Caturday: It’s fire season

It’s certainly fire season and it’s probably going to be a really bad one. The drought and bark beetles have killed millions of trees and the rains promoted a lot of grass growth. The grasses are now dry and highly flammable. There have been multiple fires in CA and the rest of the Southwest, but the fire at Lake Isabella has already taken lives and burned an area bigger than the city of San Francisco. Some of the photos at that link are as beautiful as they are horrifying. As I type, I’m listening to Con Fire battling a grass fire over by Hwy 4. While the pointy eared people and the floppy eared one are in no danger, the fires are worrisome.

Speaking of the furry ones…

WTF wazzat?
Titanescu says WTF wazzat?
Miss Jenny, the beautiful
Miss Jenny, the beautiful
Pepita, the orange barky one
Pepita, the orange barky one

Theo Jansen and his travelling exhibition is at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I hope we can go see it before it goes away.

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A somber week for First Responders and disaster victims

Since Lastech works odd hours and sleeps during the day, I sometimes plug earbuds into the laptop and listen to either the police scanner or EMS scanner online. I was listening to the EMS scanner when the call came in about the crash of Asiana flight 214 at SFO. For the next several hours I listened to emergency teams coordinate their response. I also heard the sirens of ambulances making trip after trip to the hospital with victims. You see, the airport is ten minutes South of us via Interstate 101, which itself runs right behind my building.

There were 307 souls on board that plane. 291 Passengers and 17 crew members. Two 16 year old Chinese students (girls) lost their lives. 182 were injured, 49 of them seriously. The only reason more were not lost is due to the airline crew and the other first responders.

That wasn’t all that happened this week.

Our neighbors to the north have suffered a huge loss. Lac-mégantic in Québec still doesn’t know what the death toll is and won’t for some time. Train cars carrying crude oil broke away from the engine and rolled back into town and derailed. Five of the cars exploded. The destruction is massive and the death toll (now at 5) is expected to climb. Many buildings have burned and the number of missing is fluctuating.

That still isn’t all.

One week ago today, 19 firefighters from Prescott Arizona lost their lives fighting a fire. They were members of a Hot Shot team and made up almost 20% of the Prescott Fire Department. It’s a huge loss for everyone.

This has truly been an awful week for first responders AND for victims. Our heart goes out to all of them. It has also been a week for our first responders to shine. We are proud of all them, here and everywhere.

For everyone
For everyone

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Caturday: drill, baby, drill…

Another late Caturday edition, this time dedicated to a topic we’ve touched on before, emergency preparedness…

SFFD Mobile Command 1
SFFD Mobile Command 1

Late, because we just returned from the annual San Francisco city-wide N.E.R.T. drill which took place this morning. A couple years ago, Rudha-an and I decided to try and create a family tradition by both getting certified as disaster workers and first responders. We did so by registering with the San Francisco Fire Department’s N.E.R.T. program, which they created in the ’90s following the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.

Scarred helmet
Scarred helmet

The program’s acronym stands for Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, and is comprised of citizen volunteers who will act as auxiliaries to the Fire Department in case of a major emergency.

That’s about it for that tidbit of history. More recent events which took place in Boston (MA), West (TX) , and Leshan (China) prompted us to pay tribute to victims, both civilians and first responders.

A tribute and reminder
A tribute and reminder

The San Francisco N.E.R.T. program includes training for animal rescue following disaster, appropriately called D.A.R.T. (Disaster Animal Rescue Team), which we both will likely undertake soon. Now, several of our blog’s friends have lived through or continue to deal with traumatic life experiences, and we would also like to dedicate this entry to them as well.

Long is the way, and hard...
Long is the way, and hard…

The media talks about how to help children deal with the scary news of the past few days, and we think frankly that having them take disaster preparedness classes can be of great help. A young girl at today’s drill graduated from N.E.R.T. training when she was 7 years old and she is now in her teens.

For adults, busy though we all may be, it’s also a good thing to consider doing, especially jointly with a partner or spouse. The trainers, professional first responders, are survivors and generally speaking, great folks. Their spirit, humor and skills rub off and the whole experience is both fun and enriching.

