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.

Monday, December 31, 2007

"Your problem is not important!"

Tamara references the Brazil-like quality of commercial passenger airline flights in this, the post-09/11/2001 world. (Good call, that. If you've never seen the movie, it makes some hilarious statements about an intrusive government.)

But trust me-- commercial airlines had silliness before that.

Friend and SWAT magazine publisher Rich Lucibella tells the hilarious tale of an airline security type deciding that his Chris Reeve Sebenza lock blade knife was "menacing"-looking. See, there was a time when we could carry pocketknives on planes, and somehow they didn't crash into buildings. As long as the knife was under a given length, you were okay. Rich's admittedly-large pocketknife (Sebenzas are superb tools worth the near half a grand you'll pay for 'em. There's a lot of metal in the blade, which is meant for all manner of "work" which the name translates to.) was within the specs, and should have been passed through, but it was too scary. When it was deemed that the knife should be checked in his already-checked luggage, the security type took the locked-open knife and RAN down the terminal with it, with Rich trailing after begging to just be allowed to close the knife. Which they did all in the name of safety.

Well, Rich tells it better. :)

One of my own surreal moments came in 2000, when I flew out to Oregon to meet up with my wife and kid to do some camping. I bought a super-cheap ticket that took me from the D/FW airport to Portland International by way of Phoenix. (Apparently Northwest Airlines' idea of a straight line was a triangle.) After a short layover, I was soon settling into my window seat next to the door (more leg room, but you have to declare that you'll help people out in case of an emergency. I'm cool with that), watching the Arizona desert recede beneath the wings of the DC-10 out of my porthole, when the pilot mentioned over the PA that we were at 15,000 feet and climbing to our cruising altitude of 30,000, and just now appearing at the foreword port side was a good view of the Grand Canyon, which we would soon be flying over.

Having seen the Grand Canyon for exactly 45 minutes in my life a couple of years before, I wanted to see it now. I plastered my face to that window like a kid at a street side toy store window, and angled to catch a view of the canyon that stopped Vásquez cold in 1540. The chasm is frickin' profound, even at 3 miles high and climbing. I was amazed that it stretched beyond the horizon, the depth from the bottom to the rim was full quarter of my height above the Colorado River within.

The stewardess took up the public address mic, and told us that, for our in-flight enjoyment, the view screens above us would be showing an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire! I of course ignored such tripe, and continued to gawk at one of the world's wonders from my privileged height, squinting against the afternoon sun. The stewardess got back on the P.A., and asked all of the window seat passengers, especially on the left side of the plane, to close their sun visors so that the sunlight didn't interfere with other passengers' viewing of the small LCD viewing screens. I smirked. Nothing doing. I just pushed my fat head and shoulders that were already in front of the window a little closer to block the sun as best I could. But there was no way I was shutting off this view of what I really needed to see.

"Um, sir?" A stewardess was addressing me. "Please close your sun visor, so that other passengers..."

"No." I said. "Not while I can see the Canyon."

There was almost an Incident, before she backed down.

Good. Gawd.

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In this, the last day of 2007,

I ask my self: "Am I better off than I was a year ago, today?"

I have to answer, "Yes." for me, and me only.

You? I'm not interested in the global picture. I mean you, as you sit, today.

Better a year ago, or today?

Call it.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Test your relationship.

Clean out the refrigerator together.

"You like that? Is it even still good? Then why haven't you eaten it?"

"Why are you putting the refrigerator shelves back

"I cannot believe I married someone who would even eat that crap fresh, more less..."

[In unison] "Toss it." "Heh. Jinx."

[In unison] "Toss it. Ewww."

"We should make that, sometime."

"House rule: NO MORE Tobasco until these three --no, four-- bottles are used up."

"This is my fourth jar of that spicy mustard. It gets trashed."

We are rather condiment and spice heavy in my house. When you buy a pricey marinade or dry soup base and only use half of it, it gets the lid put on and is shoved into the fridge, in the back of a short shelf. There it resides until the Clean Out. There is nothing wrong with properly refrigerated marinades and sealed dry soup bases remaining in your 'fridge for a long while, but they do tend to take up a lot of room. In our case, the bottom right drawer of the crisper is now designated as the place for those, and the big jar of pre-grated ginger, and the jars of red, yellow, and green thai curry paste, mole, and the like.

I suspect that my already varied diet is about to step up to "circus-like," just as soon as we have vanquished the Giant Ham Of Doom (~25 lbs), and its sidekick, Traditional Black-Eyed Peas With Ham Bone. Oh, and corn bread. Always corn bread.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

And it went swimmingly.

I won't bore you with the details of my Christmas, except to say this:

--On the 4 hour trip to my in-laws with my mother in the car, we chatted happily the whole way down.
--The entire day of the 25th, my mother-in-law's house was packed with happily shouting kids, and a slew of very different people.
--We seated 13 for Christmas Dinner.
--Palestinian Muslim, 3-days-a-week churchgoing Baptist, backsliders, pagans, agnostics, athiests, conservatives, liberals, militant tee-totalers and two-fisted drinkers and others happily broke bread together, chatting all the while.
--Most of the throng was there for 2 days.
--Driving my mom back up, we enjoyed our talk the whole way back.

Not one cross word among adults. No tension.

Oh, and I found out that my brother in-law bakes a fanTAStic buttermilk pie.

Call it a win all around.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Going to be hard to top that one.

Cops get together, and tell war stories. They generally start with, "There I was..."

And we generally try to top each other with tried and true stories of our experiences. Sometimes, we even have video, which we save to our "greatest hits" personal tapes.

