Explorations in Policing, Faith and Life (With a hint of humor, product reviews, news and whatever catches my attention)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gangnam Style Continues to Roll Through Cultural America

A couple of videos.  A U of O parody that is really well done, the Saturday Night live sketch with PSY's appearance and another song I found that I liked from him called "Champion".  Consider the band wagon jumped on...



The Saturday Night Live Sketch (Never thought I would reference them)



Champion by PSY





Monday, October 1, 2012

The Little Things

I had a great time as a TFO and now back in Patrol I am struggling to stay focused and motivated.  The needle is starting to slip from "gruntled"  to "disgruntled".  God is in charge and his ways are always good.  I know when I look back at this time in my life I will see where he has stretched me, challenged me, grown me and fulfilled all his promises.  But right now, it is quite a task to maintain joy on the way into and back from work.

It is strange, it is the little things and not just the big things, I miss.  While no one would want to hear this "war story" the following video was part of my commute into work back in those days.  I always just thought it just was a cool length of street that I would never have traveled if I did not have to go to the Feb office.  It is nowhere near my department.  So its kind of a marker of where I was and where I am no longer.  I miss that street.

video



Psalm 105:8
He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To account for...life or death on a traffic stop

I initiated a traffic stop on vehicle for failing to stop at a stop sign.  When I was able to curb the vehicle, the driver, female, immediately opened her driver's side door and put one leg out to exit her car.  In response, I kicked open my driver's side door, got both feet on the ground and had my hand on my Glock 22 in its holster.  I ordered her to stay in her vehicle and close the door.  She hesitated then slipped her second leg out of the door and turned slightly to exit her vehicle.  I pulled the Glock out of it's holster and pointed it toward her vehicle but kept it behind my driver's side door and out of her view.  I again ordered her to re-enter her vehicle, which she did, openly startled by both the volume and tone of my voice.  The traffic stop was completed without incident and a citation issued.

At the beginning of the traffic stop this driver was angry and was attempting to come back to my squad to demand why I was stopping her.  She further informed me that she thought that I was rude, mean and should not treat the public in that manner.  She then sped away without giving me an opportunity to provide her with a response.

The following video is one that I have seen many times for training purposes.  I hate watching it, even though through its use many Officers have been made safer.  This is why I try to take total command of a situation and why if I do not get compliance in two commands, I greatly ramp up my response, get control and backup.

I can always apologize to the soccer mom for being mean and yelling at her when her intentions are harmless.  But I can't apologize for anything if I am dead.

My prayers are with Deputy Kyle Dinkheller's family, friends and fellow police officers, while some time has passed since this incident, I do not doubt that the pain is still real.




Andrew Brannan was found guilty on January 28, 2000, for the murder of Dinkheller and was sentenced to death.  As of July 2012, he has not been executed and is still incarcerated in Georgia.  After being captured, Brannan was asked why he killed Dinkheller. His response was, "Because he let me."

It will be a good day when the State finally provides Brannan with the final and complete punishment he is due.  A punishment long over due.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cool Squads

I had to clean up the side bars of the blog, since it was becoming a slow load.  As a result I had to let a couple of pictures float away from the side bar and into this one post.

Lotus Exige Squad Car













Hummer H2

1941 Plymouth Squad Car

Lamborghini



Porsche Concept Squad Car

1928 Ford Model A


And to balance out all the coolness...
Segway 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Two more of the Fallen


Law Enforcement is not a brotherhood of Americans or even North Americans but a world wide fraternity of those who serve with the badge.

PC Nicola Hughes, 23, and PC Fiona Bone, 32 of the Greater Manchester Police, were ambushed and murdered as they responded to a routine call.  One of the unique aspects of our line of work is that every call has to be treated as if it is a potentially life threatening situation but in reality they are rare.  So you go to a hundred, thousand calls and not one is life threatening but you still have to force yourself to be ready to survive this one in a million situation.  The fact that these two fine officers had the bravery, which I do not, to answer the calls in their beats unarmed and undefended is also a testament to them.

Our prayers our with their families and their department.

The Article from the BBC News (BBC News Link)  
Picture from the same source.

Dale Cregan held after policewomen killed in Manchester

He said the house where the incident took place was a council house which had been left empty.

He said there had been some recent activity with the windows covered in whitewash suggesting the house was being decorated.

The police flag at Greater Manchester Police headquarters has been lowered to half mast.

The force has also opened a book of condolence on its website.

Association of Chief Police Officers president Sir Hugh Orde said the deaths were "deeply sad news for the police service".

ACC Shewan said Mr Cregan had been arrested on suspicion of two counts of murder in relation to the investigations into the deaths of David Short and Mark Short.

David Short was killed in a gun and grenade attack in Clayton on 10 August.

His son, Mark, was killed in a pub shooting at the Cotton Tree Pub in Droylsden in May.

