Friday, September 29, 2006

The Probie Shield Came Off Today!

Today, working the last shift before my time off and travel, I was presented with my helmet shield, replacing my "Big Orange P" probationary firefighter helmet shield.

(For the humor impaired, the above is just an inside joke, my name is underneath)

I was presented this shield by the senior man on my group, Bruce Timmons (36 years with HFD)

I was proud to share this moment with my group, Group 2.

And the view of my ride I was piloting for the shift 9-29-06

Kind of bittersweet, but my probie days are now behind me (I have the official letter to prove it too!). Now begins the "Junior Man" period of my career....which is seemingly even tougher!!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blog Along With x635 To California!

This Sunday, I will be flying to San Francisco, California via jetBlue. Then, on Monday evening, I will be flying down to Los Angeles, where I will be until flying back home briefly on Friday morning before departing for another adventure in Oregon.

During this trip, I plan to blog both in words and photographically so you can follow along on my adventure, right here. Whenever I can, I'll check in and post and keep you up-to-date.

I have a busy itinerary for this trip, and am very excited about it. This California trip will be primarly one of my semi-annual photo hunts and to explore SF for the first time and further my explorations of LA. I will be meeting up with Orlando while in L.A., but otherwise I will be solo for the flight and in SF. The Oregon trip you won't hear from me at all, since that trip will be all for relaxation and I'll be going with Kristen.

So stay tuned right here starting Sunday to follow my adventure!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

For The M-7 Fans...

Tonight, while on my weekly Metro-North/Chipotle run after taking my sister to the airport, I shot some video of Metro North M-7 trains for those who are interested. I love the distinctive sight and sound of an M-7, and these videos now allows me to enjoy it anytime.

Here, an M-7 arrives at Hartsdale from Grand Central Terminal

....And departs to White Plains next stop, final stop North White Plains

And here's my 1939 train to Grand Central arriving in Hartsdale...

Other photos from tonight:

My delicous Chipotle Mexican Grill (the one on 44th) burrito. Contains carnitas (AKA pork), rice, black beans, guacomole, sour cream, and cheese.

And, how lucky I was tonight. Lexington Ave was closed, and NYC*DOT was milling the roadway in preparation for paving. I love their Mack Granite dump trucks, and I got to see a TON of them. Here's a photo, and thats another one off my list, although I would like a daylight shot at some point.

That's all for tonight!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Stamford FRD's Utility

Look what I saw at the Stamford FD shops on Magee Ave. today. This white Ford Ranger, apparatently SFRD's utility. I didn't even know they had this.

And here's what else was sitting in front of the shops on Monday afternoon. The new Ladder 2 was in the garage.

Another Local Movie Theater Bites The Dust..

Well, yet another local movie theater has shut its doors. This one, the Fine Arts Cinema, was on Central Ave. in Greenburgh. This theater was know for showing independent films. A recent Journal News article stated that since large multiplex chains are now starting to show independent films more and more, that is drawing away business from the little theaters. This theater has been operating in Greenburgh for 34 years. It's a shame whats going on on Central Ave., I bet this will become yet another useless furniture store or bank. I can hope at least a good, down-to-earth resturant would come of this, or at least the vacant Treasure Island next door. But the Town Of Greenburgh makes opening a business so hard and intimidating that I doubt it will be anything good that opens in either parcel.

Ardsley FD And VAC Buildings Progress Report 9/25/06

Stopped by both Ardsley FD and VAC's construction sites this afternoon for progress photos.
Ardsley FD's old building appears to be completly demolished and removed, and the sitework is now begining.

ASVAC's foundation appears all ready to go. The new building is scheduled to be delivered this Wednesday, and placed onto the foundation on Thursday.

They're making quick progress on both buildings so far, and I'll continue to keep you all updated as often as I can on x635:The Blog

Back From Orlando

Last night, I got back from a very nice weekend in Orlando. with Kristen It was awesome to meet and spend time with Kristen's friends. Unfortunetly, I didn't have much time or oppurtunity to shoot anything much. Here are some of my reflections on the trip.

We flew out of LaGuardia Aiport. I've never flown out of Laguardia before, what a DUMP! At least the gates we flew out of (B-5) were very run down, dirty, cramped, and outdated. The jetBlue flight down was OK, the plane "Bippity Boppity Blue" was nice, it had the new larger screen jetBlue seatback monitors, which were real nice, yet still not upgraded for XM radio. The one benefit of flying out of and back into Laguardia are the awesome views it affords you of Manhattan. It is closer then JFK, but I still feel JFK is an easier and cleaner airport to deal with.

