Ups and Downs


This has been a truly bizarre month. Emotionally speaking I’ve been all over the place. This is what happens when you spend a lot of time pondering your place in the grand scheme of things or, where you would like that place to be.

For the last ten years I have been working with the ambulance service and have been qualified as a paramedic for around six or seven. The job has changed immensely to the point that I no longer recognize my role anymore. If you ask Joe on the street what a paramedic does he’ll probably tell you a paramedic saves lives. A paramedic goes to nasty car crashes to un-mangle people or appears out of the blue to resuscitate a dying loved one. I used to believe all that too and although these things do happen, it’s not very often and on the odd occasion I do get called to things like this there is rarely anything that can be done. Here we come to the heart of the matter. I find I’m asking myself ‘What good am I actually doing?’ more and more often. Sure, plenty of people are pleased to see me when I roll up to their house after they called 999 but, why wouldn’t they be? I get there super fast, listen with sympathy to their plight and then proceed to offer any help I can. Broadly speaking, I can categorize virtually any callout I go to and pigeon hole it into one of three automated responses. These are:

  1. I pick someone up off the floor that wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get up themselves. Chances are there is a big strapping relative nearby who could have done this himself but won’t. People are too afraid of moving someone for fear of aggravating any perceived injury. In reality it takes me just five seconds to assess if injury is present. I do this using a very sophisticated method of assessment that goes something like this. ‘Hi, so have you got any pain?’ If they’re not injured, I lift them. If they are and it needs more than a plaster, it’s off to hospital.
  2. I arrive to find the patient does not need an ambulance, never did and is either bemused as to why I am there or, more likely, is over the moon that someone has rushed to their aid for such a trivial thing. I will spend the next hour trying to refer this patient to the correct service.
  3. The patient/relative deliberately called 999 because the problem needs immediate attention. This type of call equates to about one in four. More often than not, we cannot treat this patient’s condition at home and so transport them to hospital. Rarely, the patient is very unwell/dying and there’s not a not a lot we can do anyway. Why not? Well, there are two reasons for that too.
  • The patient has been involved in a traumatic accident. Invariably, their survival depends on the degree of injury and has nothing to do with the skill of the paramedic. We might buy time, but that’s about it. Fate is inexorable.
  • They are unwell/dying because of the culmination of a lifetime of poor decision making. The morbidly obese, the sedentary sloth, the lifelong smoker, alcoholic, drug abuser etc. Included in this group are those who never had the opportunity to make poor decisions – those born with chronic conditions, or their genetic predisposition renders them a ticking time bomb.

This is a generalization of course but for the most part I believe it hold true. My point is that there is rarely a day when I feel I am making a difference because quite simply, fate or the patient’s life up until that point, won’t let me.

So, that’s why I’m leaving. I’m going to remain on bank and maintain my registration but it’s time to call it a day. Life is too short to spend a chunk of it miserable. Anyone who has ever had depression can tell you that. Sometimes you have to do what makes you happy. Money is not everything so long as you have enough to keep the wolf from the door.

Think of it this way. There will come a time when you look back at your life and examine what you’ve achieved. What do you want to look back on? Will it be the life of a man/woman who spent a significant chunk of their life miserable? Or will be one where you smile at those decisions that took you somewhere else and allowed you to live a more enjoyable life?

And remember, if you did take the leap and try something else, what is the absolute worst that can happen? Ask yourself that, and make your decision. I hope you’ll find that even if the worst were to happen, it won’t compare to a life half lived.

Failed again…


A strange week it has to be said. I began with the intent of completely changing my online existence but by the end of the week, well, I wonder how many of you who regularly view will even notice the changes I have painstakingly made. Oh, it’s not all about me. I do try and make things readable, enjoyable and pleasing to the eye so that the odd passer-by might stay longer then he or she perhaps intended. That’s the real battle these days as far as the Internet and social media is concerned. Speaking of which, I should probably change ‘these days’, to ‘these hours’ for the modern world does move at a frightening pace. I can remember web pages taking minutes to load. Now we get upset if the URL we click on doesn’t appear before between eyes in millisecond. Can you believe it? If there’s even a one second delay we think something is wrong. ‘Hmm, site must be down for maintenance… I’ll go somewhere else.’ It’s true, I’ve even caught myself doing it.

