Better And Better

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fun with cannon fuse, gravity, accelerants, and a spark

Rube Goldberg would smile, except for the fact that it didn't complete a task (unless the task was to warm a bucket of water for a bath, or sumpin'.).

"Let Are Kids Walk!" [sic]

Tamara wrote a little riff, inspired by what specifically I don't know, on the movement of our society toward self-esteem, and away from self-respect. A bunch of us chimed in enthusiastically.

Predictably, I guess.

I mean, who doesn't like to think that he has standards? Being against earned self-respect would be akin to being against motherhood. But when you or yours are being denied a boon for not quite measuring up , are you going to quietly accept the standard, or are you going to loudly protest?

Locally, we've been having some parents protest that their kids, some of whom passed their classes with flying colors, are have been deprived of their "right" to walk across the dais to get their diplomas because they couldn't pass a basic skills test of reading comprehension and math.

One parent claims that her kid had a 3.5 GPA, but didn't pass the basic test. "It's disgusting."

You're damned right it is. And the parents may surely have a point to hold the school accountable over. How in the HELL can a child pass high school classes-- cum laude, no less-- when she can't even get a passing score on a standardized test? These tests are not hard, folks! Are they perfect? Far from it. But basically, if you can READ, you'll pass. If you had any right to pass middle school mathematics, you'll pass.

How do I know?

Because the same state those kids have been "educated" in declared that my achievement test scores in sixth grade met the state's expectations for a college-bound senior. I asked the guidance counselor what "12/8" meant on my assessment scores-- I had a line of them alongside things like Reading Comprehension, Logic and Reasoning, and the different fields of Math. Turned out that it meant that was the expected score for someone tested in Grade 12, month 8 (Apparently they didn't test in month 9.). At the time, I thought that it meant that I was pretty frickin' smart.

Friends, I'll let you in on a little secret that I figured out real quick, when I started taking upper-division Philosophy and Symbolic Logic classes my freshman year at U.T.: I'm not that damned smart. I never really was. Frankly, several of the kids that were taking those achievement tests right alongside me have grown up to represent real intelligence, compared to my blue-collar kind of horse-sense. Ask Scott-- he was there.

But don't ask my parents-- they still (bless their pea-pickin' little hearts) think I'm bright, because good parents are proud of their kids.

But you can bet your sweet bippy that my parents wouldn't have been out there campaigning and picketing to get me an honor that I had not properly earned, like these parents: Or if they had, they'd at least have spelled their banner slogan correctly.

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Great news on my answering machine:

John Shirley is home safe!

That is all.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lunch break, Part I

3:00 AM, and time for lunch. As usual, I forgot to bring any, and because I'm sleepy and I haven't eaten in about 10 hours, it's time to head to what passes locally as the Big City for lunch.

First, a cuppa coffee. I pull into the vacant parking lot of the 7-Eleven, and hop out with my thermal road cup. As I walk into the store, I see the good-looking young black counterman counting paper currency into his left fist and writing down amounts in a log, prior to making his nightly drop. There's more there than he should have, and he's got more on the counter-- I suspect he missed a drop. It looks like more than $100.

I head back to the coffee pot, and am relieved to see that it's a fresh pot, as I fill my road cup and snap on the cap. Back at the counter, I point to my cup, and ask if he thinks that it would be a large or a medium cup. He sees it out of the corner of his eye and calls it a large, before saying "Oh, you're a... no charge, sir." He just now saw my uniform.

It is common for convenience stores to give free coffee to cops, and it doesn't bother my sense of ethics. I reuse my own thermal cup, they end up pouring out several pots of it a night, and my presence there is a pretty good deterrent to stickups, what with the "shoot me" uniform and car out front. But I always try to pay, and I ask him if he was sure.

I consider leaving without saying a word, but decide that I owe him something for the coffee. I wait for him to finish writing on his sheet and make his cash drop. "When did you realize that a cop was in the store?" I ask.

He grins sheepishly. "When I looked up at you here at my counter."

"I thought so, and I can respect that you're honest with yourself about it. Don't you think it would be a good idea to watch people coming in?" I ask.

"Why?" he genuinely looks curious.

"Because of your personal safety. Friend, you're in a profession that's at least as dangerous as my own. Wouldn't it be nice to drop a sheet of paper over all that cash you had in your hand and on the counter when I walked in? What are you going to do if a man parks around the side, and pulls on a ski mask while pulling a gun out of his belt as he walks toward the door?" I ask, pointing out the glass storefront.

"Well, our policy is to give them everything..." he begins.

"Quite right; if you've got to be robbed, then by all means give them the dough so that they can leave. But why put out bait for them?"

"What do you mean?"

"Don't you make drops at a specified time? Why let anyone see when you have money out on the counter? With that glass store front, you have enough time to put the money out of sight. But back to what I asked before: what are you going to do when you see a clear robbery coming up?"

"Uh, there's not much I can do-- they'll fire me if I bring in a gun or something, and even if I fight them," he shrugs helplessly.

"And that's a damned shame, that they ought to fix. But let's look at what you can do-- do you keep the store keys on you?"

"Yes."

"Is there a room back there," I point behind the counter, "with a strong door that locks?"

"Yeah... there's the office. It's got a steel door and a deadbolt," he says. He's beginning to think about the situation.

"And you look pretty healthy. What are you, 21, 22 years old?" I ask.

"20," he responds.

"You must be pretty responsible, then. Okay, don't you reckon that, with this counter in the way, you could outrun most anyone who's at the door, to the office back there?" I ask. He's young and smart, and he's seriously reflecting on it.

"You damn' right I could. Excuse me," he says.

"Heh. No problem. Last-- do you carry your cell phone on your person?" I ask.

"Always," he says with certainty, and I believe him.

"Then, when the bad guys come in, hightail it to the back office, call 911, and hunker down. And the bad guys can take what they want."

"What if I was wrong?" he asks.

"Then you'll be mildly embarrassed, and a cop or three will get a kick out of it. Nothing worse, " I reassure him.

"You know," he says as he eyes the distance between the back room door and his place at the counter, and the distance between the front door and his register, "I believe that's what I'll do..."

"But it won't work," I admonish him, "unless you pay better attention to your surroundings. At 03:00, you need to be suspicious of everyone."

"Yeah..." he smiles sheepishly.

"And don't ever, EVER let 'em walk you back into that back room," I tell him. "Better to take a bullet in the butt as you run away than to be shot in the head in the back room."

He nods soberly.

"Okay. I'm done preaching," I grin. "Gotta run. Please be safe." I head out the door as I hear him call the same back to me.

I can't just take the coffee for free.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Haiku #3 Memorial Day

Silly boys drinking
Under-aged. On service leave?
I don't see a thing.

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Haiku #2

Alarms interrupt
When I'm on my damned lunch break.
Electronics lie.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Haiku #1

The rain will not stop.
Cattails will soon displace our
Prickly pear cactus.

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I'll take "Blowing The Stereotype" for $500...

Girl gets drunk.

Girl gets drunker.

Girl wrecks car.

Girl calls boyfriend, who takes girl home.

