Better And Better

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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Note to would-be mass-shooters:

Well, for the umpteenth time, it's happened again.

One of y'all has decided to Make A Statement before eating his gun.

Here's an idea-- rather than burn in Hell or whatever actually passes for it in your soul kingdom (you like that? I just made that up), why don't you just publish a nice advertisement in the New York Times or your local paper, then call a news conference, make your statement, and then eat your gun.

See where we're cutting out the middle man? I mean, by not going into a mall, or a lecture hall, or a church, or a school cafeteria, or a Luby's, you actually get to:
a) get much more control over the nature of the outcome of your little "woe is me" stunt, and
b) not kill strangers, some of whom happen to be very nice and send flowers to their mothers on their birthdays.

Just a thought. I mean, really: do you really, REALLY think you're going to finish the thing without a bullet breathmint? If you think about it, that's where you were going to take this anyway, right?

So if your plan all along is to make a spectacle of yourself in your death, do us all a favor, and do the right thing.

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Contingency planning

When I was age 12, my father, then a veteran cop and newly divorced from my mother, took me out with one of the house shotguns.

"What are we doing?" I asked.

"Contingency planning," he responded.

For the next hour, he had me practice removing the unloaded shotgun from its scabbard, loading it, and firing it at nearby named targets. At first it was fun. Then he turned the volume up. Speed. Smoothness. Accuracy. Determining which target he meant. Speed. Smoothness. Inside of half an hour, I was sweating a tad. Inside of 45 minutes, I was shaking a little. He worked me. We did that for about an hour every two weeks for about 6 months. While there are those who are faster with a Remington 1148 and 1100 shotguns, none know the order of arms better than I do, from those sessions. Before long we moved on to pistols. .38 Special revolvers. .45 acp 1911 semiautos.

The point was that, if you've practiced your order of arms, and don't have to consciously think about how to shoot, you'll do better in the important determination of whether to shoot. As the young man of the house, some of this fell on me. Oh, Mom was in charge of that house; make no mistake about that. But home defense was my duty, almost completely, by the time I was 13. Are all thirteen year olds capable of taking on this role? I will have to smile and say that, in my years of experience as a police officer, I question that all adults are capable of taking on that role.

But if it's your duty to see to the protection of your family, don't just get some equipment and assume that the duty ends there. Consider how it will be used. Get used to living with the equipment. (A shotgun locked in a safe in the garage with the ammo somewhere far from it might as well not even be figured into the equation of home and personal defense.) Practice. Practice some more. Think about what the situation is that will cause you to activate your emergency action plan. Make scenarios, and consider what your response will be, and whether it's actually practical. Err on the side of caution toward the safety of yourself and your loved ones.

My friend LawDog has a nifty action plan for his family: Keep your cell phone on charger on your bedside table. In the bedside table, attach with a split ring a key to the front door to a Cylume stick. Should you hear a bad guy coming into your house, lock the door to the bedroom (an interior-only sliding bolt is inexpensive and can help you here-- interior door locks are notoriously feeble.), and call 911. Break and shake your Cylume stick, and toss it (with key attached) out the window. Then retire to your walk-in closet or bathroom within the bedroom, still on the phone to 911, preferably with a persuader of some kind (gun, taser, stun gun, pepper spray, bat, knife, fuzzy bunny slipper, can of hair spray....), and tell the dispatcher to have the officer let himself into the house with the key you just tossed out. Wait 'til the cop calls all clear from your bedroom door. Hey-- it's an action plan.

And it's better than most.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Things that have made my heart skip a beat:

I almost called this "the first time," but there's more to it then that. I was feeling pretty good on the way into work last night, and composed this with some joy in my heart, for no particular reason.

Things that have made my heart skip a beat:

As a child, thinking that the next day was my birthday.
As a child, puppies and kittens and baby critters. Being offered to see a monkey.
Waking up on the first day of school.
Riding my bike off the ramp we made over Tonka trucks.
Diving from the high dive. Okay-- jumping.
Christmas morn.
Going to Six Flags as a child.
My first bicycle.
My first 10-speed.
My first ride on a 2-stroke dirt motorcycle.
My first airplane ride.
My first airplane ride in a light plane. (And most since.)
Mountains.
Tremendous heights.
My first kiss from a girl not a relative.
My first romantic kiss from any lady thereafter.
The first time I told a girl I loved her.
The first time a girl said it to me.
The dentist office waiting room-- entering, and returning from within.
Mail for me, as a kid.
Mail for me from a friend, all my life.
Compliments from someone I admire.
Heavy weather.
The smell of good cooking.
The smell of rain on the wind in the summertime.
My first time driving.
My first time driving alone.
Sneaking out, as a kid --even if for innocent reasons.
Near misses.
Being hired.
Being told to come into an office and sit down. (And shut the door.)
Going hunting with Dad as a kid.
Getting to carry a shotgun the first time while hunting, as a kid.
Shooting at game.
Being sworn in.
Finding out we were going to have a baby.
Asking my wife to marry me.
Making my first arrest.
Hearing the dispatcher rattle off the ten-code that the subject I was out with was wanted, had criminal history, and had an assaultive history.
Waking up after having overslept.
Drawing down on a human being.
Having a door that I supposed was locked open suddenly.
Blowouts.
Daughters' screams.
Cries for help.
Falls, expected and otherwise.
Fresh coffee.
Being hit upon by any person.
Being challenged to a fight by any person.
Being accused.
Chewing on foil accidentally.
Gunfire where I thought there would be none.
Unexpected nudity.
Loss of traction.

Add 'em all up with the others I've not listed, and I'm probably owed a day back, somewhere along the line.

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More Border Patrol stuff.

I found that my link on the Good Shoot was picked up at a site called "The SquawkBox."
"I just watched the Video, showed a Border Patrol Agent shooting an
unarmed man in the chest at point blank range. He had plenty of time to react
and subdue the small young man who was less than 50 feet from home and was
running home to Mexico, BTW the camera pans out to show how close he
was from the Border. Undoubtably the agent will be charged, a rock the
size of a pebble - which was in his hand is not a threat in the eyes of the
court otherwise these earth day demonstrations and college and sports riots
would see 100’s
of people shot dead.
"

Hm. The agent was at "point blank" range. Point blank range for an average-sighted M4 carbine would be about 25 yards and 200 yards. See, "point blank" doesn't mean muzzle distance; it means the distance at which the bullet strikes at point of aim, without allowance for drop or windage. I suppose that, if you're making the whole chest area to be the target, then point blank range would be zero to about 300 yards, given a windless day, or even in a slight breeze.

Of course, if the agent were 50 yards or more away from the guy, he would have no reason to shoot, because the guy was so far away, either because he could get out of the way, or because "no one can throw that far."

Undoubtedly the agent with NOT be charged. When you go back on the job after three days' paid leave, that's a pretty damned strong endorsement for a shoot being good.

Some folk are apparently worked up about the fact that the camera seems to jerk away from the agent in the video of the shooting. The problem is that they're watching the magnified and enhanced version, that doesn't show what the original camera saw-- that there was a group of men heaving rocks to the veiwer's left of the agent, at the agent and the cars. The original angle kept the shooting scene in view at the same time. But it's a cover-up! Righhhht. Any doubt that the shooter knew, and prayed, that the Calexico station tower had the camera on him the whole time, with the magnification turned up full? Thank Gawd it was. I love video cameras, but get a little weary of things being taken out of context.

