Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Tamara complained in this post that no one had clued her in to Dead Can Dance's music.'s an album that came out about the time I graduated from high school, yet not one person had the common courtesy to inform me of this band's existence for all these years. Selfish meanies, hoarding all the good tunes!

I gotcha beat, Tam. Howza bout a fingerpicking icon that died at 92, three years before I graduated high school, whom I had never heard of until this morning?

Elizabeth Cotten taught herself on the sly to play her brother's guitar while a little girl. This was made more impressive because she was left-handed, and couldn't restring his guitar to reverse the bass and treble strings. She played for her church some, married at 15 (not unusual in 1910), and gave up the guitar to rear a family. In the 1940s, she happened upon the musically famous Seeger family, and ended up becoming their maid. A decade later, she picked up the guitar again, and began to record at their encouragement.

The question is: should we mourn that she started playing again and recording after half her life was over, or should we appreciate what those decades did for the character of her voice and fingerpicking? I still have the joy of getting to hear most of her songs for the first time, yet. I just downloaded her Volume 3: When I'm Gone album, and will certainly be putting more into my music library. Her late-in-life recording of "Freight Train" is as soulful today as when she wrote it over 100 years ago. Greatness.

How do I define Greatness in an album?

I would have to say that it describes any album that I can listen straight-through again and again and again, without breaks. More on this, later, I think.

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What. The. Hell.

Well, as I sit down to coffee and read a blog or two before turning to the absolutely necessary study of terrorism (I've a major test on Monday), I'm listening to National Psocialist Radio. What made me slam down my Curious George mug of fresh-ground Spotlight (sloshing over a little on my computer desktop in the process) and shout at my radio was a passing comment regarding a terrorist attack in N. Ireland.

It seems that a crown loyalist fellow brought a sack of homemade explosives with him to lob at Belfast's parliament, yesterday. He was arrested before he could get any to go off. Well, here's the Reuters story.

The thing that caught my attention wasn't so much that a guy --even a loyalist-- had thrown a bomb into a building full of Irish lawmakers. It was that the history of this guy, Michael Stone, wasn't the lead. As NPR tells it, Michael Stone first gained notoriety when, in 1988, he similarly attacked an IRA funeral to kill three and wound as many as 60 with pistol fire and grenades. The attack was caught on news cameras that were present, and Stone was eventually captured and convicted.

In prison, Stone confessed not only to this attack, but to having killed three other Catholics (whom he suspected of being IRA)between 1984 and 1987. Stone received 800 years in prison. Good riddance, right?

Uh, no. Apparently politics beats out the rule of law in Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 led to Stone's release in 2000. Er, what about the other 788 years that he was to serve? Oh, it's okay, though-- he renounced violence while in prison.

Well, earlier this month, he threatened to kill London mayor Ken Livingstone for supporting Gerry Adams, the spokesman for Sinn Fein. And now this. Look, I'm no fan of Gerry Adams. I think that he's an apolgist for murderers. But Mikey had renounced violence. That means no more murder, or any other kind of violence. I myself have not renounced all violence, though I am against unnecessary, unlawful violence.

The lead of the story should have read: "Scorpion Stings Frog: "It's My Nature."

Glub glub glub.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Just Got Tazed Today....

...Got me a pocket full of pain.

(With apologies to ZZ Top.)

After having recieved the training and passed the test, I got hooked up to an X-26 Taser today. When the trigger was pulled, I said, "Ow. That's quite uncomfortable." Because I was in my uniform, and the clip probes were clipped to my uniform over my vest and undershirt, the zap didn't really take. So they were spread from my right shoulder to my left lower left love handle, and the trigger was pulled again. This time I said, "Augghrhaa-aa Ghhaa! Nnngheeha!"


It's over. I'm so very glad. That didn't feel good. I wasn't able to move, but was drawn up tight. My jaw clenched. My back drew up. My scalp crawled. My knuckles on my hands drew back toward my wrists. And then it was over.

