Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Whoops!

I just now noticed that I haven't yet linked my online friend Marko's blog.

That is a regretable error on my part. Which I now will rectify.

I first met Marko through Tamara. Best friends and housemates, they both shared a wicked sense of humor as staff on The Firing Line and The High Road.

Marko was born in Germany. He served his country there as a soldier, and moved here for love. Eventually, his love included love of this country. He proudly scanned and presented me and some friends (online) with his copy of his naturalization certificate (it's quite handsome) when he became a bona fide citizen of these United States of America.

Marko is an utter, complete libertarian. When he was laid off during the post 9/11 recession, he didn't even want to take advantage of the unemployment benefits that he had paid for! (He saw it as a product of the nanny government.) Some friends and I pled for him to actually use the insurance that he had paid for all these years.

Marko likes guns. Lately he's stuck on, I believe, 3" K-frame Smiths.

Marko is a superb writer. I'm not educated enough to know how well he writes in German, but his English is simply fantastic. Even when I disagree with him (which happens), I'm impressed by his writing.

Marko is devoted to the little family that he's building, and has a little boy that he takes care of. (Hence the name, "Munchkin Wrangler.") If you're a regular reader of mine, you know that I feel that one of the single biggest problems in this nation-- hell, this world-- is the lack of positive male role models in the lives of boys. (Well, girls too. They need to see what to look for in a man when they grow up.) Men like Marko are a soothing salve to that burning sore spot.

Regular readers will also note that I'm damned glad to have immigrants to this nation that are beneficial to this nation. Marko is a sincere asset to this country. Beyond the fact that he's an educated, independent thinker, he's a devoted family man who is carefully rearing a new crop of good American.

I've never physically met the man, but I've known him for about 7 years online, and I believe that I can call him a friend. If so, I'd do it with pride.

Meet Marko.

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Say, are you familiar with who Christian Trejbal is?


No?


Well my good online neighbor Ambulance Driver calls him "The Grand Exalted Poobah of Arrogant Pricks."


My good online neighbor and personal friend Tamara says:
"Christian Trejbal of the Roanoke Times, whose best-known gaffe thus far was comparing me to a convicted sex offender, has now surpassed himself. In a recentditorial he confessed to a laundry list of mental disorders: passive-aggressive behavior, projection, and serious anger issues among them."
Let's all learn that name, so that we know what he is. I'm proud to have his name, when searched for on Google, come up as listed on my blog, for your edification. And AmboDriver's, and Tam's. Want to list Christian Trejbal's name on your blog, and detail how stupid and offensive he is? Consider it a public service.


Christian Trejbal, Christian Trejbal , Christian Trejbal, ass, Christian Trejbal, Christian Trejbal , Christian Trejbal, pompous, Christian Trejbal, Christian Trejbal , Christian Trejbal, crazy, Christian Trejbal, Christian Trejbal , Christian Trejbal, presumptuous, Christian Trejbal, Christian Trejbal , Christian Trejbal, hateful, Christian Trejbal, Christian Trejbal , Christian Trejbal, half a bubble off plumb, Christian Trejbal, Christian Trejbal , Christian Trejbal, not fully grasping reality, Christian Trejbal, Christian Trejbal , Christian Trejbal, just a LITTLE crazy.

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Back with less tread on the tires, more experience under the belt...







My tired old digi cam couldn't capture the tires lifting off the pavement by Impalas doing evasive lane changes, but I promise you-- we all saw it.

Interesting things learned:
The old 35 PSI tire inflation no longer makes the grade with patrol cars and performance driving. New tires need 44 p.s.i., and run even better at 50 p.s.i.

Rear tire blowouts are consistently far more dangerous than front-tire blowouts. Huh. I wouldn't have believed that. I do now.

It's official: best initial reaction when getting a blow-out (esp. a rear one) is to accelerate for a few seconds. Confirmed at Michelin test track with police drivers and cars. Huh.

