Friday, March 31, 2006

An Abstract Thought

I was noticing that I had a tune running around in my head and finally figured out that I was hearing part of Peter and the Wolf; more specifically, the part of the Duck. I can’t say when the last time I heard that piece of music. Now that I’ve identified the noise in my mind, I’ve been enjoying various other parts of the orchestration, the Wolf, Peter and even the little bird.

How does this brain of ours work? What makes us dig around for obscure pieces of music we may have heard years ago and bring them to the surface of our perception? I’m not offering an answer; merely offering this up as something to ponder.

Last night in my dreams I was back working for the Police Department. I remember seeing a traffic jam, some emergency lights up ahead and off to one side where another unit was investigating a wreck as I drove my three wheeled motorcycle. I came to an intersection where a rookie was directing traffic, more accurately; he was standing to the side with no clue. I pulled into the pedestrian crosswalk, threw it in reverse and skillfully parked against the curb, all in one fluid motion as if it were 1975 and I never left. I was there for a few moments and showed the rookie how to get the job done and then I lost the moment.

Maybe I was listening to Peter and the Wolf back in 1975, I do have a copy on vinyl, an old 33 1/3 recording. I haven’t played it in quite a long time; my record player isn’t even hooked up to the stereo anymore. I know, some folks think that vinyl makes the recording sound more authentic or some such BS; personally I prefer digital. Who knows, this could all be part of a reaction to those antibiotics, some kind of drug induced chemical imbalance of my brain to distract me while I’m sick.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Funeral is Friday

I'm still feeling poorly, an understatement. I've been telling some of my regular customers that the funeral is Friday if they want to come. Until then... Here is something to cheer everyone up.

A tip of the hat goes to my friend Richard Sutton for sharing this in my email.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Why Keys Are Expensive

When folks call and ask for a price quote to replace a set of keys that got lost for one of the newer cars, the keys that have fancy electronic packages hidden under the plastic head, I know that many of them suffer from “sticker shock”, not much different than when they bought the car in the first place. I tell them my price is based on the time it takes to make the mechanical key, the time it takes to program the key, my cost for the key blank with mark up and last on the list is the cost of the computer that does all that fancy programming.

I have a collection of programming computers that I carry around in my service truck, one is nearly obsolete and will only program certain cars that I hardly ever see anymore. These units cost anywhere from a thousand dollars, that obsolete unit, on up to about five thousand dollars for a mult-vehicle computer. That price gets the basic unit; adding the programs for each upgrade costs quite a bit too.

I just upgraded my multi-vehicle computer with software that will permit me to continue my efforts on 2006 model cars along with some programs recently made available for some older cars and trucks. My annual update would have cost $1700.00; but since I purchased multiple upgrades I was able to shave off $450.00. I also had to purchase an upgrade connection cable so I could work on the newer Mitsubishi vehicles, another $150 out the door.

If somebody wants to complain about how much something costs, having watched me breeze through making a key, I like to start with an apology, “Sorry it took so long.”, or “That only took me 30 years and 5 minutes to make it look that easy.” I then show them the neat little computer that hooks up to their vehicle and thank them for helping to pay for all those nice little upgrade packages.
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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Light Chatter on a Sunday Night

Some kind of ugly bug has gotten hold of me, the kind that makes your lungs ache. I took some of that nighttime cold medicine; hope it keeps me from drowning in my sleep.

I wanted to share a short conversation I had with a customer yesterday; a chance to prove I know just enough Spanish to almost get by. A fellow called me and asked right off the bat if I spoke Spanish. I told him in my best Tex-Mex, “Poquito”, followed by a question, “So, you lost your keys, your yavez. ( I can barely come up with the words so don’t worry about the spelling.)

“Si, you come and make for my truck?”

“Como se yama de trocka,. . . no, que anyos de trocka?”, having asked what the trucks name was the wrong question as I could hear him laugh at my feeble attempts to communicate. I was able to figure out the he had a fairly new Ford F-150, the kind with the transponder key. We agreed on a price and the more he spoke the more English he showed command of.

“You speak pretty good Spanish, come on and make me a key.”, he blurted out, still having some fun with me.

“My Spanish is poquito.”, trying to let him know that I’d exhausted nearly all my Spanish vocabulary as he gave me the address. I arrived and got to work making the key, waiting the ten minutes necessary for the program to run its course. I handed him one of my magnet business cards, the kind I tell people to place on the refrigerator.

“So, how do you say refrigerator in Spanish?”, I asked as I showed him the magnet.

“Refridgerador.”, he said, again laughing at how easy the translation had been.