Tools of the trade
Tools of the trade

Whatever tools help us claw our way through life are worth considering. So that others may sleep soundly. 18 hours a day…

From left to right: Tito, Titan, and Miss Jenny
Two dogs and a tortoise
From left to right: Midge (a very teeny dog), Dozer the tortoise, and Ginger the Golden Lab.

These are the two furballs and the tortoise from my inlaw’s home.

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A JBoD P.S.A.: how a picture can be worth a thousand words

Since I work at a major tourist destination on San Francisco’s waterfront, we fairly often get calls for missing children. For the most part these are younger children who got separated from their parents in crowds.

There are many people about, many distractions both visual and aural which contribute to quickly disorienting both child and parent. In the vast majority of cases, we reunite them within minutes (7 to 9 on average). My intent here is to point out a couple of things which can help first responders greatly: with digital media readily available, whether you use a camera or have one on your cell phone, take a picture of your child (or children) before venturing in crowded venues. From head to toe.

Secondly, if you have to provide a description of what the child is wearing (mothers are much better at this than dads), describing footwear is paramount. In the (hopefully) unlikely event that the child was grabbed either by an estranged parent or a predator, we will focus on what shoes children are wearing as we scan crowds: if the abductor planned to switch the child’s clothing, due largely to time constraints, he/she will not remove the shoes.

Shoes and hair color. When minutes count, this is the bare minimum.


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Happy Halloween!

It’s Halloween, but JBoD would like to give a shout out to fellow critters and their humans who were caught in the path of Sandy. It is so sad to see the devastation. Our hearts are with you.

Please take time to donate to a charity or animal shelter in order to help. Best Friends has an emergency animal rescue crew on their way. They will work with their affiliates in the NE to rescue as many animals as possible. Their hurricane page is located here. You can also follow the Best Friends New York on their Facebook page.

Don’t forget the humans. There are a vast amount of people who are without shelter or who have lost everything. Please donate what you can to help.

WARNING! There will be scam charities. Beware of donating without checking out the charity first. You can check out charities at BBB charities page. At that page you can see how a charity rates and if there are complaints. There are also links to good charities.

halloween wishes

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Caturday: Kittehs and Disaster Preparedness

Yes, it’s Caturday and I even have some pics today. The last week or two has been a bit chaotic. Lastech is starting a new job next week. He no longer has a long commute to work. Yipee! Now back to the important stuff.

I left this too late. However, here in light of that monster of all storms bearing down on the East Coast, here is a disaster plan for pets and their humans. I truly hope this list won’t be needed by anyone, but just in case… This disaster plan can be found listed under the blog header.

The fur babies can be found below the disaster plan.

Before Disaster Strikes: Identify Your Pet

  • Keep your pet’s license current.
  • Make sure that collar and identification tags are worn at all times.
  • Consider having a safe, permanent microchip implanted in your pet. This type of ID cannot fall off or be removed. Most veterinarians offer microchipping services to their customers.
  • If your pet is already microchipped, make sure that you register with the manufacture’s database, and remember to notify the company if you move or change phone numbers.

Crate Train Your Pet

  • Train your pet to enter his/her carrier or crate at your command. Try putting your pet’s favorite treat in his/her carrier and sounding a bell at the same time. Repeat this process every day, until your pet comes running at the sound of the bell. Continue this routine often enough to keep it fresh in your pet’s mind. This training will be extremely helpful when locating a frightened animal.
  • Also important — make sure your pet is comfortable being handled.

Prepare a First Aid Kit — Include:

  • large and small bandages
  • scissors
  • tweezers
  • cotton swabs
  • antibiotic ointment
  • hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting or clean deep wounds
  • elastic tape
  • eye wash (saline)
  • ear-cleaning solutions
  • K-Y Jelly (water soluble)
  • any special medications prescribed by your veterinarian

Secure Bird Cages and Aquariums

  • Because these items may move and/or break during a disaster; securing them on low stands or tables is advisable. 
  • Tighten the latch on your birdcage so that the door cannot be shaken open easily.