Getting into a major car-sliding, utter loss-of-control skid? Let go of the stinkin' wheel. I proved this several times. I would fight the skid. I would attempt to steer with the skid. And I would let go of the wheel. The first, of course, perpetuates the skid. The second, interestingly, creates oversteer the milisecond your tire patch makes static friction. The third gets the car under control almost immediately. "But you're not even holding the wheel!" one might protest, "How could you be 'under control' when you're not steering?" Well, I'll take braking and accelerating without steering over the loss of all three, any day of the week. Soon as all four wheels are rotating in direct correlation to the car's travel, you re-grip the wheel, and continue to drive it hard.
-
You see in that top pic where there's a guy standing to the right of the cone pattern? He's a driving instructor. As you enter the pattern at 50 mph +, he points in the last possible second the direction we were to swerve in to miss the line of cones in front of us. We were expected to exit the pattern with a loss of no more than 2 mph, with no cones hit and no brake lights. This got mor interesting in the rain, later.
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Then we used the same pattern for emergency braking. Had to enter at 50+, brake at a point within the pattern, avoid the center obstacle, and stop within the pattern. As much as I hate the feel of the antilock brakes, I found this a snap with mine.
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See the dark Impala running the slolam pattern? That left cone is airborne. The driver was trying to make up for utterly missing her apex by shaving too close, and sent a cone out. I can't blame her; I smacked a few myself, and blew through the obstacle gate at the end so hard that I stuck a cone underneath. Even now I smell the odor of burning plastic on my catalytic converter. Phew. That cone'll never be the same.
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The most fun was "The Rabbit." This course was laid out over about 1.5 miles of cones, with slolams, tight tight right-angle passages, evasive lane change patterns, etc. A rabbit car driven by an instructor would be chased by a primary cop car with lights and siren, and a secondary cop car with lights and siren. This was fun to drive, but you know what was really fun? Riding in the passenger seat with a driver who just doesn't really believe that we can die. In a Charger.
Six Flags ain't got a thing on that ride. Whee!
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One of the instructors brought out his baby-- a tricked out and lowered 2006 Mustang Cobra with low-profile rims and tires-- to play the Rabbit. Another one, not to be outdone, took a 2007 Crown Vic Interceptor and ran through half the pattern backwards (with me as primary, playing gangsta rap over the P.A. at him when I realized that this was too easy), before blowing out of the pattern, and leading me on a merry chase sideways through the pattern, still aware I'd get dinged for popping cones. (Had to drop the P.A. at that point.) Have to give it to the instructors-- they could drive.
-
Also have to give it to the Chargers-- with a good driver behind the wheel, they flat-out left the other cars. The instructors quickly snatched those up to play rabbit in.
And I got paid to do this. :)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Abusing the pride of Detroit

I''ve one more day of Police Tactical Driving School.

Enlightening.

I'm a man. We all pretty well assume that we each shoot better, make love better, and drive better than the next man. Add in that I'm a Texas man, and the situation is a tad exacerbated.
So it's hard on my ego when I'm creaming cones in what appeared to me to be way too much driving course andplenty of time.

We have acres of course set up and 3 minutes to negotiate the thing forwards and backwards. It's a VERY tight course. They gave us 3:00 minutes and 5 cones to complete it. I kept coming in just over, with 1 cone. Then even closer, with two cones. Understand--- everyone had to run it several times to finally pass it.

Finally one of the instructors came up to me while I sat at START. "You an ol' country boy?"

"Yeah. Used to be."

"Then get on it. Shred that thing."

I smoked out a 2:50, with 2 cones.

---------

Surprisingly, Crown Vics aren't just holding their own-- they're turning in the best times. The new Impalas, with their comfy rides an 60/40 weight distribution, are doing pretty badly. We've got good photo evidence that they're regularly lifting at least one tire in hard turns.

The Dodge Chargers have that licked-- they actually will brake the tire that wants to lift. Most of their drivers can't do much with 'em.

We have a Yukon that's doing great, surprisingly.

But it's a couple of 2 to 4 year old Crown Vics that are tearing the course up.

Could be cook, rather then kitchen though, couldn't it? :)

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What the hell is it with bank robbers, these days?

They're calling 911 during standoffs!

In Washington, and in Miami Beach.

Shouldn't they be busy, absconding with the loot?

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Too busy for the next few days.

Big test tomorrow in Legal Issues Of Crimininal Justice, and court, and, starting today, a three day "Tactical Driving Course."

"You seem to be the one catching all the pursuits," says my lieutenant.

Meanwhile I have to wrap up a burglary case that just broke.

Busy, busy, busy...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sometimes you get a little taste of satisfaction...

Early morning, and almost the end of deep night shift. I'm monitoring the main intersection in town.

I stop a guy in a pickup.

"Sir, I'm Officer G. with the Generic Podunk Po-leece Department, and the reason you were stopped is that you failed to come to a complete stop at the stop sign there."

"Well, I think you're mistaken-- I believe that I stopped back there."

"No sir. I've been watching that intersection for half an hour, and haven't stopped anyone yet, before you. The others stopped, and you didn't. May I see your driver license and proof of financial responsibility, please?"

"Well, I thought that I had..." At this point, I, in a complete fit of Situational Awareness (read-- bored with his argument, looking elsewhere for a second while he blathers), observe a familiar Cadillac come to a complete stop wayyy behind the stop sign, wait 3 seconds, and then slowly motor through the intersection.

"Gotta go," I say, as I shove Mr. Hollywood Stop's license and insurance card back into his hands, and hop back into my car.

I fire up ALL the lights and wigwags, and quickly pass another car to get to all of about, oh... 4 feet off of the Caddy's rear bumper. I radio in the LP, knowing already who it is. It pulls off the road into a driveway, and I block it neatly in, checking out on traffic. I make a quick approach, with my hands clear, my flashlight illuminating the inside of the car, and my right elbow up.