A second man - a 24-year-old - was also charged last month with the murder of David Short and later remanded in custody after he appeared at Manchester Crown Court.


PC Nicola Hughes, 23, and PC Fiona Bone, 32, were called to Abbey Gardens in Mottram to investigate what turned out to be a false report of a burglary.

Police said it appeared they had been deliberately "drawn" to the scene.

Dale Cregan, 29, has been arrested in connection with the officers' deaths and two previous murders.

He was detained when he walked into Hyde police station a short time after the incident.Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said someone had made a call alleging a burglary had been committed and when the officers arrived they were attacked with a gun and a grenade.

He said: "We believe he has made the call, or somebody else has made the call, and it would appear for the purposes of drawing these two officers to that particular scene, and then he has come out and shot and killed them both.

"Certainly it would appear to be that he has deliberately done this in an act of absolutely cold-blooded murder."

A witness at the scene in Tameside reported hearing 13 gunshots and an explosion shortly before 11:00 BST.

Excellent Bobby

Sir Peter said police believed Mr Cregan had spent the night at the house in Abbey Gardens before the call about the burglary was made.

"This address was not known to us, was not in our intelligence systems [and] had not featured in this particular inquiry," he said.

"As would be routine, two unarmed officers were sent to the scene. When they arrived, it appears Cregan emerged into the road and killed these two officers.

"A firearm was used and a grenade was also used. We are unsure of the cause of deaths until post-mortems are carried out.

"Cregan then went to a local police station and handed himself in."

Sir Peter said the officers exemplified the very best of British policing.

He said Miss Bone was a "calm, gentle woman", an "excellent bobby" and had been in the middle of planning her wedding.

Shocked and Distressed

He paid tribute to Miss Hughes, describing her as a "chatterbox" and a "great bobby" who was "always smiling".

"We are absolutely devastated by this loss and our thoughts and condolences go out to the families of these two officers, their friends and in particularly their colleagues who work with them day in, day out who are shocked and distressed at the events of this morning," he said.Police said one of the officers died at the scene and the second was critically injured and died afterwards.

A statement from Tameside Hospital said its emergency team "strived to save the life of a female officer who was brought to the A&E unit with critical injuries" but that she sadly died.The scene in Mottram has been cordoned off and there is a heavy police presence in the area, including a bomb disposal team.

A police helicopter is also on patrol overhead.

The witness who described the shots, a window cleaner who worked in the area, said the property the officers were called to had been unoccupied for some months.

'Long, dark shadow'The BBC's North of England reporter Danny Savage said he had spoken to an eyewitness who said they saw a police car outside the house shortly after 10:15 BST.

"After that car had drawn up it seems the two unarmed police officers inside the car went into the property which had stood empty for some months," he said.

"Whilst they were inside around a dozen shots were fired and there was an explosion."Those police officers didn't come out of the house again, the police car was left outside with its lights flashing but empty. Emergency services and colleagues were soon here offering assistance."

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "This is a deeply shocking incident and a terrible reminder of the risks that police officers face every day to keep our communities safe."Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said it was "deeply distressing news [and] a painful demonstration of how police officers put themselves in harm's way every day to protect the public".

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said it was "a tragic day" for Greater Manchester Police.

"A long and dark shadow has been cast across Greater Manchester and my thoughts are with the officers' families, friends and colleagues," he said.

Police had been offering a £50,000 reward for information leading to Mr Cregan's arrest as he was wanted over attacks that left a father and son dead.

Sir Peter said looking for him had been a "top priority" for GMP.

He said: "We have some of our best people on this operation.

"We believe that he has been protected by a criminal conspiracy to harbour him and we are absolutely determined to fully investigate that conspiracy and bring the people involved to book."

Speeding Car

Ian Hanson, chairman of the Greater Manchester Police Federation, said: "What we've got are two young girls who went out this morning and they've got an absolute right to come home to their loved ones.

"This is cold-blooded murder, the slaughter of the innocents."

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, said the killings had "brought shock and disbelief to the whole nation".

Witness Warren Shepherd was up a ladder cleaning the windows of a house nearby when the shooting happened.

He said: "I heard about 10 shots quite close... I knew they were gunshots because sometimes there is clay pigeon shooting in the fields.

"I heard a big explosion about 10 seconds after the shots. I got off the ladder, walked round, saw an empty police car.

"A car went speeding past to the main road."

He said he went back to his van but could see the aftermath through a gap between two houses.

He said the house where the incident took place was a council house which had been left empty.

He said there had been some recent activity with the windows covered in whitewash suggesting the house was being decorated.

The police flag at Greater Manchester Police headquarters has been lowered to half mast.The force has also opened a book of condolence on its website.

Association of Chief Police Officers president Sir Hugh Orde said the deaths were "deeply sad news for the police service".

