Saturday, December 31, 2005

From an Old Police Training Report

I was clearing off some old “junk” that had accumulated on top of my bookcase, several ancient floppy discs which were obsolete. I happened to notice one floppy that was marked, Old Police Training Reports. All the information had been recorded by payroll numbers of the Probationary Police Officer (PPO) and submitted as proper documentation as to what training had been offered by the Field Training Officer (FTI), which would be me. I spent half the afternoon reviewing these files, which had to be translated from their current format into TXT files and then placed into a Word file. It was worth every minute as I then saved them all into a folder which can now be used.

I will include my original training assessment of an incident which I have written about since, calling it “The Killer Dr. Pepper Machine”. You will note that there are numbers, denoting a specific category of training, scattered throughout the body of the documentation. These (numbers) refer to things such as knowledge of state law, proper procedures, working with fellow officers and so on. The following represents one shift’s training documentation, one that I’m sure the PPO will never forget. I have removed any reference of the officer’s payroll number; however, I did leave in the original Incident number, 56396886, which would indicate that it occurred in 1986. I’m sure with a little effort a copy of all reports could be accomplished.

Traffic stop # 659413,14. PPO observed a vehicle with white lights exposed to the rear (8). and pulled the vehicle over 1700 Wirt at 23:55 hrs. (11). PPO interviewed the driver (1,24) and issued tickets for NOL and No Insurance. Driver admitted to having 2 unpaid tickets (7). PPO verified the warrants via the dispatcher (5). PPO then cuffed and patted down the suspect prior to placing him in police car (19,20,21). PPO filled out non-tow slip to indicate that the vehicle was turned over to another driver (14). PPO then booked suspect at station 5 and called 5521 to give them the booking # so that they could send the warrants via the CRT. Warrant # 85561518,85561403 were sent and a copy was printed for the booking officer (25). PPO and FTI reviewed the procedure for booking at the sub-station. PPO stated that he understood.

Self initiated investigation Accidental Death of a Juvenile 1601 Pech at 01:47 hrs. # 56396886. FTI heard call being dispatched to unit 5f22 and had PPO volunteer to take it (3,12,13,17,25). PPO was familiar with the location (10) and drove to it in reasonable amount of time. FTI and PPO arrived to find that an attempt had been made to burglarize a soda machine but that the machine had fallen on one of the suspects causing his immediate death (6). PPO talked to HFD and determined that it was necessary to call the ME and JUV. PPO was given instruction over the phone as to how to investigate and protect the crime scene (23). FTI called for CSU and protected the scene while PPO was on the phone. PPO talked with witness/(suspect) to determine what had happened. PPO showed good judgment and command bearing while interviewing both family members and other police officers who were at the scene (1,4,24). PPO kept extensive notes so that he would be able to make a report later on. PPO and FTI had to hold back the mother of the dead juvenile when she arrived to keep her from disturbing the body (22). After the scene was secure and all the other support units had conducted their investigation PPO and FTI transported "witness" to central so that he could make his sworn statement. FTI and PPO stood at a safe distance to avoid being stuck by lightning when statement was signed (4). PPO then finished his report (14,15,16). PPO left off weather on the front of report and also that the soda machine was a damaged article. PPO then took the complete report to records so that it could be entered into the system right away (5). PPO and FTI then took witness home and completed the call (18). PPO stated he understood what was needed in homicide reports (2). PPO also looked up locations in Key Map (9).


Some of you may have seen this before; it’s worth reading again. Character is something worth assessing as we go about choosing friends; even more so when picking who will represent us in elected office. I take no credit for passing along the observations documented by Dave Kulow; however, it has been my experience, working on similar security details, that those with such a responsibility have nothing to gain by expressing their observations and much to lose. Thanks to my Uncle Jim for sending this to my email. Happy New Year!

I did a Yahoo search and came up with this same information as posted on 10/23/2004 by
ArmyBratCutie at the link in my title bar.

Observations by Dave Kulow

We had a neighbor when I lived in DC who was part of the secret service presidential detail for many years. His stories of Kennedy and Johnson were the same as those I heard from the guys who flew the presidents' plane Yes, Kennedy did have Marilyn Monroe flown in for secret "dates," and LBJ was a typical Texas "good ole boy" womanizer. Nixon, Bush 41, and Carter never cheated on their wives. Clinton cheated, but couldn't match Kennedy or LBJ in style or variety.The information below is accurate: The elder Bush and current president Bush make it a point to thank and take care of the air crews who fly them around. When the president flies, there are several planes that also go one carries the armored limo, another the security detail, plus usually a press aircraft. Both Bush's made it a point to stay home on holidays, so the Air Force and security people could have a day with their families.


Hillary Clinton was arrogant and orally abusive to her security detail. She forbade her daughter, Chelsea, from exchanging pleasantries with them. Sometimes Chelsea, miffed at her mother's obvious conceit and mean spiritedness ignored her demands and exchanged pleasantries regardless, but never in her mother's presence. Chelsea really was a nice, kindhearted, and lovely young lady. The consensus opinion was that Chelsea loved her Mom but did not like her. Hillary Clinton was continuously rude and abrasive to those who were charged to protect her life. Her security detail dutifully did their job, as professionals should, but they all loathed her and wanted to be on a different detail. Hillary Clinton was despised by the Secret Service as a whole. Former President Bill Clinton was much more amiable than his wife. Often the Secret Service would cringe at the verbal attacks Hillary would use against her husband. They were embarrassed for his sake by the manner and frequency in which she verbally insulted him, sometimes in the presence of the Secret Service, and sometimes behind closed doors. Even behind closed doors Hillary Clinton would scream and holler so loudly that everyone could hear what she was saying. Many felt sorry for President Clinton and most wondered why he tolerated it instead of just divorcing his "attack dog" wife. It was crystal clear that the Clinton's neither liked nor respected each other and this was true long before the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Theirs was genuinely a "marriage of convenience." Chelsea was much closer to her father than her mother, even after the Lewinsky scandal, which hurt her gravely. Bill Clinton did in fact have charisma, and occasionally would smile at or shake hands with his security detail. Still, he always displayed an obvious air of superiority towards them. His security detail uniformly believed him to be disingenuous, false, and that he did nothing without a motive that in some way would enhance his image and political career. He was polite, but not kind. They did not particularly like him and nobody trusted him.


