Monday, May 30, 2005

Sometimes words cannot describe the horror

Today a 6 1/2 month old child died of suffocation as the result of rolling off of a bed and getting caught between the bed and the wall.

Since I’ve been a police dispatcher I know of at least half a dozen infants whose parents have been napping with them on an adult bed and rolled over onto them, suffocating them. I have talked to one parent immediately after they woke up and found their lifeless baby.

There is nothing to prepare one for making the 911 call. Parents are either hysterical to the point of being useless or in shock to the point of being useless. I imagine I would be too, although I hope I would snap from “no No NO!” to getting busy with CPR pretty darn quick.

I hope I never find out.

Mothers and fathers: hug your kids soon and often; tell them you love them.

Buy them bicycle helmets and car-seats and make them wear seatbelts. Get rid of window blinds with long cords. Don’t buy old cribs with wide gaps in the rails.

Do all these things and pray for the best. I hope you never call me on 911.

Happier post tomorrow,


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Jaws was a lady: Memorial Day Memories

I love the ice cream story!!
Jaws was a lady: Memorial Day Memories

The Naked Truth

With the popularity of digital cameras it’s no wonder that there are plenty of naked pictures being taken. I’m all for naked pictures. But understand the consequences: if naked pictures of you exist, there is a chance they will show up on the internet. Once that happens, “Katy, bar the door.”

The first time I saw a restraining order that specifically mentioned “respondent may not post nude photos of petitioner on the internet,” I thought, “he he he, hoist on her own petard.” Then came the next one. Then the third and fourth and fifth, etc.

Then today a woman called to report her ex-husband keeps sending naked pictures of her thru the email to all of her coworkers (they worked at the same place for a while) and to her family, including her parents. He does this periodically just to mess with her.

This is rude, but not a huge crime. At most, it’s harassment. Barring a court order to the contrary, they are his pictures and she was of age when he took them and she consented to them being taken.

Civilly, she can sue his pants off (pardon the pun) but that’s simply not my bailiwick.

I’m not saying I’m unsympathetic or that the ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends who do these sorts of things are not the lowest forms of scum; I’m just saying there’s nothing the Po-Po can do.

So ladies and gentlemen: if you are going to be anyone’s nude model, expect maximum exposure. Or maybe squid pro quo: take your own pictures for mutually assured destruction!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Panic Blog 3.0

The newest incarnation of the blog template.

Well ?

Cookies that nearly toss themselves

My Aunt Reva's "Mother I Forgot" Cookies

Side A

3 cups quick rolled oats (I’m not sure what these really are. I can imagine wanting my oats slowly rolled, but I won’t even go there).

1 – 6oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup coconut

1/4 cup chopped nuts (I usually add more coconut and no nuts, but whatever)

Side B:

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cubes butter or margarine

1/2 cup evaporated milk

Recommended cookware:

Your favorite spatula

A spoon or small scoop for dropping the cookies

A huge bowl and a large bowl

A welder’s mask and gloves

Night-Vision goggles


Mix Side A into a large bowl. If you double the recipe, and I heartily recommend it, you’ll need a really huge bowl.

Put Side B into a saucepan, bring to a rapid boil, and cook for 1 minute. Stir it so it doesn’t burn on the bottom but I would recommend wearing a welding mask and gloves because this stuff gets hot and will stick to you. Think: napalm.

It is possible and much faster to do Side B in a microwave but the bowl has to be very big and you have to watch it closely or it will go from nicely bubbling to foaming all over and coating your microwave in a sticky molten mass. Don’t forget to wear the welding gloves to take it out of the microwave since any tiny drop of this stuff will burn through your body, down through your kitchen floor, and all the way to China.

Pour Side B over Side A and stir until chocolate melts. Drop tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper and, if you can wait long enough, let them cool.

Store in a big plastic container with waxed paper between the layers of cookies. They won’t last long anyway. You’ll find they jump by themselves into your mouth until you are just about sick.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Whip it out

All 911 operators / police dispatchers get asked the same question when introduced to new people at gatherings: What is your strangest call?

An unscientific survey of my coworkers has revealed that, while we all have taken some seriously sad, funny, tragic, bizarre, and disgusting calls, very few of us have a story to just whip out. As it turns out, I do.

But first, here’s a great story from a relatively new dispatcher.

Will received a call from an upset elderly female who was driving around and being followed by her equally elderly husband in another car. The caller wanted us to meet her someplace to seize of the husband’s computer which was full of pornographic pictures. Will was momentarily at a loss so asked a nearby coworker who told him to ask the complainant if it was child pornography. The caller, who was very upset by the pictures, said that it was not child porn but just good old American dirty pictures (not her words). Will had to explain to her that we would respond because her husband was following her (a disturbance) but that there was nothing illegal about pornographic pictures of adults so we were not interested in her computer. She was not a happy camper.

Here’s my usual story. It’s not the most bizarre but it serves as an allegory. It’s a little gruesome too, so be forewarned.


Many years ago, during an unusually frigid winter (-15 degrees Fahrenheit during the day), we received a call from a NAPA auto parts store requesting medics for a male who had cut three fingers off of one of his hands.

A young military guy had walked to the store to buy a new battery. After making the purchase he started his walk home when he slipped on the ice about 30 feet into the NAPA parking lot. On his way down he tried to prevent the $50-100 purchase from landing on the pavement and breaking; the battery landed on his hand. This severed his two smallest fingers and seriously damaged his middle finger. Unlike a sharp blow with a hatchet or a trip across a table saw, the battery ripped the flesh off of the bone much like one would peel the meat off of a KFC drumstick: it would prove to be irreparable.

His effort to save $100 cost him his fingers and changed his life forever. After taking this call, I used this as a personal allegory and train my recruits to learn its lesson: sometimes you have to ‘let the battery fall.’

