Thursday, June 7, 2012

As many of you know, I have been heavy for the vast majority of my life, from the early teens to present time. I have very few conscious memories of being thin and healthy. I have tried all kinds of diets, physical workout programs, etc. without much success. Some of you know of my two herniated discs in my back, which when agitated, are effected by my weight. Some of you also know of the high blood pressure that I have had for 6-8 years now, and some of you know that I have developed type II diabetes in the last 2 years or so. I want to be able to play with my kids, to watch them grow up, and to be a pain in their asses when I am old and senile. I want to be able to run alongside of them as I teach them to ride a 2-wheeler without training wheels- just this past February when it was super nice out, I was teaching Cody to ride his- and getting winded after 20 yards. I want to be able to do simple things like cutting the grass or yard work without being exhausted after an hour. I want to be able to do work on the house, or the car, or the fire truck. I want to be able to drive my fire truck without my belly rubbing the steering wheel. I want to be able to put on an air pack and go interior once again, and to maybe eventually become a P/T instructor for interior firefighters. Most of all though, I want to be able to be there for my wife and my children- physically fit, healthy and ready to go. Therefore, back in November of 2011, I started down the long road of entering St Luke’s Hospital’s (Allentown Pa.) Bariatric Surgery Program. Since then I have been going to a gauntlet of Doctors Appointments, assessments, evaluations, and classes. Today was the last day, an all-day marathon of classes and final appointments with the surgeon and anesthetist, and I am proud to report to you all that on May 30 I will be under the knife getting RNY Gastric Bypass surgery. My life will change drastically (for the better) as I will never again be able to eat the quantities that I am used to now; as my stomach will be altered to become smaller. I will also have to take vitamin supplements for the rest of my life as I will no longer be able to absorb the quantity of vitamins that I will need to stay healthy. If all goes according to plan and my experience parallels others in the same program, I will lose close to 125 pounds within 10-16 months, depending exactly how my body reacts to everything. Some of you out there know about this, but for the most part I sat on it until tonight, so that I would know more after all the appointments today. It will be a long, strange journey, but I will be in a much better position a year from now. For those of you who knew, and have been cheerleading me on, I just wanted to say thanks for your support; I could have not made this decision without you. You know who you are. Most of all, I need to thank my wife, who has been by my side through this whole thing- forcing me to make appointments, obtain referrals, make phone calls, picking up my prescriptions, etc….She is my “everything.” The above is an email sent to some individuals as well as a facebook post that I tossed up on my facebook a few weeks ago. I had a nice long blog post to go with it, however this new blogger format has me all screwy and butterfingers somehow deleted it. I'm not typing all that again. In the meantime, I had the surgery 8 days ago on May 8, 2012. If you are interested in the explicit details, google "RNY Gastric Bypass." This is the procedure that I had done. It was a complete success, which were the Doctor's exact words at my first post surgery follow-up today. Thus begins a new life for me. Some have commented (out of ignorance, really) that my life is ending, and I can never eat any good food again. WRONG. I can eat normal foods, just not in the quantities that I WANT to (see thats the difference- what I WANT to eat and what I CAN/NEED to eat.....) It will just take a while to get there as the new plumbing needs to adjust. I'll give you all more details later, like I said I had a good one banged out but it went bye byes. In other news, Casey Joseph just turned one year old!!!! Where does the time go??? It's well into 2012 Car/Truck show season, and I have not had the FWD out to anything this year yet; gas prices were insanely high earlier this year but have greatly dropped off, so I will be able to get out, Macungie 2012 is next week in fact. Shit. Have to wash the truck, and I wanted to touch up the silver striping around the wheels and lug nuts but I dont think thats going to happen, we'll see. A wash certainly is in order. And another Outer Banks trip is scheduled for July 20-27. We'll leave friday night around midnight, and haul ass down because I hate dealing with the saturday rental folk traffic on the main island that we have to go through to get to Hattaras Island. We can only stay for 7 days however as honey has to get to work on the 27th. Boooo. But also between days off, the surgery and other time off matters I just will not have the time to take any more then that. Its good to be back, lets see if I keep up with it......

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22, 2010

Took the FWD to the ATCA (Antique Truck Club of America) annual Father's Day Truck Show in Macungie, Pa. this past weekend. This is one of the two weekends a year that I live for- the other being the Pennsylvania Pump Primer's Annual Muster (which is always the second Saturday in July) in Harrisburg, Pa. Although I dont take the truck (at 3MPG....100 miles 110 degrees inside the cab on a hot summer figure it out why...) I love to attend the PPP muster as it is one of the largest annual musters anywhere that still pumps water.