Oh, and he was "unarmed." 'Cuz no one's ever died from a rock. ("Well, I would not feel so all alone..." [/Dylan])

So anyway, I've dropped a comment over there, and even a link to here. If anyone follows the link here, I trust that they'll be met with open minds. I just hope that they have open minds as well. Bad cops need to be fired and/or prosecuted to the fullest extent. But making the assumption that a cop, just because he's a B.P. agent who shot a Mexican national who wasn't blazing away with an AK-47, is dirty... well, it's prejudicial and wrong.

Sorry to beat this dead horse, but I noticed that they were linking through me, so I figured I'd rebut.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Listening with half an ear to the news...

First, the stupid fluff:

Look, I understand that the story gets pumped up to salacious levels by papparazi, but how big a nancy-boy do you have to be, to get beaten up by Hugh Grant, of all people?!? How could you look your wife and kids in the eye again?

Then,

I understand on an intellectual level that this guy, if he intentionally took his 10 year old boy out storm chasing, was being irresponsible. But on an emotional level, I completely get this kid's enthusiasm as they videotape two tornados. I live in North Texas, right in Tornado Alley, and I've never seen one personally. They've flown over, and I've made an effort to see them, but I've never honestly gotten a clear view of one. "Coolest day ever!" the kid exclaims. Lucky, reckless S.O.B.'s.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Let's hope he got a nice pair of crocodile gloves...


...or a new grip out the deal.






Crikey.



Dig the Taiwanese cop retrieving the arm, making do with what tools he has immediately available.


He doesn't have a hair on his arse if he doesn't demand a yard or two of hide for his next pair of boots, belt, and holster.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Changing Standards: The Evolving Criteria Surrounding Reasonable Suspicion In Investigative Stops"

CJUS 5200.001
Legal Issues Of the Criminal Justice System
Professor P. Tobolowsky
Matt G.
25 April, 2007
----------------------------------------------------------
THAT's why you're getting no blog til after 2100 hrs tomorrow.
You come back later.

A good shoot, with odd reaction. . .

News has gotten out about yet another U.S. Border Patrol shooting.
-
"Another one?" you may ask.
-
Well, yes. There's no change-- even back when I went through academy in the early '90's, it was known that the branch of law enforcement with the highest rate of shootings was the U.S. Border Patrol. It's just that nowadays, it gets more attention. Some of the new attention has to do with the furor over illegal imigration, and some of it has to do with new accountability of officers for shootings. For many years, shootings occured that nobody much talked about or did anything about, down on the border. That's changing.
-
So anyway, without the benefit of any backstory, I present this video of a Border Patrol officer stopping a rock thrower (Ramiro Gamez Acosta, a 20 year old Mexican man) who is in full wind-up, only a few feet away, when the agent put a single round from his patrol rifle through the rock-thrower's chest.
-
Some have questioned if the rock thrower was really going to throw at the agent, or if he was going to throw at the vehicle. Well, if you look at the windup and stretch of any pitcher, it can be kind of hard to tell where he's about to throw. Where, exactly, is this guy about to throw to? If he were cursing you and ran up to within 10 feet of you with a fist-sized rock, would you want to bet that it wasn't at you?
-
There's the question of whether a thrown rock merits deadly force. While I suppose that the size of the rock changes it a little, consider that even a very small rock thrown hard at the face can blind one eye for life, and a rock as small as a golf ball can easily be fatal if it hits the head or neck. In terms of historical context, it seems that it would take a pretty meticulous Bible scholar to find all the stonings just in that book, alone. (Some versions report that it was with a stone that Cain slew Abel-- supposedly the first ever murder.). What would it take to incapacitate the officer long enough to take his weapons?
-
Fortunately, the US Border Patrol and I apparently have basically the same feelings on the subject-- the officer involved was returned to duty after a mere 3 days of administrative leave.
-
The Border Patrol is furious, reportedly, that someone leaked the video to the news media. While it shows poor discipline among the staff that it got out, one has to wonder if there's ANY reason why they wouldn't want this video out there, to at least shut up the B.P.'s detractors this once.
-
The Border Patrol have a very tough job. I frankly wouldn't want it. While we should hold them to a high standard, let's give them what they need to do their job, including our support where it's merited. Like now, for instance.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Message from Larry Correia:

My online friend of several years and fellow moderator of The High Road Larry Correia is not only an accountant, but he's also a co-owner of Fuzzy Bunny Movie Guns. Yeah, I know that you've probably already read my buddy LawDog's post about this, but in case you haven't, I here post Larry's email that he sent LD and me:

"Could you do me a favor?Since you guys have very well read blogs [why thank you, Larry. Mine doesn't touch L.D.'s traffic, but it's kind of you to imply that it does, you Portuguese-silver-tongued devil], could you say something about how CCW is allowed in schools in Utah?

I'm finding that the vast majority of people out there don't know that, including gun people.They think it is banned everywhere, and the whole idea of guns in school is flabbergasting.

I want to get the word out into the Blogsphere that Utah has guns in school, and we have no problems with it.

That lets the genie out of the bottle, and hopefully people in other states will pick this up.This is why I'm teaching CCW to students, faculty, and staff for free.

I want the word to get out. I want people in other states to demand that their legislators allow them to protect their own children.

I want them to ask "Why do people in Utah love their children more than we love ours?"

If you can't, totally understand.

Thanks-Larry"

Sure, Larry! Thanks for everything you do, bud. Sorry it took so long for me to post it.

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Spreading the love.

Time to give Speaker Tweaker a little linky love. I've seen him on my radar before, but just now found a moment to review his blog. (I don't get around like I used to. . .)

I came across this old post about a WalMart encounter with a little hellion, which rang true.

So here's his site: Where Sometimes Things Go Bang.

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Most important tool to bring to a confrontation

Theodore Owens proves that the most important thing to do in a crisis is to keep your calm, and to think.

Briefly, three teenagers with a shotgun and a pistol robbed Mr. Owens in E. Dallas, and, unhappy with the take, hijacked his car and kidnapped him, making him take them to more money. He eventually took them to his credit union in the DFW Airport, into which access was controlled. They had no name badge, and had to wait. He said he'd be right back, and called the cops while his kidnappers waited. DFW D.P.S. arrested all three.

Sure, a pistol on his person would have been a nice option. "'Once I kind of got a feel of what I was into, I knew they were going to bodily harm or kill me,' Mr. Owens said." But wih one man against three armed men, the odds were not particularly good for a straight-up shoot-out.

Mr. Owens was a lot more forgiving than I would have been, though: "'They were young and dumb and gullible and just looking for money,' Mr. Owens said. 'It's like a chapter out of a wild story or a major drama. I'm just grateful to be alive and thank God for it.'" Well, maybe not that forgiving-- I note that he doesn't make any prayers for their clemency.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Devolving.

According to the Truth-Laid Bear Ecosystem, in the last week I went from a Multicellular Microorganism to a Flippery Fish, back down to a Slimy Mollusc.

I don't understand it... I try to better myself-- meet the right people, go to school, and I can't even attain fish status.

Ah well, it's not like I'd get an extra heart chamber or anything.

And if I recall correctly, squids fall within the phylum mollusca, and that would include my all-time favorite animal (well, at least, for the duration of second grade), Architeuthis-- the Giant Squid.

So, FINE. I'd rather be able to lay low Cap'n Nemo's Nautilus than be Finding Nemo, any day of the week.

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Impressions of the prom, 2007

I worked an off-duty gig last night, doing security at the high school prom. My impressions:

For some reason, all chaperons stationed outside were male, and most of the inside chaperons were female.

Fedoras were big, this year.

