Sunday, November 21, 2010

Leaving on a Jet plane

Big changes going on here in Carolina. I turned in my badge and duty gear this week, and am departing this morning on a new job.

Turning in the badge was a really weird and uncomfortable feeling, but I think I've made the right decision. I'm starting a new job with a private company to do Forensics again.

Forensics has always been my love, and it will be good to get back into it again.

Lest you think I'll of me, I'm not leaving LE to go work for the defense attorneys. I'm actually going to work for a defense contractor, and will in a lab, on a base, somewhere in-country.

I leave today for training at a Naval base here in the States for about a month, then get to come home for Christmas. After that, I should be making the big hop across the pond for New Years.

I'll have to look into whether or not I'm allowed to make posts and such while over there, however, I should be able to squeak out one or two while I'm stateside.

Really looking forward to this new opportunity.

Take care all,


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nuns With Guns

Just thought I'd share a favorite pic. :) It's floating around the internet on too many different sites to list. Google Nuns with Guns, and you'll turn up literally hundreds of variations...


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sitting and Thinking

One of the nice things about hunting, is that it gives you time to think about things. I mean, what else are you going to do, strapped to a tree, 20 feet up off the ground. You sit there hoping that a deer is going to come ambling up that path any second now, so trying not to move, and almost holding your breath lest an unanticipated nose whistle, or the smell of the coffee you drank this morning on your breath spooks the deer off.

So thinking is about all that's left. One of the things I frequently consider while hunting, is how in the devil can a bird that small, produce a noise that ear-shatteringly loud?

Now I'm doing my part, sitting still and quiet, so the bird doesn't seem to know I'm there, when it lands on a branch of the tree next to me, just below my feet. I'd kind of forgotten about it too, as it just sat there quietly, waiting for whatever the signal was.

Boy I flat out knew when it got that signal though. It let out this ear piercing, trilling shriek that told every living thing in the woods that it was damn well time to wake up and get moving.

I damn near jumped out of my stand trying to dive for cover from whatever evil was about to latch on to me. This movement startled the little bird, and it flew off, squawking it's displeasure.

Now that my heart rate has settled down, I think I'm going to ease on out of this tree. I've been hearing a buck, a couple hundred yards East of me, that I just can't seem to lure over here. I'm going to see if I can't sneak down through the woods, and come up behind him. This never works for me, but sneaking through the woods hunting for something is always fun :)

Who'd have thought I'd be able to blog from twenty feet up a tree, in the middle of the woods?


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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Change of Seasons

The seasons are finally starting to change. We've been broiling hot here this summer and into fall, with my first deer scouting trip in September, being conducted in triple digit temperatures. Things are finally cooling off, though now they tend to get confusing. Last week, morning temps were in the 30s, with highs in the 60s, this morning, it was 70 degrees as I left for work, and 80 degrees on the way home. Add in the rain we've been getting(thankfully), with humidity in the 90+ percentages, and it makes for some miserable times. Everything is sticky with condensation, and the only thing air conditioners do, is attempt to remove some of the moisture from the air, which tends to freeze up AC units. Profitable time to be in the HVAC business.

The only changes at work are for the worse, which confirms predictions by the long-timers, who say that things are still going to get even worse before they get better. Caseloads are still going up, with no end in sight, and we're being asked to do even more with less. Just today I spoke with another Agent who I thought was a fixture at the office, but he has an interview on Friday with an agency a little ways up the road.

To that end, I've been doing a little negotiating myself, trying to develop a job in the private sector, and may have a contract coming up for some good, enjoyable work. Keep your fingers crossed for me :)

One of the things that has been bedeviling me lately has been a case a little north of us, up in North Carolina. I'm sure you've all seen it on the National news. Young Zahra Baker, 10 years old and already a cancer survivor. Lost part of her leg and a good bit of her hearing to the cancer. Then her father up and moves her from their native Australia to rural NC to marry some woman he met on the internet. She's currently missing, and presumed dead.

I am not ashamed to admit, that I was moved to tears when I first saw this story several weeks ago. This beautiful child who had already been through so much, and yet still was full of smiles in any picture you see of her. The indefatigability of youth I guess.

Then the ugly rumors started the next day. All of the neighbors came out to the news to say how they'd seen the Step-mother beat her any time they stopped by. How she went to school with black eyes from one of those beatings. How they new she was going to come to a bad end because the Stepmother was jealous of the attention her father gave her.

At that time, she was just missing, and I turned to my wife and said, "If they find that little girl, I'm calling the Sheriff up there and telling him she can live with us." No argument from the Wife on that one.

Then the angry started. All these "neighbors" who just knew something was wrong, and had seen the child beaten by the stepmother, and just knew she was going to come to a bad end. Every blessed one of them needs to be brought up on charges for failing to report abuse, and complicity in whatever they finally determine happened to that poor child. A few rides on a cattle prod wouldn't be amiss either for these lazy slime balls.

But as the seasons change, people forget, and the news moves on. Two weeks later, and you have to search for updates on the story, what they're doing, what they've found, what they're looking for, etc.. I hate that she's being forgotten already, mostly in favor of what some politician said about another, in the run up to November 2nd.

I don't know why I felt such an immediate connection with this little girl, but I hope it doesn't go away. I pray for her every day, and I think that it's particularly apropos, that on Sundays, I pray for Zahra Clare Baker, in the Monastery of St. Clare. I pray that she receives mercy, and I pray that those who have harmed her are brought to justice.

I pray that as the seasons change, I continue to remember that one little girl who overcame so much, suffered the ultimate indignity. I pray that maybe today, putting one slime ball away, might spare one little girl from a similar fate. That calling DSS about drug abuse in a home with children, might get the children out safely, before things get bad. That threatening one knucklehead with prison, who's not quite beyond redemption, might get their feet on the path they need to tread.

I try to hold my head up, and believe that what we're doing matters, but then one of these cases comes along, where we weren't able to protect the little child, and my head hangs with sorrow. This was not my case, not my jurisdiction, not even in my state, but the failure on our part wounds me all the same. It also stiffens my resolve. I will redouble my efforts here, to see that no such thing happens on my watch.

The seasons change, my badge is a little heavier, a little more worn, a few more nicks and scratches, but as yet, there is no tarnish.

Take care all,


Saturday, October 9, 2010


One of the things brought on by budget cuts and shortfalls in our state, is reduced manpower throughout it's agencies. That means an increased workload for the remaining personnel, including duties that were routinely performed by a specialized position in the past. In this particular instance, I'm referring to the no longer existing position of Victims Service Coordinator. We used to have a guy who did nothing but deal with all of the victims of the crimes our offenders perpetrated. He took advantage of the Early Retirement offers brought on by the budget cuts, and now, field agents deal with all the victim stuff as well. I'm here to tell you, it's a load of crap and a waste of time.

Now, before you get your dander up, hear me out first. I have no problem in dealing with real, legitimate victims. I will spend time on the phone with them, I will go out to their homes, and do everything I can to assure them that I will keep an eye on the criminal that hurt them, and if they step out of line, I will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

However, real "Victims", seem to be few and far between in this particular line of work. Most of the people I have to deal with claiming to be 'victims', have been Dramatized, not traumatized. I've got one woman who calls at least once a week, where I'm lucky to get off the phone in less than thirty minutes, and all she wants to talk about is how hard her life has been. Nothing to do with the actual crime the offender is on probation for, she's just using it as an outlet for talking about herself. Blow her off you say? Well, when that happens, meaning I don't return a call in response to a voice mail fast enough, she immediately calls my supervisor. If my supervisor isn't in, or doesn't return the call fast enough, she goes right on up the chain bitching and whining until she gets a hold of someone, who promptly rolls that ball of crap back down hill with explicit orders for me to get on the phone and stay there until this woman is satisfied.

We've become so scared of offending someone who might potentially be, maybe, kinda sorta, a victim of something, that I believe we've lessened what it means to be a victim, for any real victims out there.

What brings this all to mind, is that with our VSC gone, one of our responsibilities now, is sending out Victim Letters. This means, when an offender is in violation status, and is going to be taken in front of a Circuit Judge to face having his/her probation revoked, and being sent to prison, we have to send out letters to the 'victims', notifying them of the time, date, and place of the hearing, so that they can be present if they so desire, or submit a statement for us to present to the judge on their behalf. In general, this isn't a problem, however, one a ran across yesterday just really got my goat.

The dirtbag in question is on for multiple charges, the one causing me problems is this: Pointing and/or Presenting a Firearm at a Person. It's a legitimate charge. You point a loaded gun at someone, and that's a viable threat to that person. However, in this particular case, of the fourteen Victim Letters I was required to send out, only one person actually had the gun pointed at them, and was threatened. The other thirteen, were covered by the muzzle as the dirtbag waved his gat around, gesticulating and ordering the one person who was actually threatened around. However, every single one of the remaining thirteen felt dramatized to such an extent, that they filled out paperwork to be kept abreast of anything that might ever happen with this idiot's case.

