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Leah has the day off.
Judy's in Austin doing staff services training.
Mary's out solicting donations for July's golf tournament.
Lynn's out sick.
And it's raining.

No one in Frederick County is allowed to have their house burn down today, okay?
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Two classes down, three to go. I had Logistics Overview and Logistics Simulation today down at the Central Maryland Chapter in Baltimore. I figure I should know as much as I can about what all of the disaster functions are up to, to satisfy my own curiosity and so I can make their lives easier. The smoother operations on a disaster operation go, the better service we'll be delivering to our clients. Logistics (or Material Support Services as they call it now) is like a puzzle-how can you get all the transportation, facilities, and supplies you need at the right time, in the right place, for as little money as possible without sacrificing quality? Oh yeah, and all the other functions needed those things yesterday, so you'd best move quickly. You're in a disaster area too, so resources are limited and emotions are running high.

In that way, it sounds really cool. Like a challenge. I still think I like the more client-oriented stuff better, and hopefully I'll get to do client casework my next time out. That's not to say today was a waste of time. I got to make nice with one of our neighboring chapters that Judy has problems with for reasons I can't quite figure out. Probably just the one or two people she works with at Central Maryland are difficult to deal with. There's probably also a lot more bureaucracy because they're a much larger chapter. Go figure. I also got to hang out with fellow disaster volunteers and swap "war stories." Pretty much all of us had been out on at least one 3 week Katrina deployment.

Tomorrow I have to be up early to go to a two-day Disaster Kitchen Training class out in West Virginia. Yay for getting up early to drive 2 hours. (Not.) Yay for more free training. Yay for hanging out with fellow disaster junkies.



Mar. 31st, 2006 10:16 am
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So apparently there are three Copeland's restaurants in Maryland-Columbia, Rockville, and Annapolis. Sounds like one place locally where I can get my creole/cajun food fix and get hurricanes, maybe even hurricanes served in the special glasses. Anyone game?

In other news, disaster education presentations start on Monday with a tornado safety presentation at Carroll Manor Elementary. I have a total of 5 presentations next week but only three the week after that because Frederick County Schools are on Spring Break, as is The Banner School. I also have the Hurricane Season 2005/Pre-Hurricane Season 2006 Debriefing Picnic Monday evening. They certainly do keep me busy around here, and that's a good thing because I got used to being busy on deployment and wouldn't know what to do without 8 different things going at once.

I also did my first post-deployment speedwork training with the Flying Feet running group last night. 2x800 meters in 4:17 and 4:13 with a warm up and cooldown for a total of about 3 miles. My legs aren't too terribly happy with me today but they'll just have to deal with it because I needed to run hard last night.

I'm also helping out at my high school band's concession stand tonight. I'll be right at home because I'll be serving food wearing those hot, sticky plastic gloves that we love to hate. :-)

Speaking of being busy, back to work.

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I'm all in-processed and checked into my hotel where I'll be staying for the next 3 weeks. I'll either be working in a fixed kitchen or riding around in an ERV (response vehicle) delivering food to the neighborhoods. Work starts tomorrow-good thing, because somehow it doesn't feel right to be a relief worker but staying in a nice hotel with such gorgeous weather, just relaxing and soaking up the sun. It's 72* right now, supposedly unusually warm for this time of year, but I ain't complainin'. The food is excellent as well-all you who know me know I love rice and beans and seafood and that's just what they specialize in down here.

Meanwhile, everyone keeps telling me I should have been down here a few days earlier for Mardi Gras. I'd have to agree with that, esp. seeing all the beads my roommate has lying around. :-)


PS-It looks like someone sprinkled blue confetti all over the roofs here. Yes, the tarps are still up, though at least where I am there doesn't look to be too much other damage. I'm sure I'll see plenty of that in the next few days though, esp. if I get to be on one of the ERVs.

From the look of the Superdome (from the highway, anyway), you'd never know all the horrors that went on inside of there.

EDIT: If anyone wants a New Orleans postcard, send me your address at At 50 cents apiece they're a little pricey, but I figure the extra money gets pumped back into the economy down here.
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Another day, another fire call. I wonder if it gets any easier to watch after you've been on more of them. Somehow I doubt it. And what always gets me is that they want you to save the money, clothes, teddy bears, whatever for people "who really need it." Even after having lost pretty much everything they owned, they stop and think of others. My first fire call was about a month after Katrina-we had to convince them that their needs were just as great as those of each family affected by the hurricane. The main difference is in the scale of the disaster, not in the amount of need each person has.