Backless, shoulderless gowns were the standard.

Teenaged girls that are physically fit are now more so, than when I was in high school. No, that wasn't written as a leering old perv, but a simple observation: those girls that are not fat are generally far more toned than the girls I grew up with. They've clearly been going to the gym. When I was a teenager, it was extremely unusual to witness any kind of muscle definition in a girl's arms, back, or neck. I saw last night latissimus dorsi that have been regularly pulling on a rowing machine, triceps that have been worked. Calves showed sculpting. With very few exceptions, the effect is quite aesthetic and feminine. (The rot about "not wanting to work out with weights lest I look masculine" is a misconception; without steroids and/or obsessive over-use of the gym, women with normal body chemistry simply cannot bulk up like that.) I don't know what to make of that. Sad statement on society's raised bar of expectations of young women, or happy surge in physical fitness?

Boys mostly wore rented tuxes. A few colorful examples were present, not least of which was a textured pink tuxedo. I told the boy he looked nice. He did; he was relaxed and healthy and happy and having a good time with his friends. What's nicer than that? A couple wore straw cowboy hats. One, in a traditional black tux, wore a camouflage baseball hat. Some of the nicer tuxedos had tails. I didn't particularly care for the scarlet cummerbunds on some of the "traditional" tuxes, but that's just me. A couple of guys wore personal suits. One guy tried to enter without a jacket with his shirt untucked and tie hanging loose. He was stopped, and he corrected what he could.

I observed a terrible lack of etiquette, mostly on the part of the boys, but also from the girls. It's a Promenade; walking in smacking gum isn't appropriate. Girls struggled in 4" heels to walk to the building entrance across a gravel parking lot while their "escorts" would either walk along without ever thinking to put out his arm, or, worse and still more common, striding ahead without looking back. This was especially common in groups that arrived together-- the girls would bunch up together, and the boys would mob up, slinking up the path in a pair of segregated groups. Boys would get out of their vehicles and walk toward the entrance without so much as a glance to their dates' car doors. Girls would form up together and run off from their escorts before they had even entered the building. Cell phones were pulled out without a thought. Boys thought nothing of standing among ladies with their hands shoved in their pockets.

I apparently will never dance again, if I have now seen the new scene of dance.

At least one lengthy (overly-so) hiphop song features air raid sirens. Huh. Okay.

Most of the kids danced. Perhaps badly, and with no real method, but they danced, that's good. Young people should dance. It makes me happy to see it.

My friends and I were never so good-looking. We weren't as young, either. But must of us cut our hair. (I don't mind long hair-- it's the unkempt shaggy look that bugs me.)

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

HVIS




My lab partner Eric and I are off to create some HVIS (High Velocity Impact Spatter) in an hour or so.

Tools: 2 sponges, two tables, some wall panel, a bunch of brown paper for backing, a tack, a piece of scrap wood, and a ratty old J-Frame .38 Special.

I asked my wife about where to get some cheap sponges. She asked "How big?"

"Oh, the sponges shouldn't be too large-- I don't have that much fake blood to saturate them with before I shoot them with my pistol," I said.

"Do you ever listen to the words you say, sometimes?" my wife asked.

Huh. I hadn't noticed.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Code of ethics.

Hip hop rapper Cameron Giles, a.k.a. Cam'Ron, says that he wouldn't even turn in a serial killer to the police, because it would violate his "code of ethics" to make any move to help police. EVER.

Dear Lord. . .

The irony just writes its self.

PLEASSSSE make it happen!

Pretty, pretty please.

And, if we're putting a cherry on top of the sundae, can we have him commit a traffic infraction in my jurisdiction?

Heh.

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Crazy Man With A Gun

"34**, I need some help here!" I heard Art's voice coming shakily over the radio, like he was running. Don, my corporal who was working deep night shift and who had relieved me 20 minutes before, had been chatting with me at the P.D. He swung his feet off the desk and onto the door as I rebuckled my duty belt back on. We hit the door at the same time, heading toward our respective cars.

"I got it!" Don declared. As my corporal, he could tell me to not go to the call. Doing so anyway, after I was off-duty, in a city car, would be a bad idea if he had ordered me not to. But he hadn't precisely told me not to go. He just had said that he "had" it. I kept going to my car. "I said I got it...!" he repeated himself. Uh-oh. He was about to directly tell me not to go, and I was going to have to make a decision. I knew Art.

"34**, he's got a gun, and he's chasing me around with it pointed at his own chest--- get me some help out here, now!" We both ran the last few steps to our cars, with no more discussion. Gravel flew, light bars lit up, and sirens wailed as we ran code in.... opposite directions. We had different ideas of where he was. I kept going. Heck, Don may have a better idea, or I might. But we could double the chance of getting that deputy some help if we kept on. I asked for a vector-in, from a now highly-harried dispatcher. It took some time. During that time, I made a bad guess on a dirt road that, while technically going more directly toward my destination, was rutted and potholed. I risked wrecking at 45mph. I stepped it up to 55.

"I NEED SOME HELP!" Art's voice was pointed. He was panting, and running. Involuntarily, my foot responded, and the speedometer briefly flirted with 60. A pothole the size of New Hampshire almost disabled my car, sending me half into the ditch. I slowed it back to 45. If I wrecked, I couldn't help. I finally got to blacktop, and found triple digits quickly. A railroad crossing immediately before a stop sign had me settng my tires down again about halfway through the intersection. I had every light and sound device on the car broadcasting.

Another brother with a badge from another agency arrived just about a minute before I did. When I got there, Art and Jeff were behind Art's car, and Jeff had a shotgun pointed at a man standing in the road about 20 yards away, who was holding a pistol and a beer. Art had just gotten a less-lethal beanbag shotgun out, and was yelling to the guy over it. At 20 yards away with lots and lots of open range behind him, the man with the beer was frankly a little far out for the beanbag gun.

We all found ourselves yelling to the guy. Art, whose call it properly was, also had a little bit more training with this stuff. He quite correctly told the rest of us to shut the hell up. And, thinking again about it some more, he put away the beanbag gun and got out the Mini-14 patrol rifle. At least now we had a rifle pointing at the guy, who was a good 30 yards from Art's car, by this point. The guy kept walking toward and away from us, with the pistol pointed at himself or to the side. He never pointed it at any of us, though. I made a point of getting my car spotlight and headlights on him, not only to help us see him, but to keep him from being able to see us. Putting a guy in a pool of light allows you to move about with a lot more stealth.

It began to rain cops. I decided to move alongside the guy. His pickup was parked at a cross street about 50 yards off and he'd already gone back to it for a beer. He kept moving as if to return to it. Well, I figured, maybe I can get to that pickup, and cut off an option. I began moving along a steep ditch to our left, to parallel the guy. The ditch had a lot of loose shale and brush, which meant that moving without giving my location away was hard. I got to a point about halfway to the truck and realized that I wasn't going to make it without a lot of distraction. I looked for cover. Ah! A utility pole! I snuggled up to it, and found that I could hide behind it. I took a practice sight picture on the guy with my Kimber, and found that, at about 20 to 25 yards, I felt confident that I could hit the guy in the upper body, but was NOT confident that I could make a first round headshot. I cursed my old chief for dragging his feet on adopting the proposed patrol rifle policy that I had written. (I now work for a more enlightened chief.)

