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Nov. 16, 2011 – Politics isn't my forte, but I have written a few thousand words on the topic, and I will undoubtedly write more when the urge strikes again . . . usually around election time.

November 16, 2011 
By Tim Beebe

Nov. 16, 2011 – Politics isn't my forte, but I have
written a few thousand words on the topic, and I will undoubtedly write
more when the urge strikes again . . . usually around election time. You
can read some of my thoughts on the topic here and here.

Paul Combs takes a shot at politics once in a while too, but he does it with deadly accuracy in the form of artwork.
Click here for his latest masterpiece. They aren't kidding when they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Click to see a gallery of his artwork, and here to visit his web site.

Speaking of words, my next Spontaneous
Combustion column will appear in the February issue of Fire Fighting in
, instead of the January issue of Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly. You may
not care, but I did on October 31, which was the day the switch was
made . . . and which also happened to be two days before the deadline
for the January column.

I am usually at least mildly panicked
when I feel the hot breath of a deadline on the back of my
neck, especially if my mind is still as blank as the computer screen,
but this time I was strangely calm. I had an irrational feeling that 1,000 words would magically find their way into a semi-orderly
arrangement on my screen within 48 hours, no problem. It may have been
delusional, but it was at least peaceful delusion.


So when editor Laura King emailed a
suggestion that the column be run in the February issue of FFIC – with a
writers' deadline of December 6 instead of November 2 – I decided it
must be karma. Or perhaps Laura was a mind reader and knew I was
helplessly stuck in literary la la land. Or maybe it was just a happy
coincidence. Regardless, the switch gave me breathing room to corral my
recalcitrant thoughts into a semblance of order, and the February column
looks more promising by the day.

The birthing of a new article
always amazes me a little. A week ago it didn't exist. A few days ago,
it looked like someone fired a dictionary out of a shotgun . . . words
and phrases splattered across an MS Word document like graffiti on a
boxcar, only less artistically. A few hours of cut, paste, delete and
rewrite (which I affectionately call "slash and burn"), and it's almost
ready to launch. Saying it "just happened" would be like saying the
stork brings babies, but I'm still not sure I understand the biology of

One thing for sure, writing, like most things including fire fighting (and babies), starts with passion.

Speaking of passion, I saw this as I left my parents' place today.


It's a path of water across the frozen
lake by their house. My 86-year-old father is a passionate fisherman,
and when he saw a patch of open water on the other side of the lake, he
had to break across in his 17 foot canoe for one last fling before

There's passion, and then there's fanaticism.

To finish off with something at least
partly connected to fire fighting, Intel Labs has produced a ball-shaped
electronic gizmo that can be rolled into a burning structure to take
readings of important data like temperature, oxygen levels, and chemical
levels, then send them to a smart phone so firefighters can know what
they are getting into before they enter.
Click here for an article and short video on the "fire ball."  You can read my musings on other gizmos here.

The great thing about blogging is that you are allowed to write like you fired a dictionary out of a shotgun.

Tim Beebe is the fire chief in Upsala, Ont. Contact him at

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