Okay, so I may have gone off on a tangent there but these are the kind of thoughts that led up to me wanting to change my online image. With tablets and smartphones being the average consumers medium of choice for viewing web content, web pages have had to become ‘responsive’.

That’s an actual term, would you believe? Basically, sites have to be able to ‘respond’ to the medium that calls them. They have to self adjust and arrange themselves nicely so that whether you are browsing on a phone or table sized tablet – the consumer gets a similar if not the same view and navigation experience on each device. You may think that this is all completely unnecessary but as I said above, people won’t hang about while your aging site struggles to squeeze itself onto Nokia’s latest handest or Apples newest iMustHave. (I’ve quite fallen out of love with Apple at the moment. The whole Apple maps fiasco has made me go almost entirely Android.)

So what did I do this week? Firstly, I moved from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Eh? What’s the difference? Well, a lot. An awful lot actually. You should go and look it up if you want clarification on that. I’m not going to explain it here. The main reason was so that I could edit the CSS of my site and take complete control over how my site looks and most importantly, responds.

This transition meant I needed to get a web host to, well, host my new site. I chose bluehost.com basically because WordPress recommended them. They offered ‘one click’ set up of a new WordPress account with wordpress.org and surprisingly it was just one click. It also installed itself in about five seconds. Most impressive. Moving my old content was also a doddle. I simply exported from WordPress.com and imported to WordPress.org. Job done. All going well isn’t it?

Sadly, that’s about as far as the nice bits went. Shortly after signing up with bluehost I got an email through with the balance I had just paid. I nearly fell out of my chair. The offer had been something like $3.60 per month for 36 months. Sounds perfectly reasonable. What they don’t tell you until you’ve accepted is that they’ll be taking the entire balance up front. Bye bye $180 dollars, or about £111 in English money. Oh dear.

I hummed a bit and moaned a bit more for most of the morning before deciding, to hell with it, I’ll give it a go. I spent the next 24 hours trying to make my new web site look as snazzy and professional as all the other advertised sites and I’m not afraid to say that I failed miserably. I failed so badly that I actually went back to using my old WordPress.com account. I went back to bluehost and wait for it… they refunded every penny/cent. To say I was shocked by this does not do justice to the dance I did around the front room with a manic look upon my face. I was amazingly happy, and my dance looked something like this…

So, here is how it will happen in future if I do decide to go back down that road that leads to having my own website and domain name.

  1. Wait until its financially beneficial to have your own web site. If I’m honest, mine would only have been for vanity. I have zero web presence and offer no services to any customers. In this sense, why do I need a lovely looking web site if I have no one to impress/gain business from?
  2. If I were to ever need a web site, I’m having someone write one for me. This experience has taught me that although I think I could do it, it would take me about a week to learn the coding languages and perhaps another whole week to write the page. I simply don’t have that amount of time right now.
  3. If I ever need a web hosting service, I’ll seriously consider using bluehost again. Their customer service was quite frankly astounding and I can’t sing their praises highly enough.

So there you have it, I’m back and you didn’t even know I’d been gone. Not to worry, but believe me when I say, it’s good to be back.

Later,

M.

Mind Punch


Yesterday was a good day. I put down 3500 words and went to bed feeling pretty awesome. Woke up feeling pretty awesome too.

Then I listened to a Black Library audio drama called “The Stromark Massacre“. In particular, it was Andy Smillie’s “From The Blood” which is Disc 1, and by the time I finished it I was a seething mess of frustration.

That story was beyond awesome. Even as I write this I can feel my frustration bubbling just under the skin. I’ve never met Mr Smillie but right now I feel if I were ever to meet him, I can’t be sure if I would greet him a handshake or a punch. Perhaps, I should explain.

