Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Looking at the Moon

I posted a short piece yesterday about an experience I had while working the Jail Division, “He Stole My Story”. I got a comment back from Evey that referred to yet another of my police experiences, although not mentioned in that article, throwing a rookie’s slurppee out the window while he was learning pursuit driving. It’s hard enough learning proper pursuit procedures without starting off with bad habits.

While I was explaining the mindset of that training moment I remembered one that was considerably more illustrative of my point. It happened back when I was on 3 wheelers in the Point Control Division working downtown evening shift. For the life of me I could never understand why they would assign untrained rookies in that particular division; patrol was where these younger officers needed to learn the basics. I had an inexperienced rookie placed under my wing to teach and train, except he also had to accomplish handling that POS 3 wheeler. ( Police Observation S…., you know what it means )

We were set up on an intersection to catch a red light violation around 9pm. A car busted one good, several car lengths made it a “no doubt about” it kind of red light as we took off after him. I approached from the driver side while my rookie stayed back to observe. I saw the glint of metallic reflection, not a seat belt, and recognized a cheap “Saturday Night Special” near the driver’s waistband as he got up. Before he could complete getting out of the vehicle I had him wedged against the car, handcuffed and removed the pistol.

I walked the suspect back to where my partner was supposed to be backing me up; instead he was looking up at the moon, a child’s look of appreciation for the “beauty all around” on his face. He’d not seen anything; never saw me jump on the guy, never saw me handcuff him and when I handed him the pistol so I could do a thorough search, “Rookie” looked at it and asked, “What’s this for?”

I hope he learned something from the experience, traffic stops are never routine. When I hear the news media report about a “routine traffic stop” that went sour, turning into a high speed chase or any number of extended criminal activities, I want to slap someone.
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Monday, May 30, 2005

He Stole My Story

Lucy wrote a blog piece a while ago, “He Stole My Blog” which reminded me of something that happened way back in 1973. (by the way, I didn’t steal Lucy's blog; she reminded me of the blog that Jahn had written and I beat her to the keyboard)

I was assigned to work Jail Division; part of the initiation for rookies. Part of the job entailed “the Jake Docket”; taking all the municipal court offenders in front of the judge. These included traffic violators, failure to appear cases and all the winos who’d been hauled in. These folks would be lined up in a hallway, a secure area linked directly to the jail, where they would wait until their turn came up. My job was to make sure they remained orderly.

On one such day, toward the end of that long line of sob stories; stories about how the proverbial dog had eaten my bus ticket out of town, or how I was sleeping innocently and some other wino poured a quart of Thunderbird down my throat; those kind of excuses for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I heard one of them rehearsing about how his dear old mother had died on the same day he had sworn off “the drink”.

He was next in line, still going over how he was going to perform his act in front of the judge when he heard another fellow standing in front of the judge, “Your Honor, I had just sworn of drinking when I heard that my dear old mother had just died….” Before I could stop him; this other fellow stepped into open court all upset and yelling, “He stole my story, your Honor!”

The judge looked at me, at the fellow standing before him and then at the guy who was all upset. “Well…” the judge putting his thoughts together, “…at least you admit that it’s a story. Not guilty for both of you. Next case please.” The judge had a good sense of humor as both of these pillars of the community were given a, “Get out of jail free” card.

Your Favorite Place to Go…?

I was reading Jahn’s blog “There’s a place Where I go” the other day, enjoying his poetic writing; but more than that, I enjoyed his metaphysical answer. I thought about my favorite place to go; here’s what I came up with, Home.

Home is where I am happiest. Lucy is home and we have dinner together, share quiet moments and dream of building a log cabin on our land in Pagosa, Colorado. Home is where my easy chair waits in front of my computer, my connection to the internet and my extended group of friends. Home is where my children come and share their lives, our grandson can visit his Peapaw and go for walks. Home is where my accumulation of pets hang out; Andie the senior grey kitty is 14 years old, Bubba kitty is 9 years old, Missy “Puppy” we’ve had for 3 years; but she was already 4 or 5 when she got dumped, and there is Roxie puppy who also just got dumped on us and I have no idea how old she is. The hobo’s X on our front door must still be visible.

So, when you need to have everything your heart desires, all you have to do is tap those ruby slippers three times, repeat the magic words, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”

Where is your Shangri-La? This is called, Tag – your it!
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The Lincoln Solution

I heard a tale, factual or not I could not say, about Abraham Lincoln. While working as a clerk he charged a certain amount for goods sold to a customer only to realize after the customer had left that he had overcharged by a couple of pennies. It made him wonder about his integrity, enough that he walked several miles to refund the overcharge. Integrity and honesty mark the measure of our worth.

Back when I was an apprentice locksmith I worked for free, so to speak. In actuality I gained far more than money for the hours I put in; I gained knowledge. Once in a while at the end of the day a call would come in to the shop, one that the owner knew I could handle. He would “throw me a bone” by telling me to take care of it and keep what ever the job was worth. The first time that happened I drove out and made a key for an old Ford truck. I was so pleased with myself for having accomplished the job that I drove off with a huge smile on my face. It was about three or four miles down the road that I realized that I had forgotten to ask for any money. I chalked it off as a “freebie” and laughed at myself for having been a chuckle head.

This past week I did a lock job for a woman in a rather well to do neighborhood. She went on and on about her bad luck; losing her keys, being in the middle of a divorce and having to move to a smaller “mansion”. When the job was almost over she came out with her checkbook in hand as I wrote up the receipt. I asked to see her driver’s license again, this time to write the number on my work pad for future reference. I happened to observe, as she thumbed through her wallet, a AAA membership card. I pointed out the fact that AAA would reimburse her for a portion of the charges under her policy. I then added the necessary information on the work order so that she could get that refund.

During that minor distraction she put away her checkbook, signed the bottom of the work order and I gave her a couple of copies; one to keep and one to mail off to AAA. I left and went on to my next job; having a full day’s work lined up, I had plenty on my mind. At the close of day I went through my paper work and noticed that I was missing the check on that one job and remembered having been distracted by bringing up the AAA information. It dawned on me that I had not lost the check; it had never been handed to me. I called and left a short message on her answering machine requesting that she contact me or simply put the check in an envelope and mail it to me.

I haven’t heard from her, nor have I gotten a check with it being right at a week now. The amount of the check is not going to cause me any loss of sleep; however, I have to wonder about the Lincoln Solution and the basic level of honesty and integrity that may be missing from her character. It’s a shame, so many will rob themselves of character’s foundation for a little ginger bread around the edges.
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Katherine Lee Bates, Thank You

We as Americans have much to be grateful for, the poem put to music, “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies”, covers much of that. I read Aaron Park’s piece this morning as he explained how the music sung during the 7th inning stretch got to him, “God Bless America”; mentioning that he thought it should be our National Anthem. I think Francis Scott Key has that as a lock; however, we have some really good runner ups.

“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

Oh beautiful for pilgrim feet, whose stern impassioned stress a thoroughfare of freedom beat a cross the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine every flaw, confirm they soul in self control they liberty in law.

Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine.

Oh beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years, thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears. America! America! God shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

This is another hymn that I am unable to complete as my emotions take over. It’s a little like the scene from the Sound of Music as the Captain attempts to sing, “Edelweiss”, and has to have help from the entire audience when he can no longer continue, choked with emotion. I appreciate the blessings we have been given and how they were s-Oh beautifully expressed by a school teacher’s poem. Thank you Katherine Lee Bates.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

My County Tis of Thee

I was sitting in church this morning as we sang the opening hymn, “My County, ‘Tis of Thee”. I can remember having sung this, not as a church hymn; rather as a school boy in patriotic celebration during assemblies. Kids are not permitted to sing it in the public schools now; all those references to God. That thought occurred to me as I sat there; the power to sing with the rest of the congregation gone, the words I could not get out of my throat as the tears ran down my cheeks. My feelings were a mix my gratitude for a country founded in principle and guided by the inspiration of our Creator and an opposite feeling of an immeasurable realization of loss for knowing that my grandchildren will never hear or sing this song at school; only in church.