But I'm thinking that there are four cops in San Francisco right now who can get most other guys to fold when they mention their Zoo shooting.

Amur, or "Siberian" Tigers are the biggest tigers in the world, of the 5 remaining species of tiger. They are exceedingly rare in the wild in their native Siberia, mostly due to idjits in Asia who believe that tiger bones/blood/hair is good for "medicines," (picture near the bottom of the page-- I refuse to link to the pic directly) and by a bunch of even bigger idjits there and elswhere, who believe that extracto de la tigre is the best thing to put lead in a man's pencil if-you-know-what-I-mean-and-I-think-you-do. (Note: I have long said that the best way that the World Wildlife Fund could get results in saving rhinos and tigers would be to spend a goodly portion of its money on buying large quantities of Viagra, which it could then airdrop to different parts of China with local writing on it saying: "Check out what Western medicine can bring you!") They pay dearly for a bit of ground tiger bone, and motivated poachers, mostly Chinese and Mongolian, head into Siberia to dig huge tiger pits lined with sharp sticks, which they camouflage, bait, and check maybe monthly. It's a hassle for the two (2) game wardens assigned to an area about the size of Texas to patrol. Ten years ago it was estimated that there were maybe 200 of these Amur tigers running wild.

Damn shame, that. The world is a finer place with wild tigers running about in their own habitat.
But when they get imported into the San Franciscan Zoo, which is most certainly a gun-unfriendly place within a city renown for being gun-prohibitive, in a state that is renown for being gun-prohibitive, and then someone fails to secure them properly, you end up with people leaking on sidewalks.

In this case, the first guy the 300 lb tiger came across perished on the spot. The next two aren't doing just real well. Frankly, being upgraded to "stable" isn't my idea of a good way to spend Christmas. But look on the bright side-- they'll have some fascinating conversation pieces in the way of scars.

So there's four responding SFPD officers who now get to tell the tale of how they came across the attacking tiger, and put it down with pistol fire. Don't you imagine the other tale-tellers in their group just have to fold, from here on out, whenever one of those guys starts a war story with, "There I was, stuck working evening shift on Christmas, 2007..."?

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Drop me an email.

Please reply to let me know you got this.


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Monday, December 24, 2007

Deep night maunderings.

It's cold and dry and getting colder. Not a breath of wind, and the sky is not just devoid of clouds-- it appears devoid of even air. The full moon illuminates the landscape, but the air refracts so little that the stars appear in strong relief against the black sky behind them.

The porch lights of the houses out on the prairie seem each to be more significant, and promise that humanity and warmth are inside there. You can see the discrete points from a long way off, tonight.

Parked in the dark, by the road, with my lights out, I've watched cats and a ringtail from the creek scurry cross the silvered blacktop, just by light of the moon. I could easily patrol all night with my lights off, so well do my eyes gather the moon and starlight.

It's now Christmas eve.

I love it when it's like this.

I hope y'all find what you're looking for, this Christmas. And if you don't, I hope that you'll find hope and courage in the symbolic reset of the coming new year.

For the first time in my life, I don't think I want anything this Christmas. I'm married to the woman I love. I have two girls that I would love even if they weren't beautiful and smart and funny and cooler than I ever was. I have a family I love and get to see, and I have a snug place to hang my hat and lay my head. I have a job that pays the bills and feels rewarding.

I have dreams. I have aspirations. Hell, I even have gripes and find shortcomings. And of course I have yearnings for specific items.

But I think that, if I stop and think about it, I'm pretty happy. That doesn't mean inert and idle. But it means that I'm ahead of where I've been at many, many points in my life. You ever met a person who didn't know how to take a compliment? Tell them that they look nice in an outfit or with their hair just so, and they'll argue with you. I think that I, and a lot of other folk, lose track of how to see when they're happy, and accept that we are.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

To would-be Christmas punsters:

Yes, we get it. Santa says "Ho, ho, ho."

Sounds like the now rather old slang alteration of "whore," the etymology of which Merriam-Webster traces back to the early years of the Johnson administration.

And I thought that this was kind of funny, when I first heard it. After all, I was twelve years old.

But now, almost a quarter century later... not so much. Dunno if it lost its luster from the overtelling over time, or if, like so many things that twelve-year-olds find funny, it never was funny in the first place.

Tell you what: let's just put it on the back burner for a decade or two, and see if it's still funny later. Then you can whistle appreciatively and hiss "Classic!"

And won't that be fun?

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Two minor insights.

I just noticed that one of the Christmas recordings that we listen to a lot includes dark comedy by two different gay guys. What does that say, I wonder? About the genre? About those who like it? We (my wife and I) aren't homophobic. But then, I did notice it, and now I've commented on it, so what does that mean? And now that I'm asking about that... (You realize of course that this inane game could go on for ever.)

One of the guys is in Act Two here, which puts my wife and I into tears of laughter about Christmas traditions.

Then also, I just realized that I have a minor crush on Breda, that good-looking pistol-packing librarian who gets excited about her local brewery having obtained a brewer from Stone Brewing Company, whose I.P.A. I happen to be swilling the very minute that I'm typing these words.

Oh, get over the shock. She just warms my heart, that's all. I'm not obsessing over her, or anything. She's just admirable.

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Baby, it's cold outside.

