Better And Better

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I HATE being used.

A local business owner experiences major damage to his equipment, caused by a customer being a little reckless with a borrowed car.

The customer, who has actually just committed a petty theft beforehand, actually stops and talks to the on-site employee before leaving in his friend's car.

Nobody calls the cops. Hey, it happened on private property; they don't have to.

Some weeks later, my P.D. receives a DVD from the local business owner, who has reviewed his very-cool digital video system that stores on his computer hard drive and off-site, and has burned the DVD of the entire incident, including the theft, in full color, from three different camera angles.

The case lands in my hands. I investigate, find the ne'er-do-well customer, deal with the theft, and get a statement from him.

I also file an accident report for good measure. I don't have to do this; the accident occurred well over a month before, on private property, and is essentially a civil manner. But I think that the business owner might appreciate that his police department is going the extra mile, and I spend the extra time and effort it takes to put together a perfect accident report, and distribute copies to the case file, the state crash reporting bureau, and eventually to the business owner.

The business owner files a public records request for the official police report. Fine.
The business owner asks for help in locating the owner of the borrowed vehicle. Fine.
The business owner asks for help in getting the insurance company's attention. Fine.

I eventually get a call from the business owner, stating that he is terribly sorry, but that the date on the DVD is off by 3 weeks. So, the date that I had put in the case report, on the criminal charge information, and on the accident report-- all is wrong. He takes me back to his office, and shows me the rather high-end computer system, to prove to me that the date on the camera management software is incorrect, and he has NO idea how to change it; he'll have to call tech support.

As an aside, he happens to mention that the insurance company insuring the borrowed car has brought to his attention that the insurance policy was only started a week AFTER the date that I had documented. But that's okay, he assures me, since I had put the wrong date on the documentation; I should have listed a date three weeks later, he explains. But it's not my fault, he's quick to explain-- it's the camera system's fault.

I ask him when was the last time he had changed the date on the camera system.

Never! He proclaims.

I gently inform him that the date as it sits on the camera system today is actually 3 weeks later than today's date. That error which he is presenting to me right now would have caused me to put a date three weeks later than it occurred. In fact, the error "proves" that the accident occurred three weeks before the date I observed on the DVD.

If date of the accident was X, and the error on the system was Y, then he is claiming that the error is X - Y, when the demonstration that he's showing me is for X + Y.

He looks flustered, and explains that there have been "power surges," which must have caused the problem. The system was X - Y BEFORE, but now it's X + Y.

Oh. So it's just varied its date by 2Y.

Just all of its own.

And Mr. Business Owner, who is savvy enough to install the digital surveillance system, mark three time tracks, and burn them onto a DVD, and administer the computer system in so many other ways, doesn't know how to adjust the date.

Now, if I were skeptical, I might just think that he had moved the date three weeks to try to get me to change the date of the accident record, to get the insurance company to accept his claim.

Yep, that's what I'd think.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How the Joneses live, I guess.

I am ALL about capitalism.

And I really don't have much problem with "Conspicuous Consumption," if it's not hurting me.

But to listen to the radio, apparently there's quite a bit of percentage in marketing Lexuses (Lexi?) as Christmas gifts.

Huh.

Really? Really?!?

Well, the profits on selling $60k cars are at least sufficient to pay for radio spots, I guess, so... enjoy paying for that. I'll wave at your shiny new red-bow-adorned sedan from my 12 year old beater Civic as I drive by. . .

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No blog for you today-- come back tomorrow.

I'm currently enjoying my "lunch break" [Blue Diamond Bold Jalepeno Smokehouse Almonds (So good) and a Diet Coke], before getting back to my research proposal: "To Study The Effect of College Education On the Effectiveness of Law Enforcement Officers." Or somesuch-- it's a working title.

Since I'm working at the computer lab all night (morning now), and since they won't let me drink a Coke in the lab, I'm standing out in hallway at a kiosk provided for this very purpose.

And now my Coke is done.

