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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pissed. Off.

Point of fact: I should like to try my hand at distilling spirits.
  • As I cannot afford the taxes and permit fees to do so, it would illegal to attempt to do so, regardless of whether or not I ever sold a drop of it.
  • As a guy who enforces the law, I do my best not to break it.
  • Thus, I can't make moonshine.
  • Even though I know I could. It would be easy. I've understood the principles of the process since high school.
  • This pisses me off.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Interesting things to note on tasing.

No matter how NOT afraid you may be, when you think that you might have to go hands-on with a guy that presents the high probability of a fight, you're going to get an adrenaline dump.

Even though a taser has no recoil to notice, that adrenaline is why it's a good idea to use two hands while pointing your taser device. The very lack of weight on that dang plastic dingus gives it little or no inertia to resist your involuntary adrenaline-fueled twitches. Going one-handed recently I was noticing that the guy I was addressing had a very bright red dot bouncing alarmingly all over his torso.

Tasers need both darts to hit to work. That means that dot needs to be right in the center of the broadest part of the body presented to you. If it's bouncing all over, that means your chances of getting a barb to miss are significantly increased. This also means that you've lost a beautiful opportunity to end a fight before it actually started. Someone may very likely get hurt, due to this minor glitch.

Simply putting your support hand on the taser, even at a low hold near the waist, makes all the difference.

I am not ashamed of the shake that I exhibited the other night. Nor am I proud of that shake. I simply will now plan for and train for the shake, to make sure that it doesn't affect things again. I was surprised to see it, having shot animals with firearms, having shot attacking dogs with tasers, and having come very close to shooting men with firearms. Every unique experience is one that we can learn from.

I really did not want to fight or taze this person. I'm so glad that, in the end, I did not have to.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Visual pun time.

What does this have to do with the stage portrayal of King Mongkut?

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

I don't know how you're decorating YOUR house this season...

...but we're thinking outside of the box.

Yeah, this is my living room, and I must say, that I'm tickled pink with how small the hole in my living room floor actually is.

No, really.

Before you jackhammer your floor to fix a leak in your sewer pipe, I highly recommend hiring a plumber with a camera and leak-locating equipment to come out first. It was the best $250 we've ever spent.

We ought to have the patch on and the hole re-filled by this evening. Then I'll give it about a week for the concrete to cure before replacing the bamboo flooring.

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Prepared for every exigency.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Feeling old.

So I was training my rookie, who's in Stage 1, where he just observes. The other night, we pulled over a car for a minor equipment violation. I hopped out, ready to show him how we either write a citation or write a written warning. I made contact with the nice elderly occupants, informed them of their equipment violation, and wished them safe travels, without bothering to run the driver's license. Total time of stop: about 35 seconds. Time to move on to real bad guys.

As we were walking back to the patrol car, I quipped to my rookie dryly: "'These are not the droids we're looking for.'"

Blank expression from my rookie. He doesn't get the joke.

Well, let's see-- he's 24, and that means he was actually born after the first Star Wars came out in '77. Well, actually, he was born after Empire Strikes Back. Wait. He was actually born after Return Of the Jedi. Hell, he was maybe 14 when that Phantam Menace movie came out.

Geez, I'm getting old. It had hit me hard enough, the first time I arrested a kid for adult jail, who had been born after I graduated high school.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Haiku #14: Finals week distraction.

Days of frustration.
Come night time, a dram of corn.
End of semester.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Yet another reason why we should not look to Australia for inspiration.

Aside from the fact that they're also filming insipid reality shows, I mean. Australia hosts a British* I'm A Celebrity-- Get Me Out Of Here! show, and they put B-list people with presumably recognizable names in icky situations. In one recent one, they cooked a rat, and had the celebrities eat it, or something. Yeah, it's disgusting. But whatever. They're being paid in more camera time, and a shot at money.

The Aussies are now firing up a full-fledged animal cruelty case about this. Over a rat being killed on camera. To be eaten.

Rodent plagues are common in Australia. They also carry fleas, which can spread other plagues, like that little matter that consumed 1/3 to 1/2 of Europe in the 14th century. Rats are truly omnivorous, and are known to attack helpless persons (like babies) when they find them.

Boy, howdy. It's nice to know that the Aussies have managed to quell all real crime, that they've got time to focus their resources on protecting vermin like this. What's next? Mosquito and housefly protection?

*Julie informs me in comments that it's actually a Pommy British reality show, filmed in Oz.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Apparently, there is a point.

I've always liked it cooler in a given room than most. Hell on earth for me as a kid was to go to the elderly relatives' houses, packed in too tight, with the heat turned up to about 90, over the holidays.

