Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

My photo
I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Monday, August 31, 2009


I know a lot of you don't read the simple thoughts but I posted a new one today that is the best I've seen for a while.....


This fire season started about 6 weeks behind normal years....but it's making up for it right now. California is burning and Utah is burning....a bet is that it is a later than normal season to make up for the late start. Right now I am the only line officer on the forest I work on so really can't go anywhere. SSSSOOOO today I get a call from the forest to the North with a request that I go North to coach the young rangers up there - - DAMN - - THAT WOULDA BEEN FUN!!!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


T'Day while the sun shined I painted the garage door. It has looked like crap for two or three years and every weekend I have looked at it and thought "I should paint that." But then I would find a way to waste the day not doing anything productive. I think it turned out pretty good and feel like I had a pretty good day.


The first was taken in 2000 by a firefighter in the Bitterroot Valley. It was taken from a bridge across the river. I have a before and after picture somewhere showing the recovery a few years after the fire.

The second is a helicopter dipping out of first dam in Logan, UT to take water to the south end of the fire which was right up against the houses in Quail Cove. This was a fun fire because one of my really good friends and I got to put this one down together. It was a pretty big and fast burning fire and we put it down with 1 1/2 hotshot crews and the helicopter and were able to clip it in one day. Scared a lot of people because it was so close to the houses but didn't really even come close to burning any of them. The houses all had good defensible space and that was before the big push to develop defensible space around your home.


I really laughed when I saw this picture. It really is like family when you are out there. Someone is always watching your back while you watch others backs.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Can't remember who wanted to see some pictures of fire but here some of my favorites.

The first is a column just beginning on a prescribed fire we did a couple of years ago. It turned out beautiful. The second is a column and the shadow of the column on the smoke from the fire. It was a wild fire on the Arizona Strip and is one of my all time favorite pictures of fire. The last is a photo of a NIGHT FIGHT. If you time it right you have a really good chance of success cutting a fire off at a ridge top.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I was personally saddened yesterday (8/25/2009) to hear that Senator Edward Kennedy had lost his fight with brain cancer. I had a personal experience with Senator Kennedy early in my career dealing with retirement. I tried to deal with the Senators from my home state but they chose to ignore the points I was trying to make. Senator Kennedy stepped up and personally guaranteed me that what was going on would not continue----guess what----it didn't continue.

Now for me that was a Senator going way out of his way to help someone out. I was not in his voting District and he didn't know me from Adam and still doesn't. He just picked up the battle and made sure it was put to bed. AND he put it to bed just the way I requested it be taken care of. MY HAT IS OFF TO YOU SENATOR KENNEDY.

Today I read that gentleman bought two lottery tickets at a gas station. He won $260 million on one of the tickets. His remark - looks like I wasted a dollar and someone else will benefit from this win.

Sorry NM but I am glad to see Brett Favre back in the fray. My only hope is that he will be able to represent us old bastards well!!!

The current Congress and O'Bama are putting a freeze on the cost of living increase for social security recipients for two years----SHAME ON YOU - ALL OF YOU!!!!

A Jackson Family TV series? What can you expect there - a little nudity perhaps????

CASH FOR CLUNKERS - is this the biggest set up in history for reposession of vehicles bought with the down payment being made by the government. That's what happened with the housing market - your future used car may have been purchased Monday when the program ran out of money - - again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I spent Saturday night watching a fire I took Inklings with me to watch and then later ended up taking dinners to firefighters on another fire. When I was taking the dinners out I was called and asked to do the logistics for another fire. I spent Sunday and Monday on that fire and got released to come home yesterday around noon.

Last night my legs hurt like $&## - no matter what I did with them I couldn't get them to stop aching. They kept me up most of the night but I did sleep between episodes with the legs.

I went home for lunch today and Inklings informed me that I am too old to do fire anymore because it causes me this kind of pain - maybe she's right - but right now I ain't givin' it up - maybe next time but for now I'm a gonna keep hangin' on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Today as soon as I got settled in at work I got a call from my retirement advisor. She told me I had made a couple of mistakes on the papers and talked me through the changes needed. After I got home from the mountain this afternoon I pulled up the papers and fixed the errors, printed them, re-signed them and re-mailed them to my counselor.