Back to work.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Aftermath (of a perspective).

It's a Thursday afternoon, and I'm hungry. I drop by the town's sandwich shop and watch with a very close eye as the meth-head behind the counter makes my sandwich. Only gunfire could draw my eyes from the turkey with bacon with light mayo that I have him make for me, and in that instance, I would pay for it and throw it away. Suspicious? Yeah. I guess. But this guy really doesn't like me, and with pretty good reason.

I take my sandwich out to my car, and park under a tree next to a little country road that a lot of complaints of reckless driving have been coming from. Before I dig in, I use my tuning forks to verify the calibration on my ancient dash-mounted radar, and just turn it on, with the audible tone turned on. I'm not really interested in catching a speeder, so I don't even bother with using the instant-on feature. It would tickle me to death for people with fuzz-busters to spot me before they clear the next hill, and slow down. I'm really just here for a deterrent. I really just want to eat my damned sandwich.

Cars come and go, sending up a bloom of dust as they leave the paved portion of the road that is in our city and enter the gravel portion of the road that demarcates where the County maintenance begins. Most of them are traveling a few miles over the speed limit, but I don't really mind. I'm really digging my sandwich, and it's going to take someone tearing past me at over 15 mph over the limit to tear me away from it. Seeing as how I'm not hidden and am visible from about a half mile in either direction, this seems unlikely.

My radar gives the wailing tone of a pickup passing me just under the speed limit, with the pitch rising slightly as the cosine error begins to diminish as its apparent movement approaches a path directly away from me. The pickup hits the gravel, and is lost in the cloud of dust behind it. Suddenly the radar pitch changes from a low wail to a high-pitch scream as the simulated
Doppler effect tells me that something is moving much, much faster through that cloud of dust. Probably moving toward me, and has just passed the receding pickup. That kind of speed, on gravel, through a cloud of dust that knocks visibility down to nil, is the kind of thing that will get me to put down my lunch. I lock the speed in at just shy of double the speed limit as the oncoming car emerges from the cloud onto the asphalt. I am surprised that it picks up speed, and I reset and lock in the higher speed before putting my car into gear and turning on the red-and-blues.

I check out with the new-ish car only a few yards from where I was sitting, and make contact with the driver. A round-faced young man, he looks familiar, somehow, with his curly red hair cut short and neatly-trimmed red goatee and moustache. He's probably twenty or twenty-one years old, I reckon, and his driver license shows him to have just turned twenty recently. There's a cane in the passenger seat beside him.

I've seen this boy before. I know I have. His name is familiar, too. I HATE when I know that I should remember someone, but can't place him. "Anthony Willis." Willis... Willis... Willis... I don't know the name. But I know this kid. Who the Hell is he?

Finally I ask him: "How do I know you? I know that we've met before."

For a kid that knows he's about to get a ticket, he's pretty much at ease, and he shakes his head with a grin. "I don't know-- I don't think I remember meeting you before. I've gotten a few tickets, but I don't think you've pulled me over before this." Then he cocks his head. "Maybe you were at the accident?"

"The accident...?" I begin to ask.

Then it hits me. "Tony."

"Yeah, that's what everybody calls me. So you were there, huh?" He clearly doesn't remember me, and I don't blame him. There was a lot of dust, flashing lights, and pain and trauma passing before Tony's eyes on that night.
The last time I saw him, he was being loaded into a waiting chopper, to be transported to a trauma center.

"How're your legs?" I ask. I really should be writing this kid his ticket, but I have to know. I had gone by his house to check on him a couple of times, but he wasn't there. First time, he was in rehab, and I was told that he was using a walker to get around.

"Ah, the left one wasn't too bad, but the right one took some reconstructive surgery. They said I almost lost it with the post-op infection. But I'm gettin' around all right with this, now." He motions to the cane. "One of the main problems was that my right arm was broken at the same time as my right leg."

I know. I saw the bone. Radius? Ulna? I can't remember which, if I even knew.