Getting back to Macungie, it was the first show that I had the "showboard" on display. Coincidentally, it was at Macungie last year that convinced myself I wanted a showboard. I had many positive comments from people, strangers and friends alike on the showboard. I cannot even begin to guess how many stopped to read it. One gentleman who is familiar with the truck and it's story as it relates to me and my family commented that "it was too bad there wasn't enough room on the showboard to explain the family history." Hmmmmmmmmmm perhaps a second, smaller showboard?? We'll think about that later.

As always (except for maybe 2009 when it was raining buckets sideways) Macungie was a fantastic show, and rumors of the first time in the history of the show of over 600trucks in attendance.

We leave this saturday (at about 0200) for our annual trek to the Outer Banks of NC (see previous blog about Joe and Sue and the OBX.) It has been 2 years since we have been down, so we are due (last year we went to Disney for the family vacation.) I am looking forward to a nice 8 days off, as I have been running ragged at work, especially the last 4-5 days.

Hope everyone's summer is going good so far!

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10, 2011

My last official 24-hour shift as a Career Federal Firefighter (for the US Govt/DOD/Dept of the Army) at the Aberdeen Proving Ground (Edgewood Station) was on August 28/29, 2005. At 0800 hours, the morning of August 29, I walked out the door, having officially resigned my position. This was done for several reasons, mostly having to do with my distaste of, and dis-satisfaction with the whole Federal Fire system as an employer. There was zero opportunity for me to promote up the chain of command (As I do not kowtow to Management and I certainly do not climb under their desks), and the whole pay-reform act of 2002(?) thing had me really irritated. But the two biggest reasons: 1. The 24 on/24 off shifts; I didn't mind the 24 hour shift, but the one day on, one day off shit really got old after 10 years (plus with driving 135 miles one way, it REALLY sucked......) and 2. My back really started giving me problems- Anytime I ever wore an SCBA, my lower back really gave me fits.

Prior to seeking other avenues of employment, I did put in an application for one of three positions at the Tobyhanna Army Depot. They were advertising for three GS-7 Driver/Operator spots. At that time, I was a GS7 Step 4 D/O, so I would fit in perfectly with that, and they were only about 50 miles from the house. Cool. Shorter commute. So I put in for it, and later found out that the Fire Chief there was also a local Volly Chief, and played games and hired three of his volly buddies. Who woulda thunk a Federal Fire Chief would have played games like THAT?

So that was the straw that broke the Camel's back. I began to seek employment elsewhere, and found the job that I am in now as a (third party/contracted) Municipal Code Enforcement Official/Plans Examiner/Building Inspector/Zoning Official/Fire Marshal. It is not bad work, and certainly has it's ups and downs. It's not as glamorous as the Firehouse, but it is important nevertheless. I am responsible for making sure people build residential and commercial buildings according to the zoning/building and life safety codes. I also do fire marshal work and fire inspections, so I still keep my toes "dipped into the fire water."

Once in a while, I do miss the firehouse and the action. I live too far away from my Volunteer House to be of any help to them, plus unfortunately I do have to admit that after I resigned my career position, I gained a whole bunch of weight. I am currently working to try and shed some of that weight, but dieting has always been extremely difficult for me. At the firehouse, we had to work out for and hour and a half every shift, which did motivate me, however I now have no "motivation." So me and my largeness do not need to be actively engaging in firefighting at this particular period in time.

Occasionally, the guys up the street go flying by with the "Q" wound up, or I see a big job on TV that gets my blood going- such as the conflagration in Camden, NJ yesterday. 12 alarms were struck in less than 2 hours for a warehouse complex with numerous exposures. Extremely heavy fire conditions combined with a stiff wind, and Camden's ever-present water pressure problems (not to mention many of the hydrants in the immediate area of this fire) made for a very bad situation from the start. All in all close to 30 buildings were either destroyed or severly damaged. Listening to this fire while driving home, I kept wanting to turn around and head south and "buff the big one." But as I live approx. 2 hours away, I thought that I would have missed a lot- I never expected the fire to reach 12 alarms. Had I gone to the fire when I wanted to, I would have made it there in plenty of time to see some action and take pics. Many good friends in the Camden Fire Department, too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Showboard and some other stuff

So for the last several years, I have had an "itch" to get a showboard for car/truck shows. These are sign board that have specifications and interesting facts about the particular vehicle a person may be looking at while at a car/truck show. Things like engine/transmission size and type, any modifications made, or other interesting features. At every show that I go to (especially the car shows where they are not used to a firetruck showing up) I always get many questions, especially about the engine. I never minded answering questions, but the showboard will make the presentation of the truck go off all the better.