I put in a note that asked that she check them for accuracy and notify me by phone or by e-mail if they were correct or if they were not - I wanna know for sure that she got them back. I also wanna know for sure that they are complete and correct - it would be the @#!$%^^&%& *&^()*%#$# to have an error at the tail end -


Yesterday I got up early and came to work. When I walked out of the garage to take the trash to the curb for pick-up day I noticed that O'Ryan was fully up and hunting again. He has been gone (not visible because of daylight) all summer but he has returned. That is a warning to y'all that it is time to fill your freezers for the winter 'cause it ain't far away.

By the end of December he will be going down in the west at the same time he was rising in the morning if you are really interested in following O'Ryan you can watch his progression across the sky.

A few years ago (15 to be exact) I was working on a project at Flaming Gorge. The project was called the Cut-Through and what it essentially did was make an island out of the peninsula that creates horseshoe bend. We started digging on the project on the 10th of December. Because everything to do with the project required boat access and we were so far from any services and were working in the coldest part of the year we decided we really didn't dare shut the equipment down for the night. This was partly because we were worried that it may not start in the morning and we wouldn't be able to get what we needed out there to recharge/replace the battery on the machines and partly because we had to finish the project before the lake froze over or leave the equipment in place through the winter (a pretty pricey consideration) and we still wouldn't be able to finish the project until the water was low again the next winter. This in essence gave us three eight hour work periods per day so we figured we would get at least three times the work done each day.

Turned out to be a good decision. We had estimated the project would take 24 days to complete. We started on it on December 10th so that would have made the completion date January 2nd if we had worked through Christmas and New Years (which was highly unlikely). It was a pretty tense time line for me because we had to have the equipment off before the ice set in or I had to pay the monthly rental on it until we could retrieve it in the spring and the job still wouldn't have been complete.

What does this have to do with O'Ryan - well I worked the night shift and when I went to work in the evening O'Ryan was already up when the sun went down and when the boat came to pick me up in the morning O'Ryan was going down - so I went to sleep the same time O'Ryan did through this project.

We finished the project on December 18th and everyone went home for Christmas and New Years and returned on the 6th of January to watch the National Guard retrieve the equipment. I broke Ice with my little boat on both the 6th (we also started all of the equipment on the 6th just to make sure we were going to be able to load it on the barge) and the 7th in order to get the barge in to the site (My good friend with the UDWR followed me in his jet boat just in case I sunk the little boat breaking the ice). It was a little tense but we made it fine.

On the 7th we loaded all of the people (including our families) onto the barge and went out to retrieve the equipment. Everything went well and we did good getting it loaded. Before we got to the boat ramp it started to snow. That wasn't a big deal and we were able to get all of the equipment on solid ground and the two pieces of contract equipment loaded onto the low boy for transport home and get all of the National Guard equipment packed up. Then it turned really, really cold and the snow picked up - a lot - as we were standing there you could watch the ice freezing out into the bay and the snow start to build up on it. By the next morning January 8, 1995 the entire reservoir had frozen over. I've always said I would rather be lucky than good - this is a case of being extremely lucky.

Would I take this project on again? I doubt it - had I known how much this project would take out of me personally I don't think I would have done it the first time. Am I proud of the project - YOU BETCHA - lots of folks have talked about doing it both before and after we did it but nobody was able to put all the resources together to do the job. I wouldn't have been able to do it either if it hadn't been for two really good contractor friends that came and brought their equipment a very long distance mostly just to give me a hand. Sure they made a little money but no one else would take the risk of having their machines out of work through the winter. I LOVE THOSE GUYS!!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I woke up this morning ar 4:00 a.m. with my mind going a hundred miles an hour. Doesn't happen that much to even be thinking that time of day. But it sucked anyway. I tried to go back to sleep and laid there until 5:30 a.m. looking at the clock about every fifteen minutes. By the time I decided to just get up my back ached and my knees ached so I got up and started to stretch them out and take the pain away. It is gone now for a while. At least until I go back to bed.

