Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Looters - The Dregs of Society

I listened to the radio while going from one job to the next. I heard about the heroics going on in New Orleans with people going from house to house making sure that folks had a chance to get out via canoe, row boat and even by helicopter crews dangling from cables. Then I heard about the looting going on, those who take advantage of the misery of others.

I heard one line that bothered me the entire day, enough that when I got home I looked it up to make sure I’d heard it right. I found it in an article written by Allen Breed of the Associated Press, “Looting Begins in New Orleans.” (linked via title bar)

“To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society," he said. This was from a fellow named Mike Franklin who was observing the spectacle; not a part of the looting.”
I’m sure that for years these folks shopped at the local store, maybe even knew the people who worked behind the cash register. Now that the flood waters have all but destroyed the city here they are, brazenly breaking down security gates to grab some things they normally would have to pay for. I’m sure that some of these looters are taking items they would be willing to pay for, food items and such, except there’s nobody there to accept their money. Then there are the folks who are loading up on clothing, jewelry, televisions and anything else not nailed down.

Maybe these looters will enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors for a while and then have to go steal some more. I hear that the flood waters are expected to last quite awhile, maybe even months before the damaged levees can be repaired and the water pumped out. So, mixed in with all that floating sewage are human garbage, the dregs of society.

I guess for some of the lower life forms, those who believe that wealth is obtained unfairly, that those with money are luckier or born with a silver spoon look at life and say to themselves, “it's an opportunity to get back at society”, as if the items they steal should have rightfully been theirs anyway. Life dealt me a crappy hand and so now it’s my turn to get even with all those who took advantage of things like hard work, an education, long hours away from family to make ends meet. Let’s destroy the fabric of our community, those who have invested their lives in family businesses, inventory and placed those available in the form of grocery stores, clothing, hardware and even jewelry stores. In the blink of an eye Mother Nature decided that these businesses would have major set backs. Now come the looters to finish off what Mother Nature left behind.

“One man, who had about 10 pairs of jeans draped over his left arm, was asked if he was salvaging things from his store.”

“No," the man shouted, "that's EVERYBODY'S store.”

About the only line I haven’t heard, “I’m entitled to it!”, but that’s just the way some folks feel; after all, isn’t that what the “govmint” has been teaching all these years. This is only an extention of that same thought process; at least it is according to the looters.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Guilty until proven innocent?

I got this latest story from the Houston Chronicle written by Clay Robison. It seems that Chuck Rosenthal, the Harris County District Attorney, would rather have citizens prove they're innocent in a criminal court of law rather than follow the guidelines set forth in a new State Law. I find such an attitude reprehensible from the standpoint of a local official thumbing his nose at State law.

“The new statute says a person is "presumed to be traveling" if he or she is in a private vehicle, is not engaged in criminal activity (except for a minor traffic offense), is not prohibited by any other law from possessing a firearm and is not a member of a criminal street gang.”

The way the old law read left many areas open to interpretation, mostly the part where it had a clause that implied that it was lawful to carry a pistol in your vehicle as long as you were “acting as a traveler acts”. I was still on the street in the capacity of police officer and we were instructed that “acting as a traveler acts” included longer distances, such as going from Houston to Dallas as opposed to going from your house down to the local grocery store. It also included the idea of stopping off over night, having some kind of bag packed and quite a bit of common sense.

“Motorists arrested for carrying pistols in their cars without a concealed handgun license will continue to be prosecuted in Houston, despite a new law that purports to give them a legal defense, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said Monday.”

It looks like the old saying, “You may beat the rap but you won't beat the ride”, will continue as long as the cowboy mentality remains. “Yehaw, podnah, yer goin to the howse-gow fur thet hog leg yer toten” I think that’s what he said; couldn’t be too sure with all that jaw flappin in the breeze.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Retired Cop Made Keys For Getaway Car

That’s how the headline would read in the newspaper. The facts would have been accurate too. This evening I got a call from one of my car dealership service department folks asking if I would go make a key for one of their customers. Their parts department had closed and so, even with the key code and all the proper identification required, it would do them no good because there was nobody around to cut the key.

The woman asked if I could pick up her nephew on the way, that she would follow along because he knew exactly where the car was parked from when he lost the keys the day before. He had his driver’s license along with the printed information showing the key code, vehicle identification number and it looked like it would be a quick job.

I drove right to the vehicle, following his instructions, and upon turning the corner I noticed that a police car was parked directly behind the “customer’s vehicle”. I noticed a pale look on the young man’s face, even so, I had seen the proof of ownership and so I asked the officer sitting in his car what was going on.

“That vehicle was used in a robbery yesterday and I’m waiting on instructions.” A robbery; that’s interesting, I thought to myself. I asked the officer if I could work on the vehicle, not wanting to disturb evidence. “No, just stay over there until I find out what to do with it. I hadn’t planned on anyone coming back for it.” I could tell by the way he eye balled my “customer” that he knew him. It turned out that my “customer” was one of those who had been arrested yesterday after a long foot chase that included a jump in the bayou in an attempt to get away from the officers.

The nice thing about evening shift officers is that they love a good chase, even more if they get to complain later on about getting soaked or muddy from having to dive in after the bad guys. The officer was wearing military style boots instead of dress oxfords, had a Taser as part of the Sam Brown equipment, a spare set of handcuffs on the belt; in short, he had the appearance of a real street cop who enjoyed working evening shift.

I stood back and watched the officer as he went through several pink booking slips, one of which had my “customer’s” name on it. There had been a series of break ins and robberies involving several suspects; enough so that the Department was checking into the possibility of going after them as an organized crime unit rather than unrelated cases. If that were the case then the vehicle could, and very well might be, hauled off and could end up being auctioned off as part of the State’s effort to make it tougher on criminals and their friends.

I went ahead and made the key from the code information while waiting. That part I could do without going any where near the “customer’s vehicle”. I showed the untried key to the officer, asking if he would try it in the locks so that I could be on my way. He was not entirely happy that I was bothering him again. I showed him my retired officer identification along with my business card and explained that I was willing to wait; however, I did expect to get paid for cutting a key regardless of how he intended to proceed. My concern had nothing to do with catching bad guys, only to find out if the key code was good and that the key did in fact operate the locks. He walked toward the vehicle while putting on his gloves, holding the key I’d made in his hand. He wanted to say something to me and thought better of it; instead, he turned his attention to the young man standing behind my truck, the “customer”.

“So, how much did it cost to get out on bond?”, he smiled and knew that things were falling into place. It turned out that one of the other suspects who’d been caught decided to spill the beans and told the officer all about where to find the get away car, what kind of vehicle, who it belonged to and that was why he was parked there when I drove up.