Ever been at the range, and had some idiot cover you with the muzzle of a loaded firearm? You might be a victim! Even if you were 8 lanes over, with multiple people and rows of shelving between you and the idiot, you go right ahead and claim 'victim' status, because sure as crap, no one is going to gainsay you, on the off chance that you might sue somebody for Mental Anguish or some crap.

These idiots call themselves 'victims', like it's some sort of badge of honor. Like it somehow puts them on the same level as a real victim, of a real crime. They just want a few minutes in the spotlight, and someone they can complain to who can't hang up on them without getting their own tail in the wringer. They cheapen the title of victim, and take time away from people who could be dealing with victims of real crimes that physically, emotionally, and/or psychologically scar them.

No idea where I'm going with this, other than that whiny people with no real problems just torque me off!

Take care all,


Friday, September 24, 2010

Suspicious minds...

It seems, that I have a suspicious mind, or so my wife tells me. Not suspicious as in who is my wife talking to on the phone, is she having an affair? No, cop suspicious, as in, why is that car creeping by so slowly, or I don't recognize that mailman.

My wife calls it suspicious, I mostly just call it being aware of my surroundings, and what's going on. Though I admit, I do tend to look for the darker explanations first. That just makes for a pleasant surprise when the answer turns out to be innocuous.

For example, after a long day in the field yesterday, I got home before my wife and kids(thank God for small favors). As I stop the car at the top of the driveway, and get out to grab the mail before pulling all the way in, something isn't right.

I always scan my surroundings upon entering or exiting anything, be it car, building, or just a room. I have no idea what I've seen, because it hasn't registered yet, but something is off enough that I stop and do a serious look around me. Still can't peg it, so I start to walk around my car, and there it is.

About twelve feet into my driveway, along the right side is a cat. Black as night, mid-length fur, and dead as a hammer. There's a dried blood pool at the head, one eye is bulged out, and those ugly green flies are buzzing all around it.

My first thought is one of relief, because it's not my cat. Heck, that little thing is practically a kitten compared to my largish cat(22ish pounds). This cat, while appearing full grown, would be lucky to push ten pounds, probably closer to seven than eight on second glance. There are strays in the woods around here, and it's probably one of those.

Enter the suspicious mind. Wait a sec, how did it get into my yard, and how did it get dead? I pull on into the driveway, grab some gloves and a shovel, and go back to investigate. The whole time I'm remembering that a neighbor warned me the other week to keep an eye on the kids, as they'd seen a bobcat in the yard proper, and it was acting weird. Rabies is the first thing that popped into my mind then, and I'm thinking of it now as well.

I'm also trying to think if there's anyone I've sent to prison in the past who would he getting out now that might hold a grudge, or someone more recent, with a family member who might hold a grudge. I can't think of anyone off hand, but I'm not discounting anything at this point.

I reach the deceased, and pause for a better look. There's just a small amount of blood, and it appears to have all come out of the mouth. The only thing I can see wrong with it, at least visually, is the right eye is bulged most of the way out of the socket, and a little cloudy. The left eye is in the socket, and appears normal.

I can't see any signs of any kind of trauma, no obvious broken bones, nothing mangled, no apparent extraneous holes or anything. If it wasn't for the bulged eye, and two inch blood stain on the drive, I wouldn't know it wasn't just asleep. Except for the flies of course.

I go to touch it, and it's in full rigor, stiff as a board. I dunno much about calculating ToD based on things like that, but I figured it had been there for at least a few hours to be like that. I proceed to remove the cat out to the deep woods, and then start hosing off the drive. Luckily I'm almost done when everyone else gets home, and all they see is silly daddy playing with the hose.

Best as I can figure, one of the ferals must have been crossing the road, and gotten barely clipped by a passing vehicle. Not enough for serious physical trauma, just enough so that the trauma that did result was fatal. That, and knocked it, either flying or stumbling, far enough into my driveway to make me question where it came from and how it got there.

I will admit to keeping maybe a closer eye on what was going on outside last night. Paying more attention to cars going by, and noises I can't immediately identify. However, sometimes, the simplest explanation is the correct one.

Doesn't mean I won't keep an eye out for the darkside, but will still be pleasantly surprised when things turn out for the best.

Take care all,


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Sunday, September 12, 2010

In the Crapper!

Here's an pic of what I mentioned in a previous post. The holster is a Safariland ALS. That's a retention holster with a thumb activated release. I like it for the retention aspect, as well as it's comfort and low profile.

The paddle is stiff, yet flexible. This makes it almost forgettable on the hip.

As you can see in the above pic, it also provides enough tension to securely hold it in place when dropped between the wall and the handrail in a handicapped stall.

Now, in full duty rig, there's just no help for it, and you're probably going to end up hanging your duty belt on the door. However, when dressed for the office, or concealment, and not the field, this is a great place to hang your holster.

It keeps it right to hand, without having to actually hold it in your hand, and without having to worry about anyone else's hands getting on it.

Granted, this won't work for everyone, but I like it. YMMV.

Take care all,


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Saturday, September 4, 2010

From the porch...

I've had a stressful couple of days, so it was nice to see that the weatherman didn't lie last night. He said there was a cool front moving in, and move in it did.

The temperature was in the upper 50s, and the sky full of wispy clouds as the sun came up. I decided to take a cup of coffee, nothing special, just Folger's French Roast, and step onto the back deck to greet the morning.

Here is what greeted me back:

It's a pretty nice view, if I do say so myself. Sipping coffee, enjoying a smoke, and listening to the birds and squirrels wake up and go about their business for the day.

It goes a long way towards alleviating stress. I guess there's another reason I prefer not to live in the city.

Here's hoping all of you enjoy the Holiday weekend!

Take care all!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On the road again...

Posting from the road is interesting, and fun. Mostly because I am posting from the actual road, and not from a hotel or other waystop along the way.

I somehow got suckered into assisting another agent to transport a subject from the local county jail, down to an In-patient treatment facility in the state Capitol. Even though we called half an hour ahead o time to make sure the jail had the subject ready to transport, we still had to wait for over an hour for them to get their ducks in a row.

Normally, that's not so bad, however, today our delay meant that we also got tapped for a last minute extradition. So, after we get this guy settled in at the Capitol, we will grab a quick bite, then head to another part of the state, to another county jail, and hope the next prisoner is more ready to go than the last one.

Don't you just hate it when you cannot effectively plan anything out, because all of your actions end up being governed by those who do not feel your sense of urgency to get their jobs accomplished?

Oh well, at least I have my phone to entertain me :). I'll probably be doing the driving on the second and third legs of the trip, but for now, I can relax and play :p

Take care all,


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Preppers....Whadda ya know?

So I'm perusing the blogroll the other day, catching up on some posts by folks I enjoy, and stumble on one of Matt's posts. I can't seem to find it now, but I'm not looking that hard at the moment :p Anyway, he linked, I think, to an older post of his, where he mentioned prepping, and linked to a site called Alpha Disaster Contingencies. So I started poking around there.

Matt had mentioned that these guys were actual Preppers, and not fringe extremists, hoping for society to fail so that they could propel themselves to dominance in a Lord of the Flies kinda scene. Even with that endorsement, I went into it pretty skeptical, cause it seems there are always some wierdos that slip through.

I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised. These guys seem pretty tight. I'm not saying that there aren't a few things that seem a little 'out there' to me, but nothing to make you want to back up and try to slip out un-noticed.

It actually got me thinking about my own situation. I don't claim to be a prepper by any means, and our worst disasters here usually revolve around power outages during ice storms. We had an outage a few years back that lasted a week, and while we were inconvenienced, the only thing we really missed was being able to take regular showers. So I was feeling pretty good about how I might stack up.


These folks, from what little I've seen, really have it together. They got a good grip on everything, including who gets access to the majority of their methods and information. They apparently go through everything they do with a fine tooth comb, test it to make sure it works, then submit it to everyone else who does their own eval of it, before it gets boiled down to be considered a 'proven' method or technique, or item.

The only downside I see to it, and that's a downside for me, not for them, is that they're very selective about who they allow in to share in their wealth of knowledge. You have to be able to commit to active participation and contribution to even be considered for the probationary evaluation status.

At this point, between work, the kids, work, home repair issues, work, etc., I am unwilling, or just unable, to make the commitment required to get involved. Maybe later on down the road it will be something to look at. Heck, I've already got The Wife on board with stocking up canned goods, and even trying out pressure canning some things.

What I'd really love to do is sit down with one of these guys, and chew the fat for an hour two. There's gotta be a lot of great stories mixed up in all that prepping. Speaking of which, from what I read, there seem to be a number of them located right here in Upstate Carolina. If anyone knows one of them, and would be willing to make an introduction, e-mail me at GreycatSR5_AT_gmail_DOT_com. I'll buy the first round for a sit down at one of our local establishments, just for the chance to talk with one of these guys for a while.