Or a handshake?

Normally, if another author makes me want to eat glass and nut a brick wall it’s because I discover they’ve already had my idea, already committed it to paper, and done it a lot better than I would have done. Not so with Mr Smillie. I think I’m passed that kind of reaction now. Too be honest, I hadn’t considered writing a Flesh Tearer story. I hadn’t even considered a black rage/red thirst spin on a Blood Angel story. In fact, I had no ongoing project that even remotely resembled this story. So why am I so downhearted? It’s because, in my opinion, Mr Smillie is in another authorial league; he makes my paltry efforts look like my niece’s first attempt to write her name with a crayon. Worse even. I feel mine would more closely resemble a potato print.

My latest submission… surely they’ll want this one? Look, I’ve mastered the colour ‘blue’ this time.

I have felt like this before, namely when I first started getting serious about my writing. I’m sure everyone does. You know the ones…

‘I’ll never be able to write like that.’

‘This author is a God.’

‘I’m a tosser.’

‘Is my grammar any good? Is that how you spell grammar? Fuck, where do I put the full stop? A semi-what?’

‘I could never think up shit like this.’

Sure, we’ve all been there. It’s a difficult hurdle to get over. I guess I never expected to feel like that again. I thought I was passed all that. So, should I ever meet Mr Smillie, do I shake is hand on a job well done? Or, do I punch him for forcing me to raise my game?

Come to think of it, I’ve heard he’s secretly a ninja so I might have to give him a mind punch instead. Only fair, considering he’s just given me one.

Later,

M.

 

Is that grass over there greener?


Danny threw the response bag down and slumped heavily into the attendant’s chair. He looked bitter and thoroughly pissed off as he swung his booted feet up onto the stretcher. I sat down in another chair and waited. I could sense a rant coming on and knew Danny well enough to know it was imminent. A long sigh cut the silence like a knife as Danny finally lost his rag.

‘Dude, I’m so sick of this job. Today is the first day in two weeks that I’ve actually been put on a shift with a paramedic. I’ve had nothing but drivers for eight shifts!’

‘Really? That sucks.’

‘Tell me about it. It’s just shit at the moment. We get sent to crap all day long, then I have to do everything because my driver is just so useless its offensive, and when I get a sick patient and I ask for paramedic backup I get told there aren’t any available.’

I nodded without saying anything. I knew there was more to come.

‘It’s just not fair. How am I supposed to develop as a clinician in my own right when the only two people on this bloody ambulance are the driver and me? Who do I learn from? Or am I just supposed to make it up as I go and learn from my mistakes, because I’ll tell you this… patients don’t like mistakes.’

I smiled. ‘You’re right there mate.’

‘Yeah! I know!’

‘So why are you so upset now? You’ve got me today.’

He sat and thought, a confused look etched on his face. ‘I don’t know really. I guess it’s because even though you’re here and you can deal with the sick patients, it’s still going to be me doing everything, all the dog’s work I mean.’

‘I see. Well, I don’t mind doing everything mate. Seriously, pop your feet up. Actually, you just drive me around and I’ll sort the shit out as it comes.’

He sighed again. ‘Thanks mate, but you know me. I won’t let anyone shoulder my workload. That’s not me.’

‘Things aren’t going to get any better you know, what with the cuts coming.’

‘Easy for you to say mate. You could drop out of here anytime you want and go and work on your farm instead. I’ll be here till I retire.’

‘Bollocks mate. What did you do before this?’

‘I was a pharmacist. Well, I worked in a pharmacy, as a pharmacist’s technician.’

‘So you could go and do that again. You’re not trapped mate.’

He started to pack things back into the response bag. Where things were date stamped, he’d check it. I couldn’t remember checking a date on any consumable in over five years. He found a number of cannulas and needles that were out of date, and I’m guessing, no longer sterile. He threw them away and went back to his systematic check, pack, check, pack routine. Danny was good like that, dependable. You knew if you took over an ambulance from him it would be spotless. Nothing would be missing. No patient would suffer because a piece of equipment wasn’t available or it wasn’t cleaned properly. Nothing got past Danny. His movements slowed and he stared off into the distance as he spoke again.