“My country! ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountain side, let freedom ring!

My native country, thee, land of the noble free, thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills. My heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

Let music swell the breeze and ring from all the trees sweet freedom’s song; let mortal tongues awake; let all that breathe partake; let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

Our father’s God to thee, Author of liberty, to thee we sing. Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light. Protect us by thy might, Great God our King!”

Or, you can go along with the political correctness of the day and ignore the fact that the people who founded this nation had a deep rooted appreciation for God, the Eternal Father, Author of Liberty, Creator of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. While putting my thoughts to “paper”, if such can be said of a word processor, these same feelings of gratitude, this knowledge of important truths is ashamedly mixed with the sadness of also recognizing a nationwide attempt to strip these truths from history and pervert our path of righteousness to some other less worthy one. And so I will close today’s thought on this Memorial Day weekend with a prayer for all of America, “Protect us by thy might, Great God our King!”.

In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

On This Memorial Day Weekend...

I've been enjoying articles written by fellow bloggers on this Memorial Day weekend. Commenting to these blogs often times is more satisfying than writing a blog of my own choosing; they supply the basic foundation and all I have to do is either agree and expound on that original thought or disagree and create “new friends”. Lucy often tells me that each time I open my mouth, “I make new friends where ever I go.” Having been married to her for 34 years, I can tell when she is reminding me to back off a notch or two, chill or in some other way be less offensive. Many times I will fill in a comment section only to erase it and move on without leaving my thoughts; “blessed are the silent for they have prevented the rest of the world from having the evidence to prove that he is a fool”.

Tony, Red Mind in a Blue State, wrote about a cemetery as part of his “Friday Quickies”.

I wrote him that when my family lived on Long Island there was a Revolutionary War cemetery a block away from my house. As kids we had been taught that the ground was sacred and so when we visited, even without our parents to insure that we behaved, we actually did behave. I remember looking at the names and dates on the stones, some of which had been knocked down by vandals, dates with 17’s instead of 19’s to begin their years.

Two years ago on a weekend trip to visit with old friends it had snowed the day I wanted to show Lucy the cemetery and all the markers were buried deep beneath the snow. It reminded me of a scene from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, late into the movie when the principal characters had left the city and entered life with the “Book People”. There was a young boy learning to memorize a book from his father, the current “keeper of that book”, who lay dying while the snow fell all around them. I wish I were better at remembering the lines spoken; but, they matched the situation.

“…and he died, as he said he would, as the first snows of winter fell”, (or something very close to that), and the young boy realized that he had learned to repeat each line of the book precisely as it had been written, word for word, at the same moment that his father expired. It was a very moving scene from a great story.

Memorial Day should be a quiet day of reflection. May we all take a time out from our endeavors to appreciate those who have paid for our freedom.

Another article well worth reading comes from a fellow who calls himself “Jomama” at a blogsite called “to herd or not to herd”. “Khordorkovsky on Freedom the Russian Way” is the name of his article and is a reference piece dedicated to an imprisoned fellow who has a most illuminting view of freedom as an intangible property.

In his comment section I explained that he’d reminded me of a fellow locked away in China for having played classical European music. (similar to the burning of classical musical instruments in the movie, "Red Violin") They put him in solitary confinement but never broke his spirit or his ability to play piano. He drew the 88 keys on the floor of his cell, either in his mind or not I cannot recall. He continued to play and practice those same "illegal classics” every day he was behind bars. When the "powers that be" changed he was set "free", from the physical prison, he gave a performance on the piano. His practice had permitted him to give a flawless rendition of the same classics he’d been imprisoned over. The human spirit is strong enough to overcome almost anything.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Are They That Small?

From a “short” article in the Houston Chronicle, without reading any of the small print, you’ve got to wonder about the choice of words in the heading. No, I better leave this one alone.

“Judge rules photos of Jackson's genitals can't be seen by jury”

Time for an old Three Stooges line

I read where there might be some rather stiff side effects associated with the products Viagra and Cialis. According to reports these drugs may also be the cause of premature blindness in some patients.

“This type of blindness is called NAION, or non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy. It can occur in men who are diabetic or have heart disease, the same conditions that can cause impotence and thus lead to Viagra use.”

While enjoying this particular aspect of life I always close my eyes anyway. “I can’t see, I can’t see!”, was Curly’s line; followed by Moe’s slapping him on the head, “Your eyes are closed, you numbskull!” It’s hard to decide; read a book or go blind during horizontal dance time; gee whiz, that’s going to keep me up nights. Neuck, nuck, nuck!

Valentine Cards and Comments

Several years ago I listened to Garrison Keillor, of Prairie Home Companion fame, as he told about children at school around Valentine’s Day. He’s a master of story telling because the “meat” for his presentations comes from deep within his heart and mind.

He reminded me of Grade School and how everyone would prepare for the event. I can remember going to the store with my mom to purchase a package of those “el cheapo deluxe” cards to distribute to my classmates. You know the ones; they had 5 or 6 small “cardboard punch outs” that had to be cut with a good pair of scissors to keep from tearing them. You had to remember all the names of kids you wanted to share with and write those names on the front of the cards.

Invariably some of the kid’s names never seemed to be remembered by the others as the teacher handed out the stack of greetings from all the other children. Some of the really popular kids had bushel baskets full, some got four or five; while a few of us got one or two.

It was a painful acceptance of reality, a feeling of exclusion, a part of life that was to be expected when dealing with others. As in the related story, my the teacher would attempt to correct the disproportional windfall by erasing one child’s name, and writing in its place my name. Until you have received a card where such an obvious attempt has been made it is difficult to explain the hurt feelings. What I have put here in one sentence, Garrison was able to turn into a 15 minute trip down memory lane.

I was reading some of the more popular blogs during the week, noticing that there were several comments; observing the numbers inside the parenthesis, on some of the really top notch blogsites the numbers within the little brackets were close to obscene. I thought for a moment, how I could harvest some of those comments and transport them onto my site, put a small number to replace the zero. I suppose it would have been nice for my old grade school teacher to have continued bolstering my confidence, just a little longer.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bob’s Gold Wing – The Rest of the Story

Okay, those who have waited around for the finish; here it comes I just got off the phone with my old patrol partner and he was happy to talk about how he came to own a classic Gold Wing Honda.

I worked night shift N/W patrol the last several years prior to retirement from the Houston Police Department. Hunsiker’s Motorcycle Sales and Service business was located on Bingle a block south of Long Point, within my area of responsiblity. It had burned to the ground one time back in 1982; heaps of motorcycle frames and ashes were all that he had the next day. Hunsiker rebuilt and had a thriving business and then it caught fire again, I think the year was 1990; this time during of my shift. The fire department arrived and was able to contain the fire before it did too much damage; all the same, several bikes were destroyed. Old man Hunsiker, no disrespect intended as that is what he was called by most of his customers, discovered a tarp had been thrown over a couple of boxed motorcycles. Upon removing the tarp he found brand new in the box 1982 Honda Gold Wing bikes that had been covered since the first fire. They had been hidden in the back of the warehouse all those years.

Instead of being totally upset for having lost some of his current inventory, he was ecstatic over having found some treasures hidden among the ashes. Bob Kersten was the station sergeant that night and had driven out to see the damage; having been a good friend of Old Man Hunsiker. An instant light bulb must have hit as he began to explain, “I know, I’ll put these in the front window tomorrow, fully assembled with a sign on them, “Special One Time Offer, 1982 Honda Gold Wings at 1982 prices.” When Bob heard that he took out his checkbook and wrote out a check for $ 3200.00 and handed it to Old Man Hunsiker. At the time a new Gold Wing was going for about $ 8500, and it was hard to find one that wasn’t loaded to the gills. Bob had purchased one of the last of a breed, a Gold Wing motorcycle that hadn’t been turned into an “SUV” on two wheels. It was almost too good to be true, unbelievable and yet it was all true.