Yeesh, that house was still burning when we got there. I swear it takes days for me to stop smelling the smoke. I don't know, maybe you get used to dealing with that for awhile.

On the other hand, I had a lot of fun with my flood safety presentation yesterday. What I did NOT have fun with was the accident-induced traffic on 15 on the way home. The plus side of that was that I had lots of extra time to listen to The Grapes of Wrath (which is further stoking my sense of social justice, but more on that when I finish and post a review).


PS-We're having California Tortilla for lunch. I love that stuff. Esp. the Havana Chicken burrito.
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For one thing, today is my 1/2 birthday. 22 1/2. Wow, time flies when you're having fun-I'm a quarter of the way to 30. Yeesh.

For another thing, NOAA announced yesterday that we have a La Nina system affecting our weather, which would explain why it's been so warm and wet but with almost no snow. I mention this because it also means there's a good chance we'll have a bad hurricane season. Maybe worse than the last 2 years, which means I know what I'll be doing this summer-lots of Red Cross deployments. Good experience for me, but geez, give those people a break. The last two years have been bad enough.

And speaking of weather, I had a thoroughly enjoyable run last night, and not just because my legs finally loosened up to the point where they weren't stiff as tree trunks. It was raining, just a little, and it was just warm enough that it was very refreshing. I love the smell of the woods at the end of my street when it rains-it reminds me of my Outward Bound Swap-Ya 2 1/2 years ago where we camped out under a tarp. Open-air campsite and we got a terrific thunderstorm that night-thunder and lightening and all kinds of rain but we stayed bone-dry thanks to the OB instructors who expertly rigged our tarp. That would be why I'm searching rather intensely for cheap airfares to Minnesota-there's another Swap-Ya there in late April. I've got it down to $416 round-trip, but I'm not sure if I've got the dates right.

That is all.

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Working with my lovely Red Cross volunteers (of whom I all of a sudden have many more-more on that in a second), I've given 20 winter safety presentations to almost 500 kids this month. Yay! Success!

Speaking of lovely Red Cross volunteers, thanks to the Emergency Services meeting last night, I now have a whole bunch of them. It didn't hurt that the county director of emergency management gave a presentation and referred to my presentations very favorably a few times. Now all I need are more presentation dates for February from the Kids' Club director over at the YMCA. Oh yeah, and I need to write the presentation and get out to downtown Frederick to check out the flood risk maps. Yay for keeping busy.

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Am I ever going to be ready for a 1/2 marathon in 7 weeks if I'm only running 3 times a week and I haven't been over 20 mph since November? Quite honestly, I don't know and I don't care. I don't feel like pushing myself to get out there 5-6 nights a week to run mucho miles in the dead of winter, and if I don't run a 1/2 marathon PR come March, then so be it. I'm just now realizing how good I had it back in college, being able to run at whatever time of the day I wanted and having free access to a treadmill.

Eh, I'll probably get in 9 miles tomorrow. If I feel like it and it's not too windy, anyway.

The Red Cross holiday party was tonight. Lots and lots of good food including shrimp and chocolate mousse pie. My first work party! And I even got a bottle of wine in the "green elephant" gift exchange. All in all, we had entirely too much fun and I enjoyed spending time with those people outside the office.

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So let's see, some highlights of today:

I learned how to drive the ERV. That means next time Judy's out of the office when we get a fire call (which she probably will be, that's just the way things work), I get to drive to the scene. Even better, I get to nagivate Frederick County, which I'm getting better and better at. It wasn't nearly as nerve-wracking as I expected it to be, though twisty country roads were a challenge.

I got 4 more presentations covered by the volunteer who helped me on a presentation yesterday. She'll do a wonderful job, she's so flexible and friendly and really seems to have a way with kids.

I gave yet another winter safety presentation. The kids were...interesting. A challenge, let's put it that way. The director of the program didn't have very much control over them, but they were very enthusiastic and had a lot to say. I did have to rescue them from a spider though.

Up next:

Drafting a flood safety presentation for February's presentation series.

Meeting with Donna and figuring out where this Girl Scout patch program is going and how that relates to me deploying after B&A.