‘The thing is,’ he said, ‘you forget the reasons you left in the first place. I feel like it would be taking a step backward if I was to go back to working there.’

I thought about that for moment and then, with a smile I said, ‘Not unless you’d taken a step forward into a hole. It would only be right to extricate yourself in that case wouldn’t it?’

He laughed. I laughed.

‘I see what you’re saying. Thing is though, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.’ He looked sad again. ‘For me though, it’s a case of old grass or no grass.’

This is not an amused face…


;

Okay… slightly miffed as this is the second time I have written this post but…. count to ten….

Okay. Feel better now. Where was I?

Today, is actually a pretty good day. I have just submitted a short story to a publishing house and feel really quite chuffed with myself right now. I am sorely tempted to crack open the wine and have a mini celebration all on my own but I’ll have to try to resist. My wife took her motorbike into work today and I happen to know that she was running low on fuel when she left the house. She’s at that nervous stage in her biking life whereby she knows the bike needs fuel but she’s never filled a bike up before. I went with her the first time but today she is all on her own. I got a text message a few hours ago that said she hadn’t stopped on the way and so she’s hoping she can make it to the fuel station on the way back.

*Sigh*

No wine for me just yet. I wonder if I’ll have to go and rescue her? Running through the options, it would seem the most likely scenario will see my driving to the fuel station and buying one of those annoying little containers. Then I’ll have to stand in a cue of cars like a lemon until I can fill the thing up. Drive off, fill up her tank and then drive off in disgust. Okay, maybe not disgust… but that won’t be a joyful face.

I’m off work today, and have been praying all week for a nice sunny day today. Behold! It is sunny! I was insanely pleased about this when I got up this morning as I’ve been itching to get out on my own bike all week. Alas, look at what I found in my tire…

Arghhhhhhhhhh! I don’t believe it!

It should be noted that this is an image dragged off the net but, yeah, this is the same thing I found this morning. A fucking nail!

I rang my local garage and asked if I could pop in on the off-chance and have them just change it over quickly. I could almost hear the bitch sniggering down the phone, and I swore I heard her mouthing to a colleague ‘Oi, Daphne…. this bloke’s asking if he can just pop in on the off chance!’

Bitches.

Anyway, the end result is that it will be Tuesday afternoon before they can do the work. I’d do it myself but they don’t even have it in stock so I’m doubly shafted.

So, Tuesday…. hmmm. Just in time for me to go back to sodding work.

Damn, I really want to open that wine. Maybe if I text her now she can tell me of she thinks she’ll make it to a garage? Hmmm, maybe not. As pissed off as I’ll be having to rescue her, I doubt my wrath will compare to hers if I can’t perform said rescue because I’m drunk.

*Sigh*

M 🙂

Think…. think… oh sod it.


The title pretty much sums it up. I’m supposed to be studying and yet I keep getting sucked into bloody Facebook and various other forums,

Well, in an effort to do something constructive I thought, ‘Hey! Why don’t I write on my blog?’

I mean, its been fucking aeon’s since I even looked at this thing.

Damn this wine is good.

You see what happened there? I was telling you how long its been since I wrote something and then I go and get all involved with the wine again. I’ve been doing that all night. You don’t believe me? Ha, well I started that last sentence a half hour ago. I’ve been trawling through Facebook since. Oh, and Its my second glass since even starting this post.

Damn this wine is good.

Did I mention I like motorbikes? I do. I think they are gods own mode of transport, should he actually need anything. Anyway, this is just a random tangent I’m letting my fingers tread so bare with me a while longer. I’ll tell you about my latest project. Take a look at this…..

Image

I call this beast El’Rusto. Its a fucking heap…. for now.

This beast has been keeping me busy for a few weeks now. I bought as a project and possible business venture with the wife. The plan was to buy up mechanically sound but otherwise cosmetically challenged bikes and make them look all pretty again. Simple eh? I mean its bomb proof right? Eh-er!

