A toothbrush and moral decay

A recent credit card commercial from a company famous for the “Priceless” meme has changed one of their ads only days after it went live.  The more I think about what they changed and why they think they did the right thing, I’m reminded what pull small minorities of beliefs have on everyday life.

I’m not one to pay too much attention to commercials, but if I can’t avoid them I do enjoy looking for one thing:

The awkward marriage establishing prop.

In any commercial that features a man and woman either with children, in bed awaking for coffee or touting a sleep aid, or eating breakfast, there is a shot of a wedding photo, prominent wedding ring or reference to a mother in law that established to us, the slug of a viewer, that the person partaking in these activities is indeed married.  Because if they aren’t I’m not buying that car?

The overt reference to marital status is clearly to avoid displeasing a small minority of viewers who find such things as unmarried co-habitation and children out of wedlock so unspeakable they make sure I have to be reminded that only married people have children.  “What about the children?” they cry.  Well, they’re going out into a world that is nothing like your glossed over commercial wants them to believe.

In the ad aired recently a young man is seen using a credit card to buy a toothbrush.  The narrator tells us “A fresh tooth brush, just in case” and then the price.  You know how these ads go, right?

Then he hustles through a restaurant, using the same card, and we’re told “Homecooked meal…” and the price.

Then into a wine shop where he grabs alcohol and uses the same credit card. “first-date finest” and the price.

After he grabs the bottle of wine he leaps into his apartment, forcefully clears off the table into the dishwasher, throws a yoga magazine over a swimsuit magazine and rushes to the door where a young lady is standing and smiles.


Did they change the part where he lies about cooking the food to impress the girl? No. Lying:OK

Did they change buying alcohol for the date? No, of course not. Drinking:OK

Perhaps the irresponsible act of throwing everything in the dishwasher instead of properly cleaning up? Nay-nay. Living like a slob:OK

Covering up your reading habits with something else? Common place apparently. Deceit:OK

Maybe, just maybe, they tell us why, if he is so excited for this first date, does he have to run everywhere, then toss about his apartment? Nope. Poor time management:OK

No, someone had an issue with the toothbrush.  Well, not the tooth brush, but the “just in case…” text and voice over. Buying a toothbrush: Won’t someone think of the children?!?!

It now reads “fresh breath…” or some such nonsense.  Point being, they changed possibly the LEAST offensive part of the ad.

Before you all go prude on me and tell me it’s about the children ask me what ad came on next.  Go ahead, ask.


An ad with two adults physically embracing, touching, kissing, and a laundry room transforming into a forest no less. Sex and magic.

Remind me which is the offensive one?

It’s not ads showing a man buying a toothbrush that are leading to the decay of what we all once held as wholesome.  It’s not the gays, the blacks, the whites or even the tie dyed.  Not Jew, not Christian, not Muslim, not Atheist or Naturalist.  It is all of them.  All of us.  All groups who demand people see things their way no matter what.  I have my views but have no intent of enforcing them upon you, unless you are abusing 911.  In that arena I become the person I hate, trying to filter what I want you to hear through this medium and others, but I would be hard pressed to ask a third party to change something as massive as an International ad just because of a toothbrush.

We accept ads about erectile dysfunction, glorify murder in prime time, parade celebrities and their children who practice all the things they claim to be against, only to get upset…about a toothbrush.


I read a recent comment on another site that asked where the condoms were.  Good point, but also…good luck.  Condom companies aren’t even allowed to show actual people in their ads, but sex aids like lotions can, and quite graphically by the toothbrush standards.  But again, the lotion ads have the awkward marriage establishing shot making it OK.

Once again:

Married people having sex in the afternoon: OK.  Single guy buying toothbrush: Offensive.


Sometimes I think the drive to ban gay marriage is simply to avoid having to see these establishing shots between guys.


I’m no prude, surely, and am not asking to have total control over the ads I see, I vote with my wallet and don’t buy their products.  That’s my control. But could the people upset about this ad possibly use their efforts to help feed the hungry, stop genocide or something useful in this world instead of protecting my kids from a toothbrush?


Put the ad back and tell the people complaining to go clean out their own house first.

Fire Based EMS Not Efficient? Really?