Develop a Neighborhood Plan

  • Get to know your neighbors and their pets.
  • Keep an updated list of their home and work phone numbers (remember to update these frequently).
  • Select a neighborhood coordinator who will be ready to assist should a disaster occur when you are not at home. Make sure this person spends much of their time at home, or that they work within walking distance of your neighborhood.
  • Select one or two backup coordinators in case the primary person is not available.

If Your Pet Is Lost

  • Immediately call or visit the nearest animal shelter to report your missing pet.
  • When it is safe, return to your neighborhood to post or distribute  Lost Pet posters. Be sure to include your name, home address and home and work phone numbers. It’s always helpful to include a current photograph of your pet.
  • Continue to search the area for your missing pet. A frightened animal can stay hidden for days.
  • Call neighbors and service workers, such as mail carriers, police, firefighters and PG&E workers for leads.

If You Find a Lost Pet

  • Notify your local animal shelter as soon as possible. Be prepared to give a full description of the animal. Include breed, color, and sex and the location where the animal was found. 
  • Remember that sick and/or injured animals can become unpredictable from fear and pain, and should be handled only by professionals with proper equipment.

In Case of Evacuation

Red Cross shelters do not accept pets. Prepare a list of back up arrangements, such as homes of friends and family, hotels that allow pets, boarding facilities, veterinarians and/or shelters.

It is generally not recommended that you leave your pet behind during an evacuation. If you must, follow these guidelines to help ensure your pet’s safety.

  • Post a highly visible sign in a window to let rescue workers know how many pets were left behind.
  • The date you left on front door with chalk, paint or marker.
  • Leave plenty of water in a large, open container that cannot be tipped over.
  • Leave plenty of food in timed feeders (check local pet supply stores). These will prevent your pet from overeating.
  • Do not tie or cage your pet! The chances for survival are greater if he/she can escape easily.

Pet Disaster Kit

A prepared disaster kit, kept in a safe and easily accessible place, will enable you to provide immediate care to your pet in an emergency. A calm, well-trained pet, who is either on leash, or in a carrier, will be more welcome wherever you go.

Items to Include:

  • Sturdy crate and/or pet carrier;
  • Identification tags and collars;
  • Leashes;
  • Food and water (a 7-day supply for each pet);
  • Non-spill bowls;
  • Litter box and litter;
  • Any special medications;
  • Manual can opener and plastic lid;
  • Copy of your pet’s vaccination history;
  • Recent photos of each pet;
  • Pet First-Aid book;
  • Pet First-Aid kit;
  • Phone number of a local emergency veterinary hospital;
  • Phone number of your local animal shelter (Animal Care and Control (415) 554-6364 for emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week);
  • Long-term confinement equipment: chains, cable-runs, tie out stakes, portable caging
  • Large plastic bags for pet cleanup; and
  • Emergency phone numbers: ( ) _____________________ and ( ) _____________________.
Tito as art
Tito with curly doodads
Jenny as abstract
Miss Nightshade Jenny with color

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Tuesday Really was Terrible or How I Adore our Firefighters

Yesterday, with tongue firmly in cheek, I made a post and called it Terrible Tuesday is Terrible. I was wrong. I was so very wrong. What I had to complain about was merely a headache. The day took a dramatic and possibly tragic turn. I was merely a bystander, for the most part. Lastech was at work on an odd day shift and the poor guy was left waiting for my updates.

Yesterday I was fighting some serious browser problems. I took a break and walked North a block to the post office. Then I walked back home. I had to walk past a construction site. They have been remodeling an apartment building for quite a while. Today, they were working on some pipes out front.

I had just posted my Terrible Tuesday pics when I felt a firm “whomp!” under my feet, followed almost instantly by the sound of screaming and the smell of smoke. I looked out the window to see people running past the apartment. I immediately went out to check and found that the construction site was in flames and a gas main was broken. It was only a few doors away. I got a few important papers ready to go and the cat carrier was out in case I had to evacuate. It didn’t come to that and we’re all fine.