"How are Arnie and Jimmy?" I ask. We both know
what happened to Bobby, and I don't mention him. He doesn't either, but it's clear that he thinks about it as the cloud passes his eyes. He focuses several miles past my shoulder.

"I don't know," he answers simply. "I haven't talked to them much in a long time. I guess they're all right. We kinda moved apart."

In spite of myself, I snort a little derisively. "Yeah, I can see why you might move apart from Jimmy." The son of a bitch tried to pin an Intoxication Manslaughter case on you, I think.

"Yeah, well, I don't have anything to do with that crowd, now," he mumbles. "I've got a good job, and I realized that I can't just waste my life like that anymore. I think maybe, I could have died. You know that? I could have died out there," he says. "The D.A. asked me if I wanted them to charge Jimmy with Intoxication Assault or something like that, for my injuries too, but I said, 'Just let it go. I don't care.' He's in enough trouble, I guess. I just needed to move on."

How could I have forgotten this face? I think. I now see this same face, pleading with me through the sobs to help his buddies. He's lost a lot of weight since then, and I mention it, by way of awkward segue.

"Yeah, giving up pot and beer and going through rehab for 5 months will do that to you," he says with a wry smile. "Uh, are you going to give me a ticket? 'Cuz I was in kind of a hurry before you stopped me," he says.

"I noticed," I say with a grin and a wink. I open my mouth to tell him that this one's on me. That he gets a warning today, but don't let it happen again.

But I think: Would I write anyone else?

Sure.

Why would I then cut this kid a warning that I would write anyone else for?
Well, he's had a tough time...

And he won't have a tougher time if he wrecks out doing 60 on a residential gravel road?

Why do you write speeding tickets, anyway? Lord knows you don't write them for revenue.

Wouldn't it be a shame for this kid's life to be saved, only to have him die in your town because he drives recklessly?


Good point.

I write the citation, and he doesn't balk as he signs it. He really has no idea of what part I took in his accident, and expects nothing beyond the citation. He drives away, a little too fast.

Good luck, Tony. Have a good life.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving musings, Part 4

Marko writes a commendable piece called "This I Believe." I suspect that Marko will submit his post to This I Believe.org, a superb documentary site which is basically a modern remake of the old 1950s Edward R. Murrow radio project. This site is amazing, and includes thousands of such declarations of personal belief, sorted by topic and author. It also includes the text and audio recordings of the original 1950s archives.

I mentioned in my comments to Marko's post that I've been meaning for some time to submit my own personal essay to This I Believe. But as of yet, I've not done it.

But in looking at it, I looked up a favorite old This I Believe essay, written by Robert A Heinlein, and recorded half a century ago. On this national day of thanks giving, I find that it is as appropriate today as it was for a man born in Missourri 100 years ago. I too believe in Our Noble, Essential Decency.

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Thanksgiving musings Part 3

Despite what Merriam-Webster says, it's pronounced /puh KAWN/. A Texan will tell you that a "pee can" is sumpin' you leave under the bed at night if you don't have indoor plumbing.

Just got me a slice from a local with a mother in-law who's justifiably proud of her homemade pie crust. The nut slices were properly toasted to a dark brown (too many folks stop at golden), so that they were rich, roasted, and crisp. She quite properly used 'way too much butter.

Two thumbs up.

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Haiku #9 Thanksgiving Day

"Happy turkey day!"
Texts my best friend. I respond:
"Not for the turkey."

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Thanksgiving musings Part 2

Community Thanksgiving dinner. (Wife and kids are out of town, so I hit the local multi-association dinner for my tucker, while on duty in town.)

A well-known member of the community mans a giant smoker full of birds that look more beautiful in death than in life.

Teenagers from three church youth groups load up trays and then serve smoked turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed 'taters, green beans, corn, rolls and cranberry relish onto generous plates. Other lay out an array of pies and strong iced tea (sweet or unsweet).

