Monday, December 28, 2009

Lazy in Massachusetts

So, I've had the whole week off while I've been in the VolksRepublik for the last week visiting with the In-Laws. I've thought several times about posting, maybe throwing in a picture of two for the non-believers, but, I'm basically a lazy guy when I'm on vacation. So I didn't. I'll try to make up for some of that here in the near future, but thought I'd go ahead and fill you in on my holidays. First off, I hope all of yours were happy, and that you got exactly what you wanted, or at least, what you deserved :)

We drove on up to Charlotte last weekend to catch our flight into Yankee-Land. I, for one, had no idea it would be that crazy at the airport, almost a full week before Christmas. Apparently, the time doesn't matter, as long as it's the Saturday before Christmas. The airport was absolutely packed, and we stood in a line for almost an hour, just waiting to check in our bags and get our boarding passes. Though there was entertainment while we waited. Directly in front of us in line stood a couple. The gentleman was probably mid to late 40s, his companion a few years younger. The gentleman was dressed in a nice suit, a little flashy for my tastes with the silk and the bold color choices, but what really made the outfit, was the floor-length, grey fur coat he was wearing. I'm not talking a coat with a fur collar and cuffs, I mean beautiful grey fur top to bottom. It was like straight out of a 70's blacksploitation movie. The entertainment part came next. Do you know how hard it is to keep two small children under 4 years old from reaching out and 'petting' the 'pretty'?? Well, I certainly do now, and let me tell you, it was exhausting. But to be honest, that was the hardest part. The flight was smooth, the kids behaved, and everything went well. The only hiccup at all was dealing with TSA in Charlotte. Some woman who really shouldn't be in a position where she has to deal with people, got her panties all in a wad because I didn't push my little bin far enough into the machine. While I was trying to wrangle a 3 year old and a 19 month old as my wife was getting her own stuff into her bin. This led her to pull us off to the side, so that she could force us to open up my 19 month old's sippy cup of apple juice, which she was drinking from(!), so they could wave the sniffer over it and make sure it wasn't some sort of liquid explosive. Absolutely ridiculous behavior, from someone who should not be in a position of authority over a turnip, much less, honest citizens.

So we land in Taxachusetts, and make the drive out to the In-Laws on Cape Ann, bout an hour or so North and East of Boston. The temp there, is hovering right at about 30 degrees....Fahrenheit...and it was the high temp for the day!! Bad news, storm forecast to blow in that night. We get settled in, have a good evening, and toddle off to bed. I wake up the next morning, or should I say I was woken up by my 3 year old wanting to snuggle at about 0600. That lasts for maybe 20 minutes or so before all the squirming gets to be too much, and we just go ahead and get up and get the day started. I look out the window.....not good. 6+ inches of snow on the ground, still snowing heavily, and not predicted to end any time soon. I see shoveling in my future. My Father In Law confirms shoveling, but states it won't begin until after lunch. I watch the approaching hour with dread. You have to understand, I'm a good Southern Boy, and to me, snow means sitting tight for a day or so, it'll melt and go away. The biggest problem will be power outages from all the ice building up on trees, causing them to fall and break power lines.

When they say snow up north, they don't mean the heavy, wet, stuff the glops on your windshield and forms slush on the roads. (as an aside, whenever it snows down south, you almost always see cars in the ditches, and often as not, it's someone from up north who thinks they know how to drive in snow, they don't realize that in the south, an inch of snow on the ground means a quarter inch of ice underneath it, and there's no driving on that crap) The snow falling that day, was light, dry, fluffy, and plentiful. Plentiful meaning that by the time we got out there after lunch, there were between 12 and 14 inches on the ground, drifts of two to three feet, and still snow falling. Here's where the real craziness kicks in. I was standing knee deep in snow, trying to shovel off a clear spot to stand so that I could shovel snow, while it was still snowing! I don't know about you, but that's just unnatural in my book.

3 hours plus of shoveling, and you'd think the driveway would be clear. You'd be wrong. There was another three quarters of an inch on the drive that had fallen while I was shoveling, but I left that where it lay. I thought it was particularly tortuous, that might wife and Mother In Law bundled up the girls and brought them out to play in the snow while I was shoveling it. They got to go back inside when they got cold, I on the other hand, got to keep on shoveling :/

Aside from that, it was a great trip. I kept meaning to get on and make a post, but things kept getting in the way, usually either small children, or, after they went to bed at night, bottles that needed emptying. No apologies, I enjoyed myself immensely :)

One note, we flew back this past Saturday, the day after Christmas, and the day after the attempted airline bombing. The staff at Logan airport in Boston were exemplary. The only delay was because of weather affecting the flight coming into Boston, so that we were about a half hour late in boarding and taking off. Even then, they somehow made up that time while in the air, so that we landed at Charlotte at the originally scheduled time. Both the airline staff and the TSA employees at Logan were courteous and helpful, and restored me somewhat after my TSA experience in Charlotte.

Over all, a great trip, and I hope you all enjoyed your holiday as much as I did mine.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Concealed Carry Considerations...

Certain issues are rarely discussed. I notice when I read books, and I read a great deal, or watch TV, which I also seem to do a great deal, certain things are never covered. To whit, bodily functions. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's fairly rare that your read a novel, watch a movie or television program(aside from a crude comedy) where they mention the main characters sitting on the john. So here's a question, possibly taboo, that deals with an issue that anyone who carries a weapon, concealed or not, has probably dealt with, or if they haven't, should give it some serious thought.

What do you do with your carry piece, when you're on the crapper?

I ask this, because I see a lot of holsters designed for concealed carry, that are not retention holsters, and rely strictly on friction to keep a revolver or pistol in place. Most all duty holsters these days have some sort of positive retention device, that requires an action to be accomplished before the gun will be released from the holster. Be it a simple thumb snap on a Level 1, or the litany of digital gymnastics required to get into some of the highest level retention holsters, something actively holds the weapon in place. Of course, that's just duty holsters for people in uniform. I've seen plainclothes folk who don't use retention holsters. I've also seen duty weapons go skittering across a tiled floor when some one was in a rush to get down to business.

After the first time I saw that, I made sure that the holsters I used for carry off-duty, had some sort of retention. At minimum, the ever popular thumb break. Now, with the way they're making things out of Kydex and what not, I've seen, and even own one, those holsters that are form shaped so that the trigger guard snaps into a detent inside the holster, and requires either a hearty pull, or a thumb pushing down on the inner edge of the holster as you draw to get the detent to release the weapon.

I generally use a retention holster, affixed to a paddle. That way, it's easy on and off, without doing the jiggle dance trying to get it on my belt, and the belt through the loops behind my hip and then in front, etc., etc.. It also makes it easy to use the same holster for field duty, office duty, court duty, extraditions, etc., because I don't have to worry about whether the belt will hold up the holster without rolling, as the paddle slips inside my waistline. This set-up, also works effectively for the aforementioned pit stops.

Granted, things are different when you're at home, but let's face the facts, it's when you're out in the field, forced to grab something quick from a questionable establishment(Snowman's reference to a Choke N' Puke in the movie Smokey and the Bandit comes to mind), that you're going to have to hit the crapper, possibly urgently, in an unfamiliar setting. So what are you going to do with that weapon when the time comes?

I generally try to avail myself of a Handicapped stall. I'm guessing Handicapped isn't the appropriately PC term anymore, but I figure you'll understand what I mean. They generally have a handrail on at least one side, if not both sides of the stall. I've found that a holster with a paddle snugs right down into the gap between the rail and the wall quite nicely, and is secure. Not that I expect to be assaulted when in the crapper, but it'd be hell to be sitting there, and see an arm come over the top of the stall door, and snag that duty belt, rig and all, and lift it off the hook on the back of the door, and not really be in a position to hop up and do anything about it. I've also noticed, usually on uniform guys, that weapon flopping loose as pants and duty belt are around the ankles. If someone knew the trick to getting a weapon out of a particular holster, all it would take would be reaching down and grabbing it. By the time the 'sitter' realized what was happening, it would be too late.

So, what do you do with your piece when you're sitting on the porcelain throne, in an unfamiliar setting? If you haven't thought about it, you should, as the situation is bound to arise, sooner or later. Probably sooner if you eat a lot of low-end food prepared and served by folks that are probably my regulars :p

Take care all,


Friday, November 20, 2009

Work is affecting my vision....

Not that I need glasses or anything, but I've come to realize that my work has definitely colored how I look at the world around me, and those within it.

I came to this realization, after an incident that occurred while eating lunch in our break room the other day. One of the other agents brought some magazines in and left them in the break room. I don't recall the title, but it seems to be a magazine geared towards women, and especially mothers who are home makers. At least, that's how it seems to me, I could be way off base as to their target audience. Anyway, there was an article written in it, and the woman writing it was talking about how whenever she got ready to take her kids out, she always thought about how dangerous it is outside the home. I'm thinking that's probably something that's good to be aware of. Then I read the next sentence, where she listed the dangers that concern her and make her nervous about taking her kids out. Germy door handles, car exhaust fumes, dog poo in the park,and ultra-violet radiation.