Girl fights with boyfriend. Boyfriend leaves.

Girl gets drunker.

Girl rides bicycle, 3 miles in the rain, at midnight, to her friend's house. Friend is out of town.

Girl breaks in, steals keys and beer (gets drunker), and takes a pickup with a horse trailer on it.

Girl gets stuck.

Pickup has 4X4. Girl gets unstuck.

Girl crashes into mailbox, culvert, and gate.

Girl finally makes it onto the road.

Girl drives home.

Girl takes out mailboxes en route.

Girl drives back to friend's house.

Cop called by neighbor sees girl returning truck.

Girl's friend, on the phone, refuses to press charges.

Girl heaves sigh of relief.

Cop notes girl staggering, notes that sigh of relief was heavily laced with ethanol. Cop asks questions. Girl says she just takes Xanex, along with beer and margaritas.

Cop changes focus of investigation.

Cop asks for blood.

Girl says no.

Girl has been convicted of DWI twice before.

Girl is booked into jail for felony Driving While Intoxicated.

During book-in, cop asks standard question of highest level of education attained.

Girl (actually a grown woman) has a Master's in Business Accounting from a reputable university, and a decent job in her field.


- - - -


*This is just a story that I uh, heard from a guy I know.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Then what the heck *is* it?!?

Caroline Paul says that her brother's act of arson in burning a slaughterhouse, as part of the campaign by "The Family" and their Earth First! cohorts, is not terrorism.

This campaign included fires set to a police station, SUV dealerships, ski lodges, ranger stations, power substations... and these are only the ones that the nine caught have confessed to.

I took a graduate seminar in terrorism two semesters ago, and our standard definition of terrorism was: "Acts of force or violence and/or the threat of force or violence for political, religious, ideological or similar purposes, including the intention to influence any government and/or to put the public or any section of the public in fear."

Seems like burning down anything that you don't like is an intimidation technique.

ALF and ELF are terrorist organizations. Even if their goals are pure ("Save the planet" is a pretty noble goal, actually), their methods taint everything they do. I mean-- Hitler just wanted to create a greater, more prosperous Germany, and maybe breed a Master Race, right? Noble goal, and all that. (It hurts my head when I roll my eyes that hard.)

Nine to thirteen years is pretty dadgummed lax, in my opinion, for an honest-to-Gawd arson involved in terrorist attacks. Ms. Paul's brother should be thanking his lucky stars.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Peculiar priorites.

Most of y'all have probably heard by now the story of the recent Arizona execution of Robert Comer.

Mr. Comer, when asked if he had any last words to say, responded, "Yes. Go Raiders."

The article listed above goes into great detail to discuss how Mr. Comer left this as his self-spoken epitaph, and then discusses at length the debate over whether it's cruel and unusual to inject a man with a heavy dose of Sodium Pentothal to put him to sleep before stopping his heart with pancuronium bromide.

Curiously, at NO POINT does the article detail what Mr. Comer was convicted of doing 20 years ago. Talk about your misplaced priorities-- that should have been the lead. Instead, the information wasn't just buried; it was simply ignored.

This information is readily availible, and I'll list it here. Be forewarned: It's disgusting.
Robert Charles Comer

Date of Birth: Dec. 14, 1956

On Feb. 23, 1987, Comer and his girlfriend, Juneva Willis, were at a campground near Apache Lake. They invited Larry Pritchard, who was at the campsite next to theirs, to have dinner and drinks with them. Around 9 p.m., Comer shot Pritchard in the head, killing him. He and Willis then stole Pritchard's belongings. Around 11 p.m., Comer and Willis went to a campsite occupied by Richard Brough and his girlfriend. Comer stole their property, hogtied Brough to a car fender, and then raped his girlfriend in front of Brough. Comer and Willis then left the area, taking the girlfriend with them, but leaving Brough behind. Brough's girlfriend escaped the next morning and ran for 23 hours before finding help. Willis pled guilty to kidnapping and testified against Comer.

Trial Verdict: Jan. 21, 1988.
Sentencing: April 11, 1988.
Aggravating Circumstances: Prior convictions involving violence. Pecuniary gain. Especially heinous/depraved.
Mitigating Circumstances: None sufficient to call for leniency

Source: "Profiles of Arizona Death Row Inmates," Arizona Attorney General's Office.


Why did it take 19 years along with a sudden withdrawal of appeals to get Comer's sentence carried out? If he was crazy when he committed those crimes, how could he now live with himself now that he's been treated? If he's still that crazy, then he's still an active menace to the world, and we don't want him on this planet. Murder, Theft. Rape. Kidnapping. What does it take?

Remember that campsites are dangerous places primarily because of the two-legged critters. Remember George Comer's misplaced values, and arm yourself accordingly.

But forget about his stupid last words; his priorities were already messed up, to begin with.
A nice, pleasant Sodium Pentothal-induced nap, versus murder, robbery, violent rape in front of the victim's boyfriend, and kidnapping before the victim had to run for a day in the desert. Keep in mind the condemned man's actual actions when listening to those who would claim that the death penalty is "cruel and unusual punishment."

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

No frogs predicted.

Yesterday I dialed some digits on my phone, holding it hard to my ear to hear over the banging. Brrrrrt! Brrrrrt! Brrrrrrt! [Was he ever gonna pick up? I hadn't yet read that he was indisposed most of yesterday.] Brrrrrt! Click! "Ambulance Driver."

"A.D., my house has been descended upon by a gang of Mexicans with gas-operated guns!" I began.

"Who the Hell is this?" he responded.

We chatted for another hour, while the Spanish-speaking work crew re-shingled my roof with compressed-air-powered nail guns. Toward the end, I noticed something wrong-- silence. I went outside and found that I had a new roof, and all traces of the efficient work crew were gone. Disappeared. No bits of old shingle or tar paper. No nails. Certainly no soft drink cans. Good work, done in about 5 hours. Well, heck-- for the $4,200 and change the insurance company figured the job cost, I should darned well get good service.

Today, about two hours after I scratched out a $2800 check to the roof repair contractor for the new roof ($1000 deductible, and depreciation...), I was out mowing, when this crap hit me.* Air got COLD. Low clouds started becoming turbulent and pebbly grey on the bottom, as cold air descended through the layer of warm moist air. Not good. Pea-sized hail first started bouncing off my head and the mower, before it turned to dime-sized (parked the Honda under the front yard tree), and on to nickle-sized.

I sat on the front porch, and watched chunks of ice just large enough to use to chill your beverage bounce off of my brand-new, $4000 roof.
_ _ _ _


* Note the Yellow and the Green squares in the middle of the red band? That'd be my house in there. Very nice.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

...Not That There's Anything Wrong With That...

...but when the heck did Dallas, TX become the national focal point for gay-ness? I knew that the subculture was present, just like it had lately dawned on me that there's a disproportionately higher representation of minorities in public positions in Dallas. Right now, Dallas is going to have a run-off in which one candidate has been out for 30 years. If elected, he would make the very first openly gay mayor of a major city in the United States. Not San Francisco. Not Chicago. Dallas, Texas. And if he's elected, he'll join the openly lesbian Dallas sheriff, county judge, and district clerk as openly-out Dallas officials.

