Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Headline News

Am I stir crazy yet? That would be "yes." Although I have so much to do when I get back to work that I'm not looking forward to that part of it. Anyway….

Anger at YouTube videos that show how to break into houses The Evening Standard

Students Questioned After S.C. Teacher Drinks Deadly Chemicals WSB-TV, Atlanta

Cops Crack Possible Nut-Nabber Syndicate


Man Accused of Spray-Painting 3 Goats


IHOP Changes Policy of Asking for IDs


And then here's one which I refuse to believe. It's not that I don't think it's possible, but I simply refuse to believe it happened because if I DID entertain the notion that the story is true I might lose all faith in humanity. Perception is reality and under those rules I'm going to deny, deny, deny this one's validity:

Mother arraigned on suspicion of killing baby in microwave – The Newark Ohio Advocate

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Rest Of The Story

Back in August I told a little story about a dispatcher I work with who saved two infants from being stabbed to death by their distraught mother.

*see: When Things Are Not Funny

Someone (or two someones) accused me of making the story up, citing that they could not find an independent source for the story. I chose not to use Adriel's name in my story because using people's real names has caused unexpected results in the past (See: Sherry Dion).

My coworkers (jerbear in particular) immediately had my back in the comments area (which I still appreciate) but for anyone who was skeptical or anyone who missed my initial story (shame – shame on you!) here's your independent source:

From our local chapter of NENA (and there's a picture of Adriel there which I'm not using here for a couple of reasons):

Lifesaving Award for Los Anchorage Police Department Dispatcher Adriel Grimshaw

On August 17, 2006 at approximately 22:00 hours, Comm Clerk II Adriel Grimshaw received a 911 call from a female who said she wanted to kill her boys. She went on to say she receives no support from their dad and that she had left a note. She hung up after saying we should come over and arrest her.

Adriel immediately redialed the number and, recognizing the potential danger to the children, raised the call to a Priority 1. Upon answering the phone, Adriel remained calm and patient as the woman screamed and said she hadn’t hurt the children yet, but that she had a knife. Again, she hung up and Adriel redialed in an attempt to keep her on the line.

Once the caller picked up the phone, she began a hysterical tirade about her depression and how she could no longer deal with her children. Adriel remained calm and showed great empathy, telling the caller she also was a mom and that she understood how difficult raising children can be. The caller again emphasized she had a knife and was going to do something. After asking where the woman’s children were, she said they were still there and disconnected once more.

Adriel was able to reconnect once more and listened to the woman scream that she couldn’t deal with the situation any longer. She said again that she had already written a note and spoke of killing the boys. Each subsequent call indicated the situation was deteriorating rapidly.

After the woman disconnected a fourth time, Adriel dialed again but this time received an answering machine. Realizing the woman might be listening to the message, Adriel carried on a one-sided conversation, speaking in a supportive manner and urging her to pick up the phone to talk with her. Only after officers arrived and broke into the home did she disconnect. When officers arrived and kicked the door, they found the woman standing over her children with knife in hand ready to stab them.

Although dispatchers and calltakers are trained for situations such as these, this incident could easily have had a tragic ending had Adriel not been calm, persistent, empathetic, and determined to make sure the children were safe until officers arrived. Early on, she recognized the seriousness of the call and the need for a code response. It is likely the two children are alive today because of her and the actions of the officers on scene.

a) note that the woman did NOT call saying "I'm thinking of hurting my kids, please help me," she called saying "I'm going to kill my children, please come arrest me." We're just lucky she called ahead for reservations rather than waiting until she had done the deed.

b) It's worth mentioning that this was just one of about 20 calls for service Adriel loaded during the telephone portion of her shift that night. She had belligerent callers, drunk callers, belligerent AND drunk callers, etc., reporting a lot of nuisance problems both before this call and after this call. Shifting gears like that is part of what makes our job stressful. It's not just the individual calls themselves.

c) I was one of Adriel's trainers and would love to take some sort of secondary credit for this "save" but it was all her. I'm very happy she was recognized with a life saving award; we almost never get them (there have been two given to dispatchers in the ten years I've worked for this agency). She's a credit to our profession.