“You could have said, “Ice-a Box-a”, laughing at my own mild attempt at humor, “But that would be Italian, wouldn’t it?” We had a good time making fun of our limited communication skills in each other’s language.

Next weekend is General Conference, a chance to hear from the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I offer this as an opportunity to hear about simple truths; things like keeping the commandments, being careful in a world full of temptations, living life with the understanding that we are all children of our Father in Heaven and things like that. If this sounds like something you might be interested in click on the title bar for a link that will explain how to enjoy these sessions via the internet. I've been told that Time Warner cable has decided to air all four of the general sessions on channel 14; that may only apply to the Houston area as far as the channel goes. Should you desire to listen in a foreign language, I promise that those doing the translating will be much better equipped in the many languages offered than I am with my Spanish.
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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Word Verification Code Broken

One of the top stories from the AP on the Fox website, Russians Deny Giving Saddam Pre-War Intel. The story goes on to explain that interviews with captured Iraqis along with papers recovered shortly after the US troops engaged and quickly took control of key sites in Iraq point to intelligence sharing between the Russians and Iraq. Russia has dismissed the allegations. (linked via title bar)

Another source in the Pentagon, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, has been working to prove that Blogger Word Verification is actually being used by Iraqi covert moles to send important data. Many bloggers are familiar with Word Verification, that annoying scramble of letters required at the bottom of each comment section intended to prevent spammers from inundating the comment sections. Until recently these short abstracts held no meaning; that is until the huge computer at the Pentagon began analyzing the mountains of data.

“szbpqi”, “wyhzhp” and “sdmvmu”; seemingly harmless random characters in the English language, when translated into Arabic and interfaced with known code systems used by insurgents are quite another thing. These words came across clearly, “Drink More Ovaltine”. Attorneys for Jean Sheperd, author of the now classic movie, “A Christmas Story” have been interviewed and deny any connection with the Russian Ambassador or the loss of any Secret Decoder Rings from their vault.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

Reading the Fox website this morning I came across an AP story, “BATAVIA, Ohio — A man who neighbors say was devoted to his meticulously kept lawn was charged with murder in the shooting of a 15-year-old boy who apparently walked across his yard.”

{. . .}

"Police, who released the call's contents, said Martin also told the dispatcher: "I've been harassed by him and his parents for five years. Today just blew it up."

I find this a tragedy in more than one way; the loss of a young person, only 15 years old who will never have a chance to live out his life is the first. The second tragedy, also a victim, is the 66 year old man who threw away a lifetime worth of being civil in a moment of frustration. Then there is the cumulative social loss of civility which has suffered yet another blow.

Playing the Devil’s Advocate for a moment, how many times was Martin supposed to quietly stand back and accept abuse from his next door neighbor? “Hey, kid, get off my lawn”, followed closely by some quick insult, “Up yours old man!”. I don’t claim that that is how it happened, just that I’ve bit my own tongue and was glad that I had sense enough not to kill of the little twerps on more than one occasion. My yard could use a bit of work, don’t think I’m up for “Yard of the Month” anytime soon; but that’s not the point.

I notice the little hostilities that push the envelope of civility all the time; I’m guilty of it myself here and there. Driving down the streets of our quiet neighborhood I see three or four young people walking and having a good time together as they take up the entire street. Instead of extending some common sense by moving off to one side of the road to let my vehicle pass safely, these young people act as if the street were one giant side walk and that I should have to inch along at the same rate as they are walking, often having to observe a one finger salute and some vague obscenities as I honk for them to move out of the way.

The Walter Mitty alter ego engages; formulating plans to eradicate these jerks by some diabolical gadget I’ve installed in the side of my vehicle, something which lashes out, rips and shreds their lower calf muscles, possibly a piece of barbed wire or a rotating blade that slices pieces of blue jeans off as it digs into the meat below and leaves them on the curb grimacing in pain, wishing they had learned to respect their elders, too late, they had their chance. Instead, I drive around them and bite my tongue, once again, and hope that some day they grow up to be the fine citizens they have the potential to become, learning that we all have such a wonderful neighborhood and wouldn’t it be even better if we learned to be civil to each other.

Lastly on the list of things lost in this tragic encounter will be the lovely yard that Martin has taken care of all these years. While he’s away, locked behind bars, who will maintain the grass, the flowers and shrubs? I doubt if his next door neighbors, the parents of the slain young man will see the irony of the situation, jump up and volunteer to fill in for him while he’s “away”. So the entire neighborhood has one less beautiful yard, one of those prize manicured lawns to travel past as they head for work each day.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I’ve had an interesting day of accomplishing almost nothing I’d planned to accomplish. It all started a few minutes before 2am when my phone rang waking me from a sound sleep. Some guy leaving a bar wanted me to unlock his car. I couldn’t say for sure; just a hunch, that he’d had a few too many. “Call AAA, we’re closed”, was my answer as I stumbled back to bed. I never could get back to sleep, at least not that deep level of rejuvenation that sets the tone for the next day.