I shake hands around the room, and load up a plate. I choose the best-looking slice of pumpkin pie and some good bitter tea. Looking around, it looks like families, and pairs of old people. I look around and see a small group of teenagers. Ah.

When in doubt, seek out young people.

We introduce ourselves, and chat around the table, cutting up and generally enjoying ourselves. These are not the shock-them-at-any-price, unwashed, unmannered, foul-mouthed kids that many assume all young people to be, these days. These are the pretty good kids that somebody cared enough about to compel to help serve a community Thanksgiving dinner. I got up and shook a couple of hands, thanked some servers for what was truly a very, very good meal, and headed back out on patrol.

Seriously-- one could do a lot worse.

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Thanksgiving musings Part 1

I'm on patrol all day on our national day of thankfulness. You're getting blogs on my coffee breaks.

The day is overcast. The first frost of the year was on my patrol car as I got in this morning. The closest town claimed only 35, but out here in the outlying areas, we get a little colder. There's a 15 mph wind from the north, and the flag is snapping over the fire department.

Naturally, I've forgotten to don my long underwear, and that means I've even less incentive to actually get out of my warm patrol car to hassle passers-through. And there are many of those. Today's day of gathering puts a LOT of people on the road, and some of them don't know this area and are yapping into their cell phone as they seek the best route to Grandmother's House.

_ _ _
I stopped a tired little sedan tearing into town. The driver had the ubiquitous phone stuck to her ear, and never noticed me as she passed me or as I pulled out behind her and paced her speed through town. When I stopped her, she was clearly harried. In a peasant's blouse, crevat, and a little too much makeup and perfume, she was obviously on her way to work. On the seat beside her were an apron and an order book, each bearing the logo of a large national chain of restaurants that are open on Thanksgiving.

"I'm late, and I've just gotten a ticket for my registration being expired, and I'm just trying to get to work to do my 8 hours and...." I took her driver's license to the car and checked to make sure she wasn't wanted in ten states or had 15 citations in the last year for speeding. She didn't. I wrote out her ticket as she got out of the car to tie on her apron. I looked at the dash clock; 2 past the hour. She probably was late already.

"Ma'am, this does not require any further action on your part, other than that you comply with traffic laws in the future," I recited as I handed her the warning book and my pen. "If you'll just sign here, you can get back on your way."

"I just asked for one thing! Just to cut me a break! That's all I wanted. I'm already having to work on Thanksgiving just to pay for my otheer tickets, and now I'm late, and I'm probably in trouble, and..." She started to sign on the line, but had stopped halfway through her signature, and was pointing at me with my pen. I smiled encouragingly.

"If you'll just finish signing, ma'am, you can read the paragraph on the bottom of your warning ticket, and be on your way." I plucked my pen from her loose hand. "Now, I went ahead and took the minute to write you this warning ticket as an excuse for you to show your boss when you get there. Note that it doesn't show when I let you go-- if you want to let the boss believe that I held you up for a long time, I'm fine with that. Tell 'em I was a big ol' meany." I avoided looking at the tears in her face, but she was smiling, now, so I concentrated on that instead. "Now, do me a favor, and drive carefully on into work. You've got your excuse right there, so there's no reason to speed any more, okay? Happy Thanksgiving," I said as I started back to my car.

Hey, we who work on holidays gotta stick together occasionally.

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Go see my Pop’s stuff

Dad put together a very nice pair of blog posts about firearms, and why you don’t need to be afraid of them any more than you need to be afraid of a chainsaw in your garage or an electric carving knife in your drawer.

In the first, he addresses the folly of assigning a personality or “spirit” to your gun. Though my friend and hero Don Gwinn is skeptical that naming a gun could contribute to the hoplophobia that is rampant throughout the planet, I beg to differ. How often have we heard of handguns or “assault rifles” or other arms referred to as “evil”? There is a subtle but very real belief among many that the mere possession of an arm will cause the owner to take on the personality of the gun. (Which, according to the Brady bunch, is evil.)