So go hug a dispatcher today! (Except for me due to a tender belly and a strict "no touchy" rule)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Fallen Officer

My thoughts tonight are with the men and women of Honolulu Police and the family and friends of Officer Steve Favela who died as the result of injuries sustained when his motorcycle crashed during a presidential motorcade last Tuesday.

Officer Favela, 30, was an eight year veteran of HPD.

He left behind a wife and four children, ages 5 to 3 months.


It should be noted that more officers die in the line of duty each year due to vehicle accidents than to gunfire.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

See, it really IS healthier to wash your hands

Bloody Brawl Sparked Over Bathroom Hygiene

UPDATED: 1:05 pm EST November 24, 2006

(AP) FORT WORTH, Texas -- A bloody brawl erupted outside a tavern after one customer thought another failed to wash his hands after using the bathroom, according to police.

One man was hospitalized with stab wounds. Another was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to a police report, the fight broke out Thursday after Eric Jennings Kisiah, 27, became upset about a customer's apparent hygiene failure at the Tumbleweeds Sports Bar.

Witnesses told police Kisiah confronted the customer and two of his friends, calling them names, telling them they were dirty and threatening to "slash their throats."

Kisiah then hid near a shrub outside the bar and charged the group as they left, the police report said.

One of the men, 25-year-old Morgan Jackson, was stabbed four times, police said. He was listed in good condition after surgery.

Kisiah was jailed in lieu of $20,000 bail. Mansfield Jail officials declined to let a reporter speak with Kisiah or say whether he had an attorney.

A call to the bar Friday went unanswered.

Source: WKMG "Local 6", Orlando, Fl.

I can see this sort of thing happening, um, IN MY OFFICE. I'm just sayin'


I know I live in Alaska but sheesh:

It's currently -14 with no wind. It gets windier in the afternoon.

Stay warm, whereever you are!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nothing Says "Happy Holidays" like…

Recliner Saves Man Who Was Shot in Head

Nov 21, 10:14 PM (ET)

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (AP) - Now comes another reason to stay put in the La-Z-Boy: A man sitting in his easy chair was shot in the head by his wife, but the sturdy recliner absorbed most of the bullet's force and left him virtually unscathed.

The couple had been arguing at home on Sunday evening, said Contra Costa County sheriff's Lt. Charles Skuce. Then Jan Kamp stood behind her seated husband and fired a gun at the back of his head, Skuce said.

Because she fired through the recliner, the bullet only slightly wounded Norman Kamp, 57, Skuce said.

Norman stood up from his chair, followed his wife into the kitchen and declared, "You shot me," according to authorities.

Jan Kamp fired a second shot at her husband, but missed, Skuce said. He retreated to a neighbor's house in the unincorporated Pacheco area of the county, where he called 911.

After talking to deputies, Norman Kamp was treated at a hospital and released.

Jan Kamp, 58, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and booked at County Jail in Martinez.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Detour Ahead

Let me guide you to a couple of interesting things I've found on the 'net lately (or not so lately as the case might be).

Need a laugh? Tony Calabrese is your guy. His "Fugetaboutit!!!" website has some hilarious stories. To pick only one seems an injustice so here are two recent favorites "Cover That Up!" and "Them"

Side Note: One of the many cool things about blogs and the internet is that when the Michael Richards thing came to light I did two things: 1) blog about it, and 2) sent Tony an email asking him for his opinion, since he's a professional. Being the kind gentleman he is, Tony sent me a nearly instant response which was both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Remember that I'm an absolute stranger who lives thousands of miles away.


Animal lover who wants a heartwarming story? Try this Thanksgiving Story from the WillaWoman. This is her blog's description: "I am The WillaWoman and this is my blog. Before I was disabled, I never wanted a dog. I thought they tied you down, like kids (I didn't want any of those either). Boy, was I wrong... about dogs, that is." Other than that I don't know much about her. No matter what: mad respect to her for training wheelchair service dogs.