About this time, the guy declared, "Well, that's it. It's time," and he poured the last of his beer out and dropped the can. He then began to stride toward Art's vehicle, behind which about 10 other cops were now gathered. I could hear Don now among them. I hoped he had good cover. I prayed that the guy didn't come my way, drawing all those muzzles in my direction. The guy pointed his pistol out to his right, straight out, and kept walking toward Art's car in that manner. I realized that the pistol was pointing straight at me as he passed me. He never knew I was 15 yards (at that point) beyond the end of that pistol. Rather than holler at him to watch his muzzle, or shooting him, I made myself a splinter on the far side of that creosote-soaked utility pole.

He kept walking toward Art's patrol car. Jeff had his shotgun aimed at the guy's center. Art, kneeling in the crease made behind his open driver's side door and front door post, had a good rest and was looking through the sights of his Mini-14 at the guy. Art began yelling for the guy to stop. Stop. "STOP!" The guy kept coming. As he got right to the front of Art's patrol car, it was reported to me that his sergeant began murmuring to Art, "Take him. Take him!"

I couldn't hear that just then. I too was yellng for the guy to stop and was fully expecting to hear the shot. The guy began to swing his right arm, with the gun, toward the cops. The gun, however, was reversed now. He slid it up onto the hood of the Crown Victoria, and stepped back. EVERYone began yelling for him to get down on the ground. He did so, and was quickly handcuffed as I secured the pistol. It was a... Hm. what did they call them? Ah yes, a Vektor. Cute little South African plastic pistols that were a good example of style over function. With no magazine in it, it felt light. I checked the chamber. Empty. I handed off the pistol and went to the truck. On the bench seat was the magazne, and a 50-round box of Winchester Western 9mm FMJ ammunition. He meant to die that night. He just wanted a good man to do it to him.

Thank gawd Art didn't.

The distance from Art's rifle's flash supressor to this bozo's chest couldn't have been more than 5 feet when the guy leaned over the pushbumper and slid that gun up the hood toward Art. Probably more like 4 feet. Call it a meter and a half. There were probably 10 guns pointing at the guy, and nobody dropped hammer on this armed man refusing to stop when ordered to. Remarkable, really. But Art was closest. His call. He was talking to the man in a clear, direct manner while looking through the sights. I'd like to believe that it was his confidence in his ability to stop the guy that saved the man's life. In the light and shadow there that night, no one could see the empty magazine well, and that wouldn't mean anything, anyway-- who wants to be the unlucky one to catch the single round in the chamber of an improvised single-shot?

Art's sergeant started telling cops to clear out. Some of us who had hurried to get there almost got our feelings hurt. But we cleared out.

The next morning, I checked on this crazy guy that had:
-gotten drunk,
-led Art on a short pursuit after being called in by his family,
-held us all to a stand-off for almost half an hour, and
-then nearly caused an officer to be victimized by his actions.
He had been booked in for DWI and Unlawful Carrying Of A Weapon (both misdemeanors), and had been bonded out by noon. No psych hold was placed on him. (Did someone drop the ball? Oh HELL, yes.)

He can legally buy a gun, drive a car, etc.

Why is it so hard to put correct tags on the legitimately unstable guys? So much so that, with two sergeants and numerous other cops on scene, no one had the gumption to ask for one?

We need to find a way to better deal with the people whom we've identified as crazy (like Cho Seung-Hui). Right now, there aren't enough beds as the public or or private hospitals, and you pretty much have to be activelly hacking off digits and throwing them at people to get committed. How about bringing about a simpler mechanism to get a person some help BEFORE it gets to that point?

Because, right now, I'll tell you: it's pretty frickin' bleak to us who run across 'em. And saying "I told you so" isn't much solace.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Caleb

They said that, back when, Caleb* had skills. He had some education, and had worked at a respectable job. But somewhere along the line, he must have given up. Some kind of injury (lawnmower? car wreck? both?) had legitimately put him on disability for awhile, and the doctor put him on some painkillers, apparently, to help with the ongoing pain. Caleb discovered a new lifestyle. I'm not saying that his pain wasn't or isn't real. But he hasn't held a regular job since. When the short-term disability ran out, he was fired, and he did small jobs while awaiting his federal disability status checks. And taking completely-legally-prescribed drugs.

During this time, his depression kicked in. It wasn't just the way his body atrophied during his inactivity-- it was a continued manifestation of the way he was brought up. His father was an absentee, with drug and alcohol problems, yet Caleb to this day refers to him with reverence. His mother was an alcoholic with an unhealthy relationship with her children. Drinking of course had become a way of life for him, and I'm not sure I actually ever saw him completely sober. He was, I suppose, kind of destined to have emotional problems. And boy, did he ever have them. Prescriptions for antidepressants of all kinds were obtained, and the pharmacology of antidepressants, painkillers, and alcohol were not doing good things for his perceptions. His sleeping patterns were erratic; he got prescriptions for sleeping pills. His little-used muscles began to tie up-- he got muscle relaxants. The drug stew kept brewing.

Caleb started having anxiety attacks. I don't know what all they gave him besides Zanex, but he sure started using a lot of that. Strange thing about anti-anxiety medications, in my observations: they may very well help the patient with his anxiety, but for many, when they run out, they're more anxious than they've ever been before. Like Dumbo and the magic feather, they seem to forget that they ever lived without the drug. I've been on multiple calls with our fire department/EMS when Caleb called 911 because of anxiety attacks-- he was out of his pill. He begs them to help him, and they roll their eyes and tell him that all they can do is to give him a ride in the box to the ER. Usually an ER doc gives him a few pills just to get him out of there.

He's become kind of a fixture around town these days, and in my duties I find myself running into Caleb pretty regularly. He'll be arguing incoherently with someone on the center stripe of the highway, or he'll be compulsivly throwing trash off his porch out to the street. (His house, where he lives with his mother, is filthy.) I approach Caleb gently, as a rule-- I'm not going to take him on to raise, and Caleb's problems are now his way of life. Some of the townsfolk and my colleagues want to try to take more drastic action with him, but it just wouldn't, I don't think, do much good. Caleb's mind has now lost a lot of what questionable amount it used to have. When I talk to him, we often start congenially, but it inevitibly devolves into his paranoid accusations. I'm out to get him. I'm a jerk. I'm not showing him the respect he deserves. If he only knew how I've argued against his going to jail to other officers. While I'm worn out by my Caleb encounters, I just don't see what good we're going to do by taking the hard approach-- we pretty much never have him on anything beyond little Class C charges, and when we return him to his mother, we don't see him for a few hours or even days. Most people are fed up with him. I suspect that the times I find him out staggering around are often when even his mother kicked him out of the house out of frustration.

Given his background, did Caleb even have a chance? He had managed to get out of the house, get a job, and get an education-- what happened? Given his background, and his injury (whatever it was), could he ever have been expected to deal with the pain, without becoming what is obvious --even to a layperson-- to be a prescription drug addict? And now, what do we (society) do with him? What does his mother do with him? (Compared to Caleb, she's full-functional.) Caleb may well live for another 40 years. Or he may die next week.

What a waste.

Caleb is just now entering middle age.

-------------------------
*Name changed.

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Contingency planning

When I was age 12, my father, then a 20 year cop and newly divorced from my mother, took me out with one of the house shotguns.

"What are we doing?" I asked.

"Contingency planning," he responded.

For the next hour, he had me practice removing the unloaded shotgun from its scabbard, loading it, and firing it at nearby named targets. At first it was fun. Then he turned the volume up. Speed. Smoothness. Accuracy. Determining which target he meant. Speed. Smoothness. Inside of half an hour, I was sweating a tad. Inside of 45 minutes, I was shaking a little. He worked me. We did that for about an hour every two weeks for about 6 months. While there are those who are faster with a Remington 1148, Remington 1100 shotguns, none know the order of arms better than I do, from those sessions. Before long we moved on to pistols. .38 Special revolvers. .45 acp 1911 semiautos.