Yeah, I know that you northerners crack up when a Texan talks about cold as if he knew what he was talking about. But I've been cold before. One fall, I was hunting with Dad up on Wolf Creek Pass near Pagosa Springs, CO, when I noticed that my rifle action was frozen solid from the snow and refreezing, meaning that I couldn't have even shot at the elk that I was trying to hunt. No amount of effort on my part was at that point capable of thawing the action, and believe me-- I tried. That same day, Dad caught a touch of frostbite, even though he was a seasoned hunter. I don't mean "caught a chill," or "got the shivers;" I mean that flesh crystallized.

So, I've been cold before. Maybe not Jack London-esque, your-spittle-crackles-as-it-freezes-in-mid-air, so-we-might-as-well-use-the-Kelvin-scale-kind-of-cold, but still-- I've experienced damned well below freezing, in the open air, for long periods of time type of cold.

It's cold today. The temp says 28... now make that 21degrees Fahrenheit out, and the wind, though now dropping, had been flirting with a steady 25 mph most of the day, gusting a good 35 or so on occasion.

Just right for a nice hot cup of coffee.

Which I spilled.

On the seat of my cruiser.


Did I mention that it's windy?

On the plus side, my winter clothing is still packed away somewhere in a storage unit that I packed during our July move, and after I complained a bit, my PD sent my uniform parka and liner combo to finally have my patches and name stitched on them, so I don't have a uniform coat.

Oh. Wait. That wasn't the plus side.

Uh, the fact that the only pressed shirts I had ready this morning were short-sleeved? No... that's not it.

Ooh! I've got it. This is big news, for me anyway:

Somebody makes a set of underwear worth the $15.00 US that they're asking for it, and it doesn't even come from Victoria's Secret. Seriously.

My wife heeded my whining request[s], and picked up some long underwear for me last week. She said, "I didn't know which you would want, so I got you some old school (waffle weave) and some new crap. Tell me now if you don't like the look of the new stuff because it cost a fortune, and I've got the receipt, so I can take it back."

Look carefully in that admonition, and you'll find in it that glowing sparkle: It's Love.

So I said that I would try the Remington licensed long underwear. She rolled her eyes and said, "Of course you'd choose the expensive crap. Why did I even suspect you'd go for the cheap stuff?" (Still more Love.)

Now, I know that the same folks that button-rifled and headspaced the 26" stainless steel fluted heavy barrel to my old Remington Model 700 Sendero .300 Winchester Magnum (which I later sold to a retired Texas Ranger when I was in a pinch for cash) are not the same people that manufactured these long-handles. I fully understand how licensed products work, and, as a rule, I avoid them. Usually, it involves a very prominent logo on outerwear. I don't like wearing ANYONE's logo on my outerwear, unless I'm paid to advertise for them. But I especially don't like wearing gun companies' logos on my outer wear. Several reasons:

1. See above.
2. I don't like looking like a wanna-be, who is thrilled to associate himself with anything gun-related.
3. I'm a private person about my lifestyle choices.
4. Why mark myself as a possible gun-toter, when I'm trying to blend in long enough to ruin Mr. Bad Guy's day?
5. Often it's overpriced ordinary merchandise that I could get for a good deal less if it didn't have the logo, and could then also wear to a wider variety of activities.

But licensed underwear... Hmmm... Reasons 1 through 4 are dispensed with by the very fact that I wear it under my outerwear (hence, like, you know-- the name. Underwear, dig?). And because they don't get the benefits of those who want to sport the logo, maybe the licensing company has to actually spring for quality.

Did they ever. Wow. Even wet with coffee, it keeps me warm. Never overheats. Never gaps. Sits close to the skin while never binding. Never hinders movement. Very thin.

I'm getting more. This stuff is great. It's way better than old polypro, and it kicks waffle-weave's butt.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Dysfunctional Rednecks Say: "Merry Christmas"

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Fun geography game

I think it's almost as much a "how good are you at manipulating your mourse or glidepad" game as it is a geography game.

At any rate, here it is. My "traveler I.Q." is but a mere 109, apparently.

Worthy of bookmarking for fun.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

I tend to judge people by the company they choose to keep.

And, as such, I maintain that my online pal Larry Correia is a peach.

Larry is the coolest reformed accountant around, and he obviously surrounds himself with very cool people.

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Heh. This is the kind of crap I grew up with...

Is it a treatise on language? On guns? History? On making do?

This piece by Dad is talk of the ilk which I grew up hearing.

And it's pretty damned good, actually. I like it, anyway.

Growing up with these tendancies can make it difficult to find like-minded friends, at times. :)

Tamara made the case the other day for the Internet being far more humanity-bearing than anyone cares to admit, in that it connects scads of like-minded people who might never meet another like them, otherwise.

I've met a few language/gun junkies in my non-Internet life, but I can name you a quick score of 'em off the top of my head, whom I met online.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Office gossip

My on-line buddy Claire reminds us of how infuriating office gossipers are, and how much fun it is to manipulate their tongue-wagging selves for a little comeuppance.

A little background: Claire is not married, but is in a relationship, is college-educated, and 31. Her looks (which are good) don't really matter in this type of hen-fest, from what I've seen.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


You! from North Richland Hills, TX! You were visit number 100,004. Because we here at Better & Better Central didn't spring for the big bucks to upgrade our SiteMeter to look more than 100 visits back, that's as close as we can get to figuring out who was our 100kth visitor.

If you're using Firefox, live in the Texas MidCities area, checked out Better & Better at about 6:38 PM today, get your intertet through Comcast Cable, and have your monitor set to low resolution (800X600), then you're the 100,000th visitor (observed) to Better And Better!

Gimme a topic, and I'll write about it. It's all you.

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New perspectives.

My pals have run with a pretty darned good idea. (If I do say so, myself.)