"Good morning. I'm Officer G. with the Generic Podunk Police Department. Sir, the reason that you were stopped is that you have an inoperative tag lamp. May I see your driver license and proof of financial responsibility?"

He provides it.

"Thank you, Mr. S. Bag. You still live in HellHole, Texas?" He does. Or says he does.

"Okay. And who's this with you?"

"My girlfriend."

"Well, ma'am, I'm pleased to meet you. What's your name?" She gives it.

"I'll be right back," I say, as I head back to my car.

I run both names through Dispatch. Hers is clear. His makes bells and whistles go off. Dispatch advises to use caution, because he is a Bad Guy. Not just considered such by nomination among the scientific community, but an honest-to-Gawd, convicted Bad Guy who has visited Index Crimes upon his fellow man.

In all my years on patrol, I've probably stopped 500 cars for no license plate light. Maybe more. I've written hundreds of written warnings for it. I've given quite a few verbal warnings for it. I've happened upon a few people who, due to warrants or intoxication, ended up going to jail pursuant to the stops initiated by that infraction. But I have NEVER, in my entire career as a cop, ever written a citation for "Inoperative Tag Lamp."

Well, there's a first time for everything, isn't there?

See, the first time I ever saw this particular car, I had noticed that his tag lamp was dark back then, too, and I had turned around to attempt to overtake him and inform him of that minor infraction of the Texas Transportation Code, to give him my usual warning. But alas, he did not see fit to stop to receive his warning. In fact, he accelerated to over 110 mph, through winding country roads at night, committing a felony to escape. He wanted to get away more than I wanted to get into a wreck to catch him, and I called off the pursuit.

Since he didn't want to stop to receive my warning, perhaps he would rather have something else. I finish writing, and approach the rear of the car. "Mr. Bag, can you step out, please?" He gets out.

"Sir, this is a citation for Inoperative Tag Lamp..." Blah blah. . . respond by X date at blah location, blah blah, sign here, blah blah not an admission of guilt, blah blah. "You're free to go." He takes his copy and turns on his heel.

"Oh, and S.?" He turns, looking suspicious. And annoyed.

"Thanks for stopping for me," I say. "This time."

"Can I go, now?"

"Sure. Catch you later."

And I will, too.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

There are worse ways to die...

...than apprehending a bad guy.

I just hope one of the shots that hit the bad guy was from Cox's gun, and I actually hope that the shooter doesn't die, until we can get all the info from him that we need.

Prepare for knee-jerk calls by Dallas city loudmouths for a ban on those evil assault rifles.

I knew one of the last DPD cops who was murdered, Kevin James. He was with Northwest Division, too. Since when did northwest Dallas become such a dangerous place?

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The good parts of cultural invasion...

Chris in SE TX said:

"Instead of feeling bad, I think you
should feel good about skipping the donut and getting a kolache (or three)!!
:)"


To which Rabbit added:
"I never knew that Koreans specialized in pastries and dry cleaning until I
moved to Dallas. Seems like there's one next door to the other any time you
encounter them. If course, Armenians make pretty decent pizza and Italian food,
I've discovered. Weird how you notice such things. Beware the kimchee-filled
ones."

Kim Chee-filled kolaches would be an excellent example of culture fusion at its best.

We have lots of Czech and German influence in central Texas (particularly around West, and New Braunfels), and it spreads pretty well throughout the community in a nice fashion. Hell-- the Texican border types love anyone that likes a polka, and the Germanic types like Conjunto, pretty good. Texas is the number one market for an almost lost German style of beer (the modelo) brewed commercially by exactly one company, which is Mexican. (Try it cold with small wedge of lime, poured in a glass.) One of the most famed venues for Texas music is the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas. So we find that a little imported flavor is a good thing, 'round here.

Now we have this infusion of Korean folk running donut shops and dry cleaners, courtesy of family run lending circles. Ask me if it bothers me in the least that these hard-working, service-rabid people are coming to Texas and "taking our jobs." Heh.

Back when I was in high school, one of the guys vying for valedictorian was a buddy of mine on the debate team. Sang was born of a first gen Korean family. His dad was a former S. Korean military officer who had worked with U.S. forces in VietNam. By all accounts, the Tiger Division was made up of fierce and disciplined fighters. Sang's dad was working on some graduate degree or another at our local big university, and Sang was doing summer internship (while in high school, keep in mind) in the physics department at another big univeristy. Sang's family owned a donut shop, which his mother and sister worked at. That shop put his dad through grad school (I want to say that he got an MBA, but there was some science in there, too...), and sent Sang to M.I.T. (He had been deciding between that and Cal Tech.)

Sang was a predatory scholar, with a vicious wit. Thank Gawd he's an American. (And on our side.)