ACC Shewan said Mr Cregan had been arrested on suspicion of two counts of murder in relation to the investigations into the deaths of David Short and Mark Short.

David Short was killed in a gun and grenade attack in Clayton on 10 August.

His son, Mark, was killed in a pub shooting at the Cotton Tree Pub in Droylsden in May.

A second man - a 24-year-old - was also charged last month with the murder of David Short and later remanded in custody after he appeared at Manchester Crown Court.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gangnam Style - Well Why not?

I ran into the "Gangnam Style" song by Psy when a friend sent it to me on facebook, right before it went viral (gotta keep the cred).  My wife just shakes her head at my love of J-Pop and K-Pop, I mean you can't even understand what they are saying! 

There have been so many songs that I hear for the first time, loved, and later had to leave because of their content.  When you listen to foreign language music, the voice becomes just another instrument and there is nothing to reevaluate later.  It also helps that it bothers 2/3 rds of the people you play it around, the rest are just "in the know".

Gangnam Style has a great beat and the little English it contains refers only to "Gangnam Style" and "Sexy Lady" (that part I always flash to Jerry Lewis for some reason).  The video is the right mix of Korean hipster and cheap glam.  Enjoy.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Will Mexico Ever Allow US Joint Operations?

I came across this article just now and its another sad reminder that the drug cartels operate in Mexico with impunity.  So many governmental institutions contain so many subverted employees that none stand against these gangs, as seem by their ability to simply tunnel into a prison and release whoever they desire.  The last stand seems to be the Mexican Navel Special Forces, the one agency that has a record of fighting this narco terror.   I have always assumed that the domestic Predator Drone program was not to spy on US citizens, but rather a method to allow US forces to at least observe current conditions across the boarder without have Mexico "loose face".  It seems that the violence has finally reached a point that the Mexican Government is considering allowing joint US-Mexican operations in their territory to combat these armed cartel paramilitary units.  The future will tell.  I do not believe we will be using these million dollar flying machines to run the boarder and catch fence jumpers, the only justifiable use of this expenditure is to help the Mexican Special Forces gain real time operational information for their operations and possibly in the near future ours too.

The Article from the Associated Press
Published: 18 September 2012 08:13 PM


Zetas drug cartel suspected in prison break that freed 131 inmates across border from Texas



PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico — Officials said Tuesday they suspect the brutal Zetas drug cartel orchestrated the mass tunnel escape of more than 130 inmates at a northern Mexico border prison, possibly to replenish its ranks after suffering blows from a rival gang.

Jorge Luis Moran, public safety secretary of the northern border state of Coahuila, told The Associated Press that inmates inside the prison reported that those who plotted the escape were Zetas members and that some prisoners not in the gang were forced to go along.

“Clearly, the Zetas are behind this escape,” Moran said.

Police are also investigating whether the prison break might be linked to seizures of empty passenger buses in the region that could have been used to pick up the escapees and an attack on police officers deployed to the prison Monday, he said. Four alleged criminals were killed in that shootout.

State officials said Monday night that 132 inmates had escaped through a tunnel from the prison in Piedras Negras, a city across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.

On Tuesday, Moran revised the total to 131. He said three female inmates initially thought to have been fugitives were found hiding in a prison visiting area, but two other prisoners not initially included in the original tally were discovered to have escaped as well.

The escape tunnel was 21 feet long and 4 feet in diameter, and after passing through it, the prisoners cut their way through a chain link barrier, authorities said.

Federal police units and Mexican troops, including 70 members of an elite military special forces unit, were searching Tuesday throughout the state of Coahuila for inmates who fled the prison.

The Zetas cartel has been fighting a bloody turf battle with the Sinaloa cartel in that border state. Moran said the Zetas controlled the drug corridor until 2010, when members of the powerful Sinaloa gang were sent to the state. The Sinaloa cartel is led by Mexico’s most wanted man, Joaquin Guzman.

Moran said the Zetas have also been hit by arrests, fatal shootings and guns seizures. “They are running out of people,” he said.

Collusion between guards and drug gangs has played a role in past Mexican prison escapes. Following the mass break in Piedras Negras, the director and two other employees of the state prison were detained for an investigation.

President Felipe Calderon called the jailbreak “deplorable” in a statement posted on his Twitter account Tuesday. He appeared to re-ignite a long-running dispute between federal and state authorities, writing that “the vulnerability of state law enforcement institutions must be corrected.”

Federal authorities have been pushing to have all state and municipal police and law enforcement officials submit to background and anti-drug checks, as well as vetting for possible links to organized crime.
But state authorities have been dragging their feet. On Monday, federal Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said that only 180,000 of the country’s 430,000 city and state police officers had been vetted and checked and that about 65,000 of those tested had failed the tests.