Huh. Who'd've thought?

Folks, I'm white, and I'm straight, and I was reared Christian...
...and I'm fine with all of it.

First, because my libertarian thinking basically demands that I not give a damn about what you like to do in your bedroom, so long as it doesn't interfere with my life. (Or the life of an unwilling party.)

Second, because, quite honestly, if I was going to have a bias about gay folk based upon my personal interactions with them, it would be positive. (Making sweeping judgements on groups based on anecdotal interactions with members of that group is stupid, as a rule. But people still do it, all the dadgummed time. Shoot, there's a certain name that I can't even utter in front of my wife, because she's condemned all women when it. My wife's a bright lady, but the film's burned for that particular name, where she's concerned.)

Thirdly, it'd be a moot point: I neither live in Dallas, nor even do I reside in Dallas County.

But still-- I just wouldn't have guessed that it would even have been a possibility.

- - -

Back in the '90s, before I was a cop, I was a night-shift supervisor for a security shift at a large I.T. office building campus in downtown Dallas near Oaklawn Avenue. I had a small crew that worked for me in patroling the 40+ acres and 1.7 million square feet of floors, and checking the several thousand doors for 12 hour shifts. I would typically take the dispatch desk and study my university homework for a good portion of my shift, but to keep awake, I would occasionally check out a van and go out to patrol the parking lot. We had a very gung ho director and an even more gung ho assistant director, both former U.S. Marines of the VietNam era. They were rather conservative and outspoken in their views. When they hired a young black former Marine corporal named Mike to work on my shift, they were in hog heaven. I was pretty happy, too. This guy was well-spoken, polite, and wore a uniform better than anyone I'd ever seen. To say that his leather was shiny would be an understatement, and you could shave with the creases he put in his pants and shirt sleeves. He not only made every shift, he arrived early, stayed late, took on extra shifts, and did good work. I knew he wouldn't last long (they weren't paying my guys very well), so I did my damndest to give him free rein. We got to be friends.

In the middle of the night, when the first floor checks were done and the doors were found secure and all the little chores were done, we found time to talk about everything. Mike was a bright young man, and we both saw right away in each other a sense of humor that we liked. He found it amusing that I could do my job as supervisor while completely being unwilling to take any "authority" of my position seriously. We were rent-a-cops, and nothing else. We did what we were paid to do, but both of us knew that this was nothing more than a temporary place-holder in our lives. I'm afraid we might have made fun of ourselves on occasion. :) (Our uniform was, we realized one night, identical to that of Roscoe P. Coletrain's from The Dukes Of Hazzard.)

One night Mike came in to make some coffee, and I asked him for the keys to the patrol van he had, so that I could make a few turns around the parking area, and run to the store to get a Coke. When I got in the van, I found that he'd left a mix tape in the tape deck. I let it run. Bette Middler. Cher. A dance remix with samplings of Bette and Cher. Dance music with calypso undertones. More Cher. I went back into the security office.

"Mike, I thought we were friends," I began.

"We are," he said, as he handed me a cup. He'd just made some coffee the way I liked it-- a bag and a third of the crappy individually-wrapped industrial coffee, using a fork to flick out the large thick, acid-laden flakes of coffee bean casings, and carefully scrubbing the pot, filter basket, and drip spout before using spring water from the cooler. The result was actually drinkable, despite the fact that our company bought us about the cheapest coffee you've ever seen. When Mike made coffee, not only was the coffee good, but the coffee station in the break room was left clean and organized. For that reason alone I had campaigned for a raise for the guy.

"So why, over all the time that we've talked over all these nights, have you never thought to share the fact that you're gay?" I asked.

"Wellllll..." he stalled. "You never actually asked." This was true. I'd had my suspicions, but figured that he was one of those latent guys that didn't know it, himself. Why bring it up?

"Yeah, but that's a pretty big chunk of yourself to hide from a friend, when you're clearly out!" I retorted.

"What makes you say I'm gay, and out at that?" he asked.

"Mix tape."

"Oh. That. Yeah, I guess I'd forgotten about that. Is it that obvious?"

"It certainly made some things clear," I responded with a grin.

"I just thought that it might be best to hide it at work, given the extremely homophobic nature of [our bosses]," he said.

"Yeah, that makes sense. And I won't mention it to them," I said. "But still, dude-- I'm mildly offended that you didn't think you could trust me after a few months."

"Look: you're not critical of me being gay, even though you're straight, right?" he asked.

"Right," I responded, matter-of-factly.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because," I said, not immediately seeing the trap, "it's none of my frickin' business!"

"Exxxxxxactly," he responded, with a grin.

"Oh, shut up. Go out and listen to your extended dance remix of 'If I Could Turn Back Time.'"

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Altered states of consciousness

Not to promote the drugged lifestyle, but sleep deprivation and a Grolsch beer before putting on headphones and playing a song with serious stereophonic separation, while focusing very closely into the iTunes Visualizer can really, really cause you to momentarily lose your local grasp of stuff. Since entertainment is supposed to do exactly that, and the effect is over when the song ends, it's harmless.

I have no idea if this is common for everyone, or if it's like those damnable stereographic puzzles that only some people can see. Based upon what I saw when I worked off-duty security at a rave once, I suspect that it's a pretty common phenomenon, but lots of kids seem to think that they need a heavy dose of Ecstasy to make it work.

The aforementioned "Starship Trooper", at the instrumental about 3/4 of the way through, does it nicely. I suspect that The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" would do it. Countless others. Maybe Penguin Cafe Orchestra pieces.

Music has often been claimed to transcend the listener. I'm pretty visual. If I can get the visuals to match the aural, and both are particularly good, something occasionally happens for a few seconds. It's a nice diversion. I can't make this music, and I can't make the video to accompany it. I've seen dancers that could do the latter, and have known musicians that could probably do the former.

Heh. But then again, I was impressed as a kid when they arranged the lights at the skating rink to be in sync with the music. . .

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Dadgummed interior mic!


I love mobile video for cop cars. I do! Some cops complain about the Big Brother aspect of having their stops recorded, but I'm cool with it; don't say or do something that you're not supposed to be doing, and you won't get into trouble. Easy peasey. On at least two occasions, mobile video and a body microphone have cleared me of accusations. On at least a couple of other times, I wished I HAD a body mic and mobile video running. But microphone control might be nice.

A month ago, I put a guy in jail for Driving While License Suspended. Last week the case, which was written in my usual brilliant style, was declined. I was... confused. This... does not occur. What... wha' happen'?

I called the D.A.

Not to whine, mind you. Oh, no. To learn.

So I found out that the DA of our county has decided to completely change the criteria to arrest for suspended licenses, without telling us, and without notifying the State that its charges are just a bit too lax for OUR district attorney's office. I now need a roadside confession of the driver's knowledge that his license was suspended. Oh, very nice. They ALL claim "I didn't know that my license was suspended! They didn't send me nuthin'!"