The point was that, if you've practiced your order of arms, and don't have to consciously think about how to shoot, you'll do better in the important determination of whether to shoot. As the young man of the house, some of this fell on me. Oh, Mom was in charge of that house; make no mistake about that. But home defense was my duty, almost completely, by the time I was 13. Are all thirteen year olds capable of taking on this role? I will have to smile and say that, in my years of experience as a police officer, I question that all adults are capable of taking on that role.

But if it's your duty to see to the protection of your family, don't just get some equipment and assume that the duty ends there. Consider how it will be used. Get used to living with the equipment. (A shotgun locked in a safe in the garage with the ammo somewhere far from it might as well not even be figured into the equation of home and personal defense.) Practice. Practice some more. Think about what the situation is that will cause you to activate your emergency action plan. Make scenarios, and consider what your response will be, and whether it's actually practical. Err on the side of caution toward the safety of yourself and your loved ones. My friend

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To answer your question....

No, Austin, it is NOT illegal, as a matter of state law, to carry pepper spray here in Texas. [I'm not an attorney, just a cop with a decent grasp of the Penal Code.]

It's similarly not against state law to carry a Taser.

But if you wield these items against another person without a solid self-defense purpose, you may be charged with Assault, Assualt Causing Bodily Injury, Aggravated Assault, or, in the instance of the victim's death, Manslaughter or Murder. If you simply spray pepper spray in a public area, you may be charged with Disorderly Conduct.

Be aware, however, that local ordinances and regulations may differ from the law, and you have to use the stricter standard.

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The shootings

It's terrible. My best friend woke me this evening with the news, which I had missed before going to bed for the day.

Scott and I speculated on this question: Did anyone fight back?!?

If not, why, in this post- 9/11/2001 American society, are we not teaching our youth to fight back? Did we learn nothing from those on United Flight 93? From Jake Ryker's subduing the shooter in Springfield Oregon? From Joel Myrick stopping the mayhem in Pearl, Mississippi? Does no one remember how shoe bomber Richard Reid was stopped from committing his own suicide attack by unarmed citizens?

I have no problem with those who ran, jumped out a window, or locked themselves away. Regular readers here will recall that I'm a big proponent of running away from an attack, if you can, and if you're not charged with the duty to stop it. Trust me, I'm not saying that a suicide charge needs to be mounted every time a disturbed individual gets a little gunhappy. I'm saying that, when you find yourself in a corner, and there's no way out, you have to say to yourself, "I ain't goin' like that." Maybe you don't have the means or the freedom to carry a firearm. Maybe you've utterly blown it, and you've got nothing at all beyond the body and the clothing that God and J.C. Penny gave you. Are you going to die, shot while cowering, with your death meaning nothing? Which way will you fall?

If the balloon goes up, and my ticket is punched, please, God, let me fall toward my attacker.

And let me get a lick in.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Bullet magnets.


Several years ago, I posted at The Firing Line about a kid with a fake gun that looked very real.


At the time, it was a mildly amusing story about how I tried to make a point to a 20 year old showing questionable judgement regarding the above-pictured faux CZ.


But we just keep seeing this.


Folks, I'm a huge fan of the private citizen going armed. I don't draw my pistol at the mere thought of a citizen being armed, even if he's not strictly officially legal, by the letter of the law. There may be consequences, or maybe not. But overreacting is just silly, and I refuse to do it.


But I'm at a loss to think of what good these kids are going to do with a super-realistic inoperative toy. I've even been told "it's for protection." So now their thought is to threaten with it? Not good.


Last night, I stopped a car with a couple of convicted felons in it, and found that, under the passenger's legs, there was a rather realistic silver airsoft pistol. The slide was aluminum with metallic paint on it, making it look like bead-blasted chrome. The overall effect was of a Sigma. Now, § 46.04,Unlawful Possession Of A Firearm, (by a felon) is a 3rd degree felony in its own right, here in Texas, and a foolish 19 year old who already has several assaultive offenses to his record makes the cautious officer question whether such a kid might get overly anxious, wishing to avoid his new felony and the revocation of his probation for his last felony.


I did something I don't do a lot of-- I put hands on the lad, and put him in restraints curtly.


We established that the gun wasn't real, and that he wasn't going to jail that night, and he went home. He actually thanked me, saying that "the last time cops saw that gun, they bounced me on the car so hard, I'm surprised there's not a dent."


The LAST time?


Good. Gawd.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why don't they make...

...a little adaptor kit for SMLE's to shoot 7.62 X 39? It would only take a little "Navy block" type chamber insert, and a replacement boltface for a bolt that was explicitly designed to have the boltfaces replaced.

For better than a decade, I've been waiting for someone to make one.

[Shrug]

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You may say I'm a dreamer...

Utterly sincere question, here: If you're driving a $50k+ vehicle, wouldn't you want to use your turn signals?

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

From the "Boy, was Heinlein right!" deparment:

"Everybody lies about sex."
Why? Well, have you got a semester or two to discuss the sociological, psychological, and theological reasons? I'm beginning to think that there's a biological reason, too. As in, something physical within ourselves actually makes humans lie, when the topic is sex. And the sad thing is, it's the lying more than the sex that causes more disarray. "...It was he coverup."
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Wanna see that dynamic go into hyperdrive? Check out the way adolescents deal with it.
Daaaayummmm!
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I have never heard such of a pack of lies before in my life.
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One of my biggest objections to drug use these days is that its illicit nature turns users into liars. This seems to be that natural order of things-- prohibited activity requires lying. Adolescents in decent homes in our society are prohibited from engaging in this activity. Take, say, a 14 year old and confront him with his father present about having sex, and he may very well deny that such an activity exists.
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The funniest scene in the horrible old cult favorite Weird Science is when Kelly LeBrock (yum) confronts one of the teenaged boys' parents with a discussion of his solo sexual experience, with the boy literally screaming his feeble denials.
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But at least the kids have an excuse.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

That pleasant aftertaste? Job satisfaction.

Swooping in from three directions to arrest a burglar in the very process of making his latest business buglary, then properly interviewing him so that I get his written confession... times three (previous).

Brewing the coffee, now.

If only I smoked. . .

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Message to posterity:

While I'm not certain that anyone will keep this blog on their hard drive in the decades after I'm gone, I'll make the following observation, in an attempt to help future anthropologists and historians who are sifting through the remnants of our present, looking for an answer:
_________________________________________________________
At least half of our major news broadcast today is made up of two main stories:

  1. Discussion on the findings of an inquest as to who is the biological father of a dead drug-addled slut's surviving kid.
  2. Discussion of how a black minister with bad hair is decrying a white broadcaster with bad hair, for using the term "nappy-headed hoes." [Apparently, the definitive meaning of the phrase can be provided by one "Snoop Dogg"(who is about to earn his street cred in prison.)].

So don't go thinking that I haven't done anything for future generations.

_________________________________________________________

"I don't understand! They had the biggest satellite network. They had the best computers! The biggest army and the last big blue-water navy! They had the biggest economy this world had ever seen! What could possibly have caused their downf.... Ohhhhhh...!"

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

3.5 hours later...

...I'm out of my blood spatter midterm.

Damn.