Moran complained that Coahuila’s attempts to comply with the vetting process may have been responsible for the low number of guards on duty at the Piedras Negras prison when the jailbreak occurred. Only 12 guards were watching over 734 inmates, after some guards and officials were dismissed after failing background checks, he said.

In February, nine guards at a prison near the northern city of Monterrey confessed to helping 30 Zetas drug gangsters escape. Not only did the Zetas flee, but during their jailbreak, other Zetas slaughtered 44 inmates who belonged to the rival Gulf cartel.

In December 2010, 153 inmates escaped from a prison in the northern city of Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas. Authorities charged 41 guards with aiding that escape.

State authorities complain that their relatively low-security prisons are forced to hold dangerous inmates being held on federal charges like drug trafficking and organized crime.

They have called on federal officials to take federal inmates out of state prisons, and some of the most dangerous federal inmates had been transferred out of the Piedras Negras prison in recent months.
Coahuila Attorney General Homero Ramos said 86 of the escaped inmates were serving sentences or awaiting verdicts for federal crimes, such as drug trafficking, and the rest faced state charges.

U.S. border officials said they were on alert, and Eagle Pass Police Chief Tony Castaneda said his department had received the list of 87 escaped federal inmates. No escapees had been reported crossing the border.




Monday, September 17, 2012

Its been interesting...

Well lets see how this year has gone so far.  Well I got pulled out of the feds where I was a TFO to sit in patrol on midnight's for six months.  I then make it to the day shift and some sleep last month.  I went to the dentist to have a cavity re-filled and find to my pleasant surprise, that I need full reconstruction because I have magically ground off the inside ring of my teeth (eight caps, full rebuild) to the tune of $15,000.  Oh did I say when I was pulled back that my salary went down $20,000?  I went to grab a side job and its looking like the idea situation it would create will not get done because the side job is being weird about the side job paperwork which is an industry standard that my dept uses.  So that's out.  I am my kids cross country coach and two parents went to the principle and insisted that they run the 3rd and 4th graders then blew a fit when I was not coaching them at a meet and of course not one person spoke to me about it.  I was planning on going back to school to receive my terminal degree but my union approached me and asked me not to put in for departmental reimbursement because we are in contract negotiations and the city as not even addressed that provision yet (why remind them of that).  My kids will not practice their stinking piano.  My ebay stuff will not sell.  Etc.  Etc.

All that to say, I really do not have any problems.  I have gainful employment in today's economy.  There are no serious health concerns for the family.  The family finances are stable and not in the red.  But I let the stresses in life ground me to a stop.  I most have spent, hiding from my current situation, eighty hours playing Batman: Arkham City (great game but not the point)

God is always in control and God is always good.  God just has a master plan that does not necessarily take into account my love for comfort and positive job growth.

This I know in my head but right now I do not feel it in my heart.  So this is where faith bridges the gap, I trust in his promises and will go where he sends me.  I just know that he is not currently sending me to my den's couch for eighty hours at a time.


Psalm 119:140
Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann May you rest in peace and you and your family find joy in the lord.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Blogger...A Suggestion of Conduct.


Wow this Blog is getting serious, we have a guest blogger! Today's entry is by a fellow Christian Officer. His perspective comes from a different place than mine. While we are both Christians, he only recently accepted Christ and has only just stepped on the straight and narrow path. I have served in a medium seized department for over fifteen years, our guest blogger, "Floyd" is under ten years with one of the biggest departments in the nation. He is also about ten years younger in age. His submission:

As Law Enforcement Officers we subject ourselves to many dangers on a daily basis. Of these dangers, not all necessarily threaten our physical well being, but our psychological as well. It’s ultimately what, I argue, hardens us. It can come in the form of a stare that you know, but cannot prove in a court of law, the bearer of those eyes is excreting extreme hatred for you. This goes all the way to the verbal attack on our justified, and what we take for granted, everyday part of the job.

Do people like police officers? I can no longer ask that question without a rather amusing smirk form across my face. Of course they don’t. Is it because they dislike us personally? Well, no. Most of those that we encounter don’t know us to make that determination. They dislike what we stand for; what out uniform represents. It’s like the hall monitors from High School. Did we like answering to them as to why we were in the hallway during class time? Of course not, the teacher allowed us to be temporarily excused from class to use the restroom or whatever else your reason was to be out of class. That reason came from a higher authority than the measly hall monitor. Nevertheless, we acquiesced to him/her.
So, when you see those angering, horrible red and blue, or in some cases just blue, lights behind you yes, they are meant for you and yes you will have to present your driver’s license and proof of insurance. You know you were speeding, just disregarded that stop sign about a block or so back, went through a red light, etc, etc. Did you scream and yell at that hall monitor when he asked to see your hall pass? My guess is you probably didn’t. Did you actually beat up that hall monitor after school? Maybe some of you actually did, but are you really going to go to such extremes as to step out of you car now and attempt to beat up the police officer that is now pulling you over? Some may answer yes and it has been attempted. Fortunately for law enforcement, we are equipped to handle such occurrences. Too bad for that young hall monitor, though.

