Better And Better

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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

No good deed...

I looked at the schedule. Chief was off. Sergeant was off. Rookie was scheduled to be on, tonight, by himself.

On New Year's Eve.

Huh.

I checked the schedule again. Plenty of overlap between me and the guy that I relieve later in the week.

My family are out of town. I'm scheduled off, but I'm not doing anything tonight but watching instant downloads of Battlestar Gallactica on NetFlix.

I called my sergeant. "Hey, how about I come in at 2200, or so, and help out our rookie until about 0200, and I can just shave the time off my shifts later in the week?" 

I kind of thought that he would be tickled to have the extra body on, and figured that it might save him a butt-chewing from our chief, who comes off vacation next week.

"Yeah, okay. Just email me the hours you worked tonight, so we don't have you going into overtime," said my sergeant. "Oh, and hey! If you're going to be out there, be busy!"

Great.

So I guess I'll go see if I can find a drunk driver, here in a little bit. Please don't let it be you, or yours. Protect those that you care for.

And please have a happy new year, friends.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday afternoon thoughts.

--A north Texas Fox affiliate has started keeping a rogues' gallery of recent public mugshots from area departments. And it's greatness.

However, Sheriff Joe's Maricopa County S.O.'s page where you can vote on their best mugshot seems seedy to me. I know, I know-- both shots come from the published mugshots published by the sheriff's office. But in the MCSO case, it seems to me that THEM publishing the voting system and showing the results is unprofessional, and beyond the pale. There's a difference.

--When I mentioned to the girls that I was going to need their help grouting after a nap, I awoke to an empty house.

--Mom's coming back home from physical rehab, 9 days after the orthopedic surgeon cut out her left knee and replaced it with a titanium and silicone man-made one. The scar from her June 1 surgery on the other knee is tiny. It still blows me away that we can routinely do this kind of thing for people who aren't Steve Austin, or the president.

--Younger readers will assume that I'm referring to a wrestler when I say Steve Austin. Hang on-- [checking] He quit wrestling 12 years ago, and is now an actor? Tells you how much of a wrestling fan I am. (Which is to say: not at all.)

--If you told a kid today that a person required Six Million Dollars to get well from a major accident, they would just shrug. According to the Inflation Calculator, $6M in 1974 dollars would be $26.2M in 2010 dollars. It won't calculate 2011. While that's a big jump, I think that the bigger jump is the amount of money that we're willing to spend on medical care.

--Which is why I'm pushing my elder daughter toward medical school.

--My kids have begun taking daily walks while on Christmas vacation. The 13 year-old keeps an eye on the nine-year old. The nine year-old tells on the 13 year-old. They have a cell phone with them. It's a good system. They're actually pretty good kids.

--The wife and I are sojourning into Dallas tonight to see The Old 97s play. I've been a fan for almost a decade and a half, but have never seen them live. I'm looking forward to it. They've got some good guitar hooks, some excellent lyrics, and they can walk the line between country/rockabilly and good old fast-paced rock. Plus, I've always loved their irreverent cover of Marty Robbin's great song "El Paso."

--I like the way the drum stutters as he's making his way back to Rosa's Cantina.

--The moon last night hung like a question mark, but when I saw it setting, it wasn't bold as milk; it looked more like a tequila sunrise.

--I accepted a minor challenge from a friend the night before last, and did 12 minutes of Crossfit, thinking afterwards that I would do 12:30 the next day. Um, no. There seems to be a mass that has grown between my chest and my knees, making situps/crunches much harder than I remember them. Odd. I get that XFit is scalable to your ability. But it's probably smart to understand your baseline. We'll do 12 minutes again, here in just a bit, to see how many sets I get through. (5 pushups, 10 situps, and 15 squats, wash-rinse-repeat, during the time set aside.)

--My 13 year-old daughter came in while I was doing the sets, laughed at me, and started doing the cycles with me. The next day she wasn't laughing so much. But it still makes me a little smug that she does good pushups without a second thought. Most girls just aren't taught to.

--I need to test her for time on the disassembly-reassembly-function check on my 1911s again. She was pretty brisk at it, as a 9 year-old. I need to also check the 9-year-old out on that.