Please go read a tale told from three viewpoints, this time starting at my buddy LawDog's beginning.

Then, as before, go read Ambulance Driver's part.

Finally, nurse-lady Babs brings it home.

Folks, I don't mind telling you that that Miss Babs' piece broke me down a little.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Esprit d'Escalier

"The wit of the staircase," or what you should have said...

Ever found yourself pronouncing your comebacks to an irritatingly smug person (say, an honors high school instructor) 18 years after the fact?


Heh. No, me neither. Haw. I was just joshin', y'know?

[That old bitch. Sure would like to... But she was in her early 60's then. She may be dead. (A world without that old battleaxe? I can't comprehend it. And choose not to.)]

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

This makes SOOOO much sense to me.

"I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."

Dunno who said it first, but that's basically true of most of us, right?

Come on-- there's approachable art, and then there's that crap that makes no damned sense to you, me, or your neighbor.

But we know what we like.

And, really, who doesn't like a taco?

Certainly this guy does.

Tacos are appealing to the eye, and taste good. I can see where this guy is coming from, in his well-composed, high-contrast photographs of the most favorite hand-food after the sandwich.

I frankly think that he needs to give some thought to producing a series on the neatly-constructed burrito. Maybe that could be his color series, as I think all his taco pics are monochromatic.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

What's in your pint glass tonight, Matt?

It's been so long since you asked!

Well, it's Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner. I bought some last night in honor of finishing my finals.

Friends, this is a big beer. But big in a GOOD way. You know about, by now, how Tams and I are hopheads. Hops, the traditional bittering agent and aromatic agent in beers, is most pronounced in India Pale Ales, which feature long boils with hops in the pot, as well as "dry-hopping," wherein hops are just stuffed by the handful into the barrel that the beer is stored in. IPAs also traditionally have a lot of alcohol in each glass. This is because alcohol and alpha acids (the chemicals that make hops bitter) are preservatives, which helped British Beers get safely around the cape to the SubContinent during imperial times.

A little while after this, an American guy named August Busch was visiting Czechoslovakia, and discovered this little village in the Pilsen region, where in a little town named Budweis, they were brewing light, pale beers using a bottom-fermenting yeast at lower temperatures, in a technique called lagering. They also filtered the beer through its own sparged grains, resulting in a very bright, clear beer. This was a sensation, and Augie Bush knew a winner when he saw one. He rushed home and began marketing his Budweiser as fast as he could. In a style unfortunately associated with American enginuity, he took a style that the Czechs had perfected over more than a half millenium, and in two years had boiled it down to a brew that he could mass-produce, mass-market, and sell with minimum flavor to the world. (If he were a modern car-maker, he would have come back from Germany, and mass-marketed a new Chevrolet called the Porsh, based on a Chevette with a new trim package, priced to sell.)

Of course, Bush's version of the pilsener beer, while popular, was lighter than the Czech style, and that trend continued in the U.S., through Prohibition, when the Volstead Act allowed brewers to use unmalted grains to make beers under 0.5% alcohol. When Prohibition was lifted, Bud stuck with the rice that it had taken to using, and the American pallete was ruined for real beer, ever since.

But some remember that a Pilsener (or pilsner) style is strong on hops, mostly clear, pale, and strong on hops. It should have a very strong nose as well as bittering.

Samuel Adams has a bunch of seasonal beers, and some beer snobs have taken to eschewing this mini brewery. I will not. This Boston company brought our national beer tasting palette a long way. This winter, they released their Hallertau Imperial Pilsner, with the subtitle: "An Intense Hop Experience."

It's a lot of hoppiness, and they're not ashamed of it. Remember: hops can provide bitterness and aroma. In this beer, founder Koch put in Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble Bavarian hops. I'm guessing that those high-dollar green flowers are what jacked the price up so much-- a 4 -pack cost me $10 US, which is roughly a buck less than what you'll pay for a Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA 4-pack. The awesome thing about this kind of beer is that flavor is everything-- one will last you the evening. (You get a "fair-thee-well" that seemingly lasts for days.)

The flavor is big. Although this is first, middle, and last a hoppy beer, they raised the malt to compensate, so the flavor is more balanced. Those Noble hops are incredible. Nowhere nearly as harsh as the American Cascade hops, they bitter without being rough to the mouth.

The beer has some chill hazing, and you would not want to read a newspaper through it.

Fine. Drink it and read like normal.

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Trick question.

It all depends upon what you mean by "Better."

Arrest more people?

Make more contacts?
Write the most tickets?

Arrest more people that would be considered by most citizens to be "Bad Guys?"

Make higher rank?

Make better pay?

Get called into court the least?

Get called into court the most?

Stay out of trouble?

Get the fewest complaints?

Get the most commendations?

Be thought of better by the citizenry?

Be thought of better by your peers?

_ _ _

All of the above are commonly-considered factors when one asks himself or herself if he or she is a "good cop."

It's hard to get them all. For example, an experienced Internal Affairs lieutenant for a medium-large agency once told me: "You know who gets no complaints? Cops who never do anything."

Well, hell, don't be that guy.

On the other hand, just being a hard-charger who makes as many contacts a day as he can, and never met an arrestable subject that he wouldn't take in is... well, it's not really what your community wants in a cop.

I like to think that I'm still becoming a better cop. Gawd, I hope so, because I'm far from perfect now.

But I've got a few strong opinions on how to be a good cop, in Matt G's image:

--Remember that they're people. Not contacts. Not "subjects." Not "potential suspects." People.

--Remember that most people are good.

