Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

To you and yours, I wish you a very merry Christmas tomorrow.

And to those of you who do not celebrate Christmas:

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Games People Play

This is going to sound like whining or some sort of plea but it’s neither, it’s just the facts: my desktop computer is past her prime. She can do everything I *need* to do (internet functions, Word, Photoshop, etc.,) but about twice a year I get a hankering for play a video game. I understand I don’t have a high-falutin’ gaming machine but I expect to be able to play games in the $9.99 bin at the Fred Meyer. But noooo. Blah, blah, blah, pixel shader 1.1 needed, blah blah blah. Last month I bought 2 games and I can’t play either. Pisses me off to no end. And I don’t want to spend the money for an actual gaming system like PlayStation3 or Xbox of Wii (which would be guaranteed to play the appropriate games) because my attention-span only justifies the $20 a year expense.

Since I can’t play high tech graphic intensive games I’ve stumbled onto an online game which has become a bit addiction: BlogShares (B$) The Fantasy Blog Stock Market.

The idea is you start with a little bit of play money and your own blog and then sell shares in your blog and trade them on the overall blog market, etc.

Think “day trading” for blogs.

Check it out, it’s free*, and … well, it doesn’t require a pixel shader 1.1 compatible graphics card.

Click HERE B$ and I get credit for your clickage (although it's not enough to get all excited about).

Photo taken from

*and by free I mean you get access to better tools if you buy a $15 per year Premium membership but it still falls under that $20 figure and it's cheaper than porn... or at least that's what I've been told.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Prostitution and You

In my state (and likely in yours) prostitution is against the law. There are all sorts of compelling arguments for making the act of exchanging sex for money perfectly legal and I’m all for keeping the government out of one’s sex life…


Prostitution is not a victimless crime. Who are the victims?

The Customer

Prostitutes will rip you off!

There’s the hooker rip-off that goes:

Take a paid companion to your deluxe suite at the motor lodge and in your post-coital period of incoherence she (or he) takes your wallet, your jewelry, and possibly your motor vehicle. This happens a lot.

Then there’s the hooker rip-off that goes:

Accompany your temporary love connection to HER (or his) suite at the motor lodge and just inside the doorway her (or his) friend or friends beat the living crap out of you. Then they take your wallet, your jewelry, and possibly your motor vehicle. This qualifies as ‘no happy ending.’

The Sex Worker

Hookers get the crap beaten out of them by their customers, the coworkers, and their supervisors. Not all pimps are like Huggy Bear.

Hookers get raped and hookers get killed.

I’ll say that again: Prostitutes get killed.

Very few people deserve to die a violent death.

And then there are the drugs.

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll might be all sexy in the movies. But any sort of work to support your drug habit must suck. Okay that’s an unfortunate pun.

Hookers and drugs go together like Forrest and Jenny. And yes, sometimes people die at the end of the story of a mysterious virus and leave widowers and motherless children.

All of these crimes are underreported because of the nature of the business. If you are already engaging in an illegal enterprise, chances are you won’t find a sympathetic ear when it all goes bad. See also: reporting your drug dealer stole from you.

No one deserves to have violence perpetrated against them. I am sympathetic to any victim of violence in any setting (at least professionally) yet I’ll admit that it’s pretty funny sometimes to talk to some guy who had his car stolen by a prostitute.

You can tell from the get-go that they are leaving something important out of the story. There’s usually a lot of um’s and ah’s and hemming and hawing. Especially hawing. All kinds of hawing.

I’m professional but there is a point all the circular answers that I usually have to say “Jimmy, I don’t suppose this new friend of yours was a prostitute, was she?” Sometimes they come clean (again with the bad puns).

The most comic/tragic scenario is when the husband was driving his wife’s vehicle and the hooker steals it. So he’s definitely going to have some ‘splainin’ to do at home.

I feel for that guy. And by “feel for” I mean “oh man, it sucks to be you.”

So what’s our lesson today, boys and girls?

When it comes to a "ho," just say "no."

Photo found at

Check out her blog, there is good stuff in there.

Monday, December 10, 2007

sometimes it's them, sometimes it's us


I took a call Friday at 10:00am from a guy reporting his wife as a missing person. They have a paper route and she got up at 02:30 to start the delivery process and he was too sick or too tired or both to do the route so she left by herself in something of a huff over his lack of participation. When he woke up just before 10, he became concerned because even angry she should have been home by then. The newspaper wasn’t very helpful telling him if there were complaints about missed papers.