To which I try to bite back: "That's because you've lived in 5 different addresses in the 3 years since you last notified the state of your current address, as is required by state law within 30 days of moving. You didn't suspect that those six No Insurance citations, 4 speeding citations, and 3 FTA's might have caused your license to be suspended? You know, it's listed in statute that two No Insurance convictions in one year results in a suspended driver license."

But no. Now I have to get them to say,"I'm sorry, Officer G. I knew that my license was suspended, and yet I drove anyway." Great.
Science fiction, in other words.

So I got on the phone with the DA, who explained all of this to my not-whining self, and who then said with a grin in her voice: "But take heart-- 'Elvis is everywhere.'"

What...?

Turns out, the tape that I sent in with the stop had two microphones recording to video: my body mic, and the interior car microphone, which records all sounds within the car. This is great when you have a prisoner in the cage. It can be embarrassing, if your radio is tuned to the wrong station. I happened to have the car good-times radio tuned in to the Sonic Burrito (hosted each Sunday Night by Weird Warren Harris on KNON, TheVoice Of The People) on which Mojo Nixon played their signature hit while I was out with the defendant, so the radio basically provided theme music for us.

"Elvis is Everywhere!"
I think it's the bosun's whistle that cracks me up the most.

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Oh, you think *that's* bad?!?

Tamara made an amusing rant about how the local Knoxville rag felt the need to post on the front page an ongoing story about teens at a party having alcohol. Some jeering might have occured.

The editor got wind of it, and responded that this is what the people are interested in.

And it's true that this time of year is a rather pertinent time to discuss teen drinking. If you've not seen any yet, brace yourselves for the late-May/early-June series of stories that will follow the seemingly inevitable, unfortunately ubiquitous, alcohol-related teen fatalities, most of which feature the Salt Of The Earth kids who Had Their Whole Lives Ahead Of Them, and who Had A Real Bright Future. Shoot, talk about your "Sun Rises!" headline. But they'll be there, and they'll be legitimate news, too. I've bought papers just to read such stories.

But my wife cautioned me to stop yelling at the television lest I wake up the children one night, as I was getting ready for work. I want to say it was our local Fox affiliate (but I may be wrong) which ran, toward the end of its regular news broadcast, a segment, which ran for every bit of two minutes, on "Neuticles."

These are artificial testicles for neutered dogs and cats and bulls and horses. Why make them? Why, because they give the poor boy back his confidence, and make him feel better about himself after he's been physically altered by being neutered. The story featured a relatively legthy interview/voiceover with an owner, while showing footage of his bull terrier. . . complete with zoom-in footage of the canine's scrotum.


My hand to Gawd, I'm telling the truth.

I'm not talking about one of those quick, almost subliminal flashes of a view; I'm talking lingering, changing perspective views, to give the viewer a look at the surgical scar, as well. Talk about your "well I really hadn't expected to see that over my evening coffee" moments.

Apparently, the war in Iraq wasn't worth spending time on. Nobody saved anyone's life. There were no life-saving medical discoveries. No insights into the war on terror. Nothing else that could pre-empt a story on the amazing efficacy of ovoid chunks of variously firm silicone in restoring Fido's life vigor. That two minutes was NEWS, by golly! If a 30 minute broadcast only gets 24 minutes of content due to commercials, we were watching 8.5% of it drain sickeningly down the drain, as this schlock. I will spare you the photos or the direct video.

Mom was a journalist with a large regional newspaper, and apparently her questions about the difference between the definition of what's "news" and what's "entertainment" were passed on to me, somewhat.

Just because people are interested doesn't make it newsworthy.

News hound.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Now Extinct.

The HMS Cutty Sark is burning. Greenwich police say that they are investigating the burning of the last original clipper ship (built of wood on an iron frame, it was one of the fastest, if not the single fastest, merchant ships of its time) as an arson case.

Damned shame.

As really fresh tea is hard to get around here, I may have to purchase a green bottle before the day is through, in homage.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Head in the sand...

I just this morning heard of the shooting in Henderson County. I noticed several guys wearing mourning bands on their badges, but was too embarassed to ask. I've been off for a coupla days.

After reading a couple of accounts of it, I found myself composing a nice closing argument for the D.A. I'm certain that the D.A. doesn't need my help. But at some point, I hope that the prosecuting attorney says something to the extent of the following:

"Mr. Mays has been defended ably by a good attorney, who has attempted to
convince you not to find his client guilty of Capital Murder through some
creative methods. And I'm glad of that. I'm glad that Mr. Mays was represented
by a capable attorney, because it will mean that your finding of 'Guilty' will
mean that much more, and be that much harder to overturn during the automatic
appeal that will be lodged.

"You may not like cops. Some people don't, especially when we've been written a citation, or an officer took other official action that we didn't agree with. But peace officers --and that's what these two men in their 60's were-- Peace Officers-- should be able to go about their duties without being murdered, same as anyone else. Let's pretend that the Texas Penal Code didn't have that line in
section 19.03 about it being a capital murder to murder a peace officer or fireman.
Let's pretend that these guys weren't peace officers, and were just guys doing their jobs. Well, I guess we'd have to throw out subsection two (2), which refers to murder committed during the course of committing assault, arson,
obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat, too, sense ordinary citizens
normally wouldn't be doing the job that they were doing. But what about
subsection sevem (7), in which the Penal Code says that it's Capital Murder to
murder more than one person "during the same criminal transaction?" See, that
law covers you and me and the juror beside you. Oh, the judge over there, he's
got his own subsection. And victims under 6 years of age get their own
subsection. But subsection seven-- that's for you and me and your family
members. Anyone who murders multiple people commits Capital Murder.

"Forget, if you wish, that he's decided to fire upon men who wear the
badge and are sworn to uphold the trust of our society, and are as such symbols
of what is just and right. Just focus, if you'd rather, on this fact: He
murdered two, and would have murdered a third, if that third heroic wounded
deputy hadn't stopped him. How many more citizens would he have killed with
malice in his heart? Thank God we'll never know. End this right now. Cast your
ballot. Tell the world that this is wrong. This is Capital Murder. And
Mr. Mays is guilty of it, several times over."
I know, I know. It's a silly little Clarence Darrow-type closing statement (never mind that Darrow was a defense attorney-- work with me, here) that bubbled up while I was driving through Gravel Drive and turning onto Pothole Circle. But I can hear it, with the right inflection, clear as day. Figure he'll go to trial in 18 months, and will sit on Death Row for 9 years... I reckon he'll take his last nap in 2018, or thereabouts.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

If I had but known...

A few years back, Dad and I went on a hunting trip with John Shirley, Al T., Tamara, Byron Quick, and Derek in eastern Georgia. We missed Oleg Volk and fellow Texan Art Eatman by a couple of days, too.

We arrived a tad late. Well.... really late.

This was a bad trip for autos.

Dad had a 1991 Isuzu Trooper, of the old square boxy type. These were neat SUVs of the original concept: they all came standard with 4X4, they had a very stiff suspension, and were rugged enough to actually take (gasp!) off-road. As usual, we packed too much gear. No biggie-- we had room to spare. We took plenty of guns, ammo, and more guns. We tore off east-bound down I-20.