So when the cooler days came this autumn, it didn't bother much that the heater never seemed to kick on. Hey, it's old. It could use a rest. And isn't it nice not to have to fight through the dog days of summer? I didn't fuss. I like to sleep under blankets, and 68 degrees is perfect for that.

As the autumn wore on, the average house temperature, bolstered in the evenings by our body heat and cooking, began to drop. Today my living room was 59 degrees at half past noon.

As it was 28 degrees last night, I suspect that the living room was somewhat cooler than 59 degrees, earlier in the morning.

And that, my friends, apparently is the point at which I decide enough is enough. Well? Everyone has one. Mine just seemed to be a bit lower than others'.

I first called another furnace man, and left a message. I say "another," because a contractor that we had used here had installed the thermostat. That man was HVAC certified, and said he knew installation of digital thermostats. Rather than root through the instructions to perform a job for the first and possibly last time, I deferred to his superior abilities and experience, and let him install the device. Back in May. We never used the heater in the interim. The heater which the thermostat wouldn't turn on this morning.

I got on the Rite Temp website, and looked up the installation specs for their model 6020 digital thermostat, and found the correct wiring diagram for a four-wire installation of a gas heater/AC system. I compared it to the extant wiring on the wall. I walked back and forth. Hallway, computer screen. With some trepidation, I moved the red wire one slot to the left. Of COURSE I worked hot.

Behind me, I heard a quiet "foom."

I checked the inside of the furnace, and saw that the valve had suddenly opened, allowing the flames to correctly begin warming the inside. I closed it. 90 seconds later, the fan kicked on, and heat, glorious heat, began flowing through the house.

20 minutes later, my living room is at 62 degrees and climbing.

Stupy "HVAC" contractor man.

Gotta make a cancellation call, now.

* * *

In other news, I've decided to rethink the whole "store your wrapping paper in the utility closet" concept. With a gas water heater kicking on and off, and a gas heater kicking on and off, there's a lot of flame and spark in that little closet. Wispy crepe paper and tissue paper sticking out of a big cardboard box with two dozen rolls of paper wrapped around vertical cardboard boxes strikes me as resembling tinder a bit too well. What's next? Keeping the jug of lawnmower gas in there? That big box has now been relegated to the linen closet, which will irritate my wife, but will make me feel better.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bah. Humbug. Thank you.

There's snow on the ground. My girls were giddy as I took them to school today. It won't last, but it's a fun sight for north Texas in early December.

The New York Times published a fun little bit of history: The original manuscript for A Christmas Carol. Like I always do, I flipped quickly to my favorite part, about Old Fezziwig:

“He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”

“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”

Dickens was writing about more than some silly feeling evoked by a season. He was writing about the simple acts of kindness that bring dignity and even joy to one's labors. You may not be a supervisor, but you probably have co-workers. You, by yourself, can make their existence a little more cheerful, and not in that schmaltzy way of greeting cards and tinsel. Every time you make a person feel welcome at their job, or proud of their work, you have helped give their life some more meaning.

I'm not kidding about this.

Try to catch somebody doing their job well, and tell them that you notice it. And after chatting with a co-worker or a friend or even a family member, thank them for their time and conversation. (I learned this last one recently from my friend John Shirley, who teaches me small but important things, once in a while.)

Consider this my late Thanksgiving post. I give thanks for those around me-- even strangers-- who help give joy and meaning to my life.

“A small matter,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.”

“Small!” echoed Scrooge.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The name of one who did the right thing.

Friend Pax said in comments:

Great post.
They have released the name of the officer who took him down: Benjamin L. Kelly. In a just world, his name -- and not the name of the scumbag -- would be the one all over the news tonight. Officer Kelly is a hero and should be lauded as such. He did the right thing, did it well. I hope he sleeps the sleep of the just tonight and every night to come.

As for the Fourth Officer, he earned an honor guard in Valhalla. *toast*

WV: pardn, which Mike Huckabee should be deeply, humiliatingly ashamed of having done.

There you have it, folks. If you're in the Pacific northwest, and you come across a Seattle cop named Ben Kelly, please see to it that his drinks are free. I'll sure contribute to the kitty.

He did the right thing.

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After 13 months of briefings and 10 months in office,

Barry O makes a decision about Afghanistan policy. Don't want to rush into anything, there.

For what it's worth, it doesn't sound (yet) like the wrong one. It just proves what we knew all along, but which the chanting, fingers-in-ears, na-na-na-I-can't-hear-you supporters refused to admit: Life in the Big Chair ain't as simple as those running for it would have you believe.

Again, I'd like to see our President actually succeed in leading this country. Because even though I may not like him, I really would rather not see the pilot of my ship go down by sinking the ship.

