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Once, I was an IC4 (Incident Commander (4). Well, as a mere title and qualification, that was one I held until leaving my seasonal work with the Bureau of Land Management, and I suppose it is valid even now, nearly 20 years later. But I was an acting Incident Commander (4) for about 16 hours in 2005, as a 23-year-old newlywed in my 5th year of wildland firefighting. That was never intended as a career, and I certainly never treated it as a career. But I figured out a few things pretty early on. There is a good amount of downtime in wildland firefighting, a job that depends on the weather, but always keeps you hanging around (and paid) just in case you’re needed. A lot of that time is spent doing odd jobs, which is great for a Montana kid who is fairly well-rounded; we put up fencing, we framed buildings and hung drywall, we did forest-thinning projects. Sometimes we just drove around “keeping an eye on things.”
In my second year, I was on a truck with a friend who was an economics and mathematics double-major in college (he earned his Ph.D. in economics and is now an econ professor); I had bounced around a bit too much, having a partial pre-med degree, a partial engineering degree, all rounded out with a few years of intensive history and literature (emphasizing Russian history) to earn a bachelor’s of science in the vaguely named “liberal studies.” From an engineering school. That year, the friend and I spent a good deal of time discussing each others’ areas of study. He worked on reading my copy of The Gulag Archipelago while I worked on reading his copy of Human Action, and we spent hours discussing these topics. We also spent a lot of time joking. With a sense of humor that resonated with some, but which tended to go over like a lead balloon among some of the more serious career bureaucrats (as you can imagine from the two mentioned books, we both tended pretty strongly libertarian).