Al Gore was the male version of Hillary Clinton. They were more friendly toward each other than either of them were towards former President Clinton. They were not intimate, so please don't read that in. They were very close in a political way. Tipper Gore was generally nice and pleasant. She initially liked Hillary but soon after the election she had her "pegged" and no longer liked her or associated with her except for events that were politically obligatory. Al Gore was far more left wing than Bill Clinton. Al Gore resented Bill Clinton and thought he was too "centrist." He despised all Republicans. His hatred was bitter and this was long before he announced for the Presidency. This hatred was something that he and Hillary had in common. They often said as much, even in the presence of their security detail. Neither of them trusted Bill Clinton and, the Secret Service opined, neither of them even liked Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton did have some good qualities, whereas Al Gore and Hillary had none, in the view of their security details.Al Gore, like Hillary, was very rude and arrogant toward his security detail. He was extremely unappreciative and would not hesitate to scold them in the presence of their peers for minor details over which they had no control. Al Gore also looked down on them, as they finally observed and learned with certainty on one occasion. Al got angry at his offspring and pointed at his security detail and said, "Do you want to grow up and be like them?" Word of this insult by the former Vice-president quickly spread and he became as disliked by the Secret Service as Hillary. Most of them prayed Al Gore would not be elected President, and they really did have private celebrations in a few of their homes after President Bush won. This was not necessarily to celebrate President Bush's election, but to celebrate Al Gore's defeat.


Everyone in the Secret Service wants to be on First Lady Laura Bush's detail. Without exception, they concede that she is perhaps the nicest and most kind person they have ever had the privilege of serving. Where Hillary patently refused to allow her picture to be taken with her security detail, Laura Bush doesn't even have to be asked, she offers. She doesn't just shake their hand and say, "Thank you." Very often, she will give members of her detail a kindhearted hug to express her appreciation. There is nothing false about her. This is her genuine nature. Her security detail considers her to be a "breath of fresh air." They joke that comparing Laura Bush with Hillary Clinton is like comparing "Mother Teresa" with the "Wicked Witch of the North."Likewise, the Secret Service considers President Bush to be a gem of a man to work for. He always treats them with genuine respect and he always trusts and listens to their expert advice. They really like the Crawford, Texas detail.. Every time the president goes to Crawford he has a Bar-B-Q for his security detail and he helps serve their meals. He sits with them, eats with them, and talks with them. He knows each of them by their first name, and calls them by their first name as a show of affection. He always asks about their family, the names of which he always remembers. They believe that he is deeply and genuinely appreciative of their service. They could not like, love, or respect anyone more than President Bush. Most of them did not know they would feel this way, until they had an opportunity to work for him and learn that his manner was genuine and consistent. It has never changed since he began his Presidency. He always treats them with the utmost respect, kindness, and compassion.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Now Pitching for Florida State Prison Jeff Reardon

Cops have a strange sense of humor, even the retired ones. I was reading an AP story out of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, that had been posted on the Houston Chronicle web page. ( Linked via title bar )

“Jeff Reardon, one of the top relief pitchers in history, blamed medication for depression after his arrest for a jewelry store robbery.”

I can see the robbery detectives putting together a spread of photos for the victim to look at, a “line up” if you will. “Okay, Sir, do you see the person who robbed you in any of these?”

I get a kick out of reading Cerberus, another cop who writes a good blog when it comes to police work. He wrote a piece a while back indicating that he had some fun while documenting a photo spread that had been used to identify a suspect. There are very specific rules which have to be followed in order to keep on the “up and up”; you can’t have a picture of a black suspect thrown in with a bunch of white guys, all the “suspects” have to have an overall similar appearance, mustaches, beards and things like that. Cerberus had completed a proper photo spread which he’d shown to the witness and after that, prior to taking the evidence to the DA to put in the file folder prior to going to court, Cerberus had attached little arrows all around the suspects picture to get a rise out of the DA.

I guess Jeff Reardon’s next uniform will have stripes on it, and a number too. If it’s his first time pitching in the prison system; would that make him a rookie?
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Monday, December 26, 2005

Five Weird Habits

I got tagged by Mark over at Cutting Edge of Ecstasy ( linked via title bar), “not because he thinks I’m weird or anything”, to explain some of the weird habits I may exhibit. I left a comment that I’d take care of the challenge as soon as I was through picking my nose; just about done now.

I don’t know what would be considered weird, kind of a “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” sort of thing. Maybe I should reclassify this and call them “idiosyncrasies which might be on the edge of normal.”

I’ve mentioned this before; but I vent verbal abuses toward drivers on the road who fail to grasp minimal skills. Fortunately for the rest of the civilized world my comments are limited to the confines of my own compartment. I have yet to install a keyboard operated device which will broadcast my observations; “What Planet did you say you were from?”, “The lights green and the accelerator is on the right, yea, that one!” or “Try doing your checkbook at home!”. I don’t know, maybe everyone else yells at these idiots too.

I like to “jack” with folks while working in my capacity as locksmith; possibly a hold over from my police work. While tearing down a steering column to make a key for an ignition switch, with the customer watching in eager anticipation, I will often times grab a nut, a screw or any small part out of my tool box so that at the end of the job I’ll have an extra part. I’ll hold it up and look at it, pull my shoulders together and exclaim, “I have no idea what that’s for; hope everything works okay.” When finishing a job such as replacing a set of lost keys at the airport I explain to the customer, “I’d appreciate a good word to my probation or parole officer, should you get a call later in the week”. I did a lock out for a well to do lady on her town house one evening. I picked the deadbolt in a matter of seconds and she asked, in complimentary fashion for my having been so efficient, “Where’d you learn to do that so quickly?” Without hesitating I told her, “That’s the one of first thing they teach you in prison.”

I have a patch of psoriasis on my knee, been there for years, which I subconsciously will scratch while watching television; often until it bleeds. This is a cyclical thing; scratch and bleed, start to heal, almost healed, itch like crazy followed by scratch and bleed.

I watched the movie, Living with the Enemy, where the husband required perfect symmetry in every mundane household chore; towels lined up perfectly and all the canned goods in the pantry squared face forward with their labels showing; things like that. I fall in the other direction to some degree. I'm fairly content tossing my dirty socks so that they land relatively close to the laundry hamper rather than go through all the extra effort to lift the lid and place these items inside.

Last on my list I suppose I should mention that I dislike backing out into traffic. I would much rather back into my driveway and park so that when I leave I can have a better shot at entering traffic flow in safety. Not much on the “weird-o-meter”, now is it?

That was fun; now who to tag?

Cerberus at

Curious Servant at

Mike at

The Mary Hunter at

Countertop at

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Colt Python 357

I was enjoying The Countertop Chronicles Advent Calendar presentation( linked via title bar); click on the Christmas image and it shows some weapon to drool over. I clicked on the antique Santa standing next to the tree ( December 22nd )and there was a classic Colt Python 357 pistol. That’s a fine hand gun, my preference was/is the Smith & Wesson; but that has nothing to do with the story I will share.