This belief is carried on by some who are pro-gun, too. Possessing a lever action rifle and a single action revolver makes you a cowboy. Possessing a tactical pistol and an MP5 makes you “an operator.” Or whatever.
_ _ _
In Dad’s second post, he addresses the old saw about guns being “only good for one thing, and that’s killing!” It’s really another view of the same topic as his previous blog, but it makes this point very well: A firearm is a tool, and is only dangerous if wielded dangerously. Without human interaction, a firearm is inert. Benign.

Go read ‘em. Dad’s been making this point my entire life, and I suspect a good while longer, as well.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

What we like

[Edit: I began this blog off the cuff, and suddenly was called away for family issues. I apparently posted only the first 14 words. My apologies. ]

Back when I was working in the jail, I mentioned to a jailer that I had the night before prepared a great pot of wonderful pinto beans from scratch, and that they had been perfect. The salt pork (or bacon, I really don't recall which I had used), the garlic, the dash of cumin-- all had lent themselves to a superior pot of beans. I had then on this particular night taken the large portion of leftover beans and fried them in a giant cast iron skillet while mashing them with a pair of forks, resulting in a large batch of perfect refried beans. Bacon grease may or may not have been involved. I know that tortillas were employed to consume it.

My co-worker, who had mentioned that he was looking forward to lunch break, said simply, "I don't like refried beans. I don't really care for any beans, but I especially don't like refried beans."

I was astounded. It had never occurred to me that a person would utter such words without preceding them by the phrase "You're not going believe this, but..." or "I know it's bizarre, but..."

I mentioned this to my wife as we were prepping some Mexican fare last night, and she laughed as she asked rhetorically, "Did he also not like pizza, beer, or sex?"

Or coffee?

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shoot-out lessons

Nice job by the cop, good job by passers-by, and fair work by CNN.

This video on CNN shows a shoot-out that occurred in Altamonte Springs, FL, where police officer Mike Lavoie (a patrol officer who is on the SWAT team) pulled over vehicle matching the description of a suspect leaving a motel. CNN drops the ball by not mentioning what he was suspected of, but I'll let that go-- it's not the lead nor really pertinent.

As Officer Lavoie approached the driver's side door of the red Ford Focus hatchback, the passenger, one Franklin Ortiz Castro, made a damned fool decision that could easily have cost him and his partner their lives-- he began shooting at the patrol officer with his single-action revolver.

No word on the caliber or make, but the nickel or chrome-plated revolver was showed from a couple of angles in grainy shots, and clearly was a single-action, which required the operator to thumb cock it before each shot, as compared to, say, a double action revolver (which self-cocks with each trigger pull) or a semi-auto pistol (which almost always self-cock after each shot, for a fast, light trigger pull).

Officer Lavoie does a nice job-- he doesn't shoot the driver who is between him and the active threat, and he does make hits on Castro. Though not fatal, the hits do end the gun fight.

One of the truly superb parts of the story is that a bystander, Mike Solitro, and his unnamed adult son, tackled the fleeing driver and held him for responding police.

No word on how this started, or where it will end, but lessons learned are:

--The threat may be the next guy over; never assume that the one nearest you is the only or most dangerous person in the area.

--Decide ahead of time, before the balloon goes up, what your criteria are to take action. Mr. Solitro and his son were not expected to tackle the driver, but they did so. Would you have done so? What's your line in the sand? Consider situations in your head. What could you live with?

--Always be sure of where your bullets will end up. Officer Lavoie did a superb job of putting them (through glass and open door) on the threat while avoiding perforation of a driver that looked a LOT like a collaborator, but who wasn't yet really a person one could rightfully shoot (and indeed turned out to be, in all probability, a hostage). This takes us finally to:

--Keep your head.

Heck, I'm going to upgrade Lavoie's response from "workman-like" to "Excellent."



(Did I beat Xavier to the punch?)

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Damned if times haven't changed. . .