The firemen were still pouring water on the smoldering ashes as Bob made the bargain basement deal of the year. The next day Bob drove it home; kept it for about 3 years and a little over 50,000 miles before letting it go for about $ 3000.00 to some other motorcycle enthusiast. I’m sure the other fellow thought he’d gotten away with murder, only $3000 for a classic Gold Wing. So, now you know the rest of the story.

The Gold Wing – Continued

Bob Kersten continued to teach me how to properly ride, not only the 3 wheeled monster; but also how to ride a two wheeled motorcycle. We would practice, on the city’s time, various interesting maneuvers. I don’t think that the machine was designed as a pursuit vehicle and yet we were able to do just that, as long as it was downtown in heavy traffic where the odds were even or on our side.

There was a place under one of the freeways, Race at Raines, the names of the streets that had not been used in many years; covered with dirt and grown over with weeds. They were perfect for a beginner, for surely I was a beginner, to learn how to do 180’s and even 360’s. Bob showed me how to lock up the front wheel; then cut and release, at precisely the right moment, to permit the natural momentum of the back end to pass the front end without having a wreck. This was a good trick to use when looking for traffic violations, our attention towards on coming traffic for expired state inspection stickers. I learned to stop on a dime and reverse my direction in order to stop such vehicles, got pretty good at it. I never found a use for doing 360’s and let Bob show off all alone on that.

One day another new guy to the 3 wheeled motor cycle division wanted to learn some of the stuff Bob had been teaching me. Joe Vowels was his name, and he was just out of the Marine Corp. and ready to rumble. It had rained the day before and so Bob knew that it would be easy to teach Joe how to do 180’s. What they hadn’t counted on was Joe getting his machine stuck in a mud hole. It took some doing; thank goodness those beasts had a reverse position so they could rock it back and forth. After getting Joe out of the hole the two of them were covered from head to toe in mud. They came to the back of the station as the mud had begun to dry. They looked like characters from a Lil Abner’s comic strip. ( I know, you young folks may never have heard of Lil Abner. Think Beverly Hillbillies and that will give you an idea.)

Before moving on too far, I wanted to brag a bit about how well I could do a 180. I got sent to work traffic at a major accident on Kirby about a block north of where it meets with the Southwest Freeway. The accident unit would be handling the report and I’d been sent there to help move traffic around while he did his job. It had been raining, just enough to make the streets slick as I approached from the north. I got to within half a block from where I would be needed, started to stand up while the bike was in motion, locked the front end, spun the back around and exited all in one smooth motion as I began to direct traffic. “Do this all the time, Nothing to it”; as I smiled to myself. My guess is some jaws dropped at having seen my performance, for it was nothing short of a grand entrance.

I mentioned that Bob had established himself as something of a “Jap bike enthusiast”, which didn’t go over well with some of the “old heads”. It was common for Bob to get into a heated discussion any time one of the old heads would play the “Harley’s are better than Honda, or Yamaha game”. It got to be something of a way to say, “Goodnight!” as they closed out the shift arguing about their personal choices.

One evening as we were about to finish off another shift, Officer Stone, one of the old heads, started going on about how durable and reliable the Harley motors were compared to the Jap stuff. Instead of arguing, Kersten jumped in and agreed right away. The room fell silent until he finished his thought, “Yea, if I ever buy a boat and need a good anchor, nothing would beat a good old Harley motor.” Bob had bested Stone in front of the whole shift and it didn’t sit well, at least not with Stone, most everyone else was in the knee slapping phase of enjoyment. Stone’s face grew a deep red and the veins in his neck began to swell. I thought we were going to have to call for an ambulance if it continued. Thank goodness it was time to leave or there may have been a shoot out.

Bob also taught me how to lock up the front brakes to make the most God awful roar; to be used as a replacement for the siren that never had been issued since these machines really were never intended as pursuit vehicles. They had fairly effective disc brakes on the front that, unlike a two wheeled motorcycle, could be locked up without causing an immediate loss of control. When done properly, if such can be said, as soon as the front wheel was locked up, we would then turn the handle bars as if to turn, accelerate a little and scrape the rubber off on the pavement. The resulting noise was sufficient to make folks pull over to the side, believing that a wreck was eminent; at which time we also would pull behind them and motion for them to stop so that we could issue them a traffic ticket for whatever purpose we intended to begin with.

This was also a neat way to “jack with folks”. One morning, I believe it was Thanksgiving morning prior to the annual parade downtown, Bob and I had gone to my folk’s house for an early breakfast. On our way back to the parade area we spotted some “yoyo” walking down the sidewalk with a huge boom box on his shoulder. Without any signal to each other we both elected to apply our improvised “siren”. The sound of two tires tearing at the pavement sent the fellow careening into a shallow concrete retaining wall on his first attempt to get out of the way, then over it on his second. The boom box crashed to the sidewalk and we two, civil servants, were slapping knee and laughing too loud as we continued on down the street. In case you are wondering, the statute of limitations most assuredly has expired on such incidents. I wonder if this will be one of those sins to be answered for when I meet my Lord?

I still am waiting for a chance to go over some details with Bob before I put in the last installment of Gold Wing. I wanted to make sure the dates, price and all were correct prior to putting them down. I think I’ll give him a call; his email is not being opened.

"Der" Wienerschnitzel or "das" Wienerschnitzel

E. Jahn commented on my abuse of the German language, no doubt I needed the swift kick. Then he added another correction, one that I had nothing to do with; except that because Der Wienershnitzel declared bankruptcy back in 1976 here in the Houston area I became a locksmith. I know, that makes absolutely no sense unless I fill in the blanks, all of them.

I was the manager of a police officer’s softball team; not because I knew more about the game or because I had great managerial skills, it was because I was known to be something of a hustler. The team needed uniforms and they figured I was the “go to guy” for that task. I lined up Der Wienershnitzel to sponsor the whole team, all 18 uniforms from cap to socks. I ordered the uniforms at a cost of $27.50 per uniform. The next week I let the regional manager know how much the check was to be made out for and he advised me that the corporate offices had declared bankruptcy and to cancel the order.

Rather than cancel, since they were already ordered, I told the uniform company to hold off on the sponsor’s advertisement lettering on the backs of the jerseys. I then began the task of finding 18 individual small businesses to take the place of Der Wienershnitzel. I told each of these owners that I would take a picture of the whole team that they could put on the wall of their business to let the public see that they “supported the local police”. They didn’t have to mention they had only sponsored one of those uniforms. I also let them know that there would be no name of any sponsor, that the team name of Point Control would be the only name. One of these was a locksmith, Jim Reed, of Reed’s Key Shop.

I would stop by all of the places that had donated to the cause, visit and shoot the breeze to let them know how much their contribution was appreciated. I got to be friends with Jim Reed, enough so that I was invited to stand on the “working side” of the counter at his shop whenever I visited. One day I picked up a lock cylinder that he had been working on. I had no business fiddling with it and the next thing I knew, pins and springs were shooting off in different directions because I had accidentally pulled the center section away from its body.

I was mortified at having ruined his labors as I stood with the remaining pieces in my hand. Jim smiled and said, “You broke it, you fix it.” I had watched him put together many similar locks and so I began to do as I had seen. It took a while but I was able to get it all back together so that it worked. Jim must have been impressed because he asked if I would like to come by on Saturdays, my regular day off, to learn the business. “Just think what you could do if you actually knew what you were doing”, was the line he used. I never missed a Saturday opportunity to learn from him. Thanks again Jim.

And so, if Der Wienershnitzel had not declared bankruptcy I may never have linked up with the locksmith business. “Das” right, “Yesterday I couldn’t spell locksmith and today I are one”, another line from Jim Reed.

I went back through my archived blogs and here is the permalink to the photograph of the 1976 Point Control Police Softball team...

...along with the permalink for the short story I had posted for that photo, “Looking for an Old Photograph”.

The Gold Wing Motorcycle, Page One

I had written an email to Brad, the Unrepentant Individual, regarding a stroke of luck that my old partner, Bob Kersten, in the police department had in obtaining a brand new Gold Wing Honda at a bargain basement price; but before I get to that I should give a little history about how that story came about. This could take a while; maybe it will start to rain and hold my audience captive, at least long enough to set the hook.