In 1973-4 I was a 2nd year patrol officer working evening shift Central on a Sunday. My partner and I had finished dinner and headed out to our patrol area once again. It had just started raining when we heard gun shots, fairly close by. We saw folks bailing out the back window of a small “dive”, interesting name, considering that’s what was going on as we approached. A gun fight had erupted inside and any exit available was the main course.

We called in the disturbance and let the dispatcher know that gun shots had been fired as we exited our patrol car. A tall black man was walking out the front door of the joint holding, of all things, a Colt Python 357 with ramped sights just like the one in the Advent Calendar. We “convinced” the man to place the weapon on the ground, turn around and made it possible to cuff him without incident.

More folks began screaming and yelling as they continued to vacate the building so we took cover at the edge of the door way, one suspect already in custody. I peeked around the corner and into the club where only one person remained. He was holding a small Saturday night special which he placed on the floor as soon as he saw me. We arrested him too. The whole club might have fit in the area I call my den and yet it had a dance floor about the size of a small table top, a place for the live band complete with a set of drums that had been shot up, a bar and several tables with chairs. Nobody saw “nutin” as they were all in the bathroom or on the way to it when the shooting started.

Once everyone who needed to be in cuffs was, partner and I noticed a long succession of police cars headed our way with emergency lights flashing and sirens blasting through the rain. It looked like Christmas with all those lights lined from one end of the street to the other. We were so inexperienced that it never dawned on either of us that the club was directly across the street from the active Black Panther Headquarters. When we put out the call, “shots fired” it was like announcing the start of WWIII and half the uniformed officers decided we needed some help, pronto.

While in the process of tagging the evidence into the system it was determined that the Colt Python had been reported stolen and so I ended up making a supplement report to the original. I scratched my initials on the pistol up under where the wooden handgrips would cover it and at the same time make it possible to positively identify it later on when and if the case got to the courts. A few hours later we finished up the booking, filing charges and completed all the reports; a good day’s work finished we went home.

Fast forward a year or so to October when I got back from a neat vacation to the mountains of Colorado. I went back to work and immediately got a “report to Homicide”. You have to understand the mindset of a low seniority police officer; in the back of my mind the words automatically formed, “Okay, what did I screw up this time?”, as I made my way to Homicide.

When I walked in the door I let them know who I was and was directed to see a particular detective; couldn’t tell you his name now, who wanted to ask me some rather pointed questions about a Colt Python pistol with my initials scratched into the handle. I told him that I had only seen one, the one mentioned above, in my short time with the Department and that it should still be in the property room where I had tagged it. He showed it to me and explained that it had been left at the scene of a double murder and arson job; asking me once more how it was possible that the pistol I supposedly had tagged into the property room could have been on the street, much less used in such a horrific crime. The detective also informed me that he could find no record of the pistol in the property room, no record of an offense report and nothing to indicate that it had been recovered in relation to the original theft report.

I called Lucy at the house and asked her to go through my personal file of offense reports to assist in finding the important data which for some reason was no longer in the Department's system. I had listened to the instructions my senior officers had given me, “Always keep a copy for yourself if you book somebody, tag evidence or if it could get ugly later on.”. I was so glad I had listened because I had the only copy of the offense report, the cleared call slip for the discharged firearms call that had gone out that day and lastly, I had my copy of the submission of evidence “one Colt Python 357, blue steel with wooden grips, serial number *****”

My records kept me out of hot water, placed some other folks in it. I never asked what kind of internal investigation went on, really don’t want to know how that pistol got removed from the property room, how the reports magically vanished off the shelf of a secure facility. I still have my “library” of interesting reports even though I’ve been retired for quite some time, never know when the call might come in, “report to Homicide”.

So, a special tip of the hat goes out to the Countertop Chronicles for reminding me of this old “war story”. May the Lord protect those who serve, whether it is at home or on some other field of battle.

Template Updated 122205

My daughter worked to update my template as you may have noticed. I had her insert the ”Never Forget” link, something I’ve wanted to have ever since I saw it on another blog. I also had her add some kind of sign up logo; why, I have no idea. She told me I should have it so I did it. If you want to click on the sign up button, please do it with the understanding that I have no clue as to what it does, blame Bonnie if you start getting cryptic email from Croatia.

Last but not least, I attempted to add some music software so that I could insert MP3 tunes into my blogs. Nyet, nada and zip; nothing I tried ( read that to mean nothing Bonnie tried ) would work. I will work on that more later since I have signed up with one of the sites and it may only be a matter of finding which format is better.

I heard a good line the other day while attending my meetings at church. We have no paid ministry and all positions are filled with volunteers; from Bishop to Sunday School teacher, everyone does there best to accomplish their calling. K.K Ellis said one time, “Any calling worth doing is worth doing wrong…until they learn to do it better” I thought that might be worth using in the job market as well. Not too many folks enter their respective position at full efficiency, learning the tricks of the trade along the way until eventually it may appear that they actually know what they are doing.

I’ve been performing as a journeyman locksmith for almost 30 years, every now and again I get one right. I heard it said that about the only thing more fun than watching someone who really knows what they’re doing is to watch someone who hasn’t got a clue. Think about that for a moment and then think back to when you first started working on a new job, you can laugh, it’s okay to laugh now.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Visit with Santa

A couple of years ago Lucy and I spent a few days taking in the Christmas Spirit as can only be found in New York City. What kind of visit would it have been had we not gone by Macy’s and told Santa what was on our wish list?

Our wish list was granted the following day; a real snow storm dropped several inches of the fluffy stuff all over the place when we drove out the Southern State Parkway. The stone work on all the bridges we went under had small ledges covered with snow, the trees and bushes, the grassy knolls all had snow. When we parked our rental car and came back after only a short while it was covered with snow. Santa did his magic, and all because we simply asked him to make our trip complete.

I haven’t written an article regarding the alleged abuse of power by President Bush as reported by the New York Times in their quest to sell books and destroy the current administration all in one fell swoop. Instead, I have been advising folks to stop by and read a well thought out article written by a fellow who goes by the moniker, Cerberus. Please read his blog via the link provided in the title bar.

You might ask, what has this got to do with a visit with Santa? Well, maybe if we had the optimism of a young child when we asked to be informed, expecting to receive all the relevant data as pertain to this eavesdropping story and possible violations of the 4th amendment we might find that there is more to the story than has been expressed by those who hate the current administration. We might actually receive a truthful accounting rather than the political hack job foisted upon us by the New York Times and the rest of the “alphabet media” outlets and then maybe we would hold back in our finger pointing, our rush to accuse the President as some Senator’s have done.