Like pictures? Check out Walking On Scorpions. He's got a good eye. Plus he laughs at with Red Hat Ladies now, which I take a tiny bit of credit for. He reminded me of how much I like the Blind Melon song "No Rain," and introduced me to the work of Elliott Smith (1969-2003).

In addition to the quality of his music, Elliott Smith needs to be recognized for illustrating the five words which may someday save your life:

Never Pull The Knife Out

If that sounds cold, then okay, but truly those are words to live by.


No list of thank-you's or redirections would be complete without recommending a visit to two more places:


The Smussyolay. Read I'm Hungry and you'll know why I like reading her stuff. She's a younger, Midwestern, female Spaulding Gray. Okay, so that makes her nothing like the late Mr. Gray except that I like her stories and encourage you to keep an eye on her blog. Good things are coming.


John Cowart's Rabid Blog. Here's a good place to start: A Long Post Of Random Thoughts About Happy Marriage. Had he not stumbled across my blog and then continued to drop by and leave encouraging words, I'd not have spent much (if any) time reading his stuff. I probably would have instantly written him off as a religious nut, a member of the Evangelical Christian Revolution, and therefore someone to politely but definitely avoid.

Yet that's the thing about truly religious people – he's a nice guy. He's also a real guy. His books have naughty parts (I *still* have to officially review "The Lazarus Project" which I think I promised to do more than a year ago. I have good words, and not just because he's been nice to me).

Nice people are sneaky. They inspire me to be a little nicer. Any demonstration of tolerance (and by this I don't mean tolerance of differing views but tolerance of bad behavior , see: Michael Richards) inspires a little more tolerance in me. It's a trick. It must be an evolutionary survival mechanism*. But it works and it makes little parts of the world a little better. A bunch of little parts can add up to a much bigger part.

I'm all verklempt. But I'm off the pain meds so it's not that I'm altered. I suppose I'm just "off."

* I'm a big Jesus fan (for instance I would fly to Portland to see Jesus with my brother Jason similar to the fact that I flew to Portland to see U2 with Jason) but I'm not a believer in much of anything which seems to fly in the face of science or reason. And, quite frankly, most of the loudest PR guys for most of the major religions are… um… over-hyping their product. If you have a quality item you won't need to trick someone into your tent to get it, do you? Similarly, to paraphrase Dick Gregory, "you shouldn't have to sell Democracy; if Democracy is so great then people will steal it!"

I digress. Go forth and explore, web wanderers!


Detour sign from University of Washington

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Next UK Supahstah! The Fat Cowboy

The Fat Cowboy

You'll be aghast but you'll watch the video to the end, I guaran-darn-tee it!

call it comic relief.

Needed: a heaping helping of "shut the hell up"

I am so glad to live in America and have the right to speak freely and say, pretty much, whatever I want. That being said, here are two folks who need to just stop talking:

Exhibit A: O.J. Simpson. Thank you Rupert Murdoch for cancelling "If I Did It" which would have been the absolute worst program broadcast on television – ever. It would have been the epitome of bottom-fishing for ratings. If they did it… it would have been unforgivable. Yet since they cancelled it: good for them. It's nice to have something positive to say about FOX.


Exhibit B: Michael Richards.

After being heckled at a comedy club performance, TV's loveable oddball 'Kramer' hurled a bunch of "n"-bombs at the hecklers. Watch the video: WATCH THE TMZ VIDEO HERE he's not being edgy and using dangerous language as a social commentary (both of which I would approve of) he's calling individual members of the audience racial epithets. Sorry, dude. That was not cool. And it's not funny.

Richards: "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass!"

Um, Mr Richards, that fork you feel now? That's because you're done.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Gun Control

4-year-old recovering from self-inflicted gunshot wound
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - by Tracy Holenport

Anchorage, Alaska - A 4-year-old boy is recovering tonight after accidentally shooting himself at his house. It happened last night near Fort Wainwright.

Alaska State Troopers say Jonathan Moreland climbed up on a bookcase and found the loaded revolver. The bullet hit the boy just above the shoulder.

Troopers say they will outfit it with a gunlock before returning it to the owner.

Channel 2 Broadcasting Inc.