I was stunned. I pointed it out to my fellow brown bagger, Goose, and he expressed sentiments similar to my own. I'm thinking car need to be worried about the tweaking meth-head on the corner with the rusty steak knife in his waist band. Dog poo in the park..what about the sex offender sitting on the bench off by himself who's nervous tic indicates he's ready to re-offend. UV rays...what about the nice looking young guy walking along the side-walk who actually crazy, off his meds, and the shallow breathing indicates he's about a hair away from losing it.

The list goes on and on. My wife thinks I'm being dramatic when I see a car stop on the road in front of our house, slowly back up twenty feet, pull forward again, and go back and forth several more times, and I step to the door with a gun in hand as I peer out to see what's going on. It occurs to me, that she knows about the guy who lives four doors down from us that is under supervision because he killed someone(because I told her about it so she would be aware), but I don't tell her most of the rest of it. She doesn't know about the guy who lives less than a mile from our house(which is pretty close out here in the sticks) that's a convicted child molester. She doesn't know about the red-necked dirt bag that cooks methamphetamine less than 4 miles from our house, who I'm assisting the Feds to build a case against. She doesn't know that one of the guys who I sent to prison for 8 years, has family three miles down the road from us, who know where I live, because they happened to drive by one day while I was working in the yard. She doesn't know any of the hundreds of disgusting things I know about the people living within a 10 or 15 mile radius of our home.

I deal with the dregs of society every day, and I know not only what people are capable of, but how many of them there are in my area. I also know, that living out in the sticks, there's one Deputy on duty in my area most times of the day or night. If I were to get really lucky with a 9-1-1 call, he might be only 5 or 6 minutes away, and any further back up, at least half again that time. He's a decent guy, and a good cop, but he can't be everywhere at once. That's why I approach anything suspicious with a gun in hand. As a Boy Scout, many, many years ago, I learned the old maxim, "It's better to have something and not need it, than to need it, and not have it." This goes doubly for a means of protection, when you don't know if the guy slowing down at your mailbox is just lost, or looking for a victim.

My wife thinks it's drama, I think it's caution, but it does occur to me, that a few years ago, before I started this job, I might have just walked up there to see what was going on with the people in that car. Now, I only go to the door and observe, with gun in hand, until the car leaves, or I figure out what's going on and can make a further decision as to what to do.

So while maybe not everyone is a criminal, with nefarious thoughts or plans, I tend to look at most people I don't know, as potential criminals, and assess from there. Definitely a change brought on by the job. Not sure if I should try to do anything about it, or if I even want to. Better to be too cautious, then not enough.....

Take care all, and stay safe...


Monday, November 16, 2009


Not your normal earwig of a popular song, but one from being a parent. I have the theme song from Dinosaur Train stuck in my head. You can get a listen here, if you're interested. It's a PBS show, which basically teaches kids about dinosaurs, and life, all at the same time.

I have to admit, between a questionable guy, in a purple dinosaur suit, singing about free love, and an animated baby Tarandon, singing a song about how everybody poops, I'll take the poop every time :)

Heck, if there have to be kid shows on the TV on Saturday mornings, it may as well be ones that I can enjoy too :) And the tunes are catchy too :)


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wierdness in the air last night....


Men In Black and their Nifty Toys....

Hehe, so last night, I step out for a smoke. I wander out into the driveway and am gazing up at the stars in a clear sky, when I hear a bit of rotor thump. Now, I'm no expert when it comes to flying machines. I'm not one of those who can sit around drinking a cup of coffee, hear the tiniest bit of engine noise in the air, and be able to identify what it is, how fast it's moving, and what direction it's going.

I did, however, grow up on and around small airfields. My grandfather was a pilot, and had a small, grass strip runway, so I've been around small craft most of my life, and am familiar with how they move, etc.

Anyway, I hear this bit of rotor thump from a helicopter, look around, and catch sight of an aircraft off to my north. I assume it was a helicopter, or rotary-winged aircraft for you sticklers, mainly because of the rotor thump I heard. It being pretty dark outside, what with it being night and all, I couldn't get a silhouette to look at and identify. The first thing I noticed that was odd, was that it had a red light on the nose, with an amber/orange blinking light flashing underneath and to the rear. I don't know what configuration of lights aircraft are supposed to run, but I don't recall ever seeing solid red and flashing orange on an aircraft as a kid.

The second thing that struck me as being odd, and this was really odd, was that as I was watching it fly almost due South towards me, I suddenly stopped hearing the rotor thump. I listened for a moment, and realized that I could hear, faintly, an engine running, but could no longer hear the thump of the rotors. Me being a fairly curious guy, I decided I'd watch this thing to see what else was going to happen.

So I watch this craft come towards me, closer and closer. I notice that it's fairly high up in the air. Most of the time when I see helicopters flying over the mountains, they're normally only clearing the mountains by a couple of hundred feet or so. This one last night was easily over eight hundred feet up, and probably closer to a thousand feet up. Now, that could be strictly because of the darkness and not taking chances, but I noticed it, so thought I'd mention it as well. So I watch this thing, heading towards the mountain I live on, hearing the engine noise get slowly clearer and more distinct, much as you can hear a car better the closer it gets.

As it gets closer to the mountain, probably a mile or less North of my position, it suddenly bears off to the West, and does a little curly-cue maneuver at about the spot where it looks like it would be over a small university ball field that's a few miles from my house. The little maneuver takes a few seconds, then this thing starts bee-lining due East from that position. I stand there watching it go across the sky North of my position, and suddenly realize that the lights have changed on it. It no longer has a steady red and flashing orange, but now has a steady green on the nose, and flashing white underneath. It retains this light scheme for the remainder of the time I can see it.

It heads East for a couple of miles maybe, and starts swinging back South, at about the point that it would start crossing over a nearby rural highway. As it starts swinging South, it looks like the southern movement, is just part of an arc described as they're moving West. This time, I'm looking at it as it moves South of my house, and it comes to a stop, hovering, about where I'd guesstimate it to be above a local, community ball field.

Interestingly enough, as it's hovers for a few seconds, I suddenly hear a half dozen or so rotor thumps, which disappear again, as the aircraft starts heading due North again. It passes maybe half a hundred yards West of my position, and of course, way on up, so I can only ever see the lights, and hear the hum of the engine. I continues to watch it as it headed North, until I lost it over the crest of the next mountain. This whole observation lasted probably ten minutes, or less.

I have to admit, that it was a fairly odd experience. I've never seen anything like it. As I mentioned, I'm no expert, but have we got helicopters in the air that somehow can silence their rotor thump, but not their engine noise? If so, could someone point me in the right direction to learn a bit about them?

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Name that book!

I'm reading a trilogy of books right now, The Fionavar Tapestry(hmm, can't figure out how to underline...oh well), by Guy Gavriel Kay. I'm reading them because a friend gifted me with them saying that I might like them, as they are about a group of college students that get magically transported to a fantasy land.

I immediately jumped on the offer, as I flashed back to a book I read as a young lad, lo these many years ago. Alas, these books do not contain the story a read mumblety-years ago. I'm about halfway through the first one, and while it is intriguing, I keep getting distracted trying to remember the story I read so long ago.

So I thought I'd throw it out on the net, on the off chance that someone that stops by here might have read that story, and can tell me what the name was, so that I can track down a copy of it for myself.

What I remember of it is only vague, and a little sketchy. It would have been early, early 1980s, not too terribly long after D&D made it's appearance, and grabbed the imaginations of kids(of all ages) like a bear trap. I seem to remember that the premise was that of a group of college age students, who got together fairly regular for a fantasy gaming group, run by someone a little older than themselves, possibly a professor type. The DM somehow figured out a way to transport the group into the D&D-type game they were playing, with the members of the group becoming the characters that they played. Two things stand out in my, admittedly hazy, memory. One, the DM gathered various sundries that would approximate the gear their characters would use, and stored it in wooden trunks, one for each player/character, to be transported with them. Secondly, and possibly most identifying to someone who has read the story, I recall that the player who played a thief-type character, was greatly into the role-playing aspect of the game. Consequently, the character he played had only one hand, or maybe it was one eye, I don't recall exactly which, but I do know the player was initially horrified after the transfer, to find himself so handicapped when he became his character.

Does any of that ring any bells with anyone? I've read so much fantasy since then, that I've totally lost anything else that might have been specific to that book, but I do remember liking it at the time. Of course, it could be absolute crap writing, but to a mumblety-teen year old boy it was amazing, and got me to branch out from reading almost exclusively westerns, to almost exclusively Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre.

If anyone had the faintest idea of what that might be, please, please, please let me know, so I can kill this niggle-worm, and track down a copy of the book for myself :)



Saturday, October 31, 2009


Hope everyone is having a safe and happy Halloween!!

I have ended up being one of the Lucky 14! Well, not so much lucky, as unlucky. I don't get to spend this evening taking my kids out trick or treating, because I've drawn duty for tonight.

I don't hold such a big beef with it, because of what the duty itself is. I'll spend the next four hours or so, driving around the county, and knocking on doors of Sex Offenders houses. Our teams will be all over our county, as well as teams from every other county in the state doing the same thing in their counties. We'll all be out making sure that the Sex Offenders are in their houses, porch lights off, and no bowls of candy to entice small children into their homes.