Folks, this is strong medicine. It may be used for good or for bad. Understand that this is a potentially very, very good tool. I'm 6'5" and over 270 lbs, and I would have been a snap to handcuff and take to jail by a 5'2" 100 lb lady cop. No OC decontamination. No need to visit the ER to check out my wounds from a baton strike. Just take me to jail if you've got the authority. Gawd knows you've got the means. Good, good stuff.

You can bet I'm carrying mine on duty.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006


The temperature topped out at about 78 today in North Texas, with a nice little breeze. Clear blue skies.
Fourth Thursday of November, 2006.

Friends of great worth.
Friends that I haven't realized fully the worth of.
My health.
My sight that lets me see the beauty and the ways.
My ears that let me hear the words of wisdom and joy and love.
My memories of the good and loving kindness that I've experienced.

For all this and more, I am thankful.

My belief system has little to recommend. I don't much go to church, and I don't particularly care for organized religion. Still and all, I'm not much of a Do-It-Yourself-er when it comes to faith in God. I simply don't much think about it.

But I need to give thanks. And you find that if you're not Jack Kerouac or some other beatnik, you're going to need to give thanks to more than just the day. Maybe I get closer to feeling God when I give thanks. Like today. Ed knew:

"i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

"(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

"how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

"(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)"

e e cummings

Monday, November 20, 2006

Small Comforts

Holly began rationalizing her 80 on a silly online quiz. I snorted, rolled my eyes at the very fact that she had felt the need to take a test offered by some unaccredited ErrorNet institution of getting your money and information, apparently for some kind of unnnecessary validation, and, um, uh, took the test.

Hey. These guys are really on the ball. I'm impressed at their insightful ability to cut through the crap in just a few questions, to establish that I'm really, really smart.

(Ouch. It hurts my eyeballs when I roll them so hard.)

Which one did I miss, dammit?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Crazy Teutons

He he he.

Beware the milky pirate!

My Hands Are Bananas.

Maybe Marko can explain this stuff to me. In the meantime, I'm giggling about this even more than LawDog's newest favorite Scotch commercial.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pleasant Anticipation

A week ago, a friend invited me to apply to his police department as a patrol officer. As it has been two years since I was on patrol, and my current agency uses me in a jailer capacity, I found the offer most engaging. I’m trained as a cop, and while I can certainly perform the duties of jailer well enough (they’ve had me training), I’m really a much better police officer. So, I put in my big background packet, and waited.

The wait didn’t take long.

In a gratifying display of interest, I was told to report two days later to a board of review, which went well. It went so well, in fact, that I walked away with an offer, which I accepted. We discussed how much notice I would need to give. I went directly to my current agency, and inquired how much notice was necessary. The Professional Standards sergeant sighed and said that 2 weeks was standard, but that he would put “Eligible For Re-Hire” on the file if the supervising sergeant was happy.

That night, I raced to work before shift to present my letter –letters, actually-- of resignation. I’ve been working on TDY in another portion of the jail, so I’ve got two sergeants to account to: a sergeant that I’m generally assigned to, and the sergeant that I’m temporarily working for. For each, I’d prepared 4 different letters of resignation: 15 days’, 14 days’, 8 days’, and 7 days’ notice. The temporary sergeant told me to see the official permanent sergeant, who said that he was fine, and would accept the 7 days’ notice, which I had just turned in before shift. Due to an oddity in the way we count night shifts at the jail, my notice was technically received the day before, and the sergeant’s acceptance of the shortest term meant that notice they had received on a Thursday night made me free on the following Wednesday morning.

Is there anything better than looking forward to your last day at work at the job you’re ready to leave? Add in the fact that you’re going back to work you know, and that you look forward to doing again. Add in higher pay. Add in nifty incentives. Add in that you’ll be working with and for a friend. Add in that the job that you're leaving requires you to daily handle the dregs of society.