If we make a mistake and sound like an idiot over the radio, we can’t go home in shame. We can’t let the embarrassment or feeling of inadequacy (especially when one is a brand new dispatcher) drag us down to the level that our performance suffers. We must “let the battery fall” and not risk further damage for the sake of trying to rehabilitate a relatively minor situation. For one’s own mental health, sometimes you have to pick your battles and let the battery fall.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Shiny Happy People

In an effort to make my blog appear a little less dark, I’ve changed my picture to something happy go lucky: a sunflower in honor of my lovely wife. Sure, there’s a skull in there too, but it’s a sunflower still.

You need the darkness to appreciate the light.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Answer the door. It's the Antichrist.

My grandmother is a feminist. She's not an Andrea Dworkin "all sex is rape" type of feminist but she believes in the equality of women, the abomination of figurative and literal shafting women have gotten in the name of religion, and the supreme right of a woman to choose to have an abortion.

Since 1989 my grandmother has boycotted Domino's Pizza because its founder and CEO, Tom Monaghan, is anti-abortion and expresses his view with massive donations to Pro-Life groups.

I've often admired my grandmother's unwavering feminist stand. She is very thoughtful and tolerant but there are two groups she cannot abide: the Religious Right and the Republican Party. She too votes with her money, although she cannot match Mr. Monaghan's pile of cash.

I have avoided Domino's Pizza since those days, partly out of respect for my grandmother and partly because Domino's Pizza is pretty bad. I have never felt that Domino?s is anything but corporate pizza bad, until today.

Leafing through a week's worth of junk mail on my kitchen counter, I came across this ad. Immediately it jumped out at me: this meal deal brought to you by Satan. Your pies delivered in under thirty minutes by a rider on a pale horse.

The end is nigh, delivered with your choice of Cinna Stix or Buffalo Wings.
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

And the Darwin Awards "Star Wars" prize goes to...

Two hurt in mock light sabre duel

This Surreal Life: my mind's a mess, but i'm not alone*

Read this: This Surreal Life: my mind's a mess, but i'm not alone*

My brother Jason tells a similar story. Evey bit is true except for the time of the sunset.

As he walked onto the parking lot at the end of a long Friday at the office, he was hailed by a frantic woman he works with but doesn't know all that well.

She is hysterical because the key fob remote door opener for her car is broken and she cannot get into her car. She's nearly in tears. The whole carefully planned evening ahead will be shot to hell by not having a car. Who can come out and fix it after 5 pm on a Friday? Will she have to go all weekend without a car? How can she do that? She doesn't have the time or money to deal with this. Oh God, why her, why HER?

My brother cocks his head and raises an eyebrow like a dog whose owner is talking babytalk. He then tells her, in a very calm voice, to give her the keyring and he'll fix the problem.

He takes her ring of keys, looks thoughtfully at the remote openner, then grasps the actual metal KEY and opens her door. He motioned her into the driver's seat and tells her that the key would probably work for the ignition too but he couldn't be sure.

He then walked silently across the parking lot, got into his car, and drove into the sunset.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fear and Loathing

I am a police dispatcher.

Before becoming so, I had a problem with authority. I imagined the police being just another tool of the Man trying to keep the Brother down. LAPD = all PDs; Mark Fuhrman = all police officers.

Like all generalizations, this is wrong. My department is quite conscientious about getting it right. I could go deeper but I’ll just leave it at this: I fully believe that I am working for the good guys; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t being working there.

That being said, Jaws brought up a good point in response to my story about a kidnapping turned into an arrest of the mother for an outstanding warrant: justice league. If the mother knew she had a warrant would she have called the police so quickly to help her? The answer is no. If you know you have a warrant, you probably will avoid calling the police as long as possible.

It’s quite easy to get a warrant, in most cases you do nothing at all. Arrested for assault and required to take an anger management class? Don’t go and you’ll earn yourself a warrant. Arrested and bail yourself out, promising to come to a future hearing? Don’t show up and you earn yourself a warrant. Most folks with warrants are not violent predators; most are people who made a mistake resulting in an arrest followed by the mistake of failing to perform the required community service or failing to show up for the next hearing. In these cases they know the likelihood of a warrant. They know that they will go to jail if a police officer contacts them.

So they hide. But there are plenty of reasons to contact the police that are not in one’s direct control car accidents being the most common and least controllable (they are called accidents for a reason). Not taking care of business at a time they choose leaves them with taking care of business at a time that they don’t choose, which is usually a lot less convenient.

Who else doesn’t call 911 unless it cannot be avoided?

- People who have drugs at home that are not related to the emergency prompting their decision to call.

- Illegal aliens

- People who do not speak English. They often do not know that we can call translators (at least on the phone) for nearly any language. They often have negative views of police because of the police in their country of origin.

- People who have called 911 before and had negative results (getting arrested for a warrant, calling to only stop a domestic argument but not expecting the police to arrest their partner, etc.)

None of these are good reasons to not call 911 if your three year old has been kidnapped. In the first two cases, there will probably be consequences other than finding your child. In the last two, there is nothing to fear by calling for help.

As for me, I was never worried about police coming to my house until I was hired as a dispatcher. Now if a police officer comes to my door I know I am being ordered for involuntary overtime and had not answered my telephone when they tried to order me in. Like the guy with the meth lab in his basement, my first inclination upon hearing the knock of a police officer is to bail out the back door and take off running. But not answering the phone in the first place, that would be wrong wouldn’t it?

You can run but you cannot hide.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

BitchBert's Clues for the Clueless

Prince Charles and Camilla

Justice League


16:19 hrs. Frantic woman calls from a trailer park saying her 3yo son had been kidnapped by two women in a white car. She had left the child outside unattended for about 10 minutes then asked a neighbor if she had seen him. The neighbor thought it had been the mother who had picked up the child since the mother also owns a white car.
The mother was frantically driving through the area when she called me.

16:20 hrs. I enter the call with this information

16:21 hrs. Dispatcher broadcasts the information on the radio and dispatches several officers

16:23 hrs. While gathering more information I tell mom to go home to wait for us (so we have a point of contact) and take her name and cell phone number.