Reading Storm of the Century, Kite Runner, and 1491. Leah saw the first one on my way in-my comment was that I knew I would end up in Disaster Services because I read books like that for fun. Or something like that.

Yay for a 3 day weekend! And yay for sleeping in on Tuesday 'cause they're testing the water main and we can't come in until noon.

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...that being weapons of mass destruction/terrorism, or how the Red Cross would respond to such an event anyway. Looks to be pretty interesting but I'm still hoping it'll get done before 9:30 so I can get home before it's time to go to bed. (=more time to read my disaster books)

Anyway, here it is:

Let me know what you think.

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Scroll down to the bottom:

Apparently I also made a more recent edition of the paper, but I'm still waiting to hear on that.

marathoner452: (Default) <---I ran my 5k PR at that race, on a steamy January morning. I love South Florida, but mostly I love it in the winter. Too bad that race was almost 2 years ago.

I've decided against running the Mardi Gras 1/2 this year, mostly because of the expense. I just can't afford it living on a VISTA stipend. Instead, I'm going to send a $50 donation and they'll send me a T-shirt, and I'll wear that and my Mardi Gras beads that day to cheer them on. Speaking of which, does anyone know where I can get one of those feathery Mardi Gras masks? Sarah and I are going to dress up on Feb. 28th, mostly for the fun of it.

Back to work. Turns out one of my CDE presenters will be in India for the better part of February and March. I might be putting the YMCA presentations on hold for awhile, at least until I can find more presenters to help me out.

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Yesterday afternoon, not an hour after Judy got back with our new response vehicle (which conveniently decided not to work just recently), we got a fire call. A really bad one too. I'm not sure how much I can tell under our confidentiality rules, so suffice to say there wasn't much left in the kitchen and it smelled pretty powerful in there. The whole back wall was knocked out too. I think the smoke got into my pores or something because I could still smell it by the time I got home hours later. Smelled like a campfire gone crazy, only worse.

Whatever you do, don't try and put out a grease fire with water. Take the pan off the stove and put the lid on, and if that doesn't work get the heck out of there. Not sure if that's what happened, but it's always good advice.

As for today, I have a presentation this afternoon and a grant proposal to finish, then handbells to practice, Christmas cards/gifts to write/wrap and Caribbean short stories to read. At least I'm not bored.

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Okay, it's time for a rant.  I just finished reading the comments people have posted about this year's NCR Trail Marathon, the one I just ran last Saturday.  Everyone is whining and complaining about how they got a huge performance shirt instead of a fleece vest and about how their race was inexusably meddled with because we ran the course backwards.  If they would spend half as much time running or sleeping as they have complaining, they'd be ready for their next marathon.  Quite bluntly, get a life.  The world does not revolve around you-sometimes mistakes happen and quite honestly, if you're prepared those things won't faze you.

Read the comments here: .   My comments should be up in a few days.  Hopefully they'll be a voice of reason in this disturbing example of our entitlement society.  Sometimes mistakes just happen-it isn't the first time and it won't be the last and I'm sure you've done it yourself at some point.  Hopefully it's just the marathon recovery going to their heads, because it's frankly embarrassing my fellow runners are acting like spoiled children.

Same thing with disasters.  There's a reason we tell you to "Make a plan, Build a Kit."  It's because that while disasters are scary, they do occasionally happen to you and what's even more scary is when you don't know if your family is safe or if you'll be able to survive on your own for the couple of days it'll take until authorities rescue you.  Let Katrina be an example:  rescue and relief agencies cannot reach everyone at once or move as quickly as we'd like.  The point is not so much whether they should but what you can do to protect yourself.

In the end, it's about personal responsibility.  Stop complaining and DO SOMETHING ALREADY. Go for a run or build your kit but don't just sit around blaming others for everything.

End rant.


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I changed the oil in my car.

And I found a pale pink athletic skirt at Under Armour that my mom wouldn't let me buy this close to Christmas.

Girly and tough can actually go together. Pretty cool.

Oh, and I'm in the DSHR system now. For those of you non-Red Cross people, that means that next time there's a major disaster I'll probably be deployed.


PS-NCR Trail Marathon in 5 days!
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This is a really neat website where people discuss their ideas for solutions to pervasive social problems. I'm already addicted.