By now you should be asking what’s the point. The point is when you get stopped, most of the time you know what you did. And the next time you want to stand up and take a hard-lined stance against crime and disorder, remember how you treated that officer that was “just doing his/her job” the last time you were stopped. There’s no need for the expletives or the demeaning of his/her position. Trust me, the officer knows that there are girls being raped and murders occurring. And yes, we are now going to deal with the fact that you were speeding. As any detective could tell you, fighting crime in an area starts with making public contact. That contact is usually in the form of a traffic stop or a street stop and then documenting that stop. Why? Simply because it tells those in law enforcement who is in a certain area at a certain time. And when you receive that verbal warning, you know the one you sort of demanded, that doesn’t mean you didn’t actually do what the officer originally said you did. The truth of the matter is, you did it; the officer is using discretion and not writing a ticket. Why? Probably because you were one of the few that didn’t yell and scream and actually admitted to your wrong doing.

Now for the twist. I have put a lot on the citizen. But an equal amount of burden must also be placed upon the officer as well. It’s a fact, people don’t like being stopped. You may have to deal with the name calling from time to time. Perhaps you caught somebody at a bad time. Just as they shouldn’t judge you for “doing your job” you should equally not judge them for being a bit irritated. Document your stop, write your ticket, or make an arrest and move on. Both you and the individual you stopped will, and should, get over it soon. I personally have become hardened over the years as a law enforcement officer, but we should work to maintain our own personal dignity and respect. We should listen to what a citizen says even when it’s clouded with verbal attacks. Sometimes they may just be telling the truth; it does happen. Of course, I usually fail miserably at my own advice and find that the angry stare as I mentioned at the beginning is also coming from me.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Doodle Ninja

I may have cross the boundary from simple doodler to ninja doodler. Can you find the place where I ran out of ink?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sequels


Sequels

My second tour of midnights has gotten me thinking about sequels. The second time around for a movie, album, book and video game very rarely achieves the success of the first. Since I am in the very beginning of my midnight patrol sequel, it is too early to tell if it will be with the common fate of the sequel (think bad) or the more rare but possible “good” to "great" outcome. The following are a series of sequels; some the beloved younger brother (EB) but most the despised next door neighbor (DNDN).

Equal or Better (EB)

Star Wars…Empire Strikes Back
Wow a great adventure movie with a happy ending followed by a great dark movie with the big reveal. What can I say that has not already been said.

DNDN

The Matrix…The Matrix Reloaded
Right after the first movie I left the theater thinking, “I don’t know what that was but boy was it cool.” The second movie got lost in its own internal rules and attempt to come up with a relevant plot line that matched the promise of the first. It didn’t. On a side note this may be one of the times that a serviceable movie that could have stood on its own was a victim of the brilliance of the movie that came before.

EB

Doctor Who
The First Run…The Current Run
I love Doctor Who. When it was announced that they were going to start producing the series again, I thought there is no way it will be anywhere close to where they had it with Tom Baker. Eccleston and Rose were not all that bad but did not equal the greatest episodes from the first run. Then they found Tennant and he and Rose were everything that Doctor Who should be. Then they find this Smith guy and it can’t possibly be as good but Amy Pond comes with him and it has me thinking it may just be as good as the Baker years (and if I have been drinking I may even admit that it could possibly be better).

DNDN

Battlestar Galactica…Galactica 1980

Space battles, the enemies were cool looking red eye sweeping around Cyclops’s shinny metal head, cool nicknames (Boomer), good looking women (I was just starting to find that species interesting), mission to save their race from extinction, a robot that looked like my dog…Lorne Green! Just to be followed up by dudes hanging around earth for no particular reason with no special effects budget. I was young but not stupid enough to follow the second series.

EB

All Creatures Great and Small…All Things Bright and Beautiful (James Herriot).

Two books that where a match for each other. Warm, witty, English, was the reason I tried to name my oldest Tristan and was accepted into the University of Illinois Veterinary program.

DNDN

The Eye of the World…The Great Hunt (Robert Jordan)

The classic tale retold many different times. Jordan had a village boy who was not important, found to have special powers and needed to save the world but now has to run to stay alive till he can save the world. The first book was well paced, the characters felt and acted real and according to the rules that Jordan had set up. Just flat out fun. Then he got mired in this huge plot line with too many people, too many things to do and too many loose ends. Each book, after the first, got longer and the characters did less, even worse the characters became stereotypes of themselves and started acting outside of cause and effect. Disappointing.

EB

Star Trek: The Motion Picture…Star Trek (2009)

Love me some Star Trek. I even like the first movie even though they went dark and arty. But the reboot caught it just right. Adventure, friendship, humor, the created a world where you would have loved to have actually been with them there participating in it all.