OK, I'm off to see what else I may have missed perusing in the blogroll.

Take care all,


Monday, August 23, 2010

Did you ever wonder....

Have you ever wondered what you look like to other people?

I asked myself this the other day because of some interactions I had with people recently released to Probation. One thing I do like about our agency, is unlike other agencies who refer to these people as 'clients', we call a spade a spade, and refer to them as offenders. Mainly because that's what they are, criminal offenders who have broken the law. Apparently, some of them don't know that we know that.

I met one female offender the other day, who obviously thinks I look like Cletus, from the Simpsons.

Image shamelessly stolen from the website, that stole it from the website, that stole it from the website, that stole it from The Simpsons.

Just lift up those bangs to show the scars from the frontal lobotomy, and I guess you'd have a picture of what this woman saw me as.

Generally, when I'm processing someone, I ignore most of what they're saying to try and explain why they are on Probation. It's almost always a misunderstanding, or someone else's fault, they just happened to be the one charged, and pled it out just to "get it over with".

On a side note, I've never understood how committing yourself to seeing me for the next few years, with the threat of years in prison hanging over your head if you screw up, gets anything "over with", but I digress.

For whatever reason, the things she was saying just got on my nerves, so I started listening to her. She was going on about how she'd never been in trouble before, how she'd just fallen in with a bad crowd, etc, etc. Then she started squeezing out some tears, for pity I guess. That was the last straw.

I said "really?", and flipped open her file. So, you're on probation for crime X, hunh? Looks like you were first arrested and convicted of crime X in 1997, again in 1999, and again in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and this final time in 2009, where you were busted for committing crime X a number of times, over 4 different states. That's why you're actually on Probation for crime X-a. That little -a means "Enhancement for 3rd or subsequent offense", which why you're on probation for three years, for what is normally a 30 day charge. Because you keep getting caught for the same crap, you now have to deal with me for the next three years, and if you screw it up, you're facing seven long years down the road.

At this point, the tears were real. Of course, even sobs don't cut it when you just lied to my face, and I had to call out your life story. Sobbing and saying how this is the turning point in your life, and you'll be on the straight and narrow is also a wash. See those little sticks in the cup of your urine there, those tell me you've been doing three different prescription drugs in the two days since you've been out.

What, no viable prescriptions in your name? I didn't think so. That little screw up just cost you $500 worth of substance abuse counseling. Sign at the X, be back here Monday, and if you're dirty again, we'll ditch the classes, and you can explain it to the judge.

Just a tip, you might get away with the "I've never been in trouble before" coupled with a squeeze of the cleavage routine with some rookie still filled with idealism. However, pulling that crap with the graybeard holding your thirty page rap sheet, is just stupid, and digging yourself deeper before you even get started.


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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Deer Hunting

Went out to some family property in the lower part of the state today to do some scouting for deer season. It's only 50 acres, and mostly a big field from it's time as a grass strip runway for small planes, but oh my, it looks promising!

I knew about the blackberry patch at what had been one end of the runway, and thought that would be promising. I'd forgotten about the old Scupernon vine that had been planted so long ago though. Apparently, a decade or so of neglect just causes them to go crazy. It's huge, heavy with fruit, and about 8 feet away from a veritable deer highway, judging from the tracks.

In addition, wild Muscadine, and honeysuckle are everywhere. Plus, we found two different spots with wild Persimmon trees coming on strong, also heavy with fruit, as yet unripe.

Deer trails are everywhere, with one being so well used it has made about a 3 inch deep rut on the ground.

Prospects look very good there, and I hope to put several deer in the freezer this year.

I'll probably be hunting mostly with a shotgun, my Mossberg 500 pump. Anyone have a favorite load for buckshot, and choke recommendation? I've got a few Winchester and Remington 2 3/4 shells, and a handful of Federal 3 inchers, all in 00 buck. However, as I've never hunted deer with a shotgun, I am open to suggestions.


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Saturday, August 21, 2010


Trying out a new recipe. It's supposed to approximate a rustic European style bread. Got the recipe from a book by a guy named Jim Lahey. It's a " no knead " method. Basically, you mix the ingredients together and leave it sticky. Instead of kneading it, and letting it rise for an hour or two, you just let it proof for twelve to eighteen hours. Then a minor shaping and dusting with meal before letting it rise for another two hours. Finally, it goes into a pre-heated Dutch oven, in a hot oven with the lid on for thirty minutes. Then take off the lid and let it get some good color. Another fifteen minutes or so.

That's all there is to it. The long fermentation is supposed to impart a good flavor to the bread. I'll let you know what the critics think.

Other than dumping a mix into a bread machine, this has been about the easiest bread I've ever made. Including the initial mix, the after proof shaping and dusting, putting it into the pot, and pulling it out, I had less than thirty minutes of hands on tine, start to finish. I had to plan it out ahead of time, but it's almost too easy for bread to come out that well on the first try.

Hope you're enjoying your own culinary experiences.


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So I saw all of the squee over Blogpress. I realized I wasn't posting much because even though I have good ideas, between work and the kids, I have trouble finding time to write. Poor time management skills I guess :p

Anyway, thought I'd give this a try, as I can jot down things as they come up, and post from anywhere, not just my broken down dial-up computer at home.

So, this is the very first app I've ever paid for, can you guess those Scottish roots, we'll see if it was worth it :)

Take care all, hope to get to regular posting soon!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Never Assume

And in this case, I mean never assume that the people you work along side, do things the same as you do, with the same thoroughness, etc.

Last Thursday, I was out on an extradition. Nothing big, going to pick up a Sex Offender, and bring him back to get hooked up on GPS tracking before he's let loose into the world. Local prison, we get the guy, and are back by lunchtime, though I did have to practically go through a strip search to go in and bring him out of the prison in question.

Anyway, we're back before lunch, and turn him over to our GPS guys, and he's someone elses problem. I'm sitting at my desk, catching up on paperwork, when one of my teammates comes by, and says his relative has been injured in a fall, he'd like to be at the surgery, is there anyway I could cover an extradition for him. It's just a couple of hours up the road in Anywhere, NC. Me being a decent guy and all, and hoping someone would step up for me should I have a family emergency, I says sure, who am I going with. He tells me the other agent, and that she has all the info for the extradition. I give her a call, and sure enough, she's got the file, and everything is squared away, what time do we want to leave.

Now here's where the assumption came in. I assumed, that because a fairly competent co-worker told me everything was squared away, that everything was, in fact, squared away. Fast forward the clock to about 10:00 AM, the next morning. We pull into the the nice big sally port at the prison in Anywhere, NC, check our weapons, and stroll through the doors to be greeted by an officer holding a sheet of paper, and asking whether we want the good news or the bad news first. What do you mean bad news?!? Our subject is not currently in residence at this particular facility, he at the prison in Otherwhere, NC, five hours East of our current location.

I'm fairly certain that my jaw broke the table on it's way to the floor. I'm struggling to pick my jaw up off the floor, but I needn't have bothered. The agent I'm with says, but he was supposed to be transferred to this facility two days ago. Are you freakin kidding me?!?! You knew the subject was incarcerated in a prison on the coast, and you never thought to call and verify that he had actually been transported to a different facility?!?

We make our good byes, retrieve our weapons, get back in the car, and head out. I pull over at the first gas station that shows up, and get out for a smoke. I'm not sure which is producing more smoke, my handroll, or the top of my head :/ Of course, it's the guy's max-out date, so the facility in Otherwhere, NC is going to cut him loose today, one way or the other. Of course, since it's now 10:30 AM, it's too late to arrange for anyone else to get involved from an office closer to Otherwhere, so guess who's happy butt is getting to drive another five hours to the coast, to pick up someone, because the people in charge of arranging this cluster, all assumed someone else had ensured that everything was happening like they hoped it would?

We finally made it back to the office, late that night, fourteen hours after departing that morning. Talk about a long, sucky day. I swear, I will never assume that anyone I work with is competent at their job, merely because they appear so. I don't care if it makes me look like a prick, but I'll be going behind everyone to verify facts before I head out of the door with anyone.

Moral of the Day: If you do the leg work, you have only yourself to blame, if you assume someone else did the leg work, you have only yourself to blame. Either way, you're getting blamed.

Take care all,


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Once you're hooked, you're hooked...

Went through some training last month designed to help keep us up to speed on various situations that might arise in an arrest scenario that we might be involved in. Keep in mind, that unlike a road patrol officer, who might be making an arrest by themselves, or with a single officer for back up, whereas we normally go out in teams of at least five agents when serving warrants and are serving them in residences, not on the roadside. While we are by no means, a SWAT team, we do go in with a plan, with designated people to gain entry, contact, cover, and agents detailed to secure the perimeter.

The last scenario of the day, had myself playing cover to a veteran agent as we proceeded to clear the house, our entry agent having gained us access, and controlling the several non-hostile civilians who happened to be in the front room, with the aid of a perimeter agent.