Merry Christmas or Bah Humbug; the choice is always up to you.
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Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Wooden Box Telephone on the Wall

Information Please ( Author Unknown )

( Picture courtesy of )

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. "Information, please" I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. "Information." "I hurt my finger...." I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.

"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.

"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.

"No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."

"Can you open the icebox?" she asked.

I said I could.

"Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice.

After that, I called "Information Please" for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, Information Please," and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Paul always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please."

"Information," said in the now familiar voice.

"How do I spell fix?" I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please."

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. "Information."

I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."

I laughed, "So it's really you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?"

"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

"Please do", she said. "Just ask for Sally."

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, "Information."

I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?" she said. "Yes, a very old friend," I answered.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago."

Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute, did you say your name was Paul?"

"Yes." I answered. "Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you." The note said, "Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others. Whose life have you touched today? Why not pass this on? I just did.... Lifting you on eagle's wings. May you find the joy and peace you long for. Life is a journey ... NOT a guided tour.

I loved this story and just had to pass it on. I hope you enjoy it and get a blessing from it just as I did. Thanks again and a tip of the hat to my friend Richard Sutton for sharing these gems.
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Piano Lessons

I got this story from my good friend Richard Sutton a while back. This weekend I‘ve been going through the file of stories he’s shared with me, mostly counting my blessings for being a sappy old fart with tears streaming down my cheeks each time I read them. I decided to share them during this Christmas season as they represent the most valuable of all gifts ever given, those from the heart.

At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is MildredHondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from DeMoines, Iowa.

I've always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons-something I'vedone for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I've never had the pleasure of having a protégé though I have taught some talented students.

However I've also had my share of what I call "musically challenged" pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a singlemom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys)! begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby.

But Robby said that it had always been his mother's dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student. Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel.But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn. Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he'd always say, "My mom's going to hear me play someday."

But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in. Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons. I thought about calling him but assumed, because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!

Several weeks later I mailed to the student's homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mom had been sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still practicing.

"Miss Hondorf...I've just got to play!" he insisted. I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be all right.

The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed withparents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my "curtain closer."

Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he had run an eggbeater through it. "Why didn't he dress up like the other students?" I thought. "Why didn't his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?"

Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart's Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they evendanced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo...fromallegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by people his age.

After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause. Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy.

"I've never heard you play like that Robby!

How'd you do it?"Through the microphone Robby explained: "Well Miss Hondorf...remember I told you my mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well....she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special."

There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil. No, I've never had a prodigy but that night I became a protege...of Robby's. He was the teacher and I was the pupil. For it is he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance in someoneand you don't know why.

This is especially meaningful to me since after serving in Desert StormRobbywas killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Buildingin Oklahoma City in April of 1995, where he was reportedly....playing the piano.

And now, a footnote to the story. If you are thinking about forwarding this message, you are probably thinking about which people on your address list aren't the "appropriate" ones to receive this type of message. The person who sent this to you believes that we can all make a difference. We all have thousands of opportunities a day to help realize God's plan. So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:

Do we pass along a spark of the Divine? Or do we pass up that opportunity,and leave the world a bit colder in the process?

Merry Christmas, the gift shared was from the heart

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Two Babes In A Manger (Author Unknown)

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach in Russia. They were invited to teach at many places including a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run
program were in the orphanage. The two Americans relate the following story in their own words:

It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the Baby Jesus was born and placed in
a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.

Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.

The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger.

Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately--until he came to the part where Mary put the Baby Jesus in the manger.

Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with Him. But I told Him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give Him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept Him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, "If I keep You warm, will that be a good enough gift?" And Jesus told me, "If you keep Me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me." "So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and He told me I could stay with Him--for always."

As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found Someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, Someone who would stay with him--FOR ALWAYS.

I've learned that it's not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts.

The artwork is pencil on paper, a copy of a Norman Rockwell that I drew and used as a Christmas card one year. I gave the "original" to my grandmother as my Christmas present that same year. It hangs in my parents home now.
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The Truth About Santa Claus (author unknown)

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" She snorted...."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars.

That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car. "Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk.

Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care.

A “tip of the hat” to my friend, Patti Brodrick, for sharing this story via my email and for taking the time to spread the Spirit of Christmas.

My curiosity begs the question; if the real Bobby Decker is walking around, would he agree that Santa Clause is alive and well working through his many “helpers”?

The artwork shown is pencil on plain paper that I drew for a Christmas Card one year, a copy of Norman Rockwell’s. I gave my “original” to Jim Reed, the fellow who taught me the “art” and the tricks of the locksmith trade. As far as I know it hangs in his shop to this day. It was my way of saying thank you to him for opening a door for me.
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Friday, December 16, 2005

If Looks Could Kill

“Warning: Too much cleavage can be hazardous to your career.”, reads one of the focus headlines in a CNN article in partnership with

“Harvard librarian Desiree Goodwin, who holds two advanced degrees from Cornell University, charged that she was passed over for promotion 16 times because of her attire and physical attractiveness. Goodwin claimed the jobs she sought were given to women with less experience and education and that a supervisor told her she was perceived as a "pretty girl" who wore "sexy outfits."”

I won’t spoil it for you, go read the whole story. (linked via title bar)

There are a couple of points that I could bring out, both had to do with excessive cleavage. While working as a locksmith, I was looking for a particular person at a small time car dealership, I needed his signature on some work orders prior to getting paid. Upon walking up to the receptionist, a young woman of average build who for one reason or another had decided to try out one of the “push up” bras, revealing quite a bit more to view. I started to talk and there I stood in mid sentence, having forgotten why I was standing there, my jaw dropped along with my line of sight. I’m not saying that her face was not worth looking at, she was very pleasant to look at; there was some magnetic diversion pulling in another direction. I guess she got the results she was after, although I’m sure it had nothing to do with selling cars.

The other could have been disastrous had luck not intervened. I was directing traffic at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Houston, Walker street at Bagby. It is a major freeway entrance to I-45 and traffic is heavy from both streets trying to exit downtown during evening rush hour. Bagby street had traffic moving North and South while Walker was Westbound only. There was always heavy pedestrian traffic as well, it being next to City Hall and some large parking facilities.

My approach to working traffic was to let Walker run wild and fast to clear out as many vehicles as possible. When the lights would change it was important to let the pedestrian traffic cross; but only until their “Wait” sign lighted, at which time I was quite forceful in halting anyone from crossing while at the same time directing those drivers in the turning lanes to begin the mad dash to the freeway. I stood in between, much as a matador directs a bull fight, intimidating drivers to turn the steering wheel to accommodate traffic from both directions at the same time. It was challenging, maybe that word covers how I managed to stay alive each time the lights cycled and the process was repeated.