Perhaps agreeing that unicorn farts are not a valid principle of locomotion will assist in keeping our ship upright. For awhile.

If you have any question as to whether this is the right thing for the Huckster In Chief to be doing, please take note of who's the sad clown. Aw.

Anything that makes Michael Moore push out his lower lip and pout is worth a second look, don'tcha think?

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Since the murders in Lakewood, WA the other morning, the news stories have been filled with silly references to "execution-style murders." What they're referring to, one supposes, is that the actor intentionally went into a coffee shop, and methodically shot and killed three police officers before having to wrestle the fourth and killing him, too.

Merriam-Webster's first definition of "Execution" is "the act or process of executing: PERFORMANCE." Well, that's kind of vague, and basically means that every action is an execution. That would hardly be newsworthy, would it? Second definition: "A putting to death especially as a legal penalty."

Webster's Online's first definition of "Execution" is "Putting a condemned person to death."

Okay. "Legal penalty." "Condemned person." These are key terms. A true execution is a legal action. It is in fact an extension of the legal process. Whether or not you believe execution to be a moral act, in a real execution, the condemned person is being put to death by persons who are acting in good faith that they are serving out the law, and technically serving the will of the people.*

This does NOT describe the multiple-shooting of police officers in a coffee shop. No, not even the "premeditated" part does that. Actually, that's a component of the traditional definition of murder: "with malice aforethought." The thug was a murderer, not an executioner.

Now, who was the thug?

Well, his name was Maurice Clemmons, and he was a convicted felon, out on bail for child rape and assault on a police officer. How do we know that now? Because he just got taken down by Seattle cop** early this morning. Clemmons was in possession of a stolen car, and a gun that he had taken off of one of the fallen officers. Still more damning was the torso wound that Clemmons carried, given him by the last cop to die at the coffee shop, who had fought with Clemmons even after being wounded, and wrestled the murderer out of the coffee shop before being killed.

At this point, we're not being told the name of that fourth police officer who died while fighting. That's a shame, because "Tina Griswold," "Gregory Richards," "Sgt. Mark Renninger," or "Ronald Owens" are easier names to say than "The Lakewood cop who died fighting," while lifting your glass in toast. That's not to condemn the other officers. They were shot in the head, and any one of us could be taken down by a determined adversary. We can shade the odds a bit, but the truth is, beating the drop is very, very hard.

When you go to your favorite Third Place with your buddies, consider who's watching the door and the counter. If you must, demand the seat with your back to the wall, and appoint yourself that guy. But know that you're playing catch-up if the balloon goes up, especially if you pin a target on your suit. That's just part of it.

But if you are hit, and realize that you are hit, then you can probably still fight. If you must, avenge your own death. But at the very least see to it that the last action that your enemy saw you make was one of aggression toward him.

That fourth officer in the coffee shop was just lucky enough to have received a wound that didn't instantly incapacitate, and then he went on the offensive. Sadly, he didn't win. But he died fighting, and rendered a wound to his opponent that helped identify the bad guy and those who helped him. There are worse deaths. I raise my glass to you, Fourth Officer, until such time as I learn your name, so that I may say it properly.
# # #

A word about the Seattle officer. He found a stolen car, and sat on it until Clemmons arrived. He then challenged Clemmons, and recognized Clemmons as the murder suspect***. He shouted for Clemmons to stop, and shot him when Clemmons refused to. Clemmons was mortally wounded, and died later.

Under Tennessee v. Garner (1985), police can no longer shoot fleeing felons simply for being fleeing felons. We must have probable cause that the suspect represented a danger to the officer or others. Certainly Clemmons fit this description perfectly. He had killed, he was armed, and there was a warrant out for his arrest, which gave the officer good faith with regard to the probable cause. Nothing has been said about Clemmons "going for his gun." If nothing in world can convince you that the Seatle cops are retelling the incident without embellishment, then this should. It would be so easy, so neat and tidy, to have the officer best Clemmons as Clemmons went for his gun. But that's not how it went down. If it were, they would have told us that, right away. And I can respect that.

I expect nothing less, but I mention it for those foolish oxygen thieves who would yet again --and more flagrantly, this time-- misuse the term "execution."

*And let's have no nonsense that most Americans would stop execution, because that's patently false. Want to stop executions in your state? Become governor, and commute every death penalty. Enjoy your single term. Or better yet, have the Amnesty International Party field legislation to outlaw the death penalty. Why don't you do it? Because you don't have the votes to.

**Who will never have to buy his own drinks again.

***Doubtless, he had memorized Clemmons' mugshot and name, as a lot of us North Texas cops did after the "Texas Seven" murdered Aubrey Hawkins, back in 2001. I carried around an array of their mugshots on my clipboard.

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