I was trying to solve all the little things that I need to get done. Yesterday I tried to fix Inklings vacuum cleaner. It may be fixed and it may not be - time will tell. But for sure in my mind it ISN"T fixed and I need to figure out a way to make sure that it is.

I tried to move a chair out of the basement yesterday and can no longer lift and manuever it alone. I hate hate hate having to ask someone to help me do this. But I assure you my mind figured out a hundred different ways to manuever it up the stairs. NONE OF THEM WORKED THIS MORNING (Yup I tried the ones I could remember).

I need to move two dressers around so that Inklings can get things back the way they were before we took our grandkids in to live with us. They are heavy dressers and again I can't move them alone. Guess I just need to break down and ask someone to help me with these three things and maybe I would be able to sleep.

I cannot believe that this kind of stuff keeps me from sleeping. I have always said "work doesn't bother me - I can sit down and sleep right beside it"....YEAH RIGHT!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


My take on 2009 fire season:

August 7 is the equivalent date of June 15 any other year. That means that this year if all goes the same as it is currently going fire season will wrap down in November.

Hope that doesn't 1992 I was on a November fire in Wyoming with temperatures at 5 degrees below zero and only paper sleeping bags for bedding. We kept the pumps running all night and spraying the water back into the tanks to keep from freezing and breaking all the fittings. It finally got above freezing around noon.

Would be a bad thing to have my final fire season be like that.

The team I am on finally got our first call out last Friday - short duration fire we are home again and went to work Wednesday so we got five days on the incident. Was a good practice run - we learned a lot about each other since it is a new team - I also learned that perhaps I am too hard headed to work with the kids any longer - time will tell but I think I'm throwing in the towel. I can no longer deal with all the new crap.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Yesterday I threw a Dee Ice Hole fit and did all the things I am famous for doing. This morning at 5:46 a.m. my case was reopened with everything I sent on the e-mail to them (and to a couple of other people in high places) was copied into the problem needing resolution statement.

By 11:45 a.m. I had visited with a retirement counselor who answered all my questions on retirement dates and years of service and all the other stuff. I had also visited with the clerk that posted my donated leave against my time twice and she fixed it while we were on the phone.

HMMMMM---were they just doing their jobs or did the other names on the e-mail carry the day---my vote is for the other names but then who cares I have completed what I needed to do.


I sent a blistering reply back to ASC yesterday late in the afternoon. When I arrived at work this morning I had instructions in my e-mail on how to view the reopened case. They had the complete e-mail (with no parts edited out) in the case statement along with the note NEEDS TO TALK TO A RETIREMENT COUNSELOR. It was posted at 5:46 a.m. today. Guess somebody works down there.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I sent this to ASC for help yesterday:

I plan to retire on January 1, 2010. I requested some help in determining the number of months of sick leave I will have remaining on the books at that time that can be counted toward my retirement. I got the e-mail below in answer to the question (and I think that was a totally unacceptable response) so I have gone into the retirement information on the web and filled out the required forms for retirement. I have not yet put in the SF-52 Tracker but do need to know who I send my Certified Summary of Federal Service to so it can be certified. I would also like to have all of my forms reviewed to assure they are correct before I submit them with my final retirement packet.

I currently have 3416.25 hours of sick leave and will earn an additional 44 hours if my calculations are correct for a total of 3460 hours. I have tried to figure out what this means as far as retirement eligible months and believe that it is 19 months and 27 days. My first question is are these calculations correct? My second question is do the 27 days count toward retirement time? I have heard that only full months count.

There is an error in my leave balance at NFC. In pay period 24 I donated 60 hours of use or lose annual leave to NAME on the _ National Forest and in pay period 26 I donated 16 hours to NAME on the _ _ National Forest. The 60 hours donated to HER were taken off correctly. The 16 hours donated to THE SECOND PERSON were deducted two times at NFC leaving a 16 hour difference between paycheck and NFC balances. I would like to have this corrected - I called 1-877-372-7248 option 2 and explained this to someone but was told I had to do a leave audit before it can be fixed - I cannot do a leave audit but it needs to be corrected before I retire since that is worth over $700.00 to me on my lump sum payment.