Also in good news, I'm in the process of scheduling preparedness presentations with 25 elementary school YMCA after-school programs, to start as soon as possible. On my own, I can only hit each school once every few months, but with all the volunteers that have come forward since Katrina and the Community Disaster Education presenters we trained last Tuesday, I can probably manage to hit each school every month. On top of all that, I'm in contact with the Deputy Superintendent for Frederick County schools, who will hopefully give me permission to give disaster preparedness presentations during the day in Frederick County public schools. Our Red Cross chapter has been trying to get into the public schools for years, according to my supervisor.

Basically, I'm not going to have a lot of downtime in the coming months, but after the lull I've been in the past few weeks, that's a very good thing. Yay!


x-posted to [ profile] acvista

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For the benefit of new friends who want to hear about life at the Red Cross. :-)

Seems to have a hurry-up-and-wait quality about it. One week I'll give several presentations to hundreds of kids, the next week I'll just be sitting around waiting for schools or scout troops to respond to my emails so I can schedule more presentations. Or maybe it's just because I started literally the day Katrina hit, so anything else is slow and downright boring. We have to be ready in case a disaster strikes, but usually they don't and it's life as usual.

Right now is one of those between-times. No one is really going to have time for a presentation over the holiday season, though I do have 2 presentations scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving. A couple people have promised to call me several times but haven't gotten back to me yet. And hurricane season is almost over, thank goodness. And I've committed to getting trained and getting some local experience before I'm deployed to a national operation, because, unfortunately, Katrina won't be the last destructive hurricane we'll face.

So at this point I'm trying to live out my life as an Americorps VISTA here at the Red Cross out in Frederick County, Maryland, giving disaster education presentations to kids. VISTAs are supposed to focus on reducing the inequalities of poverty, so my mission right now is to get into scout meetings, public schools and the YMCA, not just private schools. Though in the end, everyone needs to hear this stuff so they can be prepared.

In my spare time, whatever that is anymore, I train for marathons and read Caribbean history books. :-) Next on my life agenda is graduate school and moving someplace a lot warmer than Maryland. B-)

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The mission for the next few days is to tear the house apart in search of my steel-toed field boots I wore on an Outward Bound Swap-Ya two years ago. And why? Because I'm too cheap to buy new ones and I need them to go out on daytime DAT (Disaster Action Team) fire calls. I'll be putting all I've learned these past couple of months to good use to help people who just lost everything, in addition to giving CDE presentations. It's a rather scary thought, to be the one people will be looking to in such a time of need, but it's a good kind of scary. A personal growth getting out of your comfort zone kind of scary.

In other news, I hate marathon recovery. It's taking forever. I feel as stiff today after 5 painfully slow miles as I used to feel after 10 or 12.

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Ya know, it's really hard to teach kids about fire safety when teachers keep contradicting you, telling you you're wrong 'cause that's not what their fire marshall grandpa told them when they were little. Ever think that things might have changed in the past 30 years? They seemed to think I was pretty incompetent when it came to pre-k kids as well. At least the kids liked practicing escaping from a fire by crawling low under a blanket. Whether or not their teachers were acting like idiots is not my problem.

I can't wait to get back to running. Maybe this is why I stopped running marathons for awhile, I hate taking time off from training to recover.

Maybe it's just the rain that's putting me in a bad mood. Rain, begone!

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So I went to the other end of the spectrum today, presentation-wise. Elementary-schoolers to senior citizens. It would have been nice if they would have told me what kind of space I'd be working in, and it also would have been nice if they would have told me how many people would be there so I could bring enough materials with me. Oh well. If there's one thing I've learned working for the Red Cross, it's that you have to be able to turn on a dime. If worse comes to worse and they need more winter storm safety brochures or something, we're only about 10 minutes up the road.

And, try as I might, I can't get the image of a 90-year-old woman riding her scooter down the highway in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. One of my presentees called me right after I left and wanted to know what she should do if she needed to evacuate. No friends in the area and family lives a mile away. No car either. I told her to ask the supervisors in charge of the senior community what their plans were and tried to remind her that disasters usually don't come out of nowhere on clear October days...meaning you probably don't want to be riding your scooter down the street if you have to evacuate. I can only hope I talked some sense into her.

Phew, am I glad tomorrow's a presentation-free day.

10 days until the Baltimore Marathon!



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