Just as we were entering Delhi, the transmission went out. We caught some friendly help by the local P.D., and took the truck to the local garage. By midday the next day, we found that we were going to need a transmission replacement. We had the truck towed back west to West Monroe, LA to a big transmission shop, and rode with the tow truck.

For the next 4 days, we wasted time in West Monroe By-Gawd, Louisiana. We rented a car, got a decent motel room, and hit every damned pawn shop, book store, and library in the parish, just about. We discovered that Ouachita parish is one of those wonderfully civilized places where the parish Sheriff's Office runs a public range where the taxpayers can actually use the facilities. A trusty actually cleans up the range, and even posted our targets for us. Very, very nice. But still, we really would rather have been off hunting in E. Georgia with our friends. LawDog started to come rescue us, but his car broke down on I-20 east of Dallas!

Now I find out, by way of Ambulance Driver, that we were in the vicinity of greatness, but did not know.

Ticks me right the hell off.

I think that I trust AD's appreciation of food, because he likes steak done pretty close to right (give my first side 30 secs, please-- otherwise, just right.).

BTW, Ambo Driver-- regarding great barbecue: if you were to go a little west of Austin on Hwy 290 and then a little south on FM 1826, you'll think you're lost in the middle of nowhere, when you come across The Salt Lick, which has pavillian, bench seating, and serves the all-you-can-eat barbecue family style. Big thumbs up for the fact that platters of all kinds of barbecue are set down in front of you within seconds of your seating, and the waitstaff are highly disappointed if you don't keep 'em fetchin' more, more, MORE. Play Jenga with the ribs-- they don't mind.

When we finally got to Georgia, Art and Oleg had gone, Derek and Al T. were just leaving, and Tam only stayed 2 days more (she had to stretch it, at that). We left after five days, only to have our newly-rebuilt tranny die somewhere in Alabama, and I had to catch a bus to get back to work in time. While I ate some darned tasty blistering-hot chili con carne that John made to even have us Texicans wiping our brows, I never did get to eat a really good greasy spoon.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Go to bed early tonight

...so that you can stay up late, and hear my evil arch nemesis good online friend Ambulance Driver prattle on discuss important, compelling, and humorous takes on life surrounding EMS and rural life in the south.* He'll be on at the same time that LawDog was on, last week: midnight on Friday morning/Thursday night, at Blog Talk Radio. Come in a minute or two early, so that you can get the feed buffered, and all. Mark (the host) takes Yahoo IM's, too, so be sure and pop up numerous inappropriate questions for him.

I mean, since you all so love A.D., and everything.

:)

*I suppose I'm supposed to say that he'll discuss "life, death, and everything in between," but I can only shill so much-- I damned well draw the line at taglines.

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Tomorrow, The Stars


"Speak to me of summer, long winters longer than time can remember,
The setting up of other roads, to travel on in old accustomed ways.
I still remember the talks by the water, the proud sons and daughter that,
Knew the knowledge of the land, spoke to me in sweet accustomed ways."

"Starship Trooper: a. Life Seeker, b. Disillusion, c. Würm"
The Yes Album, Yes, ("b." Squire)

When Tamara posted about this photo of a Martian sunset, I was surprised at how powerfully it hit me. I have in-laws who regularly make fun of how the only thing the space program ever brought them was Tang, and they don't even like Tang.
-
I was reared differently. My mother sent in money, in the '60s, to the space program to help with the moon shot. When I was a boy, I had an 8X10 color photo of Allen Bean hanging in my bedroom. Dad had been reading Heinlein for decades before I was born, and our attic was stuffed with old issues of Analog and Isaac Asimov magazines. Both parents recounted how disgusted they were when they heard that the crowd at Woodstock had booed upon hearing how Apollo 11 had landed on the moon.
-
All my life, I've expected us to set foot on frontiers beyond this earth. Making it to our own satellite is a necessary step, but it hardly represents a stopping point. There is new talk of renewing our reach to the other planets. I may see it, and I may not. But my daughters will. They may even have a part in it.
-
My elder daughter returned last night with news that she was one of three in her class to make a perfect score on her state math test. Ironic, in that she's about as interested in math as I am in window treatments-- read: not at all. She'd have been prouder to have won the school-wide spelling bee that she qualified for earlier this year. But I'm proud of her. I know that she and her sister represent a chunk of our species' hope for salvation.
-
As I mentioned in my comments to Tamara's entry, Elder Daughter gets a copy of Podkayne Of Mars this summer. Next summer, Tomorrow, The Stars.



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Jonathan's in love

Remember that feeling? I do. Giddiness. A little fear that it could be interupted. Near inability to see any imperfection.

I don't know how old Jon is, but he's a good deal younger than me. I'm in love with my wife, and am damned happy with my situation, but that powerful new recognition of new love is a special memory.

With all the hate, and judgement, and anger, and fear, and worry, and proprietary jealousy in the world, it's nice to see this declaration of love by a young man.

Jonathan, I hope it works out for you. Why shouldn't it? If you remember that Love is something that you do, not just a Thing That Happens, and that you must be active in your relationship every day (even on the good days), then there's no reason why it shouldn't go the distance.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Help Wanted: Moral Majority head honcho.

Lost our last one. We think we know where he went.

Must be perfectly certain that he is right. Not just right, but rightly Right. Experience in hucksterism and demagoguery helpful. Must possess numerous hot opinions on popular culture and other religions. Past study of history a plus, but not really that important. Judgment is essential-- you will be sitting in it of others daily. Honesty not important.

Higher ratings equals higher salary and more TV face time! Must have
own suit. Bonus if a bigot.

Interested parties contact Liberty University. If busy, page the Southern Baptist Convention. (They may not answer.)



Where there is yet wild to be found.

Yes, Tamara repeated/reported it first, from Hobie's site, but this bears a reiteration: Go look at the video caught of a brown bear killing a moose on someone's driveway. Be sure to click on all three videos on that page to see it all.

The best part is the calm narration of what sounds like a man and wife on the second and third one. Imagine how many people in your neck of the woods would be pitching a fit. Yes, even your neck o' the woods.

Alaska is truly our last frontier. Even Montana, north Idaho, and Wyoming are, from what I'm hearing, losing some of their wildness. People move to Alaska to go to that last land of the wild, and, as such, they learn to accept it; indeed, they expect it. New tracking studies show brown bears (if they lived on a big island to the west, they'd be called "Kodiak" bears) are actually regularly moving through downtown Juneau, generally without incident. Click on the graphic to the left of that article, and then click on the different bear collar numbers. Look at bears 200, and 208! Wow.

Even down here in Texas, where we're supposedly so very rugged (yawn), our locals are having fits because [gasp!] an alligator was sighted in Lake Lewisville. Um, people? They're native to the state, though mostly by the coast. Build a giant lake where there wasn't one, and you'll get alligators where they weren't. Next you'll start freaking out to find that we've got copperheads, water moccasins, rattlesnakes of several varieties, and even the odd coral snake.

Most folk in a lot of the Lower 48 would be surprised to learn how frequently cougar wander through their areas, as well. I think I'd just as soon they not know.