16:24 hrs. A coworker runs the mother’s name in our statewide computer and comes up with a $2000 misdemeanor warrant for her arrest for leaving the scene of an accident. An audible “awwwwww” comes over the room, so much so that I have to mute my headset so she doesn’t hear. A coworker tells me that mom has a warrant; I tell the coworker that I don’t care about a warrant during a kidnapping. And it’s true, we are not going to arrest the mother of a kidnapped child for a misdemeanor warrant.

16:25 hrs. Mother arrives back to her trailer to discover that the mystery woman in the white sedan was her sister. She tells me with relief that her sister was stupid not to tell her but that it everything was okay and she didn’t need the police.

My focus changes. I tell her that I’m glad the child is safe but, since we’re already en route, we’ll just stop on by to chat with her.

16:29 hrs, officers arrive.

16:37 hrs. officers announce she has been taken into custody for the warrant.

16:52 hrs, mom is taken to jail.

My question to faithful readers: Should I feel bad for being happy that mom got taken to the pokey for letting a 3 year old go unattended for 10 minutes outdoors? I’m not a parent but three seems way way way too young for that. Just the possibility that a kidnapper could take the child is too scary for words.

I’m not saying we should Taser mom. Well, maybe. But for all you parents out there: am I wrong to have been pleased?

Lies Lies Lies

Perhaps it was the time period in which I was born.

I was born in the year of Woodstock and in the time between then and when I was 5 years old the country saw the end of the hippie movement (screw you, Charles Manson); the death of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison; and the resignation of the President of the United States for being a dirty liar.

I learned that, even though I am a Caucasian male, the Man is always trying to keep the Brother down. Music was meant to be threatening but also a force of change. Most great bands did not show pictures of themselves on the covers of their albums because band members were so ugly (bless them).

The biggest lesson I learned is that the government, corporations, and any groups or individuals will lie to get what they want or to justify their actions. Soldiers are to be admired and thanked for their service but there has not been a war or police action in my lifetime that I would fully support (if memory serves). Viet Nam and Iraq are the biggest examples but I remember being of draft age and not wanting to be drafted to go to war in Honduras.

Which brings me to Jane Fonda.

Jane Fonda was an idiot during the Viet Nam war. Protesting the war was her right and duty as an American. Sitting on an anti-aircraft gun pointed at American troops was wrong. Would I have done something so stupid when I was my late teens or early twenties? Maybe. Would I do something so stupid and wrong now? No.

Two folks yesterday told me they were not going to see Monster in Law because of Jane Fonda. Then they both told a story of Jane Fonda being handed slips of paper by prisoners of war and then turning over them over to the captors. I knew about the anti-aircraft gun (there are pictures and film of that) but had never heard this other more nefarious story.

The story is a big fat lie.

The other stories are true and Fonda deserves to feel horrible for her actions. She should apologize NOT during a movie or book promotion for a change. She deserves people not going to see her movies because they don’t like her politics.

But America is all about free speech and the right to have beliefs in opposition to the governing political party. Jane Fonda, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, the Dixie Chicks, and Bruce Springsteen are entitled to their opinions and if they have a bigger audience then good for them. If they are full of crap, their audience will leave them.

People who put themselves on a pedestal usually have fairly obvious feet of clay; there is no need to propagate lies against them.

Personally, I’m not seeing Monster in Law because it’s a J-Lo chick-flick. That’s just me.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Turn the page

Wednesday I finally succumbed to the temptation to buy a new computer tower. My old Compaq has never given me a lick of trouble but the processor is a 1.1Ghz Athlon that’s just too slow.

My original plan was to have a guy from work build me a computer out of the parts of my old one and a new processor, motherboard, video card, a case, and some RAM.

Wednesday I was in Best Buy and found an open box special on an Insignia D400. Insignia, I found later, is Best Buy’s own line of computers. It’s got all the prerequisites: the case, the respectable 2.8Ghz Pentium 4, the extra ram. I plugged in the upgrades from my old computer: dvd burner, faster cd burner, the extra USB 2.0 card.

What I have now is a clean slate in a shiny black and silver box.

The process of taking the data from the old to the new is interesting. Going through old pictures, going through old text documents, going through music files, deciding what to keep and what to archive away, figuring out that I can’t currently transfer my emails over (any hints?) so I have to go through my old mail. What to keep?

Add a juicy bit of kismet: a neighbor down the block had a garage sale on Friday and I bought a perfectly good monitor for $10, so I get to keep the old computer running for as long as it takes me to nip and tuck – yet benefit from the new speedy model.

That’s the shallow bit of news this week. I will dive to the depths (or just muddy my waters to appear deeper) in future posts.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Please Share My Umbrella

Uncle Ted, how about some more bus routes and increased service? Oh wait, that's not available on the federal level..

U.S. Gives Anchorage $1.5M for Bus Stop

By MARY PEMBERTON, Associated Press Writer Thu May 19,12:15 AM ET
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Tom Wilson is faced with a problem many city administrators would envy: How to spend $1.5 million on a bus stop.

Wilson, Anchorage's director of public transportation, has all that money for a new and improved bus stop outside the Anchorage Museum of History and Art thanks to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens (news, bio, voting record) — fondly referred to by Alaskans as "Uncle Ted" for his prodigious ability to secure federal dollars for his home state.
Wilson is prepared to think big.

