I'm an idiot …(but I did place 3rd in a mustache contest)


LOAO .. yea … imagine that!

I really am. Well, maybe just part idiot and the other part really REALLY lost and messed up…. either way, I should be better than this ( I was at one point anyway).

Firehouse Expo 2013 in Baltimore was a very good trip for so many reason but I also screwed it up for just as many. I was not there … I’m not sure where I was but I know it wasn’t where I should have been. The sad news is that I’ve been in this location for some time now …. lost.

As usual, Rhett and I surrounded ourselves with some REALLY great people. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

The least we can do in return is give these folks (you folks) 100% of us … I didn’t do that in Baltimore .. it was another epic FAIL in a chapter of the past 8 months of my life.

I’ve had struggle after struggle … even at work. They don’t “get ” or understand what Im going through or dealing with nor do I have the patience or mind set at this point to teach them … they missed that opportunity.

On top of that, the worries and struggles at home have increased due to my condition / behavior and that just builds on top of everything else I’m trying to sort through and deal with. It almost seems overwhelming at times.

With that said, there are a ton of people in my life who are important to me and that I don’t give enough attention. Take away my everyday life and just figure in Baltimore and there were plenty of folks there who I should have been with but wasn’t …. I want to give them another quick “shout out” in this post if you’ll indulge me …
I talked about Josh Orr in my previous post and how he tagged along with us on this trip.

Read that previous post by clicking HERE

 What I hope I got across is exactly how much progress this young Brother made toward actually “getting it” .

He didn’t get caught up in all the “hype”. He didn’t want to be in all the pictures … he actually took most of them. For him, it was about LEARNING … about taking in the experience and coming away with something. I think (or at least hope) he accomplished his goal. If he did, it was 100% because of his efforts.

He understood the opportunity in front of him and grabbed it. He took it and tried to obtain all it was worth. He showed initiative and desire … he showed “HEART”.  This is a kid from a small town  community Volunteer Fire Department (Catawba VFD… first due to MY HOUSE and not meaning that statement to be demeaning or lessen the value / worth of the Catawba VFD or any small Department for that matter) who shook hands, spoke with and even sat down to eat with Fire Servies mentors such as the NFFF (National Fallen Firefighters Foundation), The Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation, Dave Statter, Chris Naum, Chief Billy Goldfeder, Kevin Shea, Ray McCormick, Captain Morris, Rob Wiedmann and many more. You could see the excitement on his face.

Nothing makes me or Rhett  any prouder than seeing younger members becoming active. Taking part, seeing and knowing that they too BELONG …. understanding that it’s OUR Fire Service and what they do, as well as how they conduct themselves matters. We were glad Josh made the trip!

I had several highlights of the trip but I’d have to say that the one that stands out the most was having Box Alarm Leather in the booth again. Andrew and Mary Arnold are GREAT friends … so great, they’re like family.

Visit Box Alarm’s Web Site HERE

Find them on Face Book HERE

They caught me off guard this trip. If you used the link above to my previous post, you seen where they made me a custom set of suspenders. Not just any custom set mind you … they actually put my brother’s picture inside the shield back along with a special message. It brought me to tears on the exhibit floor.

Their gesture overwhelmed me with emotion. I never imagined anything like what they did for me. Andrew told me it was so “he” (Jackson) could always be with me.  From that moment on, I wasn’t in Baltimore anymore …

It just seemed like after that moment, everyone who came up to me wanted to talk about Jackson and how I publicly shared loosing him. How the story had helped them in one way or another. They were ALL positive messages but each also dug deeper and deeper into my emotion. I checked out … I’m not sure where I went but again … it wasn’t Baltimore.

I seen friends old and new. Many I had never met before face to face and several I wouldn’t hesitate to go through doors with.

You get that feeling about people … the ones who you know are “stand up” and that you can trust and rely on.

Clayton Murphy is one of those for me.

Clayton runs Crosstitched. They make firefighter apparel and do a DAMN GOOD JOB OF IT! You’ll often see me and Rhett sporting one of Clayton’s shirts.

Crosstitched (Clayton) is actually the company who makes our “Hey Brother” shirts.

You can find Crosstitched on the Web HERE or also on Face Book by clicking HERE … PLEASE take a moment to check them out.

Clayton was in Baltimore and actually brought his family. It was an honor to finally meet his wife. What was even a greater honor was accepting the gift Clayton brought me. A hand painted “Captain Wines” plaque. He kept saying it was “spur of the moment” and “nothing special” but it means the world to me !

Clayton knows I’m in a dark place and the fact that he’s thinking about me, all the way up in Long Island is invaluable …. The picture right is one he did up for me following a previous post …. THAT’S BROTHERHOOD.

I also got to meet Richmond (Va) Battalion Chief Warren Cersley.

