lot of interesting and important things.

Today was one of our hands on weekend classes where we practiced search and rescue for the first time, which included a lot of lifting... I eventually got the hang of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lessons Learned

Over the last few days I have learned a couple of things, some obvious and some not...

1. Don't EVER let your dog eat left over macaroni and cheese. It gives them diarrhea. The same goes for large amounts of carrots.

2. Don't make any decisions or phone calls at 4:00am when you are awoken from a sound sleep. Especially when they are over a recorded line.

3. When you make a left hand turn be sure to look both ways. And if you see a vehicle do not succumb to the urge to pull out in front of them just so you don't get behind them.

4. Check your tire pressure regularly. You never know when a valve stem is going to malfunction, or when you were sold a vehicle with faulty equipment.

5. Guys will ALWAYS correct you and make fun of you when you mention putting "gas" in the ambulance... because they run on (diesel) FUEL not GAS. ...excuuuuusseee me!

6. And I am not sure wishing at the moment when the time and the radio station are the same is the same as wishing when all the numbers are the same... like 11:11. But its still pretty cool.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Haves and the Have Nots

Today I went to the Game Stop, which never ceases to amaze me with its employees and patrons. So many belong to such an intellectual under culture that reminds me of the "magic the gathering" kids from high school. I only came in to purchase Mario Kart for my Wii (which is an awesome game... perfect for those who act like the old school controllers were steering wheels anyway). As I was standing in line the guy in front of me approached the counter. He had a bundle of things in a plastic bag, which I initially thought were returns. Not so.

The guy was a young, normal looking guy, probably a little older than me. He was standing there in front of everyone in the store selling his play station 3, along with controllers, and several games. Openly he requested cash instead of store credit. "This is what you have to do when you are laid off..." He said, with a little bit of shame and honesty mixed in his voice. For all of his belongings he received $193. That's it. Probably only a month ago he purchased or received as a gift that play station 3, which costs around $300-$400. The money he received for the sale was less than half the initial cost and that included the games he sold with the console.

...And there I was... standing there behind him with an armful of games and accessories for my Wii. Here I was buying all this frivolous crap while he was forced to sell his belongings to make ends meet. I felt like such a jerk. Despite being one of the "haves" rather than the "have nots" in this situation I really don't think that makes me the better person.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Too Cold to do Anything

For the better part of a week it has been COLD. That capital letters are certainly necessary and intended to emphasize the craziness of the air temperature and the lack of activity due to it. Yesterday morning I awoke to temperatures that were ungodly... My thermometer unofficially said -45F, but the weather service reading for my little corner of the state was -42F that morning. Ouch. Despite the incredibly dangerous cold temperatures it was by no mean the coldest I've seen, but close (second or third place I think...) It's been colder elsewhere too... like Alaska, where the coldest temperature in North America was recorded.

I, of course, had to brave the coldest part of the day, the hour before sunrise, and drive to work. My car started like a champ. What more could I ask for? ...maybe springtime?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vermont: The Beautiful and Facinating

With this being the 101st post I decided that I should post a couple strictly Vermont things unique to my everyday life..

Even though it is early... I never get tired of my drive to work. It is beautiful. As you drive down your beltway, interstate, or highway to your own job think of this image. Maybe it will make you as happy as it does me.

And of course Moose. I have an odd fascination with these cute, but formidable animals. If you have ever been in my living room you know what I mean. Seeing them never gets old or boring. When I spot one its always exciting and amazing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rut Rescue

Everyone needs a good day at work. If it weren't for the good days no one would want to come to work. Well, some people probably don't anyway, but I don't look at my job as work. For years I volunteered to do what I now get paid well for. But after doing this job for a while it takes a toll on you... the same types of calls, the same people with the same story, the same abuse of the system. Sometimes the rut lasts for days, months, or even longer. It seemed like I was the one at our squad in a rut, with over a year of nothing but the same old stuff. No real headline-maker of a call. It was growing frustrating, but maybe that is over... I'm optimistic.

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot we were toned for a call... man down at a gas station. Hmm, interesting. When we arrived this poor fellow had fallen and had a deformed knee and bloody nose from a hard trip onto the asphalt. Boarded, collared, and off to the races... or at least the hospital.

Then we had someone who couldn't ski, no big deal. Most people can't ski, but only a lucky few are so bad that they end up in the ambulance. Even then, most of those people have no injury at all. If they do, ski patrol usually takes care of it before we get a chance to. No fun there.

And then came our best call of the day, an overdose. I actually rarely get calls like these for some reason, but today was an exception. We arrived on scene, were greeted by a seemingly nice patient, who then proceeded to immediately try and down an entire bottle of pills right in front of us. Thanks to my partner's quick reflexes he knocked the bottle away, scattering pills, but deescalating the situation. We then went through the painstaking process of picking up each individual pill that had spilled. I've had people who have taken pills in private and then call the ambulance, but never have I had someone try and down a bottle right in front of me.

Our last call was just a run-of-the-mill call, but a very nice patient. Not everyone can be an interesting medical case, but everyone can be nice and pleasant (yes, even when they are sick or injured)

Ok, so the calls may not have been worthy of case studies, but at least most were decent calls that required some thinking, planning, and treatment beyong simply pushing one button on our Zoll to take a blood pressure at a timed moment. Up here in Vermont there aren't a ton of those extreme calls anyway. The kind of calls where people get shot and stabbed, burned, maimed, and killed in ways that make you cringe, so I can't expect crazy things like that every day. But, I do wish everyday at work could be like today, but then again... sometimes the days when all I do is relax, watch TV, and hang out aren't so bad either!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

No one Pays Sticker Price...

...including us.

