rss
twitter
    Twitter feed not available

Never Forget

This is a repost from 5 years ago on this date.  I will continue to post this every year until I feel it is no longer fitting.

Unless you live under a rock, you are undoubtedly aware that today is the 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  As I am sitting here working, I am reminded of how I spent that day.

Like most Americans, I first heard news of the first plane that hit the World Trade Center on the news, and then watched in horror as the second plane hit the other tower and ultimately watched both towers fall.  Unlike most Americans, I was unable to watch the events of the day unfold on TV.  I had already made the switch to web development and was working in the IT department of the company where I had spent 12 years (at that time) as a paramedic, including 2 as a manager, but I was still certified as a paramedic and frequently worked extra shifts to pick up some extra cash.

One of the things my company was tasked with was setting up a staging area at a  local airport.  The plan was, as survivors were removed from 'Ground Zero' they would be flown to airports around the area so as not to overwhelm hospitals close to lower Manhattan.  It was decided that I would be in charge of setting up and coordinating this staging area.  I was sent to the airport at about 11:00AM and started preparing for what could have been hundreds of victims.

At the staging area, we coordinated with over 150 people from approximately 50 different police, fire and EMS agencies.  It felt good to be doing something, something we were sure would help.  From the airport in central New Jersey, about 40 miles from Ground Zero, we could see the smoke from the towers.  We did not have a TV and relied on phone calls from others to get information as the day wore on.

As time passed we would get messages that we would be receiving patients soon, yet none ever came.  After 9 hours at the airport, having not treated one person, we were told our services would no longer be needed and we could go home.  It became a stark reality to me that anyone who would survive was already out of the towers.

In the days following 9/11 my company sent numerous crews to offer assistance at Ground Zero. I was on one of these crews at Ground Zero.  While we were not on the pile of rubble trying to find bodies, we were close enough to see the utter devastation that was lower Manhattan. It is a scene that will never be wiped from my mind, but I am not sure I would ever want to.

My whole career as a paramedic I always said that as long as I could walk, I would continue to do the job, even if it was only part time. After 14 years as a paramedic, I let my certification lapse in December of 2003. The events of 9/11 played a huge part in that decision.  It had nothing to do with fear.  It had everything to do with the fact that I knew if something similar happened on my watch, I'd be running in to help people, regardless of the danger, and this would not be fair to my family.  I also knew I could not change who I was, so the only way to ensure I wouldn't do that would be to remove the possibility of it happening, so I left EMS completely.

To this day, when I think of the towers falling, or seeing Ground Zero up close and personal, I get nauseous, I get physically ill.

Happy 'Miracle On Ice' Day!

32 years ago today, the United States Olympic Hockey team delivered what many, including myself, believe to be the biggest sports upset in history.

This game will likely be the biggest sports memory of my life. Now, I know that may be hard to believe, especially when you consider that my beloved New York Football Giants have give me, 'Wide right', 'The Catch' and 'The Catch Part II', but, to this day, I still get chills when I hear Al Michaels emotional commentary: "Do you believe in miracles? YES!" (I just got chills writing that, too).

Enjoy the final minute of that incredible game.

Christmas Memories

As Christmas fast approaches, I am reminded of a Christmas from long ago. One that has touched my family, especially my mother, to this day.

Below is the text of a newspaper article that appeared in the Asbury Park Press on December 24, 2007. I remember how the events of the day in the article affected my mother, even for several years after. After hearing of the impact my mother made on this family, I cannot adequately express how profoundly proud I am to be able to call her 'Mom'.

On Dec. 24, 1983, Doris Cuocci woke up early to prepare her home for the coming Christmas celebration with her family.

Cuocci, a registered nurse, had to work the night shift - 3 to 11 p.m. - on Christmas Eve and wanted to get as much done as she could before she left.

But right before she could leave for work, she received a telephone call from the Holmdel First Aid Squad. Her youngest of four children, Robin Lynn, who had gone out to run some errands, was taken to the emergency room at Bayshore Community Hospital after the car she was driving skidded off an icy road and smashed into a tree.

Anxious and frightened, Doris and her husband, Matthew, rushed to the hospital, hoping their 17-year-old daughter would be OK.