Think it's time to go have a Tilsburg Dutch Brown Ale, and decide if this culture fusion in beer is really what's it's cracked up to be. I had one bottle after work, and decided that it tasted like a Belgian mixed with a nut brown. Hmmm. Not sure that I like that.

Heck, I mostly just bought it because the labels have a little tidbit form Hieronymus Bosch's Garden Of Earthly Delights on 'em.

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Why, exactly, did it take me so long?

...to link to SayUncle?

Lord knows Tam et al reference the guy almost daily.

If your attention span is short, you'll love this guy. Prolific numbers of 6-line posts in a day are the norm. 9 April 2007 had, IIRC, nine postings.

His favorite reference book as a kid appears to have been The Comprehensive Guide to North American... Hey! Let's Go Ride Our Bikes!

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On self-defense.

Tamara expresses her dismay with the Illinois State Police's take on what a woman should do in the instance of an attack.

She's right, of course, that puking on your assailant is not only of questionable efficacy, it's completely self-demeaning. Now there's a concept for you-- survival without giving up your dignity.

Being raped or murdered is pretty undignified, and I hope that my friend Tam will even lower herself to such indignities as puking to avoid them, should, you know, her pistol go to slidelock and her BUG jam and... well, whatever. It's just another tool in your box. You don't have to use it, but it's nice to have should you need to.

So, at the risk of looking sexist, the following appears to be addressed at women. It's completely applicable to men, too, if they'll listen.

It's a tired old saw that you should have a good idea of your surroundings, so that no one can ever attack you by surprise in the first place. It's quoted so much, we find ourselves nodding and responding before the sayers are even done spouting off about tactical awareness. Yes, we're aware. Yes, we watch behind us. Yes, we see who just walked through doors, parked, ... yadda yadda. But the reason folks say it is because it's frickin' true. If you have an idea that you're being stalked, you can make some incredibly important decisions in your favor.

You can call someone. Got a cell phone? No? GET one. No money for service? Not a problem. Everybody and their dog has their old worn-out model and charger, and 911 calls don't require you to pay for service. If someone is approaching you, and they make you nervous, dial 911Send, and start talking. Even before the operator answers, start talking. No one wants to attack a person that's on the phone and can tell of his wherabouts. He'll wait. When the operator comes on, give your location and demand help before your give the details. Note: Older phones are harder to triangulate position on. Try to give your location, even if you have to drop the phone to yell it.

Are you scared of looking silly? Let me tell you this as a cop: I have NO problem answering a call for help and finding out that the lady in question over-reacted. That's my job. Let me prioritize. Trust me-- that's the kind of call I got into this business to answer.

Next, consider-- what about running? Are you afraid that he'll chase you? Going back to that whole situational awareness issue, the earlier you see him, the better chance you'll have of running away. Remember, you don't have to outrun him-- you just have to make it to an area where he wouldn't risk attacking you.

And on that point: I used to walk a fellow student to her car after math class every night. We discussed the concept of what she would do if an armed attacker confronted her. She spent a lot of time on campus, where weapons like guns and some knives and all clubs represented felonies to carry. She also said that she was non-violent. "That's fine. There are ways to deal with attacks that are pretty non-violent," I started. . . And then she parroted off to me the things she had been told: how she was supposed to be non-confrontational. Give him what he wants. Tell him that she wasn't going to fight him. Make herself human to him... blah blah blah. You know what the main problem with all this was? She was talking like she was going to be in the same city block with him. This young lady was in her mid-twenties, and a dance student. She could have outrun me like a deer can outrun a bull. Why in Gawd's name would she consider submitting to anyone? But the guy would be armed! With a gun! Oh, yikes. Um, here's some news for you: Most people who threaten with guns don't know how to shoot them very well. I promise you, if you run from your assailant in a criss-crossing pattern (not straight away!), and he's armed with a handgun, not one bullet in 10 will find you. And that 10th bullet? Well, I'll tell you a little secret: Handguns are hard to kill with. Handgun rounds are inherently ineffective except for center hits. KEEP RUNNING.

Where do you run to? Well, my friend told me that she would run for the best, deepest, darkest cover possible. NO! The things attackers hate most are bright lights, open spaces, and crowds. They also hate noise, which means that they're most likely willing to do anything not to shoot that gun. But if they have to, make 'em chase you toward a crowd to do it.

Once a big lummox like myself has his hands on you, a lot of your most effective options go away. Don't let him touch you. If he grabs you, don't let him continue to have a grip on you. Break it by whatever means you can, and run like a striped-arsed ape.

SCREAMING. Make a really, really loud nuisance of yourself. "Get away from me!" and "I'm being attacked!" and "This man is hurting me!" are good ones to bring the cavalry. It also makes him want to be somewhere else.

Something that I'm really impressed with, and which is legal to carry in most states (Texas included) is the Taser. They've got a special one for non-cops now, that looks quite purse-or-pocket-friendly. I'm seriously thinking about buying one for my wife. Expensive? Yep. But if we're talking about something that may save the life of a person who won't or can't carry lethal force, they're a pretty interesting option. Trust me-- they knock me down.

Mace and pepper spray have their uses, but mostly in the contexts security and law enforcement, in my opinion. The cross-contamination issue is considerable-- I would estimate that, in my own experience, observations, and discussions with fellow cops and bretheren in the jails, that good guys take a hit about 3 times out of 5 uses of pepper spray. Add to that the fact that it's slow to incapacitate, if it ever does, and you have a questionable weapon. I still carry it... in my patrol bag.

Impact weapons like batons, kubatons, etc require training. They also can be regulated, sometimes to silly degrees. In Texas, you can get a Concealed Hangun License and carry all over town with very few exceptions, but if you're caught walking around with the ASP baton that I carry on duty, you can be charged with Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon. You can carry a shotgun, but not a spear. You can carry a rifle, but not a sword. Yes, I know that the laws are silly. But don't expect that to save you from the ride, or even the rap, for that matter.

Knives are damned useful. Every adult should carry some kind of knife. I do. My wife does. My mother does. My girls will, when of an age and not in public school. They're also extremely difficult weapons to wield effectively without drawing your own blood. Hey, if a lockback is all you have when the threat comes to you, do what needs doing. But understand that it's good to consider the issue before you ever have to. Brandishing a little knife may just get you into exactly the struggle you don't want, or it could make the narsty fellow leave. Waiting to make a sly fast cut with the hidden knife might be effective, or it might not. I'm kind of lukewarm on knives as self-defense weapons.

Feet and hands are always on you. You can deliver the hardest blows with your feet, and the most accurate blows with your hands. Understand that fair hits are a ridiculous concept. If I, a 6'5" 270 lb 35 year-old man am attacking you and you're under 6'0" tall and under 200 lbs, we're not talking about a very fair fight. Trust me-- I know that lots of trained people can throw me over the horizon, but on the average, physics says that I've got an edge. Don't fight fair! My eyes are soft spots-- make them go away. (Got a pen?) My throat is unprotected-- crush it. My cojones are right there for a good high kick or swift knee, if you're too close-- drive 'em through the uprights. It takes very little training at all to learn how to kick my knee or the common peroneal pressure point to make my leg fold up under me. Use your claws. Use your teeth, particularly on hands and face and neck. Bite something off, spit it out, and bite some more.

While we're on the subject of fighting back-- what kind of lethal force do you have? Gun in the trunk? Not much good, is it? Gun in the glovebox? Mmmmmaybe. If you realize that you're being carjacked before they're in the car. Gun on your person? Properly carried, this is ideal, if you're trained. Don't assume that ownership equals competency; get some range time with a qualified instructor.