DNDN

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark…Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. The first movie is an adventure with humor and a plot line that keeps you guessing. It is in my top five all time. The second is a ride at the local amusement park, it just moves from point A to Point B looking to give you a thrill but not looking for a reason to care. It is another reason to keep Lucas doing nothing other than supervise special effects.

EB

Cheers…Fraiser. One is a fun buddy comedy about the times and trials of a group of misfit friends from working class backgrounds. Fraiser is about the times and trials of a group of family members and friends who are misfits, generally from a upper class background. They were excellent.

DNDN

X-Files…Millennium. X-Files was great gothic mystery theater with a conspiracy overlay. Did Fox Muller’s sister really get taken by aliens or was it the government or a secret third party. Just who was that smoking man anyway? Was that a werewolf? Millennium, first it was about tracking down serial killers at the end of the age. Then it was a conspiracy theory tied to the end of the age, then it was about…wait I quit caring and turned it off.


EB

Shadowrun: Never Deal with a Dragon…Choose your Enemies Carefully. This was my first foray into the world of cyberpunk. I loved it and when it brought in fantasy elements into the story line in the second book it got even better.

DNDN

Ian Fleming-Man with the Golden Gun and Jonathan Cape-Colonel Sun. I loved reading James Bond Novels growing up. He was cool, he got the ladies, he was gritty, he was deadly and he saved the world, every time. When Fleming passed away they handed the torch to Cape who sent Bond on a bland parody of everything Ian had created.

EB

ACDC Bon Scott…ACDC Brian Jones. What is there really to say. Highway to Hell was followed up by Back in Black. 32 years later and both songs are in my MP3 player.

DNDN

Van Hallen Sammy Hagar…Van Hallen Gary Cherone. I thought that no one could replace David Lee Roth but Sammy stepped in and held his own with some of their best songs. As comic book guy would not say, “Best transition ever!” Then they tried it again with Gary and promptly blew up. They sounded old, weren’t relevant, didn’t seem to be having a good time and sounded terrible to boot.


EB

Resident Evil…Resident Evil 2. Fantastic. It brought me into the world of horror survival games that I have never left. Then they took everything that captivated me and moved it out of a home and into the city of Raccoon. There were more than a few nights that turned unexpectedly into days playing those two games.

DNDN

Shadowman…Shadowman 2. The first game created a mythos that was unique and unexpected. The serial killers as bosses was genius. It was also very hard. There were many times were I had to back track for thirty minutes to find the place or device or item I missed. The second game was whipped out, bland game, with no story line, pointless quests and too easy. Well it was too easy till you got to the final boss who was way, way, way, way too hard. A total waste of time.

I could have spent twenty pages on this so I just decided to stop here. I will probably come back to it since the topic is full of examples. As much as I have days of midnights left.


Joshua 3:7
And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again-Midnight Shift Patrol


Well, I had thought that the good ole midnight patrol shift was behind me eight years ago when I had enough seniority to go to the afternoon shift, then the day shift and finally into investigations. God has a funny way of making the improbable, probable.

So here I am in my second week, back in uniform, back in patrol and back on midnights. It is a place I never thought I would be without sergeant stripes on my shoulder. Midnights (well really 11:00 pm to 7:00 am) is a strange place and creates a strange existence.

The first thing you notice is how you awake in the dark and go to sleep in the light. It really throws you. Every time I get up I have this one second of disorientation in which I try to figure out how early in the morning I am getting up. Is it three or four in the morning? Then my brain gets properly warmed up and I realize, oh, yeah, its 8:00 pm. The other thing is that at the end of your day its sunny out and yet you’re really tired. Since all of us has been programed from the beginning of our lives to be active during the light and sleep during the dark, you find yourself foolishly fighting to stay awake because you can’t really be that tired if the sun is out or so your brain lies to you.

The second thing that has struck me is how isolated and alone you feel. There is no one out here. In my eight hour shift I pass more deer, fox and opossum than I ever do with human beings. It brings out a Twilight Zone-esq feeling of living among people but not with them. When you are coming home from work, they are going to work. When you are sleeping, they are awake. Your breakfast is their dinner and your dinner is their breakfast. Your news is never current it is just a recap of the day. Etc.

The third thing is now I sleep alone. I have been married for more than fifteen years and only five of them have we not shared a bed together. Yet now when I come home, she is jumping up and getting the kids ready for school and she enters the bed right when I am walking out the door at night. I have to admit I have searched for her in my sleep, with that sleepy outstretched hand thing and came really close to falling off and hitting the floor when she was nowhere to be found.