--Why is Steven Tyler suddenly in the news so much, lately? I've liked Aerosmith since I was in junior high, and he's their frontman, but they haven't really done much beyond rock power ballads for the last 20 years, and... and... okay, I'm an ageist. Tyler's a guy in his 60's who wears gender-ambiguous garb and goofy hats, and still clearly uses a great deal of recreational drugs. Grampaw should start to act his age, or sumpin'.

--

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Imagine if Google Earth had to drop its pictures off at the Sooper-Sekrit PhotoMat first.

Back in the 1970's, the Cold War was being fought by some bad asses with old slide-rules and new TI calculators. They wore ties and short-sleeved shirts and kept long hours and never talked about their work.

Now we know about Hexagon, the ambitious and remarkably successful project wherein 60 mile spools of camera film was loaded aboard 30,000 lb satellites, which used the most sophisticated cameras of the time to take high-speed, ultra-high resolution photographs of the ground, and to then drop buckets full of the film to be caught midair while parachuting down, to be developed and searched for clues of our cold enemy's doings.

Finally, the old farts who never talked about their jobs can discuss the most fascinating endeavor of their careers.

It makes you think about how many people performed amazing thankless service for years for our country.

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More evidence that I'm a grown-up, now.

Someone shared with me the link to a commercial put together by the folks at "Vooray," a youth clothing line. They made a pretty neat video by taking a Utah swimming hole, a pickup with a pulley attached to the receiver hitch, a bunch of rope and a four-wheeler, and accelerating some hard-scrubbed-but-clearly-fun-loving Utah youths down a greased hill-side Slip-'N'-Slide until they hit a ramp.

As much fun as the video looks, the whole time that I'm watching it, I'm thinking "those kids need sunblock! Were there any medically-trained responders on scene? That girl looks a little young to be out in that bikini with boys about."

I should just buy myself a walker and some Geritol, next time I'm at that pharmacy, I tell you.




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EDIT: The video is by the tremendously talented rising star video producer/photographer/videographer Devin Graham, who has his own blog.

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If you've been employing a troupe of glaziers to frame your house,

...then you might want to desist from viewing every stone as a hand-heaved projectile.

"We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry."
 Dare I say it twice in one week? The Republican party might want to rein in and just kinda focus on the budget, because lately it's looking like mud on social issues.


__________________
H/T to Unc.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Admittedly the best.

I just figured out that I'm a grownup. I'm 40, and have a family which I look around and realize that I'm the head paternal unit of.  I'm more than halfway to my retirement.

Most important, though, is that Christmas doesn't mean that I want anything, anymore. I want to be with my family, and to see the kids open some presents. I want to see them happy, yet not overwhelmed and spoiled.

This morning, my nine year old handed me a cup of coffee and a hand-made Christmas card. On the front was a monochromatic Christmas tree and the words "Merry Christmas! Daddy." On the inside was written:
I can't be your friend, but I can be your daughter-- and I am grateful for just that. Love, [Nine Year-Old].


Huh. Could have sworn she used a Sharpie. Can't figure out why the ink seems to be blurring.

I hope your day is filled with the warmth that is in my heart, right now.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stop it. You're just making yourself look ridiculous.

Sometimes, when you've just decided to hate someone, you'll find fault with anything that they do, regardless of the reasoning. (Language warning.)

So when Sarah Palin starts criticizing the White House Christmas Card for not being thoroughly Christmas enough, it's just... well frankly, it makes her look silly, and makes me embarrassed for her.

Even if the history of the White House cards past weren't so secular, this position would be silly.

This is the kind of thing pulled by the losing team, y'all.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas time conflicts.

Dad called me to see about bringing the family over to his house on Saturday.

"What time?" I asked

"How about 11:00," he said.

"AM?" I clarified. "You want us there at 11:00AM on Saturday, which is Christmas Eve?"

"Yeah. That okay?"

"Um, you realize, of course, that you're planning this get-together precisely in the middle of my traditionally most-productive Christmas-shopping time?"

"..."

"It's only funny because it's true."

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Wait.

PigPen plays the upright acoustic bass?

It's far easier to accept that Snoopy plays the guitar.

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Coffee. Make some.

The crucible of my coffee roaster broke.
We ran out of coffee.
Time to roast some.