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Perpetuating the stereotype.

"Anyo hah say yo!"
--Korean greeting roughly equivelent to "Howdy!".

I don't buy donuts (used to be spelled "doughnuts." When did we switch? Have I succumbed to laziness, like those folks who spell "though" as "tho"? ) very often. Sure, fresh fried dough with glazed sugar is awesome, but it's nought but fat and sugar and fat and simple carbs. Seeing the spreading of my waist, I shouldn't indulge.

But damnit, when it's 4:55 AM and you're wicked hungry, and there's no place to eat in town but the Donut Palace that opens at 5:00, what's a guy to do?

Well... just a peek wouldn't hurt, right?

Wait. What're those great big enormous pig-in-a-blanket looking things?

Jalepeno and cheese sausage rolls? Fresh out of the convection oven? Well, then. Let's have one. . .

Good. Gawd. So. Very. Good.

I' ve been keeping this vice down to once a week. Usually.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Things We Carry.

Detailing the process of getting ready in that last entry brought to mind how, as I get ready for work some days, I recall the title short story of Tim O’Bryan’s anthology The Things They Carried (1990), which I read my senior year in high school. So here’s my shorter take on the same thing, with apologies to Mr. O’Bryan. (I’ve not read his stuff in 15 years.)

I first began detailing this list as I was losing a chase after a 19 year old liquor store robber across a 5 mile wide cow pasture. He was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, socks, and running shoes. He was a little underweight, and was running, damnably, as 19 year-olds do when pursued by sedentary guys in their 30's with too much gear chase after them-- he conserved his energy and just trotted. Heh. That was his undoing-- I arranged a 5-agency manhunt for his skinny butt, and caught him myself 4 hours later. Shoulda just sprinted away when he had the chance.


The things we carry.

We put on uniforms. Long pants with extra pockets for flashlights and ticket books and possibly backup guns. Shirts with extra reinforced vents at the sleeves and patches, with name plates and badges and collar brass and sometimes even service pins. Hats. Heavy leather boots polished black and shiny, sometimes with steel toes.

We put on belts. A wide inner belt, to hold up the pants. Over that and the belt loops, a thicker, heavier Sam Browne belt of smooth black leather, with a large vanadium buckle. On that belt is a body microphone, to project our voice to the in-car camera system. Keepers, to hold the Sam Browne to our inner belt. Rings, to clip our keys to. Keys: office, car, camera system, handcuff, and a dozen others. We carry an enormous Safariland duty holster made largely of black plastic, which houses a Glock 31 .357 Sig pistol with 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, and a Streamlight M3 light on the accessory rail. (The whole pistol with the load and light weighs 2 lbs, 5 oz.) We carry ASPs, expandable telescopic steel batons that change from a 9" padded cylinder to a 26" intermediate impact weapon with the flick of the wrist. We carry handcuff cases with Smith & Wesson, Hyatt, Peerless, or ASP handcuffs. We carry pouches wih rubber gloves inside. We carry an extra handcuff case with cuffs. We carry Stinger aluminum rechargable flashlights. We carry Motorola 2-way scanning portable radios with remote shoulder microphone-speakers. We carry double pouches with spare 15-round magazines full of Gold Dot ammunition. We carry issue cell phones and sometimes personal cell phones. We carry TASERs. We carry large alphanumeric pagers. We carry this all on our belts.

We wear our underwear. Black socks that almost never can be seen above the tops of the uniform boots. When it's chilly we wear polypropylene long underwear. We wear the shorts of our choice, as they and our socks are the only items of clothing that we buy ourselves. We wear issue UnderArmor, to keep us from overheating inside of our ballistic vests. When it's cold, we wear black turtlenecks. We wear Point Blank or Second Chance or any of a dozen other brands of bullet-resistant vests, which cover our backs and bellies and sides and chests and shoulders, and which are rated NIJ Level 2 or better, and are claimed to stop most .357 Magnum rounds. We wear trauma plates with our vests. We wear backup guns.

We carry things in our shirt pockets. We carry ink pens, and backup ink pens, and sometimes backups to the backup ink pens. We carry long handcuff keys, and spare car keys, and flash drives, and business cards, and pocket notebooks. We carry Miranda warning cards.

We carry things in our pants pockets. We carry wallets, and ID cases, and pocket badges, and licenses, and pictures of our families. We carry pocket knives, and spare pocket knives, and coins, and folding money. We carry shotgun shells, and gum or mints, and personal keys, and sometimes small pocket lights, and other backup keys. Sometimes we carry bananas.

Sometimes we also carry things that we should not. Extra weight around the middle, or cigarettes, or paperwork that we've been meaning to finish, turn in, or shred. Sometimes we carry problems-- stress, prejudices, or fear.

We always carry pride.