It feels like Christmas Eve, just a tad.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No Menu

If you expand the above picture of a four-block area of north Fort Worth in the vicinity of the 2300 block of Main St, you’ll notice come rectangles. Red includes the restaurant known to one and all as Joe T. Garcia’s. The yellow blocks include the parking areas owned by Joe T.’s. Note that the restaurant takes up half a city block. Note the swimming pool toward the center of the patio area, and the enormous “Fiesta Gardens” on the left (north) side of the restaurant. I’ve seen this place over capacity on a Friday night, with a line some 50 deep to get in.

Last night, my wife Chris and I chose patio dining at Joe T’s, about 4 feet to the south of the pool. According to NOAA weather, Meacham Field in Ft. Worth registered 54 degrees as we sat down, and about 52 degrees as we got up. While the nip in the air whetted the appetites, medium-sized chivas fed with cedar blocks were spread about the patio, and kept the temperatures pleasant.

Joe T’s only accepts cash. No plastic, and only occasionally will they accept checks.

Joe T’s does not pass out menus for supper. There is no menu, because you have exactly two choices at supper, both of which are versions of The Dinner. You may order The Dinner with enchiladas (cheese only) or with fajitas (beef or chicken). The fajitas were added by popular demand during the 1980’s, I believe, but trust me—go with the original Dinner of enchiladas, served since the restaurant opened in the Garcia household in 1935. All meals are served family style and in courses. Of course there’s a huge basket of homemade tortilla chips and fresh salsa as you sit down, but within a couple of minutes of your drink order comes the first course of the Dinner: the tostadas. Simple affairs, really: a platter with two large tostada chips per diner, sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese and green chiles, and broiled until the edges start to brown. As you’re eating those, the platters continue to come out: the Spanish rice, the fresh guacamole, the pair of spiced pork tacos with lots of lettuce, the homemade corn tortillas (don’t make the mistake of choosing flour) and.. oh. The beans. Oh my, the refried beans. Is it crack cocaine they put in them? No—just spices and lots of lard. So. Very. Good. Finally the waiter brings out your large dinner plates and a pan with your enchiladas, and serves them on your plate before you. At 6’5”, 260+, I can usually finish my share. Usually.

The food is excellent, because that’s what they’ve made for better than 70 years. The food is served fast, because that’s all they’re making, tonight. The service is excellent, because the servers know the drill, and know how to make the customers happy.

I like restaurants with no menus.

Oh, you can get a steak or baked potato or even fish at IHOP, ordering off of their 8 page menu. You can get a remarkable variety off of a Bennigan’s 12-page menu. Is it good? Maybe sometimes, by accident.

But as I was telling LawDog and BigCasino over lunch one day at Joe T’s—I dig the simple expectation of quality.

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Turkey Shoot

After tending to some rat-killing and speculating (more on that later), I wondered out to the S.O. range. I brought with me:
--1 ~1975 vintage Ruger M-77 caliber .257 Roberts with semi-varminter barrel and a decent scope. 2 rounds of 120g Sierra GameKing spitzer handloads.

--1 Kimber Stainless Classic Series I (no firing pin interlock) duty gun, modified only with the addition of a checked steel arched mainspring housing with lanyard loop circa 1943, original style short recoil spring guide rod, and some skateboard tape on the frontstrap. Loads were 200gr jacketed semi-wadcutters over healthy dose of Win 231 powder.

--1 Stevens Model 56 .22 rifle (previously mentioned here), with a few rounds of Remington HP LR. I took the time to put on a good military-style leather sling on it before heading out.

At the range, I plunked down my $5 for the three events. The range officer had an interesting rifle on the bench—a 1970 Marlin 1895 .45-70 with original buckhorn sights restored and evidence of having been scoped. I tried the trigger, and complimented him on it, but he snorted. “That’s not much of a trigger. I’m used to 1900-era Winchesters.” I decided to point out just how good his trigger was, and unsheathed the Stevens. He checked the chamber, closed the bolt, and shouldered the rifle. After a few seconds of fighting the trigger, he inquired as to whether the safety was on. Nope. He kept fighting, and fighting, and finally click-- the sear let go. “Good Gawd!” he exclaimed, “That’s a horrible trigger!” I agreed, but said that the sights made up for the trigger’s deficit. He recognized it as the one I won a turkey with last year, but mentioned that this year, the 50 yard iron sighted portion was from standing, as opposed to freestyle (I had naturally shot from prone.). I just nodded.