One day, a light and breezy mild afternoon with clear blue skies, I was in full swing directing traffic when a drop dead gorgeous young woman began to cross the street. You may recall the movie with Dudley Moore, “10”; perhaps I should rephrase that, the movie with Bo Derek, a young woman of exquisite form, perhaps beyond belief. The point being that most men have never seen a perfect 10; a few 7’s or 8’s that made them forget their names and maybe a 9 but they were too blown away to remember any of the details.

The young woman crossing the street at Bagby and Walker that afternoon was somewhere between a 9 and a 10. How do I know this; because I was temporarily removed from my mortal body, not a good thing to do while standing in the middle of moving traffic. I remember directing two columns of opposing traffic into each other, one from Walker street and the other from Bagby. The only thing that kept everyone from having a terrific accident was luck; either that or the fact that all the male drivers had stopped observing my orchestrations, their attention diverted to something quite a bit more appealing. I caught myself and forced my arms down, a sheepish grin on my face for having proven once again that I was a victim of hormonal influences.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Senate Majority Leader’s Survey

I got my annual Republican Party Donation Form, the one they call the Senate Majority Leader’s Survey. I filled in the blanks and made little comments along the side, “loaded question”, “poorly worded question” or just plain “crap”. Some of the information might be valuable, that is if I am to believe the intent is to accurately record my views; something which I am doubtful of.

The first question was a request to rank in order of importance from 1 – 8, the issues you would like President Bush and the Republican Party to focus on this year. My opinion would begin with removing all but 3 of the items at which point the word “focus” might become useful. National and Homeland Security was my number 1 pick, followed closely by Immigration which I consider to be one and the same and then last on my list was Energy Policy and Environment. All the others I listed as 8’s; Values Issues, Economic Growth, Job Creation and Federal Budget (all lumped as one), Litigation Reform, Social Security and Healthcare (lumped as one) and Education.

Focus on making the borders safe, build a brick wall with barbwire the length of it both north and south. Station guards along that border, use the folks sitting on their butts collecting welfare if you have to; but have Americans watching the border and keep those out who would do us harm either by terrorism or by robbing our welfare system of money intended for Americans. Immigration is a fine thing as long as those coming in wish to become incorporated into the American lifestyle, dreams of self sufficiency and allegiance to America only. All the rest can go somewhere else. The energy policy should have been separated from the environmental policy even though they cross paths.

The first thing to do would be to shoot all the extremist environmentalists, those who would have us living in caves with none of the modern conveniences which require the use of electricity, gasoline or other forms of power. Let those who are capable of producing refined oil products build cost efficient refineries and distribution facilities to match up with present demands and that of the future. Take away the Lilliputian hoops, fences and other obstacles placed in their way by the environmental wacko community intent on killing off the capitalistic rewards system that used to be in place. Remove the environmental issues, which for the most part are based on junk science and promoted to move our country closer to a socialistic rather than a capitalistic form of enterprise and government.

Skipping down a bit, there was a question so poorly worded as to make it irrelevant: “Should the United States continue its current approach to dealing with the threats posed by Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs?” The answer to that question is, “No”. The current approach lacks any teeth and promotes the idea that the United States is spineless and will permit cockroaches and other tyrannical forms of third world countries to pretend that they are invited to the world’s civilized dinner table. It’s time to pull a Ronald Reagan, for lack of a better means of describing the “call their bluff” attitude used to back down the former USSR when he proclaimed his demands at the Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, Germany on. June 12, 1987, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

The United States, even with the spineless wimps we call the Senate, should understand that power is only good when used with resolve to complete that which needs to be done. The political football season should end when the survival of civilized society has been threatened by the little tyrants that run countries such as Iran, Syria and North Korea. Take them out and worry about the consequences from the USSR and China later; call their bluff or let’s get it on with them now before they have built up sufficient arms to match our own.

I liked the question, “Should the United States accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces no matter what the cost?” The question is spoken like a true elected official; as if there is an endless money train headed for Washington every hour to furnish their insane spending habits.

Skipping down some more: “Should we reduce spending for programs like education, research, FBI, Coast Guard, Customs Service, Housing and Transportation to balance the budget?” I think I have found one of the problems in Washington; that being that there is no differentiation between what goes in via the mouth and what comes out the other end. Each one of these programs has a different value assigned to it and yet they are all lumped together. Try this on for size, Increase the Coast Guard and Customs Service budget until the borders are sufficiently secure, leave the FBI and Transportation as is, and eliminate the Housing business since they are systems for wealth redistribution, eliminate money spent at the Federal level for education and research completely as that should be a local issue at best.

Should we establish a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget? Here’s another loaded question, yes, our elected officers should understand that you shouldn’t spend more than you have; while at the same time these are the same folks who still believe that the Easter Bunny brings chocolate eggs, the Tooth Fairy leaves a billion dollars under the pillow for a lost tooth, and Santa makes up the rest with magic dust.

Do you believe we are spending enough to combat domestic and global HIV/AIDS? I think it’s remarkable that a country that clearly states that it wants nothing to do with God or in following the Ten Commandments would contemplate such a stupid question. If you kept your zipper closed except when you were at home with the person to whom you were married, that being a person of the opposite sex, for a lifetime commitment with no adventures outside of those promises made when that marriage was established; 99% of the HIV/AIDS issue would never have occurred. You can fool yourselves into believing that “anything goes” because we are a land of the free, that we can do anything we want, then you must also accept that there are natural consequences for such actions, some of which spill over and affect the rest of society. Diseases of the mind such as pornography are destroying as much as diseases of the flesh. This remark is not intended to be judgmental or to castigate a large portion of a depraved society; it simply is a matter of fact.

Should we renegotiate the Kyoto Treaty? Pure crap science has turned the world on its ear. The Kyoto treaty should have been tossed in the trash along with all those grants issued to self fulfilling prophecies of global warming based on insufficient data of dubious origin.

I will print this out and send it back to Senator Bill Frist and the Republican Party, much as I did with the last survey form/fund raiser form they sent me. I got no response back on that one; don’t figure much will change with this one. As for my hard earned money being sent back with this form, dream on and look under your pillow in the morning.


T. F. Stern

This is my entry to the next Carnival of Liberty which will be hosted by Dan at Searchlight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Zuzu’s Flower! Well, Merry Christmas!

I have yet to sit down and watch the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, at least not this year. A simple message runs throughout the movie, gratitude for the blessings we have been given from on high. Mr. Potter represents the nay-sayers, those too blind to see the nose on their own faces as the Spirit of Christmas reaches out to touch the hearts of men.

TMH Bacon Bits has an article worth reading, one that is worthy of saying, Merry Christmas you old Building and Loan, Merry Christmas Mr. Potter!.