So I started colleting information and I got to the part of the conversation which goes: does she have another job?

Caller: yeah, she works for the State, the Department of (Blah blah blah).

Me: um, would she normally be at work right now?

Caller: uuuuuuuum. wait. Yes, yes she should. It's Friday, right? Oh man, I thought it was Saturday.

Another missing person case closed.


A coworker got a call about a male and female having a physical fight inside a vehicle. To clarify what was actually happening we are trained to elicit specific details. Unfortunately in the heat of the moment a calltaker might choose the wrong words.

Calltaker: You saw them physically fighting? Okay, tell me what you saw: was he slapping her or, um, fisting her?


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Home Super Sweet Home

The best things about our new home:

1. The fridge has an ice maker. I've had to buy ice since 1987. I love "free ice." It even tastes good.

Y'know how sometimes when you go to someone's house and they have an ice maker and the ice tastes all funky? We don’t have funky ice. Our ice is smoove like buttah.

2. The living room / kitchen / dining area is open, has a high ceiling in the living area, and has lots of light. Kelli especially loves herself some light. I grew up here. I don't get nearly as affected by darkness as she does. I kind of like it being dark all day in the winter.

Goodbye dark galley kitchen and hello open kitchen with lots of light.

3. We have a garage we can park in. Granted, only Kelli can park in it now but my goal is by Christmas we'll have my half of the garage free of moving boxes and stuff so I can park in there too.

4. It's ours. If I want to paint the walls a funky color I don’t have to ask permission. Okay, well *I* still have to ask Kelli but she doesn’t have to ask anyone's permission.

And if we screw something up like, oh I don't know, overtighten the bolts between the toilet tank and the bowl and it shatters the bowl into a dozen pieces – we don't have to tell anyone.

Well, okay, we have to tell the home improvement store we bought the new toilet from that we need a new toilet but I never had to have the conversation that goes

"Jimmy? Hi, this is Eric your renter. Eric E-R-I-C, yeah, that renter, anyway … well.. I screwed up a repair I should have warned you about ahead of time and I broke your toilet so do you have a preference on which kind of toilet we go buy?"

Which makes me all nostalgic for the thousands of the conversations that went,

"Dad? Hi, this is Eric your son and... Eric E-R-I-C, yeah, that son, anyway… well… I screwed up (fill in the blank)."
Ahh. Good times.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For the love of God, type *something* !!!

Sorry for no posts for THREE WEEKS but I've been kind of blocked lately.

I can blame it on the house move but it's more than that. Nothing funky is going on, I'm just blocked. And not in the "needs more bran" way either.

That being said, I wanted to post about something, anything, and while typing the title of this post it reminded me of a story I don't know if I've told here.

Once upon a time when I was a relatively junior dispatcher and definitely a junior trainer I had a recruit teach me an important lesson.

This was back when we worked 8hr days (at least the recruits did) and swing shift was the best shift. 3pm to 11pm was perfect: busy when you got there and progressively busier until you left. You could stay up late and sleep in. No alarm clocks. Magic.

Occasionally a bunch of swing shift dispatchers went out to the movies or to bars or whatever after work. I don’t drink and was / am painfully shy so the bar idea was never for me but the movie nights were fun.

On one particular evening a group of dispatchers did a girls night out to a dance club / seedy bar / whatever and my recruit at the time went with them.

The next day I heard from one of the attendees that my recruit was fun to drink with and that she mentioned she was happy that I was her trainer.

"He's so funny. He says things like 'For the love of God, type SOMETHING!!!'"

While I'm always happy when my recruits appreciate my training style, this was unwelcome news.

When I said "For the love of God, type SOMETHING" I wasn't joking. I was dead serious. We had a pretty serious call and she wasn't entering anything into the computer. Arrrgh!!

Granted, exasperation is funny if you are not the one who is exasperated. However if you are the cause of the exasperation, you should be less than amused. And if your trainer is calling for divine intervention then you should realize that you haven't done so well.

This was only one of the reasons she didn't end up getting through training. Another example would be the time she received a call from a grumpy old man complaining about the recurring problem of teenagers "burning rubber" in his parking lot and she connected him to the fire department.

She's a nice enough person though and if she's reading this… well crap I'm just happy some one is.

These days I am a little more careful about what I say.