If you're in a car, what would possess you to get out when threatened? You're in a two-ton weapon that you control-- get to weilding it!

Remember that you are at least 100 lbs of clawing, hitting, screaming, running, ranting, biting, kicking, shoving, cutting, shooting, squirting, slashing, spitting, and yes, even puking, rage, whom some poor bastard has made the mistake of trying to pick on.

Who the hell does he think he is?
Don't submit. Ever.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Perverts

Don't think I don't notice that the most popular outclick here is Steve's Nude Memphis Blog. (Hint: it's a stunt name. There's no nudity.)

Sad comment, when there's greatness like Tam's much-neglected (especially by her, sadly) Arms Room to click on. The link works, finally.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Anticipation

As I got ready, I could smell that unmistakable odor of desire.

My heart quickened.

In response to my manipulations, I was rewarded with the pungent secretions that drive a man to distraction. The world stood still, and my breath caught at the incredible sight before me. I've been here at this point so many times, I thought, but I'm still electrified with the longing at that first glimpse. What it does to me. . .

I realized that my mouth was hanging open, slightly, and I was breathing shallowly.

"Come on," I thought, "Almost there..."

And then, finally, satiation.



Just before the remorse kicked in, I heard from the doorway, "What the hell are you grinning so big at? Did you just get laid?" My co-worker can be so crude, at times.

"Nope," I sighed, and enshrouded my cup with my hands. "First cup."

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Book meme

Stolen from Ambulance Driver.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) Sense and Sensibility
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)The Silmarillion
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25 . Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)The Restaurant at the End of The Universe
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)The Chronicles of Narnia
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)Tis
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones' Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)Rumble Fish
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Re: Ulysses: I tried. Gawd, I swear I did.

Of the rest, some I'm ashamed that I haven't. Some I thumbed through and couldn't give a whit if I ever read 'em again (Anne Rice does that to me. I don't mean to criticize y'all who like her stuff, but it doesn't do a damned thing for me. I found myself flipping through, looking for the "good parts."). Some of them I've thumbed through, but couldn't really say I've read (eg: White Oleander, World According To Garp). Others, I believe that I've finished, but in piecemeal. (e.g.: The Bible.) Others, I simply can't remember ever reading, though surely I did...? (e.g.: East of Eden) Lots, I mean to read, and have a certain satisfaction that I still can. Ever realized that you're reading the last of a favorite author's repetoire? (Raise your hand if you turned the last page of To Sail Beyond The Sunset with slow regret?)


I agree with Ambulance Driver that there's a lot left out.

Just randomly, some books that either should be on the list or represent some interesting reading from recent authors:

101. Time Enough For Love (Robert A. Heinlein)
102. The Cidar House Rules (Irving)
103. Moby Dick (Melville)
104. Starship Troopers (R.A.H.)
105. Slaughterhouse-5 (Kurt Vonnegut)
106. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
107. The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis)
108. A Dirty Job (Christopher Moore)
109. Empire (Orson Scott Card)
110. The Naked and the Dead (Norman Mailer)
111. Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie)
112. Alice In Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
113. The Wizard of Oz (Frank Baum)
114. James And The Giant Peach (Roald Dahl)
115. Letters From The Earth (Samuel Clemmons)
116. Barrack-Room Ballads (Rudyard Kipling)
117. Leaves Of Grass (Walt Whitman)
118. Lays Of Ancient Rome (Thomas Babbington Macaulay)
119. Crossing The Border (Cormac McCarthy)
120. Leaving Cheyenne (Larry McMurtry)
121. The Shipping News (E. Annie Proulx)

Aw, heck. How far am I going to take this? Somebody else have a swing at it.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

So mean...

"Today, I went to the park with Quinn. After an hour of play, I loaded him back into the van, which always happens under protest. When I had him strapped into the car seat, I responded to his complaints with 'I know, daddy is so mean.'
On the way back, he kept spamming 'so mean' from his back seat, perfectly replicating the slight note of overdone sadness in my voice.
'So mean. So mean.'"

Marko's post of a few days back stired up some memories, which turned to thoughts, which became ruminations, which became this blog:

About 12 years ago, I worked in a cubicle. I was the night guy on the help desk. The morning crew would trickle in about 1 to 2 hours before I went home, due to overlapping shifts. One of the day crew was a very attractive --verging on beautiful-- black woman in her mid 20's. She and I got to be friends. Because I was a single guy in my 20s and she was a good-looking single girl in her 20's, I can't swear that my motives were pure, but I believed that they were at the time, and it's a fact that I never hit on her, despite her good looks, friendly manner, and obvious intelligence and ambition. Besides, she had kids, and maybe some kind of boyfriend.

But a little flirting might have taken place, maybe.

She had a cute little sports coupe, and there was a car seat in the back. One day she confessed that she never put her baby girl into it, because she didn't like it.

I was young, and reactionary. I challenged her. Surely any friend of mine would immediately see the error of their ways in an instance such as this. I lambasted her about how that car had airbags that would endanger a small child in the front seat. I acerbically counselled her on the danger of the adult-sized restraints on the baby. I explained how a rollover would be dangerous without her baby in the anchored baby seat .

"You don't understand," she said, emphatically. "You don't have any idea what it's like for a mother to hear her baby crying 'Mama, PLEASE!' and sobbing in that back where I can't reach her. You don't know what that does to me!"

And I didn't. Though I'd been to Academy, I hadn't yet worked as cop, and had no personal stories to counter her with. I just knew that a real parent had to be able to say "No" to his child. But what did I know? I'd never had a kid. I'd never been there.

Well, maybe I had been. Back when my parents were saying "No" to me.

I was confused. As I say, I was young, and had trouble fathoming that a person that I liked could put their child's safety second to their own feelings.

But to her thinking, a mother could NOT continue to put off her baby's pleas while strapped helpess and out of reach.

Not long after, I changed jobs, and I've not seen her since. Now I wonder-- did she ever get past that? Or did she continue to cave when her child cried? And how's that kid turning out, now? She must be about 14, now. What happened when it was time for her vaccination shots? The dentist? All those times when it hurts, but is necessary?

I genuinely hope that her kid is turning out all right. But I doubt it.

At the time, I had thought that she surely must see the light, because Good Folks (I would be friends with nothing less right? Funny the assumptions we make.) must decide the right way, eventually. As I've aged, I've jaded. I know now that people we initially like aren't always good, and that good people don't always make the right decisions about themselves or their children.

Back then I could give her no personal stories as examples of why she oughta ignore the crying in the back seat. On a summer day in 2002, that changed when I arrived at a crash scene in which a Suburban had rolled over and over, spewing the broken little bodies of children out of the vehicle, causing us to airlift 5 of the 11 occupants, and take away in ambulances 5 of the remaining 6. Only one hadn't needed the services of a major trauma center.

That person was the driver, who was the only person buckled into that tank of an SUV. Heck of a story, that hit me like a brick to the gut at the time. Wish I could have told her then.

When it's necessary, give the kid a little discomfort today, to save yourself the kind of self-hatred that I'm sure that Suburban driver from 5 years ago feels tomorrow.

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Wedding picture.


Over nine years ago, I wedded my bride on a crisp, clear February afternoon.


At my friend Paula's house, just about everybody that I gave a damn about gathered to eat Blake's good barbecue and beans, drink my home-brewed beer, and generally have a good time. My friend Billie took some pictures.