The bus stop there now is a simple steel-and-glass, three-sided enclosure. Wilson wants better lighting and seating. He also likes the idea of heated sidewalks that would remain free of snow and ice. And he thinks electronic signs would be nice.
"It is going to be a showpiece stop," Wilson said.
He acknowledges the money has put him in an awkward position.
"We have a senator that gave us that money and I certainly won't want to appear ungrateful," he said. At the same time, he does not want the public to think the city is wasting the money. So "if it only takes us $500,000 to do it, that's what we will spend."
That is still five to 50 times the typical cost of bus stop improvements in Anchorage.
The money was contained in a $388 billion spending bill passed by Congress last November, when Stevens was head of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Citizens Against Government Waste has ranked Stevens No. 1 every year since it began calculating lawmakers' proficiency at bringing home pork in 2000. In 2005, Stevens brought home more than $645 million, or $984.85 for each Alaskan, the group says.
"Everyone suffers for the $1.5 million bus stop," said Scott Kohlhaas, chairman of the Alaska Libertarian Party. "It is a great example of government waste."
One thing is certain: City and museum officials agree that the bus stop must fit in aesthetically with a museum expansion project that is being funded with $75 million in public and private money. In fact, the museum has offered to help design the bus stop.
The museum's architects want it to be compatible with the exterior building materials used for the expansion — glass with a pattern that gives the impression of looking through a thin curtain.
And they do not want it to spoil the view of the street that museum visitors will have when they stand in what will be a mini-forest of 350 birch trees whose lower branches have been cut away.
If done right, the expanded museum and improved bus stop could anchor a new eastern edge to the downtown area, drawing not only more tourists to the museum but shoppers from a nearby mall and workers from the federal building, said museum director Pat Wolf.
That is what Stevens had in mind when he got the $1.5 million, said the senator's spokeswoman Courtney Boone.

"It is supposed to be a lot more than a bus stop," she said. "It needs to have a way to smoothly transition all these people."

And Boone said there are good reasons Stevens strives to bring federal dollars to Alaska. For one thing, it is more difficult and costly to build infrastructure in Alaska, she said.
"Sen. Stevens does not believe the money that he is able to work diligently to secure at the federal level is pork," she said. "He considers it infrastructure development for a very young state. People seem to forget how young Alaska really is."

Waiting for a bus, Ronnie San Ramon imagined what he would do with $1.5 million. With winter still a fresh memory, he suggested making the bus stop fully enclosed and heated.
"People in winter are frozen — especially if the bus is late like today," San Ramon said.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Answer

You scored as agnosticism. You are an agnostic. Though it is generally taken that agnostics neither believe nor disbelieve in God, it is possible to be a theist or atheist in addition to an agnostic. Agnostics don't believe it is possible to prove the existence of God (nor lack thereof).

Agnosticism is a philosophy that God's existence cannot be proven. Some say it is possible to be agnostic and follow a religion; however, one cannot be a devout believer if he or she does not truly believe.



















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Something about it speaks to me.

Not about me, but about someone I know. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Litter of the Law

Yesterday at work I got a call on the regular business line from a Mrs. Kravitz woman who reported that her terrible neighbors had dragged their three bags of garbage out to the curb the day before garbage day, even though she knew that the neighbors fully realized that doing such a dastardly thing was against the law.

I was a little taken aback, which doesn’t happen all that often, so I paused before replying. She took this as an opportunity to explain to me that it was all over the news that people should only put their garbage out on the day the garbage collection service came for pick-ups and not a minute earlier; furthermore that police would be ticketing the evil scofflaws who committed such acts because garbage attracts bears and no one wants bears in their neighborhood. I calmly suggested that she call our local fish and wildlife department, at which point she told me the news told her to call the police and that was what she was doing and what was I going to do about it.

I took her information and politely told her “thank you, we’ll see what we can do.” I then turned to my immediate supervisor and asked if we were really going to load a call about garbage put out the night before garbage day. The answer was a reluctant but firm “yes.”

Okey-dokey. Like the good public servant that I am, I entered said call. Then I began thinking. Actually I believe I began ranting about my family tradition of celebrating Garbage Eve and wondering aloud about how I was a criminal last week when I was manically cleaning and taking contractor bag after contractor bag out to the curb four days early. Four days! Later I apologized to all within earshot for any discomfort I caused them while I was under the influence of extreme incredulity.

I remembered reading the blog post by Rogier van Bakel about Japan’s Trash Nannies. I had thought at the time about the crazy busy-body community who would spend their personal time monitoring other people’s garbage. What loony birds! Now I look around me to see a bunch of twigs and bird spit all prepared for a nest of our own brand of loonies.

The reason for the season is our local bear population.

Anchorage is very close to Alaska and for that reason wildlife tends to wander through the outskirts of our fair city. Moose are the most common neighbors but we see our share of bears, porcupines, eagles, etc. Moose are attracted by gardens and trees. Bears are attracted by birdfeeders and garbage. No one in Anchorage needs to feed birds, yet they insist on filling feeders with seed and suet. Those in the outskirts of town with birdfeeders on their decks will likely encounter a bear on the very same deck during the summer. Last summer when the temperatures reached the low 90’s (for Anchorage that is freakin’ hot) at least one woman lost a very expensive inflatable pool to the claws of a bear who thought the water looked inviting.

So I know the rules of living in bear country: store your garbage in bear-proof containers (read: garage), keep your dog food inside, let the birds find their own meals, and sing Celine Dion songs as loud as you can while hiking so that bears get scared away (it works for other hikers too).

But to take Garbage Eve away from me? Criminalize the closest thing I have to a religious upbringing? What’s that smell? That’s the sickly sweet scent of the Man trying to keep the brother down.

The fact is that no respectable bear would enter my neighborhood.

I live in a trailer park cleverly disguised as a row of duplexes. If you think I am being too harsh, let me illustrate:

1. The neighbor across the street believes that the Confederate flag makes a dandy window treatment.

2. The neighbor one block over is selling their washer, dryer, and refrigerator. To keep the fridge fresh, they have it plugged in while displaying all three appliances on their front yard. The handwritten cardboard sign announcing the price and the coiled length of orange extension cord leading to the house completes the curb appeal.

3. There are as many junk cars as operable cars in the driveways.

4. Not one, but several neighbors have couches and/or recliners in their garages so they can open the garage doors and watch traffic, lounging in their wife-beater t-shirts and drinking 40oz bottles of beer.