I need to have someone help me get this information correct before I submit my retirement papers.

I got this answer back through another person with nearly the same name that got the response from ASC:

Thank you for contacting HCM Contact Center regarding your issue.

We have resolved and closed your case. Following are the case resolution details:

Case Number: 491926
Case Title: R4 - Employee requests Retirement Counseling
Case Solution ID: 320375

Case Solution Summary:
What is the process to apply for retirement?

Case Solution Details:

The retirement web site contains helpful information about the retirement process: what to expect, the forms you need to complete and mail to us, as well as information on accessing and printing the forms.
To get started with your retirement, please review all of the information on the web site that pertains to your particular retirement plan before you begin completing your forms.
Go to the retirement section on the ASC-HCM Web site
Select your retirement plan (either CSRS or FERS)
Inside of each plan, there is a section ‘Ready to Retire’; ‘What I Need to Know’; ‘What Forms Do I Need’; etc.
Other things to do before completing your forms:
Initiate your retire! ment action by creating a personnel action in the SF-52 Tracker. (You will find retirement under “separations” in the drop-down menu.
Review your service history for errors in the Retirement Calculator.
Check the Employees Personal Page (EPP) for current amounts of life insurance so that you can decide which options to carry into retirement.
If you are a FERS employee and will be eligible for the FERS annuity supplement, enter your social security year-by-year earnings information in to the retirement calculator. That way the annuity supplement estimate on the final retirement estimate we provide will more closely match the actual figures from OPM. Otherwise, your last year’s earnings with the FS will be used to estimate the supplement, but can be very different from the actual figures calculated by OPM.
Completing your forms:
You will need to complete the following application forms:
(SF-2801 CSRS or SF-3107 FERS), the certif ied summary of service
(SF-2801-1 CSRS or SF-3107-1 FERS), and
the Post Employment Restrictions Form (Conflict of Interest).
If you are eligible to continue your federal life insurance, you will need to complete SF-2818. There may be other forms applicable to your individual situation as well.
How to print:
Be sure to print the forms using the middle print button that appears at the top of the screen when a form is opened. DO NOT USE the print button on your task bar as it will not print the actual form.
If you have problems printing the forms using this middle print button, check the following as it may resolve this problem:
Go to tools
Internet Option
Advanced Tab
Scroll down to the Security section
Uncheck the box that says “do not save encrypted pages to disk”
OK or Apply
TSP Accounts:
If you currently have a TSP account, you should not submit forms electing your withdrawal options at this time. Someone from TSP will contact you directly after NFC notifies them that you are retired. This will occur 2 to 4 weeks after the effective date of your retirement.
General TSP information outlining your options will be provided with your final letter and copies of your retirement forms that we will send you shortly before your retirement date.

Your Last Week:
During your last week of work you will need to complete the AD-139. Send a copy of the completed form to us. In addition, please code your T&A as “final” in the header and also code the Status End date. Process it as normal through your supervisor and send us a copy. If you have errors in your leave balances, (compare Paycheck data with your Leave and Earnings Statement) we may need to do a leave audit.

Please let us know if the proposed solution does not resolve your issue. You have the opportunity to reopen this case within 15 working days from the date of this notification. After 15 days you must open a new case.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Today I took a huge step forward toward retirement. I finished filling out all my retirement forms and sent the SF-52 the required notification form to Albuturkey. You read that correctly - that is one of the reasons I am pulling th plug and retiring - because nothing they do down AT ALBUTURKEY works - NOTHING.

We were presented with another program this afternoon from which all pay checks are generated. The simple design of the damned thing assured that it wouldn't work - couldn't work - they set it up so every seasonal employee has to do their own time and has to learn all of the requirements for doing that....and guess what....they initiated it 8/3 - one day before they gave us the training on how to use it. Nobody can answer how we are going to fix the seasonal employee problem - NOBODY.