Okay, here's my take on it: It's Alaska, most everyone (except me) has guns.

But if your 4 year old child gets a hold of yours and shoots themselves or anyone else, I dont think handing you a gun lock is going quite far enough. I'm sure the parents are absolutely horrified and will take much better care in the future, but here's a thought:

Your kid gets a hold of your gun. It's no longer your gun. It needs a new home forever.

Just that one. The rest of your arsenal is safe.

Hopefully from your kids too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

REMIX: Cotillion Carnage

Someone searched in dogpile for "cotillion anchorage" and ran into my little story. I clicked on it to make sure I didn't have bizarre colors which don't look as good on gray as on black (the previous color).

blah, blah, blah. I happen to think this is one of my better stories so for anyone who likes my other stuff but never got around to reading it, here's the remix. And yes, it's all true.

\k-o/til/yen \ also co.til.lon \k-o/til/yen, k. o/t-e/ (y)-on\ n [F cotillion, Lit., petticoat, fr. OF, fr. cote coat] 1: a ballroom dance for couples that resembles the quadrille 2: an elaborate dance with frequent changing of partners carried out under the leadership of one couple at formal balls 3: To assemble a group of young people to develop, appreciate and respect their role in society through dance and social etiquette education.

My town has a cotillion club and I know virtually nothing about them. I would guess that, like many cotillion clubs, their purpose is to teach the many facets of etiquette and formal dancing to the children of upper class families. I think it’s primarily a southern thing but since a lot of southern oil workers moved here in the 1970’s during the big oil boom, cotillions survive and probably thrive here still.

My father is an engineer and worked for those same oil companies but in the 1970’s and 1980’s he was a mid-level guy and made a decent amount of money but nothing to buy a mansion with. Consequently we were living a nice middle class life at the bottom of the upper-class Hillside district.

I went to the high school that the other high schools thought was ‘snobby’ and it’s true. The most apt description of my high school was given by a girl who transferred to it in her sophomore or junior year. “It was a horrible school for outsiders. Everyone was either in a clique or had known each other since they were in elementary school.” Luckily, I fit into the second category because I certainly wouldn’t have fit into any clique. And I certainly would not have been asked to join the cotillion club.

I never saw any black, Hispanic, or Native cotillion kids. Perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough. I’m an white guy myself although people often assume I’m Hispanic due to the fairly large amount of Greek in me. I’d prefer to be swarthy than freckled anyway, but that’s just me. I’m sure I’d get stares as a cotillion member.

Upon graduating I worked as a telephone operator at the finest hotel in town (just ask us, we’d tell you) which was sort of like high school. I wasn’t part of any of the cool groups but I made friends pretty quickly and, because my grandmother was my boss, I had to work my ass off so as not to earn the hatred of my co-workers. Luckily she and I look nothing alike so after a year or so no one outside the PBX department even suspected she was my grandmother and, though we never hid it, we didn’t fall all over ourselves volunteering the information either. I called her Grandma until I was 18, then for the next 8 years I called her “Lenora” exclusively.

Until I worked at the hotel I had never heard of a cotillion. Once I experienced them from the point of view of the hospitality industry, I grew to have a healthy dislike for them.

My long curly hair cut to just collar length to conform to the letter of the grooming standard (if not to the spirit) and my black motorcycle jacket with the fringe on it (which I called my ‘car wash coat’ since when it twisted from side to side the fringe would slap back and forth like the brushes inside an automatic car wash) told folks that I was still not cotillion material. To the fashion police out there, remember that this was the 1980’s.

Cotillion nights at the hotel were a tiny slice of hell. I worked the swing shift (three to eleven pm) and the cotillion generally lasted from seven to eleven pm. The lobby would be full of extremely white girls wearing very expensive dresses with opera gloves and very high heels. I guess extremely white guys attended too, but I didn’t pay much attention to them. They were wall to wall rented tuxes that looked like background anyway. Cotillion meant lots of drunk under-aged girls walking very tentatively down one of several stairways down to the lower lobby where the restrooms were located. They were usually followed or preceded by lots of drunk under-aged boys looking to do stupid shit or fight in their own bathrooms. There were chaperones but it there were inevitable problems. The stupid shit usually included stupid shit involving the house phones on both levels of the lobby. We dreaded cotillion.