Its been a bloody disaster. Okay disaster is a bit harsh. Its not worked out quite how I thought it would. To save time here, and because I am a super lazy fucker, I will now compile a list of things I have learned and that have most likely fucked me off over the past few weeks.

  • CBR 125’s are as plentiful as council estate chavs.
  • Many council estate chavs are highly likely to own a CBR 125 at some time or another.
  • Being a chav, they are also highly likely to neglect little things like, oh I don’t know, servicing, MOT, basic maintenance. That sort of thing. Anything important that would involve any degree of responsibility.
  • Its also highly probable our friendly chav does not own a garage or even a shed. El’Rusto will sit outside in the garden, alongside a fridge maybe, and possibly a sofa.
  • If, like me, you are super keen to get to work and hopefully turn a profit, you’ll discover that because of all of the above, you’re in for real treat.
  • On getting the bike home (and into some decent light that doesn’t involve Mr Chav showing you the bike via a zippo lighter) you discover that the bike is more rust than anything else.
  • All of the fairings are scratched, cracked or both.
  • Every single serviceable item i.e air filter, spark plugs, breather pipes etc. are all absolutely fucking knackered.
  • An oil change will have you tearing at your own eyes as you struggle to make sense of the black sludge that drains from the sump.
  • Inspection of coolant will reveal that there is none.
  • Same for break fluid.
  • The forks will be badly pitted with the fork seals resembling something like Mrs Chav’s knickers after a night on the town.
  • You’ll probably sigh with relief as your realise the tires appear to be in good order, only to realise that that the rims are banana shaped.
  • Every little task you set yourself will, upon further investigation, be hiding a fucking big problem requiring not the half hour you planned but a full day.
  • I could go on… but the wine is running low.

I’m so glad this is good wine.

So, not to worry. The bike project is finally starting to make some headway now. I have conquered most of the major problems and corrected them and I’m happy to say that I think I nearing the finishing line. No, don’t applause. I’ve been here before and I don’t want anyone fucking clapping until that thing passes its MOT. I’m not sure if I had a goal prior to starting this other than to make money but now I certainly have one. I’d like this thing to pass its MOT first time with no advisories. That would be bloody wonderful and a testament to my manly skills too.

Right, wine? Wine??? Where the fuck is my wine?

The Arched Eyebrow of Disdain


Today I will begin what I feel will become a long running theme of mine.

Every so often something happens during my daily grind that angers or irks me in some way. People are invariable the cause, though sometimes vegetables… and maybe a certain cat.

I have noticed I have a peculiar response to these frequent and often irritating moments.

I raise an eyebrow in the offenders direction. A single eyebrow I might add, which is often coupled with involuntary frothing of the mouth, gesticulation and an overall state of discontent.

Thus was born the Eyebrow of Disdain.

Today my eye fell upon those who attempt to drive their frost coated cars. You know the type. They are the ones trying in vain to reverse out of their drive on a cold winters morning. Both windows are open and the cars heaters are on full blast. A single small circle of windscreen has been scraped free of frost from which the drivers face can be seen pressed against the inside. Two beady eyes straining to see the road. These people anger me greatly.
So today I pulled up behind one such man. He lent out of his window with an expression that said ‘What?’

I unleashed the eyebrow.

To my great joy, he looked suitably shamed. I then drove off humming my “victory hum”.

It is my hope that people will adopt this method of showing others ones anger and discontent. I envisage a day when perhaps I will do something that is irksome to someone else and I look up to see an angry eyebrow aimed squarely at me. On that day I will know I have succeeded. I have succeeded in giving the world a method of letting others know they have upset someone. Imagine that?

No more middle fingers or shouted expletives. No, instead the offender will be shamed as the Eyebrow of Disdain falls upon them. They will immediately see the error of their ways and correct them, perhaps by hanging their head in shame. In fact I hope this becomes the accepted method of accepting one has been irksome.

Yes. Today is a good day.

M