My contact agent opens a door, with me right behind her, and I hear shouting and see the glint of light on a blade. I draw my weapon, and take a couple of steps to the side, giving myself a clear line of sight to the potential target, while still be able to cover my contact agent, and gain myself a bit of cover if needed. Unnecessary it seems. the veteran agent cleared leather like greased lightning, and drilled the suspect who was approaching her, while waving a large sword in an aggressive manner.

Good shoot, by the book, etc...guy isn't dead. He's laying on the floor, moaning and clutching his chest with his right hand, while his left hand still menaces with the sword. This is where it really comes home, how realistic some of this training can be, and how involved you can become in the false reality of the training. The veteran agent was shocked by what she had done, and immediately began apologizing to the suspect for shooting him, and telling him everything was going to be OK. Myself, being a bit more cynical, and focused on covering my contact agent's butt, moves in, and steps on the guys left wrist, and disarms him. Then, since I've got a wrist trapped under my boot, I go ahead and slap a cuff on it, and then manhandle the guy over onto his chest, until I can get the other wrist in cuffs. Showing a bit of compassion, I do apologize for any additional pain I might be causing him, and assure him that as soon as I get the cuffs on, I'll get EMS there double-quick.

My primary focus on on getting this guy safely into custody, without anything else going pear-shaped, so it's a minute or so before I realize that the veteran agent is asking why I'm cuffing the guy. I explain that he's under arrest, so I'm cuffing him. The reply is, "But he's been shot!" Doesn't matter. If I have a warrant for your arrest, and I'm in physical contact with you, the cuffs are going on, regardless of your condition, we'll sort it out once EMS, the local officers, and a supervisor arrives. By the book. It's not my fault the guy got shot, nor that he had a warrant for his arrest, I'm just doing my job, and I'm not going to risk myself, the agent I'm covering, or anyone else responding to the scene by not doing it right.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I've got a a guy on my caseload that's due to report to me, let call him Chuckles. So I get this phone call, before report day, it's Chuckles girlfriend, or baby momma, or friend-girl, or whatever she's being called. She tells me that Chuckles has bench warrants, and that "He needs to sit down for a minute." I kid you not, they've apparently been arguing, so she thinks he needs to sit down and think about things for a bit. Whatever her motivations are, I'm happy for the heads-up.

Chuckles comes in to report, we go through the formalities, and then I tell him I need to check something in his file, and step to the back. Whereupon I immediately called the local County Warrants office, and confirmed that they did in fact have an active warrant for Chuckles. They stated a unit was on it's way to pick him up, and I told him I would hook him up and await their arrival. At this point, I remember that we're operating pretty much on a skeleton crew, and I need at least one other person there when I hook this guy up. I grab Goose, who is still on light duty due to a dog bite incident. Goose dutifully informs me that he is on light duty, and can't be involved in any arrests, even though he's usually the first on to volunteer to get in the middle of something, he's actually toeing the agency line. I don't feel like hunting down someone else, so I tell him to just stand there and look menacing, I'll do all the work. I hook Chuckles up, no problems, Goose grabs me an evidence bag as I begin emptying out the guys pockets, making sure he doesn't have anything illegal on him before we sit down to wait on County to arrive.

As I'm taking the watch off of Chuckles wrist, I notice that his hand is sweaty, and I don't mean just a little wet on the palm from being nervous, but big beads of sweat all over his hand. I draw back and observe that the formerly calm Chuckles, is now covered in giant beads of sweat. This probably isn't going to end well. Chuckles starts exclaiming about how he has to go to the bathroom. Luckily, the bathroom is maybe eight feet from where I take my reports, I escort him there, and as I turn to look back at Goose, Chuckles starts going on about how I need to let him loose before he craps himself, because he's got a weak bladder. Yeah, you read that right, he's going to crap himself, because he's got a weak bladder.

I tell him that I can't do that, because once he's hooked, the cuffs stay on. Once County gets here, if they want to loose him up, that's their decision, but for now, he just needs to suck it up, County will be here in a minute or three. At which point Chuckles plops down on the toilet lid, and begins spewing chunks.

No I've worked Crime Scene, and I've been around everything from backed up toilets and unwashed bodies, to weeks old Decomps, and about the only thing I really can't stand being around, is Puke. Here's Chuckles, spewing away, and I turn to Goose and tell him to go get a supervisor.I may have gotten a little frantic in my demand for a supervisor, but hey, it's puke, and Casey doesn't do spew.

Supervisor comes, decides to call maintenance to send a cleaning crew for the room, and County takes Chuckles into custody, and transports him to jail. Funniest moment was probably when the little lady from HouseCleaning came walking in with a handful a paper towels to clean up the mess. I was still dealing with Chuckles, but I have it on good authority that the supervisor looked at her, and said, "honey, you're going to need more than that." :)

Anyway, it kind of brings home the point, that once you hook somebody up, there is no un-hooking them, unless there's a radical change in circumstances, usually involving the orders of someone several pay grades above yours. Bleeding or Puking, or anything in between, if we have a valid warrant, you're getting hooked, and someone else can straighten it out later.

Take care all, and be safe out there.


Friday, June 11, 2010


Big thanks to Carteach0 and Crucis for helping me out with my wondering and the removal of my previous post. I'd hate to unintentionally cause grief to another blogger, especially after going through all the hassle of moving and changing like that.

On the upside, I've rediscovered one of my favorite bloggers, and will add her back to the sidebar once an appropriate amount of time has passed, and hopefully, no links or conclusions will be made.

For now though, I have to say that I'm enjoying the new blog as much as the old, and literally had tears running from my eyes I was laughing so hard.

I'll come back with an original post here in a bit, as I have several stories to share, but for now, I think I'm going to go read some blogs I've neglected to peruse recently :)

Take care all,


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Where things stand...

So, Turkey season is over, and I remained unlucky throughout the entire season. An example of my luck you ask? I hunt on public land here in SC, so when I head into the woods, I hike down an access road for half a mile or so, get off onto a 4-wheeler trail for a half mile or so, cut through the woods for a hundred yards or so to the remains of an hold hiking trail that hasn't been used in years which I follow for another half mile or so, then come of the hiking trail for a hundred yards or so to the spot that I was hunting this season. I always thought I was pretty far off the beaten trail, until opening day when I got walked up on by the hunter coming in from behind me where the private land is. Then on closing day, I'm sitting in my spot, sending out a few calls, maybe hearing some faint replies way off in the distance. Then I hear something odd, out of place, and quickly getting louder. Coming down this old hiking trail, that like I said, hasn't been used in the 6 years I've been hunting there, comes five joggers. Running full tilt, strung out along about a fifteen yard stretch, and yelling a conversation back and forth about the latest episode of who did who, on whatever pay channel they all have. I sat there dumbfounded for a few minutes, as every critter within a few hundred yards of the trail took off for more remote areas, and then I packed up and headed out. On the way out, two more groups of joggers went by, on of which had somebody with some sort of MP3 player with a speaker, blasting music out while he was jogging!

Seriously, what are these people doing in the woods? It's not like they're experiencing nature or anything, running full tilt, yelling at the top of their lungs, or blasting music. I recall thinking they'd be better off jogging in a city, or better yet, on a jogging track, instead of being inconsiderate to anyone and anything that might be in the woods. Of course, I also recall thinking I should fire off a shot just after they passed where I was, just to see how many of the manly little men in they're 'running' outfits, would wet themselves :) But that's it for this Turkey season, maybe next year.

The eye is healing up. Still not 100%, but I think the vision is at about 20/60 or 20/40. There's still a little divot in my eye which is slowly growing back, but until it does, there's no way to correct the vision, as the light is refracting through the divot that is right over the pupil, which distorts things. The distortion is really only noticeable with bright spots, such as lights at night time, and letters on pages. The letters look like some sort of Arabic writing when I close my left eye. And of course, raindrops on the windshield, which get blurred and comma shaped in my vision, plus refract light in their won way, really throw the vision off. Most of the time though, it's just a slight blurriness in my day to day vision that comes from one good eye, and one not so good. We'll see how things end up eventually.

Last week, I was buried in paperwork trying to get ready for court, and was unable to go out in the field with my partner, Goose. Consequently, on the one day we're not out together, he gets mauled by a pit bull. Luckily, it's not to bad, a few punctures and lacerations, all confined to the left hand, and he's well on the mend, though restricted to desk duty for the moment.