--Avoid Us/Them mentality, until you've got them in cuffs. Even then, you'll get more cooperation if you treat them friendly. You can't be a prisoner's friend, but you can be friendly.

--Don't forget that you work for the people you serve. Yes, them, too.

--Don't forget that your words will always be repeated to you. Always. Yes, those words, too.

--Don't take it so personally.

--Be proud of your work, but don't get personally invested in a case. It's not worth it.

--Remember that being professional means occasionally pissing people off. Sometimes those people are your co-workers. Occasionally, those people can be your employers. Be tactful, but be professional.

--You can be tactical and tactful at the same time.

--Remember that the easiest way to deal with a situation is not always the best way.

--NEVER rely on something you saw on TV or the movies. A: It's wrong. B: It's unprofessional.

--Your best chance of dying on duty is in a car wreck. Buckle up and drive carefully.

--Do the right thing always. Honor is everything.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shoot, I dunno.

Uh, gee, I don't actually know Massachusetts licensing law. And I don't know about your state's licensing issues for commercial drivers and ambulances and the like. Hell, Ambo Driver would likely know as much or more.

But I think that I would just go to the source, and ask the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles about it. (Note: While I should stab myself 28 times in head with a spoon if I were to desire Texas to be anything like Massachusetts, I do think that it's high time that this state got off its duff and administered driver licensing and vehicle registration through the same office. It can be done! Put it all under TXDOT, and realize economies of scale.)

From what I can see, you're looking at a mandatory suspension of your driver license for a conviction of Driving Under the Influence, with a hefty reinstatement fee required. We here at Better & Better Central are very much in favor of the Automatic License Revocation program developed in this state.

That said, we are also in favor of not paying for your damned welfare check, or for your room and board at the Graybar Motel, so check into the possibility of something called an Occupational License. I'll just bet that you've got 'em in Massachusetts. Occupational licenses let you drive to work, and on the job. They have strict guidelines as to when you can drive.

I'm highly in favor of Occupational Licenses, because they let you maintain your livelihood, at no expense to me, and with minimal danger to me. Most people (with a few notable exceptions) won't drink and drive on the job. Especially ambulance drivers. They run a little too closely with the cop crowd, and also rub elbows with the firefighters and docs and nurses, who often have no sense of humor about such things. So ambo drivers, while by reputation a rowdy bunch, generally do their beer-swillin' after hours, which we here at B&B Central are utterly fine with... so long as you're not driving drunk.

Look into it. Save your job. Stay off welfare. And check out Sam Adams' new Imperial Lager-- it's awesome.

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Well, that's encouraging.

I noticed a small spike in hits on my SiteMeter. I went looking for where my referrals were coming from, and found that there's a significant number of hits from Google searches for "concealed carry," "concealed carry holsters," and at least one "concealed carry in the mall."

To you newcomers: welcome. This blog is written by a cop who appreciates it when good people carry responsibly.

While I assume that this post and this post brought you here, please also read this post, and understand that it's a pain, and a responsibility. Please enter into the bearing of arms not lightly.

Also of interest: Cold carry. Oh, and I here reference a superior post by Marko on the responsibilities of carrying concealed.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Burying The Lede, Yet Again. (Armed Citizens Stop Mass Murders)

Jeanne Assam said that she was "acting in her capacity as personal protection security" at the New Life Church, when she stopped a rampant shooter. The 41 year old ex-cop credits her faith in God for giving her the ability to hold steady her pistol while fire on Matthew Murry repeatedly to end his killing.

In an interview on CNN with Larry King, she sat with the pastor of the church, answering inane questions in muted, careful tones.

King: "Why do you have a security guard armed, during church services, on a Sunday?"

The pastor, Brady Boyd, began with "Well, I think it's obvious..." He finished with these telling words:
"Larry, the real story here to me is the fact that the man got 60 feet inside our building, and if he had gotten another hundred feet, there were several hundred people standing in the main rotunda. What she did, when she heard the gunshots-- we're looking at a lady who did not hesitate. When she heard the gunshots, she rushed down the hallway toward the attacker... she was under arms, she had a handgun... this is a hero, we're talking about, I'm sitting next to a real-life heroine, that... I'm tellin' you, this is the bravest woman that I've ever met. She did not flinch, she put her own life at risk. She is not on our staff; she's a volunteer. She's a worshiper at our church, who provides security as a ministry for our church."
Kudos for the pastor for pointing out part the real story. But for some reason, I suspect that some of it was also being obscured.

Matthew Murray had a semi-automatic rifle, two handguns, and supposedly about 1000 rounds of ammo, along with smoke bombs. He had previously been identified as mentally distressed, and had been making threats on a website. He killed five people (mostly in the parking lot), and wounded five others. The pastor's right; if he'd made it into the rotunda, or worse, into the worship area earlier, it would have been a complete massacre but for an armed response.

The pastor states that this is "not the wild west" and says that they have strict guidelines for people carrying at their church, but I gather by the absence of what's said that Miss Assam (yes, she's still available, gentlemen) was not OFFICIALLY a security guard. Oh, she had a permit to carry, and had been a cop for 14 years, but I'm twigging to the fact that she had another full-time job, was not paid to work at the church, and was not uniformed.

That's not a bad thing. I'm not completely sure why they're burying that.

The fact that an armed private citizen stopped a mass murder should be the lead to the story, and should be trumpeted from the rooftops.

But, ho hum. Only 5 killed and 5 injured? Not too interesting. Ridiculously, the story is diminished because she stopped the killing.