I don't watch 24, but I gather that they make decent use of modern technologies. (I get that the "Special Agent Jack Bauer" reference that Tamara was making here came from the show, though.) Imagine the same show set in 1994, and count the technological upgrades made since then.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day / Armistice Day / Remembrance Day

Did you say "Thank you" to a veteran today?

There's still time. . .

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Monday [S]Mith

I'm beginning to think that Tamara thinks that the "S" is silent.

But she's still got 4 hours in the remains of her day.

It could happen.

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God the father....

Johnny Virgil is saying funny things again, this time about God.



[Note: This might be a good yardstick of whether you're a little uptight about the subject of religion.]

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Shafted.

It seems that there's some outcry against a new device being marketed in South Africa to prevent rapes.

The "Rapex" is a device that's designed to be worn by a woman in her vagina, to literally barb and trap her attacker's offending member when inserted where it doesn't belong. The device is filled with razor-sharp barbs that require surgery to remove.

Apparently, this is just too violent, for some. "'Vengeful, horrible, and disgusting,' was the response from Charlene Smith, one of South Africa's leading anti-rape campaigners." In a land where 1,700,000 women are raped each year, partially because of the perpetuated myth that having sex with a virgin will cure a man of AIDS, you would think that Ms. Smith would understand something:

One protects many. Just the fact that a few of those devices are fielded, and the fact that a few dastardly dinguses have been shredded, will deter a certain number of would-be rapists.

Not a perfect answer. But in a world where rape can be a death sentence, isn't fighting back in some way, no matter how passive, worth something?

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Planes.

Well, it's been a long time since I've seen a MeMe worth posting, but Tamara brings one to mind, as she was referred from NRAhab, who lists his favorite five airplanes.

Best friend Scott and I spent hours of our teenaged life discussing the relative merits of this airplane and that. This group kills me to select, and I have changed it three times already. I'll just accept that it changes daily. Yes, there are a hundred others that I love, but some of those will be mentioned by others. Here are some of my faves that are underdogs:


5: B-58 Hustler. There was a time, friends, when this nation launched bombers that could outrun most (if not all) operational fighters. Hard to fly and with a notorious accident record, the Hustler had a lot more class than the smaller Aardvark that replaced it. Plus, the "ejection seats" were actually little escape pods, first tested with live bears! (Something tells me that the boys at S.A.C. had a grasp of symbolic irony.)

4. P-38 Lightning. No, it wasn't quite the fastest operational piston fighter in WWII-- that honor was edged out by the Mustang. No, it never fully did quite fulfill its destiny as a heavy bomber escort or interceptor-- its engines began to double and triple the wear time above 20,000 feet. But it was an amazing aircraft, and with that cluster of machineguns and cannon all firing parallel from the nose, the ability to hit far further out like a buzzsaw became legendary, in a time with other aircraft had to shoot at targets in their point of convergence. It was originally outfitted with two .50s, two .30s, and a 37mm cannon in the middle. (Later models replaced the .30s with two more .50s.) Think that wouldn't just ruin a Junker 88 pilot's day?

3. Fieseler Fi 156 "Storch." The very definition of ponderous, slow flying. So ungainly looking, it was called the Stork by those who saw its oversized fixed main gears. Renown for its STOL abilities and friendly to grass fields, it was a damned useful tool for the field marshal who wanted to know how effective an artillary barrage had been.

2. Supermarine Spitfire. Of the 24 marks of this incredibly profligate design, the only ones that capture my attention are the eliptical wing marks, with retractable gear. This was the Brit fighter in the Battle of Britain, as it had pre-dated WWII, and was able to turn tight without stalling, while being able to dive faster than just about any other prop fighter, ever. Whatever-- it was beautiful.