Start with the stove-top popcorn popper. Turn on the vent-a-hood over your stove. Turn the fan to HIGH.
 Heat slowly. Crank that crank.
 Crank it.
 Really, you should probably not stop to photograph it. You'll burn some beans.You're hearing the beans popping now, as the chaff pops loose from the bean.


Darker. That's not poor focus; that's smoke coming off the beans. Crank it fast. Put down the damn camera! Cranking faster, you're knocking the hulls off the beans.


 At this point, dump the beans out into a colander.

Shake the beans to cool them, and loosen the chaff. Blow on them to blow away the loose bean hulls. Once they're cool, pour them into your burr grinder. Grind away some beans while you filter some water for your coffee maker. Make coffee right away.

Note: If your vent-a-hood isn't professional strength, you're probably going to want to cook this outside. It makes your house smell like there was a fire at the coffee roasting plant for a day or two afterward.

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It's not such a bad little tree, after all.

Little tree. Over new tile (sans grout).

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Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts.

--The house lights were flickering all last week. The lights would dim, then suddenly brighten. I had the power company send out a guy to check the supply, and he showed me that the power coming to the meter was solid. I called out an electrician, and the guy fixed the loose screws to the common/neutral line in my breaker box in about 5 minutes flat.

--Two days later, we realized that my fancy double convection oven doesn't light up, power up, or anything, anymore. I've thrown every breaker, but that's not the issue. Need to check power to the oven, but my multimeter is dead. We're hoping that there's a fuse in the oven that I don't (yet) know about.

--Remember how I needed to get that furnace vented so that I could run it? Well, I finally got an HVAC guy to come help me. Turns out that the double-walled stovepipe stuff that I had wouldn't mate to the extant stuff, so I don't feel too badly about not being able to do it. The guy who did it for me used some skills that I was unfamiliar with heretofore. He offered to help me for free. I gave him $100. It's the holidays, and he's out of work.  Now I've got heat. That furnace is amazing.

--We had been heating the house on colder nights with the application of space heaters. This kills me, because they're 1000 to 1200 watt money-burning machines, as opposed to natural gas in the furnace. But here was another thing that I wasn't really aware of until the heat was connected: I felt like a bit of a failure. Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs puts "Shelter," and "Warmth" as pretty basic needs, and I felt like I had failed my family in that respect, until the heat was turned on. Here in Texas, the winters are pretty mild, and with the insulated attic, it was pretty comfortable in the house, until, at last, it wasn't. It's funny how you don't realize that something is really bothering you, until it's fixed, sometimes. Like an irritating noise that's just insinuated itself into the background, so that you're shouting over it.

--The tile is 2/3 done. My wife is irritated that I'm such a perfectionist. But she's not doing it on the night that I work. We should have it grouted and sealed by Christmas.

--Last night I dropped by the house for lunch, and found that my wife an the girls had put up a Christmas tree. We hadn't bothered, with the living room floor in such disarray. My wife said that the lack of a tree was her own source of angst about being a bad parent. Funny what chews at you. It hadn't bothered me, much.

--Both of the girls have strung Christmas lights in their bedrooms. It's charming, but I couldn't sleep with those on. At least they don't twinkle.

--We had amazing fog last night, as the warm rains left water on the ground and cold front rolled in. I had a lady ask me about how to get to Amarillo, and I told her to just stop and spend the night in Wichita Falls. Visibility is miserable, and the weather only gets worse as you get to the Panhandle. She said that she and her beau were pressing on. I wished them the best of luck.

--Someone dropped off a bunch of .30-'06 cases at the PD for whoever wants them. Most of them have been reloaded before, and some probably several times. I shall have to check the casewall thickness before using them. I think I got about 90 of them, mixed headstamps. I'm going to throw charges and load a bunch of .35 Whelen. I've got an itch to get back to shooting that, again.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

This is what I did today.

Those tiles are bigger than they look like, at first glance. They're 18" by 18" tiles, very thick. We'll be putting in similar colored grout when they've cured. This is roughly 1/3 of the room, but the fireplace is about done (just pulled up the near corner piece to redo it.) . The kids are actually kind of helpful.