They waited for several excruciating hours before doctors delivered the shattering news: They couldn't save the teen's life.

But the Cuoccis' story isn't all about the ultimate loss and grief; it's also about compassion and encouragement. It's about how one person's actions or words, however brief, can have everlasting impact on another.

"This is a bad dream, and I am going to wake up," recalled Doris, 72, in a recent telephone interview, of that day at the hospital. "And then, an angel of mercy, Mary Jane, came and she was absolutely wonderful. She explained how hard they worked to save Robin's life and all the medical procedures."

The angel of mercy was Mary Jane Stroz of Hazlet. Now 62, Stroz was an emergency room nurse the day Robin Lynn Cuocci was brought in.

Stroz, who said she was just doing her job, had sat down in the waiting room with the grief-stricken couple for almost an hour, hugging and consoling them.

"If it wasn't for Mary Jane, I think I would have been a basket case in one of the mental hospitals," said Doris, a longtime Holmdel resident.

"She (Mary Jane) is just a wonderful, wonderful person that God sent to us at a time when we really needed someone. I will never forget her kindness."

Every year since that day in 1983, the Cuocci family sends a Christmas prayer card to Stroz as a token of appreciation, even though it was not a happy ending.

"You meet people in life - especially nurses - some are very cold and callous and kind of noncaring. Mary Jane was everything that a nurse should be. She had all the sterling qualities of a truly professional nurse," said Doris, who at that time also worked at various places as a nurse. The two women do not have a social relationship. They only communicate with one another at Christmas.

Around the first anniversary of Robin's death in 1984, Doris paid a visit to the hospital with a homemade ceramic Christmas tree and a note to thank Stroz and the staff for everything they'd done to try to save her daughter's life.

Every Christmas, Stroz said she puts the ceramic tree in the front window of her house as a tribute to the family.

"It was very touching to me," said Stroz, a married mother of three, of receiving the ceramic tree that year.

"As nurses, when you do something, you don't know it had an impact on anybody," she said. "Nurses should know that what they say and what they do at a moment of tragedy can impact somebody for a long time. Especially when the outcome wasn't good, your impact is even more."

Cuocci and Stroz did not have another face-to-face meeting again until 1993, when Stroz paid an unannounced visit to the Cuoccis' Hillcrest Road home. She said she had been thinking about them and wanted to see how they were doing. Stroz had a son around the same age as Robin and said she felt it could have been her own child.

The women met again this December.

"I didn't realize the impact of those moments until somewhat down the road," said Stroz. She said she looks forward to receiving a card from the Cuoccis every year and has kept every single one.

"What she does for me every year gives me a little encouragement to just keep working and doing what I do every day," she said. "For nurses that have to deal with such horrifying things, that does make a difference."

To all my readers who celebrate, Merry Christmas.

To all my readers who do not, Happy Holidays.

Never Forget....10 Years Later

This is a repost from 4 years ago on this date.  I will continue to post this every year until I feel it is no longer fitting.

Unless you live under a rock, you are undoubtedly aware that today is the 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  As I am sitting here working, I am reminded of how I spent that day.

Like most Americans, I first heard news of the first plane that hit the World Trade Center on the news, and then watched in horror as the second plane hit the other tower and ultimately watched both towers fall.  Unlike most Americans, I was unable to watch the events of the day unfold on TV.  I had already made the switch to web development and was working in the IT department of the company where I had spent 12 years (at that time) as a paramedic, including 2 as a manager, but I was still certified as a paramedic and frequently worked extra shifts to pick up some extra cash.

One of the things my company was tasked with was setting up a staging area at a  local airport.  The plan was, as survivors were removed from 'Ground Zero' they would be flown to airports around the area so as not to overwhelm hospitals close to lower Manhattan.  It was decided that I would be in charge of setting up and coordinating this staging area.  I was sent to the airport at about 11:00AM and started preparing for what could have been hundreds of victims.

At the staging area, we coordinated with over 150 people from approximately 50 different police, fire and EMS agencies.  It felt good to be doing something, something we were sure would help.  From the airport in central New Jersey, about 40 miles from Ground Zero, we could see the smoke from the towers.  We did not have a TV and relied on phone calls from others to get information as the day wore on.