We carry jewelry. We all wear wrist watches. Most of us wear rings on our fingers. Some wear necklaces. Some wear tattoos. Some wear scars.

We carry personal assistance devices. Many of us wear glasses. Reading glasses. Contact lenses. Sunglasses. Orthopedic insoles. Some wear hearing aides. Some wear knee, ankle, or back braces.

All these things we carry, and more.

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Running late. (Goosed)

I was running late to leave for work. (As usual.)

I pressed my uniform and attached collar brass, name tag, and badge. Filled my pockets with the crap that I carry. Put on the UnderArmor, vest, BUG, uniform, and boots, and put on the 20 lb duty belt. I started to go, and realized-- aw crud-- I hadn't shaved yet. I had already run hot water in the basin in the bathroom, and had a can of shaving cream floating in it to get it hot. I hustled into the bathroom for a quick scrape of the old whiskers.

The Wife was in there.

When I was younger, I didn't expect that I would be so cavalier about going into the bathroom when my spouse was peeing. After all-- this is the sole person that I am intimate with. I'm not supposed to know what goes on it there. But we've been married nine years, and things change. I had to get to work, and I was 90 seconds away from a smooth face. And she knew I'd be shaving in there-- that's why the door was open. I passed her, and lathered up, and began shaving. I leaned into the mirror to check out the progress on my face as I shaved. My wife, no longer involved in her previous diversions, saw An Opportunity; she goosed me.

But this was not a minor, slight pinch type goose-- oh, no. It was much, much more personal. It, um, involved more of, um, a poking motion. And, um, was sort of targeted. Think Mr. Smith Goes To Prostate Exam, but for the interference of some midnight blue gabardine and the best cotton put out by Fruit Of The Loom. Even in the best of times, I certainly would have felt-- you know-- violated.

Thank Gawd the children were at their grandmother's. I hate to think of them hearing their father scream like a woman. (Which, of course, is exactly why my spouse does such things.)

"HeHe... I'd get tired of doing that to you if you didn't make that noise when I did it," she snickered.

"Well, you've never gotten me like that before, thank you very much, and do you not see that I'm shaving?!?"

"With a safety razor." I could see her smirk in the mirror.

"Well, thank goodness! If I'd been using a straight razor, do you realize that this uniform might well have made you guilty of attempted Capital Murder?!?"

"But you weren't." Smiling sweetly.

"Still, you shouldn't do such things while I'm in uniform. It demeans the badge."

Rolling her eyes. "Oh. So it'd be okay when..."

"Wait. No. Just... don't do that! Please!!"

"You are so tightly wound. Hehehe!"

I escaped out the front door before the obvious direction of her ridicule could be followed.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Movie impressions:

I saw 300 with my wife the night before last.

Great action.
Interesting photography and superb CGI.
Compelling story.
Some interesting actors.
For the most part, in this movie, Good = Pretty. Bad = Ugly.
Spartan women were, apparently, sooooooooooo hot.
RHIP. Spartan royalty (queens, anyway) were getting smallpox vaccinations, to judge by the scars, about 2400 years before the rest of us.
I knew about battle elephants. But battle rhinoceri?!?
Wow. There sure were a lot of mutants in the Iron Age.
Wow. Those laconic Spartans sure do talk a lot.
And cry.
You'd think that Xerxes could afford some Sodomite women without malformities. I'm just saying.
Did the W.W.F. have to shut down during filming? I mean, the loss of the loincloths alone...
Watch out. Bitch gotta knife!
NOWHERE in the movie did it give the date of the event (480 BC), or even that this was loosely based on an actual event.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

More Coffee Woes.

Remember that old coffee maker that I found up in the cabinet?



Well, it seems that the motto of the folks at Sunbeam is: "Waste not, want not."


See, this coffee maker has less than 3 feet of power cord. To plug it in, I have to set it atop the microwave oven, which makes the top of the reservoir stick up above the underside of the cabinets. I thus have to set it so that the front edge of it hangs out off the microwave. The other night, I was an hour into my shift when I decided to make a big pot, to last me all night. I loaded it full of water and ground beans, and turned it on.


Funny thing about this-- the coffee maker pushes hot water from the reservoir through the coffee grounds in the basket, and drips into the glass carafe that's sitting on the hot plate up front. In so doing, it moves about 3 pounds of water from the back of the light plastic machine to the front of it.

The front of it, which was on this occasion hanging out over the carpet, past the top of the microwave.


So there I was, cup in hand, eagerly awaiting the last drops to drip through the grounds, when the machine jumped off the microwave at me.


Well, that's how it seemed, anyway. The contraption was up at about shoulder height, and by the time it reached the end of its short little cord, it had dumped the entire full glass carafe of coffee onto me and the PD carpet, and had dumped hot, saturated coffee grounds out of the basket and all over my freshly-pressed uniform trousers. In an attempt to catch this monstrosity of plastic and aluminum, I managed to impart a second degree burn onto the outside edge of my left hand. The carafe hit a chair next to me, and shattered, demonstrating quite clearly how an airburst provides for much more devastation in a given bomb. Glass traveled more than 15 feet on carpet.