For instance I now say "For the love of Dog" because

a) it amuses me,

b) it's a joke grenade with a good 3 second fuse, and

c) I would find it even more amusing if some ultra PC person made a complaint about my language and cited this as an example (and yes, people complain about a lot of stupid things so this actually happening would not surprise me).

Just in case, I already have the mea culpa letter written:

To Whom It May Concern: I apologize for offending my coworkers by taking Dog's name in vain on (date of occurrence). I realize that as a representative of my department, my city, my state, my nation, and my home planet that I must behave professionally at all times. Once again I offer my apologies and will endeavor to regain your trust.

Love and Kisses,


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Commissioned Work

Ages ago Smussyolay commissioned a cross: a small blue cross pendant.
I did up a batch of clay into an interesting design then set to making the actual cross.
After a couple of failed attempts it turned out pretty well (if it do say so myself).

Originally I made a matching skull pin (call it a yin-yang thing) and got close to acceptable but not completely acceptable to my standards. Months went by. So last week I send her the requested cross along with the first of my "Gothic Zhong" red dragon pendants. It's chunkier than she probably likes but since I like it, I had to share. She may donate it to the homeless if she so desires !!


Does anyone else have a special request? By next week I expect to have my new PolyClay Laboratory set up in the new house and I'll be jonesin' for a project.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Home Owner Epiphany #1 : Painting

As of today we are homeowners. Woohoo! We're also still renters until the middle or end of November so that works out well for giving us time to move gradually.

Prior to the big move-in we are doing some upgrades that are easier when there isn't any furniture in the way. Today, our first day, we tackled some painting.

They tell us that paint is the cheapest way to dramatically change the look of any room. They further tell us that doing it yourself will save literally thousands of dollars of labor.

Are you with me so far?

Our new home has white walls and neutral / whitish carpet. We decided to paint the entire interior a sandy / tan/ khaki color (except the ceilings since the whole place is less than 4 years old and the ceiling paint looks satisfactory to good).

One room down and we're liking the white walls a lot better.

It's not so much that we're not up for the work. We did really well with the whole idea of "prep like heck and then painting is a breeze concept" except that painting is not exactly a breeze. And prepping is time consuming. We discovered that there is a reason that house painters get paid a lot of money. They earn it!

Now I'm a guy so I instantly think: well, if I had all state of the art painting tools and fancy tapes and articulated ladders then I would be able to whip out a professional job in no time.

Reality comes in the form of realizing that I cannot possibly buy the state of the art painting supplies. We're talking thousands of dollars of tools and equipment. So we buy less expensive and therefore less efficient equipment.

Reality also slaps us upside the head in the form of: whipping out a professional job in no time is exactly what professionals do. And how do you become a professional? You paint a lot of freaking rooms. To other people's standards. On other people's schedules.

After mutual agreement we've decided to paint the two upstairs bedrooms and the upstairs bathroom. The money we save on paint will go toward replacing the light fixture and mirror in the newly painted bathroom and replacing our dining room chandelier.

We're both all for the DIY thing but one room at a time is more our speed. We have just under two weeks to get our shit together for the movers and that is going to take a lot of time also.

All this bitching aside, we're super happy to own a home. And doing projects together has been a productive and pleasant way to spend time together. It's nice to know that we make a good team.

Photo:: Ned Matura,

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Sweet Sounds of Horror

Do you like audiobooks or spoken word story telling? Do you like horror fiction?

Would you like to download short audio fiction cost-free and guilt-free?

Go to

As with all horror genre stories, some are creepy and some are just icky but most are pretty great and all are well presented.

For you sci-fi fans their main site is

Really, check’em out.

If for no other reason than because it’s the Halloween season.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

‘Tis the Season

Call it lack of sleep. Blame it on it being my Friday.

Perhaps it’s because I have a lot on my plate, what with closing on the house next week and getting read to move.

What ever the case, today on the radio – broadcast city wide – I gave out a locate for some females in a vehicle smoking marijuanica.

Yes, like Adam Sandler said, marijuanica.

And the joy of saying something incredibly stupid in the beginning of a broadcast is that you just have to suck it up, correct yourself, then keep talking and refrain from laughing, swearing, or crying until after the transmission is complete.

It could have been worse though. Many years ago I sent an officer to a motor vehicle accident involving a Ford Escort versus a Suzuki Grand Viagra. A coworker instantly suggested that the Suzuki came standard with a lift kit.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The new 'do

I have reverted (regressed) to the black template.

Frankly I like it better.

It's not like the blander, gray template attracted any more readers.