Yet with all it’s redneckedness, it turns out that I am the one on the block who is a trashy criminal. While I thought I was being roguish with my rubbish, I am really just a scofflaw like those who Mrs. Kravitz was trying to sic the po-po on.

Jesus wept.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Stocking Order

I don’t hang around clothing stores that cater to the 8-12yo girl market (really, Officer) so it was not until I read on that there is a company called LittleMissMatched that sells intentionally mismatched socks. Not satisfied with mismatching in pairs, the packets with either three socks or seven socks. This is fantastic and long overdue. Starting today I’m going to mismatch all of my socks. Granted, I’m a guy so I have only black long athletic socks and white short athletic socks but now I won’t care which color logo goes with which sock. I’m free of the shackles of pairing!

I think the next time I buy tennis shoes, I’ll buy two similar styles with different colors so I can mismatch them as well.

I'm free of the shackles of pairing!!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Rocket Surgeons

Today at work I got a call from the manager of a local hotel. He was reporting that a former guest had called a couple hours after they checked out to ask if housekeeping had found a beat-up can of 7-Up in their room. The guest was desperate to get it back because they claimed it contained jewelry. Housekeeping checked their garbage bags and found the missing 7-Up can and it was not full of jewelry (surprise, surprise) but instead was full of little baggies of crack cocaine. The manager called us to pick up the crack.

The question is this: Who was the brilliant crack-head who thought up the “jewelry” angle, as if this was the most reasonable thing in the world? “Well I was on vacation and hid my jewelry in a beat up empty looking soda can… yeah.. that’s the ticket.”

Flippin’ mo-rons. NHI

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Alternate Universe

For balance, check out

the Huffington Post

It's a cross between the Drudge report and a blogging site for liberal celebrities like Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Julie Louis-Dreyfus, etc.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Soon in this forum I will tell the story about visiting the catacombs under Paris with Terri and Rob and visiting the crypts of St Michan’s Church in Ireland with Terri and Rob. These stories will illustrate my love of all things dead. Today I’ll give a little illumination to start things out.

I am a pretty happy-go-lucky person. While I use bitterness and cynicism like a shield against the arrows and darts of everyday life, I am not a dour or sullen individual. I love stories; however, and the best stories seem to be those which involve great love and great loss. The ultimate loss is death and the ultimate love is love which transcends death.

That’s too trite an explanation.

The stories I love to hear, and all stories are meant to be heard if only narrated by that voice in my head as I read them, are those which take me to places I would not have chosen to go without the storyteller leading me that way.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, The Green Mile by Stephen King, Carrie by Stephen King, most stories by Stephen King, most stories by Rod Serling, Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk, the movie Frailty, and the movie Apocalypse Now all take me to dark places which make me think.

The world has enough mundane horrors: child abuse, sexual assault, SIDS, AIDS, war, domestic violence, random mechanical failures and deadly lapses in judgment. I can tell you work stories which will make your skin crawl – just everyday occurrences: the woman who lies down for a nap with her infant and rolls over and smothers the child, the young adult whose leg was trapped in the blades of a hydroseed mixer, the family on their way back from a nice Sunday drive who get hit head-on by a drunk driver.

If I want horror, I need only go to work. At work I cannot dwell upon these things. In fiction I can go to these dark places and think about all these things and know that no one was actually hurt.

The skeletons and the morbid sense of humor is my way of whistling past the graveyard. My wife keeps me pretty much in line; I am forbidden to use my wood-working tools to build a coffin of any size in the garage.

She is the lighter side of me; she is the happy romantic; she is the lover of sunflowers and ladybugs. I am the darker romantic; the lover of skulls and cemeteries. She is the red; I am the black.

But together we are usually giggling like a bunch of schoolgirls and are very light-hearted. I do not dwell on the darkness but I think that you have to see the darkness in order to appreciate the light.

And black is slimming.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

New Look

What do you think of the new look of the site?

Too dark? Not dark enough? I don’t want to concentrate on style at the expense of substance, so I'm not going to hire someone to do some great design. Not yet anyhow. It’s just a bit of fluff here and there but I'm enjoying the tinkering.

Tell me a story.

taken by Kelli Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Things are not as they seem

Click HERE

it'll blow your mind, man!

From It's how I feel about my wife Posted by Hello

Value System

Dog kills cat, court awards owner $45,000

May 10, 12:07 PM (ET)

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A woman who sued a neighbor after her cat was mauled by his dog was awarded more than $45,000, the Seattle woman's lawyer said on Monday.

Paula Roemer's cat Yofi was killed after her neighbor's dog broke through a fence in February 2004. The dog's owner, Wallace Gray, had pleaded guilty to animal-control violations in Seattle Municipal Court and admitted negligence.

Seattle District Court Judge Barbara Linde ordered Gray to pay Roemer a little over $45,000 for Yofi's death, including $30,000 for the value of the cat, $15,000 for emotional distress, and other charges.

Roemer's lawyer, Adam Karp, who specializes in animal cases, said that while multimillion-dollar judgments have been awarded over thoroughbred horses, her award was the highest for a pet in the United States that he was aware of. Roemer has said she would donate the money to animal welfare groups.

AP May 10,2005 12:07pm (ET)


Let’s forget about her $15,000 emotional distress for a moment. How on Earth is this cat worth $30,000? If the cat was actually worth $30,000 what was it doing only a fence away from any dog?

So I did some additional research. Seattle Times article

The first part of this fact-filled article by Warren Cornwall and Craig Welch:

Paula Roemer knows most people don't understand her passion for animals.

Some of her North Seattle neighbors aren't thrilled about the crows she attracts to her back yard with bird seed, she says. When she rescued a scraggly kitten abandoned on a pathway while she was vacationing in Israel 13 years ago, people reacted with disdain.

So when a neighbor's dog mauled and killed that same beloved cat, Yofi, last year, Roemer barely mentioned it to people she knew. But now she feels that she found one person who understood: a judge.