I'm a hunter, and I have no qualms with taking game and even hunting predators, on occasion. I've no real interest in hunting bears and cougar, so long as they're behaving themselves. I'd be sad if we lost any more wildness. Sprawl is encroaching upon our wild areas. I hope we can keep as much of Alaska as wild as we can for a good long time.

I need to get there.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

SiteMeter Question

How did I get linked to by this? And where am I linked? Somehow this cute litle Taiwanese "my child" blog got involved, and I can't figure it out.

I'm curious. If one of y'all can make heads or tails of it, I'm all ears.

Anyone?

Keeping me in business

Thank Gawd felons are dumb.

If they were smarter, they wouldn't do things like:

-Park the semi tractor and flatbed trailer, which they had stolen 2 days previously, in front of their own house...

-And then wander out to fire it up to warm it up for their night's excursions to steal large items (like sheds), before toddling back inside...

-Without checking to see if a certain blogger-type officer is parked just up the street in a marked patrol unit watching the stolen vehicle...

-Only to give a detailed post-Miranda confession....

-Then admitting that the loaded meth pipe in the truck was his own, before it had even been found.

Heh.

Cal Tech has not, to my knowledge, been calling him to pick up his advanced degree in Rocket Propulsion.

-------------------
This would just be a for-instance-type illustration, you see. I certainly would never confirm or deny that such an event took place anywhere around my jurisdiction, or on my shift....

Just tradin' stories, here....

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Good news and holy cow!

Tamara's updated her blog The Arms Room! Go look!

I haven't finished reading it yet, but it looks to be a good one, on the '03 Springfield, with more beautimous photography by the great lensman, Oleg Volk.

Tam, you keep us fed once every 2 weeks, and I won't balk.

Now, about the back issues you owe us....

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Blood spatter practical excercises


For my blood spatter class, my lab partner Eric and I decided that no practical exercise would be complete without some gunplay. Others smeared, splashed, and stamped blood; we decided to create high velocity impact spatter (HVIS). HVIS is very distinctive: it looks like it was sprayed from an aerosol. It is composed of droplets under 1mm in diameter. (A millimeter is about the thickness of a dime.) The issue was, how to make this? Answer: sponges.

Eric did the real shopping, because I was majorly busy, and because he's a superior lab partner. Seriously-- this guy's thorough. He didn't just buy a sponge-- he bought 4 big (4"X8"X2") Ocello sponges, and a pint of fake blood. He bought a sheet of paneling, and some boards. He then reinforced the panel with the furring strips he bought, and transported said paneling, boards, sponges, blood, and some cinder blocks from home to meet me at my private range. Well, it's actually a friend's cow pasture, but for my purposes, it's my private range.

Eric also brought in his SUV a metal rack and some duct tape, along with a lot of brown paper that we had taken from the criminology lab for this purpose. We coated the panel with the brown paper, and I stood it up against the door. Then we took an old rusty range table that's been out there for about 25 years, and stood it about three and a half feet from the wall that we had erected. (HVIS is said to travel not more than four feet.) We wanted to see marginal HVIS. We then suspended the sponge from a board bridging two pairs of stacked cinderblocks, by wrapping one end tightly with duct tape, and hanging the sponge so that it would swing by the duct tape from the board. We took it back down, and saturated the sponge with the fake blood. We put on rubber gloves and poured plenty of the stuff onto the sponge, all the while squeezing it. When it would accept no more "blood," we hung it between the cinderblock stacks, and used an eight-foot piece of wood to measure off our shooting location from the sponge.

I shot the sponge first, using my old S&W M37 Chief's Special Airweight 2", firing a Federal Nyclad 158g hollow point semi-wadcutter +P load into the middle of the sponge.

I was shocked. First: No HVIS. Some bits of sponge had blown out the back and onto the paper, but no HVIS. The heavy bullet load in the minute 2" barrel just doesn't run that hot. Also surprising was that the bullet keyholed. No lie-- take a look. In three and a half feet, the sponge soaked in fake blood took a bullet of serious sectional density and turned it about sideways.

We moved the table closer to the wall, so that the sponge was about as close as it could get without swinging into the wall from the blast-- something over a foot. The bullet again keyholed slightly, but this time we got some HVIS. Not a lot, but some. This is what we were after.

We moved the stack a little more to the left in front of some clean paper, and Eric fired his HK USP compact .40 into the sponge, which we had re-saturated. Using 155g Federal HydroShocks, we didn't expect what happened. First off-- we should have backed the table up to about 4 feet again. What a mess! Take a bullet that weighs 3 grains less but is .043" wider, traveling a good deal faster, with the excellent Hydroshock design, and... well, all hell breaks loose. We had no idea that the Hydroshock would actually expand on the sponge, but it did, and with stability, too! It didn't keyhole at all, passing through the wall with its petals clearly peeled back. The mess was impressive. The back of the sponge was blown out pretty well, too.

We took down our paper, dried it, and folded it carefully, to tape it up and present a practical simulation of a drive-by with two shooters firing three shots total at a person standing in front of a wall.

Then Eric had to shoot the sponge with 00 Buckshot, against the wall, with predictable results.

Predictable, but not enough for Eric. He hung the sponge so that it was edge-on to him, and shot it from about 10 feet, blowing the wad through the paneling this time, as well.

To quote the boys at the Box of Truth: "Shooting stuff is fun."

And we did all this in the name of science.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Hey, Tamara!

Didn't you promise us some more stuff for the Arms Room, like, a year ago? (Okay, okay-- two weeks ago.)

You do remember The Arms Room? I've had it linked for months, with no updates forever.

Did we... did we do something wrong?

It's punishment because we're bad, isn't it?

You know, Santa doesn't have to come this year. That'd be okay.

[kicking the ground]

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Good Parenting

Crystal provides a nice pick-me-up view of socially-conscious parenting.

I may just have to link her, but I'll probably ditch the "Boobs" part of her blog title. (Shameless effort to obtain hits, that!)

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May

It's an exciting and also kind of bittersweet month for me.

The weather here in north Texas can't decide whether to make our Mays hotter'n Hell, mild as a well-mannered maiden, or tempestuous.

This May's been kind of stormy.

The frogs behind the back fence in the creek are screaming out their mating calls with such ardour, you can't hear yourself think at night. Three of 'em were engaged the other night on my front porch in some activity that variously looked like good clean amphibian fun, a sin in God's eyes, and a good way to get stomped on of an accident by any unsuspecting big-footed cop who was backing out the door in a hurry to get to work. Actually, they were toads. The big one, I knew, was the female. The one clamped to her back, I knew, was a male. The one clamped to his back, I guess, was just experimenting with something new. I hope he was invited, or at least bought them dinner.

The air's kind of heavy, what with the constant rain. It makes for a good deal of mud, and mosquitoes. It also makes one's breath draw with a little more effort. This is conducive to the bit of apprehension that I regularly feel in May.

May is when the school year ends. It's when I find that I've not quite amounted to what I thought I should have. It's when I realize that I'm not going to obtain the exact goal that I saw in February or March, when the weather started to turn spring-like. It's the very beginning the long hot death march that will end up being our summer, ending in September, or maybe early October.