I'd like to think it was all about the writing but, to steal a line from the movie Hardware, I'll consider the design a success if a new reader's reaction is:
"It's horrible... I love it... what is it?"
Then I'll let my words drag them further into this Panic Blog thing.

To the loyal readers, and if you are reading this far I consider you one of the loyal ones,
thank you. I wouldn't feel comfortable writing all of this in public without the supporters and critics who drop by from time to time and put their two cents in.

Get ready because, to quote the band Frisbie,
all I have is one desire, let's take this shit much higher
because at the end of the day
it's about you, yeah

Just when I thought I'd heard everything...

from the lovely Associated Press, courtesy of the South Bend Tribune
and reason #246 why I would rather be a dispatcher than a cop:

Swarm of Fleas Attack Police Officers

Oct 19 04:51 PM US/Eastern

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Four officers investigating a burglary were attacked, not by a fleeing burglar, but a swarm of fleas in a filth-ridden vacant house.

The tiny, biting attackers were so overwhelming that the South Bend patrolmen had to be decontaminated and ended up being sent home early from their shifts.

"They were all over the place—in our socks and even in our shorts. It was disgusting," said Cpl. Ken Stuart.

To avoid infesting their squad cars, the police station or relatives, Stuart, Cpl. Chris Slager and Patrolman Paul Strabavy endured a lengthy flea decontamination process.

A van took them back to the station, where the men showered with flea/lice shampoo and soap. A wife of one of the officers brought them spare clothes.

As many as seven officers helped with the decontamination on Sunday.

"The guys were very angry. The last thing they wanted to deal with was fleas," said Sgt. Chuck Stokes. "That killed the whole shift."

Stokes said the house's tenants had recently been evicted, but returned periodically to feed a dog tied up in the backyard and allowed it to run around inside the garbage-filled house.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I know crazy. Professional dog folks – they crazy

I've been really busy lately with the house buying thing (we might be closing any day now) but I have a few seconds for a rant about crazy ass dog people.

Don't get be wrong, I'm a dog person. I was not born into it but my wife is a dog person and I converted when I got married. I even promised to raise our children as dog people.

It's not the traditional dog people I have a problem with. But as with any movement it's the ultra-fundamentalists which screw everything up for everyone.

Recently my mother in law shopped online for reputable dog breeders so that she could replace her two beloved and relatively recently departed pets. She found one in California who was willing to sell her a show-quality miniature schnauzer for a huge bag full of money. You'd think that would be the end of it, right?


There was a long interview process and she would have had to agree to show the dog a certain number of times and not get the dog fixed and do a trillion and one other little things. In order to get a dog from a responsible breeder and not a puppy mill, she agreed to all of this.

Then the breeder in question got wind of the fact that my mother in law was looking for a second dog who wasn’t from that breeder. That's when the dog shit hit the fan and word went out on the internet that my mother in law was trying to buy show dogs and take them to Alaska to start her own puppy farm.

So they refused to sell her the dog. And they spread the word to all the other breeders that my mother in law was Satan and they black-balled her. No one would sell my mother in law a freakin' dog. Did I mention that these dogs would have cost a big bag of money? Not Benjamins – we're talking "big ones."

My mother in law has since found a perfectly nice (although I think slightly less than show quality) puppy from a breeder in Alaska.

It's a good thing those Californicators didn’t sell her the puppy and THEN decide they didn't like her. Because imagine getting your dog repo'd.

That sort of thing happens. They repo your DOG!

(the following has had all the names changed to avoid any legal action – plus for purposes of this blog I consider myself a satirist)

A famous Hollywood comedian and talk show host who I'll refer to as Helen TheGiving got a dog from a dog rescue organization I'll call "Bitches and Bitches." Helen's dog didn't get along with Helen's cats (or whatever) and after some amount of professional training Helen decided to gift the dog to a member of her staff. This staff member happens to have less than three but more than one child whose ages are less than 14 but more than 10.

Either you have read the news or you can guess what happened next - the B & B folks hear about the unauthorized transfer of ownership and go repossess the dog.

From the loving family.

And they refuse to reunite the dog with the second family under any reapplication process because they have children under 14 which is apparently potentially dangerous for smallish dogs.

Okay, I understand a contract was signed saying if the dog didn’t work out in Helen's happy home that she'd take the dog back to the rescue organization, but hello! It's not like Helen gave the dog to Michael Vick. And isn’t yanking the dog back from a loving home stressful on the dog too?