Sadly, even though it's only about an hour and a half away, I will not be making the NRA convention in Charlotte, nor the blogmeet that Breda is getting together. It really sucks, as I don't know when there will be a group like that this close again, but I just can't get the logistics to work out this weekend :(

Looks like I'm still employed for the moment, but with forty-seven or so days to go in the fiscal year, we still have no idea what our budget will look like, or if we'll have to let anyone go. My wife's agency has already given them notice that they will have ten days of mandatory unpaid furlough next fiscal year. We're likely to get that as well at a minimum. On the upside, I've already lined up a small part-time job, and a somewhat permanent basis that starts next month. It will only bring in fifty or sixty bucks extra a week, but there's minimal time involved, and every little bit helps. I've also got a line on a floating, fill-in position that pays really well, if only sporadically, and it'll be great if that works out. Who knew kids were so expensive? :p

Speaking of that, home today with the little one. Was at work, pounding away at the never ending black hole that is paperwork, when daycare called and said she was throwing up, and I'd better come and get her. Both kids have been a little under the weather, but that has just been a cold I think. This is some sort of stomach bug going through the daycare.

Hoping to take the kids to the zoo this weekend, and maybe get together with the guys for a bit. Hope things are going well for you all out there.

Take care,


Friday, April 9, 2010


It seems I've managed to catch Tam's eye. A warm welcome to all new visitors.

I'm, Casey, and this is my blog(sounds a bit like a twelve-step program, doesn't it?).

Feel free to poke around and see if there's anything you like. This blog has ended up being a bit more eclectic than I had originally thought it would be, but I guess it's kinda of like me in that respect. I don't post as often as I would like, and when I do, I write about whatever has grabbed my attention for the moment. My partner goes on about the attention span of an ADHD Gnat, or some such, to which I generally respond with a blah, blah blah :)

While I'm not nearly as erudite or loquacious as some of the folks you'll find in my sidebar, I do occasionally manage to get something out that catches the eyes of those who inspired me to try my own hand at writing.

I'll be going around for a week now poking my friends and saying"Didya see? Tam linked me ! :) "

Ah well, grab a beer and have a gander. I should have another Turkey hunting story out next week, hopefully more fruitful, as I'll be back in the woods this weekend, and it seems as if the conditions have changed and the turkeys are running like crazy :)

Once again, welcome and enjoy,


Sunday, April 4, 2010


Happy Easter to all! The girls are jacked up on sugar and chocolate, so we're heading off to Mass at the local monastery.

Hope you all have a wonderful Easter!


Friday, April 2, 2010

The Wild

So, it occurred to me yesterday, that even people who are accustomed to being in the outdoors, can be caught off guard, when suddenly face to face with "The Wild".

Take me for example. I like being out in the woods. I enjoy hunting, and am familiar with most of what I'm liable to run into when I'm out and about. However, thinking that you are mentally prepared for something to happen, and then seeing you reaction when it actually happens, can be an eye opening experience.

For example, April 1st was the opening day of Turkey Season, here in Carolina. Like any dutiful Turkey hunter, I camped out overnight, to be near my chosen hunting spot, was up at 4 AM, and walking in by 4:30 AM, so that I could be settled into my spot, a long hour and a half or so before shooting light arrived. Just in case I disturbed any gobblers on the way in, I want to make sure they have time to settle back in and forget about me :)

It was actually a perfect morning to be walking in to the woods in the dark. A nice 45 degrees or so, no wind at all, and a moon that was near full. Combine that moon with the fact that the trees are only budding, and have not yet leafed out, and it means I didn't even have to use a flashlight to make my way the mile and a half into the woods where I was planning to hunt. Now granted, I'd scouted the trailed earlier, and place add shaped logs where I would need to turn of the trails and cut across country, but I was pretty proud of the fact that I remembered my way in, and made it without a flashlight :)

Any way, I'm settled in early, and in a good spot. I'm up against a tree, no more than 4 feet or so off the inside bend of a small creek. I've got a couple of blown down trees on my right, shielding me from anything coming up on me in that direction, and my blind, along with some piled branches from the blow down, shielding me to the front and left. I nice view across the creek about 75 to 100 yards where the land starts sloping up a ridge in front of me, a ridge sloping up about 35 yards behind me, and off to my left, a view farther than I can see as this creek hollow opens up onto nice hard wood bottom land, before it turns swampy at about 400 yards, where the beaver dam has made a small lake. Here's a little picture, peeking out from the blind at my little hen decoy, about 15 yards to me left and across the creek :)

Now, 45 degrees is nice when you're walking in, and not bad when you're sitting there covered up by an extra coat used as a blanket, but when you take that off, so as not to interfere with calling or getting a gun into play, 45 degrees is shivering weather when you're sitting still. I swear, I placed the striker on my pot, and was making soft clucks without even trying :p Anyway, I start calling with this little glass topped pot, makes a nice mellow, subdued cluck and yelp, much like a hen just waking up. I get an immediate response from behind me, and to my left. Sounds far away, probably over the ridge, but definitely responsive. I think to myself, this is it. I've got his attention, and he'll make his way over here sooner or later. I throw out a few yelps every now and then, just to make sure he hasn't forgotten about me, but mostly I just sit and wait for the fun times to begin.

About 45 minutes into luring this fellow towards me, I hear a crunching step in the leaves. I get excited. Until I hear the next step, which, while coming from behind me, is on my right side, and a bit too loud for a turkey. I peer around the tree behind me, and what do I see? Another hunter, who has walked up on my spot, not knowing I was there. He waves to acknowledge that he's seen me, and turns and starts heading away from me, straight in the direction my gobbler is calling from. Less than an hour later, I hear the shot from that direction, and reckon my gobbler is dead, killed by the interloper.

I figure there are certainly more turkeys in these woods, and settle in to try and lure another into range. About 0930 or so, I decide to switch from my glass pot, to a single sided box call. I let out a few clucks, then bang out a yelp or two that I know carries well past the next ridge, hoping to lure another gobbler in. after about the third yelp, I hear a crashing in the leaves. I get all excited again, knowing that it's a big ol' gobbler rushing in to get some lovin. Until I realize that once again, there's entirely too much noise being made for it to be a turkey. It's coming from up stream, and I peer through the trunks of the blow downs, and spot a patch of brown and a bit of black. My first thought is what is a deer doing running through here in the middle of the day. I jump to my feet, so that I can see over the trunks, expecting to see a deer, and come face to face with a coyote, skidding to stop not twenty feet away, on the other side of the creek and the blow down.

I said, right out loud, "Holy Crap! You're a coyote!". The coyote looked back at me with a look that clearly said he wasn't sure how humans had gotten to the top of the food chain, if that was my brightest comment. About this time, I remembered that not only did I have a shotgun in my hands, coyotes are fair game anytime of the year, with whatever ammo you have on hand. I believe I may have said something unpleasant, as I snatched the gun to my shoulder, and thumbed off the safety. The coyote, not having to waste time with witty repartee, just took off like a bullet, and was out of turkey-shot range before I could get the gun mounted.

Now, I know that there are coyotes in those woods. Heck, I've come upon scat while scouting for this turkey season, but coming face to face with him like that took me totally off guard. I think because I wasn't expecting to see a coyote, the possibility just didn't occur to me, and by the time I'd registered the fact, it was too late to do anything about it.

This got me to thinking. While I know there are coyotes in the woods I hunt, and I carry rounds more than sufficient to deal with them, because I wasn't mentally prepared to actually see one in broad daylight, I wasn't able to deal with it as I should have. Coming face to face with "the Wild", I came out on the short side of the stick. Luckily for me, it was just a coyote, and most interested in getting away from me as fast as possible. As I sat there the rest of the afternoon thinking, it occurred to me, that coyotes are not the worst of what's out in the areas I hunt. Especially in the northern areas I hunt, there have been sightings of red wolves which were transplanted into that other Carolina, and have wandered in and about. Not to mention there being black bear and bobcats scattered throughout. We even have occasional claims of cougar sightings. I don't know how valid they are, I myself haven't seen a cougar in Carolina on over 30 years, but then again, I don't spend as much time in the woods as some folks.

These are all predators, even the coyote, which could do serious damage if they took it in their heads to do so. Even though I know about them, and think I'm prepared to deal with them, it turns out that I just wasn't prepared at all. Mostly mentally, probably because, once again, while I knew they were out there, I never truly expected to see them, especially not so close. When I'm working in the field, the gun, badge, and armor, all serve as reminders of just how ugly it can get pretty danged quickly. I'm prepared, not only equipment-wise, but mentally, to deal with any threat, real or perceived, that I might encounter on the job.

I learned yesterday, that while I may have thought I was prepared to deal with what the Wild might throw my way, I was in fact, not mentally prepared for it. I was literally stunned into inaction, if only for a second or two, by the unexpected encounter. In the field, this could mean mine, or my partner's life, so I'm ready to react at the slightest provocation. I did not possess the same readiness, or mindset in the woods, and the Wild snuck one in on me. Luckily, it wasn't a bad one, but I will learn from this lesson, and be better prepared to act in the future.

Think about what you're likely to encounter, and ask yourself if you're really prepared to deal with. Wherever you might be, you never know what might pop up.