Consequently getting off work after a cotillion night was an exhilarating experience. “I survived,” one might say to themselves as they walked to their cars, parked blocks away from the hotel at meters or free off-street parking (limited and inconvenient but who could afford to pay for parking on the wages we made?)

It was one such night that I found myself crossing the street south of the hotel toward my car two blocks away and saw the red and blue flashing lights of police cars ahead.

Wahoo, I get to see an accident! I remember thinking in nineteen year old enthusiasm.

As I got closer I realized that the accident in question was quite near where I had parked the used Honda Civic I had bought 31 days prior and that I was very fond of. Then I saw my car itself, parked oddly one spot behind the corner stop I’d thought I parked it at and looking odd in another way – the front end of completely crumpled up.


I furiously strode up to the police officer, he wearing his own black leather jacket but without fringe, and said “hey, I own the gray Honda.” He looked at me like some dirtbag criminal and said “You – go wait by your car. I’ll get to you.” Freakin’ pigs.

As I waited I examined the accident scene. A large old Lincoln or Buick had slid sideways into my parked car, crumpling my bumper, bursting the radiator, smashing both headlight assemblies, and mashing up my hood. Did I mention I had owned the car for thirty one days? Shoved up under my car were half a dozen empty beer bottles and the cardboard container they came in.

When I saw the driver of the boat that hit me, it all became clear: Extremely white, red haired, red faced, and too polite cotillion kid in a blue tuxedo. Blue tuxedo! Later I learned he had gotten into a fight with his cotillion date, got kicked out of the dance, and drove away angry. He blew through a stop sign,clipped the back end of a Chevy Blazer, and slid into my car. The Blazer had no damage but they stopped because the passenger was an Allstate Insurance adjuster (thank Dog!). The Blazer occupants didn’t even know my car had been hit and if they hadn’t insisted on a police report the kid would have driven away.

The most surreal moment of the night came when the Horse Drawn Carriage Company detoured their carriage around to get a better look at the accident, on the insistence of the drunk and very happy carriage passengers. Had I been in the carriage I’d have asked the same thing, probably. As the carriage stopped at the stop sign near my car, a drunk man shouted “Hey!” to get my attention then said the words I will never forget, “you should have got a horse!”

I looked at this man, rage still boiling in my blood, then looked at the stern police officer who was still down the street dealing with the other half of the accident, then looked back a drunk horse guy, then back at the police officer. I actually calculated the punishment I might face if I climbed up and dragged the drunk guy out of the carriage and beat the comedy clean out of him.

I figured the police officer would be looking for any excuse to slap the cuffs on me (I was a child who watched Woodstock with rapt attention and had a problem with authority and government, amazing where I ended up) so I turned by back on the huge horses and the horse’s behinds in the carriage. Okay, so even then I thought it would look pretty funny from their view.

I called my best friend, Lina, for a ride and my parents to tell them I’d be getting a ride home from her. Everyone was happy that no one was hurt.

Blue Tux’s mom’s insurance company paid about $4000 to fix my car and I got a rental Subaru Justy for three weeks. Remember the Justy with the ECVT. What’s that? Electro-continuously Variable Transmission. Instead of gears it had, and I cannot make this up, a contraption similar to a big rubber band that constantly changed the gear-ratio. The whole thing was about as big as a roller skate so being run by rubber bands didn’t seem all that far-fetched.

My Honda experience is a whole story in itself but I traded it in on a Toyota Celica which served faithfully until I traded that in for my first brand new car, the Hyundai Elantra. No, I’ve never been able to attract chicks with any of my vehicles.

In the following years I also got rid of the car wash jacket, cut my hair, and took a job working for The Man himself. I never investigated who the stern officer was who told me to shut up and go stand by my car, but it was probably appropriate under the circumstances.

I’ve grown older and wiser but memories of the old days remain. Whenever I see young girls in prom dresses and opera gloves I get the urge to drag someone out of a horse-drawn carriage and do some carnage.