It seems to me that while the B & B folks want to stand on principle and not be pushed around by the Hollywood elite (they must watch a lot of Bill O'Reilly) they probably should give in on this one and at least pretend to be the better people.


This rant should be over but no such luck.

Because of irrational wing-nuts on the other side I have to tell you very clearly that I do not hate these dog rescue ladies. I think they screwed up but I don't wish them any ill.

The B & B ladies have gotten death threats over this whole thing. And they have had the media all over their retail store screwing up their actual non-rescue pet care business. And they have had to shut down both their rescue website and their business website either due to the huge volume of traffic or to the level of internet hate thrown their way.

For the love of Dog, ladies and gentlemen, grow the hell up and act like adults.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Watch List

If you have any analog watches (old, cheap, broken, whatever) you would like to get rid of and preferably if you already know how to get in touch with me locally, I'd be thrilled to take them off of your hands.

The idea is that I'll be taking them apart to scavenge the metal gears, springs, etc. Therefore if you have a watch of any actual value – keep it, treasure it, clutch it to your bosom. I'm going to be ripping these things apart and tossing the parts I don’t find interesting.

I have nothing to offer in return so this is simply a donation request.

Well, okay. Actually I can offer you a snazzy piece of polymer clay art in return, guaranteed to be at least "macaroni art" quality.

Normally I wouldn’t broadcast a request like a charity but, as my favorite realtor

Carl Hines tells us, "closed mouths don't get fed."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hoist By His Internet Petard

One day last week we got a call from a woman in a Midwest state (think cheese) requesting we do a welfare check on her boyfriend who lives in our fair city.

She was concerned because he calls her every night yet last night he had not called. Oh yeah, and this is an internet boyfriend; she’s never met him. She knows his address and his cell phone number plus his birth year and what kind of 2007 truck he bought. And she’s very very worried.

We’re obligated to have officers go out on the off-chance that Mr. has fallen down and cannot get up. It’s not necessarily a “we want to go” thing but it’s definitely a “for liability reasons we have to go out” thing.

It’s for this reason alone that it’s a special kind of magic when we knock on the door of Mr. Lovemonkey and his fiancé answers. Oh yeah and he’s 6 years older than his internet paramour thinks. And he drives a 2002.

Lest you think we dropped the dime on him in front of his fiancé, we did not. The responding officer, who is regulation size, decided that since Mr Lovemonkey is 6’5 and 350lbs and his fiancé was not much smaller that we’d let Mr. Lovemonkey explain why we were there (after we had left).

I'm thinking somone is going to get their money back.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Callers say the darndest things

Relayed from J-Mo:

A woman called to request medics because she was having chest pain or some other heart attack symptoms. We transfer such calls to the fire department dispatchers but stay on the line to see if the situation gets worse or becomes more of a police problem. During the course of this conversation J-Mo heard the following exchange:

Medic Dispatcher: Ma’am, are you clammy?

Caller: No, I’m Stephanie!

Friday, September 28, 2007

I think… we just bought a house

We accepted a counter-offer and if everything goes as planned we should be homeowners by Halloween.

a very tentative woo-hoo!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why Don't We Do It In The Road?

I read a headline in the Raleigh News & Observer today which caught my eye:

Couple Accused of Sex in a Cemetery

My first thought was “why is this news?”

Upon further review this isn’t just greasy kid stuff (the woman suspect is 51 years old and the male suspect is 37 years old - again with those saucy Red Hat Ladies!).

In North Carolina (motto: "Esse Quam Videri" which is Latin for “don’t do it in the boneyard”) having sex in a cemetery is considered Crimes Against Nature and is a felony.

Crimes Against Nature?

This summer we had a call about a loud juvenile party in a gated community of multi-million dollar homes in the Los Anchorage suburbs. Upon arriving the officers discovered several juveniles who were under the influence of fungal hallucinogens. Several were naked and one was having sex with a hole in the ground. Yes. Screwin’ the lawn.

Now that’s a crime against nature.

Friday, September 21, 2007

People Are No Damn Good

Here’s an etiquette quiz:

Imagine you have been drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking a joint with two of your friends. Imagine further that you notice a woman stumbling along the street carrying some wood laminate flooring material. The woman in question then collapses in a doorway and doesn’t get up. Imagine that you rush to her side and use your only first aid knowledge, presumably learned from viewing Three Stooges movies, and douse her with water to revive her. Imagine that she doesn’t stir after being drenched.