"We looked at each other one day and said, 'It's a sad, sad day in America when you have to retain an attorney to say Merry Christmas,' " Mr.Infranco says."
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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Phone Calls You Don’t Want

I remember reading about the fellow who was all upset at 2am when his phone rang and it was a collect phone call from the County Jail; turned out to be a wrong number. He was muttering about this, that and the other when his wife reminded him how lucky it was that it WAS a wrong number.

Lucy and I have gotten our share of jolting phone calls. I think it’s part of being a parent and all the aspects of that wonderful roller coaster ride that goes with it. One night while on our Saturday night date at a very nice local restaurant my cell phone started to ring. I normally glance down to see whose is calling and let it go into voice mail; except this time the caller ID showed my home phone. I decided to answer and risk being one of those annoying folks who constantly talk on a cell phone when they should be enjoying a pleasant conversation and a good meal.

“Dad…”, there was a miniscule pause as my son’s voice indicated he was carefully considering his choice of words. “…do we have a second fire extinguisher?” William was trying his best to contain the extra adrenaline that was flowing. “I think I got it out; but just in case…”

Conversations that start with, “Dad, do we have a second fire extinguisher?” are a sure fire way, pardon the pun, of skipping the desert menu and heading home. It turned out that a wire from the back of the built in oven had worked loose over the years. It had arched the electricity back there enough to catch the custom cabinet on fire. William had alertly gone to the garage and flipped off all the electricity, emptied the fire extinguisher on the area where the flames had burned through and was looking for a little extra to make sure he’d gotten it all.

We got home and inspected the damage, none of which had been William’s fault. His quick thinking had likely saved the house according to the folks at the fire department. We ended up getting a remodeled kitchen, a new microwave oven along with a regular free standing oven and stove top. The old one was too small and Lucy made sure to take her turkey roasting pan along as we considered its replacement. The new cabinets were stained to match the existing ones and we put in a new floor at the same time. All we had to pay was the deductible and the cost of the flooring.

The reason I decided to write about phone calls you don’t want is because this past week Lucy got one from our oldest daughter. Bonnie called in the middle of the night from some place in Carolina. She’d flown in and picked up her rental car and had another hundred miles to go before reaching the hotel.

“Mom, could you talk with me for about thirty minutes while I drive? I’m so tired that I keep falling asleep.” That takes all the fun out of being a parent. If you could somehow slip your molecules into the phone and travel at light speed across the expanse and take over at the wheel; now wouldn’t that be worth the technological investment, something for Mr. Spock, Scotty and the rest of engineering on the Enterprise to work out for us.

I have to appreciate these “growing” experiences; no, really. I gain a deeper appreciation for my own parents and some of the aggravation I must have put them through, still do for that matter. Past that, I am able, in some small degree, to understand how my Father in Heaven must feel toward all of his children here on this road we call mortality.

Lucy and I had dinner with some friends from church this evening and we were engaged in some of the conversation which I just shared. I explained about the time my friend and I built a home made explosive device and accidentally blew out the center support of my dad’s garage. The wind from the explosion pushed the skin on our faces back, “serious cool” for a ping pong ball full of firecracker powder. My sister was about to pull the old. “I’m gonna’ tell…”; but my hands around her neck along with a death threat silenced that thought. The neighbors had all come out to catch a glimpse of some new experimental airplane, the one that had made the sonic boom, their hands shielding their eyes from the bright noonday sky and, unable to spot it they disappeared back into their houses, none of them ever noticed the small cloud of smoke that was dissipating over my dad’s garage.

Mom came home around 4pm while we were figuring out how to put it back as if it had never happened; nailing an eight foot split two by twelve together, stacking bricks and painting over it. To be sure, this was one of my more serious mistakes and I was more than a little surprised at mom’s reaction. “Keep working; I won’t say a word and it will be up to your father to notice this one.” Dad ended up working late and never noticed when he came home so we had a full day to go back and finish the job.

Several years came and went until one day, I believe it was at Christmas dinner with all the children around the table, now grown and on their own, I explained to my dad how I’d blown up the center support of his garage and fixed it without his ever having known. He didn’t believe me; mom tried to look shocked and amazed. My sister still believed that I would hold her to that oath of secrecy, the one I extracted from her under duress and so she pretended not to know anything either.

I survived my own youth long enough to become a parent, maybe that old adage is true, “What goes around comes around”. In any case, my folks were correct when they told me that parenting is one job that once you start you never can leave.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

No way, it can't be...

Which political sterotype are you?

Libertarian - You believe that the main use for government is for some people to lord it over others at their expense. You maintain that the government should be as small as possible, and that civil liberties, "victimless crimes", and gun ownership should be basic rights. You probably are OK with capitalism. Your historical role model is Thomas Jefferson.
Take this quiz!


Make A Quiz More Quizzes Grab Code
A tip of the hat to Liberty Corner for his posting this quiz.

Friday, December 09, 2005

It Slid on Ice, Duh!!!!

I heard where the little black boxes and data recorders had been “found” and then sent off to Washington on that Southwest Airlines jet that slid off the runway and collided with vehicular traffic on the street outside of Midway Airport in Chicago. I then read an update, courtesy of, ( linked in title bar) maybe I am the only one scratching my head.

“Ellen Engleman Conners, board member and former chair of the NTSB, said the plane was damaged in the crash, and the initial survey of what happened could take a couple of days. The plane would remain at the place where it crashed until at least Saturday, and possibly as long as Sunday, she said.

She added that the full investigation could take a year or more.”

Excuse me! Did she just say it could take a year or more to determine that ice on a runway might have caused a plane to skid off that runway; that it might take a year or more to figure that ice is slippery. Tell her to watch the opening scene from “True Lies” where the spy van is going sideways on the iced roads. God help us on something a little more complex. Here’s a life saving clue for them, when you turn on the stove, that orange coil thingie is very hot; don’t touch it or it will burn your fingers.

Friday Quickies (stolen and borrowed)

KJ has a some light hearted lines worth the trip to visit his site.

Nickie Goomba has the latest spoof filed by the ACLU

I got this last one from Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman of American Family Association. It came in my email and seems to be worth reading. Unfortunately, this one is not a joke.

A Christmas Witch in Wisconsin Public School

Wisconsin Elementary School Changes "Silent Night" to "Cold in the Night" While Decorating For A Christmas Witch!

In Dodgeville, Wisconsin, Ridgeway Elementary School's "winter program" has changed the name of "Silent Night" to "Cold in the Night." Sung to the tune of "Silent Night," the lyrics include:
"Cold in the night, no one in sight, winter winds whirl and bite, how I wish I were happy and warm, safe with my family out of the storm." The "winter program" included decorating classrooms with Santa Claus, Kwanza symbols, Menorahs, and Labafana--a Christmas witch! Also in Wisconsin, the Glendale-River Hills School District has banned every Christmas song which has any Christian "motive or theme." But while banning Christian Christmas songs, the district permits secular holiday songs as well as songs celebrating Hanukkah. In defending this policy, Frances Smith, the district administrator, says that the Hanukkah songs are more cultural than spiritual.