A front pushed through during the night and I had left the windows open to cool the house down; the A/C repairman will be out Tuesday. It dawned on me, even in a mild slumbered state, that the noises I was hearing were rain drops landing on my hard wood floor in the den. I closed the windows, grabbed a towel from the stack and mopped up the floor before returning to bed around 3am.

The picture ( the one that never loaded out of Picasa and so you don’t see it. It’s a picture of Bubba Kitty sitting on one of the dinning room chairs in natural light, every whisker, every hair perfectly visible, even the 7 toes on her paw. ) is one that I took the first day we had our digital camera several years ago. I wanted to see what kind of quality we could expect out of our 1 mega pixel Olympus. I have a hard time trying to justify the need for more mega pixels after seeing the results. I still want an SLR digital camera with interchangeable lenses similar to my old 35mm; call me irrational.

After my having gotten out of bed a couple of times Bubba decided that, since I was up, she needed some attention. She walked across the pillows and pushed on my hand until I found the right spot. Bubba is our polydactyl cat, having 7 toes on one paw and 6 on another. You might think Bubba is a funny name for a female cat; it’s the truncated version of how a southerner sounds out Baby Kitty, blame this one on Lucy. By the way, Bubba is the owner of this house and everything in it; which she permits us to use as long as we properly administer to her whims, desires and needs. A special thought goes to our friend at Catscape. (link via title bar; yes, I did try to hide this link and it failed, again) Their kitty, Shamus, is scheduled to go in for some kind of surgery.

My first call was a lockout for a good friend; but farther away than I normally travel for a lock out. It was raining as I headed out, noticing that traffic was unusually heavy on the main street that passes our neighborhood. The signal lights at the largest intersection in our area were out, all these folks forced to use it like a 4 way stop sign; that’s 3 lanes each way plus left turn lanes going East and West then the 2 lanes plus left turn lanes going North and South. It was a pure and simple mess which took me an hour or so to travel. On the way back I tried a back way only to find that a similar mess had put me into a gridlock of happy campers. Some days are just that way.

Last night we watched super extreme situation night on the television; a super tornado that might develop and take out Dallas followed by a super sun spot that might knock out all the power along the East Coast. Maybe it was just a tiny sun spot that knocked out the signal lights Kuykendahl at FM 1960.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

RU- 486 is a Killer

I was reading an AP article on CNN’s site, the lead line in bold print, “Two more women have died after using the so-called "abortion pill" RU-486, regulators said Friday in a warning that brought renewed calls for pulling the drug combination from the market.”

“Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. said it would stop recommending vaginal insertion of the second course of pills. Four of the women who died, including the latest two, received the pills at Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics, said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, the organization's vice president for medical affairs. Planned Parenthood estimates RU-486 has been used 560,000 times in the U.S. since it was approved in 2000.”

In case you missed that last line, that’s over half a million drug induced abortions since 2000; which does not include figures for abortions carried out in clinics by other means. Does that sound like a healthy society, one that places the value of life above all else?

“Monty Patterson, a California man whose 18-year-old daughter, Holly, died in 2003 after taking RU-486, also said the drugs should be pulled from the market. The Senate bill is informally called "Holly's Law."

"The bottom line is that this is not about the abortion debate. This is about the safety, health and welfare of women," Patterson said.”

I hate to poke a hole in your balloon Monty; but killing an unborn baby is still killing and so, yes, abortion is part of the issue. I suppose you didn’t mind your daughter killing your grandchild; your attitude amazes me, I grieve for both of them.

Back in February I posted a split article, maybe it should have had its own title, A Bitter Pill to Swallow ( linked via title bar). RU- 486 is the controversial prescription drug that was at the center of a recent lawsuit which forced Wal-Mart to keep the drug in stock as part of their pharmacy inventory after 3 women forced the issue in Massachusetts.

“The unanimous decision by the pharmacy board comes two weeks after three women, backed by abortion rights groups, sued Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart for failing to carry the drug in its 44 Wal-Marts and four Sam’s Club stores in Massachusetts.”, quoting from the original story.

I suppose the next lawsuit will be filed against Wal-Mart for endangering the lives of those women who only want to murder their unborn child, not themselves, when Wal-Mart starts filling prescriptions of RU- 486. It’s only a matter of time.