Thanks to the folks in the recent Santa Clara County Grand Jury, we now have positive proof that fire based EMS delivery using fire trucks is inefficient.




I was worried we would never discover the problems draining tax payer dollars.  Did they know we’ve known this for nearly 20 years?  All they had to do was call me, or just google it even.  Instead tax dollars were used to show tax dollars are being used inefficiently.

I guess all the murders, robberies and other court cases are all finished there in Santa Clara.  Good thing they don’t have a baseball doping case to worry about.

What the grand jury failed to do, perhaps it is not in their interests, is look beyond the “retirement costs” and perhaps look at the system and how to deliver what our pal Chris Kaiser dubbed EMS based EMS.  Looks like Santa Clara needs to stop and rethink things, then start from scratch.  Someone suggested that once…but I digress.

This grand jury report will be cited by every union basher come election time in an effort to privatize public safety accounts and likely not lead to any changes in the delivery of first response EMS in Santa Clara County.

The report fails to mention that the local private provider does not have enough resources to completely cover the district for first response ALS.

So now what?

Oh, I covered this topic 2 years ago.  What, you missed it?

Top 10 New Responders without the Fire Department

and then

Top 10 New Responsibilities of the Fire Department


Poking fun at a serious topic for sure, but until we get away from a fee for transport model, this thing will never work guys.  Fire based, mailman based, if we base our service on what we can get paid instead of how best to serve the community, the system will never work properly.


EMS Day on the Hill – Part 2

Needed to focus on Denver this past week but still want to share more from EMS on the Hill day.

My morning started the night before when I got on the airplane and after finally getting into DC from Dulles Airport (an hour in traffic and $70 cab ride later) I grabbed my packet at the front desk. The packet was handed out the night before at the informational dinner where folks got a primer on when their appointments had been made. Additional information about how to act and what to expect from lawmakers and their staffers was also covered. I missed it all but thankfully the California delegation brought me up to speed, and fast. If you’ve never done advocacy, the NAEMT gives you a crash course.

Just before meeting with the California delegation I ran into the hotel restaurant for a quick breakfast and saw a group of friends walk in the door.
EMS 2.0 pins were proudly worn by Scott, Random, Natalie and Meris as we shared a long overdue greeting and smile.
In between bites of egg and sips of coffee I was rifling through my schedule for the day. What I thought would be only 3 meetings (My Congressman and the 2 Senators) was suddenly 8. I had no idea where I was going or half the names I was going to be meeting with. My research into Garamendi, my Rep, had me excited because he was paramount in establishing California’s EMS Agency in the 1970s and has supported EMS bills state wide since.

Our first meeting took us into one of the three large buildings, past offices from many of our 50 states to the last one at the end of the hall with the US and California flags aside the doors.

Our first meeting was with the staffer from Henry Waxman’s office,Congressman from Los Angeles.  We took a seat at the table and went into our topics.

There is a strict format we were supposed to follow.  Introductions, “asks” and thanks.


We offered literature from the NAEMT that explained our positions on legislation and a few pages about what an EMT is, how many of us there are etc etc, but I wanted our visits to be memorable and make an impact.  It is likely everyone tries this, but I had to give it a shot.

Into the folders, somehow, a Chronicles of EMS patch and card fell and each person we met with immediately felt it  and smiled.

“That’s cool!” our first staffer proclaimed when we concluded the meeting.  He had to tell at least one other person, right?

There were 3 main pieces of legislation we focused on (the descriptions are from my thank you letters):

HR 1668 extends federal death benefits to private paramedics and EMTS who die in the line of duty. The same benefits awarded to their governmental counterparts. It shouldn’t matter who employs us, but the job we do for our communities. The CBO reports the costs are completely offset by DOJ forfeiture. There is a similar bill in the Senate and it appears to be part of the FAA bill.


HR 607 supports expanding the D-Block Broadband for Public Safety. Imagine if your entire office had to share a dial up modem. That is what public safety is forced to do using the narrow band of traffic available to us at the present time. Most recently as the San Bruno gas explosion, fire and rescue radio systems were overwhelmed and unable to function. Commanders resorted to cell phone and messenger. We deserve better and if a large earthquake strikes, the Third District deserves fire and rescue who can communicate to help them.