The mortar is the worst part. Takes a while to mix, and it takes a while to clean the buckets with the hose. The rest is simple repetition, and a powerful desire to see things square.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bad casting, in my mind.

Johnny Depp is being cast for a new Lone Ranger movie.

Yeah, this guy;
They couldn't find someone who looked a little less comfortable in mascara and eyeliner?

Apparently, someone in Disney had second thoughts about it, but it's back on.

I'll never under understand Hollywood thinking.

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Sports. Really?

And so yet again we have another example of sports fans* behaving badly. In today's story, some drunken supporters of the Kansas City Chiefs football team beat hell out of a guy wearing a New York Jets football jersey, after he (a firefighter and son of a FDNY firefighter) expressed concern when they yelled at him that New Yorkers got what they deserved on 9/11.

The lifelong Jet fan suffered a fractured jaw, cheekbone and eye socket, and also has bleeding on the brain.


I like to watch a good game of professional football or baseball or basketball, on occasion. I just don't kid myself that the team matters much, beyond college, or even high school. Players are swapped around like interchangeable pieces, and the guy who played hard for your team may play harder for the avowed team nemesis, next year. Most players at the professional level don't play for the town that they grew up in, except by accident. When it happens, it's a noteworthy rarity.  Heck, even the move from city to city, on occasion. So it is that the fan is usually rooting for a uniform. Like the Dallas Cowboys? You're rooting for silver and blue and white laundry.

So  never have really gotten the whole sports rabidity thing. It is my understanding from Cowboys fans that one is risking injury to wear a Dallas Cowboys-branded piece of apparel into a Philadelphia Eagles home game. What the hell?!? Israel and Jordan can play each other at the Olympics with less strife.

I've pointed out my dismay over such things in the past, and I understand that most sports fans aren't like this. But ask yourself, sports fan: why does this matter so much to you?

But we excuse such behavior on and off the field of play by the players, and permit them to keep their multi-million dollar jobs, so I guess that it's expected, by some Associative Property, that followers would do so, too. Most of us would be fired from our jobs for intentionally assaulting another co-worker.

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*"Fan" being short for "fanatic."

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Thursday afternoon thoughts.

--Why is the ATF SWAT team responding to a cop shooting at Virginia Tech? That's a local crime.

-- I'm surprised that I've only seen 29 of these 100 so-called cult movies. And some of them seem strange for "cult movies." Piranha? (saw it in the theatre as a kid) Superstar? Really? (Never saw it. Am I missing something?) How many have y'all seen? You'd be amazed at the gaps in my moviewatching history.

--Folks are worked up about the fires in the Chevy Volt electric that sometimes occur from the batteries a week or two after a major crash. This is worse than a gasoline-powered cars why, exactly? I've been to some humdingers of some fires after petrol-powered autos cracked up, and sometimes the driver have had trouble getting out* after the wreck.

--I was chatting with Stingray and Vine the other evening, and we agree that this is one of the best examples of the "mashup" genre of music that we've ever seen. As I've mentioned, Joan Jett was an early love of mine, and this "fanfaroff" guy (if he's the producer of the mashup) does a nice job of matching the hooks of some popular music. I can't figure in the RATM contribution in the bit, though.

--Appropos of nothing, what kind of computer is that with the faux wood cabinet used by the Eurythmics at 1:05 of this mashup vidjo, right after it is declared that it's Hammer Time?

--My geeky friend Susan (whose daddy really was a rocket scientist in the 50's and 60's, when they got to do cool stuff) pointed out this T-shirt as one she'd like to wear every seven years. I pointed out that someone who wore such a shirt had best know the ins and outs of what it entailed, and pointed her to this informative short documentary.

--That fanfaroff guy really does seem to have something.

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*No, not because "the seat belt trapped them." Usually it was because of injuries sustained in the wreck, which a seat belt would have helped to prevent, along with doors and windows failing to open after the wreck.

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Oops.

Last night my wife and I ran some errands together, and dropped by the local gettin' place.  When I say "local," I mean to say that everyone in town goes to this store, and that it's kind of an informal gathering spot. One of the cashiers made some light joke about "I wish y'all would quit coming by my house all the time unannounced. Last time I barely got the guns and drugs hid in time." For some reason, this guy brings up my job whenever I come in off duty. He knows that I know that he's a pretty straight arrow, and to the best of my knowledge he's not had any problems with the law.