Look at it from a different perspective; the drug RU-486 was designed to kill small children, so small they are living inside the womb, what makes anyone think that this same drug couldn’t kill a larger individual? Playing God is a dangerous game, we humans suck at it.

The Secret Lies with Charlotte

I was watching the movie, National Treasure, and enjoying the presentation when my phone rang. I looked down at the caller ID and noticed it was my daughter, Bonnie, calling from her cell phone. Bonnie’s been working out of town, this past week or so in the D.C. area. I punched the answer button on my cell phone and instead of saying, “Hello” or “T. F. Stern & Company Locksmith”, the words came out, “The secret lies with Charlotte.”

“How did you know; did you talk with grandma or something?” Bonnie was laughing and at the same time scratching the back of her head. We often have fun, making up interesting conversations to amuse each other; but this reaction meant that she was at one of the National Treasures; out to see the Declaration of Independence or some other important piece of history while in D.C, or so I thought.

“Know what; I was watching the movie and it came to mind, where are you?”

“I’m at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, that’s totally weird!” Bonnie and a friend drove the short distance so they could do some sight seeing.

“Well, take some pictures, awesome!” Sometime I have to wonder how the human brain works, takes giant leaps of seemingly random possibilities and lands on the mark; go figure.

With all the problems I’ve encountered trying to use Blogger, I’m going to keep this post simple; no links, no pictures and short. With any luck it will show up. Bonnie has promised to help get my blog functioning properly when she comes home next time; that is if Blogger will permit it. If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. Blogger is a free service and I’m just frustrated at not being able to share my articles for the moment.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Back Up Again

I decided to start all over with a new template, having saved the information with all my side bar information in advance. It seems to have worked; at least I was able to view my blog. With any luck all those nice little tools, especially the one that helps hide URL links will work as they were designed to work.

Thanks and a tip of the hat goes out to my blogging friends, Eric and Brad for support and suggestions over the past 24 hours while my site was off in a parallel universe or something.

Permission Denied

I found out that I lacked the proper credentials to view my own blogsite last night. I kept getting error code 403 telling me to contact the website administrator to gain access. I walked over to the mirror and gave myself permission; I even sent myself an email giving me permission, still no access. I sent off a request for help to Blogger and got back an email explaining that some blogsite were down for maintenance and to be patient.

They must have sent me the right credentials, maybe they’re being installed on my hard drive as I write because I now have access to T. F. Stern’s Rantings. I can feel my head swelling from the ego trip; I have proper credentials, do you?

Lucy and I are in the middle of getting ready for painting two rooms, the dinning room and the office. Part of getting ready is getting all the books off the book cases, all five book cases are solid oak. Three are side by side in the office, formerly known as the living room, and take up the entire wall. This is where I have my computer set up. The two book cases from the dinning room have been emptied and placed in the garage which means my little green Z is parked in the driveway until this project is over.

As soon as the paint has been applied we are ripping out the carpet in both rooms and having hardwood floors put in. The fellow who moved in across the street installs hardwood floors for a living, how’s that for timing? When we bought this house we were concerned about having light colored carpets. I told Lucy that as soon as they got to looking ugly we would put down oak floors. Well, we did that in the den several years ago and they look fabulous; now it’s time to get rid of the rest of the down stairs carpet.

This is the closest thing to moving I can think of, boxing up books, trophies, glass vases for cut flowers and putting it all somewhere else; that sounds like moving to me. I may rent a U-Haul and park it out front just for show. We did that one time when one of the kids, I think it was Jennifer, was on the way up to Salt Lake City or Denver; can’t remember for sure. We have all the time in the world to get this done so we pack away a couple of boxes and then relax before going after a couple more boxes the next day. I figure by the time we get it all done Lucy and I will be moving into the assisted retirement community; at least all our stuff will be boxed and ready to go. When we get to the receptionist and she will take one look at all those boxes of junk and tell us, “Permission Denied”.
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Parenthood for Seniors

I keep in touch with my folks; nice to have that opportunity as they are both older than dirt now. The other day mom was calming down after what she called a terrible time. That could mean anything from dad trying to fix something to dad fixed something.

Mom was watching the morning news and they were going on about the floods in Hawaii, more specifically the story about the dam that burst. The headline being reported, One body found, six missing as mud, debris released on Kauai. Kauai is the island where my sister lives. ( link via title bar )

Mom dialed my sister’s phone number and got the typical answering machine message; not very comforting to a distraught mother worried about her daughter being swept down to the ocean never to be seen again. It might have been five in the morning Florida time; that would make it the middle of the night in Hawaii. Several attempts to contact my sister, leaving messages on the damn answering machine, were taking a toll on my folks.

