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Gasoline 0%
Butane 0%
Ethanol 0%
Old newspapers 0%
Rainforest trees 40%
Staked heretics 60%

Votes: 5


 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
May 09, 2002
Fire. The very word fills the hearts of men with fear and awe.

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My newfound non-conformity
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Thomas Kinkade: Jigsaw Review
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Operation Enduring Uptime
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A Down Home 4th of July
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On nations and ethic groups
Often, when discussing free speech, navel-gazers will use a classic example of why not all speech is protected. They state that shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater is speech, but should not be protected. This outburst contains no expression, and serves only to frighten the theater's occupants. As the theory goes, this mere word would whip the calm movie watchers into a panicked frenzy. These people would go so far as to trample the young and weak underfoot, trying to escape the imagined blaze.

Yet, supposedly, the word "Fire" also draws us near. Rape victims are told to yell "fire" rather than "help." Helping another human being is something no passerby would want to do. Yet, if this passerby thought there was a fire, his curiosity would be insatiable. He would run to the scene for a better view of this display of the blaze.

This morning I woke to a news story on the radio about the US Army starting controlled fires at Fort Bragg. The purpose of this is to maintain ecological balance in the habitat of the red-cockaded woodpecker.

I used to work in a place with monthly fire drills. This workplace was a dreary county bureaucracy, and most employees hated their jobs. The monthly fire drill was a cause for a celebration. It was always on a day with nice weather. Most of these listless cubicle-dwelling wage slaves were quite glad to leave the office for a few minutes in the sun. We were all reluctant to return to the building when the alarms ceased.

Today, as my classmates and I sliced and probed formalin-soaked human brains, the alarm sounded. Few of us were eager to leave this task. While most of my classmates stayed behind, I left the building in a calm and orderly fashion. I hold nothing but the deepest respect for Fire Elemental. Eventually, a fire engine arrived on the scene. The number and quality of simulataneous noxious noises emanating from this vehicle were quite impressive. This blaring sign of an actual fire was enough to drive even my most reckless classmates from the building.

The engine parked on the opposite side of the building, and we could not see what happened. Ten minutes later, the alarms stopped and we reentered the building. What was the cause of this episode of fear, uncertainty, and doubt? Was it an alarmist of some sort, a lever pulling equivalent of our friend in the theater? Was there a minor fire that was easily extinguished? I did not find out today, so I doubt that I will know tomorrow.

During my afternoon nap, as I drifted off into REM sleep, I dreamt that the Army set fire to the woods around my apartment. As I wandered among the still-smoking stumps, I saw a Russian guitar-playing friend of mine. In the ashes, he had found an electri guitars, a resonator guitar and a trombone. Apparently, the pleather cases had protected the delicate instruments from the heat. I woke up, relieved to see trees out my window.

Today, I learned something during the fire drill. I had a moment of self-discovery as I did the sensible thing, abandoning my belongings and swiftly making for the door. If you are being raped somewhere in my vicinity, yell "Help! Rape!" I am not one that feels the need to personally investigate a fire.


Could have been anything. (none / 0) (#1)
by dmg on Fri May 10th, 2002 at 07:43:38 AM PST
For example, any problem involving hazardous chemicals often requires the Fire Department to attend, likewise any incidents with radioactive materials, even a cat stuck up a tree. You seem to think that because they are called the "Fire Department" that they only deal with Fires.

How literal of you.

time to give a Newtonian demonstration - of a bullet, its mass and its acceleration.
-- MC Hawking

Hazardous Materials (none / 0) (#2)
by First Incision on Fri May 10th, 2002 at 08:02:47 AM PST
I have been present for hazardous materials events (real and drill). This was most definitely not a hazmat problem.

First, we would have not been allowed back in the building. Second, there would have been a large party involving at least 7 branches of law enforcement, 3 fire departments, 3 hazmat squads, the SWAT team and the 4 local news stations.
Do you suffer from late-night hacking? Ask your doctor about Protonix.


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