If churches are going to be "unarmed citizen zones," I frankly think that they owe it to their worshippers to post armed guards at the outer perimeter of the church as well. If your church doesn't have a disaster plan, ask why not.

I'm a police officer who works patrol. I have a degree in Criminal Justice, and am working on my master's in it. That should give me some credibility to say what you, gentle reader, already know: The police can't get there in time to save you.

I'm so sorry about that fact. Sometimes, we get lucky. And usually, we stop it before it gets to the very worst that it could get to. But generally, we help pick up the pieces.

And whether or not you're the type to give thanks to your God, remember Jeanne Assam. And consider how you'll get your own oxen out of that well, Sabbath or no.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Correction: There is more sense to this world...

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was befuddled that Tamara's excellent View From The Porch blog seemed only to be fetching the same $5k or appraisal as it had last year. Dad too was confused by this alarming piece of [dis]information.

Dunno if I had a cookie set that I should have dumped, or it records URLs and just churns out the same number, or what, but when, just a minute ago, I plugged her URL back in with the addition of "www." beforehand (Blogster sets up our blogs with URLs that work with and without WorldWideWeb prefixes), it came back with this:

Tamara's blog is worth $120,811.56.
How much is your blog worth?

Okay. That's a little more like it.

We regret the error.

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Speaking of good spicy foodstuffs

My wife has found that the Metropolis discount grocery tends to keep quantities of marked-down gourmet foods. That's where she got the mongo jar of pepper paste.

That's also where she got this:
Terra Sol Red Chile Infusion Piquin Oil is a wonderful cooking oil that we've been using for about a year. It's a base of canola and olive oils with a half-handful of chile piquins dropped in it, and some chili powder added for good measure. That's it. Nothing fancy.

If you put your finger in it and tasted it, it wouldn't be particularly good-- it's a light cooking oil. But if you put a teaspoon in the bottom of your skillet, you can add a nice little kick to what you're frying. Not the masochistic oh-the-pain-is-overcoming-the-taste-of-the-food heat, but just a chile pepper flavor that permeates in the way that only an infused oil can permeate a food's flavor.

At $.79 a pint, I'm highly impressed with its value.

Unfortunately, seeing as how it's regularly at the markdown shelf, it's probably not long for this market, and that's a damned shame, because it makes my migas sing, baby.

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Now you're on the incentive program, eh?

According to SiteMeter's crack staff of statistical analysis boffins, this blog is due to blow through the 100 thousand hits mark in about five to seven days.

Let's look at that number: 100,000.00

Okay, so the insignificant last two digits are actually completely gratuitous.

And when I think of how certain other rockstar bloggers got to 100k so much faster than this little scribblings did, I feel kind of silly even marking the event.

But mark it I will. The visitor who achieves my 100 thousandth hit will get to choose the topic of my very next blog entry.

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Curiouser and curiouser

A year ago, I posted a link to a site that attempted to calculate what this blog was worth. Strangely, it claimed that this thing was worth... nothing. Nada. Zilch.

One year and about 300 posts later, it's supposedly worth:

My blog is worth $63,228.48.
How much is your blog worth?


Well, thanks for that, I guess. It's more than this poor public servant has ever earned in a year, so that's something, I reckon. Now, if only I could get the folks at to make good on their appraisal, this would be a very merry Christmas, indeed.

Strangely, Tamara's blog is now worth EXACTLY the same as it was last year, by their calculous:

Tamara's blog is worth $5,080.86.
How much is your blog worth?

Well that makes about zero sense.

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Well hell, if LawDog's gonna post...

...acoustic guitar videos, then I guess that I'll link to one of my long-time favorites: Leo Kotke's kick-ass classic: "Vaseline Machine Gun."

That ol' boy sure can run a 12-string. (I heard him play it live a couple of years ago, and frankly, he's better now than he was back then in the '70s.)

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Brings tears to my eyes

Above you see the product of generosity. I had mentioned to Dad that we, my wife and I (our kids are too young to appreciate the good things in life, yet), were almost out of Sirachi sauce. Rooster Sauce. Pepper Paste. Thai/Vietnamese/Cambodian hot pepper paste. It goes by a lot of names, none of them are spoken by Martha Stewart, and its relatively easy availability on the U.S. market is almost certainly directly attributable to the unfortunate troubles on the Indochine Peninsula about 4 decades ago.

All praise the pepper sauce.

The pepper sauce is good.

It hurts. So good.

My wife and I, you see, are Pepper Heads.

Oh, we don't go to silly festivals. We don't go to silly boutique shops that pride themselves on the Scoville Heat Units that they can pack in each bottle.

We go to the source. We hit the Asian markets, HARD.

Sometimes we'll drop by the Metropolis Central Market, and pick up a few ounces of truly HOT cayenne that is nothing like what we find around here, and maybe a half-pound of habenero-stuffed olives (LawDog refused to eat even one, the sissy). (They're. So. Good! F.I.O.: Food-Induced-Orgasm)

But usually, it's the Asian markets that bring forth the good stuff.

A little while ago, my bride realized that we were about to run out of "Rooster Paste." This stuff is the coarsely-ground remains of red peppers in a pint plastic jar with a big mouth. I went to buy some more, and found none. I went to three different stores and returned home empty-handed. And I was sad.

I mentioned this to my Dad, who is something of an aficionado of the Pepper himself. He dropped by a local dealer that had the goods, and arrived at my house with the cute little 8-ounce jar that you see to the left. Something to see us through. Low on ammo? Call Dad. Stuck in a snow-filled ditch? Call Dad. Out of pepper paste? Call Dad.