My sister must have heard the phone ringing off the hook in her sleep and got up to hear some of the frantic messages as she called mom and dad to let them know she was okay. Had she known about the flood waters and the dam break, she might have gotten on her surf board and ridden it to the beach just to see if she could.

Minutes spent worrying about one of your children, those eternities of doubt, are not properly explained in the parenthood owner’s manual. Maybe those pages were intentionally removed by the Author as Adam and Eve left the garden. In case you haven’t figured it out; the moment you become a parent you enter into a never ending position of having to love, care for and yes, worry.
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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Eat Red Meat Day

Kateland over at The Last Amazon wrote a piece, Eatapeta Day, a stab at those folks at PETA who have made it a point to grill everyone who eats meat by comparing this to the Holocaust. Other than being a bunch of hypocrites, the folks at PETA have marginalized their position by grossly misrepresenting life on the planet Earth.

I won’t watch any movies with reference to the Holocaust, Shindler’s List, The Rose Garden, Life is Beautiful or any of the reminders of human suffering. The Jews weren’t the only victims; millions of other innocents were destroyed. I see no link between blind hatred of one human directed toward another human and the use of food obtained to maintain life. I believe all that was put in the earth, on the earth and above the earth was placed there for our use and our benefit. I’m going have a Pastrami on Rye for lunch and be grateful that my needs and desires to have food are supplied so efficiently here in the United States of America. Tomorrow I may have peanut butter and jelly or roast beef, the choice is mine.

Photo courtesy of Katz’s Sandwich found using Yahoo. (link via title bar)

Here's the link to The Last Amazon since the tools to hide URL links is giving me fits again.
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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Serious Stuff

Harry Potter had us all on the edge of our seats waiting for Serious Black to sneak up behind and cancel his ticket; sorry, today’s ramblings aren’t that dark.

First on the list of serious stuff would have to be a phone call I had with my dad yesterday. He was telling me how one of his balls developed a huge crack in it. Dad’s a little odd; he has one 16 pound ball and the other is only 9 pounds; no braggin’, just facts. He used to keep them in the trunk of his car until he decided that it would be easier for him to have a locker at the bowling alley. He had the 9 pound ball made for when he had surgery, something that would permit him to enjoy his favorite sport without over doing it. The plastic split, a giant fissure formed and ruined the custom ball. I think he should keep on using it just to hear it thump thump thumps down the lane, maybe throw off shrapnel as it strikes the pins and clogs up the works.

“Bowl a hundred, Dad!”

I got a neat letter from my chiropractor this past week; a special discount on all their available treatments to celebrate being in business for 21 years, all for just $ 21. I needed an adjustment; been putting it off too long as it was, as I drove over to take advantage of the special offer. I didn’t need to have my back x-rayed, that was done before I ever had my first treatment, all the same I had to ask if I could have one x-ray done.

I’d seen a picture box that a friend of mine had made, an x-ray of his police pistol. I explained all this to the receptionist at the chiropractor’s desk. There was an interesting look on her face; not quite sure how to answer my request and at the same time wondering, “Are you signed out of the mental hospital or did you recently escape?” There was a short committee meeting of doctors and technicians in the back room. Dr. Durrett came back and looked at the billing codes on the computer, going down the standard list.

“Your kidding, they have a billing code for pistol x-rays?” I laughed as she pointed to the closest simple charge that would justify adding 21 dollars to my bill. “Do you do shotguns too?”

I got my back adjusted by Dr. Upchurch which opened up my sinus cavities. She then did some hocus pocus chiropractor stuff as I lay there on my back.

“Am I officially a Catholic now?”, I asked as she finished the interesting gestures; touching my forehead and moving down to the center of my chest. Dr. Upchurch breathed out slowly and blinked as her eyes rolled noisily, not sure what to make of my question.

She continued to work on a particularly painful area just below the neck. I told her the joke about the piece of rope, the one that had gone into the bar asking for a beer. The bar tender explained that he didn’t serve rope and tossed him out the door.

Not to be denied, the rope climbed back up on the stool and asked for a beer. The bartender got a bit angry, picked him up and twisted him into a knot before hurling him out into the street where he was subsequently run over by several vehicles.

A few minutes later, having recovered from the abuse, he goes back into the bar and asks for a beer.

“Hey, aren’t you that rope I just tossed out?” The bartender gritted out as he walked closer.

“I’m a frayed knot!”