The officer was a bit curious as to how I was able to cut a key, one that worked so well in all the locks without ever touching the vehicle. I explained the part about having glanced at the key code and satisfied him that I was good at what I did. I collected my money and left the “customer” with his vehicle; the officer still in control of the key. I’d be plenty surprised if the “customer” ever got to use that key I made since I saw a wrecker pulling up as I left; what a shame.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I was going to post something about the need to be prepared and then have some light humor mixed in to break the tension. Instead I will offer up a prayer that those in harms way will be provided for. It is too late to make preparations for this storm; all we can do now is wait out the worst, be ready to be of assistance after it all blows over and help restore some semblance of normalcy afterwards.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

No Egrets

That, by the way, is not a typo in the title bar. I had a job the other day, way on the other side of town where I was supposed to meet with a fellow who was challenged with the English language. He had called from one of the car dealership service departments after finding out that Ford didn’t have a means of producing a key for anything older than 1997, that being when Ford started to keep such information readily available in their database. The service writer had my business card and translated from Spanish to English and so I was reasonably certain of the location, even considering that the vehicle I was to make keys for was in a very large and spacious park.

Upon arrival I started a slow drive through the small parking lots, making my way around the edge of the park at all the various small parking areas until I spotted the red 1995 Thunderbird all by itself with the driver side window down, the rain falling and nobody around. I had made good time and was there before the customer. I wasn’t about to start working on the vehicle without the customer being present and so I sat in my truck watching the light rain fall.

There were several soccer fields, all vacant save for a bunch of Egrets scattered across the wide expanse of freshly mowed green grass. The large white birds with their thin brown twig legs didn’t seem to mind the gray skies as they went about the daily ritual of eating bugs hidden in the grass.

I sat there waiting for my customer, looking at the time ticking off and getting mildly ticked off; wondering if they had stopped for lunch while I sat waiting. I began to notice that the entire field was covered with Egrets, one end to the other, scattered and yet almost in unison they were moving, meandering in similar fashion for they did not have marching orders, they all gravitated in the same direction. Their heads were all aimed in the same general direction with only a few exceptions, those taking wing and leaving the group only to land a few yards away and rejoin the procession. The thought occurred to me, perhaps they were reacting to the angle that the rain was falling, a way to minimize the discomfort by streamlining their bodies, kind of a natural efficiency of motion.

Fifteen minutes of watching birds walking will cause most “type A” folk’s blood pressure to rise slightly. I checked the time, walked around outside as the rain diminished and had turned into more of a mist than a rain. It was beautiful, the cloud hanging so low to the ground as to be part of it, all the while the Egrets slowly moving toward the end of the field where a small stand of trees defined the edge. I then took notice of the fact that there was not an endless supply of Egrets, there being a marked end to their group. Had I been driving by and not taken the time to observe them, this would have escaped my eye. They were disappearing into the stand of trees, like watching the last spectators at a sporting event as they funnel out of a stadium.

My customer finally arrived, claiming, in broken English, that traffic had been heavy. It was a weak excuse and he knew that I knew it. His wife sitting in the other seat still had a sack of fries in her hand. I made the key and finished the job in short order. When I was done I got back in my truck and glanced across the field before leaving. Only a few birds, out of the hundreds from earlier, could be seen. The time spent, almost an hour of down time normally would have chapped my attitude sorely; but, I have no Egrets.

Friday, August 26, 2005

U.S. Mint seizes priceless coins

American Eagle Gold Coin

Here’s a story which could prove to be interesting. The government would rather confiscate coins than make money. (read the entire story linked via title bar)

“PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) -- The U.S. Mint seized 10 Double Eagle gold coins from 1933, among the rarest and most valuable coins in the world, that were turned in by a jeweler seeking to determine their authenticity.

Joan S. Langbord plans a federal court lawsuit to try to recover them, her attorney, Barry H. Berke, said Wednesday. Langbord found the coins among the possessions of her father, longtime Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt, who had acknowledged having sold some of the coins decades ago. She now operates her father's business.


In 2002, Sotheby's and numismatic firm Stack's auctioned off a 1933 Double Eagle coin for $7.59 million, the highest price ever paid for a coin. That Double Eagle, which is believed to have been part of a collection belonging to King Farouk of Egypt, surfaced when a coin dealer tried selling it to undercover Secret Service agents.”

I read where the government had opted to split the proceeds from that auctioned 1933 Double Eagle, a percent going to the government and the rest being kept by the private sector. In other cases the government simply confiscated these rare coins and turned them back into bullion.

“In its statement, the Mint said officials were still deciding what they would do with the seized coins, which are being held at a military fort. They said they had no plans to auction them but would consider saving "these historical artifacts" for public exhibits. Other double eagle coins seized in the past were melted down.”

If you wanted to purchase an authorized version of the United States Mint American Eagle 1 ounce gold coin through vendors at today’s fluctuating market, which prices are quoted on a moment to moment basis, it would be about $ 450.00, give or take a dollar. Pure gold bars are slightly less as are South African Krugerrands. I won’t get into a discussion about the investment value of gold, leaving that up to others who are far more knowledgeable. I won’t get into the looming court battle over confiscation of private property on the grounds that these coins may or may not have left the United States Mint improperly way back in 1933; however, the most recent private owners could not have been a party to any wrong doing had those coins been stolen or improperly acquired in any case.

At issue is the stupidity of Mint officials for not having permitted Joan S. Langbord to auction off the 10 most rare coins in the world for what ever phenomenally outrageous price the market would bare; remembering that a single coin from that same group was sold for $7.59 million only a couple of years ago. After the legal battles in the courts and after the bargaining in the back room to come to an agreement there would be a settlement and a dividing up of the proceeds from auction.

I’m no rocket scientist and have a limited ability with numbers; all the same, if all ten coins together brought in only a million dollars at auction, and that is such a ridiculously low figure, then assuming that the government agreed to a 50/50 split; then our United States Mint would walk away with a half million dollars instead of $4,500.00. Part of the agreement might stipulate that one of the 10 coins be kept off the auction for the stated purpose of being displayed as a part of the Smithsonian Institution for public display as had been alluded to while the rest were put up for auction.

It would seem that sharper minds must work at that copier manufacturer or that place in the mall with all the neat gadgets than work at the United States Mint. Which would you rather have, an ounce of melted down pure gold or a rare and beautiful coin worth millions in the open market?
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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The New Nickel

The New Nickel

I went to the health food store this afternoon and picked up a refill for my vitamins. In the change I got, and there wasn’t much change, I got one of the new style nickels. I had to look at it twice to be sure what it was. My first reaction, after verifying that it was indeed United States issued, was, “Wow; that sure is cheesy looking.” Only a portion of Thomas Jefferson’s silhouette shows up, as if the folks working to engrave the image looked at their clock and discovered that it was time clock out. “We’re done, heck with it. They aren’t paying overtime anymore so let’s go down and get a beer.”

I wrote an article back in March after having purchased my first gold coin. I referenced some information I had heard about gauging a society or a civilization based on the information readily available through their
coinage. Some of the most beautiful art can be found on simple coins from all over the world; sea turtles suspended in the waters as they swim by, various birds in all their splendor, portraits of individuals in sharp relief and so on until the coins begin to explain our way of life and what is important to us.

Back to the new nickel that I got in my change today; what a disappointment as I wondered why only a portion of Jefferson was showing and why the buffalo on the back looked like it came from a box of Cracker Jacks instead of the US Mint. Maybe this is one of the tell tale signs of a society that is sorely lacking in pride, is that it? I suppose I should be grateful that it still has, “In God We Trust” and “United States of America” stamped into the metal. I’m waiting, hopefully it will never come, when our coins have something like, “New World Order” and “Trust in the Arm of Flesh” inscribed along with a picture of the United Nations Building.
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What's So Important about a First Addition?