We started at 25 yards, shooting at a photo poster of a turkey with pistol. I cussed when I felt one throw a little left, and finished shooting. The last couple felt good, at least. We walked up, and found that I’d let myself get a tad distracted—I shot 6 instead of 5! The only fair way to deal with this is to throw out the best shot. There went one of the two X-ring hits. Dang. Should have short-loaded my magazine.

At 50 yards, I looped up the Stevens in a hasty sling, and sighted in. Because the autumn sun was hanging behind the berm on the south-facing range, my target was a tad fuzzy through the smallest aperture. I clicked to the middle size, and found it adequate. That long Stevens just hangs there, and I barely felt the breeze on me as I put 5 into the second target.

At 100 yards, I fired one round from the .257. It was an inch high. So much for sighting in on a windy day.

Turned out that, with the best pistol shot thrown out, I was tied in score for first in pistol, but my shots were closer to X. Ugh. I hate blurry gray-area wins. The 50-yard rifle competition, however, was mine. “You can only win one turkey—which category do you want to win in?” he asked. Winning at pistol is more impressive to me, and I had actually used my old duty gun, so I asked for that category. Done. I’d be called later to pick up my turkey.

Out on the porch of the range shack, the range officer told me a sad fact. Of the Sheriff’s Office (who was putting on the match and to whom the money went for their Academy), not one of the 30 some-odd patrol deputies had shot the turkey shoot, which had been open from 0700 hours until 1600 hours. It was about 1530 hours as he told me this.

What a missed opportunity for friendly competition! If I were the LT over patrol, I’d come up with a decent trophy or prize, and make every man and woman on patrol shoot for rights to it, with their duty guns. Some folks might be embarrassed. Some folks might try harder to practice. Imposition? Maybe.

But hey—it’s only deadly force.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Perfection confection

My daughter Allie has a bit of a cavity. Not a bad one, but one to be addressed. This morning, I raced home after work and picked her up, and we sought to keep an appointment with her new dentist, somewhat inconveniently located at the opposite end of a good-sized city. Never having been much of a city boy, I saw this as A Journey, worthy of packing a lunch. Allie packed a book the size of a medium-large shoebox. (That Rowling chick sure can catch an 8 year-old’s imagination. Thing is, she caught it two or three years ago; big hardbacks have been cluttering my daughter’s space [and thus my space] since..).

Knowing the drill, we actually arrived a few minutes early, and I filled out the better part of a score of pages (front and back) of The Expected Paperwork. Allie went back without apprehension for her exam and X-rays. 20 minutes later, I was told that she needed a cleaning and a filling, and that they couldn’t be done today. Again, this kind of business is easier to handle when you’ve come to expect it. I smiled and asked for a date to put them both together, and the delighted receptionist in scrubs found one three weeks hence. Allie tendered the co-pay that I gave her, and we took off. 10:00AM, and she hasn’t had a proper breakfast. In such a situation, a parent can feel mighty guilty. My daughter was hungry, and had a cavity. Something nutritious was in order.

As I pulled out onto the main boulevard, I realized where we were, and took a right rather than the expected left back home. Soon we were disembarking and entering a slightly austere white building decorated in a faintly 1930’s style. Behind a wall of plate glass ran a huge Rube-Goldberg machine that turned fat and sugar and flour into dreams. Yep, instead of properly providing my funky-fanged little girl with proper tucker, I gave her Krispy Kreme. A nice lady used a couple of waxed papers to pluck up two glazed donuts off of the bizarre conveyer belt about 5 feet beyond the sheet of glaze, and hand one each to Allie and me. Warm. Fluffy. Hot sweet fatty goodness.

I’ve held myself to half a dozen donuts, a cup of their excellent Rich Roast coffee, and some of Allie’s pint of orange juice. Frankly, I’m proud of my restraint.

We came home to brush her teeth before she went back to school.

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