His co-worker then teased me that she had seen my mother (who is my next door neighbor) the other day, and that Mom had all kinds of bad stuff to reveal about me. Also clearly a joke. She finished with something to the extent of: "Oh yeah. She and I sure brought up old times!"

Good-naturedly, I responded, also tongue in cheek: "Old times? I didn't know you were on her caseload from before she retired from CPS."

Instantly, she ducked her head into her shoulders, turned her back toward her co-worker, and said, wide-eyed and sotto voce, "Is that where I knew her from? You know, that was all a big misunderstanding, and we got that straightened out, and they finally closed that case on me, you know..."

I quickly said that I had just been joking, but she kept talking, "I never realized that, the whole time we were talking..."

Cue the crickets.

I explained quickly that my mother had never discussed cases with me, and I fled the store. I found my wife halfway to the car, already. She turned to me, and we exclaimed, in sing-song unison: "Awk-ward!"

And we left.

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Random Wednesday Thoughts

--The Brit sailors on the HMS Ocean have a pretty funny Christmas schtick. The ending was actually pretty good.

--A ship named Ocean seems kind of odd. Like naming a car the "Highway," or "Road." Well, there was the "El Camino," but at least we jazzed it up with a Spanish name.

--Former Chicago governor Rod Blagojevich just got 14 years. Given that he has to serve at least 85% of that, he'll be in federal prison for at minimum just shy of 12 years. He did a great job during sentencing of making himself look like someone to feel sympathy for. He acted like he didn't know that it was wrong. He pointed out that his family would suffer, and his kids-- "It's not like their name is Smith." I mean come on, think of them, wouldja? All this to distract from the fact that the former Governor tried to auction off 1% of our nation's Senate, and get himself a Cabinet seat in the process. There's a reason why people have zero faith in their government in and around our nation's third most populous city. When you catch a fish that big in your corruption net, you don't throw him back. He should have gotten still more.

--Chicago's often called "Second City," so I had to look it up to see how it ranked in population. (I'll bet that the population density is a lot higher in Chicago than in sprawling Los Angeles.) Look at the changes in ranked cities from 2000 to 2010, and you see some trends. Houston (still #4) increased in population by 19.8%. Phoenix: 34%. San Antonio: up 22%. Charlotte: +36.6%. Las Vegas rose from the 63rd largest city to 30th, garnering 85% more population in ten years. Tuscon (+20%), Fresno (+20%), Colorado Springs (+28%), and Arlington, TX (+27%). Most are in the south. Most (with the exception of Charlotte, NC and perhaps Colorado Springs) are big gathering places of Hispanic populations.  People seem to be fleeing a lot of the colder older population centers (Philadelphia -4.3%, Detroit -7.5%, Baltimore -11.5%, Milwaukee -11.5%, Cleveland -5.4%.).

--Rick Perry doesn't seem to realize that he's been written off. He's not yet quite as irrelevant as Michelle Bachman, but he's running a close second. I've never understood the silliness of a candidate looking into the camera, and after having delivered a 27 second spot himself, saying "I approve of this message."  Well no pshit, Sherlock. You just said it. The line wasn't completely pointless when it was uttered after an actor had made a campaign advert for the candidate. But when the candidate gives the advert himself, and then utters it, it makes him sound like either he's dumb, or he thinks that you are. Oh, and for what it's worth, Rick? Your religion wasn't your big selling point before.
--I wish that sex had as much to do with my straight marriage as RINO presidential candidates seem to think that it has to do with gay ones.

--I got re-measured for bunker gear this evening. Maybe someone didn't believe the measurements. Given what they're about to spend on the gear, maybe I'd measure twice, too, before ordering. This stuff is off the hook.

--They're kinda touchy about firepeople being armed, for some reason. I assume that I wasn't considered to be on duty while getting fitted.

--We had a brief discussion about how I felt about split duties. I was fine with it. I get the concept of Area Of Responsibility quite well, actually.

--If you're 23, and you've been drinking, and you've got warrants, having a 16 year old in your pickup at 2:00AM isn't helping your case any. I'm just saying.




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