First Day Issue Two Dollar Bill with post office date stamp. What's so important about a first additon anyway? Why are some "trinkets" more valuable than others? Click on the link and read more. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Being the last to go is tough

This is the last of the puppies, all the others having been picked up by their new families and taken home. To top that off, Lucy put this one outside for an hour so she could clean up the kitchen nook, sweep, mop and toss out some well used newspapers. This puppy was so tired out from all the yelping and protesting that as soon as she got a chance to come back inside it was time for a nap. I had been out working in the Houston heat and so we both took a time out in my favorite chair for half an hour or so. Tomorrow, after church, even this one will have gone to her new master. I will miss them; but not enough to want a puppy here on Monday.

For you up in Denver, no, she isn't going for my throat. Around most parts of the USA this is called snuggling. In Denver it is a capital crime to be a Pit Bull.
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If I were King of the Forest, not Duke, not Prince not Earl…

I grabbed this one off of Dangerous Liberty’s site and he wants to know what you would do if you were prez., second hand as it came in from Say Uncle.

“SayUncle offers a thought experiment: If you were prez:

By some bizarre set of circumstances, you are the president as of now. Name the first 5 things you’d do. Level of difficulty: it must actually be stuff the president is
constitutionally allowed to do. “

"Put ‘em up, put ‘em up!" My lion’s tail swishing as I wear the broken potter’s clay crown that Tin Man and Scare Crow have provided me outside the doors that lead to the Great and Powerful OZ. "I’ll fight ya’ with one paw tied behind my back! Shucks, fellas, I was only …. " I'm doing my best imitation of Bert Lars and you should be grateful that I don’t sit behind the EIB microphone and have a ditto cam going.

Since our country has quit using the Constitution I don’t see that as much of an obstacle, maybe some English professor would mark off points for starting a sentence with the word since; shows a lack of something, not quite sure what. I have to admit, this is one of the better challenges to have come past me in quite some time. I enjoyed the movie Dave where the part time actor got to play president after the real one had a stroke. This challenge falls into that category of “what if”.

I’d have to go along with Dangerous Liberty’s notion of going before the public via a regular series of fireside talks to explain the dangers we face as a result of the Communist Agenda having been in place and progressing right along for so many years. That would have to be my first priority, enlighten the sleeping masses to the point of bringing them out of the stupor they now are in. This would require calling a spade a spade, as it were and so I would not make public appearances and become a walking target.

I would make short work of our ties to the United Nations, calling for a complete and total ( politicians are supposed to make redundant remarks for effect ) removal of funding and participation with those scoundrels.

I would call for emergency privilege and open up the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Coast for oil exploration and immediate drilling as a national security issue. I would also remove the obstacles placed in the way of the building of refineries for the production of useable oil products, primarily gasoline.

As part of this push to make America less dependant, or even totally dependant from foreign oil imports, I would make it a point to pull the rug out from under the so called environmental movement and classify most of these organizations as anti-American traitors.

I would start insulting each and every member of the Senate and House who, through their pork barrel spending habits have spent money that was in their stewardship without a thought as to the sacrifices made by those taxpayers whose money it truly is until such time as they were ready to step out back and duke it out with me. Mind you, I’m not all the proficient at a fair fight and so I would cheat; remember, I was a cop for twenty years and the City didn’t pay me to get hurt fighting those scum bags either.

There you have it, streets lined with happy citizens who finally understand how they have been played for saps. The threat of communism will have been exposed in all its various forms along with the socialistic jerks intent on destroying individual freedoms. Everyone’s future will be assured of an ample supply of oil to run the industries of our desires, all the gasoline we will ever need at a more reasonable price due to the added ability to refine it now that the Lilliputian circus trick obstacles have been removed there will be fewer headaches from having to put up with all that environmental crap. I will be a regular on the new reality television show that will bring in Nielson Ratings like you never would have imagined. I always wanted to punch Senator Kennedy in the nose.

"If I were King of the Forrrrreeessssstttttt! Let me at ‘em!"

A special thanks to Dangerous Liberty and Say Uncle for leaving the stage door open and the house lights down low. "Somebody just grabbed my tail, glad this isn’t San Francisco."

Reminders are Necessary

I just posted an article, Reminders are Necessary, over at Liberty Letters. Follow the link in the title bar to read why this particular picture hangs in my house.
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Friday, August 19, 2005

Doing Something Different

I have no idea how many folks check by to read my articles and it’s been suggested on more than one occasion that I install some kind of site meter; in any event, I’m grateful to any who might stop by on a regular basis. I’m trying something different, not so much in my writing style or choice of things to write about; more on where I place these articles. I found a small group of writers going under the name “Liberty Letters” and I liked their style enough to join ranks with them. Rather than post all my blogs here at T. F. Stern’s Rantings, I will work doubly hard so that I can post articles to both. I will keep a spot open, likely on Friday or Saturday depending on how business and making a living in the real world places demands on my time, and list those articles along with quiet links to those posted to Liberty Letters.

Yesterday I wrote about my feelings toward having the federal government manipulate local school district funding in order to mandate a special day to honor the Constitution.
Anyone who has read my stuff should understand how great a value I place on our founding documents and the need to keep them high on our list of priorities.

Today I wrote on the subtle means by which the pro-choice agenda has taken to minimize our sense of feeling toward the destruction of unwanted life in the form of a fetus in order to provide for the greater good of all. I called it, “And we only had to murder one fetus”.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Physics and Faith all in one sentence

I got a kick out of an article Robert Bell over at Libertopia posted in which he brought up a story called, “Faith Based Physics” (linked via title bar). Some guy must have been dropped on his head, pardon the pun, when he exclaimed:

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down,"
You have to go read the short article to appreciate it. Warning: Put brown shoes on first.

I had read an article several years ago written by John Pratt, which he titled, “Did God Write the Laws of Physics?”. It struck me as interesting enough to copy and file away for future reference all because of one line:

“Did God write the laws of physics or are they self-existent and God just follows them perfectly?”
I have included the URL’s for both articles and would encourage those curious folks who have had a chance to clean off their shoes to take the opportunity.

Tip of the Hat to Robert, or should I just give him a polished apple, maybe a fig Newton?

7 Puppies getting a drink of water

A couple of days to go and all these little puppies will be in their new homes. We will miss the shows they put on every day, climbing over each other to eat, sleeping in a heap, pulling on a piece of rope, barking and falling backwards from the bark, sounding like little seagulls when they want attention, in general - just being puppies.

Bonnie took a good picture of them and posted it yesterday. Lucy will be going into withdrawl at the loss; but get over it quickly as she will no longer have to clean up the huge mess they create in just a very short period of time. We have had to borrow extra newspapers from our neighbors just to keep up with "supply". Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Jackin’ With Folks - Part 2

The other day I wrote about some of the things that went on in the PD, not too serious and all the same nothing that would make the Chief especially pleased. I related to some friends that I had posted an article about Jackin’ with folks and got to hear an ear full of some of the things that have been done. It got to be a “top this one” kind of exchange and I began to remember some of the other things we used to “hear about”.