I had as complete a mess as I could imagine one could make with a simple device and four scoops of ground coffee.

And I still didn't have any coffee to drink while I cleaned up. Damn.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Blake's retirement party

After finishing a 16 hour shift, I hustled to my P.O.V., and raced out to my friend's retirement party, already in progress.

I met Blake and JoAnn when I was 4 years old. They were friendly, educated Southern stock. She, a former lab technician and tech person. He, a former Army mustang and now a USDA extension agent. They stepped into our church, and were soon lay leaders. They had an easy, non-invasive, infectious manner that implies that service to others is FUN. In the 30 or so years that I've known them, I've never had any reason to doubt their sincerity on any subject, and have never been preached to. They have a successful marriage, and begat a pair of daughters that are as fine and talented as any ever seen. I happen to regard those daughters very much like sisters.

When I was in 3rd and 4th grade, I used to catch the bus over to their house after school, along with Blake and JoAnn's daughters. We used to play Horse on their driveway under a hoop that Blake had put up for the girls. I almost bankrupted them with my daily after-school consumption of peanut butter. Sometimes I would "help" Blake with his garden before my mother would come to pick me up. Blake has always loved to grow things. That degree in botany came in handy.

When I got married, Blake insisted on cooking for the reception, and wouldn't take anything for it. Blake showed up with his own barbecued beef briskets, and smoked barbecued hams, and smoked chicken, and his beans, and Gawd knows what all. Blake has always loved to cook things, and while he's heard of bland cooking, he wants no part of it. Blake's Sunrise Service breakfasts are famous in our church, and I guarantee you that over the years they've accounted for thousands of early appearances to church by backsliders.

Blake also tells the truth. A federal employee and by this time a man of some rank, he was called upon to support a claim that our region had undergone a horrible drought, so that aid could be provided. He embarrassed some when he did his job and dutifully reported that in fact, we had more rain than usual, that year. Blake was trained as a biologist specializing in botany-- science is science.

When Blake and JoAnn were diagnosed with cancer a little while ago, they didn't feel sorry for each other; they supported each other, and beat it into remission in each of them.

Are you beginning to get the idea that I respect this guy? That I respect JoAnn? Good.

At the party, I reunited with my wife and kids, whom I hadn's seen in three days, due to all the overtime I've been working. (I'd been staying at my Dad's and Holly's.) There were about 40 cars there. Barbecue, and potato salads, and good beans were laid out on the back porch. Also good bottles of wine, and sweet tea, and cold beer. Blake was chatting and enjoying himself, which made me glad. I looked around and found JoAnn, who had arranged this party for Blake, but also a little for herself.

They're leaving.

Their older daughter, Shannon, is a dentist in Eugene, Oregon. Shannon has a husband and a pair of beautiful girls, and a stepson there, in a sprawling split-level mountain house. Their younger daughter, a professional ballet dancer and licensed physical therapist, lives in Washington, DC and has yet to produce them some grandchildren, so they looked around Eugene, and found a nice place with some land for Blake to garden on.

Just before I left, Blake stood up and gave an impromptu speech to his assembled friends:
"A lot of people have asked me how we can just pick up and move after having built a life here for 40 years in Texas. And it's true, we've made friends and relationships that we can't ever replace. But 4 years ago, JoAnn and I each had a little touch of the C-word. And we came to a realization. You see, JoAnn and I don't save the good wine. The good wine is for drinking with your friends and your family. We've quit putting off any happiness. And frankly, if I waited too much longer, I wouldn't be able to make this move."

I went up and gave Blake a hug, and hugged JoAnn before leaving. My daughters and my wife walked with me down the driveway on which I had played basketball on so many lazy afternoons a quarter century ago. I realized that I may never again tread that ground, and I found myself steadying against my older daughter's shoulder; because the world had gotten a little blurry.

Must be sleep deprivation, making my eyes water.

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A word to the gentlemen:

(This is going to eventually get a little coarse, so steel yourselves.)

Guys, we've got it pretty good.

Physically:
We're stronger than women. We've got better metabolic rates. We can pee standing up. We don't bleed once a month. We don't have to put up with the difficulties and pains of pregnancy and/or childbirth. We don't have mammary glands that have to be accounted for when running, fighting, or wearing crossdraw.

Socially:
We don't have to wear the ridiculous styles and makeup that women seem to have to wear to be considered presentable. We get paid better, on average. We get to lead our families, generally, and keep our surnames. We also get to be more base in our activities.

But nature hates a vacuum, so there are some little checks and balances to even out the books.
Here's one, whch we need to take to heart, and hold dear: Women hold the keys when it comes to sex.