As time passed we would get messages that we would be receiving patients soon, yet none ever came.  After 9 hours at the airport, having not treated one person, we were told our services would no longer be needed and we could go home.  It became a stark reality to me that anyone who would survive was already out of the towers.

In the days following 9/11 my company sent numerous crews to offer assistance at Ground Zero. I was on one of these crews at Ground Zero.  While we were not on the pile of rubble trying to find bodies, we were close enough to see the utter devastation that was lower Manhattan. It is a scene that will never be wiped from my mind, but I am not sure I would ever want to.

My whole career as a paramedic I always said that as long as I could walk, I would continue to do the job, even if it was only part time. After 14 years as a paramedic, I let my certification lapse in December of 2003. The events of 9/11 played a huge part in that decision.  It had nothing to do with fear.  It had everything to do with the fact that I knew if something similar happened on my watch, I'd be running in to help people, regardless of the danger, and this would not be fair to my family.  I also knew I could not change who I was, so the only way to ensure I wouldn't do that would be to remove the possibility of it happening, so I left EMS completely.

To this day, when I think of the towers falling, or seeing Ground Zero up close and personal, I get nauseous, I get physically ill.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I posted this story on Facebook, but felt it was funny enough to share with the world

File this under: "No way that just happened"

I am in Petco waiting to checkout. In front of me are a girl around 4 or 5, her mother (maybe 20) and her grandmother. While we waited, the girl and her grandmother were looking at greeting cards (that were near the register) with funny animal pictures on them.

The little girl was like "Look at this one...its smiling", "Look at this one...he's eating", etc...

Then, very loudly, she says, "Look Mommy, this one is dressed like a stripper, just like you"

HTC Evo - Quick Review

As I mentioned here, I was getting rid of my old iPhone and purchasing an HTC Evo. Well, I have had the phone for a little over a month, and I thought I would post some of my thoughts.

NOTE: I am comparing the Evo to my old phone, an iPhone 3g, so, yes, I understand it may not be a fair comparison, but its the only one I can make. Also, if you are expecting an in depth, fully technical, non-biased review, you came to the wrong place.

First, let's start with the size. The overall size of the Evo is a bit larger than my iPhone, but not enough for me to get upset over. Especially when you consider the screen. To my untrained eye, the screen on the Evo is quite a bit larger than my iPhone. Also, to my untrained eye, it seems the screen may be more crisp...but maybe this is because it is larger.

Next, the operating system. To be honest, I would be hard pressed to say Android was 'better' the iOS, nor could I say iOS was 'better' than Android. When I was first looking at Android phones, I was told by someone that they thought Android was not as 'polished' as iOS. I would have to respectfully disagree. I think Android is just as polished...its just a different kind of polish. There are things I miss about iOS (the biggest one being the ability to see an SMS message without having to unlock the phone), but not so many that I wish I had stuck with an iPhone. On the flip side, there are things I like about Android, but again, not so many that I can comfortably say I will never go back to an iPhone

Of course, one of the first things I did was check out the 'App Store' to see if all my 'must have' apps were available. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about, because I already knew that I could get 'Angry Birds' for Android. All kidding aside, so far there has been no app I used regularly on my iPhone where Android did not have the same, or comprable, app. My favorite app on my iPhone was AirView Golf, an app for getting yardage to the pin or other objects on a golf course. This particular app is not available for Android, but there are plenty of other choices, I just need to pick one and try it out - if only the weather would cooperate.

Some other things that differ are the camera, the Evo has an 8.6 megapixel camera (more than my first gen digital SLR) as well as the ability to shoot video in HD - it even has an HDMI 'out' port to quickly view videos on your TV. Also, the ability to change the battery and expand the memory are huge pluses in my mind. As is the fact that it can be powered by any mini USB adapter as opposed to a proprietary plug.

One thing I do not like about the Evo (or Android) is that if I have the phone connected to my computer and have the phone 'mounted' as a disk drive, it could not (or would not) use my custom ringtones for phone calls or SMS messages

As for the carriers...meh... I seem to be one of the few people in the US who got better service from AT&T than from Verizon. I decided to switch to Sprint because in my area Sprint had great reviews and great coverage, not better than AT&T, but the cost per month was enough to make me switch. Where I live, Verizon's coverage is horrible, and since I work from home, and spend most of my time in my own county, that was important to me. So far, I am very happy with Sprint and have not had any issues with coverage.