In the evenings while working downtown they would put us on special traffic duty around the Music Hall and Coliseum to assist drivers trying to get into the parking areas for events like the circus or whatever. It was a busy area, it also being at the entrance to a major freeway interchange. Drivers would often stop in the middle of the intersection to ask directions to either the freeway or the parking areas and after a few hundred times some officers would become agitated and forget that it was all part of the job.

“Parking is off to the right, bear to the right and follow those cars…”, repeated a few hundred times. “Yes, Sir, the North Freeway; get over in the left lane and you’re on before you know it. Yes, Sir, stay to the left.”

We had one of our fellow officers, a total bad attitude case, who would intentionally give directions that would put these folks onto the freeway when they had specifically asked how to get to the parking lot.

“Parking, just stay to the left and up that ramp…”

He would laugh as they past the point of no return, their car disappearing onto an elevated freeway ramp that would take them miles away in mere moments. I never thought that was such a neat prank to pull on anyone and was glad to find that one of those unhappy drivers took the time to make the long drive back just to thank him personally. I’m sure that the letter of explanation to the Chief, via the chain of command, was inadequate because he did get a few days off without pay.

This was the same jerk off-icer who would sling blobs of molten sulfur off the end of road flares onto passing cars while directing traffic at night. Those flares were standard issue for working nasty wrecks because they were so easy to see, even at a distance. I can’t imagine what kind of great feeling this jerk off-icer got from damaging paint jobs on every car that had to pass his position and most folks probably didn’t notice the damage until later in the week when it came time to wash and polish the family car.

Getting back to some of the more fun things, at least as Jackin’ with the public went, there was a senior partner whose name will remain sealed because I think he may still be wearing the uniform. He was about as lazy as anyone I ever worked with; maybe it was because I was junior partner and so I was the one to do all the reports while he sat back and enjoyed himself. His particular “skill” was getting little old ladies to feed him lunch, cookies and milk, cake, pies or even cook him a special dinner while I was filling in the blanks on a burglary report. He would convince these little old ladies that he used to be that rotten little boy who had run through her flower beds so very long ago, grown up to be a cop and that he was sorry for having added any of those gray hairs to their sweet little heads. The funny thing was it worked so often as to be worthy of note. He would take a bite of chocolate cake and tilt his head to get my attention and then wink, as if to say, “See, I told you I could pull it off”. I don’t suppose it was anything that could get him in trouble, not even today with a zero tolerance for anything not in the book, all the same I’ll leave his name in the shadows.

Once a year we all were required to attend the Police In Service School, mandatory State classes for points, first aid, and other BS classes that would take up a 40 hour block. One year there was a film to enlighten officers on negative public relation aspects created by some officers, things that the public might find offensive that could have been avoided if only we were aware of it. My partner and I had so little seniority that we took notes on some of the things we had not tried yet.

There was a portion of the film dedicated to how the desk officer might improve community relations that had most of us slapping knee. A citizen had gone into the station to report his car stolen and to make a report while the desk officer was on the phone, motioning the citizen to have a seat and to wait until he was through. The citizen, while intent on making his report, honored the request and sat down while the officer’s conversation continued.

“So, Bill, are we gonna’ use your bass boat or mine this week?”, holding his hand up, the index finger pointed skyward to remind the good citizen that it would only be a little longer. “No, I bought the beer last time, remember all that fuss about me having gotten the light beer instead of the stuff you like?”, turning to the citizen, “Be right with you”.

This went on for several minutes and the citizen was wearing thin, looking at his watch and again approaching the desk. “Hey, fella’, I told you to wait over there and that I’d be with you as soon as I finish this call; now, go sit down over there.”

“So, Bill, where was I; this asshole keeps interrupting me. Oh, yea, we can leave around 5:30 and be there before the sun is up.” The citizen has had about all he is going to take and walks over to the desk all full of contained emotional rage.

“Hey, if I have to tell you one more time to go sit in that chair I’ll have your butt arrested and sitting in that cell over there, ya’ hear me?” It might be hard for you to imagine a room full of supposedly mature police officers breaking out into full fledged laughter as the movie played out.

So, that’s what police work is all about, “To Protect and Serve”; any questions?

ACLU Calls Evil Good and Good Evil

I read an article on the World Net Daily web site where an ACLU spokesperson has compared a school board which has started with an opening prayer for the past 30years with those terrorist who slammed a couple of jet liners into the World Trade Center buildings.
Read the complete article.
“Joe Cook of the ACLU of Louisiana… Referring to the school board, Cook said, "They believe that they answer to a higher power, in my opinion. Which is the kind of thinking that you had with the people who flew the airplanes into the buildings in this country, and the people who did the kind of things in London."”

I think it amazing that such huge leaps in comparison are not only possible but plausible in the mind of some folks. Joe Cook has come to the conclusion that people who pray are automatically evil because they have turned over their mental faculties to a higher authority, God.

The logic of their argument goes along the path that: first, there is no God, second, since there is no God anyone who claims to believe in such a God must be inferior intellectually, third, anyone who is that inferior should not be in a position to lead others down that same path, and lastly, prayer to a being that does not exist is simply evidence of a deranged mind intent on evil because a logical person doesn’t place hope in something that does not exist.

In the movie, Contact, there was a scene in which the scientist character was asked by the religious character if she loved her father. She answered, “Yes.”, whereupon he responds, “Prove it”. How can you prove something like that? In matters of faith, feeling, and other intangibles which make up so much of the human experience, those who require proof will be sadly disappointed at every turn. They will require that which is not, nor was it ever intended to be proven.

When such proof is not provided these secularists will come out with a familiar, “Just as I thought”, as did the little girl in Miracle on 34th Street when confronted face to face with Kris Kringle, the real Santa Claus and his line requiring her to show a little faith. Kris had been unable to furnish the little girl with a house under the Christmas tree. He tried to explain that she must keep on believing to which she replied, “Oh, yea, like, “if at first you don’t succeed try, try again”, I, know.”, the little girl’s attitude having been established to reject the notion of acting on faith from the beginning.

Just as the prosecutor’s office in the movie had gone about the process of declaring for the State of New York that, “There is no Santa Claus”, Joe Cook of the ACLU has made it a matter of declaring there is no God, that folks who pray to God must be evil and that Louisiana had better keep an eye on these school board members before they go about crashing airplanes into the public schools.

Joe Cook, the ACLU lawyer and spokesman, reminded me of a line in the Book of Isaiah when he compared the good intentions of a working school board directly with the destructive and evil intentions of those terrorists who destroyed lives, property and peace of mind back on 911.

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” I’m on a roll so, “If the shoe fits, wear it!”

My thanks to Liberty Letters for the article they wrote.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Key to John Roberts Personality Lies in his Restraint

I read in the Houston Chronicle this morning, an article by Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times, in which the released papers from the White House during the Reagan era were highlighted.