So, since I'm going to be out there trying to make it a safer place for my kids, as well as every other kid in the area I'm assigned to, I think I'll do this duty without even complaining.(well, maybe just a little complaining, what's work without some bitching? :P )

As I said above, I hope you and yours are enjoying the holiday, and keeping it safe. I hope that it goes without saying not to let the little ones at the candy until after you've looked it over.

Happy Halloween!!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Random Revolver thoughts and questions....

Just a quickie while on a break at work, but had a couple of thoughts regarding revolvers and was wondering if anyone knew the answer?

First off, why is it that Single Action revolvers invariably have the loading gate on the right side of the revolver frame, while Double Action revolvers have the entire cylinder swing out to the left side of the frame?

Secondly, are there, or have there ever been, single or double action revolvers with that loading action reversed?

Appreciate any help in getting this little niggling thought answered :)


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shooty Goodness!!

I really don't get out to go shooting as often as I like, or as often as I should. With two kids and a mortgage, all on a public servant's salary, it just often not in the budget. Thankfully, there's one shooting event that I always budget for. Each year, we have a locally organized Thin Blue Line tournament that not only gives us all a chance to go shoot, but raises money for various charities. You can read about the tournament and organizers, supporters, etc. here.

It's always a great time, all sorts of wild scenarios designed for us to go through. There have been scenarios that involved airplanes on the ground, a hostage situation on a school bus, and one year, being inside an ambulance when the victims rivals showed up to make sure the job was done. Great stuff all around, no matter how you look at it. This year was no exception.

I meet up with my partner at about 0530 yesterday morning, and we head to the office, where we meet the third member of our shooting team, and then head off to pick up the fourth and last member of our team. We arrive at the range at probably 0730 or so, and go through the registration process, and start wishing we'd brought more coffee.

At about 0820 or so, we hear the call to gather round, and we all amble over towards the command center to listen to the man in charge, and find out what stage we're starting off on. The range we're at is, in and of itself, awesome. They've basically taken a giant hill, and cut giant 'bays' into it's perimeter. This means that as long as you don't get crazy and shoot at the sky, and don't violate the 180 degree rule, you can shoot with impunity, and not worry about a stray shot getting anywhere near anyone else. I think the smallest division between bays is a wall of dirt and red clay 20 feet wide, and a minimum 10 feet tall at the outer point, going to over 40 feet high at the rear of the bay where it cuts into the hill. It's a perfect setup for multiple teams to all be shooting at once.

All of the Range Officers were volunteers. A great bunch of folks who, if I understand correctly, are all IDPA people, that use the range for their shoots one a month or so. They were great to work with, though they do have a rule or three that seemed a little odd, and took some getting used to. For example, at the end of a stage, or string, or whatever you like to call it, I'm used to holding my pistol up in my right hand, magazine removed, and slide locked back. That way, the RO can verify that the weapon is clear. A tap on the shoulder signifies that the RO has checked your weapon, and you can release the slide and holster up. The IDPA RO's had us demonstrate an empty chamber, then put the slide forward, and pull the trigger/drop the hammer/whatever your gun needs to not be cocked before we holstered up. To be honest, I can't really see the point of the extra stuff. If you've already verified that the chamber and mag well are empty, why have the slide forward and firing pin released? It wasn't even really an inconvenience, and only added a second or two to coming off of the stage, just seemed kind of odd to me, probably because it was my first experience with it.

We get off to our first stage and get the first shots off at about 0900. Our first stage was pretty straight forward, a few stationary targets, some behind civilian/no-shoot targets, a few moving targets who bounced out from behind cover and back again, and had to keep moving and utilizing cover as it became available with targets neutralized. About 5 minutes or so into our first stage, it started to drizzle rain. Usually, when you're doing things outside, and it starts raining, people start complaining. Not so at this event. As long as there's not lightning, we keep going, and everyone is in high spirits. I must admit to doing halfway decent on those first couple of stages. :)

Between stages, I dash back to the cruiser, and grab my rain gear, and it promptly stops raining :-/ I dutifully carried my rain gear from one stage to the next, even to the lunch break and back, and it dutifully got drier, and hotter throughout the day. Around the last two stages or so, it actually started to cool off, just a bit, and when we finished out last stage, at about 1400 or so, I stashed my rain gear in the cruiser, and then went to join the rest of the guys who were done to swap tales and catch up with the folks you don't see as often as you should.
It promptly started to rain.....

It wasn't bad, and didn't last too long, but it left me wondering if the mere fact that I was carrying rain gear during the day didn't hold off the rain. In any event, fun was had by all. Thankfully, there were door prizes and raffles to try and win, because there's no way I was winning for shooting. The majority of these guys that compete are all SWAT team guys, who get more trigger time in a month than I get in a year, and that includes hunting seasons too. Luckily for me, I got a door prize, and came out with a sweet knife. Donated by BlackHawk, along with a number of other prizes. One of the guys I know won a sweet, special TBL edition, 1911 style .45 from Para-Ordnance, another sponsor of the shoot.

All in all, it was a great day, with great people, and we got to shoot until we were startign wear blisters on trigger fingers!(or so the rumor-mill says :P) I swear, I need a job where I just get to play and shoot guns all the time....I'd never come home :p

Hope all you folks out there are having a great weekend, I'm off to nurse an ache or two that reminds me I'm not a twenty-something anymore :p


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

H1N1 - Swine Flu

I wonder if that title will engender as many hits as one talking about the Blue-Footed Booby?

So, I thought that with the last post, talking about the crud, we were just about over things. Apparently, not so much. My wife stays home with my oldest who was sick, and had some rough days, but troopers through it. Then my youngest got sick, but was doing ok. Just as my wife is starting to feel ill, my youngest gets a little worse. Fever spikes to just over 103 degrees, so off to the Doc we go. The wife is now feeling it full on, so I take the youngest while she bundles back into bed.

The Doc checks the youngest out, ears clean, lungs clear, fever down, lets do a swab and check it. 1o minutes later, she comes back waving a little strip around, and says that my youngest is positive for the flu. Not only is she positive for the flu, but she's positive for Type A flu. Apparently, here in Carolina, upwards of 95% of Type A flu, is H1N1, also known as the Swine Flu, late of main stream media infamy. Doc says nothing to worry about, everything looks good. There'll be a cough in the next few days, my oldest already has that, and it should last for a week or so, but no worries. If the fever spikes back up, then come back, because that may be indicative of a secondary infection.

The Doc downplays the drama, it is just the flu after all, regardless of what the main stream media would have you believe. However, when I call my mother, who is concerned about her grandbabies, and she hears the words "swine flu", I was totally unprepared for the drama avalanche. Obviously, she watches a bit more television than I do. It took about 20 minutes of fast-talking, and explaining that it was just the flu, and the majority of deaths associated with H1N1 occurred in patients who either had a pre-existing medical conditions, or were in at 'at-risk' population, such as elderly, or with an auto-immune deficiency in some way shape or form. Then, a couple of hours later, we repeat the whole process, only with my In-laws, who also watch a bit more television than we suspected.

So the wife finally wakes up this afternoon, fever gone and on the mend. Both kids are doing much better, and eating dinner with us, and I'm mentioning how glad I am that I got off with a mild case of this thing last week. When my wife says that she doesn't think I've had it yet, that all that crap from last week was just a regular cold in her opinion. Then she asks why I'm sweating while eating my dinner, to which I reply that it got awfully hot in the last little bit. This receives a raised eyebrow, and an accusation..."you're getting it now".

Ughhh! I surely hope not. We had a nice, anti-sickness dinner tonight. Grilled cheese, and tomato soup with enough fresh cracked peppercorns and roasted garlic in it to kill most any bug....I hope. I guess we'll see how things stand in the morning. I seriously hope I'm not just now coming down with this thing. I'm supposed to shoot in a Thin Blue Line tournament on Friday, and that's going to be kind of difficult if I'm staggering around the course with a fever and hallucinating targets. Plus, I don't want to have to tell me team that they need to find a replacement shooter with just one day to find them.

Remember, the flu, as nasty as it is, isn't as bad as the drama queens would have you believe. Rest, lots of fluids, and consulting with your Doc for high fevers, or if you already have some issues going on, and you should be fine in a few days.


PS- I really hope I don't have to miss out on the shooting. Too bad you can't put the virus on the firing line.....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Going Green

No. Not that kind of green. The kind associated with snot and phlegm.

I've been battling a round of colds and flu-like crud for a couple of weeks. Every time I think I'm getting over one, the next one starts. Comes from dealing on a daily basis, with people who's own personal hygiene, is not high on their list of priorities. Plus, add in multiple visits, to multiple different detention centers. Couple all of that with the fact that I also have two little ones in daycare, which is like the cage match arena for sniffles, colds, flus, and anything else that has ever even thought of being contagious, and you have one heck of a recipe for getting sick. Even with hand sanitizer in strategic locations, and well used, plus almost fanatic hand washing, it's almost inevitable.

I don't know that I mind so much, the little bugs I pick up from work, they're usually pretty quick. Feel bad for a day or two, then get rid of it and move on. However, the ones from daycare seem to be particularly virulent. One of the kids brings it home, and they pass it back and forth among each other, and my wife. I'm usually safe for about a week or so. I feel good at the beginning, but then begin to dread what's coming, because, apparently, getting kicked out of the bodies of my wife and children, seems to piss these bugs off. I get the same bug each of them has had for a couple of days, but only about five times worse than any of them ever had it.