Take care all,


Friday, March 26, 2010

Funny E-Mail

I received an e-mail that made me chuckle, and thought I would share it with you, on the off chance that it hasn't already ended up in your In-Box. Here it is:

Subject: Animal Rights activists Protested Leather-Wearing at a Biker Rally


Johnstown, PA (GlossyNews) - Local and state police scoured the hills outside rural Johnstown, Pennsylvania, after reports of three animal rights activists going missing after attempting to protest the wearing of leather at a large motorcycle gang rally this weekend. Two others, previously reported missing, were discovered by fast food workers "duct taped inside several fast food restaurant dumpsters," according to police officials.
"Something just went wrong," said a still visibly shaken organizer of the protest. "Something just went horribly, horribly, wrong."
The organizer said a group of concerned animal rights activist groups, "growing tired of throwing fake blood and shouting profanities at older women wearing leather or fur coats," decided to protest the annual motorcycle club event "in a hope to show them our outrage at their wanton use of leather in their clothing and motor bike seats." "In fact," said the organizer, "motorcycle gangs are one of the biggest abusers of wearing leather, and we decided it was high time that we let them know that we disagree with them using it, ergo, they should stop."
According to witnesses, protesters arrived at the event in a vintage 1960's era Volkswagen van and began to pelt the gang members with balloons filled with red colored water, simulating blood, and shouting "you're murderers" to passers by. This, evidently, is when the brouhaha began.
"They peed on me!!!" charged one activist. "They grabbed me, said I looked like I was French, started calling me 'La Trene', and duct taped me to a tree so they could pee on me all day!"
"I was trying to show my outrage at a man with a heavy leather jacket, and he didn't even care. I called him a murderer, and all he said was, 'You can't prove that.' Next thing I know he forced me to ride on the back of his motorcycle all day, and would not let me off, because his girl friend was out of town and I was almost a woman."
Still others claimed they were forced to eat hamburgers and hot dogs under duress. Those who resisted were allegedly held down while several bikers "farted on their heads."
Police officials declined comments on any leads or arrests due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, however, organizers for the motorcycle club rally expressed "surprise" at the allegations.
"That's preposterous," said one high-ranking member of the biker organizing committee. "We were having a party, and these people showed up and were very rude to us. They threw things at us, called us names, and tried to ruin the entire event. So, what did we do? We invited them to the party! What could be more
friendly than that? You know, just because we are all members of motorcycle clubs does not mean we do not care about inclusiveness. Personally, I think it shows a lack of character for them to be saying such nasty things about us after we bent over backwards to make them feel welcome."

When confronted with the allegations of force-feeding the activists meat, using them as ad hoc latrines, leaving them incapacitated in fast food restaurant dumpsters, and 'farting on their heads,' the organizer declined to comment in detail. "That's just our secret handshake," assured the organizer.

Now, you can of course, go to Snopes, and check it out, and find that this is a piece of satire, written purely for entertainment value. If you were entertained by reading it, then I'm glad I shared it with you. We all need a little laughter now and then.

On the other hand, it does bring an interesting question to mind. Why aren't the patchouli-hippies going after bikers in all their leather gear? I don't really keep up with it much, but I do remember news stories in the past where some animal-rights group or another, would throw paint at people wearing fur coats. Usually expensive ones. I don't ever recall a news story where they confronted a biker group. Could be that it never made the news because they disappeared....but I tend to think it just never happened.

It makes me question the depth of their convictions. They're perfectly willing to spout all sorts of foulness, and do things to humiliate others, as long as there are no severe repercussions. Locked up for a night? Fined? Ordered to pay Restitution? No problem. Facing the prospect of a beat-down by someone who isn't wearing a badge, and therefore constrained to using only 'necessary force'? Hmmm, not so much.

It sort of makes one take a deeper look at themselves, at their own convictions. What would I be willing to stand up for, regardless of the consequences?

Reminds of something I've read somewhere, no idea where or when, but it involved a man being held at gun point, about to be murdered. The man holding the gun told the other to get down on his knees, and beg for his life. The other mans reply, " I'm only going to die once, I'm going to face it like a man, not cowering from it in fear." Couldn't tell you how it turned out, as I don't remember where I read it, but it sticks with me. Hope I'm that confident when the time comes.

Take care all, and remember to laugh once in a while :)


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not so good news...

So, I've been seeing the eye doctor fairly regularly since the incident. All the visits have been fairly perfunctory, with the Doc saying that things are healing, and that it will keep getting better. Say, 95+% chance of full recovery of my normal eyesight with just the drops. Until yesterday that is.

I went in yesterday, and apparently, almost all of the swelling is gone. This, apparently, allowed the Doc to see something that wasn't visible while everything was swollen. There is some sort of flat spot, or divot, in my cornea, in the dead center of the pupil. This is why I'm still seeing everything blurry through my right eye. Now, all of the sudden, the Doc doesn't want to talk numbers when estimating my chance of full recovery. Now, we're talking a month or two of healing, as opposed to the week or two that had been on the table previously. Now, we're discussing things like the possibility of surgery, and the probability of my having to wear a corrective lens for my right eye.

It's become kind of scary for me. I don't know who would understand better, those who wear glasses, or those who don't, but fear having to. All of my life, I've had perfect vision. Better than perfect actually, being 20/10 and 20/12 respectively left and right. Now, all of the sudden, I can't see anymore. I can still see out of my left eye fine, but the right eye is all blurry, and nothing I do can bring it into focus. I discovered last night, that I can no longer remove a splinter from my children's hand. The splinter is so small, that I have to bring it close, with the fuzz in my right eye, I can't see what I'm doing, so I close it, and then discover that with just my good left eye, I don't have the depth perception needed to gauge the distance between the straight pin and the splinter, and just totally miss the thing.

For me, it's a painful realization that I may be like this permanently. I guess because vision is something I've always taken for granted, now that it's gone, I really miss it.

I also must admit, that I'm having trouble being a grown up about it. Meaning that I'm having trouble turning the corner from being upset/angry/scared, and asking "why me?", and getting to the point where I can be thankful that at least I still have my eye, and can still see out of it, if fuzzy/blurry.

I hope everyone out there is doing well, and be thankful for what you have, not angry over what you don't have. I know I'm sure trying.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eye Scare

I hope everyone remembers to always wear eye protection. I know I do. Always have on protective lenses at the range, and when I'm in the field, I always wear protection that looks like generic wrap around sunglasses, but is actually mil-spec polymer that will stop a load of #3 shot from 30 feet. Not that I'd want to test that out myself, but better safe than sorry.

This scare comes from an incident where I was not wearing eye protection. Mainly, because I was in a situation that didn't call for it. Namely, my kids' bedroom, Monday night, after bath time, getting the little ones dressed. The oldest, in a little spat of over exuberance, managed to shove one of the fingers of her left hand into my right eye, and up under the eyelid. I'm fairly certain I startled people up to half a mile away with the shout that escaped me as I ran to the bathroom, fully expecting to see blood.

Luckily, there was no blood. The pain, however, was quite intense. I managed to make it through getting the kids to bed, and then the pain ratcheted up a notch to agony. I swear, it felt like someone had shoved a jacked rock under my eyelid, that was shredding my eye with every blink or movement. I finally ended up taping my eye shut so that I could go to sleep, with plans to go to the doctor's office the next morning if it didn't feel any better. After a fitful night of much pain, and little sleep, I decided that I'd call my partner, see if he could cover for me at work, and then head on to the doctor.

I get to the doctor's office about 0830, and check in. I'm thinking that my only problem, is probably something lodged under my eyelid that I can't flush out, but surely the Doc or one of his nurse-types, can get out for me. I'm told that they'd be happy to squeeze me in, but it'll be about 1630 before they have an opening. I think my jaw actually bounced off of the receptionist' desk at that. Seriously? They want me to wait eight more hours, to see if they can squeeze me in for a five minute eye wash and check?(and we wonder why Emergency rooms are so full of ridiculous problems?) Luckily, this cute redhead with a British accent behind the desk leans over, and points out that there's a CVS pharmacy, with a Nurse Practitioner on duty, about a mile and a half from where we are right now. I thank the pretty lady, and head out.

As an aside, I'm not really sure what the deal is with Nurse Practitioners. They seem like a regular Doc, handling everything I've ever been able to throw at them, just without the Doc in front of their name. Great people when you need something sorted out though :)

I get to the aforementioned pharmacy, fill out the little slip, and sit down to wait. Maybe 20 minutes later, she calls me back. We go through the initial questions as she's filing my insurance paperwork, than she starts looking at my eye. She hems and haws, puts dye in my eye, and looks at it under various lights. Then she turns away, picks up the phone, and calls a specialist. She tells me that there is a cut, directly over my pupil, and she thinks an ophthalmologist needs to look at it with their specialized equipment. So much for something being stuck under my eyelid. The NP tapes my eye shut, and sends me on my way.