Oh, I know that there are anomolies (same-sex encounters, gigilos, and hyper-aggressive women on passive males being some of them), but for the most part, this is an iron-clad rule. So what does that mean?

Well, primarily, it means that, regardless of how fast she's been egging you on to get physical with her in an intimate manner (in street patois, to "get jiggy wit' it"), she gets to say "stop" at any point (yes, even then), and you have to cease all physical contact with her. Sometimes, this may seem difficult to do, especially when you've observed evidence that she was ready and willing to get to this point. No one's calling you a liar-- she may well have been. But at this point, she's hit the brakes, and so must you, bud.

If you can't handle that, go handle yourself.

Twice in the last week I've spoken to women who have had experiences like that.
Both women will bear scars for life. Consider how invasive it feels to find out someone has been in your car, or your house, or your room, without your permission. Now consider that person having been in your body without permission. I don't care if you're the Town Bicycle ("everybody's had a ride!")-- that's a type of invasion that most of us guys can't even comprehend. (Male rape happens, but it's thankfully pretty rare.) And we can water it down and call it "Date Rape," but it's still rape, aka "Sexual Assault," and as a cop, it's my duty to charge those who do it with a felony.

Ask me if it bothers me in the least to charge a guy whose make-out session got out of hand, and the girl who was happy to take him to Third Base said "Stop" before he rounded in to Home.
Does it bother me? Not. One. Bit.

Think about this: would you want your companion or anyone to watch you have sexual congress with, say, a vinyl doll? No? Kinda embarrassing? Then why would a woman who has withdrawn her consent be any different? If her will is withdrawn, then you're using her body as an object --a recepticle-- like a merkin. Nasty thing to make her watch you do. But unlike a mere object, she'll be hurt by this act.

If it makes you feel gallant to stop, go ahead and feel good about yourself. But don't kid yourself-- you didn't do her a favor; you did your duty as a man. If you had failed to do so, you have failed your duty as a man, both ethically and legally.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Coffee time.


Yeah, at 23:00.

Would you believe that I'm the only one at my P.D. who drinks coffee? What the hell kinda po-leece they got in this town, anyway?
My old memories of being a little boy include being bored and scampering around the knees of boot-clad, gun-toting cops who smelled of tobacco and well-used leather and coffee and perhaps the whiff of aftershave and Hoppe's. My dad was a County investigator who seemed to know every cop in North Texas, and who would drone on and on at length with them about cases (which had nothing to do with shootouts like on TV), and guns (which were interesting for all of a second or two, and then uninteresting to a kid who shot little but grew up surrounded by them.). They would drink lots of coffee during these bull sessions. I recall visiting my father's office in the old courthouse, seeing those old paper or styrofoam conical coffee cup liners in their dumb-looking brown plastic holders, on old scarred walnut desks. That doesn't look like a very enjoyable cup of joe to me, in retrospect.


Now, when I want coffee at the PD, I have to bring in my own. I found an old Sunbeam coffee maker high in a cabinet by the evidence prep counter, so I sometimes pull it down, rinse it out, load it, and make coffee for myself before cleaning it up and putting it back up in the cabinet. It's kind of a pain, and the ritual is only for me. But in the middle of the night, when you're short on sleep, you feed your one addiction, and are glad that it's a socially-acceptable one.

What the hell?
These are Good Guys that I work with. I couldn't be happier. They're a fine crew, and they really are interested in putting bad guys in jail.
But they'd be even better cops if they drank coffee with me. I guaran-damn-tee it.

[Note: LawDog gets a pass, because he never fails to appreciate a cup or three of fresh hot tea.]
Coffee is social. It's functional. It's often (though not here) provided gratis by employers and businesses. It's completely acceptable to drink in almost any environment. I'd sure take my coffee served in those silly cup liners, if I could enjoy a cup now and then with my cohorts.

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All these negative vibes...




Among bloggers, the favorite form of post is The Rant.




Good rants can be cathartic. Great rants can be highly entertaining.




Good. Great. Can be.




My point, friends, readers, and fellow bloggers, is simply this: don't be a one-trick pony. Too much of what might once have been a good thing can get old pretty quickly, and look at all that wasted wit, now.




It's no great trick to take shots at something. If your stock and trade is doing that, and only that-- consider expanding your repetoire.



Now, that all said, I beg us to consider also applying this philosophy to our lives in general.


No, this isn't a Polyanna-ish call to "say something nice or don't say anything at all." It's more of a PLEA to take that sharpened barb and see if you can do something more with it.




Thanks. I look forward to seeing the bounty.


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Thursday, March 08, 2007

48 hours of work in a 72 hour period.

Yes, friends, it's time to take advantage of a grant, and that means 6 days' worth of work gets done in 3 little days, plus grad school class, and a commitment to a social engagement. (At least for the 16 hours of work each day, they're paying me.)