I first met Bob when we were both rookie police officers working evening shift patrol out of Central. We would ride together a couple of times a week, neither of us had enough seniority to be in a position to request anything, much less who we rode with. We got along well and the best part was we were tuned into the same frequency most of the time; making a hazardous job that much safer. He was always talking about motorcycles, something I had never gotten into; my mother was a surgical nurse and referred to motorcycle enthusiasts as “organ donors”.

During the couple of years we worked together I had learned to appreciate Bob’s superior opinion regarding his belief that Jap bikes were better than bike made in America. Bob wanted to move from patrol into something else and, surprise, surprise; he picked one of the motorcycle divisions called Point Control. Back then they all rode 3 wheeled Harley Davidson motorcycles with the “trunk” for storing equipment. I figured it would be easier to learn how to ride a motorcycle than to find a partner as good as Bob and so I put my papers in for transfer next to his.

It might be important to note that Point Control may not have been high on the list within the department for requested duty. Solo Division, now that was the “Macho” squad, everyone having to purchase their own bike, a two wheeled “babe magnet” with custom britches, ( make sure the “r” is in there ), custom calf high motorcycle boots and all the trimmings. Point Control, on the other hand, was reserved for the average cop who would never ever be asked to join the Macho group, you guessed it, nerds. We were accepted.

My first week was spent learning how to “manage” a 3 wheeled motorcycle. It’s hard to explain exactly how they handle. Maybe if I said they took the worst parts of a 4 wheeled vehicle and merged them with the worst parts of a 2 wheeled motorcycle you would have an idea of the monster that I was up against. They were unstable in almost every aspect. They were heavy, slow to accelerate, vibrated and shook the faster they went, poured smoke out the back end and leaked. Did I mention that the motor; what they called the “Harley Davidson 45 Flathead” got so hot while operating that it would melt the inboard lower edges of my police trousers?

Bob would take me to a practice parking lot where I would follow his lead all the day long until I got the hang of it. We then went out to the Department of Public Safety where I was to take the State’s mandatory driving test so that I could legally ride it on a public street. During the test Bob sat next to the trooper in the “follow” while I navigated my way to stop signs, made left turns, right turns and provided the trooper with enough information as to my ability to control the motorcycle. A young kid ran a stop sign in front of me during the test. I stopped him, issued a ticket and resumed the test. The trooper took off a few points because; “stopping a traffic violator” had not been on his list of instructions for me to carry out.

Sometime, shortly after obtaining my official motorcycle operator’s license from the great State of Texas, Bob and I were on the way back to the rear of the main police station complex. The entrance was off of Franklin and wound back behind the old Narcotics/Vice building to a slight hill where the access road went in between the Narcotics/Vice building and the public works facility ( water ). At the bottom of the hill and off to the right was a reserved area for Solo Motors and next to them was a collection of covered stalls for the 3 Wheelers. Bob wanted me to practice turning some more as he headed for the back parking area of the public works facility, a hard left at the bottom of the hill.

Anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle or a motorcycle knows that you lean in the direction of the intended path to turn in that direction; that information does NOT help in the operation of a 3 wheeled motorcycle, not even a little. I had not yet learned that lesson as, instead of following Bob’s path into the curve, I continued straight ahead. I remembered the need to pull on the handle bars in order to turn; ALAS, ( I always wanted to use that in a sentence; but it has been relegated to the dust bin for many years), it was too late. As soon as I recognized the fact that I was going to run into a parked public works van, I tried to aim at a section that would, in all probability, cause the least amount of damage. I was going fairly slow, all the same the short distance would not permit me to stop in time. I aimed for the center of the back wheel and hit the hub cap square in the center.

At the moment of impact I left my sitting position and went forward, my head passing over the handle bars. I felt something jagged passing my neck and the thought, a rather unpleasant thought, occurred to me that I had hit the side of the van and gone through the side panel. I had only half a moment of this thought of having separated myself from the living when I realized that the jagged material was the flimsy windscreen of my 3 wheeler. I hadn’t even put a small dent in the side of the van. The front wheel of my motorcycle was pretty much pushed back and destroyed, fixable but ugly to look at.

The other officers who had been arriving to get off work, yes there were way too many witnesses to my miscue, all decided that the “new guy” on the block shouldn’t have to fade the heat; after all they knew how difficult it was from their own having had to learn.
The next thing I knew these guys were hauling large chunks of concrete and scattering them on the roadway so that I would have a great excuse. The Sgt came down and looked at the obvious attempt to alter the facts, shook his head and never filled out any forms. It was later recorded as “old damage”, something that I will bring up later in another “short” story about 3 wheeled motorcycles.

The next afternoon I happened to be walking through the office and I heard my new lieutenant indicate that he would like to talk with me. “Hey, Crash, could you step into my office for a moment?” There was a hint of laughter in his request; all the same I did not feel too good about my new nick name.

I have taken a long time to get to this point and have not even started to talk about Bob’s Gold Wing Honda. This would be an excellent time to say, Page One, as Paul Harvey so often would identify an opportunity for a break.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Frank Frazetta's, "The Mammoth"

Some folks see butterflies when shown the "ink blots", this is what came to my mind and so I included that in chapter 36 of "Pecaw's Gift", which I called, Frazetta. (Linked via title bar)

"The Mammoth", from, "The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta Vol I." Posted by Hello

What’s Your Favorite Classical Music?

This goes out to everyone as a challenge, no, I’m not going to start playing "tag" with this one. I happened to be listening to the music I have stored away on my computer’s hard drive; which by comparison, MP3 cannot hold a candle to the quality that comes off a CD. It will do for going down the freeway or even at 30,000 feet when there is enough distracting background noise; not so in my office where the acoustics are excellent.

I will get to my list of favorite pieces of classical music momentarily. I had to turn off “iTunes” and walk around to my real stereo machine to put the same music on, only this time from the original CD. Since I am hard of hearing I can crank it up and enjoy it anywhere in the house, that is, until Lucy gets home and reminds me that the volume knob should never pass 70, kind of like having a traffic cop for loud music. The good thing is I only get warning tickets for passing 70, and my radar is pretty good about picking her up when she starts up the driveway.

I will start with “Midori’s Encore” CD, the first cut is by far what sold me on purchasing the rest. If you never listen to any of the rest on that album then enjoy, “Kreisler: Praeludium and Allegro (in the style of Pugnani)”, for 5 minutes and 53 seconds you won’t find a better selection. I like that, I could get a job working the PBS station except I couldn’t pronounce most of what I just typed. Speaking of PBS radio announcers; I was going down the road one day and at the end of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”, they actually had some fun by tossing in the line, “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner”. ( I double checked the spelling and if there are any errors they are duplicated on the back of the CD folder.)

Next on my list would have to be Yo Yo Ma’s recording, "Variations on a Rococo Theme, Opus 33", by Tchaikovsky. I happen to have this on Laser Disk. For you young folks, Laser Disk was the precursor of DVD format. I have the "Tchaikovsky Gala in Leningrad, the 150th Birthday Gala". I had seen it on a PBS broadcast and jumped on it when I saw this on a clearance table at the movie store when they were abandoning all of their Laser stock. If I happen to see it in either DVD or CD format I will add them to my collection. Also on that recording are Itzhak Perlman doing the Violin Concerto and then Boris Berezovsky with the Piano Concerto. I always skip Jessye Norman’s opera gig, not my style. I have found that I appreciate Yo Yo Ma’s work even more while observing him perform as opposed to simply listening to it on a CD. This may hold true to the rest of my selections; watching a performance is almost always better. Being in attendance may be the only thing better; but that only lasts for the one memory while having the recording makes it possible to enjoy again and again.