HR 1005 supports increasing medicare payments to ambulance companies. Currently ambulances are reimbursed BELOW the cost of service causing many private companies to close and many municipal agencies to restrict services to the community. HR 1005 seeks to increase the funding 6% per the GAO report.


When speaking to a Senator’s staff we had other bills to reference and each office we met with, save one, was receptive and sent staffers who already knew details about the bills we mentioned.  We even learned about recent developments and were able to share it with the larger group later in the day.

Speaking of larger group, check out this photo!

EMS on the Hill 2011I’m the tall guy WAY in the back.

More on how to tell which staffers think you are a waste of time and why missing this event next year is a mistake soon.

EMS Day on the Hill Part 1

I wasn’t sure if the trip would be possible this year and trying to sleep on an airplane for the second time in 16 hours on the way home I almost regretted it.
EMS Day on the Hill was organized by our friends at the NAEMT and had an attendance this year of almost 200 EMTs, Paramedics, Chiefs, Managers and Medical Directors.

My first Washington DC visit began just before 11pm when I got on the plane in San Francisco with no bags, no change of clothes, just me and my coat, tie, iPad, phone and Random Ward’s camera.

A restless 4 hours of tossing and squirming in the fully sold out airplane led to a beautiful sunrise at 20,000 feet as we began to descend and everyone rubbed their eyes and readied for the day.

Just before 8 o’clock I made it to the Park Hotel and collected the packet from the NAEMT. Inside was my badge for the events and a number of pre-made folders to hand to lawmakers. Inside were info sheets on three important pieces of legislation we were presenting to the aides on our visits which had been prearranged based on our home state. After all, why would the Congressman from Maine care what a Paramedic from California thought?

Expectations? None. Like being dispatched to an “unknown problem” I would be relying on my brief research into etiquette and the tips mentioned in the packet to guide my actions. Luckily the California group was large enough to divide and conquer. Three of us set out on a schedule and the other 2 would cover the remaining appointments.  5 of us would handle 8 meetings and 2 photo ops.

We were not scheduled to meet any congressional leaders, but instead one of their aides. It would become clear how important they thought our meeting was based on the aide who was chosen to meet with us. For example, one lawmaker sent us their lead council, another their Healthcare expert while yet another had us meet in a hallway with whoever drew the short straw.

If you’ve ever worked a trade show or as a salesperson you understand how your presentation becomes more streamlined as you go and this is no different.  as soon as you say goodbye and walk out a better phrase pops into your head or a different example becomes clearer.

My group included NAEMT Secretary Charlene Donahue and Dr Kevin Mackey, who serves rural and suburban areas of Northern California. He was very interested in my EMS 2.0 pin and is already curious enough about improving EMS to travel to other systems to learn more. More on that later.

Congress keeps their offices in a group of 3 large buildings interconnected by a series if tunnels and even an actual subway train in the basement.
Mixed in with we lobbyists were hundreds of young staffers running from office to office doing goodness only knows what. The cavernous hallways upstairs in the office area were full of folks running to 5-10 minute meetings with staffers who scrambled to find meeting space.
Downstairs in the basement moving between buildings is quite different. Cramped, slightly damp and shoulder to shoulder are all the same folks from upstairs looking for the cafeteria or restroom, but now you begin to see well dressed people moving with purpose in small packs. Each of them is wearing the Congressional Pin on their left lapel which denotes them as members of congress. Here in the basement, just walking around. I was constantly scanning the groups for any of the Californai law makers we were hoping to meet with, perhaps even walk with them and pass along our concerns. Alas, I never saw them in the basement, but each time we stopped into an office and looked at the live feed on TV we would see one of them speaking on a topic. It was surreal to look up at Rep Waxman on TV, then down at his office, then up at him, then down at his office and wonder how busy his day must be.


It is said that seeing laws made is much like seeing sausage made in that after seeing it one may not wish to partake in the experience of the final product.  But seeing the sheer volume of topics presented by lobbyists just in the short time we were present, everything from coal to cancer, eyelashes to budget slashes, it can’t be easy to choose where to vote on some of these issues.


In coming posts I’ll describe the three pieces of legislation we were trumpeting, the names of the folks we met with and how the meetings went and a brief wrap up of how I think we can inform law makers better next year.