Orlando, what to say about Orlando? The people are very friendly, and other then theme parks and tourist attractions, there's not much to do. We did not go to any theme parks, as I really have no interest in them. We did go to "Downtown Disney", which is a collection of shops, resturants nightclubs, and entertainment venues on Disney's property. It's pretty amazing the stronghold Disney and the tourism industry has on the area. We ate lunch Saturday at Too-Jays, a local "deli-resturant" chain down there which was really really good, and they had great deserts, and Sunday we ate out the House Of Blues, the food was good but nothing too exciting. Saturday niight was spent at Dustin and Michelle's house, eating some home cooking and playing "Crainium" turbo edition.

Orlando is deep south, especially when you get to the outskirts. One of the things I wanted to see while I was down there was a real, live alligator. Not one in a park or anything, I wanted to see one in the wild. Dustin took me to some alligator prone areas, and I did not see a single one...anywhere. I am very doubtful that alligators exist as much as people say they do down there now. Everything is a new development. And Orlando is very, very flat.

Here's are some of the photos I got during this trip. This one is from one of the rivers we went looking for alligators at.

One of the Walt Disney World fire hydrants. The valves are on the back of the hydrant. This is wierd, I've never seen a wet-barrel like this before.
Here's me trying on some hats at the Disney Store. This one fit me perfectly.

A Florida squirrel. Their tails are nowhere nearly as bushy as NY squirrels.

The boat "Jenny" from "Forrest Gump" at Downtown Disney.

A really cool Lego sculpture at Downtown Disney. I wonder who gets paid to do this kind of work?

One of Disney's newer shuttle buses. Never seen a model like this, looks real good. Anyone know the brand?

These are "lovebugs". Apparently, these were some lab experiment gone very wrong, and now these bugs are everywhere. It's mating season for them, and apparently they mate by attaching at the butt and stay attached to each other like that for weeks.

A crane set up at one of MCO (Orlando International Airports) gates.

A very nicely landscaped area to look at while you are waiting for your plane at Orlando's beautiful airport. Did I mention I also got to see jetBlue's LiveTV hangar?

A Southwest Boeing 737 with blended winglets sits at one of Southwest's gates.

And here's the plane we flew back to NY-LGA on, jetBlue's "Blues Brothers". This one did not have the upgraded seatback monitors, or XM yet.

And here's Bippity Boppity Blue, the plane we flew to MCO on, at an adjacent gate.

Shortly after takeoff from MCO, I believe we were over Daytona Beach.

And sunset from Seat 23A on the way back to NY-LGA

And here's the video of the above photo.

All in all, a great trip and we had fun. Thanks to Bernie and Timmy for covering my mutuals so I could take this trip.

This coming Sunday, it's off to San Francisco, then LA. for a full out buff, err, I mean enthusiasty trip. I may photo-blog my way through this trip, so stay tuned for details on that. Then, I return home for a day, and it's off to Oregon for a week.
That's it for now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Where Old Metro North Trains Go To Die..

Today, while driving home from Fishkill, I decided to peek around Croton to see if I could get any train photos. Well, I did. I found where Metro-North puts old trains to die, right before they get scrapped. They are visible from a road that leads to many yacht clubs and marinas. It is where the old "Croton North" train station was. There were some M-1's there, in bad shape. And north of this yard was really cool, it was a freight yard for CSX, which I never knew existed up until a couple of months ago.

Here are the photos:

And while taking my photos, a Metro North Genenis Diesel train roared by...

Oh, and yesterday on my Chipotle Mexican Grill run in Manhattan, I saw a MTA PD car marked for "Highway Patrol" with the highway patrol bar.

That's all for now.....

My Visit To Empire Ambulance

Today, I was invited to Empire Ambulance Corps headquarters in Fishkill, NY on Route 9 just north of the Putnam County line, to photograph their new Hummer H3 flycars.

Sure, everyone has something to say about every commercial agency, whether they actually know the facts or not is a different story. Today's visit to Empire State Ambulance was enlightening to me, and even cleared up some misconceptions I had. This is surely a progressive company that's looking toward the future. And a different Empire then times past.

First, before I even introduced myself, I was greeted by a friendly field staff, who were inuniforms, outside headquarters awaiting assignment. I then met with the operations staff of Empire, who were awesome and started off by showing me the companies newest addition to it's's 3 new Hummer H3 flycars, which will be used to serve the Putnam County ALS contract they were recently awarded. That service will begin September 29th.