Finally just some observations and situations that have come up:

“Why are you drinking a beer right now it’s 7:00 am!” But honey it’s the end of my day not the beginning.
“Why are you eating breakfast cereal for dinner again?” Well for starters it’s my breakfast time.
“Let set that appointment for 1:30 pm.” Um no that would be the same as setting it for 3:30 am for everyone else.
“Aren’t there scientific studies that show the midnight shift takes five or more years off your longevity?” Yes but so far the department has not accepted my proposal to have robots fight crime from 11 to 7.

“Aren’t shifts picked by seniority?” Only if the union will fight it when they are not.

“Don’t you pay a lot in Union dues?” We have a great BBQ once a year.

“What are you going to do for this whole year?” Keeping working and be joyful and remember all my friends that don’t even have a job to be irritated with.

And

“How is working midnights as a police officer different than the other two shifts?” It is easier; there are not any good or legit reasons to be out and about this time of night. Just ask your grandmother, she's right in her advice.

So as you can see I am in the process of coming to grips with it all and it will be interesting to see where this journey takes me. God is in control and he never seems to ask my opinion first before he acts. So when I have the ability to look back and see the context of this current situation I will understand, to a very tiny aspect, how our great and glorious God’s hand was moving to bless me. Until then, well…persevere and convince my daughter to stop asking questions at the foot of my bed at 4:30 pm.

1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.


Image Credit: NASA

Friday, February 3, 2012

Illiness


The life expectancy of a law enforcement officer that retires with at least twenty years on the job is 66 years (Link ) while the average life expectancy of an American is 77.5. One of the reasons for this, I believe, is how sick days are handled in law enforcement.

I receive one sick day a month that is rolled into a bank. However, once you reach a hour threshold in the bank (it takes usually 7 years of no sick days) there is a six and six split. So six days are placed into the bank but the other six days are put into a medical mutual fund. The medical mutual fund is tax free going in and if it is a medical expense, it is tax free coming out. Then after another threshold is met, the bank is maxed and all twelve days are rolled into the fund. At retirement the bank is paid off at the current salary rate and the fund leaves with you.

Thus the days are incredibly valuable. The tax free nature saves about 28% of the value of the money and the bank is an investment, that unless the governing body of the jurisdiction goes bankrupt, with pay off with a profit.

The bottom line is basically for every sick day not taken it will be worth about five days in a 20+ career.

The idea was that the city would not have to cover a shift at time and a half to fill the slot of the sick officer. However, in the long run the city will end up paying much more than one shift at time and a half. The officer knowing the value of the sick day will also go into work despite any current aliment and "ride it out". A result of that is a delayed recovery. It would be an interesting study to see if officers are sick more often and for longer periods of time. If that is the case it has to be a cause of a quicker physical decline as seen in the life expectancy in this profession verses the public at large.

So off I go into work tonight, sick as a dog. The flu has hit me and my family full force. I will put in a good nights work, it will not deviate from my normal production and I will be sick a few days longer than if I just stayed in bed and slept. Further, I hope I do not spread it around the station but there have been shifts were every squad was a virus vector.

2 Chronicles 21:15
and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A True Camping Story- 5.11 Adventure Contest Entry


Our camping outings have never been too successful.  They typically involve risk to self and others, destruction of property and the decent into insanity (well, not for me but for others…maybe I’m unknowingly responsible for our fellow campers shrugging off the coils of sanity and embracing the crazy woodpeckers in their head…but I digress).  The following is an absolutely true story.

So it’s 1990, I am a sophomore in college at Baylor and back in the Chicago Metro land for summer break to see my girlfriend (now my wife) and to go with my church college youth group to our two day Michigan Dunes camping trip.  It’s the night of day two and we are all sitting around the camp fire, sober, which is fine for a college youth group outing but extreme intoxication would have better explained our flawed/bizarre/idiotic decision making skills that night.  Anyway, it’s around ten o’clock in the evening and someone, I think me, suggests that we jump into Lake Michigan for a night swim.  My fellow suicidal campers think that this is a good thing and away we go into the water.   It’s cold, it’s dark and the twelve of us are utterly alone.  So conditions being perfect for safety and wellbeing, we decided to swim out over our heads to the “second sandbar”.  At our campsite on the lake you can swim out, way over your head and soon come onto a sand bar that you can stand on with your head above water.  But even better, there is a second sand bar, way past the first, that you can get to and its right about the time your arms and legs are burning and you are wondering if anyone will ever find your bloated corpse, that you arrive at the second sand bar.  So, alone in the dark, in the cold without anyone knowing where we are, we set out to go to that magical place, death, no I mean the second sandbar.  Fast forward to exhausted breathing, burning legs and shouted theories of blame, we arrived at the second sand bar.  All of us except my girlfriend who is swimming way behind the rest and does not seem to be using the classic straight line approach to our destination.    Being the gallant caring boyfriend that I am, I start yelling at her to hurry up and then threw out a few verbal jabs that my fellow sand bar-eians thought was the cat’s meow.  It soon occurred to me that something was amiss.  My short Italian sweetie was always ready with a quick verbal counter thrust.  I started watching her progress and when it ceased to be a horizontal progression and instead turned to a negative y axis motion, I realized she was in real trouble (something about no longer being able to continue on top of the water concerned me for some reason).  I raced over to where I last saw her and swam down and grabbed her and pulled her back to the surface.   Sputtering from her thirty seconds of submersion, I swam her back to the second sand bar for her to catch her breath.  When we arrived, the ten other sand bar guests inquired as to her condition and we were all informed in an exasperated sarcastic voice, that she had developed a muscle cramp (she then pointed at me) said  “But because this big idiot wouldn’t shut up, no one could hear me calling for help!”  (Ah, yes, the beginning of a fine series of “no matter what happens it’s my fault” declarations.  A program that would become the backbone to our relationship. ) With the near drowning putting a cramp in our water plans we decided to return to shore with me pulling my girlfriend along, swimming for two, in a physical act of penance.
 