Get a horse, indeed.

Woke Up This Morning, Got Myself A Gun

Well, okay. No gun. But I woke up after surgery. That's always a good sign.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Belly Button Window

Thursday I am scheduled to have surgery to repair an umbilical hernia.

It should be a simple procedure. The surgeon will cut a little crescent shaped smiley face under my belly button and then place a square post-it note sized piece of mesh over the defect. Sew it up specifically, sew it up generally, then get the heck out. No fuss, no muss.

I'm not a big fan of general anesthesia so I'm a little nervous. I think it's a control thing. I hate the idea of not waking up. My sergeant summed it up nicely when he suggested that if that were to happen then I wouldn’t be in any position to worry about it, which is true.

Until then, though, I'm making a nice little nest for some specific anxiety.

Intellectually I realize that there's about a zero percent chance of anything that catastrophic happening. Too bad I'm not much of an intellectual. I suppose there's a better chance he'd accidentally leave a sponge in there but since I could live with that, I'm not at all worried about those kinds of things.

Expect me to be blogging about having a sore tummy Thursday night or Friday sometime. It'll be a rare treat, I'm sure.

Friday, November 10, 2006

That's Governor Skinny White Chocolate Mocha to you!

While I had hoped Fran Ulmer would have been elected Alaska's first woman governor four years ago (she should have used my bumper sticker idea:
On election day, tell Murkowski:
I'm pleased that the governor-elect is Sarah Palin.

It's no secret that I'm a liberal and that she is conservative but I voted for her anyway. Why? Because she is young, fresh, and (at least so far) doesn't have ulterior motives like our current governor.

Her challengers were qualified and we'll be hearing from both in the future. Sarah's a rising star. It will be interesting to see how well she can shake things up in Juneau and if she'll be able to work WITH the state legislature instead of handing down edicts.

Congratulations to the future Governor of the Great State of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

Oh, it's long past time to lose the sunglasses. Really. I'm serious. Ditch 'em. Better to look squinty in photographs than to look like you are one of the Communion aliens all ready to anally probe some farmer. But it's really up to you…

You have a Duty

to nurture yourself.

Yes, I'm talking to you !

What have you done for YOU lately?

When the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen on yourself BEFORE helping your kids she's pointing out the fact that if you try to help someone while you are still in danger, you're not doing either of you any good.

So I'm just saying – take a minute and take care of you.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Crass but I can't help myself...

The Los Anchorage Daily Newsolator published a Q&A of the three gubernatorial candidates today.

My personal favorite, Sarah Palin, gave at least one… um... interesting answer.

First, the question itself is absolutely asinine. Yet the response made me laugh twice. Yes twice.

The Question:

Q. How do you take your coffee, and where do you get it?

oooo. her staff needed to advise her to be careful about this one. If she mentions anything which can only be ordered at an espresso stand, she's alienating the entire Bush community (by the way, Bush refers to "the middle of freakin' nowhere," not to any American political dynasty).

Alas, she answered with a fancy schmancy drink. But what's funny to me is that she simultaneously answered the unasked questions "what is your Hip-Hop name?" and "just how sassy are you?"

A. Skinny white chocolate mocha — all over town.

Oh yeah, Sarah's definitely Skinny White Chocolate Mocha and I have no doubt that if she wanted to she's fully capable of "gettin' it all over town."

Move over Fergie - with her Bono wrap-around shades, our future governor is completely Sarahlicious.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


As part of a three day in-service training for all dispatchers I've been doing a series of "Introduction to CIT" two hour sessions. My dog and pony show involves: introducing the concept of CIT, discussing the various major types of mental illnesses we will encounter, discuss psychiatric meds and their side effects, and discuss the resources available to consumers and to their families in our local area.

I've done three and have three to go. By the sixth one I'll have my song and dance down pat. Each of the first three went fine but I didn't knock anyone's socks off.

I suppose I exposed everyone in the most recent group to strep, so that might make it memorable.