As the last of the cold air is being pushed out by the strong warm moist air blowing up from the Gulf, we get thunderstorms here in May, the likes of which many parts of the world never sees. Thunderheads rise 50 thousand feet or more above this, the edge of the plains, driving tons and tons of water through updrafts in cycles that can and do create hailstones even bigger than the golf-ball sized ones that destroyed my roof a couple of weeks ago. These storms then blow away or even suck up projections and edifices off of this plain in thin, powerful spinning clouds that dip from the sky. Cyclones scour this region about every couple of weeks around here in May, making the weather men into superstars who break into whatever you're watching, to urge you to take cover now if you're in their predicted path of destruction. (All in the name of saving lives, not ratings. Strangely, they go to bed and don't interrupt the infomercials and other crap that plays in the middle of the night.) Flash floods fill the streets, flood houses, and occasionally drown people that should have known better than to drive through low water crossings. Lightning burns down houses, churches, and trees that were old when my dad was a boy.

May is when I moved home from U.T., having made an interesting study my freshman year of Austin, but not much else, about 16 years ago. May is when I remember the untimely passing of my best friend's sister Tina (the only sister I'd ever had), for whom the month held joy.

I remember, when I was a boy, when May was a time of dewy grass, flowers that I picked for my mother, MayFest in Fort Worth, Mother's Day breakfasts, and maybe a picnic or two. We'd combine the holiday with my Dad's birthday, and make a weekend. When you're a boy, that means seeing the family, and cake, and maybe some barbecue. No worries about obligations. Those came later.

Today, I turned in a late lab assignment, and sold the only book they'd take at the student bookstore (I got $10 for a paperback book that I had bought for $70, and they wouldn't take the others). My spring graduate semester is over, and my summer is now started.
I drove home in the newest thunderstorm.


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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Thwarted

Apparently 5 "Islamic Radicals" were just arrested before they could storm Fort Dix, and a 6th guy helping obtain weapons was also busted.

"'The group's intention "was to conduct an armed assault on the army base and to kill as many soldiers as possible,' the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey said."

If half the stuff being submitted is true, they're legit bad guys.

Hm.

Are we sure these guys don't take to strong drink?



But then again, military bases are turning into zones where personal weapons are strictly prohibited, and those not actively employing arms do not have them, or ammunition. According to the old models I learned in the Terrorism graduate studies seminar I took last year, this would be right up the alley of the terrorists: attack symbols of power and show that the protectors cannot protect. Then try to create such havoc that the crackdown by government creates strong public grassroots backlash against the government, essentially recruiting the proletariat to become Marxist guerillas, themselves.

Sound crazy? Check out Latin America over the last 50 years.

If these guys had made a successful run at it (say, each man killed a US soldier on a US base), unfortunately, the media would have crowned them and their ilk "The New Menace From Within." After the Virginia Tech shooting, Tamara put it best: "To think that they are not taking notes on our response to Monday's events is willful ignorance at best, if not criminally naive."

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Flight Of The Conchords

My brother David introduced me to Flight Of The Conchords, a humourous musical duo from New Zealand. They play some odd stuff, like "Albi (The Racist Dragon)."

I in turn played this for my wife, remarking that the singer (guy on the left) must be married. She licked her lips, smiled, and said "too bad." Uh, but you're married, Wife...?

It's probably just as well that funny talented good looking (?!?) New Zealanders stay where they came from. (Where they belong.) Heh.

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Responsibility. (He just keeps doing it.)

Dad and I were discussing Marko's writing one day, and agreed that he makes more points better and more eloquently in his adopted language of English than any 5 other citizens of this, his naturalized country, could on their best day.

Here, he does it again, pretty succinctly.

My regular rant is that those responsible citizens for whom society has removed the barriers to going armed, who are trained to carry and use arms correctly, should carry every day.

Marko's focus here is slightly different. He makes the point that it takes responsibility, and diligence, to carry daily. But he also makes the point very briefly that the costs of not doing so are too high, in his estimation.

Seatbelts can be a pain. I know; I've worn one all my life, in a hot climate and often in uncomfortable vehicles and attire.

Ballistic vests on duty are uncomfortable and hot. I've worn one for all but a year of my service as a cop.

Getting vaccinations is a pain (literally) to me and my kids. They also require that I "waste" my time in doctors' offices, and have to comfort my children's crying.

Digging for the right key to my cars' doors, for my house doors, my gun safe, and for my office doors is a pain. But I keep on locking 'em, and I carry a big set of keys in my pocket, that digs into my thigh sometimes. What a pain. A friend at school laughed as she watched me stuggle to pull out a fist-sized ring of keys from my left pocket the other day. She didn't realize that the reason I had trouble getting the keys out was that I'd stuffed them into the same pocket as my work phone and change, to keep my right pocket free of any clutter that would tie up the little .380 it held in a pocket holster. "You must be important!" she teased as I searched for my car key.

I don't know about that. But I am responsible, and not just for myself.

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Go listen.

LawDog's going to be interviewed on internet radio, midnight of early Friday, 11 May 2007.

Details here.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Hee hee hee...!

Whooo, boy! Did this poor Indian (red dot) fella ever find the wrong place!



Does he have a clue what I do?!?

And if I ever did come up with a model for making money, I can promise you (and my old undergraduate Pre-Calc instructor[s] would confirm to you that)-- it wouldn't be described as a "mathematical approach."

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Hey, Ambo Driver!

Saw your post on foolish attempts to bring the not-yet-stinky-but-definitely-cooling back to.

While you're passing on such pearls of wisdom, you think that you could circulate the concept to rural fire personnel that they don't have to run lights and sirens when, say... they're going to lunch? That it's possible to run the lights without the siren? That, when they run Code 3 to a Citizen Requests Assistance (Fell down; can't get back up) call in which the dispatcher specifically said during the page-out that the caller had begged for no lights and sirens in her cul de sac neighborhood, that she'll likely decide NOT to call, next time she could use the assistance of a burly firefighter or two?

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Haw.

Jokes featuring animals walking into bars are funny.

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"This won't hurt a bit..."

In the interests of avoiding conflict, perhaps it would be best to avoid the whole registration process of handguns in the first place.

Or so the good people of Chicago are learning.

(Hat Tip to PawPaw.)

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Cinco de Mayo

It's HUGE around here.

Parades.

Drinking.

Parties.

Drinking.

Dancing.

Drinking.

The nice weather is bound to account for its popularity throughout Mexico and the US Southwest. Although the origin is more misunderstood than the Easter Bunny or Santa, it is not the celebration of the Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16), as an amazingly large proportion of its participant revelers tend to believe.

The origin of Cinco de Mayo is actually. . . (heh.) It's... (hee hee!) Okay, lemme get a straight face, here.

I can do this. (haw!)

Okay. (snort)

It's a celebration of one of the few times in which the Mexicans were able to defeat the French, who were using a small garrison force. Way back in 1862.

Way to hang on to those propitious victories, guys!

Maybe they needed something to distract them from San Jacinto Day (which we revere, but don't make such a scene over, here in Texas.). The Battle of which they lost just over 26 years before.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

No hatred.