I get to the eye Doc's, and have to wait about an hour or so before they can squeeze me in to look at me. It's a long wait, but I don't mind that much, because the NP told me that this is the best eye place in the area, and we don't want to take any chances with my vision. I get back to see the Doc, and he does a lot of poking and prodding, more dye, and a greater variety of lights, all while peeking through one of those eye scope thingies. He sits back, and says "Wow, she really did a number on you." Turns out, there is a layer of skin that covers your eyeball, called the epithelium, or something like that. My three year old, managed to shred mine, directly over the pupil. Bit and pieces of hit hanging out and flopping around. That's what was causing the majority of the pain.

Doc puts some numbing drops in my eye, then grabs one of those little swabs, and proceeds to scrub my eyeball with it. Talk about a freak out. I'm getting shivers just remembering it. He gets all the loose stuff off, gives me a bajillion different drop things to put in my eye, and says see you in a couple of days.

That's been almost a week ago. For those first few days, I was down to about 30-40% vision in my right eye, and what was there, was useless. It was like looking at everything through pea-soup fog, all fuzzy and blurry, and of course, bright light just sent stabbing pains straight into my brain. Now, almost a week into it, I'd say I have 85-90% vision in my right eye, and looking at things through more of a haze than a fog. Makes me think of a smoke filled room. Bright lights, while no longer painful, are blinding. Kind of like it hits whatever is clouding my eyesight, and just intensifies somehow.

The Doc says it should heal all the way back to normal within another week or two, but I swear it can't happen fast enough for me. I've already developed a sort of skittish, nervousness about anything coming up on my right side, and the headaches from my brain trying to sort out the two disparate images from each eye, and resolve them into one homogeneous whole are, quite literally, a pain.

While this was not a circumstance that one would generally wear eye protection in, it really drove home for me the absolute necessity of wearing eye protection when you're doing anything that might put your eyesight at risk. I can guarantee that I'll be getting some eye protection to wear for all yard work now, not just the power tools, and just about anything else I might be doing. You might want to think about your own eye protection, and if it's adequate.

Take care all,


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Catching Up

Catching up, I swear, it seems like all I ever do anymore. I had a paperwork SNAFU a few weeks ago. To be honest, something I should've stayed on top of, but I let it slip by me, and it bit me right where you'd think. When you stop and look at it, in the grand scheme of things, it was a relatively minor screw-up. No one got hurt by it, physically, mentally, financially, or any other -ally that you could think of. Don't tell that to the brass though, cause holy crap what a storm it brought down on my stupid arse.

There's a lot of paperwork in this job, probably at least 65% of what we do involves paperwork and tracking things like who's getting out when, how much money they owe a victim, how much longer we'll supervise them, and if /when they complete any of a myriad of little time wasters a judge might tick off for them to do, from substance abuse counseling, to acquiring a GED , attending any one of a number of classes from victim awareness, to MADD, to anger management. The list is, apparently, endless, and if you forget to check off something before that expiration date comes and goes, your butt goes in the wringer. At least, mine does :p

Anyway, I get dinged for a slippage on the paperwork side, not for any fieldwork, arrests, or any actual interactions with the people I ride herd on, but for not paying close enough attention to an expiration date, and checking off a tick mark. Whatever. I'm a man, admit my mistakes, and get ready to take my lumps. Only thing is, the boss doesn't come out with the clue bat, like one might expect, but with a damned pink slip! Talk about over-reacting. Says this slip-up is a sign that my job performance is sub-standard, and if I can't get it up to scratch in 90 days, I'm gonna have to hit the pavement. Wowzers! Once again, I'm a man, I can own up to my own mistakes, and do whatever it takes to make it right.

Enter my direct supervisor, who I always knew was a bit detail oriented, and my new, weekly checklist of paperwork that must be done. I swear, I've gone from doing a moderate amount of paperwork each week, and having a pretty good handle on what my people were up to, to doing 4 times the paperwork I used to do each month, on a weekly basis, and not even recognizing all the names on my caseload. Once again, it's going to get done, and at the end of 90 days, everything will be just so, and I'll be off the hook, for a month or two anyway, and there's the rub.

I could see the striving for perfection and exact paperwork compliance among 100% of field agents, with axes falling for minor infractions, if we were busting. If the economy was good, our agency was fully funded, and we had field agents swinging from the rafters. However, that is most definitely, not the case. The last time we hired a group of field agents, was like December of 2007, and they've all been let go already, over a year ago in fact. RIFed a few days before their one year probationary period would have expired. They found out a few days before Christmas in 2008 (heck of a holiday present to take home to your pregnant wife eh?). Our agency is supposed to have about 540 certified officers state wide, if a recall correctly. Currently, our roster of certified officers hovers just above 300 or so. Don't believe me? Read all about it here. That's actually a fairly decent article, as newspapers go. It's from down in the Low Country, and they interviewed a local PD Chief. Seems the legislature is talking about cutting our agency's funding to the point that about 100 officers would have to be let go across the state. I like the Chief's take on things, though I've never met him personally, he sounds like someone I'd rather have making these kinds of decisions, than some of the chuckleheads we have in the capitol currently.

Anyway, the crux of it all is this. I've got a pink-slip hanging over my head if I don't do my job correctly. Easily accepted, if you can't cut it, you need to find a new line of work. Only problem is, I've got another pink slip hanging over my head, because the legislature is more concerned with funding unemployment benefits, and subsidized housing, than it is about keeping decent people safe from criminals. That's the one that torques me off, because I know I'm going to ace the performance aspect, but I can't do anything about a bureaucrat with less sense than rock.

Legislature is supposed to be working on the budget this coming week, so in a week or so, I should know whether or not I'm going to have to hit up old contacts in local agencies for a road patrol job. If I do, at least it will probably make for an increase in the number of stories for blog fodder :p

Hope everyone is doing good out there, and stay safe.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

View from the Porch

No, not that porch, my porch. Well, actually from by back deck, but you get the idea :)

As you can see, we've had a bit of winter weather here at Casa de Casey. It started Friday afternoon, on the way home from work. About five miles or so North of town, I started seeing snow falling, and the farther I went, the more obvious it became that snow had been falling for a while. I called Goose, to let him know what he faced when he finally got shut of the office, and then called my wife to make sure she and the kids were getting home ok.

I do that, because as I've pointed out here before, winter weather in the South, is not at all like what our neighbors to the North think of when they imagine snowfall.

This started off benignly enough. It'd been warm the days before, so the snow wasn't sticking to any of the pavement, but was accumulating nicely on anything that didn't have vehicles traveling over it. The snow itself was a bit unusual, at least at my house. Normal snow here is large wet flakes, that clump together and make a mess of everything. This snow on the other hand, was fine and dry. I remarked on it to my wife, because it was glittering in the light as it fell, which is what marked it as unusual. We ended up with about four inches of snow, which isn't bad at all, until Saturday morning came around. That's when the sleet started. What you see on the railing there is about four inches of snow, compressed down to about three inches thickness by the weight of the full inch of sleet on top of it.

This makes for dangerous conditions outside. The roads were wet, from where the snow melted on them Friday afternoon, and then froze solid as temperatures dipped below freezing overnight. Snow piled up on top of the frozen roadway, and was then compressed by the sleet falling on top of it. Couple that with the fact that temperatures hovered right around freezing all day yesterday, which means it was not warm enough to melt the sleet away, but just enough to make it stick together, and you have quite the ice sandwich to attempt to drive on.

Needless to say, we decided to stay home this weekend. I got a fire going in the woodstove, and the wife got a pot of beef stew going. The kids had fun playing in the snow and sleet, and a generally good day was had by all.

Of course, today, the temps are well above freezing, pushing close to 40 degrees, and everything is melting fast, just as it should be here in the South. :) A nice snowy weekend, but clearing off in time that the morning commute tomorrow should be difficult at all, aside from the odd patch of black ice on the road where trees have shaded it from getting sunlight today.

The picture above was taken this morning, about an hour or so after sunrise, before the temperature started rising. That low hanging cloud off to the South is obscuring a view of the nearest small town, about ten miles away or so. You can see it easily on a clear day.

The bird feeder is a gift from my In-Laws. It holds black sunflower seeds, and, so far, has not been given over to the predations of the local squirrel population. We normally see a variety of birds at it, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Tufted Titmice, Goldfinches, Carolina Wrens, House Finches, Carolina Chickadees, Purple Finches, and the odd Nuthatch or two.

The reason it's so free of snow accumulation in this picture, is that we've recently had a new visitor to the feeder, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. Now we have a number of woodpeckers in our area, the Pileated, the Downy, the Flicker, and the Yellow-Bellied SapSucker, however, this is the first time I've ever seen a Red-Bellied, and the first time I've ever seen a woodpecker at the feeder. We see them all the time on the trees around the yard, but never on the feeder itself. A first time for everything I guess.

Hope you're all having an enjoyable weekend, I think I'm going to take a nap now :)


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Simple Cooking

I'm sure most people have heard of this, but for those who haven't, here's a quick and easy dinner, and my own twist on it.