Lastly, I would like to talk about some of the pre-installed apps. There are some great ones provided by Sprint, such as Sprint TV and their NASCAR app (where you can follow the progress of a race - not via video, but a nifty little graphic in the shape of the racetrack and icons representing the different drivers moves around the track). These are very cool and are also included with the monthly plan at no additional charge.

There was a Navigation app from Sprint as well. At first, I really liked it, then it got updated to a newer version (with a new name) and I started to dislike it. Initially it was able to find my home address, but after the update it could not - a huge negative for me. I started using Google Navigation and I have to say I am truly impressed. The voice is not as clear as the Sprint Navigation app, but I think the UI is nicer and less cumbersome. Three cool features of Google Navigation:

  1. You can switch to 'satellite' view during navigation so instead of the plain map, you see satellite pictures.
  2. When you arrive at your destination, it a Google 'street view' image for the location exists, it will appear on the screen (I am not sure if that happens only when you are using satellite view though)
  3. If you are listening to music from the phone, when the GPS chick needs to tell you something, the music will get paused while she is talking.

Google Navigation seemed to be more accurate than my Garmin device, and, even thought I updated the Garmin recently, Google Navigation, already had some new roads that have been recently opened while the Garmin did not. Overall, I think Google Navigation will be our 'GPS app' of choice for a while. So much so that we are looking for a dashboard/windshield mount for our phones.

Overall, I love the Evo. But, as my wise friend Charlie Griefer said to me recently (and I am paraphrasing): 'It does not really matter if your phone is an Android or an iPhone when you think of what they do, they are amazing devices.' It is hard to really argue with that logic. However, the Evo has one thing that I have not seen in any other phone that I think pushes it beyond amazing: a kickstand!

That is right, as the picture above shows, my phone has a kickstand. Your argument is invalid.

Farewell Discovery

As most of you know, today marked the end of the most traveled Space Shuttle in our existing fleet. Shortly before 12:00 this afternoon, the Space Shuttle Discovery touched down at the end of its final voyage.

I was kind of surprised that when I watched the landing, I got a little teary-eyed. I guess it finally hit me that, soon, the Shuttle Program will be no longer. I remember watching, in 7th grade, Columbia blast off for the first time (and Columbia landing for the first time). It is hard to believe that after being such a big part of my life for so long, the Shuttle Program is ending.

Here are some interesting stats on Discovery:

  • First mission was almost 27 years ago
  • 39 missions
  • 365 days in space
  • 5,830 orbits of the Earth
  • 148,221,665 miles traveled

'Operation Purge Apple' Has Commenced

I make no secret of the fact that a few years ago, I made the leap and started drinking the Apple Kool-Aid. Right now in my house we have 2 iPods, 1 iPod Touch, 2 iPhones, 1 MacBook Pro and 1 Magic Mouse. I know...that is nothing compared to some fanboys, but that has all been acquired in about the last 3 years or so.

Due to some of the news I have been reading about Apple and where they seem to be going when it comes to 3rd party software and delivering content to devices, as well as the litany of stories about the 'App Store' approval process, I decided that, for now, Apple will be getting no more of my money. Now, I have not been so militant that I decided to throw out all my Apple devices...that would be silly...I already paid for them, I will continue to use them as long as they are useful. So, I will continue to use my MacBook Pro until it comes time to replace it.  The same goes for the Magic Mouse and all 3 iPods, we will continue to use them as long as they continue to work, and when they need replacing...well...we will see.....

This brings me to the iPhones. We currently have the 3G model, and to be honest, I like the device, it has served me well - though recently it has been a bit sluggish and has required me to reboot more frequently - but its time to get new phones. Our contract with AT&T was up this past weekend and I have been looking at other phones and carriers. Given that I do not want to give Apple any more money (for now) I am pretty much left with Android based phones as an option (I am so turned off by the new Windows mobile interface that I could not even consider one of those).