1. PBY Catalina. It's a boat. It's a plane. It's a boat plane. Anti submarine? You got it. Coastline patrol? Natch. Night-time naval bombing missions? Why not. Introduced before the War, the PBY found a LOT of people eager to employ it in peacetime service, post-war. More than one island airline was started with a Catalina. Nowadays, they're still in use in some places for fire-fighting and general transportation, in places where lakes and docks are more common than runways or roads. 70 years after it was first introduced, the Catalina is still a damned useful tool. Beauty is as beauty does.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

DudeIKnowRight? LOL

Courtesy of Tamara, I find that the level of my verbage is elementary.
Would that it were so. (You ought to hear the level of speech that I'm hearing other people's children presenting.)
I suppose that I should try to do better. One way is to address my deficiencies would be to visit
a cute little addictive online vocabulary builder game site that I found via ClaireBell. Supposedly each click donates 10 grains of rice to hungry folk (one supposes that it's from advertisement revenue). Like Claire, I seem to keep getting stuck at Level 42.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Back in the day.

I was born in 1971. I too was a victim of the fashion faux pas that were foisted on us in that Unfortunate Decade.

Courtesy of my best friend Scott, I came across Johnny Virgil's comments on a 1977 J.C. Penny Catalog, complete with deliciously horrifying pictures, at his blog, the 15 Minute Lunch.

I haven't laughed that hard since reading Crystal's best stuff. You understand about Level 4 Beverage Alerts, yes? Here's the thing: I had finished my coffee 10 minutes earlier, and I still aspirated some spit, or something, and got into a coughing fit.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

But does he get to keep his stapler?

About a million years ago, I worked in a very large tech support center for a very large company, which subcontracted to a much larger company. I was trained by a very poor computer program, about how to deal with computer calls. After a month, I began working nights, and was the sole night guy for our group, but there were several other groups with other night guys throughout the building. The room that I worked in was several hundred feet wide by several more hundred feet long, broken up into little villages by 5.5 foot cubicles.

We had major thoroughfares, minor avenues, side streets, and dead-ends built among the cubicles. When some loud noise would erupt, people would stand up and look over them to see what was going on. This phemenon was known as "prairie-dogging," which sort of puts the entire lifestyle in the complex into perspective.

At the time, the $8.25 an hour that I was paid to work there for 60 hours a week was far and away the most money that I had ever made in my life. I dropped out of school to make more of it. I took overtime whenever it was offered.

It was Hell on earth.

A few years later, when the movie Office Space came out, it hit me squarely between the eyes. The cube culture.
The middle managers.
The consultants who swooped in with no clue about what they were affecting, and how it was going to end up.

The sensory deprivation that contributed to intense, profane (seriously!) rage, and a need to blow off steam.

I don't think I could do it again.
_ _ _


Wired magazine held a contest to see who had the saddest cubicle. The winner's cube doesn't look too bad, until you learn that: it's walled entirely with heavily-used file cabinets. There's no windows (well, that's standard), and the overhead lights are broken. It's adjacent to a parking garage. And it's next to a poorly-ventilated restroom, and the employee microwave.

Niiiiiiice.

I think I can safely scoreboard that guy.

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Take this link, and hide it.

If my little girls ever see this video, my laptop's screen will be obscurred by the heads of a 5 year old and a 9 year old for at least an hour.

And there will be daily demands for repetitions.

And, dear lord-- don't open it and look at it yourselves! Trust me: too much sugar.

EDIT: I may, however, show the kids this video; there's a lesson to be learned there.

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Winding the clock


Pakistan has The Bomb.

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world.

Pakistan has uneasy relations with India, and still hasn't forgiven India for yet again kicking its butt in Kashmir in 1999. (That same year both countries tested their respective nucs, too.)

Pakistan is our supposed Islamic ally in the War On Terror in the Middle East. Pakistan borders Afghanistan, and is widely thought to be the haven to which Taliban bigwigs run when occupying Coalition U.S. forces get too close.

Pakistan has a nasty little habit of selling nuclear technology to other rogue states.

Pakistan has declared emergency martial law. If you're not a Musharraf-supporter, you are placed in house-arrest. About 60+ political activists are arrested, including all of Bhutto's camp.