But we did shell out a ton of financed dollars over the next several years. Yes, after weeks, days, and hours of debating and deciding Shawn found a truck he absolutely loved. He loved this truck so much that as the salesman was showing us all the features Shawn was smiling uncontrollably. I had to tell him to stop grinning, because you just can't let on that you like a vehicle that much before you begin negotiating prices. He then said I needed a new car, which I actually disagreed about. What was wrong with my little red Colbalt? I thought it was just grand, especially compared to my first and former car...the epic Sunbird Convertable. It was the greatest car I could ask for until Shawn and the salesman directed me towards an Escape.

They opened the door and I was in love. Heated seats, leather, power everything, sun roof, TONS of room, and all wheel drive. Once I test drove the Escape I was almost as in love with it as Shawn was with the truck. But, I have to admit... his truck is sexy. If I wasn't married to him I'd be jealous of the girl who would get to ride in it!

So back into the dealership we went and subsequently spent the next two or three hours driving a hard bargain. Shawn began the negotiations and I eventually took the reins. Besides, any good salesman knows that when it comes to couples, that a woman controls the purse strings. The big decisions are ultimately up to her, even if she doesn't directly say so. I, on the other hand, made it obvious that I was the final say. Once they presented us with a combined price for both vehicles much less than the price we were paying for our old vehicles we agreed on a deal. Shawn was ecstatic and I was overwhelmed...actually... I was just tired. All that arguing and strategic planning takes a lot out of a person. Almost twelve hours from when we left the house we finally returned with our new vehicles, an outcome I didn't exactly foresee when I headed out that morning. Now I have years and years to enjoy, break in, hopefully not break, and figure out my very nice new vehicle. Oh, and ride in the sexy truck (which I will try and get a photo of).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Financially Stabalizing or Misprioritizing??

Its official. Monies have been spent and transferred from account to account. The truck is paid off. All that debt, gone. There is also enough left to pay off the snowmobiles and the rest left from our splurge on a very large and excessive television. That part I like. Debts disappearing. That essentially leaves us with a mortgage, my student loans (which is already one third paid off after a year) and my car.... wait... how is the only debt left mine?? Anyway, it is a good thing. Less debt in our lives, but for how long??

Shawn still has his eye on a new vehicle. We are still in pursuit of a deal at a specific dealership to replace his inadequate, single cab, old (2007) pickup truck, with a new, extended cab model. There is also this pretty little vehicle with heated leather seats, low miles, moon roof, and all wheel drive that is enticing to me. We are fortunate enough to be able to purchase these things on a whim, both of them actually, if we want. But is it a good idea? I am not convinced, at least completely... We've hashed over both idea, even breaking out a notepad and writing down pros and cons of the transaction. Obviously we would be creating more debt, which we just got rid of, but we would both have new vehicles and Shawn's would be child friendly, unlike his current truck with no rear seats. Yes, we do have to consider the possibility of future little ones at this stage. Scary? You bet.

So, like any good wife, I have created a compromise and given the reins to Shawn as if it was his idea. It's simple really. Savings. Like most people our age we are horrible with savings, or at least not as good as say, or parents, or better yet, our grandparents. For years we have had savings... we call it our checking account. Now we are going to create a concrete plan. A savings account that we put money into automatically from our checking account every week. What better way to save money than to just have it go in automatically, as if you never even miss the money? We'll have a solid savings before you know it. At least that is the idea.

Maybe buying new vehicles...again...isn't the BEST decision and not everyone may agree with it, but at least on the other hand it is spurring the decision to create a savings net for us and a new direction financially, rather than just treading water.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Kick Off to the New Year

2009: Year of the Ox: Year of Science: Year of the Gorilla: Year decide

My sister was visiting with us for a little over a week. She came back with us after Christmas at my parent's and stayed until yesterday. When she was up here is was moderately stressful... when you are used to living pretty low key and laid back and you bring a teenager into your household for an extended period of time it is difficult at times. Never in my life have I seen household commodities, food, and the like, disappear like they did while she was here. I suppose that is what teenagers do... waste your food and necessities. We did have fun, but sometimes it was a struggle to come up with things to do. We don't often go off every day and do crazy, fun, eventful things. Sometimes we just relax at home, do some household chores, and watch TV. The winter weather makes it doubly difficult to come up with things to do. First it was too warm and rainy when she arrived. Most of the snow melted in two days so many winter activities were not an option. Then it grew bitterly cold, as in well below zero. Being outside was unbearable. Finally, near the end of her visit, the temperature moderated (if above zero is moderate) and a little snow fell, so we were able to break out the snowmobiles and go for a ride. Most of the week, though, we spent riding all over the North Country in our car seeing the sights. I have never been more tired of sitting in my car, and I went on a cross country road trip. All I want now is to sit at home, relax, and catch up on the housework I couldn't do over the last week and a half. But that may not happen...

There is one thing that makes Shawn happy, like really happy, and that is shopping for big expensive toys. We've had some available funds just sitting and doing nothing for several months and now Shawn has an itch to use it to pay off his current truck and then purchase a brand new one. It feels like we just bought a new truck... oh, wait... we did. In 2007 we bought a brand new truck that Shawn now feels is inadequate. I am not sure trading one loan for another is a good idea or use of the money we have. Perhaps we should consider instead to build a garage, remodel the kitchen, or just pay off debts and save some money? All that seems more responsible rather than paying off on debt and trading it for another, but Shawn has it in his mind... he wants a new truck. Something shiny, new, and extended cab. We've been going from lot to lot, test driving, and even getting quotes on the ones we like. Shawn loves it all, like a kid in a toy store. Its not going to hurt anything by purchasing a new truck, but it sure isn't going to gain us much either, just a shiny new truck.

Tuesday we could either go snowmobiling (my idea) or go back to the dealership (Shawn's idea). I imagine we will be doing the latter... sigh.