Tennessee death row inmate Philip Workman says he's afraid of his upcoming execution.

There are people bringing up 8th Amendment questions regarding cruel and unusual punishment from the fear of the upcoming death penalty.

You have never heard so many excuses in your life as Workman gives for how he murdered a police lieutenant trying to arrest him for aggravated robbery.

Under the law, overwhelmingly supported by the good citizens of the great State of Tennessee, Workman's actions fully qualify as capital murder.

Tennessee plans to give him a three-drug cocktail, involving a sedative, a drug to paralyze, and a drug to stop the heart.

Hell, give him what he wanted when he killed the cop-- shoot him full of cocaine.

I don't hate the man. I know what he is, and if you read and listen, you will, too. I don't feel sorry for him, either. I just know that he's condemned, and that his sentence should be carried out.

I'm so sorry that we have men like him in the world. Goodbye, Mr. Workman. Hope your last thoughts are about the lives of those you disrupted. That's not hate-- it's just a prayer for your sense of honesty and empathy in your final moments.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

I'm not one of those cops that goes for nurses.

'S'matter of fact, my one dalliance with one was right before I met my wife, and said wife now kinda growls at the mere utterance of that particular healing professional's name.

Of course, I did spend a week in a cabin in the woods of Georgia with an ER nurse, a few years back... but all he and I did was hunt and talk guns with Tamara and my dad and John Shirley.

But anyway, I've finally followed Ambulance Driver's sycophantic and lusty directives to BabsRN's site, and I'm hooked; that site's now a daily reader. The lady can write.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Library time




Oldest daughter is home sick. Yeah, whatever-- she's more lively than I've been in the last 5 years at any given time.


So we made a library run. She picked out some of the silly kiddie dreck that fills most of the shelves, but was happy enough when I directed her to the Newberry section. My daughter's a pretty voracious reader (genes will tell, but I think she's on the whole better balanced than I was.), but she'll be lazy, as any kid will, if left undirected. She'll pick up that Junie B. Jones book that frankly is about about 3 years below her level, and which she's read already, if you don't watch it. But give her a choice from the Good Stuff, and she's plenty happy, too.

I like visiting the library. On the whole, a local library is a good place. If you find yourself looking at a bond election where the issue is whether to put a little more money into the library budget, please consider that a library is more than just a place where one gets books. It's one of Ray Oldenberg's fabled "third places." Yes, many things you can get from the Internet. But not that space. Keep your librarys vibrant.

We went to the checkout desk. I forgot to have my daughter bring her card, so we put it all, hers and mine, on my card. The fellow of ambiguous sexuality behind the desk scanned my card's barcode with an optical reader, and an annoying buzzing sound made him take in his breath and say "oh!" It's never good when a scan of your card creates such a reaction, but I was ready for him; I had a few single bills on the counter, and just slid them across to him. "This won't quite clear..." he began apologetically.
"Well, it's going to have to push 'til next time; I'm tapped out," I said ruefully.

"Okay. We can let you check out this time, since the remainder is below $5.00," he acquiesced. I nodded. Hell, this ain't my first rodeo; I knew how it would play out before we walked in.

Yes, I tend to go over a tad. Pretty dumb, when I can nowadays recheck my books online, too. But it's still cheaper than buying the dadgummed things. I'm about done keeping more than reference books around my house. Nothing like moving to make you hate all possessions.

That optical scanner thingy made me think about Tamara's plea on behalf of Pleghm Fatale, for an old credit-card-style manual roller machine used at libraries. Why does she want one? Damfino. Maybe it's her initial thin scrape into the crust of the new world of nostalgia that's given birth to this new Steampunk genre of collecting. Frankly, some of the stuff is pretty swell. (I think I may buy my first cell phone, for the car.)

Last year I checked out a book at the University of North Texas Information Science Library (it was some high-falutin' mathematical theory book that I had no business trying to read, let alone check out), and the flyleaf had the glued-in label with a grid for the library folk to stamp your due-date in. They still do that at the ISL at UNT. The card proclaimed that the book belonged to North Texas State University, had been checked out four times, and was last checked out in 1978.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Exactly.

Armed response stops mass shootings.

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Stress of moving

We're moving.

Sorta.

My commute currently means that I'm on the road for over an hour a day, and can't partake of some of the benefits of living close to work, like taking the patrol car home, or checking on duty from home, or having lunch or supper with my family during my meal break.

Add in the fact that my wife --a sculptor-- needs a shop, and to this point her needs have been served by our screened-in back porch.

Add in the fact that, while a good little house, we really need a bit more room than our 3/2, 1440 square foot domicile provides us. Frankly, I'd like an office, rather than to have the desktop computer in the living room.

So we're looking. But.

(Of course there's a "but.")

But we have to sell our current house, first.

Hard to sell a house when you're living in it.

Especially when there are... concerns. The house is getting on in years (ca. 1983). It's in a neighborhood that's beginning to slide into a shallow decline. When we bought the house, it wasn't until we sat at the closing table that I discovered this: See that red shape that I drew behind the back fence of my house? That's the large portion of a drainage ditch that we charitably call a "creek," which I own. It's pitched at about a 50% grade, and is pretty swampy at the bottom. I can do nothing with it. But I'm taxed on it at the same rate per square foot as my front yard and my living room. Oh, goody.

So what do we do? Well, we're barely living in it.

My sister in-law makes her business "flipping" houses. She buys 'em cheap, fixes 'em up, and sells them at a profit. That's how she makes her living. It's a lot of work, but she knows the business, and makes a tidy little profit at it. She's provided some consult for us on this issue, and is adamant: Get everything that you can possibly remove out of the house, get it fixed up and cleaned up and polished and painted as nicely as possible, and show it with barest minimum furniture and human articles in it. People, when they come in to look at your house, don't want to feel like they're walking through your home; they want to envision it as their home. So you make the beds, remove any real color from the common rooms (helllllloooo, neutral colors...), and basically live out of suitcases. Oh, those foo-foo pillows? They get put on the made bed every day.

All the furniture that is not a bed or the couch goes to storage. Plus, most of our clothes. And kitchen items. Kitchen table, and whatnot.

Then we fixed up the house. New back splash and counter top in the kitchen. New counter top and sink in the bathroom. A dividing wall in the living room was removed. Siding on the gables outside was replaced. The backyard shed was fixed up. Two weeks ago we had golf-ball to lime-sized hail. Okay; new roof.

I'm freaking hemorrhaging money, here. All on spec.

My wife, the frugal one, is beginning to seriously stress. Both of us are stressing about the disarray that our house is in, while we try to put lipstick on our pi... uh, swi... uh, lovely princess of a house. We're going to be moving our daughters out of one of the best school districts in the state. We don't know that we'll even get within $10k of our house's appraisal price (you know, the rate at which it's being taxed on). And we're tired (work, commute, kids, grad school...). And we can't find anything, because it's all packed away.

This sucks, Beavis.

Add all that to the fact that we don't even know where (except generally) we'll move when we sell this thing. We need money in hand to figure that out.

I'm tired of being a grown up.

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