"Horowitz in Moscow", once again in Laser Disc format, although I have seen it on DVD and CD. I sent the latter to my folks as a Christmas present one year. There is some interview time, a waste of my time, I bought it for the music. Side Two is my favorite, his interpretation of Liszt’s, "Sonetto del Petrarca No. 104 in E major", is awesome.
Pianos are not supposed to be able to respond in such a way, at least mechanically the sounds Horowitz manufactured are supposed to be impossible to generate. There are some very short pieces that are treasures also.

No collection would be complete without some Gershwin. I have several recordings of his work; my favorite at one time had been on a “Dollar table” where I picked up an archived 33rpm of Gershwin playing his own music. I eventually gave it as a gift to an old musician who happened to see it in my collection. I figure he needed it more than I did. In its place I have “Gershwin Plays Gershwin –The Piano Rolls”. These are all cuts taken from old Player Piano Rolls that George Gershwin had originated at his own hand. The exception to that is found on the last cut, "An American in Paris", where some engineering magic was used to accomplish the trick of having 4 handed piano recording by one man. All of the cuts were re-recorded onto CD and fed into a Yamaha Disklavier grand piano which was able to capture the individual style. The recording then became a close rendering, as if George Gershwin had given the concert live on stage.

In case you are wondering what parameters I have set when I mention my classical collection; my last entry of favorites would have to be the Beatles, "Abby Road", more specifically, the compilation beginning with “Here Comes the Sun” on to the end where it sounds as one piece of continuous music. As my grandson would say, “It Rocks!”.

I would not say that this is the “be all end all” of my classical collection; it covers a little ground and I wish I had a percentage of the take when I say to you, go buy these now and thank me later. Some of the music that didn’t make this list would include; the Beethoven Violin Concerto, either by Perlman or Stern, Tchaikovsky’s collection to include Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Violin and Piano concertos, and the Nutcracker. Sousa marches, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto’s 2 and 3, Dvorak’s New World and his Slavic Dances, and Scott Joplin’s Rags.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Book Grokking

Eric tagged me to answer some more questions, this time on books. It’s been a busy day, all the same I enjoy these and they only take a few minutes.

1. Total number of books I’ve owned… Wow, I suppose I’d have to give the same answer as Eric. My house is covered with books and there are still books in boxes in the garage from my college days. I too have given away so many as to make a number near impossible. So, my answer is, “lots”

2. The last book I bought…The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn. I have to tip my hat to Eric for writing a blog about this book last week.

3. The last book I read…See question #2. I am reading it at this time. The bond between those who helped mold the mindset of our country in our infancy and those who are in that same process now are so similar as to be linked inseparably. The only difference being that they used pamphlets as an inexpensive means of broadcasting ideas while we use blogs. Each idea is then used and reused until a better understanding of the original thought has been properly discussed and improved. I like the idea of being linked to folks like Ben Franklin or Thomas Paine in such a way.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me…A. The Book of Mormon as it is the only book that I know of delivered by an Angel. Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” B. Pecaw’s Gift by T. Fraser Stern because I put a lot of myself into it. Just because it’s a novel does not discount the fact that most of it is true; the names have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent. C. The Past Through Tomorrow, Future History Stories, Stranger in a Strange Land or Time Enough For Love are all by Robert Heinlein and I would be hard pressed to pick which I liked best; I lean toward the Future History Stories. Again, Eric and I have chosen a work by Heinlein and so I grok. D. Contact by Carl Sagan because throughout the book is a never ending search for scientific as well as spiritual truth; something which perplexed the author in his own life. E. The collected works of Norman Rockwell was a gift from my parents and contains a pictorial history of an America that may have been lost from off the face of the earth.

5. I’m supposed to tag five victims now…E. Jahn, Mike Landfair, Tony Iovino, Robert May, and Ross Kaminsky. Tag, you’re it!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Author of Liberty

I recently commented on a discussion regarding “rights of individuals”. I would at this time pass along my thanks to Eric Cowperthwaite of, Eric’s Grumbles Before the Grave, for having hosted the discussion under the title, “Rights and Dry Powder”. (linked via title bar)

The banter has been broken down into secular terms in their attempts to avoid any hint of a religious tone. These folks had broken it down as far as they could with terms that could only be considered cosmetic or collegiate. If I am to believe the text of their discussion, then there are two classifications for individual “rights”; those which are inherent and those which are societal.

I would at this time break with their decision to keep the discussion purely secular. They have used the word “inherent” as part of their understanding of what exists without the benefit of societal implementation. I had mentioned in my comment to their discussion that there are inevitable communication issues when one individual attempts to convey an idea based on an assumption that simply because they share the same language, English, that the words used will be understood in similar fashion as intended.

Inherent, as defined, “existing in someone or something as natural and inseparable quality, characteristic or right, innate; basic, inborn; as the inherent right of men to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The rood word, inherit, has as its primary meaning, “to transfer (property) to (an heir). It then adds as secondary, “to receive (property) by the laws of inheritance and then to have (certain characteristics) by heredity.

If we are then to use the word inherent within the context of any discussion of rights then it must first be expressed somewhere, “From whom are we to inherit?” Who is it that has the ability to create such characteristics and to have the power necessary to propagate characteristics? Maybe I should restructure the question; In who’s image are we created after, that we might be heirs?

It is my opinion, rather than contention since contention seems to abound, that to ignore the source of any inheritance is to abandon the right to inherit altogether. If a person was invited to the reading of a will for the purpose of receiving a portion of an estate, then it follows that he would, by virtue of his attending that reading, acknowledge the origin of any and all benefits to be received. In the case of inherent “rights”, does it not seem natural to acknowledge the Author of those rights?

On the outside chance that there are penalties for plagiarism in the eternities I would think that my secular antagonists would reconsider their having discounted the only Being capable of such all encompassing rights as to include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In spite of all attempts to dishonor the founding fathers intent to honor our Creator, it remains there in dried ink upon our most revered documents for all the world to witness. God is the author of inherent rights, to argue otherwise is folly.

“And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?” (2 Nep 27:27) (emphisis added)

The text of the chapter goes on to explain the logic of listening to the teachings of the Lord and his Prophets even knowing that those filled with pride and the teachings of men alone will not accept these teachings. There is a warning and a promise,

“They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” (2 Nep 27:35)

It would be ever so wonderful to take a time out, I believe that is the current mild reprimand given to children when they are out of control, take a time out and reconsider the possibility that the words I have written are not only correct; but, have come from one of God’s prophets. That being the possibility, would it not follow that you might be better off in the eternal scope of things were you to incorporate the knowledge and wisdom offered now rather than ignore it until such time as you are on the other side of the veil of mortality? Or, you can continue with petty arguments about the origin of things you really have no understanding of, pat yourselves on the back for being great debaters of man’s tricky language and enjoy this temporary shell until the worms take over and consume your unworthy flesh, a little line from Shakespeare, mangled to some degree; but you get the idea.

As a closing thought, not originally in mind as I wrote my thoughts, I find it ironic that the discussion was hosted on a site with, “grumbles before the grave”, most illuminating.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


It looks like I made a good investment when I bought an Oxford Dictionary. Come to think of it, my folks gave it to me as a Christmas present one year. I think there was a subtle hint as to my having a real need for it. This new book I’ve been reading, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, by Bernard Bailyn has got a few winners. I have stated for quite some time that I was never much on the scholarly attributes; however, I have a fairly good vocabulary, at least I thought I did.

Try to remember the last time you saw or used any of the following words in an everyday sentence. You are exempt from this if you have recently written a college thesis.

1 “jeremiad”
2 “polemical”
3 “vituperation”
4 “protean”

Okay, times up, and I have to confess that I had to guess first and then go look them up. Having a fairly good idea based on how they were placed into sentences helped; but I wanted to be sure. I like to place notes along the edges of my pages to remind me that I have a long way to go before I can consider myself educated. There is hope for me yet as I am willing to learn as I go. Some of my friends would have simply kept on going; not even caring what the strange looking words meant. Actually they would never have picked up this particular book, instead opting for another hour of Desperate Housewives or American Idol. I suspect that I will be challenged quite a bit more the deeper into the book I get.