What these schools are doing to our children is not educating, but indoctrinating! And they are using Christmas as an excuse. Following the lead of the National Educational Association, Wisconsin educational leaders preach tolerance and diversity while being highly intolerant! Most of the residents of Wisconsin are tolerant, but not their educational leaders.”

Merry Christmas to everyone! For those reading this who might be less tolerant and would prefer something like, “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holiday’s”, to you I send out a special, “Very Merry Christmas!!”
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Additional Information Added
December 17th

I give a tip of the hat to John Foust for sending me information which clears up something regarding the words being altered in Silent Night. It appears that it had nothing to do with the “war on Christmas” as I had been led to believe; instead, it was part of a special Christmas program that has been put on in several churches. Please follow the link which John included in his email.

Okay, Uncle!, I give up!

I got tired of Internet Explorer and their less than acceptable service they provided. I had so many folks twisting my arm behind my back that I thought I was back in police training, “Up against the wall!”.

Last night I broke down and downloaded Firefox 1.5 to take the place of IE. I was able to visit and observe the complete templates of several sites that up until now I had no idea were so well done. So, go visit
them (linked via title bar) and get with the program. It’s not hard or scary to do, take it from and old fart like me, just do it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cop Suspended Over Offensive Video

This story comes to us from the most “tolerant” city in the entire United States, San Francisco. This is the city where anything goes, that is unless you are making fun of what that anything is and happen to be a member of the police department.

“An officer was suspended and others face discipline after making videos containing sexist, racist and homophobic material for an office Christmas party, officials said.”, according to an AP story linked via title bar.
I read the article in which Mayor Newsom spouted off. At first glance you would have thought he was talking about the general population of San Francisco, the freaks, degenerate and the gay marriage crowd; but he was directing his remarks toward the makers of the spoof film instead.

"It is shameful, it is offensive, it is sexist, it is homophobic and it is racist," said Newsom. "We're going to make sure that it ends, it ends immediately."

The line that best sums up the lame leadership in San Francisco, both at City Hall and in the Police Chief’s office came from the lawyer representing the suspended officer.

"Maybe it is dumb, and if it is dumb, who is releasing this nationally?" attorney Daniel Horowitz said on KRON-TV. "The mayor and the police chief."

Here in Houston we used to have yearly “in service training”; a mandatory 40 hour block of instruction, hands on training and things like that to keep police officers up to date; I suppose they still do. One year the Department came out with a film intended to improve public relations. One part showed a desk officer working at one of the substations talking on the telephone while a citizen was trying to get his attention regarding a police matter. The officer put his hand over the phone and told the citizen it would only be a minute and to wait in one of the chairs, pointing to the row of chairs across the short distance that were against the wall. The officer then continued his conversation, something about a pending fishing trip complete with laughter about some antics from the last trip, whose turn it was to bring the beer and so on until the citizen grew impatient and approached the desk officer again.

The scene portrayed the officer as “bothered” as he once again covered the phone and instructed the citizen to wait; this time a little more forcefully in his tone. The officer continued to talk about the fishing trip until the citizen had taken about as much as he could. Upon returning to the desk he let the officer know that he was perturbed. Instead of ending the phone conversation, the officer explained in no uncertain terms that if he was interrupted one more time that he’d personally escort the citizen to one of the open jail cells, “Now sit down and shut up!”.

I thought the film gave an excellent view of how not to interact with the public. The officers in the viewing room all laughed and realized that on occasion we all could use a little improvement in our communication skills. I don’t think anyone actually thought that the “Brass” wanted us to take notes, to emulate the scenes or for them to become standard operating procedure. It was a light hearted stab at our own human weakness and nothing more.

Should Internal Affairs gone and opened an investigation as to why the film was made and then shown to a select group consisting of police officers in a training seminar? What would have been the reaction of the general public had the Mayor distributed that particular training film to the local news stations. “Is this what goes on, is this what they are being trained to do?” The Chief standing in front of a camera and microphone echoes his vitriolic sentiments, “This is an outrage and it will stop now!”

I did ride with some Neanderthal senior officers when I was a young cop. One of them on evening shift observed a wino sleeping on the sidewalk on the edge of downtown. The sun had dropped below the horizon as he carefully centered the patrol car, driving ever so slowly to where the wino was now positioned directly below the under belly of the car. I remained silent, not having any idea what form of police work could possibly be involved and not wanting to make any remarks that would jeopardize my future standing with the senior officer. He then flipped the switch that turns on the siren for half a moment. There was a discernable “thud” as the wino bolted upright and then fell back to the ground having bumped his head. My senior partner drove on down the street and was laughing as he looked in the rear view mirror, the wino rubbing the bruise on top of his head.

I filed that away under, “things not to do” and survived the rest of my “training”. I suppose I could have gone to the “brass”, opened up an investigation about the barbaric practices going on right under their noses and had the senior officer dragged through the mud. Instead I decided that it was smarter to leave it alone and complete my training. If the wino wanted to complain he had need only walk; make that stagger, down to the station. It was kind of funny, in a warped sense of what could be considered funny, maybe only to a street cop. No real harm was done and the wino actually thought he’d been done a favor by not going to jail.

Now if you want to talk about something offensive, getting back to that great city of Sin Francisco, that land of fruits and nuts where it’s okay to grope yourself or the person next to you in public, where it’s just fine and dandy to flash your genitals during a parade that has the Mayor in the lead car waving to all his homosexual constituents and openly supports homosexual relations then maybe an investigation would be in order.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Now I know what that tear was for...

I grew up watching the now famous environmental public service advertisement. Engrained in my memory is the image of Chief Iron Eyes Cody, a once proud Indian with a tear running down his cheek, presumably because the modern world had polluted his rivers, lakes and skies; a smoke stack belching out a plume of black behind him. Now that I have been around a little longer, maybe that tear running down his cheek was to remind us of rights we have lost; private property threatened by eminent domain abuse, right to life instead of abortion or court ordered starvation and the pursuit of happiness without licensed permission from each level of government.