This past weekend the five of us (I almost said four) loaded up into the pickup and headed out to Lancaster, Pa. to the Strasburg Railroad. It was a last minute thing, conceived on Friday night by the wife who wanted to go do something with everyone. We used the opportunity of the 2 hour (one way) ride as a litmus test of sorts for the upcoming 10 hour ride down to the Outer Banks at the end of June. Test was successful, everyone appreciated the ride of the new truck, especially daddy who loves his new ride. Strasburg remains the same, fun place it always has been. My own father took me there for my first steam train ride when I was around Cody's age.

Baby CJ doing well, has his first bath this past sunday night, and was not happy at all. Shane was in the wrong spot and in fact got hosed by a pissed off CJ (pun intended.) Shane was laughing, and in fact could not wait to get to kindergarten the next day to tell his buddies about it.

Monday, May 30, 2011


The (2 older) boys and I took the truck to it's first official outing of 2011 yesterday, to the Perkasie Car Show. Never went to this one before; didn't take any trophies but it was a real nice show still the same. Lots of nice folks, lots of nice machinery there, and they had great door prizes!!! You got a numbered ticket as part of your registration. The door prizes were numbered sequentially in however many there were. If your doorprize ticket was drawn, you then drew a number out of a bucket which was your door prize. Our ticket was drawn for a door prize, and we ended up with a gift certificate for an 8" ice cream cake from DQ. NICE!

It was a pretty hot day, but I dont think it was as humid as they were predicting. There was a very nice, large covered patio nearby where I was parked, and we spent a lot of time under there. It wasn't too bad with a breeze blowing. The boys packed their Nintendo DS games, and some toys. I packed some PB sammiches and some other snacks and a load of bottle water in the cooler to save on money. Note to self: Need to remember to take sunscreen, especially for the little guys. Cody has a slight sunburn on the back of his neck. Shane and I (who share my dark, mediteranian skin) just got nice and tan. Oh and I should mention that on the way to the show we stopped by our Barber's house (he is actually retired but still cuts hair in his basement) and all got buzzed, which helped with the heat. All in all a very nice day.

And, today is Memorial Day. I need to share a quick pet peeve of mine: For some reason or another, many people seem to not understand the meaning of, or confuse Memorial Day with Veteran's Day.

Memorial Day (May) is a day set aside, to remember those in our Military Forces, who have given the Supreme Sacrifice to our Country. Veterans Day (November) is set aside to thank ALL Veterans (alive and deceased, having served in a theater of combat or during peacetime) of our Armed Forces for their service to our Country.

That being said, today I thank John Kulick (whom I previously blogged about: and Tristan Smith, for giving their lives in the service of The United States Army, and the United States of America. John was a career firefighter with the Whitpain Township (Montgomery County 33)) Pa. Fire Department, and also a volunteer for the Enterprise Fire Company of Hatboro (Montgomery County 95) Pa. I had the pleasure and privelege of knowing John personally, and working along side him as a volunteer, and as a DOD Firefighter (US Navy) at the Naval Air Warfare Center FD (Bucks County 69) Pa.

Tristan Smith was a member of my volunteer company, the Bryn Athyn Fire Company (Montgomery County 11) Pa.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The New Crew Member

My apologies........When I started this thing back whenever, I sorta told myself that I would try to post at least once or twice a week, even if it were to post a short paragraph instead of my usual novels. However, as we often do, we push certain things to the back burner and then eventually forget about them. I am going to ATTEMPT to ressurect this blog, and I am going to ATTEMPT to post at least once or twice a week as originally planned.

That being said, a new member has been hired to crew Engine Company 1102: Casey Joseph Yardumian was born on May 13, 2011 at 2:55pm.....7lbs 7ozs, 20" long. 10 fingers, 10 toes, 1 penis, everything in the correct places. Mommy and Baby CJ and the other crew members of E1102 are doing well and adjusting to the new arrival. Life in the bunkroom has been a little rough, as CJ does not sleep as well as Cody or Shane when they were Probies (they would go for 2-4 hours at a time for the first few weeks and then went all night long after 4 weeks or so......) Proby CJ will only go for 1-2 hours so far. We have hope for him yet.