The choice of the Hummer H3 impressed me. They are cheaper then Tahoes or Expedition of similar package, and also use less fuel. Their spacious build and wide tracking make them well suited as use for flycars in rural-esque Putnam County. The siren/light console was intergrated with the dashboard in an easy to reach fashion, making for a very uncluttered layout. Each flycar is equipped with a Panasonic Toughbook touch-screen laptop, that has GPS navigation and the Putnam County CAD on it. The vehicle is also equipped with AVL, so the dispatcher can see exactly where in the county the flycar is on a live map, and the paramedic can see where the other cars are. Another nice feature of the laptop is that it has full Windows capability, allowing Medics to write on Word, or use a paramedic reference installed on the computer. All the paramedic gear for these flycars was purchased new with input from Empire's staff. This includes brand new fully loaded Lifepak 12's, and Braslow Pediatric bags.

Here's a video of the lighting package. My little camera has only limited video capabilities, so the lights aren't shown as intense or fast as they are in person. The lighting package is impressive.

And from the rear of the vehicle:

I also did not know Empire had such extensive fleet maintence, including their own body shop and EVS trained mechanic staff. They are currently in the process of building 2 7,000 square foot buildings, so all their vehicles are house indoors when not on the road.

Empire also has a complete education center. While I was there, they were hosting an EMD class. Some of the classes they give are AHSI, CPR, CME's, etc. Plans for the future are to be a complete non stop EMS training facility, including EMT original and refresher classes.

Empire State Ambulance is a full service ambulance provider, providing BLS, ALS, ambulette and educational services over a 7 county region in southern New York State. They operate a 24/7 dispatch center with an elaborate CAD system from their headquarter on the Putnam County/Dutchess County border.

Empire State Ambulance Corp. is also a charter sponsor of

I thank the Empire staff for showing me Putnam County's new ALS provider and its extensive capabilities.

Monday, September 18, 2006

European Health Spa & Central Ave. Real Estate

Today, I took photos of a property that's been abandoned since I was a kid. It sits on Central Ave in Greenburgh, passed by by thousands each day going between White Plains, Hartsdale, Scarsdale and Yonkers. It used to be a health club and spa, a thriving one opened in the 1960's with this unique architecture. The statue out front is Atlas, but the globe he held up seems to have disappeared within the very recent past. One cool thing I always remember my grandmother and her freinds telling us about this place is that, at one time, they had a cage with a live tiger inside as a publicity thing. Eventually, animal rights activists made them remove it. For those familiar with the area, this is right across the street from the Candlelight Inn, next door to Burger King.

It suprises me that this property has sat vacant for so long. Then again, it's hard to get business built in Greenburgh, nearly impossible. I guess that explains the lack of diversity in retail on Central Ave, which is predominantly banks, furniture stores, standard chains like Staples, and other boring retail outlets, with hardly ANY down-to-earth resturants. I fault the town board and the NIMBY residents who seemingly enjoy paying high taxes and want churches, McMansions, and parks, but no businesses.

It would be nice to see this property restored and become a nice resturant or something like that, but I have a feeling it will be demolished and become yet another high-end furniture store.

A great site to check out abandoned Hudson Valley Ruins is:

Anyways, here are the photos. As you can see, it is quite a large piece of property in the middle of prime real estate. It's its been sitting vacant for at least 25 years, if not more.

Sun Rises Over JFK Terminal 6

This morning, I had a day off from work, and went to pick up Kristen bright and early from the airport. Happy she is back.

Lucky for me, she was flying jetBlue, which means I had an oopurtunity to visit my favorite airline terminal, jetBlues Terminal 6 at JFK. And it looks like they are moving right along with contstruction of their new terminal, the site of the classic former TWA Terminal

As I said, construction is moving along quite rapidly. They say the new terminal will open in early 2009, but I think and hope maybe sooner. Doesn't look like they've begun work yet on restoring the original TWA terminal.

Here is another view of the construction. In the back of the site, you can see the temporary satellite terminal. They are using this for 7 additional gates until their new terminal is open. You get there by taking a looping shuttlebus from Terminal 6. It seems that most of the Embraer E-190 flights use the satellite terminal.

Here, you can see one of the loop shuttles and the path it takes.

And here's another view of the contruction:

And finally, here is a neat shot I got of a jetBlue tail:

This Friday, I will be flying jetBlue out of LaGuardia, to visit Kristen's friends in Orlando, FL. I've never flown out of LaGuardia before, so that experience should be cool.
And a week after that, is my jetBlue flight to San Francisco (actually into Oakland) then a jetBlue flight the next day down the coast into L.A. Then, when I'm back from that, it's off to Oregon on American Airlines.....hey, can't turn down a free flight.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ardsley's Old Firehouse Almost Gone....Rubble

Stopped by Ardsley's old firehouse this evening, to continue photographically tracking the progress being made (check previous blog entries for more demolition photos). The demolition is almost complete, and some concrete rubble remains. You can see clearly the foundation of the original building, built in 1896 as a schoolhouse.