Last week, Seattle District Court Judge Barbara Linde ordered the dog's owner to pay $45,480.12 to Roemer for the cat's death.

"Not too many [people] value a cat," said Roemer, a retired, 71-year-old former junior-high-school teacher, who lives alone except for her animals. "You know what I'm saying: 'It's just a cat.' And I'm very, very thankful we had a judge who knew that a cat had some value."

Judge Linde determined that Roemer should receive $30,000 in replacement value for the loss of her cat, $15,000 for emotional distress, $90 to recoup the cost of having Yofi cremated, $80 in medical expenses and $24.12 in interest.

Again - $30,000 for the cat? Was the judge on crack? In this day of excessive punitive damages I can understand if she awarded Roemer $44,000 for emotional distress and $1000 for replacement value of a stray cat, but $30,000? My head just exploded.

I can understand this woman was devoted to her cat; however, she was a little bit wacky about her pets as evidenced by these quotes:

"I didn't go to court to get money," she said. "I could either burn his house down or I could go and shoot his dogs in front of him and shoot him, or I could shoot myself. So I decided to be rational and get a lawyer.” And, "It sounds crazy that I value my animals more than I do people. I help out people, too," she said. "It's just that in my personal life, I get along better with animals."

I'm glad she called a lawyer because I’ve seen too many of these neighbor disputes turn into crime scenes.

But $30K for a stray cat? I wonder if they elect judges in Seattle.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I'm a lunatic.

I’ve always been happy to claim mental illness, as it adds a sense of mystery to my otherwise dull persona. Until I was actually diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder this was all for fun. Now that I’ve had to do a little reading on the subject of mental illness there’s too much temptation to either self-diagnose or to imagine every little quirk is another symptom of a bigger and more problematic situation.

I suppose it’s similar to an elderly person forgetting where they left their car keys and instantly being afraid that this is the first sign of Alzheimer’s.

Perhaps it’s just a desire for something on which to blame my problems. If I overeat it’s because of a “glandular condition.” If I lay about all day then I must be depressed. A cheap desire to imagine that my gluttony and sloth is not my fault; the devil made me do it.

Or the moon.

I woke at 5am on Monday morning so that I could get to work early enough to encamp at a desirable workstation. I worked 11 hours without a lunch break. I got home and ate dinner with my wife. She was tired from her long day and went to bed about 9pm. I lay next to her for about five minutes before deciding that I had chores to do and was not particularly tired. From 9pm to 1am I did the following:

Hand-rinsed all the dishes and ran the dishwasher

Washed five loads of laundry (although only four were dry by 1am)

Folded all the dry laundry

Cleared about a quarter of our garage of clutter

Mopped the kitchen floor

Moved the refrigerator, mopped underneath it, and cleaned its top.

I did all of this while listening to the first half of Garnethill, a novel by Denise Mina. Mina’s novels are fantastic and the reader of this one has the most lovely voice; so much so that I am typing this and hearing it with a female Glaswegian accent. It’s brilliant.

I fed the dogs at 7am and got up ready to face the day about 10am. Since then I'm washing more dishes, washing more clothes, cleaning up more of the garage, and thinking about cleaning up our computer room. There’s an old vanity that I'm half done refinishing so that my wife can use it to prepare her makeup rather than sitting at her computer desk using a hand mirror. Even if it were completely done there’s no place to put it until I can clear some garage space to put some of our computer room junk out of the way. It’s a project.

Does this sudden burst of manic activity make me manic-depressive or bi-polar? I highly doubt it but getting momentum at night might very well have to do with the moon. Today I'm just riding the wave that started its surge last night. How far can I go before the wave crashes? This is the question.

How much can I get done so I can coast for days after? Is it all about getting a little ahead so that I can properly loaf? That would make me diabolically manic-procrastinative, wouldn’t it?

Until they put the DSM-IV out on audio, I’ll probably never know.

Till then, I'm blaming it on the moon.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Backup phones at work. For some reason I love this macro picture.  Posted by Hello


A dozen years ago I worked as a telephone operator at a hotel with a woman named Fawn Areolla. Yes, similar to the circle around a nipple. Some of the front desk clerks nick named her Fawnorrhea, which only made the name thing worse. One clerk in particular would refer to her as Fawnorreha Gonorrhea Diarrhea Areolla. Say it out loud, it’s fun.

Saying Fawn was something of a character would be a gross understatement. She loved to tell stories about herself and had no shame or discretion whatsoever. A typical Fawn story is this one: “One time when I was twelve I was babysitting and ran out of cigarettes. The father of the kids smoked a pipe so I got the bright idea of rolling my own cigarette using pipe tobacco and toilet paper. When I lit the toilet paper it burned so fast it was like ‘poof’ and I singed my eyebrows. Ha Ha!”

She once asked me to edit a singles ad for her and I had to explain that 5XDWF was not necessary. A simple D took care of the 5 Xs.

I loved these stories, although I did feel a little guilty about feeling so superior to her after hearing them. I was young so I can blame it on that, but there was still a little guilt. I don’t think I ever hurt her feelings but I do remember asking her all the time to tell me another story and I was always entertained by the hilarious but sometimes pathetic existence of my coworker.

Flash forward to a week ago. I ran across Fawn at the Wal-Mart (okay, who am I to feel superior to anyone – I'm shopping at Wal-Mart). I gave her a big hug and we chatted for a few minutes. She’d noticeably had a stroke because she needed extra time to formulate words from time to time (all that smoking) but was in good spirits and looked fairly healthy otherwise. We traded personal histories since the hotel days and I told her that I had gotten married.

She gave me a funny look and said “you remember what I used to say to you?” Baffled, I said that I couldn’t remember anything in particular that jumped into mind. She leaned in conspiratorially and said “you used to have those spots all over your face and I said that you needed to get laid for them to go away. Look now - no spots. Ha Ha!)