Not that I'm making excuses for the lack of posting or anything, that's just laziness :p By the time I get the kids in bed at night, all I generally want to do is sit back, have a couple of beers, and read something while I wait for the early news so I can go to bed.

I do have a few new stories, nothing terribly wild, but a little fun here and there, and I'll try to get those posted in the next few weeks. Other than that, gearing up for Halloween, and already starting to think about Thanksgiving and Christmas about you?

I'm going to have another Yuengling, and see what other, more eloquent and loquacious bloggers have to say :)


Monday, September 14, 2009


Nothing earth shattering or deep to share, but a couple of random things going through my head.

First, having a water heater give up the ghost, and start spraying water downstairs, in the middle of your 3-year olds birthday party upstairs, is pretty much teh suq! Having my parents there to help keep things in order while I madly scrambled to shut off the water, release the pressure and drain the tank, and mop up the small pond in the basement, was a huge help. An even bigger help, while trying to figure out how we were going to pay for a new water heater, and have it installed, was my wife. She dug through some old paperwork, and found where I'd signed a contract with our water company over nine years ago. Said contract adds $2-3 per month to our water bill, but if anything happens to your water heater, they repair or replace it for free. Because it's free, it took two days to get it done, but $1500 and get it in tonight, or day after tomorrow, and we'll do it for free. Which would you pick?

Secondly, chicken thighs. They're fine when they come in a bucket from KFC, not my first choice, but fine nonetheless. We'd picked up a bag of frozen, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, inadvertently, thinking that we were getting the tenderloins which were on sale. Didn't notice the mistake until a week or so later when we went to pull some out of the freezer to cook them. Now, we've used thigh meat in various recipes, especially things like pot pies and stews, and it's always turned out well. However, it turns out, that you can't just cook these things up quickly, like you might a tenderloin, or boneless breast. Every time we've tried to do something quick with them, they've come out greasy and rubbery. If we cook them slow, they good, but quick, not so much. If you know any recipes for thighs, let me know, as I have a bag of them in the freezer.

The little pseudo RPG games you can download as apps for the iPhone are a little bit addicting. It's also kind of fun to screw with the little kiddies every now and then too :)

I've been trying to get my caseload numbers down recently. However, as of today, I have more people on my caseload than I had before I started getting rid of people. It's weird.

Speaking of weird, I recently attended a rather bizarre wedding ceremony. It was a combination of Judaism, Pseudo-Christianity, and alleged Native American traditions. I did learn something though. An open bar at the reception, makes up for a whole lot of uncomfortableness during the ceremony.

Lastly, there's an odd, addictive thrill, to watching people bid against each other, on stuff you're trying to get rid of on eBay. Makes you want to go through things and see what exactly you can live without :)

Hope everyone had a fairly decent Monday. It's beer-thirty here in Carolina.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Speaking of Idiots....

I made an earlier post about an idiot I ran into, so of course, I immediately start running into more. This latest one was not one of mine, or even of our agency. I'd been sent down to the southern part of the state on an extradition, for a young knucklehead who took off running several years back. He got pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, and guess what popped up when they ran the standard NCIC Wants/Warrants on his name? Some people just don't seem to realize that once a warrant is issued for you, and placed onto NCIC, it's there forever, or, at least until you get picked up, and the warrant gets served.

But I digress, the young knucklehead we picked up is not the focus of this particular tale, only a sidebar. When we got back with him, and went to take him in front of the Magistrate to have a bond set, there were several local deputies ahead of us. Seems the boys were out running a prostitution sting, and were keeping the magistrate hopping. The magistrate was busy enough that she was getting paperwork ready on half a dozen at a time, and then having them all approach the bench to have bonds set, going from one to the next in turn. She went through the bonds for our guy, a single charge from a deputy, and several pick-ups from the sting all at once.

The interesting one, was the single charge from a deputy. He'd brought in a rather large fellow, I'd hazard a guess at 6'5"-6'6" and ~280-300 lbs., on a charge a CDV/HAN(Criminal Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature), for which the Magistrate set a bond of $35,000.00. Now that's a fairly substantial bond amount for your average working joe, married, with kids. You could tell from the way this particular joe was getting red in the face, and screwing his face up, that he took umbrage at having such a bond set for him. Unfortunately for him, the Magistrate noticed it too, and turned to him with a raised eyebrow to ask him if he had any questions, or if there was something he'd like to say.

As an aside, I have seen people who had a high bond set by a magistrate based solely on the charge, get that bond reduced by the magistrate, before it was officially set. They usually do this by speaking politely, and respectfully to the magistrate, though I have seen some do it in tears, about extenuating circumstances. Children that have to be taken care of, a job that must be worked so that the family can be provided for, an elderly parent or grandparent for whom they are the sole caregiver, that sort of thing. Then pointing out that there is just no way they can make that kind of bond, and could the magistrate please reconsider it, so that they may at least have a chance of making bond, and providing for their dependent. I've seen this ploy used half a hundred times or more, and seen it work less than half a dozen times.

Big fella didn't take that path with the evening magistrate though. He blew out a big breath, and started off in a voice that conveyed exactly how stupid he thought it was, and proceeded to tell the magistrate exactly what he thought. He pointed out that when he was booked on this same charge, with the same victim, at about this same time, last year, his bond was about a third of what it currently was. Then he flat out said that he thought it was stupid, that his bond should be so much higher now than it was then. All the while, the deputy who brought him in, is jerking on his elbow, trying to distract him, or at least get him to stop talking, and thereby digging the hole he was standing in any deeper. It did not work.

Nothing stopped the big fella, until the magistrate told him that if he didn't watch it, he was going to find himself in Contempt of Court. This had the opposite effect of what you might think, and instead of subsiding, he got even more animated. At which point the magistrate informed him that he was being disrespectful to the court, and to the other defendants on either side of him, and that if he kept it up, he would find himself jailed for 30 days, and another 30 on top of that if he kept going, and another 30 on top of that. Even this was not enough to dissuade the gentleman in question, who kept right on going. At this point, the magistrate said enough is enough, and informed him that if one more word came out of his mouth, she would find him in Contempt.

The various LEOs in the courtroom at the time all had the same stoneface expression on(funny I don't remember a class on that at the academy), but the eyes gave it away for each of them. Some trying not to laugh, some trying not to shake their head in disbelief, some trying not to hang their head in weariness. Even the other defendants were wincing, and trying to lean away from this guy, so as not to be associated with what was going on. The magistrate had already pulled out the little slip of paper that is the order for confinement for Contempt of Court, and was just waiting for him to lose it again. She didn't have to wait for long.

To be honest, I was inwardly wincing, and didn't keep track of exactly how many Contempt charges he acquired for himself. I think three, but who knows for sure, except him. The thing is, even if he had to wait for a Public Defender, he might have spent at most, 2-3 days in jail before he could get a Hearing for Reduction of Bond, and then gotten out. As it stands now, he's got at least 90 days as a guest of the county, and even then he still has to make the high bond before he can get out.

Here's the tip of the day, if you want to debate a charge, or a bond, or even just a point with an LEO, or a Magistrate, or an honest to goodness Circuit Court Judge, yelling in anger isn't the way to go, because they're not going to respond to your urge for a fight. They're doing a job, and while they have a lot of leeway in how they deal with someone, whether cutting them slack or not, if the person is being a jerk, there's a clearly defined set of rules on how to deal with that, and they don't have to go out of their way at all to follow them. I'm sure this guy is now sitting in a cell, blaming the magistrate who found him in contempt, the deputy who arrested him, and the woman who got him into trouble in the first place, and will never see that each and every step that day was his own to make, and willfully chosen.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Idiocy is Staggering...

So, the other day, my partner and I are out in the field going to get some Home Visits in to start off the month. We're going to try and get one in for a fellow agent, who no one has been able to catch at home. He's a bit of a 'special' case, so we definitely need to get an Agent in the house at some point, just to have a look around, and make sure there's nothing illegal going on in the house. We figure that the best time to catch him would be early in the morning, so even though our job is nominally 8-5, we both are in early enough, that we're out the door and on the road at 7 AM.

Fortune is with us, and as we turn on to the destination street, I can see the subject out front at the end of his driveway, squatting down as if he is pulling weeds from around his mailbox. Partner whips it into the driveway, and I hop out and confront the subject. As I mentioned, he's kind of a 'special' case, in more ways than one, so what I'm doing when I confront him, is not putting on the big, bad, cop routine, but addressing him by name, reminding him that he knows me, that I sit next to the young lady who he reports to, etc. Not our normal procedure, but like I said, a 'special' case. Anyway, I start seeing the light of recognition in his eyes, and his posture relaxes, so I move on to the fact that we're out in the field doing Home Visits today, and his agent asked if we would stop in, check on him, and take a look around the place.