Arriving on shore we quickly dragged our bodies back to the campfire that we had forgotten to put out and had grown to burning the wood pile outside of its retaining wall of found stones.  Quickly throwing all the burning logs into the center of the stones we sat down and began to drink our remaining supply of pop and water.  I decided to prank our exhausted group with a pop bomb.  I covertly took a six pack of diet Pepsi and pretending to stoke the fire, I placed the cans into its heart, giggling like the Hamburgler  right before Ronald catches him fleeing with his hot beefy bounty.  I then used my college math skills, when I figured that the last time I put a can in the fire it was funny with the popping noise and soda shooting out, it would be six times as funny with six cans.  I waited.  I waited with baited breath.  I got bored so I told my girlfriend so that I had someone to wait with in prankster anticipation for the pop and then our laugh at the surprise expressions of our camping-mates.

Then…BOOM!!!!  The camp fire flew into the air spreading itself evenly onto the tents and the assembled people.  A blessing for the cascade of diet Pepsi that came airborne with the wood was that it instantly turned the fire to just an airborne grouping of glowing embers.  The curse to the boiling Pepsi however, was wherever it landed, it latched on and gave a little gift of its heat to that lucky individual or item.   The campers, yelling in surprise and in pain for their minor second degree burns where instantly plunged into darkness that was dotted everywhere with tiny red dots.  A second then went by when someone shouted, “The tents!”  Yep, each little glowing dot covering each tent was one of our little friendly embers trying to burn through the covering.  The camp then sprang into action and with more profanity then what should normally be heard on a church outing, the embers were swept off the tents.

Suddenly there was a scream!  We quickly ran to our overwrought female camper and demanded to know what was wrong.  She just started yelling over and over, “It’s gone!”  We waited as long as we could, then shaking her we asked her what was missing.  She pointed to her feet and said, “That!”  We looked down and observed one bare foot and one foot shod with a sock.  You lost your sock?  We all asked incredulously.  She went on to inform us that this was her lucky pair of socks and she could not go home without it.  We then initiated a halfhearted search of the sandy camp site for the forlorn sock while our fellow camper stood with raised bare foot asking us every five seconds if we had found it yet.   Sticky, burned, tired and impatient we searched the campsite for the sock.  After finding three socks that belonged to owners other than our one shod female camper, I asked her what color the sock was.  She stated with an intense serious tone, “Sandy Brown”.  The assembled campers froze and stared at our “victim”.  Everyone then went into their tents without a word other than someone said, “Half luck is better than no luck at all”.  She then sat down and cried.

That morning we emerged from our tents.  Our sleep molested by the tiny holes in each tent that was perfect for letting mosquitos and water in and heat out.  We gathered our sticky burned and melted clothing and shoes and loaded the Pepsi stained van.  No one would talk to me and an active argument ensued that included my girlfriend as to who would be unfortunate enough to be forced to sit with me since at the last minute then had decided they would not be leaving me behind after all.  The matter resolved we left the camp.
It was a long silent eight hours.   

They do talk to me now, twenty years later.   But they don’t let me go to the Dunes any more.  I wonder if I outfitted them to replace their lost and damaged items they would change their minds and let me go…………….probably not.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

One Year through the Bible

I just finished my second One Year Through the Bible (Pictured) and I highly recommend it.  It is a great way to get into the habit of being in the word and in just a few pages a day before you know it you have read the bible cover to cover.  I just throw it in my bag and when I have a few minutes of free time I rip it out and read it.  I promise you not a day will go by when something won't leap off the page right at you and into your life.

Well the genealogies can be a little challenging but you can say you read them at least once.

Happy New Year



Its 2012 I hope and pray its a great year for each and everyone of you.  2011 for us was not the best; death in the family, damage to the roof, flood damage (on separate occasions), children struggling in school and the like.  But the Lord is in charge and it'll work out all right.


Hebrews 8:13
In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.