I no longer felt guilt. She had thought of me as that pimply faced kid who wasn't getting laid (guilty) which seemed a fair trade for my thoughts about her at the time. We laughed it all away and promised to email. I immediately lost her email address (I swear) so maybe it'll have to be another Wal-Mart encounter before I see her again. I wish her well.

Bless you, Fawn. You’ll never change and the world is a more interesting place because of it.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Insanity begins at home

I do love this picture so...

Walking on Scorpions: Insanity begins at home

Jumping late onto a bandwagon

Go to and download your free version of their Firefox web browser. It’s more secure than Explorer or Netscape and I find it faster because there’s not as much garbage add-ons that both Netscape and Explorer have. It will grab your preferences and bookmarks from either Explorer or Netscape so you don’t have to find all your bookmarked pages again.

I'm pretty sure it works with Mac and Linux systems as well. It’s worth checking out.

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

May 4, 12:20 PM (ET)
AMHERST, Ohio (AP) It wasn't Laurie Ralston's resume that got the attention of police. It was her record. Ralston applied Thursday for a job as a dispatcher with the Amherst police department. When they did a background check, police quickly found out she has 17 traffic convictions, including seven speeding tickets and two citations for driving without a license. Ralston was called in Friday for what she was told would be an interview. Instead, she was arrested and charged with failing to appear in court and driving without a license. Ralston said she had no idea police were after her. "It was just a little excessive to have that type of background and try to get a shot at this type of job," Lt. Joseph Kucirek said.

I am continually amazed by the sheer number of people in my community who drive with suspended or revoked licenses and/or who drive without insurance. My city has allowed the police to seize cars of subjects driving without a valid license and without insurance –and you’d think that would send the message. Yet daily we tow a dozen or more cars for this very thing.

I can almost sympathize with some of these folks. I can imagine a situation where I was irresponsible enough to lose my license, especially when I was younger and not working directly for The Man.

What I cannot believe is that these people are unaware of their license status or the possibility of a warrant being issued if they fail to go to court or fail to pay their fines.

And applying for a dispatcher job with this hanging over your head? Well, that's such an easy arrest it's not even sporting.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Crosses of St George are flying all around us...

England Wins!! England Wins!!

No, I'm not talking about World Cup soccer, I'm talking about the most pathetic figure in US history I can think of quickly: PFC Lynndie England, infamous in pictures from Abu Ghraib prison.

Think about it: She pleads
guilty. Her only defense is during sentencing and the defense voted most likely by her lawyers to win sympathy from the jurors is the "she's really pretty retarded, so go easy folks."

Granted, she has that Special Olympian look about her. Actually, I'm ashamed I'm lumping all Special Olympians into the "looks like Lynndie England" category. Olympians, I'm sorry. But PFC England looks like she arrived in Abu Ghraib on the short bus, doesn't she?

Yet in a strange twist of justice, the judge decides that she's too retarded to have actually known she was doing something wrong and, since the main charges against her involved conspiracy and there cannot be a conspiracy of one, he threw out all the charges. He actually said "This is over," and called a mistrial.

Well slap my ass and call me Mohammed.

posted via

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Long Arm of the Law

I’ve already mused about my love of two great things: words and jargon. Today I’ll give you a little lesson in law.

My crafty nature leads me to appreciate the laws imposed upon society (and the twists, turns, and loopholes found within) but the topic of this dissertation is the laws of nature, specifically human nature.

Yesterday I woke up early, intending to get to work before my coworkers so I could cherry-pick my duties (which rotate and are determined largely under the ordinance of “first come, first served”). I fed the dogs, administered the insulin to my diabetic dog, grabbed something to eat, and leapt into the shower.

A slight digression: I actually stepped into the shower rather gingerly. A couple of months ago I prepared my shower entry with more of a leaping motion and it had frightening results. I overcommitted with my “in tub” foot and it skidded on the slick surface. Unable to shift my weight to my non-committed foot, I fell square onto the outer edge of the tub. Luckily, the law of centrifugal force saved my family jewels from being squished under my considerable weight. Even more fortuitous was the fact that I have a shower curtain rather than a set of shower doors. Falling onto a set of metal rails would have surely caused me great injury. As it was, I had a very sore ‘taint’ for a week or so and I called it a lesson learned.

Back to yesterday morning. I thought I had allowed at least fifteen extra minutes to complete my tasks and get to work early enough to get my favored spot. When I left the house I discovered that I had only a measly three or four minutes to spare. Where had the time gone? What happened?

The book I was listening to while doing my morning chores, “The Burglar in the Closet” by Lawrence Block, gave me the answer: Parkinson’s Law.

Coined by Professor Cyril Northcote Parkinson, the law states: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” It’s a comment on bureaucracy, but it works quite well to explain personal duties as well.

I had extra time so my duties expanded to fill this time. It was unconscious and, I’d like to think, unavoidable. I love this idea. It’s darn near perfect.

Another digression: My youngest brother has a degree in Nuclear Engineering and absolutely HATES it when I use scientific laws to explain non-scientific situations.

Take Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle. I love this idea as well. The principle states (greatly simplified) that one cannot simultaneously observe both the position of a particle and the momentum of the particle because the observance of one changes the other. More simply still: The act of observation changes the observed.

I believe that people generally hate looking at photographs of themselves (particularly candid photos) because these photos do not resemble the face they see in the mirror. Well of course they don’t. When one looks in a mirror, one immediately changes one’s expression or manner to make it more appealing to oneself. I cock my head or squint my eyebrows so they look straighter or do a hundred other subtle movements to present the face I want to see. I cannot relax enough to see what I really look like. When I know a picture is being taken I can mimic my “mirror face.” The knowledge of being observed changes my behavior as the observed.

My brother finds this maddening. He points out that Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle is a measurable phenomenon and that understanding that it exists and applying the appropriate formulae can remove the uncertainty.

I’ll admit that this is way over my head. Understanding quantum physics is not required in my current career and I am unlikely to apply for any job which requires it.