At the same time, my bride arrived home with a pint of the good stuff, so we held off opening Dad's little CARE package.

But that pound of protection soon wore off. As you can see in the top photo, we were about to have to crack into the little jar.

Today, however, my wife ventured into a new Asian market, and brought home this marvelous, wondrous, terrific, beautiful, terrible red jar of sunshine:
To convey the scale on this bad boy, I put next to it the little jar, and the KelTec P3AT that I had on at the moment that I found the beautiful Jar Of Happy Tearful Goodness. For those of y'all that don't know, the P3AT is a small .380 acp pocket pistol.

But still.

Oh, Mama.

My mouf 'ill be wa'hm 'til Summah time.

(Well. Springtime, anyway.)

And for all you prospective photographers: a lifetime of riflery is responsible for that second, near-perfect photo taken under ambient light at night, with an old point-and-shoot digicam with a tiny objective lens without using the flash. Steady, sight picture, squeeeeeeeeeeeze the trigger/shutter release.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Stimulus: Response. Share with me.

Remember when, for a few years in the 1980's, music videos actually would, with some regularity, tell you a story?

No, I never had MTV.

But I saw a few videos back then, which were the years of my teens. I remember enjoying most the ones that at no point showed the musician singing, or did so only in the far background. Oh, the "Money For Nothing" video with Dire Straits shown on one of the background televisions was okay, I suppose. (though that video didn't tell a story-- it just set a mood.)
_ _ _

I am a big one for associating senses with occasions.

Strangely, I recall the lead-in riff from that "Money For Nothing" song best as playing in the background while my best friend Scott and I threw clay birds for each other in the August, getting our shotgunning eye ready for dove season.

The sight of an unearthly-orange cheese doodle receding to a tiny dot as it fell away from me as my girlfriend and I leaned over the rail of the Rio Grande gorge bridge west of Taos in 1992 is one image/memory my wife brought up to me the other day. (I married that girl.)

The smell of the rain up the valley hitting the desert creosote on a hot summer day brings back Alamogordo, NM, 1988.

The sulforous smell of a flare that I pop for traffic direction briefly pops flashes into my head the memories of:
--sitting on the front lawn with my dad and a large brown bag of firecrackers on an Independence Day in the mid-to-late '70s.
--another Boy Scout pounding my back in congratulations as I ejected the case from the little Stevens single-shot .22 at Boy Scout camp, some time in the early eighties. Our patrol had just won the marksmanship award in the only event that I could compete in, with my broken ankle.
--fear of getting caught, playing with a book of matches that I had sneaked out of my baby-sitter's house after school, in the fall of 1977.

The after-image on my retina left by my car strobe suddenly reminds me of my paternal grandmother "Big Mama" touching off a flash cube on top of the Instamatic 110 camera after much cajoling for me and my cousins to "scrunch together" in front of the Christmas tree.

The smell of broken evergreen needles always reminds me of a dozen different childhood Christmases.

The sound of compacting snow usually brings to mind the smell of snow. Please don't ask me to describe it.

The smell of popcorn and freshly-turned animal manure and hay (note to city folk-- Not necessarily a bad smell, unless you're near the carnivores) will inject very powerful circus images in my head.

The smell of clean hair and a whiff of some perfumes, along with perhaps the whiff of school (chalk dust and pencil shavings with floor wax) will sometimes bring back those angst-filled memories of teen interactions with girls. [To quote Rich Lucibella when referring to his love-making and his shooting: "Long periods of shameful failure, interspersed with occasional flashes of brilliance."]

The touch of unplucked feathers brings back memories of going through Dad's game bag when he came back form duck hunting in the early-to-mid '70s.

The sound of locusts always makes me feel hot.

The taste of boiling-hot, percolator-brewed coffee in a metal cup pops numerous camping and hunting memories into my head. (Of course there would be a coffee memory.)

Closed-knit, nappy green carpet evokes immediate memories that low brick rent house that we lived in when I was a young boy. Look down, see dark olive carpet. Look up, see bulls eye central air registers.

When I hear a small engine with a hole in the exhaust system, I'm taken back to numerous jalopies that I drove in my teens and early twenties.

When I feel scratchy crocheted mittens and scarves, I immediately flash back to being overheated from running, with frostbitten fingers and toes, taking my aluminum saucer up the hill to slide down yet again on a snow day, in the sleet and snow as a kid.

_ _ _
You know, I initially started this blog as a reference to a decent little video that I had run across, putting a pretty cool science fiction twist to a modern song by way of simple (today, I mean. Back in 1987, this would have completely blown the minds of professional videographic artists) computer graphics. The concept of stopping the waste of your "life" and going on to find joy is powerfully presented there.

But instead, I've taken you down a short walk down memory lane, regarding the way different stimuli can evoke powerful memories. Please: share with me (in comments) some of the more powerful ones that you've noticed in your life.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Horrible waste of time, about a horrible waste of time

A fun little site is Television Tunes, which has all the original songs from old TV shows, from specific seasons. You can hear how they started taking the chicken-pickin' out of the intro to Dallas in the early '80s, and such. Interestingly, over the decade or so that Hawaii Five-O was on, they never tweaked their theme at all. When you're putting greatness out there, it needs no adjustment.

But the best part is the stupid (yet ingenious) Name That Theme Song Game that they have on it. I was sure that I would suck at it, but I was surprised at how high I listed on their high-score list.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Good times

Cuppa Kona, my best friend, a damned nice coffee shop manned by a sweet couple, and a chat with the local arson investigator-cum-knife-maker.