“The National Archives released the documents, contained in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in response to a request last month from the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

It is not enough that the President of the United States has placed an honorable man’s name before the Senate as a nominee for the Supreme Court. Our times require that such a person have a perfect record and on top of that, there needs to be a guarantee that any future opinions expressed by a potential Supreme Court Justice be in accord with the moral fiber and fabric of not only the majority; but also the “loyal opposition”. Since no such guarantee can be accomplished either in reason or in dreams, the “loyal opposition” has taken the stance that no person could be qualified if his name has been submitted by the President, that President being an enemy of the people, intent on destroying the loyal opposition.

“Roberts, then in his 20s and serving as an associate White House counsel, did not actively work on all of the subjects. His analysis of recent Supreme Court decisions was careful, precise and largely devoid of his own opinions. He clearly endeavored to convey the administration's views on the subjects that landed on his desk, only occasionally indicating whether the views were his own.”

This speaks volumes about the ability of John Roberts to distinguish between his own opinions and that of the job which he was hired to accomplish. His restraint would make him an ideal Supreme Court Justice, separating his own will from that of the Constitutional issues placed before him rather than interpreting the pulse of morality, the political leanings of our times or the pressures applied to someone in such a position. Maybe that is what bothers the Democratic Senators so much, they would have almost no influence on such a man of integrity as to render them harmless.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Fun Jackin’ with Folks

I just finished a job duplicating and programming some keys for a young man’s Ford truck here in my driveway. His mother had called earlier in the day to set it up after having lost one of the 2 keys I’d cut and programmed not so long ago. I suppose having a third key will prolong my next visit by a few months.

He showed up with a couple of friends, all college age and they were enjoying a good look at my BMW Z-3 parked in the garage. We all got to talking about fast driving and I caught them off guard when I told them I used to have more fun driving my blue and white Caprice. They were still looking at the new Dunlop tires on the back of my Z and so the words didn’t match the conversation about “hot cars”. I waited an appropriate amount of time before adding that I was having a lot more fun with my red lights and siren on than the vehicles I pulled over. I’m sure there’s a permanent smirk wedged into my smile when I talk about having fun as a cop pulling folks over.

The topic changed from hot cars to, “Did you ever have fun jackin’ with people, I mean, just for fun?” That’s a whole lot of question to ask, much less from a young fellow.

I told them about the time I observed two vehicles make the same illegal left turn; a new sign had been erected and I was there to hand out warnings for the first week until folks started to notice the change. The first vehicle’s driver was a Priest in full “cloth” and the other guy was one of the local hippies, for lack of a better term. I got their driver’s licenses and immediately let the Priest go on his way, walking back toward the hippie.

“I only have one ticket left in my book and it’s clear I couldn’t write the Priest.” I looked the young man in the eye while reaching into my pocket for a coin. “Tell you what…”, showing him the quarter and flipping it in the air, “… call it!” I placed my hand over the quarter balanced on my shirt sleeve.

“You can’t do that, it’s not fair.” The veins in his neck were swelling and he was tripping over his frustration while trying to contain his antagonism; call it fear or respect, he knew he was close to the limit.

“Come on kid”, in my best Arlo Guthrie Alice’s Restaurant imitation, “…heads or tails? At least this way you have half a chance of getting off without a ticket.” I let him dangle and fume for a few more moments before showing him that I had a book full of tickets that I could have written and that I was just jackin’ with him.

That was fun; but not near as much as the time I was visiting at my friend’s locksmith shop while on duty. I couldn’t tell you what we were talking about until I saw one of the local “politically active” folks walking up to enter the shop. I recognized him from some of the anti-police marches; his purple hair was a dead giveaway.

“…So, Jim, all I need are two more Stop Sign tickets this month and I win that trip to Mexico City”. I pretended not to notice the new comer to the shop as Jim picked up quickly on my thoughts.

”Shoot, you’ll have that before the afternoon is over. Do you get any bonus bucks for getting a few extra tickets?” Jim had a great dead pan.

“No, they had to stop that last month, darn.” The anti-police fellow did a 180 and was writing notes into the palm of his hand as he drove off. Now, that was fun.

There was the time I was training a rookie on night shift and we had arrested a young fellow on out standing traffic tickets. On the way back to the station I looked at the guy sitting in the back seat, sweating a little more than normal, even for a person going to jail.

“Hey, partner, doesn’t he look like the guy wanted for rape, the one we heard about in roll call the other night?” I have no idea why I asked such a dumb question other than to have some fun. The rookie played along as best he could, hem-hawing until he agreed that he did look very close to the description of the rapist.

It was more than our suspect could handle as he confessed on the spot to being wanted for sexually assaulting his niece only a month earlier. We changed direction, now headed for the central police station where we had him printed and processed. We found the report that his Aunt had made, listing him as the suspect in an aggravated sexual assault of a juvenile. Sometimes you just get lucky. I’m glad it never went to trial.

“Officer, would you explain to the court how you were able to identify the suspect in this case?”. The lawyer smiling at me, a permanent smirk built into the corner of his cheek as he waited for my answer.

“Well, it was like this, I was just jackin’ with the suspect…” Yea, that would have gone over real well.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Updated Template

I took a few minutes to update my template; interestingly, it was my father who pointed out the need for it. My dad has no use for computers and so I send him printed copies of my blog articles to keep him informed of my insanity. The other day he asked, “When are you going to show that you have two grandchildren now, instead of one on the way?”, as it appeared on my profile and so I fixed that this afternoon. I will be turning 55 next month, not that it shows up on my profile; I’m looking for some neat presents and what better way to advertise than on the internet. I also added one more blogsite to my regular list of folks I plan to read during the week.

Liberty Links is well thought out and written and I recommend it strongly. This past week there was an article posted by Bliss Tew as a warning against the “one world order folks” as they use and implement NAFTA, CAFTA and FTAA. It was titled, “Power Elites Riding The FTAA Horse To Hemispheric Integration”. There is a reference to a book worth purchasing in the article; rather than give the title away, go read the article. Here’s a teaser:

“…Mr. Jasper pointed out that the European Common Market, a stepping stone toward establishment of the European Union, was presented to Americans as a way to defend Western Europe from Communism, while it has instead been used to drive Europe into socialism.”

Saturday, August 13, 2005

No Cameras Permitted

Lucy and I went on our Saturday Night Date and finished off with a stop at the local grocery store to pick up a couple of items. We had planned to have a nice dinner with William and Bonnie home at the same time so Lucy wanted a roast. One store had them at a price that was in competition with gasoline prices and we were going to pick up some Blue Bell Ice Cream that was on sale at a different store anyway where we could check for a better price on the roast.

I happened to glance up as we walked down the meat isle and there was a sign in front of the large double swinging doors that led to the back areas, “No Cameras Permitted”. I pointed it out to Lucy and chuckled, “Darn, that takes all the fun out of grocery shopping.” That’s the first thing I always think of when I go to get a gallon of milk and some dog food, “Hun, don’t forget the camera. You know how I always like to get a shot of those guys misting down the broccoli and stacking the carrots”. We have a special photo album just on the bread and cookie isle alone. I have one of a Hostess Twinkie with an expiration date of 2135, not that anyone would notice.

We got to the check out line and there on the wall near the exit was yet another sign, “No Cameras Permitted”. I asked the young lady why there was such a sign, or a need. She had never noticed it before and had a puzzled look on her face for my having asked. I went into my stand up comedy routine; letting her have a couple of one liners, “You guys afraid of all those Japanese tourists?” and, “Got a good one of the fellow sneezing all over the lettuce.” I don’t think she believed me when I told her I was going to write a short story about the sign.