Warren and I have spoken a lot over the past few months via e-mail, Face Book etc and I can tell you that he’s 100% the real deal!

He runs the Face Book Page “In These Boots” . If you haven’t checked it out, liked or followed it by now … DO IT. Click the link above!!!

Warren was a GREAT source of strength and inspiration for me over the past few months … I hope he knows how much his messages meant to me and how I am forever in his debt. TRUST ME BROTHERS … he has over 39 years on the job … you WANT to know and should LISTEN to what he has to say! Thanks once again Chief for being there for me … I owe ya!

Jami and Rob Schield of Fire Cam were there as well.

Talk about great people … these two are at the top of the list!

Rob and Jami have not only been huge supporters of what Rhett and I do, they have also become good friends.

Rumor has it that Jami wanted to come to Expo just to support our “meet-up” …. well maybe that,  a little bit of shopping and the chance to dance with me …LOL. All kidding aside, Fire Cam has been a HUGE supporter. Rob donated yet another Fire Cam for our raffle that night where we raised over $1,000 for the Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation . They give one away every month on their web site! It’s the original and BEST fire camera on the market today. If you haven’t seen em before, use these links to find out more …

Fire Cam web site  or Fire Cam on Face Book

Chris Naum, another long time and GREAT friend;  was also in Baltimore. This time, he too brought his wife (Lori) and their Daughter Emily as well.

I was a bit shocked for several reasons….

The first was that his wife and daughter looked nothing like he had explained.

Chris had always told me that we’d all get along. He said “you’ll love em … they’re just like me” and “remind me a lot of Donna” (my wife).

You can imagine the picture in my mind…. Two women with thick New York accents. You know … big, strong burley type women with mustaches to boot …. Chris DID say they were “just like us”  right?…LMAO

Anyway, you can also imagine my surprise when I met Lori and Emily for the first time. Truly STRONG, BEAUTIFUL WOMEN need no introduction to those with sight.  A Firefighter’s wife and children typically exemplify that definition and these two were no exception.   What a BEAUTIFUL family! We “hit it off” right from the beginning …. I wish we had more time to spend together.

The second part that shocked me was who else had joined them on the trip …..

 Emily brought along her boyfriend Steven Weaver!

Steven is a student as well as a volunteer for the Wrights Corners Fire Department in Niagara County, New York.

Find them on Face Book HERE

Having Daughters of my own, I know how Chris must have felt….. after all …that was his baby girl this fella was following around and on top of it all …. HE’S A FIREMAN!??! LMAO

All kidding aside, Steven was a great guys as well. What else would you expect from Chris’ daughter? I (along with many others) gave the lad a pretty rough time though. I even quoted page 121 of Effective Company Command to him …LOL. All in all, I think he took it well.

I thought of him like I did Josh Orr. Imagine the conversations Steven got to hear by simply following Chris around at Expo. Imagine the people he met. What kind of impact will this have on a young mans future career? I think (and hope) he knows we were only kidding with him (well … to a point anyway ..LOL) and hope like Josh he too took full advantage of the trip. Steven is a lucky guy… I wish Chris would take me on a trip with him …LOL

And while I’m talking about Chris Naum, we also met up with another GREAT friend and mentor Chief Billy Goldfeder.

It’s always been talked, whispered and rumored about. WHO has the best mustache in the Fire Service?

Well I can’t say for certain but I do know how and when to pick my fights. There are a bunch of good ones out there (including yours Dave LeBlanc) but seniority has it’s advantages and this is how WE rank em …..Goldfeder, Naum and me.  I’ll take third place behind these two ANY day!

Again I’ll mention the kind of people Rhett and I surround ourselves with …. it’s VERY humbling and I’m HONORED. The list from Baltimore and the many other places I’ve been to and visited could go on and on. THANKS to EACH and EVERY ONE of you for spending some time with me.

As you may could tell from the beginning of this post, I’ve taken a few steps backwards in my recovery efforts over the past few weeks (which also explains my lack of postings). I’m hoping to turn it around this weekend as I’m headed down to Raleigh, NC for the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo

More on the Expo from The Fire Critic … CLICK HERE

(also find them on Face Book by clicking HERE ) . 

I attended the event last year and had a BLAST. The trip didn’t start off so great but I ended up meeting a TON of awesome Brothers and Sisters.

Read my post from last year’s Expo by clicking HERE .

I’ll be heading down on Friday for the Brotherhood Bash sponsored by the Wake County Firefighters Association at Napper Tandy’s on Friday night. If you’re in the area, stop on by and be sure to look me up and say hello …. I’ll be the skinny fella in a kilt and fire helmet 😉

I need to send a special THANKS out to Michael Manning for taking care of my room. I’ll tell ya more about Michael and how things turn out in Raleigh in a future post. Until I get back to ya though … stay SAFE and in House!

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 Captain Wines