I knew I was missing something… some essential piece of knowledge that would hook people. We already have the tools to deal with folks in crisis; we do it all day every day. Info on the conditions and drugs is helpful but it's not all that inspiring.

What I need to explain first thing is the answer to a question I was posed in the most recent class: "How did the system go so horribly wrong?"

That answer, and many interesting stories, can be found in the book:

Crazy, A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness by Pete Earley

Pete Earley was a reporter for the Washington Post and has written seven other non-fiction books and two novels. He was qualified and prepared to write a startling exposé about pretty much any subject.

He was not prepared for one of his adult sons becoming mentally ill and then encountering the justice system. He was shocked.

You might be too, although perhaps not as much as the average bear. My audience is pretty "mental health community" savvy but this book is comprehensive enough to teach everyone one or two things and illuminate several areas I'd wager you'd never thought about.

Pete's college student son Mike, just recently diagnosed as bipolar, broke into an unoccupied residence, picked at random, to take a bath. Police responded and sent a canine in. The dog bit him and held him until five officers were able to subdue him (he was fighting).

Mike was charged with two felonies. The wife half of the homeowners wanted him put in jail and punished for violating her home. While the prosecutors would have gladly accepted a plea to a misdemeanor or two, the wife half of the homeowner couple wanted Mike punished and would settle for nothing less than a felony conviction.

Felony convictions, folks, will mess up your life forever. I suggest you avoid them.

I won't give away the rest of Mike's story, but it's both interesting and frustrating.

Earley's own blurb on the book (from )

" I had no idea. I'd been a journalist for thirty years and written extensively about crime and punishment and society. But I'd always been on the outside looking in. I had no idea what it was like to be on the inside looking out – until my son, Mike, was declared mentally ill. Suddenly the two of us were thrown headlong into the maze of contradictions, disparities and Catch-22s that make up America's mental health system. Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness is a nonfiction book that tells two stories. The first is my son's. The second describes what I observed during a year-long investigation inside the Miami-Dade County jail, where I was given unrestricted access. I feel more passionately about this book than any I have every written. Our nation's jails and prisons have become our new mental asylums. I wrote this book as a wake-up call to expose how persons with mental illness are ending up behind bars when what they need is help, not punishment.

• Important note: The word “CRAZY” in the book title refers to the mental health care system."

You can read the first chapter of the book for free on his website.

If you wonder about how we got into such a mess, I highly recommend Crazy as the best place to start your search.

Friday, November 03, 2006

All My Fault

It usually is.

Monday I went to a doc-in-a-box after work with a cough and a sore throat. I'm having my belly button patched next week and pneumonia would be a bad deal prior to surgery.

Nope, no pneumonia, just cold. Here's some lame cough syrup and go forth and conquer!

But this is a story about my car.

When I originally bought my Cadillac of Korean Vehicles six years ago I drove immediately from the dealership to the tire shop to buy 4 snow tires and rims so I could change the tires myself. How brilliant is that?

Well, the trouble is that I bought some seriously cheap-assed rims. Not just aftermarket steel rims but bottom of the line aftermarket steel rims. I'd never thought all that much about it. Heck, it was a Hyundai - I didn’t need aluminum low-profile racing rims with the kung-fu grip.

Let's fast forward to last Tuesday. When I changed my tires out this year (a week earlier) I noticed some strange noises from the front driver's wheel. Last year I had the same thing and the dealership checked it (wanted to make sure it wasn’t CV joints or something expensive) and they mentioned that my cheap-ass rims didn’t exactly fit. As evidence, the plastic hubcaps never fit right. They took the hubcaps off and it the problem was solved.

Oh yeah and somewhere along the line I had over-tightened the lug nuts and I had a couple of lug bolts fail. Oh well, easy to get fixed. No worries.

So the noise from the front wheel this year wasn’t all that unexpected and I figured that I would just take my car back to my parents garage and whip those hubcaps off and I'd be good to go.

This is where the hilarity begins.

As I was driving out to their house (approximately 15 miles from where I was working that day) the noise kept getting worse. So I turned up the stereo. As the stereo got louder and louder I realized that things were probably worse than I anticipated. This was October 31 and trick or treaters were scared of my car driving by.