Hey, it’s the only joke I know that matched up with the huge knot Dr. Upchurch was working on in between my shoulder blades.

The x-ray technician had me lay the pistol on top of the film box as she adjusted the settings for Smith & Wesson, again, not on the list of normal procedures. I chided that most of her clients might not be loaded; but that this one was. She took the x-ray and shook her head. It’s not as interesting to look at as my friends; but I’ll bet they didn’t crack his neck as part of the deal.
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Monday, March 13, 2006

Happy St Patrick's Day

Happy St Patrick's Day and a tip of the Irish cap to my friend Patti for sharing this one. I can always remember my brother’s birthday because all the Irish celebrate it; Happy Birthday Dan.

Two men were sitting next to each other at a bar. After a while, one guy looks at the other and says, "I can't help but think, from listening to you, that you're from Ireland "

The other guy responds proudly, "Yes...that I am!"

The first guy says, "So am I! And where about from Ireland might you be?"

The other guy answers, "I'm from Dublin , I am."

The first guy responds, "Sure and begora, and so am I! And what street did you live on in Dublin ?"

The other guy says, "A lovely little area it was, I lived on McCleary Street in the old central part of town."

The first guy says, "Faith & it's a small world, so did I! So did I!! And to what school would you have been going?"

The other guy answers, "Well now, I went to St.Mary's of course."

The first guy gets really excited and says, "And so did I. Tell me, what year did you graduate?"

The other guy answers, "Well, now, let's see, I graduated in 1964."

The first guy exclaims, "The Good Lord must be smiling down upon us! I can hardly believe our good luck at winding up in the same bar tonight. Can you believe it, I graduated from St. Mary's in 1964 my own self."

About this time, a woman walks into the bar, sits down, and orders a beer.

The bartender, walks over to her, shaking his head & mutters, "It's going to be a long night tonight!"

She asks, "Why do you say that?"

He replies, "The Murphy twins are drunk again."

Photograph credit goes to Celtic Accents where you can purchase sun catchers and ornate boxes. (linked via title bar)
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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Another Bush Fiasco

One of the headline stories in the Houston Chronicle reads, Ex-Bush aide is charged in fraudulent store refunds (linked via title bar)

“WASHINGTON — President Bush today said he was shocked and saddened to learn that former domestic policy adviser Claude Allen was charged with theft for allegedly receiving phony refunds at department stores.”


“Allen, 45, was arrested Thursday by police in Montgomery County, Md., for allegedly claiming refunds for more than $5,000 worth of merchandise he did not buy, according to county and federal authorities. He had been under investigation since at least January for alleged thefts on 25 occasions at Target and Hecht's stores.”

None of this would have happened if President Bush had not directed Allen to start his life of crime in order to pay for the Iraq War. President Bush lied to Allen, telling him that he would never get caught, never become involved with the Abu Grabe prison scandal. Allen was transported from his detention cell in an SUV that only gets 9.7 miles per gallon, further eroding the fragile relations with our allies who signed the Kyoto Protocol agreement. This is the same SUV that Dick Cheney purportedly used in his attempted assassination and subsequent cover up on a ranch owned by Bush supporters.

It is rumored that President Bush has attempted to quash telephoto digital photographs taken by uniformed high ranking Army officers of Allen in an orange jump suit playing with himself while he was waiting to board a secret CIA jet bound for an undisclosed prison camp in eastern Europe where he will be humiliated and tortured along with hundreds of other political prisoners.

Isn’t that the story the biased news media would have preferred to have printed? I should send in my resume to the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times and include this as a sample of the hateful one sided news article I am capable of generating, regardless of the facts or the damage done.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Safe Job

Dan Kaufman, from the Committees of Correspondence, commented on my article about some thief who'd broken the window of his car; never having bothered to check the door, which was left unlocked. I’d written about stupid thieves who destroy much more than they ever get away with. (linked via title bar)

I suppose I should add to the list of destructive jerks; those wonderful folks who help raise our insurance premiums with each breath they take outside the cell block walls. I could go on quite a while; what’s that line from Alice’s Restaurant, the one Arlo Guthrie adds after having sung the first ten minutes or so and you’re not sure how much longer he’ll keep singing, “I could go on all night, … I’m not proud…or tired”, as he waits for the chorus line to come around again; hoping that this time the audience will join in with a little more volume, “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant; excepting Alice, You can get anything you want… at Alice’s Restaurant. Walk right in it’s around the back, just a half a mile from the rail road tracks, you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant, …Da da da da da da da dum…at Alice’s Restaurant…”

As a point of interest, I think it’s mildly amusing that a retired cop would enjoy Alice’s Restaurant with all the sarcasm directed toward, “Officer Obie”, who put him in jail for littering and the rest of the police in attendance. Here’s the link to the lyrics for the entire song.