Now that they’re onto us maybe I better get one of those new cellular telephones that have the built in digital camera. I can pretend to be asking Lucy what she wanted me to pick up on the way home while snapping instant images for her to download and get off to our contact in Madrid.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

In Stir

After the warden brings us dinner you three distract the guard and we can make a break for it. Where's the ACLU to protect us, no trial and off to prison; geezalouise, what a revoltin' mess this is! Posted by Picasa

Create a Nation

I read Brad’s post, “My Rogue Nation”, and thought that it might be interesting to play along; but not in the game, at least not the official internet game, for that would trivialize some of my thoughts. I’m not into games like when we all would play Risk, the world domination war game back in college. I did enjoy Sim-City until I found that I was wasting way too much time and found the “cheater” button that would permit unrestricted funding of my game.

What kind of a Nation would I place on this world? The answer lies in what I consider the most important aspect of the human condition, faith in God’s Only Begotten Son. I would pattern my nation after one that was inspired and Devine. This government would not have to be “created”; rather, it could be installed by duplicating the existing pattern already in place and used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The leaders of the National/Church would be called of God and sustained by the membership rather than elected. The defense of this nation would be placed in a dedicated armed forces unit with its powers gained and supported by their faith in God’s ability to act in their behalf against any and all who would be in opposition.

The National/Church headquarters would be located in Salt Lake City; that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, and would be run on the tithe system. All to be done on a voluntary assessment based on 10% of each individual’s perceived increase rather than a tax; with other necessary expenditures placed before the membership as a request and paid via voluntary donations as directed by the conscience of each individual such as Fast Offerings and philanthropic donations. There would be no distinction between the National Government and the Church Government, the population being members of both. Those who desire to have full membership would enjoy the added benefit of doing Temple work while those who lack the capacity for such would not. For those unaware of the workings of the Church, Temple work is a separate function from regular worship services and requires a higher personal level of commitment.

Those who stand in defiance of National/Church law would be asked to leave until such time as they could once again follow and adhere to the laws and policies; much the same as those who are excommunicated from Church membership now. It is essential to understand that membership or citizenship in this National/Church is strictly voluntary and requires only a broken heart and a contrite spirit. There are no fences to either keep them in or to prevent entry. An occasional wolf may enter; but would quickly be identified and rendered harmless because the faithful would have the Holy Spirit with them always.

The matters of addressing the needs of those members of such a nation who are either less active or who have, for one reason or another, lost full active status would be left to the local Bishoprics; their selfless desire being only to provide for those in need. This would be no different than the government that will be in place after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who upon his return will take his position as head of all the world, the form of government having already been put in place.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear

Blog posting may be down for a couple of days so I can take my computer in for a tune up. I may have picked up a virus or something. It has been acting like someone poured syrup into the works, Vvvveerrrrrryyyyyy Ssslllllooooooowwwww...... Thought I'd post this picture taken in the side view mirror as our Z crossed the Mississippi River bridge on I-20 a few years back. Posted by Picasa

The Greates Show on Earth

Lucy and I took our grandson, JJ, to the Circus yesterday. We made sure to get there an hour and a half earlier than the performance time so that JJ would get to see the elephants, lions and zebras before the show. What I didn’t know was that we would also get to have a chance to sit right down on the floor of the circus in one of the “rings” for a children’s close up version of the circus. The clowns went around and acted silly for all the children, the pretty lady would do acrobatic tricks suspended in the air very close to where we all were sitting, the tight rope act was set up only a few feet off the floor where the kids could see every thing they were doing. In all it may have been a better show for the kids than the one we saw from our regular seats, not that it wasn’t a great show either.

JJ wanted some cotton candy that came in a funny looking circus hat, something I might not have purchased for my own kids; being a grandparent relaxed the stingy side of my wallet just a little. We all took turns wearing the hat and getting all sugared up on cotton candy. We also bought a large canister of lemonade that we all shared during the show.

I have no idea how much of the performance JJ was able to take in, there was so much going on. We were right next to one of the dare devil acts where they climbed on top of these very tall flexible poles and would sway all around while doing hand stands or hanging by some kind of hand grip. They even transferred from one pole to the other; very exciting to watch. I enjoyed watching in the shadows as the lion “pit crew” tried to keep up with the steady stream of lions exiting the performance cage into the line of wheeled cages. The trapeze acts, the high wire acts and all the clowning around made for a good time.

They had one act where the clowns were suspended upside down, way up in the air, all the props were upside down and the effect was done so well. They pretended to bounce balls, in reverse, then they did a juggling act; again it was upside down, and throwing things in the trash can, also upside down made it a very clever routine. They had four motorcycles inside a big round sphere doing fancy spinning and maneuvers to end the show. About the only thing missing, at least from my old recollection of going to the circus, was the man being shot out of the cannon. The best part of the show, for me anyway, was seeing JJ smile and laugh as he enjoyed being with his grandparents. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Time out to rest

Ever wonder why they call it a dog pile? There are 7 puppies in this picture; 4 are brown, 3 are white. Can you find the 3rd white puppy? They are almost 4 weeks old now and will start the weaning process today. They all weigh between 4 and 5 pounds now, having started at just under 1 pound. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 05, 2005


Back when I was working a police extra job at a downtown garage I would often read the job applications for those looking for work as parking garage attendants. It was an education reading some of the answers. One fellow when asked if he were here on a Visa put down that he had 20/20. I think they hired him just to have his card on file to read once in a while, sort of a rainy day laugh.

I was talking with the folks who own the house across the street from my rent house; explaining about the necessity of having to clean up the place and find a responsible renter. She asked if I intended to put in a government renter. I had to admit that I was unfamiliar with how that worked, even though I was aware that such things were available. Apparently there is a list of folks waiting to get into “rent assisted” housing units. I was told that the government pays on time and that there is no risk, or almost no risk involved because these renters wouldn’t want to jeopardize a good thing.

“What kind of good thing?”, I asked.

“The government pays 80% of the agreed upon rent and they only have to pay 20%.”, was the answer. “Lots of the houses in our area have government renters”, she added.

I have no intention of joining the ranks of those who take advantage of the tax doles being portioned out. This is another of the wealth redistribution tactics used, it sounds too good to be on the “up and up” for those looking for a nice house to live in because it is too good to be on the “up and up”. Somebody is paying for it, just a matter of who. What makes anyone think they should be permitted to live well above their means in a very nice home?

I’d like to live in one of those exclusive neighborhoods next to the golf course so I try to convince the government that I’m one of the “deserving” downtrodden because my parents were both crack heads, drop outs or whatever the criteria is for becoming a member of the handout list. “Mr. Stern, you earn too much money to qualify, sorry. You need to earn no more than $20,000 per year”, or some other arbitrarily decided income figure, to qualify for government handouts.