After a couple of months of research, I have decided that we are switching to Sprint and getting HTC Evos. I have spoken to quite a few people who live near me and have Sprint and they have told me the coverage is very good. I have my reasons for choosing the Evo, but that may be for another post. I ordered the phones this afternoon, so, in the next few days, the iPhones will be retired. This is step 1.1* in purging our house from Apple.

*Step 1.0 was to stop buying music from iTunes - we have not purchased music from iTunes in quite sometime.

Never Forget...

This is a repost from 3 years ago on this date.  I will continue to post this every year until I feel it is no longer fitting.

Unless you live under a rock, you are undoubtedly aware that to day is the 6th 7th 8th 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  As I am sitting here working, I am reminded of how I spent that day.

Like most Americans, I first heard news of the first plane that hit the World Trade Center on the news, and then watched in horror as the second plane hit the other tower and ultimately watched both towers fall.  Unlike most Americans, I was unable to watch the events of the day unfold on TV.  I had already made the switch to web development and was working in the IT department of the company where I had spent 12 years (at that time) as a paramedic, including 2 as a manager, but I was still certified as a paramedic and frequently worked extra shifts to pick up some extra cash.

One of the things my company was tasked with was setting up a staging area at a  local airport.  The plan was, as survivors were removed from 'Ground Zero' they would be flown to airports around the area so as not to overwhelm hospitals close to lower Manhattan.  It was decided that I would be in charge of setting up and coordinating this staging area.  I was sent to the airport at about 11:00AM and started preparing for what could have been hundreds of victims.

At the staging area, we coordinated with over 150 people from approximately 50 different police, fire and EMS agencies.  It felt good to be doing something, something we were sure would help.  From the airport in central New Jersey, about 40 miles from Ground Zero, we could see the smoke from the towers.  We did not have a TV and relied on phone calls from others to get information as the day wore on.

As time passed we would get messages that we would be receiving patients soon, yet none ever came.  After 9 hours at the airport, having not treated one person, we were told our services would no longer be needed and we could go home.  It became a stark reality to me that anyone who would survive was already out of the towers.

In the days following 9/11 my company sent numerous crews to offer assistance at Ground Zero. I was on one of these crews at Ground Zero.  While we were not on the pile of rubble trying to find bodies, we were close enough to see the utter devastation that was lower Manhattan. It is a scene that will never be wiped from my mind, but I am not sure I would ever want to.

My whole career as a paramedic I always said that as long as I could walk, I would continue to do the job, even if it was only part time. After 14 years as a paramedic, I let my certification lapse in December of 2003. The events of 9/11 played a huge part in that decision.  It had nothing to do with fear.  It had everything to do with the fact that I knew if something similar happened on my watch, I'd be running in to help people, regardless of the danger, and this would not be fair to my family.  I also knew I could not change who I was, so the only way to ensure I wouldn't do that would be to remove the possibility of it happening, so I left EMS completely.

To this day, when I think of the towers falling, or seeing Ground Zero up close and personal, I get nauseous, I get physically ill.

The Adobe Developer Community Rules!

Over the last month or so, I sat down to try and write this article several times. Each time, I was so over come with emotion that I simply could not finish it. After the influx of email, Facebook and Twitter messages I have received recently, I decided I need to get this done.

When I was younger, my father once told me, "If you surround yourself with good people, you will never have anything to fear." I do not think I ever really understood what he meant by that until recently.

The last few months have been some of the most difficult and trying times I have ever experienced. I am not sure how I would have fared without the support of my family, friends and the Adobe developer community. After the death of my father, my family was astounded at the level of support offered to us by people they had never met. More than one of you brought tears to our eyes with your kind words on my father's online obituary. The donations made by so many have also helped alleviate some stresses as well.

The kind words and offers of assistance given the recent news from Alagad have been even more overwhelming. Words are not enough to describe the gratitude I, and my family, feel for everyone who has extended a hand.

I used to think that the saying 'you are judged by the company you keep' was unfair. After the last few months, and seeing how incredible the people I have surrounded myself with truly are, I have started to hope I will be judged by the company I keep, because you guys are an amazing bunch, and I am both honored and humbled to be in your company.

Even though I feel it does not seem adequate, Thank You, everyone. The Adobe developer community rules!

More Entries