I made a burglary of a residence at the home of a retired individual many years ago. His hobby was learning the art of cutting gem stones. He’d stored all his practice gems in a rather large old time safe in one of his bedrooms, the door to the safe was always left unlocked so he didn’t have to fumble with the combination. My thought was, “Why not leave them on the table if you’re not going to lock the safe?”, but this was his stuff and not mine.

He came home to find the house had been broken into as he followed the trail of concrete dust that had been tracked on the carpet. This old safe had walls that were filled with concrete as a means of insulation against fire. The thieves had pried open the top with sledge hammers and crow bars. They tore the top layer of steel off and broke the concrete into “Gorgan Dust”. ( Line stolen from The Last Star Fighter). Then came the next layer of steel and finally into the compartments that had the gem stones all in those fancy velvet protective flaps. There were pieces of safe scattered everywhere and the dust from the concrete had drifted into every room of the house. The thieves got away with a bunch of junk stones, the owner showing me that the really good stuff was in the next compartment and had never been touched. The door to the safe had never been tried as it swung open easily, the owner showing me as he pushed down on the lever arm.

Moving right along on the list of worthless thieves are the ones who break into convenience stores during the wee hours to steal a couple of six packs of beer. They have a couple of methods to accomplish the break in; tossing a huge piece of concrete through the front window is the most popular, followed closely by driving a bumper into the front of the store so that it takes out several of those windows along with the supports for those windows. They then grab a couple of cold ones and disappear into the night. I used to arrive after having been dispatched to one of these “Smash and grabs”; take notice of the damage, what I figured had been stolen and fill in most of the blanks on the official incident report before the owner showed up. I could then get his/her name to finish off the report and turn the building over at that time. The store front glass cost about $ 400 for each piece broken; the beer was about $ 20.

Last on my list, at least for today, is the young man who broke into one of his neighbors apartments here in Houston this past week. He saw an electronic gadget that he just had to have so he took it. On the way out he came up with the idea of covering his tracks, getting rid of his finger prints on all the other stuff he’d rummaged through. He set the apartment on fire and ran out the door with his prize. A few minutes later 8 apartment units had burned to the ground, their occupants escaping serious injury and death by only moments as the smoke filled each attached apartment. Some of the neighbors had seen him leave the apartment, the one that he set on fire, and it was only a matter of putting the cuffs on him as they led him off to jail. Did I mention that most of the families who lost everything in the fire were also temporary residents, evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans? When asked about it, the suspect could only say he was sorry.

Was he sorry about the damage, the possibility that he could have killed folks because of his stupidity or was he sorry that he got caught? At least he got caught.

Payback is Hell

Last week my daughter Jennifer posted a picture of me, one that I had protested as being uncomplimentary. I’d flown up to visit them after the birth of my first grandchild and was exhausted from the trip. Sometime during my slumbers Jennifer borrowed my camera and snapped a few pictures. I thought about deleting them as soon as I found them on the memory disc; but Jennifer protested, saying that she really like them. I knew I should have deleted them,

During Jennifer’s Senior Prom and all the festivities that went along with graduation from High School, the parents were asked to supply a picture of their child to post on a huge bulletin board. All the other students were to guess who their classmate was by observing the childhood photograph. I suppose Jennifer had that in mind when she posted my picture; payback is hell! (linked in title bar)

The photo was taken right after church. Jennifer was all dressed up and slipped out the back door and into a muddy bird bath before her mother was even aware. I snapped the picture and kept it tucked away in the stack of albums for when she was grown. I would tease her, telling her that I’d show it to the young men who would come to pick her up on dates. She never thought I’d post it on the bulletin board for everyone to see, for that matter, post it on the internet. At least she had all her clothes on for this one.
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HPD Watering Hole

During a move back in the early 80’s to have police officers walking beats downtown, something which was a pure public relations gesture, my partner and I did our best to be seen. Some of our efforts reminded the local business owners that they only had a business on the street that went past; not ownership rights to that street. We did take it upon ourselves to do a complete traffic study of the six blocks assigned to us, indicate changes to parking zones and general traffic movement we thought would benefit everyone. Many of our suggestions were acted upon and my partner and I received a Chief’s Commendation for our efforts; this was just before they tried to fire us for these same efforts, another story that I might share one day.