There is something terribly wrong with a system of government when it rewards those who aspire to lower levels by rewarding them with homes paid for with tax money from their equals or barely above the same arbitrarily derived qualification level income. I have no issue with helping those “less fortunate” via my voluntary contributions at church or through other voluntary means; however, I am more than vehemently perturbed to hear that some folks are getting a free ride at my expense. I have added this to my list of things to work on through my elected officials.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness does not equate to government guaranteed Happiness, and it surely never was intended to mean that any one citizen was to achieve happiness through imposed taxes to pay for such…and don’t call me Shirley.

What kind of person would permit, ask for or expect such a “something for nothing” deal? I will tell you; they are the same folks who think that medical bills and prescriptions should be taken care of for free or at a greatly reduced cost, that everyone should make exactly the same amount of money regardless of ability, education, invested capital or ability to provide. These are the same folks who scream for equality until they are asked to pitch in and pay their fare share. These are the same folks who claim that they are being discriminated against because of skin color, lack of education, ethnic origin or any number of excuses for not having the internal fortitude to live the American life or dream. They somehow missed out; they should have been a member of some other continent and country where such philosophies are not only accepted but thought of as ideal.

I bought a car from my dad, my first car. It was a tan Plymouth Belvedere with a 318 V8 and got me a very expensive speeding ticket as I tested common sense and mortality on my way through Spring Valley one night. I can’t remember what year the car was made, it may have been a 1963 model. It had push buttons for the automatic transmission off to the side of the dashboard if that helps to zoom in on the age of that car. In any case the sale amount was to be financed by Dad and I was to pay him back each month out of my earnings. At the time I was a vendor working at Rice University’s football games and at the Astrodome.

I had a special one time offer from Dad where for each time I paid $ 6.00, I was credited for $ 10.00; a sweetheart deal if ever there was one. I earned quite a bit during one summer of working at the Dome and had enough to pay off the remainder of the debt; for the sake of simplicity, it was about $ 400.00. I saw no need for Dad to continue with his “10 for 6 deal” and paid off the balance due in even dollars. I suppose I could have continued letting Dad help me out with my meager financial situation; except that I was dead set on becoming responsible for my own life and this was one way to show Dad that I understood some of the principles he’d taught me. I needed to be a man.

Again I ask, what kind of folks would let another pay for their expenses or have the audacity to demand such? What kind of elected folks would foist such a swindle on hard working tax payers? I think it’s high time we changed the game plan back to one in which each member of society earns their own way, not forgetting that the truly in need will always have to be taken into consideration; this whole thing we call entitlements has gone too far; 80/20, I still can’t believe my ears.

This is my entry to Life Liberty and Property’s
Carnival of Liberty V.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Skeleton Key

I got my August copy of The National Locksmith, one of the publications I subscribe to in order to keep up with the changes in my profession. Greg Mango, the editor had an article that was fun to read which he titled, The Skeleton Key. I will condense the story, sort of a Reader’s Digest version.

John Somers, of Al’s Lock and Safe in North Platte, Nebraska had a customer come to his shop requesting his services to restore a lost key to a 1977 Chevrolet
pick up truck. After explaining the process necessary to reproduce the lost key and the customer being short on cash; other alternatives were discussed.

“John then asked them what happened to the key, and Allen (the customer) said, “My friend swallowed it!”

They had been drinking, why does that not surprise me, and as a prank the friend was going to pretend to swallow the key; except by accident he actually did swallow it. They went to the Emergency Room of the local hospital concerned that the key might cut a hole in his stomach or get stuck. X-rays were taken and he was assured that the key would not be a problem and that it would find its way out via the “natural process”.

John asked if he had a copy of the X-ray and amazingly he did. “Well bring the X-ray back and maybe I can make a key from the X-ray”… “Any locksmith worth his salt could have made that key…They just happened to walk into my store”

John Somers has had his “fifteen minutes of fame”, as he put it. His story has been well publicized on the Today Show, the Letterman Show and all the major news sources. He didn’t charge the customer for the key, opting instead to keep the X-ray.

I had a similar experience, nothing quite as dramatic as a customer showing up with an X-ray to make a key, all the same it required some imagination. The customer was a wholesale car buyer. He’d purchased a Chevrolet truck the day before from one of my regular car dealerships and had returned to take it back across town to his own lot. When he went to reach for the key, the key he thought was in his pocket, it dawned on him that he’d left the key in Baytown, about an hour and a half away or more.

I happened to hear him cussing under his breath as he asked for a price, trying to decide if it would be cheaper to have me cut the key or drive back to get the other one. I asked if he had a fax machine at the office and someone who could lay the key on the platen to fax a silhouette to profile the cuts that were on the key.

“You can do that?”, a look of disbelief overtook him.

I told him that it was worth a try, that if the fax was even half way clear that it would save him a tidy sum and both of us quite a bit of time. The fax came in rather poorly and even so I was able to discern the exact cuts and clip out a brand new replacement key. He was happy to hand me twenty dollars and I gave him the fax to attach to his receipt. Like John told his customer, “Any locksmith worth his salt could have made that key”

Just as a matter of finishing off this story; how many of you were able to figure out that the cuts on the key that had been swallowed were “242123”?
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Glad they liked us, just think if they didn't...

"We'll be out and leave the place clean for you, Mr. Stern, You've treated us so well these last couple of years"... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Trashed, again

I own a second house, one that I have rented out for several years to different families. There is always a gamble in renting, not getting the rent on time, not getting paid at all or only partially. Then there is the element of damage to the property, some natural wear is built into the deal and then there are things neglected or intentionally damaged due to poor life style choices for lack of a better handle.

A few years ago we had some folks rent the house who were marginally able to afford the price we had offered. When they were on hard times we were able to absorb their inability to pay and explained that one day they would be able to catch up. It eventually got to the point that they four months behind and were never going to get caught up. Some how they managed to get into a government subsidized house of their own. That means that not only did they skip out on the last 4 months rent, now my taxes are helping them to live in a house that they still can’t afford; but no worries, the government has established the minimum standard of living for everyone, regardless of ability to pay.

So they left my house in a bad way. We had to remove all the carpet and pads so that the concrete could be washed and sealed. It turns out these folks would lock their cats in the house; enough said. One room was so bad we had all the sheet rock either replaced or sealed to eliminate the odor. In all we had to spend about 5 – 6 thousand dollars to make the house livable again. That included new carpet, new tile, all new paint inside and out, new bathroom faucets and a new dishwasher.

That was two years ago and the next family that moved in seemed to be a much better risk. The first year they always paid the rent on time, and the couple of times when they were running short they would call us to explain their situation. The fact that they were concerned about being even a week late spoke volumes about their desire to be good renters. That started to fall apart when it came time for them to pay for the next year’s garbage collection fee, something they were aware of in the lease agreement. It never got paid, at least they never paid us back.

The dues are assessed by the home owner’s association and included swimming pool access, street lighting and garbage pick up. Those home owner’s associations can slap a lien on a property for failure to pay garbage fees, that and the legal notice fees add up quickly so we always made it a point to pay those kind of things to avoid legal entanglements. The next time around for these same fees, that and one months rent which was late, brought the bill to right at a thousand dollars they were behind.