He acquiesces, and turns to start walking up his driveway towards the house. Partner gets back in the car, to pull it in a little further, and I turn to follow the subject up the drive, when our first visit of the day, takes a turn down Freak-Out Street. First off, I'm not thinking about any kind of fight or anything. I'm about 6'2"-6'3", and 200+ pounds, wearing a Glock and my Tac vest, which means not only am I armored, but I have batons and sprays and various nasties scattered about my torso. Not concealed, but right out there so everyone can see exactly how things are going to go down if it gets ugly. This particular subject is maybe 5'7, and 100 pounds soaking wet, so I'm not feeling any sort of threat from this guy.

Remember, complacency gets you killed. There are no 'routine' stops.

So this little fella, out of the blue, takes off running. Straight up the driveway towards the house. I'm literally flat-footed for about a second, mouth hanging open, thinking WTH? Then I take off after him. Now I may be getting old and out of shape, but that's mostly an endurance thing, I can still sprint with the best of them. It's just that my sprint has gone down from a couple of hundred yards, to about ten to fifteen yards, twenty, tops, before I remember that I'm not twenty-three anymore. So I take off after this guy, and catch up to him as he's dashing into his house through the entrance in the carport.

I catch the storm door with my left hand, as I place a foot on the step, and realize that the subject has not dashed further into his house, but is in fact standing right there, reaching behind the door for something. Luckily, we train for things like this, whether at the academy, in our yearly re-certifications, or just in-house training, so I can go into automatic pilot mode, instead of crapping myself. Adrenaline flushes through my system like a tidal wave, and I'm suddenly wired tight. The storm door is a faint memory, as my left arm is out in front, palm spread in a 'stop' gesture, I'm ordering him to stop whatever he's doing, and my right hand is in it's favorite place, wrapped around my Glock, and on the draw.

This is where my adrenaline high plays into the subject's favor. Everything is heightened for me right now, and I hear the clink, of glass on glass coming from behind the door. That's when it clicks, that the day before, the agent mentioned to use that this particular subject is , as part of his orders, prohibited from consuming any alcoholic beverages while under supervision, and that if he's been drinking, he'll try to hide the bottles from us. So, instead of continuing with my draw, I instead, stay about halfway out of the holster, step forward, and push the subject back a step. I look behind the door, and what should I see, but a plastic bag, in which are two , 40 oz. malt liquor bottles, empty of course.

This absolute idiot, just about got shot, because he was worried about us seeing his empty beer bottles. By this point, partner is in the house, I'm holstered, and discussing things with the subject, when the after effects of the adrenaline dump hit, and I end up with a small case of the shakes. I wouldn't notice I don't think, but for the fact that I'm trying to write down on the ubiquitous note pad all cops carry, exactly what it is we've found. Number, size, brand, etc., and I notice that my hand is shaking, just enough to be noticeable, which makes me notice the drain I feel in my body, as if I'd just run a marathon or something.

I'm sure the idiot doesn't realize how close things came to being a lot uglier for him that morning. I'm sure the only thing going through his head was the fact that he had to get those beer bottles out of sight. It truly amazes me that people just don't seem to grasp the realities of the situation they find themselves in when they interact with a law enforcement officer. You see it all the time on reality cop shows, people mouthing off or bucking up to a cop, drunk or not, they just don't seem to realize what's really going on. They just don't seem to realize that there are lines that shouldn't be crossed, because once they are, there's often no going back.

Ah well, all's well that ends well, and we've already laughed about it in the office. The rest of the visit was uneventful, as was the rest of the day.

The lesson reinforced here, should be remembered by all, not just law enforcement, because it applies to everyone. You may not go into as many dangerous situations as a beat cop, I know I don't, but doing what I do, I know that I go into a lot more dangerous situations than people realize, just going to the store. Keep it in mind always, complacency will get you killed.

Enjoy the holiday,


Friday, August 28, 2009

Th Doldrums

OK, so the term might not actually apply to my life currently, as it's pretty hectic, but the blog is definitely going through a period of the Doldrums.

Since returning from my brief vacation in the frigid North, where they have to write the current water temperature on a board at the entrance to the beach so you can decide if you really want to risk hypothermia for a chance to say you went swimming, things have been a little hectic. The trip it self was a lot of fun. We hit the beach almost everyday. The water was not unbearably frigid, though it was cold. To a good Southern boy, it was down right freezing, however, the temp board did say it got up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit one day. I don't know if I wholly believe that, because I swear there was ice in the water, but whatever, it was a good time.

Since being back to work, I have literally had to hit the ground running, and not really let up much. I've written out at least twenty warrants in the last two weeks. It seems like the majority of my knuckleheads who were going to give in to that summer madness, gave in while I was on vacation, so I'm playing catch up, trying to track them down and get them in front of a judge.

My supervisor is taking a personal interest in my caseload, she eyes it with a goal of reducing the numbers, and is finding all sorts of violations to write people up on. On the one hand, it's really nice having someone go behind and pick up all of the small details I don't have time to delve in to as much as I should. It's also nice to see my caseload numbers dropping below 170 for the first time in almost two years. On the downside, I now have hearings scheduled for offenders at least 2 days a week, every week from now until Thanksgiving, with some weeks having hearings scheduled on 4 consecutive days.

While this will definitely assist in reducing my caseload, it just liable to break this camel's back. I'm trying to get everything organized in advance, but will likely be scrambling to have all the paperwork in order, and forms filled out, and ducks in a row for the next couple of months, scrambling from one hearing day to the next. The organization is where I'm lacking. Luckily, my supervisor excels in that department, and will hopefully be able to help keep me sane :)

With all the scrambling, I've really only gotten out into the field one good day since returning from vacation. I had to drive all over creation, but nothing really interesting occurred. A few houses with dogs, one with a menagerie of dogs, cats, goats, and horses, but nothing really noteworthy. Well, except maybe for the burn pile out back of the menagerie house with a lot of aerosol cans in it. Nothing else obvious, but that pile will keep us on the look out for some other things.

I try to keep up on things when I come up for air, and I see that MaryJo's killer is finally having to face justice for that horrific act. Via the Coroner, and Wiki, I see that the horrific act may have been even more terrible than I thought. Drowning would be bad enough, but struggling in an air pocket, hoping for a rescue, and having it never materialize, seems to make it just that much worse.

I guess it's at least a break from the Pedophile Lovefest on the news anyway.

I guess I'm going to try and hold back this mountain of paperwork that's threatening to overwhelm my desk, and also try to catch up on all the blog posts I've missed reading recently. Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Friday, August 14, 2009

What we do...

Ranked in order on the Fun-O-Meter :)

My friend and partner, the Gunslinger, has an fun post up listing the things we do, in order of how much fun they are, most to least. I'd have to say I agree with his ranking, except for maybe the time spent in Court. I would move it up in the rankings a couple of notches, being, in my mind, more fun than Office Duty, or Reports. However, I also have a slightly different law enforcement background, that had me in a shirt and tie daily, and dealing with judges on a regular basis, so it doesn't really bother me. The only bad thing about court, is the down time, waiting for your case to be called, so you can present the State's side, and hopefully get a knuckle-head sent down the road and off of your caseload.

Wander over and give it the once-over :)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yankee Laws

Specifically, those related to the VolksRepublik of Massachusetts. Is anyone familiar with them that can enlighten me? We're up visiting the In-Laws, and I had an interesting discussion with my Father-In-Law regarding gun rights here. My FIL owns a rifle, which he apparently cannot use in this state, with only shotguns being allowed, and a German P38, that his father brought back from WWII. Oddly enough, he also maintains a Concealed Weapons Permit, though I don't think that's exactly what they call them here, even though he doesn't carry or even own a carry gun, and that is the crux of my question.

My FIL tells me that the CWP, or whatever you call the local variant, is required of anyone in the state who owns a firearm of any sort. That it is not just a carry permit, but a permit that allows state residents to own firearms at all. He also informs me, that even the sale and purchase of airguns, from target pellet guns right on down to the Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, is controlled, and restricted to those who own such permits. He does say that he's not certain about the permit being required to purchase the air guns, however, he does state that you can only purchase them at an actual gun store. No BB or Pellet weapons or accoutrement's in the local Wal-Mart or it's Yankee equivalent.

Can this really be true? Are the people of this unfortunate state required to obtain a permit before they can even own a weapon, much less carry it? Also, is it true about the restrictions on air-powered weapons? If so, how do little boys play at cowboys or army with out BB guns to fight off the enemy and their ever encroaching horde of soda cans and Neco wafers?

If anyone can enlighten and educate me on this, it would be greatly appreciated. I may have to reconsider how much time I let my girls spend with their grandparents up here in this bastion of liberal ignorance. I already have their first rifles picked out and the oldest isn't even three years old yet :p


Friday, August 7, 2009

The Sly Dog

When out in the field, doing Home Visits, or serving warrants, you always have to keep your eyes open for dogs. One of the things I've learned, is to watch out for the sly or sneaky dog. You sometimes see the dogs that are rabidly aggressive, snarling and barking and doing their best to get at you from whatever is restraining them, be it a fence, chain, rope, etc. Those are good, because you know exactly where you stand with them.

Then there are the ones who are barking at you, protecting their property, but are also wagging their tails. Those can be difficult, because they may come up and just sniff you, and be happy to have someone near, or they may be wagging their tales at the thought of getting to bite someone. I generally notate them as 'moderately aggressive' when I'm writing things up, because they can go either way, despite the wagging of tails.