I was thinking about some of the more important stories that have surfaced over the past year or so. Those that come to mind first would make most of us cry; the Terri Schivo right to life case, Kelo Vs. New London property rights case and I add to that the State of Texas licensing of businesses in order to tax and control, by way of user fees, what used to be a free market. You may have guessed, I was recently reminded of that thumb pressing on my head. (link in title bar)

For an historic perspective ( link below ), Iron Eyes Cody was the offspring of Sicilian ancestry according to birth records, born Espera DeCorti. Perhaps he should have been the one collecting for the State of Texas instead of being used as the poster boy for pollution.
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PSB- 5 Form

I got an automated mailing from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security Bureau today. They wanted to remind me that sometime in the next 2 – 3 months that my compulsory business insurance policy expires. This group of folks have taken over the locksmith industry; purely as a means to protect the unsuspecting public from rogue locksmiths avoiding the payment of yearly fees to the State of Texas, it has nothing to do with the collection of fees from hard working honest business owners and operators.

I wrote my sentiments about the hijacking of the locksmith industry in an article I titled, “Business Licenses – Jump for Joy” and posted it back on March 12, 2005. ( linked via the title bar ) Each time I renew my mandatory business license I have to clench my teeth to keep some of those expletives from escaping my lips; damn, that doesn’t seem to work either.

I recognize that my right to earn a living, something that used to be covered as an inalianable right as found in the Declaration of Independence, my right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, my right to earn a living now is dependent on paying strict attention to each Lillaputian notice that the licensing branch of the State of Texas sends to those who intend to continue to business. I am aware of the need to have insurance to cover my business, something I’d done long before the State of Texas made it mandatory. Why is that I feel the presence of a large hand pushing my nose into a pile of dog excrement just to make sure I know that they are omnipresent in my affairs? Why is that?

“According to our records, the Certificate of Insurance currently on file with the Department of Public Safety, Private Security Bureau will expire in 60-090 days. This is your official notification that proof of liability insurance must be submitted no later than the date of expiration. You may obtain the Insurance Certificate Form (PSB-5) on our website . If you fail to provide proof of proper insurance coverage, the company license will be suspended in accordance with Section 1702.14 of the Texas Occupations Code. ( emphasis added )

Note: At the time of your renewal, please provide your agent with the Insurance Renewal Notice and a copy of the Insurance Certificate Form (PSB-5). A certificate of insurance must be submitted on a PSB-5 form or it will not be accepted for further processing.”

I see this as nothing less than a direct threat, extortion if you will, by my own state government. Why don’t they simply go door to door picking up white envelopes; isn’t that how the Mafia has done it for years with their protection racket? When did we loose the market place to a bunch of pirates? How much longer will good citizens put up with these bullies? Election Day is coming and I expect to lean heavily on anyone interested in my vote. Do you hear me Governor Perry, you miserable …? ( I had to strike that last part.) You signed this piece of shit legislation into law. You caved into the Alarm Protection Racket, I mean, the Alarm Security Industry and their under the table PAC tactics. I have to close; some of those expletives are surfacing again.

How much is enough Rocket Man?

Try to picture Roger at the auction house; “Bid stands at 16.5 million, do I hear 16.75, 16.75 in the back, do I hear 17? 17 million on the phone, do I hear 17.5? 17 million do I hear 17.5, 17.5, final offer do I hear 17.5? Sold for 17 million!”

I see where Roger Clemens is up for arbitration with the Houston Astros; the figures I’ve heard being tossed around were 17-18 million for a one year contract extension. Is it about the money or is it about the pride of having more money than God?

I have a challenge, one that might set the tone for bringing baseball salaries back to something close to reasonable. Instead of asking 17-18 million for a one year contract, settle for 1 million to play the year with a bonus clause; say 3 million bonus if the team makes the playoffs, another 3 million for each round of playoffs made and 10 million for winning the World Series. Now that would be a way for the team to sign more talent and make Roger look like a generous person to boot. Then he could really show his stuff by turning around and buying a share of the team with his bonus. Just think what would happen if the ball players owned the team and had to pay themselves the salaries they now demand through arbitration; there might be reason and sense applied instead of the insanity that rules today.

It might send the message to other multimillion dollar players that you can get by on just a million dollars, make those necessary budget cuts; only one Rolls Royce in the driveway, only one mansion and one winter get away house in the mountains. The ball team could have a more evenly distributed payroll, the price of tickets could come down, the stadiums could be refurbished or replaced without the use of taxpayer dollars if those dollars that are thrown at ballplayers were invested in the facilities.
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Monday, December 05, 2005

Ramsey Clark’s True Colors

“Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark who is helping represent Saddam, told the judge he needed only two minutes to present his argument.”

Ramsey looks pretty silly wearing a red napkin on his head; but what can you expect from someone so confused about which side he’s on.

Story (linked via title bar) and photo courtesy of Fox News
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Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Night Before Christmas, GOA

For all you police enthusiasts, GOA means Gone On Arrival. This time of year working night shift as a training officer I would save Clement C. Moore’s classic bedtime story for my probationary police officers. I had it printed out as an assignment to be completed as part of the training. The original poem was called, “A visit from St. Nicholas”, and is linked via the title bar.

The learning process for any job, police or otherwise, includes learning how to fill in the blanks of what ever standard forms the company uses; in the case of police officers there are incident reports, booking slips and evidence submission forms. Their knowledge of local and state law along with a working knowledge of standard operating procedures helps them as they determine what offense has taken place and how to go about filling in the blanks prior to organizing the details which are listed in the body of the report. I had a few “practice” reports ready at all times for these young officers to work on, The Night Before Christmas was a bonus saved for this time of year.

I would review each report and associated forms as if it were being turned in, just as a standard report is reviewed. Some of these officers had a limited amount of the Christmas Spirit and missed out on a chance to have some fun; getting it “out of the way and done with”. A few rare pleasant exceptions took the ball and ran with it, pages and pages of detailed police work to identify the getaway vehicle, dusting for prints left on the empty glass which had contained milk, the stolen cookies. I had one who listed photographic evidence of the soot marks left by a size 10 boot on the carpet in front of the fire place, witness statements that included, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night”. The titles on the reports were varied; the most common were Disorderly Conduct, Burglary of a Residence and Criminal Mischief.

One rookie put in the body of his report that he had contacted the district attorney’s office and was advised that no charges would be filed due to the fact that items of substantial value had been left that would offset any damage to the roof where the sled runners had ruined the shingles; I thought that was quite inventive. He had listed a detailed description of the suspect; his belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly, his clothing down to the boots, and the fact that the suspect was GOA, having left headed north in a red vehicle of unknown make and model with no license plates.

Maybe some training officer will pick up on my tip and keep this wonderful exercise alive for the next generation of probationary officers. I have a box, somewhere in the garage or up in the attic, full of field training reports. I hope to find some of those Night Before Christmas training reports to share. I had some of that on floppy disc; but it was for a very old version of DOS, prior to Windows and those have vanished “like wild leaves before the hurricane fly”.
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