The construction site that I had walked past, had ignited gas from a broken main. It was awful. Sadly, the construction worker who caught the brunt of the explosion is in critical condition. JBoD is keeping the worker and his family in our thoughts. The dental office next door was able to evacuate everyone. I talked to them. They said it was terrifying because the gas and flames were only a few feet from the door.

This wasn’t a huge gas line, but it was big enough. Also, as you’ll see from the pics below, the buildings in our city are separated only by an inch or two. As a result, instead of fighting fires from the outside, our brave firemen and women fight the fires from inside the building. A miracle happened and there were only a couple of minor injuries to our firefighters, thank goodness.

In all, I saw at least 8 (there were more) engines and ladder trucks. There were multiple rescue squads and ambulance crews. There were LOTS of police officers. I’m grateful to all of them. The damage was contained to two, maybe three buildings. I’m sure I’ll know more later and I’ll update then.

You can see a news report here. I should add that while the smoke doesn’t look that bad, it really was bad. The wind was really howling down our street. It was good in that it dispersed the leaking gas quickly. I normally despise wind, but I’m grateful to it today.

San Francisco gas explosion and fire on San Bruno Ave.
For perspective…we live in the building on the far right. The explosion was North of us, which is left, in the photo
San Francisco gas explosion and fire on San Bruno Ave
Firefighters in action. The tan and brown building on the far left is where the construction was. The dentist office was in the white building.
San Francisco gas explosion and fire on San Bruno Ave
That is the gas still venting. It took PG&E about two hours to get the gas shut off
San Francisco gas explosion and fire on San Bruno Ave
Firefighters…gotta love em
San Francisco gas explosion and fire on San Bruno Ave
The gas isn’t off yet, but the fire is under control.
San Francisco gas explosion and fire on San Bruno Ave
News crews. I managed to avoid them. Make no mistake. We have some fine news crews here. I just don’t want to be on the tv.

On June 2nd of last year, the city tragically lost two firefighters. I’m glad that today didn’t have the same results.

Also, on Sept. 9, 2010 there was a massive gas line explosion on the San Bruno pipeline. That occured a few miles South of us. It also happened on a San Bruno Ave. in the town of San Bruno. Ours was on San Bruno Ave. in San Francisco. Are you confused yet? I can add to the confusion. The line that blew up in San Bruno wasn’t involved today. However, it passes by our apartment about 100 ft (33.48 meters) to our South. I’m very comforted by that. Yes, that was heavy sarcasm.

Anyhow, with luck, I’ll have something more uplifting soon. I’m still feeling a bit somber at the moment.

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Disaster preparedness for dogs, cats, and other pets

At 10:21 today, I heard the siren.  I normally hear it every Tuesday at noon, but today was different.  It was part of the Great California Shake Out.  That reminded me that we all need to be prepared for an emergency.

Are you and your pets ready for a disaster?  It doesn’t matter if it’s a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or flood.  We all need to be prepared for surviving at home or in the event of an evacuation.

Continue reading “Disaster preparedness for dogs, cats, and other pets”


Major fire follows huge explosion in San Bruno

As many of you may know already, the city of San Bruno has been hit by a devastating explosion and fire. As of midnight, the news says that 53 homes were destroyed and another 120 are damaged. PG&E has stated that it was one of their 24 inch gas mains.

Two shelters have been set up at San Bruno Veterans Recreation Center 251 City Parkway, San Bruno and at Senior Center 1555 Crystal Springs Rd. Evacuation center set up at Bay Hills Shopping Center.

Anyone in need of assistance or shelter can contact the Red Cross at 1-888-443-5722 (888-4help-bay).

San Bruno Emergency Hotline 650-616-7180. Only use this number to check on missing relatives or let them know that you are ok. Please do NOT tie up the line.

For blood donations beginning tomorrow, 9/10, call 888-393-give (it is busy, but leave a message and they will call back tomorrow) or go to Emergency call for Type O-negative blood. If you use the website and it’s down, try for locations. .

Sen. Leeland Yee has announced that San Bruno has been declared a state of emergency.

Please donate to the Red Cross, if you can. They are asking for money rather than items. The phone number is 1-888-443-5722

Our hearts go out to all the victims of this disaster, human and critter.