I used to cut the shoulder patch off of my worn out police shirts, the ones that I was supposed to turn back in to be destroyed to keep the bad guys from pretending to be cops, I would glue those patches to trophy plaques. I would then engrave the award, "HPD Watering Hole", and give them to businesses that were pro-police; those who let us use their facilities, lunch rooms, and the like. We even gave a plaque to the Blood Center, a place we would visit every so many months to donate our blood.

I’m giving a tip of the hat to Ted at Musings of an Old Man for his post, “Top Cop”. (linked via title bar) His photo of a police shoulder patch reminded me of those times.
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Ignorant Thief or I Have No Clue Let’s Just Break It!

I’ve been making far too many service calls on newer vehicles, the kind that won’t start without a properly programmed transponder key. These vehicles have been butchered with hammers, screw drivers, wrenches as in days of old. A thief with limited abilities used to be able to beat the crap ( technical locksmith term) out of a steering column and access the gears to steal almost anything. Now these same idiots can destroy quite a bit of very expensive gadgets and never once start the engine.

I’m thinking of starting a newsletter; one directed toward amateur car thieves. Maybe I can enlist the help of the local police department’s Auto Theft Division to get me a mailing list for the newsletter, or just leave them a stack for the detectives to hand out to the next generation of auto thieves. I can call it, The Ignorant Thief or I Have No Clue – Let’s Just Break It!. I could print a list of all the cars and trucks that are easy to steal, another with the ones that are not. I could get Bail Bonds companies to advertise and Attorney’s who specialize in defending stupid criminals would want a piece of the action too. The problem, at least as I see it, most of these folks are too stupid and can’t read.

Today’s genius, rather, last night’s genius destroyed the door handle to get in; punching the lock smooth into the door cavity. He then took a sledge hammer to the dash board of the brand new 2006 Dodge Charger. I have no idea how much time this bozo invested before walking away empty handed. I do know that it will take at least a thousand dollars in repairs just to fix the cosmetic damages, never mind the electronic packages that will have to be replaced.

On the other hand, as much money as this has been generating for me, maybe I should start selling hammers, screw drivers and large wrenches when the sun goes down, hand out some of my business cards and wait for the phone to ring. The UPS man just delivered another box of replacement ignition switches, gotta’ go now.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Mulch Warning!!!

A tip of the hat goes out to Richard Sutton for passing along this important warning. I know, you folks up in the northern climes still have your snow shovels in hand and the idea of putting down mulch won’t hit for another month or so; but here in Texas, Spring has sprung.

If you use mulch around your house be very careful about buying mulch this year. After the Hurricane in New Orleans many trees were blown over. These trees were then turned into mulch and the state is trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state or company who will come and haul it away. So it will be showing up in Home Depot and Lowes at dirt cheap prices with one huge problem; Formosan Termites will be the bonus in many of those bags. New Orleans is one of the few areas in the country were the Formosan Termites has gotten a strong hold and most of the trees blown down were already badly infested with those termites.

Now we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to all parts of the country that we have ever had. These termites can eat a house in no time at all and we have no good control against them, so tell your friends that own homes to avoid cheap mulch and know were it came from. I’ve included a link in the title bar for more information.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Envy and Greed Will Bring Us Down

Brendan Miniter has written an interesting article worth reading as he points out some specifics in a war we are all going to lose because we are being blind sided. My friend Ross posted this, follow the link in the title bar, to to read the entire article. Here are a few of the highlights.

“The war on Wal-Mart is really about expanding government.”

{. . .}

“Two weeks ago Mr. Hubbard was at it again, this time introducing a new bill to mandate that companies with at least 1,000 employees spend 4.5% of their payroll on health care or pay the state the difference. Once this piece is in place, Mr. Hubbard told me, the next step will be to create a similar mandate--perhaps 2% or 3%--for companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.”

It's fairly simple, divide the citizens through class envy to tax the greedy rich and then follow that with a smaller tax on the greedy poor; just to make it seem fair, proportionally. The sad thing is that the strategy works, time and time again it has proven to work. This time it’s Wal-Mart, last time it was Microsoft. Those no good rotten rich people have no regard for us little guys; let’s tax them till their noses bleed, that will teach them to be successful. It’s all Wal-Mart’s fault; all they had to do was to unionize, pay for employee’s medical insurance and this could have been avoided. This is nothing more than refusal to take responsibility for individual action in reverse.

The problem with envy and greed is that they serve an eternal purpose, one that takes the human spirit down a road that leads to oblivion. Mr. Hubbard appears to have chosen to work for the Master of Lies; hell, he’s bragging about how it. Wake Up Folks, this isn’t a practice session!