It's impressive when a government is so very wrong, that they make a crowd of angry, yelling attorneys look right. But that's what they've managed to do in Pakistan.


Tick. Tick. Tick.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Scam society.

This morning, when I checked my mailbox, I found a post card on nice cream paper stock, inviting me to join "THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS HONOR SOCIETY." It read, as follows:

"The Officers and Directors of
THE NATIONAL SCHOLARS
HONOR SOCIETY
Cordially invite you to apply for Honor Society Membership.
You may complete the application on-line at:
MAGNA CUM LAUDE.ORG
Your application code is 9XXX.
Wishing you congratulations and continued success.
The National Scholars Honor Society.
EstablishedMCMXCVII."
Well.

The organization certainly has the words "National," "Honor," and "Society" in its name, but, uh... it's not the National Honor Society. First, that organization is for recognizing high school and junior high school students, not post-graduate students. It's a nice little sumpin' sumpin' to put on your college application, if you were a member of NHS in high school. (I was not.) But I was pretty sure as I looked over this card that NHS hadn't begun to recognize aging graduate students with mediocre-at-best GPAs.

Then my eye caught that bottom part, after the logo/crest thingy. "MCMXCVII." Heh. 1997, huh? I don't know when the NHS first started making pimply teenagers put on car washes to fund service projects, but I guaren-damn-tee you that it was before I was born, rather than 7 years after I graduated high school.

So I went to their website, and was shocked --SHOCKED-- to find that they'll publish your name on the website as a member of their august organization, for the low-low entry fee of $85.

They proclaim that they are a society dedicated to recognizing people for more than just their G.P.A.s. They want to know that you're filled with integrity. How do they know? Why, you have to check a check box proclaiming that you have read and agree with their honor code, which basically says that we think it's wrong not to be nice to people. The code asserts that members pledge to "honor myself."

Well, yes, that's exactly what they pay the eighty five bucks for isn't it?

This card is now contributing to the future compost that resides in the receptacle under my shredder.

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Did you forget?

I did. But my computer didn't.

For those of you who work on Sunday, live in the U.S. (but not in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona), and who read this blog before work (yes, all of you):

You're early. It's time for Daylight Saving Time.

Me, I'm going to come in an extra half-hour early for work, but not the full hour early, which would make me look like a chump.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Minor surgery.

I've been bugged by a little pimple-like thing in my eyelid for the last couple of months. The first doctor proclaimed it to be a "Stye In The Eye." I checked his name tag; it said "Garcia," rather than "Seuss."

So I took his oral antibiotics and topical steroid religiously for the full course and.... found that my irritation persisted.

So I saw an opthamologist. This guy was wiser in the ways of eyes. He proved it by using words like "sclera" and "conjuntiva" when referring to what lesser humans would call the "white of the eye." I, in turn, dazzled him with my explanation of how a cruller is different from an ordinary donut.

So Dr. Eye Guy said that I had not a stye, but a chalazion. (No, mine looked nothing like the one in the picture. Eww.)

He recommended minor, in-office surgery, to hack that bad boy out.

Well, it says here that fixing a chalazion is pretty benign stuff:
"The minor operation is quite painless, the eyelid is injected with a local anesthetic a clamp is put on the eyelid, then the eyelid is turned over and the chalazion is scraped out."
Lying.
Bastards.

What with the injections and the eye speculum (how very Clockwork Orange), I can tell you that I was just a South American doctor with a German accent away from full-scale torture.

But he seems to've fixed the damned thing.

Now I get to pay him for the privelidge. Feh.

Did I ever mention my ocular phobia? I don't like things touching my eye.

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How long you reckon...

...this marriage is gonna last?

"Rosa said that alcohol played a large factor in the
groom ending up with someone other than his new wife."
You really think so?

Heh.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Once again, friends...

I am compelled to remind everyone, and to ask all y'all to remind others:

An apostrophe's function is not to warn the reader of an impending S.

That is all.

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