I've had more enjoyable afternoons, I suppose... but I can't remember when, lately. I'm just that easily bought.

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Why is this our government's bidness, again?

Yeah, I'm quoting Tam again. While her main post about ludicrous federal intervention into subprime mortgage contracts is really good, the best part is in the Comments:

PS: The problem's not going to be fixed by legislative bandaids.The problem will only really be fixed when dumbass investment firms are going bankrupt while sitting on vast portfolios of worthless tract homes and millions of dumbass middle class homeowners have had to sell the plasma TV to come up with an apartment deposit after getting evicted from their foreclosed crackerbox.

Nobody learns nothing from a bailout.

Damned straight.

It has to hurt, and risk businesses (hell, markets) going under, or no one will avoid it next time.

But what the hell-- it isn't as if the money's not free, right?

I make a decent little wage, I don't do drugs, I don't gamble, I don't have any expensive hobbies, I never travel, I have two paid-off old reliable beater cars, I have a small TV and the least-expensive satellite entertainment plan I can get. My wife works, too. Still, I'm living in a little 1100 square foot rent house in which my girls share a bedroom until we can find a house that we can afford to live in, and make the down-payment with the profits we made from the last house we sold.

That's called "reality."

My family is anything but special, in this regard. We are doing nothing extraordinary.

Why does everyone feel the need to have that which is extraorinary? If you can't put anything down, why do you think that you can pay for a 2700 square foot house? If you find that you're about to be foreclosed on, why is it my duty to bail you out?

And why is our government doing this? For the homeowners? For the businesses? What about for the taxpayer?

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Marko's move to New Hampshire

Me: "So how's the move going?"

Marko: "We just closed on the house about 15 minutes ago, and..."

Me: "Congratulations!"

Marko: "Yah, thanks. I've got the keys in my pocket. Now we have to bed down for the night before finishing the last 90 miles, because of the ice storm. I'm en route right now to the the motel..."

Me: "You're driving right now? I'd better hang up and let you concentrate on the road, shouldn't I?"

Marko: "Oh yah, sure, but it's all coming back to me, now, how to drive in snow and ice. No sudden steering, no sudden braking, and..."

Me: "And keep a following distance sufficient to land a small Cessna."

Marko: "Right. You know what's fun? Suddenly yell 'Oh my Gawd!' and hang up the phone."

Me: "And that's mean. Besides, anyone who knows you knows that those wouldn't be your last words."

Marko: "Heh."

Me: "But you've got another day to get there before you unload and finish moving."

Marko: "Yep. Then I can finally sleep. I've had about 4 hours since we started."

Me: "Okay, now you're scaring me: driving on icy roads while talking on the cell phone, with almost no sleep..."

Marko: "Oh, it's fine, as long as I make it to a gaeis station; the light just came on."

Me: "Great. That's just great. You're going to either wreck out or run out of gas, now. So you're trying on a New Englander accent, now? That was pretty good."

Marko: "Yeah, I first lived up here when I came over [from Germany, where he grew up]. I'll pick it up in no time; I'm a linguistic chameleon."

Me (chuckling): "Exactly. Just like you picked up the Tennessee accent." [I hush my guffaws when I realize that Marko really does think he has a Tennessee accent. His German accent is really faint, but, he don't pre'zactly sound like he grew up with a Volunteers poster on his wall.]

- - - -

I admire Marko for many things. He possesses a razor-sharp wit. He's a superb writer, and his logical equations balance out. He's a devoted father and husband [he's moving to a house that his (beautiful) wife Robin picked out, which he's never laid eyes on, to rear the children while his wife plies her trade for the household income. Far from being a bum, he's simply recognizing their independent strengths, and not letting ego get in the way.] . He's a proud American, who grew up as a German, served his nation there, and then came here and legally naturalized as a U.S. Citizen. He has an eye for humor, and he has good friends. He has a developed knowledge of firearms and general aviation. The bastard's even better looking than I am.

I'm a little sorry to see Marko move to New England. Stupid, isn't it? The man lived 900 miles away from me, and I'm sorry that he's more than doubled that. Never met him personally, though we've talked online for years and years, and on the phone some recently.

But he'll get to build a range behind his new place, and he met the old owners today whom he said are nice, and that stuff matters when you're installing your family. "I'm just so glad to move out of suburbia," he said before we hung up.

Godspeed, buddy.

(All photos shamelessly hotlinked from lensmaster extraordinaire Oleg Volk.)

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Is it almost that time again? Should we start a pool?

Tamara asks:
Given the antics of Putin, Musharraf, and Chavez lately, isn't it about time for some high-profile Barking Moonbat to warn us that Chimpy McHitlerburton is planning to mobilize his mindless Christian Right zombies to get the Twenty-Second Amendment repealed and make him Maximum Leader for Life? I mean, Vishnu knows that there was a tiny but vocal minority of bunker-dwelling right wing nut jobs saying the same thing about President Bubba back in '99 and '00.Or is this already being bandied about and I'm just not trolling the right part of the Pinkonet?

Actually, I was just thinking that it's about time for the alarmists to again trot out the old saw about how "Our government is going to declare a national emergency, and cancel the elections! We know! We caught them planning, saying they were just preparing to 'delay' the election, but WE know the truth!!!"

(Checking my watch.) Oh, is that next week? Okay.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007


Look, it was cheap beer.

In fact, my beer snob self is embarrassed to even document what beer it was that I moistened my sinuses with, and damned near spattered on my monitor, when I read Ms. Crystal's little blog entry.

And speaking of cheap...

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