As a secondary challenge; does anyone out there have access to some of these ancient pamphlets as referenced; such as the pamphlet titled, “The Civil State Compared to Rivers”, written by Ebenezer Chaplin. I looked for it on Yahoo and Google search and came up empty. I’d like to have more than a reference, I want to read the original as opposed to a footnote entry. One “atta-boy” if you can aim my mouse in the right direction.

A Tribute to Phillip Geiger

Lucy and I attended a retirement tribute for Philip Geiger. He served as Band Director for Westfield High School these past twenty plus years. It was easy to compare the surprise retirement ceremony with that depicted in the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus.

I should explain that all three of my children were members of the Big Red Band and benefited directly from Mr. Geiger’s commitment to excellence. I was never in a band, never learned to read music and the only music I can make comes out of the stereo. I did get to hear the band play on many occasions; football games from the stands or when they would practice their marching shows at half time, concerts during the school year and maybe the most impressive, at least to me, the marching band competitions.

I remember the first time I ever attended one of the really serious marching competitions at the huge stadium located on the Rice University campus. It was a brisk autumn evening and I was running late and so I got to watch from the back railing. I had no idea that so many folks would be attending, it was standing room only. I got to listen to a few of the other school bands before our Westfield Band had their chance. All during the performances the kids who had just completed their performances would be filtering into the crowd, as spectators now. When my kids were in the middle of their performance; and let me say that I had goose bumps from the quality of sound I was taking in, I overheard a couple of kids wearing band uniforms from another school.

“I’d give my right arm to be able to play in a band like that!” It was repeated in a number of ways, always coming out as a compliment from their peers. There was something different, a higher level of expectations from the Band Director that had transferred into the level of performance. Everyone, including the judges were of the same opinion.

These young people had put in hour upon hour of serious work; both in their musical talents and in their marching routine. The music was complicated as were the drills they were executing on the field. I have watched many marching band competitions during my children’s high school years; being the bread winner meant that I had to be selective as to which and when, all the same I made as many as I could.

One year they had earned a spot in the National Bands of America marching competition. There was no way I would be able to attend that one; however I did get to watch them go through the entire performance on a practice prior to the flight to Indianapolis. I had heard parts of the performance at various football games; but never the entire piece along with the fancy drills. They performed Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. I had never heard such an angelic sound come with so much power, as the entire band used their voices as if they had been transformed into a marching choir, the melody reaching the heavens. I have been told that the acoustics of the RCA domed stadium made the effect even more spectacular for those who traveled up for the competition. They won the award for best music and came in 2nd place overall. I cannot listen to that piece of music without thinking of how wonderful that moment in time, the level of achievement made by so young a group of musicians and the spirit of competition that remains with each of them. These are the citizens being spilled off into society, the ones we will not have to worry about. They understand what they are capable of and, for the most part, these are the best America has to offer.

Today as the tribute ceremony came to its natural conclusion, Mr. Geiger was called upon to lead the symphonic band one last time. They had been assembled and seated behind the curtains. I should also mention that the building, a state of the art performance auditorium had been pushed into reality through Mr. Geiger’s unyielding desire to have such an auditorium available for these young performers. He led them in one of his favorites, I love a Sousa March. He would turn to the audience and have us all sing along. It turns out that both Lucy and I also love Sousa marches and were more than willing to join in the festive singing.

Until recently all concerts, plays and similar performances had to be done on a borrowed stage at another high school. This new structure had been completed only a year or two back and had yet to be given a proper dedication. We all found out today that the school board, upon hearing that Mr. Geiger had planned to retire this year, unanimously voted to place his name on the building. As this was announced tears were streaming down his cheeks, our own as well. This was an affirmation of the community’s goal, to have our young people embrace a common value and run with it. With all the terrible problems in our school systems, the drugs, gangs and the sexual permissiveness that, as parents we try to shield and protect our children from; having been present at today’s tribute to Phillip Geiger and the accomplishments that were a direct result of his efforts was also a tribute to the young people who are the future of our society.

This is one of the reasons I pay my property taxes, mind you, I still grumble about the other abuses carried out in the name of public education. I can support a program that turns out young people like the ones that come from Westfield High Schools band program.

Jager Lloyd, a Westfield High graduate did the artwork for the program cover. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Brad's Challenge

List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over.

I suppose my peer group would have to include my blogging companions, those I visit regularly. It would also include those I attend church with and my immediate friends.

1. FARMS; I can bet the house (Brad, forgive the implied issue of gambling) that no one else would have this on their list. FARMS, “the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies” is often brought up when discussing fringe issues in regard to quorum topics after church. It’s like being a member of an exclusive club reserved for the “most serious” scripture scholars. I had a membership for several years and could not figure out what was so neat about it; but then I was never much of a scholar either. Did I just bet the farm too?

2. Poker has been a recent topic or better stated, Gambling has been the topic with poker being debated as to whether or not it should be classified as gambling. Speaking for myself, it really is a non-issue.

3. Reality Shows on television comes up every now and again. I have no desire to watch any of them as they tend to demean the human spirit in a commercial bid to show the depths some will go just to see if they can. Rather than instilling an appreciation for mankind’s ability to adapt or conquer; instead they are a degradation of our values for having made a mockery of the driving forces that make each of us valuable.

4. Basketball, big deal. I have never understood the fascination with that game. They could save everyone a bunch of time, change the rules so that the whole game lasts 5 minutes because everything up until then is tedium on the edge of boredom anyway. The real strategy of the game only happens in those last few minutes so make that the game.

5. Steroid Use in Sports would be worthy of listing. I may be alone on this one; but if the use of steroids is legal, prescription or over the counter makes no difference, for anyone to use in everyday life then why should an athlete be deprived of the same legal ingestion of a substance. My personal rule should be applied, “Just because it’s legal does not mean I would do it myself or recommend it’s use by anyone else”. My point is purely a matter of legal ethics as opposed to moral grounds or any argument that involves the implication that it’s just not “fair”. The idea that congress thinks it should be legislated only proves that government has become the whore of public acclaim rather than a voice of reason. If a particular sport has a desire to create a “rule”, enforce that rule upon all who wish to participate and then hold them to that higher order or life style that is within their prerogative. My beef, must be one of those Freudian slips, is that the discussion has gravitated toward the legislative angle and invited even more government control over the lives of citizens.

Okay, that should stir up some hornets. Brad, “Thank You”, for the invitation.
I almost forgot; I’m supposed to issue the challenge to some more unsuspecting folks.
I have few enough who hang around or put up with me so I’d better be very careful.

“Mover” Mike Landfair
Robert Bell of “Libertopia”
Aaron the “Roseville Conservative”
Ross of “Rossputin”
“B” of “B after the fact”

Are Y’all up to the challenge; or maybe I should reset the question, are “Youse guiys” up for the challenge? I have to address those from Yankee Land in their own language.

The Watering Hole

Several years ago I was privileged to hear a talk in church by Clyde Black, an accomplished hunter and speaker. He has been to Africa on Safari many times and was able to relate the habits of many species of animals who gather around the waterhole as a means of survival. His intent was as a warning to be aware of the dangers, especially in public places; to be alert for the snares of the world. His use of the watering hole was most effective.

He explained that from a distance the watering hole appeared to be safe as there was little if any movement, either on the edges or on the water’s surface. Upon closer inspection; however, his trained eye was able to detect the presence of alligators, maybe he had said crocodiles. In either case what had appeared to be a safe place to enter and partake of the life giving substance of water turned out to be a well laid trap to catch an unsuspecting visitor. He went on to detail how the camouflaged predator would lay motionless in the water, only the bump of his snout and the bulge of his cloaked eyes floating in view, similar to a piece of drifting flotsam until, in a blink, he would lunge out and overtake any creature foolish enough to have gotten too close. The struggle would last for only a few moments as the prey disappeared below the murky surface to be digested later.