Two months ago these folks decided they couldn’t get along with each other and one of them explained that he was going to have to get an apartment and would I give him a good bill of health when the apartment’s manager asked about his payment history. I asked him about the money he still owed, and how would he be able to pay for the rent house along with additional apartment rent seeing as how he was unable to keep up as it was. I let him know that I would give them a full month to pack up and make the house available for another family. He knew it was only a matter of time, all the same he expressed his gratitude for our having been so kind and generous, letting them lag behind in the rent and all.

I went by to check on the house today, having been told that they would be out last Sunday, all packed and that they would leave the house all cleaned up and deliver the keys to us. Monday came and went and no keys, no phone calls; nothing to indicate that they had completed the move out process. I knew being a locksmith would pay off as I picked the front door lock, having had to pick up quite a bit of loose trash in the entry way. The first thing I noticed was that the stove and refrigerator were missing.

I have watched the movie, True Lies, where Tom Arnold is explaining about his ex-wife and how she took everything, to include the ice trays. “What kind of sick bitch takes the ice trays?” he exclaims as he shrugs his shoulders, “Women can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em”. My next door neighbor once rented to some folks like these. When they moved out in the middle of the night they took every single light bulb, the dishwasher and even took out the built in stove and microwave oven. What kind of folks do that?

There were piles of trash in every room, the carpet is going to have to either be professionally restored or replaced. Basically, the house had been trashed; there was a fist sized hole in the living room wall that had been covered with a piece of paper and spray painted. The master bedroom had been half way painted, as if it would have been too much trouble to move what ever furniture had been against the wall and so that section was left alone. I couldn’t get into the garage as it was wall to wall garbage.

I called the fellow on his cell phone and explained that I was disappointed and thinking of having the police report made. I explained that just because he had moved out and into his own apartment, he was equally responsible for the house that he had rented and signed the lease agreement on. I could hear him trying to explain, “ Oh well, it looks like we lose the one month deposit left at the beginning of the lease agreement”. I told him that they were already a thousand dollars in the hole and that the way the house had been left might take 4- 5 thousand dollars to bring it into a condition where it could be livable. I then suggested that he call his former co-resident and start by hauling off all the garbage so that I could have a team of professionals come in to restore the carpets, the hole in the wall, have it painted and deodorized. I asked what he wanted to do with all the junk, some of which appeared to be salvageable. He said that we could keep it. How lucky can I be, I get to keep all that unwanted crap, clean up the place and thank them for being such good renters.

I will go there tomorrow with my camera, take lots of pictures and then call for a police report just to document the state of the house for any future squabbles that may arise when I present them with a bill for damages. I may even post a picture or two on the internet just as a warning to other folks who go the extra mile with undeserving folks.

And don’t call me Shirley...

My back has been changing my sleep habits and last night I ended up reading blogs in the middle of the night when I should have been pushing Z’s, not that the little “Green Z” needs pushing; we just had it in for some routine maintenance and it’s running fine.

I read a great piece by a fellow goes by the moniker Cerberus where he detailed his cautions about blogging for anyone who serves in the capacity of police officer. I’ve been retired a while now and no such medium was available to me back then. It makes for a good read, and I recommend that you take a few moments to take in some of his thoughts; doesn’t matter if you’re a cop or not, the information is just as valid. Here is just one of his cautionary ideas:

“Never specifically identify anything or anyone at your place of work. (See: Cerberus, Some City, and Giant Red State. All figments of my imagination). How
can I interfere with or harm the operations of an imaginary agency in a place that never existed?”
For those of you old enough to remember the Dragnet television series, “the incident you are about to watch is true, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. My partner and I were working …” Jack Webb’s voice runs in my head still.

This morning I was a little groggy, gee, imagine that, as I sat reading my now nearly endless list of favorite bloggers. Jahn had posted a piece he called, “Terror on the Subway”. He and his companion were in Germany riding the rail on their monthly transit passes, something which gets checked randomly by undercover officials. As the doors to the subway car closed they reached inside their coats simultaneously.

“About a half-dozen Turks looked like they wanted to jump out the window. They thought we were Controllers!”

I had to laugh as I read the rest of Jahn’s article. I left a comment, something to the effect that way back when the Iranians were marching in the streets of Houston to protest US involvement, we as police officers had been instructed not to make any arrests or do anything that would upset the “delicate international situation”, what ever the hell that means. My partner and I would drive around and wave at them, when they would look in our direction I would raise my 35mm camera up and pretend to take a picture. There was no film in the camera; but they didn’t know that. We would then explain that all pictures would be handed over to the Iranian secret police at the end of shift and wonder out loud how many of these folks would “vanish” or just disappear mysteriously from the face of the earth. It was worth the price of admission to see the shear panic and fear sweep across their faces.

The art of deception took on varied forms in our limited capacity to “serve and protect”. We found that most motorists believed that every police car was equipped with radar for catching speeders; something that just wasn’t true. Rather than disappoint the public my partner and I invented the “fake radar trap”; something akin to Al Gore inventing the internet I’m sure. Now before you get your panties in a bind, this was NOT done as a means to issue traffic tickets without proper procedures; it was done in order to permit us the luxury of taking a break, to catch up on the newspaper or just take a short nap right there in front of God and everyone. Folks were too busy hitting the brakes to slow down when they saw our blue and white set up on the side of the busy thoroughfare; too concerned with their own worries to notice that the round object aimed down the street wasn’t a radar unit at all, it was a policeman’s saucer cap wedged in the window to look like a radar unit. We were “invisible” for a brief period and, by default, were still providing a service by slowing down potential speeders.

I used to set up my fake radar trap on the side of the freeway when I was in need of a thirty minute nap working day shift. One day I must have needed an hour or so, at least that’s how long I was out of it when a dear sweet little old lady rapped on the window and almost gave me heart failure.

“Are you alright, Officer?”, she asked in a most sincere manner, her concern for my well being at the highest level of human compassion. “I drove by and saw you slumped over and so I pulled over to see if you needed help.” I thanked the lady and gave her some lame explanation about not feeling well, something I’d had for breakfast not agreeing with me and waved to her as she drove off.

I was dispatched to work traffic around a stalled out 18 wheeler that had its transmission locked up on the down side of the large bridge that crosses the Houston Ship Channel. It was in the far right lane and there was no way to let it coast over to the shoulder so he was having to wait for a heavy duty wrecker to haul him off; an hour wait as we had been told. I determined that the safest way to close off the right lane was to position my patrol car at the crest of the bridge with my emergency lights flashing to alert drivers before they even got to the broken down truck. It was working so well that I took advantage of the time to catch up on some Z’s.

I have no idea how long it had been since the wrecker showed up. I glanced up from my slumbers and noticed that all the lanes were clear, no broken down truck. A mild panic hit me; how long had I been out of it? I put the patrol car in gear and eased myself off the bridge. About that time I heard my dispatcher put out a call for a unit to check on a possible “officer down” on the Ship Channel Bridge. I quickly picked up the mike and advised her to disregard, that I was just finishing up my traffic assignment with the stalled 18 wheeler. That was close.

If I were still active duty with the PD, none of this ever happened. I surely never would have written it down in a blog and signed my name to it. “And don’t call me Shirley.”

Monday, August 01, 2005


Roxie's puppies at almost 3 weeks old cuddling. Posted by Picasa