That is probably the biggest event so far in the life and times of The Yardo household. I did get a new (used) vehicle.....traded in my 2004 Ford Escape for a 2008 Chevy 1500 Z71 Silverado pickup. Extended cab, 6' bed, 4WD, 5.3L (thats a 305 CID for all you old-school motorheads) and a really nice factory sound system. The only thing so far that I dislike about it is the fuel consumption- although it does have computer controlled selectable V8/V6/V4 modes, the average consumption rate is 16.2mpg (according to the computer.) The Escape would do 17-19 depending on it's mood and that was driving the hell out of it doing 80mph on Rt 309.......I am finding myself setting the cruise on the Chevy at 65-70.....And it kills me sometimes!!! LOL! Some have asked "why not a small truck???" Well, the simple answer is: The Crew. I actually did start out looking at 4-door Toyota Tacomas, however 2 booster seats and a baby seat would not fit across the back seat. So....Full size it is. Another person, who knew that I was a diehard FORD man, asked if I got hit in the head because I had purchased a GM......Answer: I didnt like the newer F-150's.....And would never buy a MoPile.....So Chevy it was.....(Actually I was looking for a GMC, but didnt find any to my liking.....ok ok ok my wallet's liking.) The Escape had to go. It had 137,000 miles on it, and was just in the beginning stages of "nickle and diming" me to death. Plus, I think the same week I traded it in, the transmission (which was replaced around 78,000) may have started to act up...not too sure, traded that bitch in fast enough NOT to find out!!!! It's someone elses problem now!!!!!!)

What else has happened???? We went to Disney at the end of September into October as a family, by ourselves, for the first time (last 2 times were with her father & stepmom, and my parents respectively.) Also this time, we flew down. What a difference!!!!! I will never drive down there again if I can help it. I mean, yes, you arrive in 2 hours as opposed to 16, but the whole spending 2 full days in travel mode just SUCKS. We planned this trip so that we would fly out of Philadelphia Intnl Airport early in the morning (I think the flight was at 7:00am....) so that we could be IN THE PARKS by lunchtime.....And it worked out perfectly! I should backtrack an mention that the Ramada Inn in Ridley Park Pa. (just outside of Philly near the airport) had a good deal: Up to 7 days parking in their secure lot, plus one night in the hotel for just a hair under $200. They provide bus service over to the airport. So we got the room for the night before departure, got up at 0330, were out of the hotel by 5:15 and over to the airport. We went right through Security (which was like a week or two before the mandatory pat-downs or the super x-ray machine...) and the flight departed on time (AirTrans.) The flight was the first airplane ride for the boys, and I was just as excited for them as they were. I was apprehensive about Shane, who I thought would be scared, however I was very surprised and amused that the Evil Kenievel in him came out- as the place accellerated, he had this low guttoral giggle.....which got louder and faster as the plane went faster. Then when the place went nose-up, he started laughing out loud, which caused me to start laughing, and then the people next to us started laughing too.

I was not too sure if they would let the boys see the cockpit in this post 9-11 world. I mean, I knew NOT while in flight, but I did ask a flight attendant if they could see it when we were on the ground, and if we stayed until everyone else was off the plane. She said she would check. A while later she came back and said that the Captain would be more than happy to greet us when everyone else was off the plane. Sure enough, he did, and not only did they get to see the cockpit, they got to go inside and sit in the co-pilot seat. Daddy was uber-jealous.

And we had a GREAT 8 days in the parks, which I must say was the PERFECT amount of time- not too long and not too short. If you ever go to Disney, plan on at least 2 days PER park.

That's about it for now. As I said, I will TRY to post!!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9

8/9/2005: I pushed the lawnmower into the garage, having just finished cutting the grass, and grabbed the bottle of water from the workbench and took a slug of the wonderfully cold water. It was a typical brutal and humid August day, the time was only about 10:00am but even that early it was already in the mid-80's and still climbing. I took another slug of water, intending to then grab the weed trimmer, when my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID- "Al Keiss."

Al was my Captain (and later Assistant Chief) at my first Career Firefighting gig, the Naval Air Warfare Center Fire Department, in Warminster Pa. By this time however, I had since transferred to the Aberdeen Proving Ground Fire Department (but not after serving a short stint at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard FD.) Al was also an Operations Officer at a part-time job that I had, one that often required people at the extreme last minute to staff certain functions. It was not unusual for Al to be calling me at this time of the day to see if I was available to come in. I figured that was the purpose of this call; Al and I were also friends, and I always answered the phone when he called in some kind of obnoxious manner. "WHAT?" I said loudly as I thumbed the "accept call" button. Al was quiet.....This was unusual...He said something very quietly that I could not hear......

"What?" I said again, in a civil manner.....Al's reply this time was ice cold, and it sent a chill up my spine..."We lost John Kulick."

"What?" I went from an amused, humorous mood (messing with Al) to complete and total 100% confusion in a matter of 2 seconds.

"John Kulick is dead."

"WHAT?" (not loudly, just more firmly....)

"John Kulick was killed in Iraq sometime last night, no one really knows any details, Vince Crusco called me, the guys at Willow Grove called him.....When I know more I'll call you, but I wanted you to know."

John Kulick was one of the best firefighters I had ever worked with, both as a Career and Volunteer Firefighter..........

(I am going to stop now. I can't go on.)