We have a water bowl in our kitchen for the general use of our two kitties, Bubba and Andie along with Puppy. It serves as a point of contention, not as dangerous perhaps as the watering hole I described earlier; however, almost as much fun to watch. Bubba has never learned to appreciate her fellow house mates. She will put up with Andie, especially since Andie is the Senior Kitty; Puppy, on the other hand is a dog. Bubba has no use for dogs in any shape or form. Dogs are Eeeeevvvvviiiilllll and there is nothing good about any of them.

Yesterday one of our young neighbors came by and dropped off his dog, Roxie. It seems that Roxie is being abandoned in a manner of speaking, because of a needed move. We are supposed to put Roxie on a plane and send her off to her new home someplace in Wyoming, once the details are worked out. This is a familiar story around our house; almost identical to the one in which we gained our own Puppy, several years ago when she was abandoned into our temporary care. I would be the first to admit that Roxie appears to be a sweet animal and only needs to have a loving family to take care of her; just not me, please not me again.

The walk from the front yard to our fenced in area was yet another negative “dog” experience for Bubba as she lay enjoying a peaceful snooze under my work truck at the far end of the driveway. There was an instant blur of white dog, some bumps and banging under my truck followed by some white blur, some more bumping and banging as Bubba bounced off the wheel well in her escape. That was the informal introduction. Bubba didn't come home until around 3:30am and let us know that we had once again violated our sacred oaths, promises of loyalty and stewardship to her alone. She was pissed off.

I watched her this morning as she approached the water bowl. Instantly I could see her ears attempting to pick up any stirrings, any hint of being observed by those terrible beasts, those beasts who would destroy her as surely as the alligators consume unsuspecting Zebras. She stood motionless for a minute or two and then would take a couple of short laps of water before going back to the alert status.

The “visiting dog”, Roxie, must have walked by the side door, a fully windowed view to our back yard. At once Bubba hunkered down into a low crouch and shot out of the kitchen to the safe confines of the living room/office. Wouldn’t you know, there at the entry way, the far end of the living room, Puppy lay sleeping on the cool tiled entry platform. “Damn Dogs!”, I could hear the exclamation escape into the air as she hurriedly found her way into the safe harbor of the front window sill. My guess is that she will remain there for several hours pouting and possibly plotting the demise of at least one dog, maybe two along with contacting her attorney.

Other than providing an interesting story about the crazy life we get to observe here in our own jungle; it is my hope that we all remain alert for the snares of the world, whatever form they come in. May we avoid the trappings of greed and pride as we go about our dealings with the rest of the world is my hope and my warning. If I were at church I would tack on the line, In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Everyone should have this pamphlet on
the Constitution of The United States of America. Posted by Hello

Pamphlets, Now why didn’t I think of that?

About a week ago I read in Eric Cowperthwaite’s blog about a book, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. (link via title bar) He convinced me that I should go buy a copy; it came in the evening mail. I was bushed, pardon the political humor, and my eyes were not ready to take on the assignment after having gone through my regular blog reading, commenting and emails.

I picked it up anyway and pushed through the preface, the forward and even made it into the first few pages of the first chapter. I am a minor history buff, that means that I fall asleep easily while reading the standard history text associated with undergraduate studies. I always wanted to have one of those mentors, a fabulous professor who could make the simplest historical data jump to life and carry me through a semester. It never happened. I got stuck with a physical education major who had to teach a semester of something, anything in order to accomplish a requirement for his teaching certificate.

I think I had his cousin for Psychology 101; maybe you had him too, monotone, read directly from the book the entire time until the bell rang and never looked up to see if it mattered. Yes, I thought you would remember. Both of them started off the semester by explaining that they would hand out grades on the “bell”; 2 A’s, 4 B’s, 32 C’s, 4 D’s and dragging up the rear, 2 F’s. I had taken a moment to locate the 4 D’s and the 2 F’s and then quietly gone into a Zen mindset knowing that I was guaranteed one of the 32 C’s since I had no intention of listening to an instructor who knew less about psychology than my roommate. I attended his class only one other time after he had explained the laws of probability and his grade system, that was to take the final exam and I got my C.

I got most of my history, at least as it relates to the United States of America, on my own through reading great books, listening to older and wiser folks who had the magical ability to make history come alive and through various pamphlets. I still have my pamphlet that outlines the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I keep it on my desk next to my scriptures. ( I wonder how weird that must sound to so many of you.)

I mentioned that I started reading in my most recent acquisition and when I got to page 2 I found something worth mentioning; in the footnote section for a quote made by George Orwell regarding the colonists use of pamphlets.

Orwell’s spirited introductory essay was sparked by his belief that in twentieth-century society the press does not adequately represent all shades of opinion

I had gotten a whole 2 pages into the book and here was the best description I had ever heard to cover why modern day colonialists blog. All you have to do is change the word pamphlet with blog and it has not changed in better than 200 years. It should make you proud to continue a tradition of the revolutionary spirit, a spirit that questions authority at it’s every attempt to box you in and your resentment for their having tried. Well done my fellow bloggers. I will endeavor to produce thought provoking “pamphlets” and post them as they spring from my rebellious and unbridled mind.

Links added May 29 to related Pamphlete blogs:
Eric's new article:
Brad's new article:

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

I visited the home of Felicia White, a lady from church last night. She had found a box full of memories and begun to frame and hang them on the wall that leads from her front door and on through to her living room. She had her High School Diploma, her Masters Degree along with her Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Maryland. This woman has accomplished so many things as to be quite impressive. I happened to look at a smaller picture, almost hidden away in a corner where the light didn’t do much for it.

I recognized the work, a small copy of a masterpiece, “The Last Supper”, by Salvador Dali. I have long been a fan of this man’s work. Even folks not familiar with his name would recognize his famous “melted clocks”, the drooping timepieces against surreal landscapes with renaissance colored skies. His depiction of the Last Supper is different than any other; having been structured within a framework, akin to those massive beams that hold huge pieces of glass breezeways or entryways for skyscrapers to show off their open spaces without giving up their necessary support. For me it was a mixing of ancient scripture with modern cubism, no simple task.

I was reading a piece on Eric Jahn’s blog, “My little garden”, one of his most beautifully written distractions yet. He reminded me of the many times I would sit in the foyer at the Louetta Chapel on those days that my back would complain about the hard pews in the chapel. There were a couple of high back arm chairs where I could sit and still hear the talks over the speaker system. The windows that were over the entry way, an air space created to act as a vestibule, had reminded me of Salvador Dali’s Last Supper. The shadows cast by the support beams that held the glass must have triggered the thought, remote as the two were, there must have been something similar or why would it have come to mind. So, instead of dreaming about putting in a walled garden outside the chapel, letting nature prove how the seasons appear without our help; my thoughts turned to great works of art and how simple geometrical architectural design can lead to other forms of expression. In any event, thank you Eric for reminding of those moments, quiet times to reflect and to appreciate beauty, simple beauty that is all around us if we but consider it in our mind’s eye.
Posted by Hello

Boba Fett or Bubba Fat, What's the difference?

Bonnie had to wait in line with Boba Fett
for 3 hours to see the latest Star Wars movie.

I was sleeping next to Bubba Fat
and dreaming of Star Wars.
Mine was a lot less expensive Posted by Hello

Lucy's Frugal Living

Comming soon to a blogsite near you... Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Officers Stern and White pose for a publicity photo shoot while on walking patrol downtown. See story below, Who Fired That Shot? Posted by Hello

Who Fired That Shot?

I got a funny email that I want to share with all of you; however, I tried to pull it out and post it here and it wouldn’t transfer. I suppose I could email it along so that you got the band and music that goes along with it. After I get through blogging I will send it to my own group and leave it up to them to “pass it” along.

I suppose I should share a little history; as you know I am a retired cop and some of that time was spent on night shift. Most people are unaware that in order to fit in on night shift an officer must be able to pass wind, without concern for basic civility, on cue. This is reserved for when a bulletin from either the mayor’s office or the chief’s office is read during roll call, at that moment an inappropriate response can be “generated”.