I pulled the car into the garage, jacked it up, impact wrenched that sucker off and see: One lug nut and bolt were completely gone. The other three were about one mile or a big bump away from breaking off. The lug holes in the cheap-ass rims, which had been circular before, were roughly Casper the Friendly Ghost shaped.

But the funny part was that it took me about 90 seconds from pulling into my parent's garage to figure out I needed the vehicle towed to a shop. This was 6:30pm. I called the dealership (I don't live in Tempe, AZ, so I don't actually know any trustworthy mechanics locally) and they assured me that although the service department was closed a tow truck would be able to drop the car off at their after-hours drop-off area. I called a reliable tow company and I thought it was a done deal.

Reliable tow company… well, yes and no. If I had called work and had THEM request the tow truck then all would have been well. Since I called in as Joe-Citizen, it took them until 10:15pm to get to my parents house. Luckily my parents didn’t mind waiting for the tow company.

When the tow truck driver got to the dealership, the outer gates had been locked up tight. After-hours didn’t extend to 4 hours later. When the tow driver called (well, through their dispatcher) he said "hey, there's a Jeep out here which is owned by the dealership, I'll just drop it off next to that." Bonus. Whew!

The next morning I called the dealership and told them my car was there and what was wrong with it. I was in class all day. Kelli calls to tell me that the dealership doesn't have my car. I call the tow company to discover that the Jeep which they parked my car next to was not a single Jeep Cherokee, for instance, but the Jeep Dealership about a half mile away owned by the same company. So I called the dealer back saying "if you can have it moved, do it, if you can't let me know." Having not heard, I called a couple hours later and still no car. And the Jeep dealership didn’t know about my car and didn’t care to spend any time looking. So I called the tow company. No sweat, they would happily move the car for free. This was all hammered out about 11:00am.

My car got to the dealership at 5:30pm, a half hour before they closed. And I had to drive to both dealerships to actually put eyeballs on the car. Well there's another whole day lost.

Thursday they let me know that the part of the brake rotor which the wheel sits against was warped so much that even brand new rims wouldn’t fit right. So that's new rims plus mounting and balancing the old tires, plus a new rotor, plus a brake job (silly to replace the old rotor and not do a brake job which was due soon anyway). I could have gone cheap but since brakes and wheels are kind of important I decided to suck it up and just have it done.

This isn't my car but if you see those flat spots kind of fingerprint lookin' things between the studs? Oh yeah, mine were much bigger and more warped. Bad juju.

The long story short (too late) would be to tell you that this misadventure cost me $879 unexpected dollars.

Oh and today I drove my newly fixed car to my actual doctor because my sore throat had gotten worse instead of better.

Yep, it's strepp.

Luckily the surgeon's office called this afternoon saying the doc had to move my surgery to the week after next. Bonus!

Whine, whine, whine. But I'm sick for dog's sake.

Right Up Your Alley

Nov 3, 7:14 PM (ET)

EL CERRITO, Calif. (AP) - A naked man was arrested on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon after telling police he had a screwdriver in his buttocks. The man was lying on a tree stump masturbating beside a nature path near the El Cerrito Bay Area Rapid Transit station Thursday, police said.

John Sheehan, 33, of Pittsburg was initially arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure. But when asked if he was carrying anything police should know about, Sheehan mentioned the tool, said El Cerrito Detective Cpl. Don Horgan.

"You can't get much more concealed than that," Horgan said.

Officers drew their weapons and firefighters were called to the scene, but Sheehan removed a 6-inch metal awl wrapped in black electrical tape without incident.

Sheehan, who was paroled from state prison last week, was then booked into the county jail in Martinez on suspicion of parole violations, indecent exposure and one felony count of possessing a concealed weapon.

"When you're talking about an awl or an ice pick and you're dealing with somebody who's fresh out of prison, it's a weapon. That's a stabbing instrument," Horgan said.

He noted that the rear end is a common hiding place for weapons being smuggled into prison.

It was not immediately clear what Sheehan was on parole for.