Probably not going to be just real lively the next few days or so.

Sleep, now.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Chick flicks.



I was at my dad's and Holly's house. Holly put a DVD into the player. It fired up to the Menu welcome screen, to show pretty scenes in the snow and pretty people's faces at Christmas time. I think some white lace and red ribbon were evident.

"What'n'Hell is'zat?" I inquired with a little less erudite-ness (erudition?) than I'm probably capapble of.

"'The Family Stone'," she said. "Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Craig Nelson..."

"Chick flick," I snorted as I rolled my eyes. Sometimes I enjoy getting Holly's goat.

"Oh it is not either," she protested.

"It's been on for 5 minutes, and I haven't seen a pistol, a fight, or a man pounding his fist on a desk and declaring that the main character with the Celtic-sounding name is out of line, yet. 'Damn it, McDermitt!/Damn it, Callahan!/Damn it, McBane! You've gone too far, this time!' None of that."

I drank coffee, got my uniform ready (I'd stayed there today) for work, and ate some of Dad's guiso, and the movie wound down. "Well one thing's for sure," I said, "at no point in a guy flick does the audience clap her hands and exclaim 'the bus is stopping to let her out to come to him!'"

"Screw you."

"I'm just saying..." Sometimes I enjoy getting Holly's goat.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bad For Zumbo, Good For Tamara:

Our friend Tamara, already a bit of a blog rockstar, is getting to be "bigger than Jesus now!" (Hey, they're her words...)

Instapundit and National Review Online linked her right about the time those spikes showed.

Then Google had to feature her.

Celebrity, baby. I've gone huntin' with her. You may touch me.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

On that most portentious day.

Belated returns of the day.

I took a phone call yesterday, from Holly. "Matt, I'm sorry, I forgot," she said.

"No problem," I responded. "I didn't get you a Texas Independence Day card, either."

It turned out that she was referring to having forgotten to inform me that I needn't drop by to fix her computer (it didn't really need my meager attentions, after all), as I'd promised to do.

But she didn't find anything strange about my little joke. In my family, we take Texas history quite seriously.

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Deep nights.


Since I got my first job as a ranch hand at age 17, most of my jobs have entailed me working late into the night. Later, when I was a fry cook for a restaurant that optimistically stayed open until 11:00 PM, it took an hour or so to close, so I went to bed pretty late then, too. Thus when I soon after got a job as a help desk service rep, sitting in a nice climate-controlled office for twice the money, it seemed to be a grand job, with only one little drawback-- I had to show up at 11:00PM. That help desk job started me down a (literally) dark road. It seemed that most folk didn't want to work late nights, and that a lot of places actually paid you a little more if you would do the night shift. How could I resist?

Then, too, there was all this time on your hands during the day. I rapidly began filling up my days with an all-too-active social schedule, second job, and other timewasters. Are you seeing what was missing? Yup-- sleep. Oh, it feels fine to miss it during the day; you can't sleep too well during the day, anyway. But then, that night... ohhh dear.

As it happens, you need just a little bit MORE sleep when you work nights. All that homeopathic crap about your body needing sunlight at regular intervals to secrete melatonin turns out to be absolutely correct; if you're not getting some daylight, and you're up at night, you soon are nodding like a penitent at church. I took the night jobs, saying that they'd let me go to school, and finally finish that degree. But then I found that sleeping appealed much more than class. This, predictibly, did Bad Things to my GPA.

When I started as a cop, it was my fifth night job in a row of nocturnal occupations. To accomodate my school schedule (supposedly) and to properly put this young Newbie in his place, I caught weekday Deep Nights for the first year. In a small department, it is a long tradition that rookies work deep nights. I question this tradition, now, and here's why: At every job, there's a certain amount of learning that goes over your first year or so. If you put your newest guy on the deep night shift all alone, he has a lot of questions, and no one to ask. In a more perfect world, the most senior polished officers would be the only ones to work deep nights. But they want days, and by virtue of their seniority, get it.

I've seen some odd things, working deep nights. Heard some, too. I've seen nocturnal fauna that most people don't believe exist in their own back yard. Some of them were people. I've learned some interesting ways to wake up or stay awake. I've learned how use light to hide me, to signal, to warn, and to temporarily blind. I've also learned about the fraternity of the night. I'm not speaking of those silly Goth folks who only wear black, put white powder and black eye shadow on, and obsess over death. I'm referring to those of us who sleep during the day and work at night, and who all sort of get to know each other. Paper delivery guy. Waitress at Denny's. Dispatcher. Truckstop clerk. We all know a little something about the others' lives, because we share the important aspect that we routinely are at work and are typically alone, while others sleep.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

I mentioned we had a little dust storm?


My mama sat through the northeast Texas version of it, and, former New Mexican that she is, got a little homesick.

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