Not to brag; but I was able to provide such inappropriate responses on a regular basis because I had graduated from the Donnie White school of etiquette. He was my regular partner for a while downtown. I learned the finer points of “grossing out” the public from Donnie. He would wait until the elevator doors closed before letting go with such an inappropriate exclamation followed closely with some sort of giggle or similar acknowledgement while the good citizens waited for the elevator to reach the next floor.
Donnie ( might not think this was such a good idea so I will not mention his last name, White ) often would share his attitude and respect for our supervisory staff after similar exclamations by asking, “Sgt. Who?”

I was in traffic court one time sitting next to my good old partner when I happened to let one go. I had not intended to be quite so, what is the word, bold? Maybe bold is the wrong word; loud, crisp or profound might apply. One of the traffic lawyers from the other side of the aisle jumped on the opportunity, “Who Fired That Shot?”, and yes, those are capital letters. My partner started to blush and so they all figured he was the culprit; I never was “so relieved”, pardon the pun.

When my grandson, JJ, and I walk Puppy I make sure to let a few “Sgt. Who’s” break the silence. JJ thinks it’s silly and laughs, wondering why I call them “Sgt. Who”. I think it’s part of my job to corrupt his young mind. Maybe one day he will want to work night shift.

Traffic Camera Tickets - Against the Peace and Dignity of the Human Race

I wrote a letter to the Houston Chronicle as a last ditch effort to express my opinion regarding the greed driven desire to permit the installation of cameras that will automatically send out traffic citations. My attempts to contact responsible representatives have landed on deaf ears. As with so many parts of government, the primary goal is to obtain as much money as possible without causing the public to revolt. The old story of how to you boil a live frog comes to mind; warm the water a little at a time.

Here is what I sent to the Editor:

If the Texas Senate fails to do their job, get ready for Camera enforcement of traffic laws, “Coming to a Corner Near You!” ( play the Imperial Trooper music from Star Wars )

There must be human observation to determine the severity of traffic violations prior to creating a case against a citizen. A mechanical device is not capable of that human quality and can only be setup to a predetermined threshold. There can be no questioning of that kind of “witness” for any of the endless reasons used to impeach a witness.

One line on any complaint that goes before the court is, “against the peace and dignity of the State”. If we do not act to secure our rights we will have given away the most basic requirement of the law; the right to confront our accuser. That will be “Against the Peace and Dignity of the Human Race”.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bubba Being a Pest

Poor Bubba Kitty wants to come in, "Please let me in, I'm starving out here in the wilderness, can't you see I'm so lonely out here, won't you please let me in. Never mind, catch me later, I've decided I like it here." Posted by Hello

Word of Wisdom

I have read a few blogs this week regarding a Supreme Court ruling that weighs in favor of interstate shipment of wines. I lean toward Libertarian philosophy, to be sure, I will state that it is my opinion that if an item is legal to obtain then it should not be given specific limitations, either to advertise via common outlets, to convey via delivery networks or any other form of commerce.

That having been said, I would hope that just because an item is legal does not mean that it should be used. I should probably write an essay, possibly a book on the topic of individual rights to obtain drugs outside the current and established paths of doctor’s prescriptions or for those drugs which are labeled as mind altering and therefore illegal. That is another discussion and I would love to go off on that tangent; but, not today.

I have been performing in the capacity of “instructor”, in a manner of speaking, to those who are unfamiliar with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
This past week I shared the information I have regarding gambling and how it should be avoided in all its forms. Today I will share yet another, the Word of Wisdom, as it is called by members of my church. We have been counseled to avoid the use of tobacco products, Alcohol in all of it various forms, tea and coffee finish off the specific list of consumables.

I read an article written by one of our General Authorities regarding the avoidance of known injurious consumables. I will paraphrase, “If a warning label such as are printed on each pack of cigarettes was printed on each can of dog or cat food, that to ingest this is a hazard and should be avoided, then those products would soon vanish from off the shelves because nobody would endanger their prize pets with something they knew to be harmful. Then why is it that humans continue to smoke, knowing that such a practice is very hazardous to their health?”

I have noticed many of my friends enjoy a glass of wine, a beer here and there or even a shot of Jim Beam once in a while. I will direct your attention to the official web site of the Church. There is a search engine built into the site, click it. The following page will have 3 places to search; the Scriptures, Gospel Library and Conference Talks. I would hope that your curiosity alone would cause you to visit and to search various items by filling in; Alcohol, Word of Wisdom, Tobacco, or any number of indulgences. Then read the various results to obtain for yourselves the knowledge and wisdom of folks much more able to address those topics.

This is provided, not as one standing with finger pointed accusingly, rather it is for your benefit that you may have sufficient information when making future decisions regarding what you put into your bodies.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Flush This!

I wrote the following and sent if off to Newsweek Magazine:

To a Responsible Person,
( A large presumption on my part)

Regarding your articles under the following URL’s:

last but not least,

This letter is to let you know how disappointed I am with the news item recently released regarding the alleged “flushing” of Islamic holy scriptures down a toilet. I am not at all interested in your reactionary excuse. I am alarmed by the fact that Newsweek Magazine has forgotten, more likely that Newsweek Magazine has intentionally ignored the fact that reporting news items that bolster the agenda of our enemies, predominantly those terrorist with Islamic leanings and giving them energy for their cause is not in the best interest of the American public.

It matters not if your views; either personal or as a collective entity, are in agreement with the current administration. Your attempts to cast doubt on the moral worthiness of the United States in such a way as to pour gasoline on an already open fire are reprehensible. I would call the manner in which your magazine reports the overall efforts of the United States military and the current administration’s policies subversive except such terms may only be used by the liberal left, as they are the only ones who have not sold their souls to the devil, at least from listening to their vitriolic bellowing. Thank goodness for the liberal media; if it were not for their ever vigilant work to expose the corrupt soul of our degenerate nation we would never have known.

Again, thank you for putting United States military personnel in harms way, extending support to our known enemies and in general, thanks for nothing. As a parting shot at your marketing of your website; gosh by golly you guys must really be true patriots, that picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware seals it.


T. F. Stern

Star Wars or Iraq

“If you’re not with us you’re against us” apparently is a line in the latest Star Wars movie given by the Skywalker character as he becomes Darth Vader of the Dark Side. I was listening to an NBC’s morning show commentary; pieces of the movie were being highlighted in the background with full color snippets from the film; fragments of things going off into space while the commentator brought up his revelation, “That’s the same line Bush used” or something close to warn us that the Dark Side has already taken over.

My goodness how the news media must hate George W. Bush as they made it a point to bring up a line that the President of the United States of America used in his speech at the beginning of our war in Iraq. Isn’t it wonderful that the American news media would immediately jump to the conclusion that our President Bush must then be on the track to become a Darth Vader and have thrown his lot to the Dark Side.

I had just posted my comments regarding the “flushing of Islamic holy scripture” to other blogs to point out my opinion that the American news media is acting against the best interests of the American people by running stories that are slanted in such a way as to bolster hatred towards America in general. I see no end to the lengths our “friendly” American news media will go to cast shadows on anything connected to the current administration; just think how bad it would be if they really wanted to get ugly.

While I was putting my thoughts together I could hear the teapot whistle letting me know it was time to fix my oatmeal. It suddenly dawned on me that the problem with the American news media has to do with a lack of fiber in their diet. If they all would start eating a bowl of oatmeal each morning it would help clear up their blockage problem, their thinking would become more clear and it follows that their reporting of the news would improve. Why didn’t someone more clever than me notice the obvious, the news media is just full of it.

Thanks to all the blogs I read this morning for highlighting the issue, Powerpundit, Rossputin and Roseville Conservative to name some off the top.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Why the apology?

A District Court Judge had to apologize for hurting a prisoner’s feelings after throwing a “return to custody” party complete with balloons, streamers cake and ice cream. The prisoner, Billy Wayne Williams, discovered he had been sentenced, in absentia, to life in prison. So he got his feelings hurt, big whoop! The article didn’t mention whether or not the county or the judge paid for the shindig; how would that get logged, “office expense" or "entertainment expense"? Why the apology, did the judge do something wrong?