Get your oven warming up to about 400 degrees or so, and then start getting your meal together. We used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Rubbed them down with a little salt and pepper, and slipped a couple of thin lemon slices underneath the skin. Then laid then out on a wire cooling rack, like used for cookies or other baked goods. Then took a casserole dish, about 8x12 I think, and put Green Beans in that, spread in a thin layer on the bottom. Then set the wire rack on top of the dish. This way, as the chicken cooks, fats and juices drip down onto the beans as they cook, keeping them moist, and adding a nice flavor. The juice from the lemon slices keeps the chicken breasts themselves moist, while allowing the skin to become nice and crisp :)

Now, as I side dish, I prefer root vegetables. We used potatoes, and rutabagas, but you could use whatever you have on hand. Dice those up into about 1" chunks, and toss them into a bowl. I like onions, so I sliced some, and added them to the mix. Then sprinkled a little salt and pepper, and whatever herb you prefer, we usually use Rosemary, and toss the contents of the bowl to spread the spices out. Then add in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and toss it all again until everything is coated, spread it out on a baking pan, and add it to the oven as well.

It's been my experience, that the chicken breasts, if of a good size, take about 45 minutes or so to cook all the way through. The root vegetables take about 10 minutes less to become nicely cooked, and crisp on the outside, while caramelizing the onions. This works out well as you can prepare the chicken and get it in the oven, then do the root vegetables and get them in the oven, and it all comes out at about the same time.

There's never any beans or roots left, but we always throw on an extra chicken breast. The flavors in the breast translate really well when using the leftover chicken to make chicken salad a day or two later.

There you have it. Simple, easy, and very much a comfort meal.



Saturday, January 23, 2010

A peek into the Justice System, post-conviction...

Here's a story for you, about an incident that occurred recently in which I was involved. Names, of course, have been changed, not to protect the innocent, because let's face it, they're convicts, not a whole lot of innocence there, but mostly to protect my job. This closely involves Partner, mainly because this chucklehead is on his caseload, I was just along for the ride. Now, Goose will likely make a post about this himself at some point, but he's still a bit hot under the collar about it, and it will probably be a while before he cools off enough to write about it.

This case did not originally belong to Goose, but to another Agent who has left our dreary environs to join the Feds. More power to her, however, it leaves people like Goose and myself to pick up in the middle of cases that are in violation, and pending a hearing.

This particular case is a Parole case. The Parolee in question, let's call him 'Bobby', got mixed up in various and sundry things back in the 80's, which culminated in a Burglary conviction, which resulted in a Life sentence. Now, we all know that Life in prison, only means incarceration until you reach the point where you become eligible for Parole. This occurred for Bobby(hehe, I typed Booby there and had to fix it :p ) in the early to mid 90's. Bobby was Paroled, and out in the world for less than a year if I remember correctly. At which point he got involved in some more drama, drug related I believe, had his Parole revoked, and was sent back to prison.

Fast forward another decade or so, and Bobby becomes eligible for Parole again, and is again granted Parole. See, granted Parole, even though he's already been given a shot at it once, and screwed it up. Anyway, Bobby gets out, and starts off ok for the first year or so. He has trouble securing gainful employment, and hence falls behind on his monies. As an aside, anyone under supervision in the state of South Carolina is required to pay a monthly Supervision Fee. Usually in the amount of $50, though I've seen it both higher and lower. That Supervision Fee is in addition to any other fines, court costs, or Restitution ordered by the court, or the Parole Board. So, when an offender gets a certain number of payments behind on his monies, our policy requires us to issue a citation. It's just like it sounds, though it may not be blue like the ticket a patrol officer writes, it alleges violations, and directs the offender to appear for a hearing at a given place and time.

Anyway, Bobby gets himself a citation for monies, and I believe a failed drug test and a missed report. After this, Bobby decides he'd be better off if he just stopped reporting to his Agent all together, and falls off the face of the map. After a couple of months of being unable to locate him, a warrant is issued for his arrest for Absconding Supervision, and placed on file with the local Sheriff's Office, and NCIC. A while after that, Bobby gets stopped for something innocuous, has his name run for wants and warrants, and wins the big prize. Silver Jewelry and an all expenses paid trip to the local extended stay Graybar Hotel. While incarcerated at the Graybar, Bobby goes through a preliminary hearing, in which the hearing officer decides his case should be forwarded to the Parole Board, with a recommendation to Revoke his Parole, and place him as a ward of the State once again.

Bobby is served with a Notice to Appear at the hearing, though we will personally transport him if he is incarcerated at the time of the hearing. Bobby makes bond, and decides he really doesn't want to go to a hearing where he believes he will get tossed back in prison again, so he takes off, again. Once he misses the hearing, a Failure to Appear warrant is issued for his arrest. He is picked up fairly quickly, incarcerated at the local Graybar once again, and a new hearing is scheduled for him.

Now, I don't know how they do things in your state, but here in Carolina, the Parole Board is located in the state capitol, and they certainly aren't going to sully themselves by actually entering a prison, so they hold hearings via video conference, at certain satellite facilities located across the state, all of which are secured within state run penal institutions. Since there are a large number of cases to be heard by the board, both applications for Parole, and hearings for Revocations, they break the board up into 3-member panels for most of the Hearings, and the full board usually only hears cases regarding Parole for violent offenders.

Bobby's case goes in front of a panel board. Goose and I are involved at this point, Goose because Bobby has been reassigned to his caseload, and myself because we're partners, and it takes two to transport. So we head over to the Graybar, hook Bobby up in waist chains and shackles, and transport him to the nearest facility that acts as a satellite for Parole hearings. Well good Lord, you'd have thought it was old home week when we walked in with Bobby. He'd apparently spent his most recent decade of incarceration at this particular facility, and was well liked by the majority of staff there. Everyone was smiling, and telling him they had a spot already reserved for him if he wanted his old job back. Unfortunately, or fortunately I guess, depending on your perspective, the 3-member panel couldn't come to an agreement regarding Bobby's fate, and so his case was forwarded to a hearing of the full board.

We transport Bobby back to the Graybar in our county, drop him off, and chalk it up as a day wasted. Days later, Bobby makes bond and is out again. Wait, perhaps you didn't catch that, Bobby made Bond, on a Failure to Appear warrant. Wrap you mind around that one if you can. Anyway, Bobby gets to spend Christmas and New Years with his family. His hearing in front of the full board is scheduled for this past Wednesday.

Now, Bobby has been doing pretty ok since he made bond, it's only a few weeks, but he's reporting to us on a weekly basis, and doesn't seem inclined to take off and run again. As his hearing date approaches, we go to check to see if he's going to able to arrange his own transportation to the hearing, or if he would like to ride with us. Wonder of wonders, Bobby is back in jail. The Saturday before his hearing in front of the full Parole Board, Bobby gets picked up on new charges of Burglary and Larceny. So once again, we will be picking him up at the Graybar, and transporting him to the hearing.

The fateful day arrives, and we take Bobby down for what we feel will be a one-way trip to prison. I mean, come on, the guy is a convicted felon, for Burglary, has a citation, a warrant for Absconding Supervision, and a warrant for Failure to Appear, as well as pending charges that include a Burglary!! The very crime he is out on Parole for!! Several of Bobby's relatives show up for his hearing, to speak on his behalf to the board. One of them is his brother, a Pastor of a small, Protestant church located in one of the worst neighborhoods in town. Interestingly enough, Bobby's brother, the Pastor, is also on speaking terms with each and every member of the current Parole Board. Now, whether or not those relationships had any effect on the outcome, I don't know, one can only conjecture. I do know that the 'discussion', where the board members discuss the merits of the case amongst themselves, went on for an abnormally long time, and became quite heated, with voices raised to an uncivil level. Suffice it to say that about 30 minutes later, the Parole Examiner exits the room with his jaw somewhere South of his toes, to inform us that the Board had reached it's decision. That decision being to allow Bobby to remain out in the community, on Parole, and with no punitive action taken for either his violations listed on the citation and warrants, or the pending charges, other than the money he spent on bond, and the time he spent in the Graybar prior to making bond..

We transport Bobby back to the local Graybar, where he will still have to make bond on his pending charges, and once again, consider our day wasted. I will admit though, that the whole time we were transporting Bobby back to the Graybar, I was considering taking off with him to Vegas, cause that kind of luck just shouldn't be wasted.

So there you have it, a peek into one instance of our criminal justice system, after someone has been convicted. Is it any wonder that alcoholism rates are so high among law enforcement officers? You play by all the rules, make an airtight case, and someone else comes along, throws that case out the window, and pulls a judgment out Lord knows where. It's like a big old slap in the face. Not only to us, and the other officers involved, but to each and every person out on Parole or Probation, who struggles to obey the rules so that they can stay out in the community, and then has someone who does the exact opposite, and still gets to stay out in the community. It makes them wonder why they work so hard to stay straight.

Till next time, stay safe...