Nonetheless, I love the Uncertainty Principle just the same - even if I use it totally (and maddeningly for my brother) wrong.

Back on point: The next time you think you have extra time but end up running late as per usual, don’t get all upset – don’t blame yourself – blame Parkinson’s. Not the disease, God forbid ptooey ptooey, but the law.

You just can’t break the law.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Suicide Song

Sort of a twangy country song. The more twang you can get into your voice, the better it rhymes. If I was in any way musically inclined, I'd be singing this at the Scruffy The Brain Eating Dog book readings.


When you’re feeling down and out
And your troubles have increased
You just might think of checking out
To give yourself some peace,
But while you’re feeling crappy
And pitying yourself
You’re forgetting that your suicide
will impact someone else

if you slit your wrist with razors
will your family find you in the tub?
Would you really subject that ugly sight
To someone that you love
Or if they don’t discover you
Well that is even worse
apartment managers have more to do
Than deal with your corpse

I don’t want you to kill yourself
I don’t want you to die
It’s not that I think you’re all that great
Or I’m such a humane guy
suicide is not the right path for the depressed
And I don’t want to have to clean up all your fucking mess

Don’t take a bunch of Tylenol
As an overdose attempt
It’ll probably be successful
But it’ll make you feel like heck
You’ll spend days and days lingering
On the painful road to death
And while you’re having second thoughts
You’ll be taking your last breath

Don’t jump off of a building
And swan dive to the ground
You’ll scare the hell out of pedestrians
And slow traffic all around
If you land on someone’s car
You’ll ruin their whole day
Because their auto insurance man
Will refuse to pay their claim


Don’t hang yourself like a piƱata
And try to break your neck
You might not get the whole thing right
And strangle yourself instead
Plus if you are not fully dressed
responders might mistake your plan
as auto-erotic asphyxiation:
Death at your own hand

Don’t shoot yourself with a firearm
That’s not the way to go
While it’s sometimes quite effective
The mess is incred-i-ble
And you’d be surprised how often
That people tend to miss
And turn themselves into vegetables
Or brain damage victims


Don’t hide in the industrial compacter
At the business where you work
Your co-workers will hate you
And think you’re such a jerk
Cuz when they push the button
To mash their garbage down
They’ll hear your high-pitched wailing screams
And other squishing sounds

Don’t drive off an embankment
Don’t jump off a landing at the mall
Don’t aim a gun at a po-lice man
Don’t do those things at all
Don’t step off a platform
In front of a moving train
Don’t drink that liquid plumber
Use it for the drain

Maybe twice… audience participation.. eight minute drum solo, etc..

Monday, May 02, 2005

Scent Stories

My lovely wife brought this to my attention.


Call me skeptical, but I'm not sure this is an actual line of products or just a hilarious internet joke.

Truth is often stranger than fiction, someone once said.

Web Fingered Woman

I took a call from a man who was reporting his wife or girlfriend as a missing person. She was actually just out messing around on him, which brought to mind all those great blues songs about women who did their men wrong and the men who loved them despite their faults. She also had webbed fingers.

I mentally shifted gears, imagining myself as Eric "Blind Muddy Melon" Anderson, aged bluesman, playing some old time Robert Johnson-esque song about love for my web-fingered woman. This is that song.


I’ve got a web-fingered woman
and I love her, yes I do.
I’ve got a web-fingered woman
and I love her, yes I do.
And if I every lost my baby,
I just don’t know what I would do.

She’s got four toes on her left foot
and two toes on the right.
.She’s got four toes on her left foot
and two toes on the right.
She’s my pretty baby and I love her all the night.

(add nice guitar noodling)
(slight tempo change for this next section)

She’s slightly cross-eyed,
She’s got a cleft palate,
She looks like she got hit in the face
with a croquet mallet.
She’s smart and she’s funny,
I’ll say in her defense
But with teeth so bad that
She could eat corn on the cob through a picket fence.

(back to the traditional blues riff)

But she’s my web-fingered woman
and I love her, yes I do.
She’s my web-fingered woman
and I love her, yes I do.
And if I every lost my baby,
I just don’t know what I would do.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Me Steal Pretty One Day

I had my first David Sedaris moment today.

No, I didn’t turn gay or decide that spiders are cool. Rather, I had my friend C from work tell me “I'm not sure whether to tell you any more stories because they might end up on your blog or in the newsletter.”

Hooray! That’s the best thing I heard all day.

Granted, I feel guilty because I don’t want her to think that I'm listening to her stories with the intent of stealing them for the blog. Also I'm scared that she will actually stop telling me stories because she tells great ones. But how cool is that comment? I got a big charge out of it and I don’t know exactly why. Well, maybe I do. I get a charge out of it because that means good stories are showing up on the blog – stories one might fear becoming totally public. Is that wrong?

I assured Connie that I wouldn’t tell stories about her without asking, or if I did that I would not use Connie’s real name.

Because that would be wrong.

Scruffy the Brain Eating Dog

If i could draw or paint, I would turn this into a childrens book. I envision happy watercolor or chalk drawings with two paired lines of text on each page. But that's just me.


When you are old and live alone
Except for pets inside your home

It comes as no surprise that when
Your life comes to its final end

The pets which you used to feed
Eat your face, to fill their need

Oh sure they’ll scrounge for real food first
Before you are left to quench their thirst

But sooner or later they’ll get to you
And on your face they’ll start to chew

They’ll eat your cheeks, your mouth, your nose
They’ll move on south as hunger grows

Now don’t get upset, it’s not malicious
These pets of yours did not turn vicious

they just needed to eat, and you are handy
they’d prefer something else, you don’t taste like candy

soon the neighbors will start to smell
the gasses which make your body swell

or a relative will require the Police
to do a welfare check, their minds to ease

your pets will be rescued and taken to the pound
while you will be buried six feet in the ground

and you wont mind when your maker you meet
that your pets had your own human remains to eat