Here we are with (left to right) my step-father-in-law (nickel-plated Luger), my friend Dick (ivory stocked 1911), my old roommate Bill (I disremember which, perhaps a Star P.D.) my father (engraved nickel 1911A1 with mother of pearl stocks inlaid with gold and rubies ), me (sporting a beard and a Gold Cup with mother of pearl stocks), my bride (flowers and a phalanx of armed men-- she turned down the garter pistol), and my best friend Scott (with, as I recall, a borrowed .357).


One of the happiest parties of my life, and they made me leave early so that they could throw grain at me as we left. Dammit.


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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Oh, and by the way?

I'm in a pretty decent mood for a guy who's working his 10th day in a row and won't see a day off until day 15.

Remember that Legal Issues Of Criminal Justice test that I had last week during my driving school? The one I really wasn't prepared for? (Trust me: I was WAY under-prepared, to my thinking.) The one which, 11 weeks into a 16 week semester, was to be the FIRST grade in that class?

The most notoriously difficult professor in the Criminal Justice Department of my university just returned my test, and I got an A. One of the few.

Haw.

[/gloating]

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Just got the match results back.

Out of 24 match participants, I ranked 10th.

Oh well. I'd hoped to make a better showing, but these skills are perishible, and I've not spent much time with either of these guns. (Issue Car-15 and issue G-31)

Little things like getting my El Presidente down below 15 seconds wouldn't hurt. (17.9 seconds. Yikes. A Barney Fife draw'll do that to you every time.)

Carbine portion, I ranked about the same: 5th out of 9.

Dad also came and shot, but he gets a pass, due to recovering from his broken hip (I'll bet cash money that he was the only participant who griped that he'd forgotten his cane.), and also recovering from retina surgery that has disallowed him from shooting for awhile. Come to think of it, he wasn't doing any shooting during the autumn, with that broken hip and all.

Spring's here, and we'll soon be returning heavy metals to the earth at high speed.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nodding off

Is there any more miserable feeling than finding yourself unable to keep your eyes open, at a time when you must keep 'em open? Church. School. Work. Meetings. We all find ourselves in such situations. It's terrible. You catch your head nodding, and jerk it up, feeling your brain thump on the inside of your skull and sinuses compress a little. If you were really gone, maybe you sling that thread of drool hanging from your mouth onto your neighbor's desk or the blue-haired back of the head the lady in the pew in front of you.

Embarrassing, yes. But mainly, just purely MISERABLE. Sleep deprivation is a tried and true torture technique that has been used for... well, centuries, at least. Probably millenia. I would sing like a canary if it would Make The Bad Men Stop and let me get that sleep.

As a night worker, I'm always a little tired. I never get my rhythm down, and feel like I'm just a little shy of sleep. Sit me in an idling car on the side of the road at 3:00 AM with no traffic and a little minus on sleep with no calls to go to, and I'm... I'm in trouble. I have too much integrity to abandon the fight against sleep. Hey-- the least I can do is remain awake while at work. But it's soooo hard when the whole city's been eyeballed, there's no one around, and the radio is quiet.

The good times radio is generally spewing crap at night. Let's see: Top 40 pop that I mostly don't understand or can't stomach, Nashville Country Top 40, Urban Contemporary/HipHop/Gangsta Rap that I mostly don't understand or can't stomach, Tejano/Conjunto that I mostly don't understand or can't stomach (if I never hear another jaunty-paced accordian again...), BBC World Service, Talk Radio Sports, Talk Radio Ultra Conservative, and Art Bell. I usually either leave it off or turn it to the BBC.

Which will put your butt to sleep faster than a Lunesta cocktail with an Ambien chaser.

Nothing like some British broad with a north London or Lakes District accent murmuring on about the relative worth of the pound sterling against the dollar in foreign markets. . . .

[snort]

I'm sorry. What were we talking about?

Coffee. I'm going to make some coffee. Brought up some decent fresh ground French roast last night. That's the ticket. . .

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

announcement

Mom's site is back up.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Measuring my abillity



I get off at 0700, then meet up with Dad. After we make a run in his pickup to move a load of my stuff to a storage unit (more on that some other time), we pick up ammo, and go practice a little with my duty rig.

Friends, I've ALWAYS hated to hear gun-toters brag that they don't ever shoot their carry guns except for qualifications. It should be a point of shame. But I see it in cops, all the time. When I got my Range Safety Officer qualification, I caught a lot of grief over how I had the audacity to make a course of fire harder than the state mandates [p. 35]. Guys would complain, and bargain. I gave them the course of fire a week or better ahead of time, but I still caught grief. "Practice!" I'd say. Nothing doing. They wanted to come shoot the straight course of fire with their duty load a couple of times a year, and never put another round downrange the rest of the year.

There's a certain fear, by some officers... men... uh people of confronting their actual abilities and inabilities. It's common at a deer camp to hear a guy refuse to check the zero on the rifle he's dragged across a thousand miles without shooting. "Aw, she's dead on-- you can be assured of that," they'll say. The truth is, they don't want to lay bare the possibility that they're not as good as they believe they are. I know that, off-hand, I can on demand put a bullet into a paper plate while standing at 100 yards with my rifles, and at 35 yards with my full-sized duty pistols. Every time.

That's not very impressive, is it? It's okay. You can say it. I'll be the first to agree that it's not very impressive. A 10 inch circle? That's gi-normous! Who could miss? Well, not me. At those ranges. Given plenty of time.

But that's my point: I know. I know. Can I do better? Probably. I don't know. But I do know that I can at least do that. I've proved it. And that puts me ahead of many of my mates.
* * *
But...

Well, here I am, almost 5 months into my newest gig, and I've shot this damned thing on exactly two occasions, both times for qualification. Shameful. SHAMEful!

So we're going to pick up some ammo (I don't reload .357 Sig), run out to a friend's private range (read: cow pasture with a berm), and do some quick drills with my issue Glock and AR. Then we hop back into the pickup, and head off to the match that a local larger deparment puts on once a month for peace officers.

A few years ago, I used to shoot this match fairly regularly, and even scored decently in it. Of course, back then, I carried my Kimber Stainless Classic 1911 .45 on duty, and it really kept me in the race, scoring very high in the accuracy stage of the match. This time, my duty gun is the Glock 31. Why? Because that's what they issued. We'll see how that goes. :rolleyes: I refuse to game it up by shooting the match with anything other than what I carry.

There's also a carbine version of the match, for a couple of bucks extra. I might as well get in some time with the AR, seeing as how I've had exactly ONE session with my PD carbine. Again, we'll see how that goes. I actually considered bringing my M1 Carbine, too. Maybe next time.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Wish I could say more about this...

One of my co-workers is working on a case. (Note that I don't mention what kind.)

It's a difficult one, which began with almost no leads. (Note that I don't mention what they were.)

He's been working on it for a while. (Note that I don't state when it began.)

He's almost finished.

This guy, my co-worker --my friend-- is pretty young. He also did other stuff, making more money, before he came to policing. That said, he has only a high school education, police academy, and in-service classes under his belt. I don't mean to say that he's uneducated, but he's certainly not adorned with college hours and transcripts. He's only been a cop for a few years, too.

But he's a natural.

You ought to see this case report that he's put together. And he's not done yet. He's asked for and received extra manpower, and utilized it well. He's submitted afidavits and obtained court directives. He's put in extra hours that would make anyone tired, yet he's keeping his edge.

I'm busting my buttons over here, as if I had anything to do with it. I know what it is-- I'm just proud of this guy. He's on our team, and I've come to think of him very much like another younger brother. I'm cheering him on. I've always known the guy was pretty sharp, but here's solid documentation of it.

But I can't tell you about that.

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