There are also the ones who are just happy to see anyone when you pull up into the yard, and you can see that plain as day in their posture. There are also the ones who go slinking off as soon as you pull in, who seem scared of human contact. I feel bad for these, because who knows what has happened to them that caused them to fear people so much, yet still stay with their owners.

The last, I was reminded of this week, are the sly dogs, or sneaky dogs. I pulled into the driveway to check on one of my people, and beeped the horn. Now, my guy has three dogs, two big ones inside of a small fenced in area in the front yard, and a small chihuahua type, that stays inside. So why do I beep the horn? Because this is a neighborhood, and I use the term loosely, that is known for dogs running loose. At the beep of the horn, I get no response from the house, however, 6-8 loose dogs do respond, with lots of barking and wagging of tails. I remain in my car, reach over and flip on the power to my siren bank, and hit the air horn a couple of times. The dogs that are running loose start adding jumping to the mix of barking and wagging of tails at the sound of the air horn. I see a curtain move inside the house, and know that my guys now knows I'm out here waiting for him to come out to the driveway.

However, the most important thing comes not from the dogs I see, or the folks coming out of the trailer I'm parked in front of. It comes from my left, from underneath the little pick-up truck I'm parked next to. It's a deep, angry, rumbling growl that just about sets the truck to vibrating it's so intense. I lean over out of the window, and try to get a better look, and sure enough, there's a sly dog, or sneaky dog, that wasn't under the truck when I pulled in, but is there now, just waiting for my door to open, and my left foot to stick out from under it as I try to get out of the car. Apparently, the air horn has pissed him off enough that he unintentionally gave away his position. Once he sees me looking at him, he growls a bit more, then eases further back under the truck, until I can't see him anymore, and slinks off to what is undoubtedly, another ambush position.

My guy comes out, we chat, I get my business done, all through the open window of my cruiser. My guy comments that "...yeah, that one's a sneaky bastard, you gotta keep yer eyes on him. If he gets round behind ya, he'll git ya sure..."

So, keep your eyes open. The overtly aggressive and friendly dogs will be easy to spot, but it's the sneaky ones you have to keep an eye out for.


Thursday, July 23, 2009


Composure, and the ability to maintain it, is something that's very important in any profession where you have to interact with people on a regular basis. I would say it's even more important, if not a critical skill, for someone in law enforcement. It's something that has to be maintained, regardless of what your true feelings are.

For example, let's consider the following tableau that I experienced today. Our office receives a tip, that someone we have a warrant out for, is at a location just outside of the city limits. It's a small trailer park. Now that might immediately conjure visions of rednecks into your minds, but you'd be wrong. We have, in my experience, four different types of trailer parks in our area. The first, is what you might expect, mostly white, mostly redneck types. The second, would be composed mostly of Hispanics, and the third, mostly of blacks. These first three, while being separated from each other, based almost solely on skin tone and language differences, all share some common things. They are almost universally composed of older trailers, very run-down, and the people who live in them don't do anything to improve them in any way. Trash usually litters the area, not just around the outside of the trailers, but the inside as well. Things are allowed to sit where they fall, and any pets people may have running loose are, at best, indifferently maintained.

The fourth, and final, type of trailer park I interact with is the nicest. The trailers may or may not be older, but they're generally well maintained. Instead of being surrounded by dirt, gravel, and weeds, they usually have lawns and shrubs and flowers that are neatly trimmed. Pets look healthy, well-fed, and are either on a leash run, or inside of a small fence. What type of people inhabit these trailer parks you might ask? People who take pride and responsibility in themselves and their surroundings. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, what have you. They're all mixed in there together, living side by side, and it's just like any nice neighborhood you might visit, except for the fact that the homes were once considered mobile.

Now, the place where we were going to today, was a small mobile home park, less than a dozen trailers, and fell into one of the first three categories. Skin color isn't important, but it was one of those run down and trashy looking places. We approached the targeted residence, with myself on perimeter heading around the back side to cover any rear entrances. As we approach, we notice a dog, a young Boxer mix, near the front door. Two entry agents make contact with the resident, and secure consent to search. The subject was not there, but was supposedly nearby, and on foot. The warrant team leader steps off towards the car and gets on the phone with the county sheriff's office to appraise them of the situation and probable location of the subject, as they have a warrant for her as well.

Meanwhile, myself and a female agent engage the residents in conversation, trying to see if we can find out any other information. The Boxer-mix pup is hanging around, and fairly friendly, when I notice another pup, similar to the first, peeking out from underneath the trailer. It's standing on three legs, as it's right front paw, is grossly mangled and swollen. We ask the resident about it, and he informs us that there are two dogs underneath the trailer, who have been hit by a car. He doesn't have a car to be able to take them to a vet, and he says he can't get Animal Control to do anything with them, they won't even return his calls. The other agent with me, is immediately on the phone, calling a friend with connections at Animal Control, as I walk over to peek under the trailer and see if I can see the other injured dog. It's lying there, under the trailer, with an injury to it's left hind leg. I know immediately that it's not broken. How you might ask? Because all of the fur and flesh has been scraped from one side of it's leg, and I can see the bones, and how they articulate at the joint.

I suddenly feel this cold, burning sensation building in my gut. I don't notice it right away, but my off-hand is gripping the butt of my baton and twisting it, as I struggle to come to grips with what I'm seeing. These two injured dogs were hit by a mini-van, that never stopped, two days ago. Two days of what must be almost un-endurable agony. Yet they look at us with tongues lolling out of the side of their mouths, and wags of their tails. That look of unconditional love in their eyes that confirms that these are in fact, young puppies, not more than six to twelve months old, and just want to please people.

That fire in my gut is now a full on blaze, and I feel the anger awaken within me. I begin to turn around so I can confront the resident, when I hear the female agent with me, start to get a strained quality to her voice, as she's alternating between talking to Animal Control on the phone, and questioning the resident as to the specifics of the incident and the injuries to the two dogs. From past experience, I can tell that she's about to launch into a tirade. I look past her, and see about eight people, in front of one of the other trailers, watching the proceedings with interest. In front of the trailer next to that are four more people, also watching, as are the six people at the next trailer, and the seven or eight people gathered in front of the last trailer in the cul de sac.

Reality comes crashing back down on me. This is not a 'nice' trailer park, and we're not in the best of neighborhoods anyway. We're easily outnumbered by the residents watching the proceedings, by about seven or eight to one. One thing crashes through my brain. This Can Not Escalate!! The stoneface goes on, and I step away from the trailer, and approach the agent. I tell her to stay on the phone, and get Animal Control out here ASAP, because we're not leaving those dogs here. Then, I get a grip on the anger, push the fire down, and turn to engage the resident in conversation, gleaning what I can from him about the hit and run on the dogs. I have to be polite, and understanding, as I listen to him explain that he just didn't have any way to get the dogs to a vet. He doesn't have a car, and he's not friendly enough with any of the other residents of the trailer park to get them to give him and a the dogs a ride to see a vet. I nod, and mutter platitudes to keep him calm and relaxed, while the only thing I'm aching to do, is pull out my baton and OC, and administer the beating this guy so richly deserves, then make sure both is knee caps are broken, stuff him under his own trailer, and come back to check on him in a couple of days to see how he thinks it feels.

This is where the composure part comes into play. I can't let what's going through my head and gut show on my face. As much as I believe that I would be morally justified in administering the aforementioned beat down, I know it's not going to happen, and can't let my own desire for moral justice, make me prod this guy into a fight. So I keep a leash on myself, make sure the other agent stays calm, and we wait while Animal Control comes, writes the guy a citation because they'd come out two days ago and ordered him to get medical attention for his pets, and take not only the injured dogs, but all dogs at the residence away.

I swear, abuse of animals and kids are the hardest things to see, especially as an LEO, because you can't do what you want to do, but have to enforce what the law says should be done. Composure is a difficult thing to maintain in such situations, but it's something you absolutely have to do.

My hat's off to all you regular patrol guys, who have to deal with crap like this on a daily basis. I don't know how you do it. I'm sure I would step across the line in short order if I had to see and deal with this kind of thing regularly.

Well, I'm off to see if a beer or three can't help me forget the look in that pups eye, when it licked my hand as we loaded it into the truck for transport to a vet. It was just heart-breaking.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jumpin' Jesus on a Pogo Stick!!

I mean seriously...what a guy to do? I keep coming up with interesting things(at least to me) that I'd like to post about, and then, as I walk outside to let the dogs out for one last time before they're in for the night, what do I see but...

Ayep! Another frikkin Copperhead!!! I don't understand where the bloody things are coming from. I mean I kill every single one I see. I killed this one's kith and kin two nights ago for the love of Pete! By the way, that's my Heritage Arms Rough Rider, single action .22 LR in the picture there with it. This one measure out to about 22 inches. An inch or so shorter than his brother/cousin/whatever the other night, an way shorter than the great grand-daddy I killed a couple of months ago.

I just don't understand what these things are doing in my front yard. My cat generally prowls around during the day out there, and the front yard isn't overgrown like the back yard. There's about a forty foot wide strip of woods between my yard, and the nearest neighbor's yard, but I don't ever hear them complaining about snakes.

I swear, it's like I'm cursed or something, with some sort of magnetism for snakes. Which wouldn't be too bad, except for the fact that the ones that most often come calling, are frikkin poisonous!! Poisonous snakes just give me the willies.

Of course, with two snakes, each almost two feet long, in three nights, my wife is hinting at handbags, shoes, gloves, etc., that could be made from there skins. That just ain't gonna happen though. Even dead, they still give me the willies. I swear, I could go to start skinning one of them, and that thing would turn and bit the crap out of me. Leastways, that's the way it plays out in my head...

I live out in the sticks, which I like, but I just can't seem to get away from the poisonous snakes. Does anyone know of any way to get rid of them without clear-cutting my land and paving it over? It's to the point where I'm almost contemplating going out and purchasing a few King Snakes, and releasing them near my house so that they can deal with the Copperheads. I just worry about how they might interact with the Black Rat snakes in the area, of which I know I have two, one 4.5 feet, and the other about 3 feet. Though I haven't seen the 7 foot long one in a few years, I'm willing to bet it might still be around as well. Anyone know how Black snakes and King snakes get along?


PS- And to add insult to injury, I'm now down to 4 CCI shot shells for my .22 . I'll have to see if I can find any for sale at a reasonable price locally. From the way things have been going, it looks like I'm going to need quite a few more this summer....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Threat Assessment

To set the stage, I live in a house on the side of a mountain. Not a big mountain by any means, but big enough to where any flat spots in my yard are cut back into the mountain, and have a retaining wall holding up what was not cut away. You may also remember that several months ago, I had sort of a snake infestation. It didn't seem that I could walk out of my front door without tripping over a Black Rat Snake, or espying a Copperhead. The copperheads are poisonous, and I kil and dispose of them, while I just try to shoo off any snakes that aren't poisonous. Usually the Black Rate Snake. This weekend, I saw an interesting Red-Bellied Snake. I see them occasionally in the yard, along with Ring-Necked snakes, and Worm snakes. Those three are all small, usually a twelve inches or less, and not even as big around as a number two pencil.

Anyway, I see this snake lying at the foot of the steps in the driveway. It has no real discernible pattern on it, just a dark grey with faint, darker lines running the length of it's body. I notice a slight tan discoloration to either side of its neck, just behind the head. After doing some research, it turns out the the Red-Bellied snake, and the Ring-Necked snaked, will sometimes cross-breed, producing a critter like what is before me. Interesting. Must be the hyphens that let them get along so well :)

Anyway, after not seeing any snaked for a month or two, I was happy that this one was small, and innocuous. Then, last night, as I step out front for a last smoke( ja vu anyone?) I get about halfway out the door when I notice something slithering along the top of the four foot retaining wall, about fourteen feet in front of me.

This is where the threat assessment part comes in. I mention it because it seems so odd to me. I did not identify the snake as a Copperhead, and therefore a threat. I did not identify the snake as poisonous, and therefore a threat. What I did, as I backpedaled into the house, was identify the snake slithering along the wall as "not a black snake". I was already grabbing the Rough Rider, loaded with shot, out of the holster, and heading back towards the front door, when it finally clicked in my head that the pattern I saw in the scales as it slithered along meant that it was in fact a Copperhead, and about twenty-three inches long judging from the distance it was stretched along the wall.

I step back out side, and of course, it's gone. However, I saw where it was going, and it wasn't moving fast, so I thumbed the hammer back, and stepped up within a couple of feet of the retaining wall, just forward of where I last saw the snake. The light from the porch caught the snakes eye as it lifted its head towards me to assess what I was, and I was able to draw a bead on it, and dispatch it quite easily. Still got a case of the willies when disposing of the carcass, as even though the head was so much mush, the body was still responding to touch, and trying to curl around the rake I was using to pick it up.

The thing that got me thinking was about how I assessed the threat in my head. As I mentioned, I did not immediately identify it as a poisonous snake, and therefore a threat. What I did, mentally, was identify it is not a black snake, which I know is benign, and therefore a possible threat to be identified after I had something in hand to kill it with. My brain caught up with itself such that I had identified it before I got back to it, but it was interested that i first determined that it was not immediately benign, and therefore a potential threat, to be identified at gun point.

I don't know if that's something I do normally, or only with snakes, as this was the first time I realized the thought process going on. I'll have to pay more attention to the thought process when engaged in job related activities where threats are of the two-legged variety, and see if I can recall how I assess things. If it follows along the same lines as what happened last night, then I would assume, that I would immediately identify Friendly and Not-Friendly. With the Not-Friendly designation not necessarily being a threat, or an Unfriendly, but needing futher examination to make that determination.

Hope you had a good weekend.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Heritage? Hate? Or just plain Ignorance?

So I saw a post debating heritage or hate in regards to the 'rebel' flag. This just happens to be a pet peeve of mine, so I decided to make a post about it, and see if I couldn't spread the word just a little bit. I'm going to use some images gathered from around teh web, as I can't seem to find my own image files for flags, but will credit them where linked.

This was the first 'Official' flag of the Confederacy. It was called the Stars and Bars, for what I assume are obvious reasons. In some battles, it became difficult to distinguish between Union troops and Confederate troops based solely on the flags flying above the units because of the similarity between the Stars and Stripes, and the Stars and Bars. Hence the need was felt to design a new flag that did not so closely resemble the flag of the Union armies.

This flag, which was the second 'Official' flag of the Confederacy, was called the Stainless. Because of the great expanse of pure white cloth(hence the name) it was sometimes confused with a flag of parley or surrender on the battlefield, especially when there was no wind blowing, and the flag would hang limp. This was also thought to be a bad thing, and so it was decided to alter the design a bit to prevent that confusion.

This flag, was meant to be the third 'official' flag of the confederacy, but was never ratified and adopted by the Confederate congress, the war having ended before such resolution could be brought to the floor for a vote.

Those are the only flags of the Confederacy, in the big sense. There were other flags, that people try to point to as Confederate flags, but in reality, while they may have been flags of confederate units, they were not flags of the Confederacy.

I'm sure you all recognize this one. No, it's not the flag of the Confederacy, but is in fact, the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. The colors are a bit off in this jpeg. The red should be darker, more blood-like, almost a burgundy color. If my research is correct, this flag was always limned(out-lined) either with a white border for battlefield use, or with fancy gold for presentations.

Now this is the one that causes so much controversy. The colors here are, once again, a bit off. The blue is about right, but could be a tad lighter, and the red should have a more orange tone to it. This flag is, also, not the Confederate Flag, however, it was a Confederate Naval Jack. So it was a small flag, for a unit of the Confederacy, not the flag for everyone. I have seen a reference that states a flag of this design and proportion, scaled up to about a three by five foot size, and using the colors of the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, was flown by a single regiment based out of Tennessee, in the last days of the Civil War. I've not been able to track down any more specific information, but then again, I don't spend a lot of time looking either :p

So, the flag people are yelling is heritage not hate, is probably not a whole lot of heritage. Unless of course, you happen to be descended from a veteran of the Confederate Navy. It has definitely been used as a symbol of hate in the past, and some still try to use it for that purpose today. However, it's mainly just a symbol of ignorance, because in this day and age, it shouldn't take anyone more than about two minutes to determine that it is not, and has never been, the Flag of the Confederacy.

If you truly want to honor Confederate heritage, then fly the Stars and Bars, or the Stainless, but waiving around an oversized naval jack is just ignorant.


PS - All jpegs came from

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hate Crimes

I saw this article on CNN today, and it got me irritated. It's a commentary piece on Hate Crimes. The laws that apply to them, and how we're making better laws against hate crimes.


I think hate crime legislation is some of the most insidious stuff we have. If it's wrong to beat someone, or kidnap someone, or torture someone, or kill someone, then it's just plain wrong. However, if you called them a pejorative name while doing it, then it's extra bad, and you'll get to do some extra time for that crime.

What the hate crime legislation is doing is attempting to control what people think. If it's wrong to commit a certain crime, then it should be wrong regardless of why you commit it. It's shouldn't be worse because you have a negative view of the person or persons you commit the crime against. Heck, if you felt all sorts of fluffy-bunny-luv for them, you wouldn't be committing crimes against them in the first place!!

Proponents of hate crime legislation say it's there to protect the rights of gays/lesbians/Jews/Asians/Hispanics/(take your pic). However, hate crime legislation does nothing to protect anyone. The only thing hate crime legislation does, is enhance the penalties a person can suffer if convicted of a real crime, based solely on that person's thoughts and ideas.

That's basic thought control there. Tell them not to do something(the law) then tell them that while it's a free country, and you can think whatever you like, if you express those thoughts before, during, or after committing a crime, we're going to make things even worse for you, based solely on your thoughts and motivations.

Is the act, in and of itself, a crime? If so, then that should be the end of it. Your motivation for committing that crime shouldn't come into play at all. It's the crime that's illegal, not your thoughts or motivations for committing the crime. Unless of course, it's against a 'protected' group, and then maybe it is a crime to have thoughts that don't lock-step with what 'They' think you should be thinking.


PS - Ironically though, when a local chapter or set of a gang decides that it's going to initiate a new member in by having them go after a cop, that never gets looked at as a hate crime. Even though the reason they target a person is based solely on clothing and job choice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Interagency frustrations

You know, working for a state law enforcement agency can be extremely frustrating. There are so many other agencies that you have to interact with, and none of you use the same identifiers. We use a State Identification Number for each offender in our agency, SID for short. You'd think that would be universal, at least across the state agencies. You'd be wrong. State Corrections uses a totally different number, and who knows where they got that from. If you look hard enough at the DOC forms, you can find the SID number, usually not as prominent as their own SCID number, but there nonetheless.

Then enter into the Federal system. You'd think, that if someone is actively being supervised by a state officer, if someone else decided to pick them up, say on federal charges, you'd get notified of that. Once again, you'd be wrong. Unless of course, when the feds pick them up, they happen to hold them, however briefly, in the county jail. If that happens, then when one of our admin staff is going through the list of those newly booked into the jail to see if any of them are under supervision, you might get lucky and get a hit on it. Depending of course, on how they book them in.

I'm currently trying to track one through Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Seems he was released directly to them, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Now the Feds, have their own ID number system, but even within that, ICE has it's own special ID number system. Unless you're on very good terms with a local ICE agent, who's good at tracking through their computer system, you can't hardly find out anything about someone they're dealing with, unless you already have that special ICE ID number. Which they can't give you, unless you can identify the subject you're looking for. Which they're going to need that number to identify him. Vicious circle eh?

You occasionally get lucky, and can find that number listed on paperwork from SCDC, if they passed through there with the ICE detainer on them. It's not called the ICE ID number, or anything easy like that, but if you've seen a few of them, you realize that they're all in the same format, and can usually pick it out of the morass of jumbled letters and numbers that adorn their discharge paperwork. If of course, your lucky enough to get a copy of that paperwork. If not, then you have to get on the phone, and cajole someone in state records to sift through the paperwork, looking for a string of characters that begins with a specific letter, and has a certain number of numerals after it. Of course, if you want someone in state records, which is under the DOC to find something, you've got to be able to give them their version of the ID number so they can track it down.

Suffice it to say that I've spent the last few hours chasing down numbers and getting them all organized, just so that I can ask ICE what they've done with my guy. Of course, now that I'm ready, ICE is not. So I'll patiently wait to see if anyone calls me back, or if I have to start the wheedling again tomorrow....


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I the moment...

First, a bit of background. I work in law enforcement. In the past, I have worked for County Forensics. Doing a variety of things, from taking fingerprints inside the jail, to working Crime Scenes, to actually working in the Crime Lab for a time. I loved my time in the lab, but consider it a lesson learned about trusting people more concerned with politics than with doing the job. I took a position funded by a Federal Grant, under the assurance that the position would most certainly be picked up when the grant was finished. I guess we know how that turned out :p

In any event, I currently work with Probation and Parole here in Carolina. Now, Probation and Parole mean different things to different people, and the roles vary from state to state. In some states, they're not much more than glorified social workers, there to assist the offender with integration back into society. In Carolina, however, we are Class 1 law enforcement officers. We attend the Criminal Justice Academy, and receive the exact same training as any Deputy or Officer on the road, and carry much of the same gear. While we do make some effort to see that offenders get certain services, our main objective is to enforce the dictates of the Court and the Parole Board. If an offender can't abide by the rules, then we write out a warrant for their arrest, and do what we can to track them down, arrest them, and get them in front of Judge. If we're lucky, and we get a good Judge, they go to prison to serve the sentence that was originally imposed on them, and then suspended in favor of Probation.

Needless to say, they generally didn't get on Probation or Parole, because they were good at following rules in the first place. Subsequently, we spend a lot of time writing out arrest warrants for offenders. I've written three so far this week. Now, if we each went off on our own, and tried to arrest people, we probably wouldn't get very far. There's just too many of them. So what we do is form Warrant Teams. Several times each month, teams of five to eight agents go out, and attempt to serve arrest warrants for which we think we might have a good address.

Now when these teams reach a possible arrest point, we deploy out around the perimeter, in case we get a runner, and still have at least a two to three people ready for entry. Contrary to what you might see in the movies, or on TV, especially on COPS, there really isn't much drama involved in these things. The people on the perimeter, are really there as a Just In Case kind of thing. I can't remember the last time one of our Warrant Teams had to chase somebody down. Nine times out of ten, if not ninety-nine times out of a hundred, we knock on the door, ask for so and so to step out, and hook him up. We generally ask if there's anything he would like to leave at the house, or anything he would like to take to jail with him. If you treat people right, they generally do right by you. Heck, last week, as I was hooking someone, he said to me "Mr. Casey, I'm sorry you had to come out and get me like this." Now, while having someone apologize, for making you arrest them, isn't an every day occurrence, it's not that rare in this line of work, as long as you're professional, and don't make a jerk out of yourself. There's a fine line between being a cop, and doing your job, which a lot of people will respect, even if they don't like it, and being a jerk, just because you can be one and get away with it.

On the rare occasion, there is some drama involved.....enter the manly fun :) I'm out on a recent warrant team, one we're conducting in partnership with several different agencies, serving our warrants and theirs. We'd had a good morning, and picked up eight different people, no muss, no fuss. About six of us were enjoying lunch at a local diner, when we got a call from one of the head guys. Get our butts in gear and get to meeting place X in 20 minutes, there's a high threat warrant to be served, and S.W.A.T. is involved. We start over towards meeting place X, all wondering why we're headed there. If the SWAT guys are involved, there's just no way they need us, I mean, those guys are good at what they do, and we'd probably just be in their way. We get to the briefing, and it turns out that there are multiple targets. SWAT is taking the primary residence, while our team and another are securing a secondary residence, and everyone else, including K-9's, are securing a perimeter.

Whoa...butterflies in the belly time. This is not what we do. We're told that a firefight is a distinct possibility, as the primary suspect is armed and violent. There are also likely to be in excess of twenty people at the two residences, with an unknown number of weapons.

Did I mention the butterflies? Seems that these aren't your everyday, nectar slurping butterflies, nooooo...these are some sort of mutant carnivorous butterflies trying to eat their way out of your belly. Kind of like the critters in Alien, only with wings.

Anyway, we're all loaded up, and rolling out. The whole way I'm thinking to myself..."What the heck am I doing here. This is not what I do. I'm Mr. Laid-Back." About that time, the driver slams on the brakes, and someone is shouting "GO!GO!GO!" I can only assume that the carnivorous butterflies are unable to exist outside of a patrol car, because I never noticed them after my feet hit the pavement. The adrenaline is flowing hard as I come around the nose of the Vic and head across the street, drawing my gun and ordering people to the ground.

About that time, maybe twenty-five feet away, SWAT is making entry, and the Concussion Grenades(Flash/Bangs) start going off. Let me tell you, if you've never seen a good SWAT team make a high threat entry, you've missed something amazing. These guys were good, and moving like a well oiled machine. Well, actually, it wasn't a machine they brought to mind, so much as an amoeba of sorts. They were all clustered at the entry, and after the breach, and the bang, they just sort of flowed into the building. No wasted motion, no jostling or anything, they just seemed to pour though the doorway.

Drag eyeballs back to what I'm doing. We've got everyone that was outside of the building we were on secured. This is one of those times where everyone gets hooked up, and we sort it all out after the guns are put away. I'm on a corner, pressed hard up against the house, covering the guys who are covering the front entrance. I glance over my shoulder behind me, and K-9, several SWAT guys, and a few others have got the rear entrance covered and locked down. All of the sudden, here comes that SWAT beast again, flowing across the yard, up the steps, across the porch, and into the open front entrance. It's a thing of beauty to watch these guys work.

OK. So that's the fun stuff. Most of the work is pretty dull. Meeting with anywhere from 25 to 75 offenders a week, usually crammed into a single day, to try and keep up with what they're doing. A mind-numbing amount of paperwork. I do mean, absolutely mind-numbing. Even with so much of what we do being handled electronically, through e-mails, or our programs specifically designed for our jobs, I'm pretty sure that in the couple of years I've been doing this, I personally have caused the de-forestation of a small, South American country. Dealing with the everyday drama of being involved in other peoples lives. Also, there are home visits. You have to go out, and visit your peoples homes, to make sure they don't have bazookas on the wall, meth-labs in the bath tub, or dead things in the house. You'd be surprised just what we find. Also, I think the vast majority of people would be absolutely shocked at how disgustingly nasty some folks live. I've been in houses that were like a minefield of dog crap. Literally piles of dog crap, all through the house, including the fresh pile in front of the fridge, and all they can do is roll their eyes and say "That damn dog!"

Well, I know this has run on a bit, and rambled from topic to topic, but this is the short form of what I'm currently doing. I don't know how long I'll be doing this, or what I'll be doing next. I'm pretty decent at this job, except some of the paperwork, but I can feel that this is not what I'm 'meant' to be doing. I'll figure that out at some point I assume. I guess the most important thing to to find some aspect of what you are doing, and find a way to enjoy it. I'm lucky in that aspect, as there are several things about the job that I not only enjoy, I really love doing. So, as long as I can keep my butt from getting in further in the sling over paperwork, I should be pretty good here for a while.

Hope you're enjoying your work as well...