Do you:

A) call 911 (or the equivalent)

B) ask your friends if they have more first aid knowledge and attempt to render further aid

C) comment to your friends that drunk folks shouldn’t attempt to carry around flooring materials and laugh heartily at her misfortune

D) shout to your friends “this is a YouTube moment,” and, while one of them captures the moment on his cellphone camera, urinate on the woman then spray shaving cream on her

If you picked D, then – ding, ding, ding – you are a complete fuckwit named Anthony Anderson of Hartlepool, England. The woman in question was not drunk but had numerous health issues and died at the scene of pancreatic failure.

He pissed on a dying woman while shouting for his friends to tape him.
Read the BBC story if you think I’m kidding.

This is an extreme example but it illustrates an alarming lack of decency.

Guess what? You shouldn’t victimize people, even drunk folks.

Officers and dispatches alike get irritated by the number of times officers have to run lights and sirens to a drunk person down and not moving. But the one time in a hundred that it’s a legitimate problem is worth the risk of running code. And even if the person is ‘just drunk’ they need assistance if they are incapacitated if only so they are not victimized. Passed-out folks get beaten, robbed, raped, and killed. It happens.

I had to explain to a recruit long ago that you were not allowed to have sex with someone too intoxicated to say ‘no.’ It doesn’t matter if black-out drunk sex is your favorite kind or if that’s how your momma met your daddy, it’s still illegal. It’s similar to not being allowed to have sex with someone too young to consent or something who cannot consent (such as an animal).

You may substitute “urinate on” with “have sex” and the same rules apply.

The fact that this needs to be explained to folks saddens me.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It’s All About The Lincolns

Euphemisms for money sometimes puzzle me.

Let’s start out with the simple “big one.” People use “big ones” all the time meaning dollars. I’m not a wealthy man but I would never consider a single dollar bill to qualify for “big one” status.

Using the example of OJ Simpson’s bail amount I would not hesitate to refer to it as 125,000 bucks. 125,000 clams, sure if I was in a “red tide” kind of mood. 125,000 simoleons, um... not so much but either way, that’s a lot of cabbage. It’s not, however, 125,000 “big ones.”

Generally “big one” refers to $1000. This amount is also called “a grand” which makes sense since it is indeed a grand sum for the average Joe.

But there is a trick: it can’t be a “big one,” since there is no “one.” The highest denomination of currency printed for the general public is the $100 bill. Therefore $100 would not be “a big one” but “the big one.” Yet I cannot imagine saying OJ’s bail was 1,250 big ones. It’s just too unwieldy.

While $100 isn’t a satisfactory “big one” it’s a lot of bread so it definitely merits a nickname of its own.

C-note? Nah, too Sam Spade. And besides, who uses Roman numerals anymore except referring to movie copyright dates, Super Bowls, and Rocky movies? And it doesn’t follow suit. You wouldn’t refer to a $50 bill as an L-note or a $20 as an XX-note.

This takes us to the use of “Benjamin.” I like this notion. We honor our statesmen with their portrait on our currency and I often forget this. It’s nice that every time I take a $20 bill from an ATM that I have the opportunity to pause and reflect on the fact that Andrew Jackson defended himself with his cane against a mentally ill man with two pistols in the first attempted assassination of a President of the United States. It’s a CIT sort of thing.

But the common use of “Benjamin” gives me pause. It occurs to me that rap artists owe a lot more to the President on the 5-spot than they do to Mr. Franklin. Before Abraham Lincoln black folks were not able to get paid lots and lots of money to hop their hips.

Ben Franklin was undeniably a great American but “Ending Slavery” will always beat “Invented Bifocals” in the paper-scissors-rock game of historic achievement.

Circling back to my least favorite descendent of slaves, Orenthal J., it would be inelegant to refer to his bail amount as 25,000 Lincolns.

I think the only reasonable nomenclature is the delightfully French metric system. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s ubiquitous: the Juice is loose for $125k and owes the Goldman family $33.4M (which is a lot of tall green).

Vive La Système Métrique!

At least that’s my two Jingly Abes on the subject.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Joseph Lostrangio - A Memorial

This is a repost of my part of my contribution to the 2996 project.
I intend to post it every September 11 as long as this blog is online.

Those who have read my blog already know about my love for guitars and my complete inability to find the patience or will to master them. Today I'm going to tell you about a guitarist I never met. His name was Joseph Lostrangio.

Joe never met a six string he didn't like and he was an avid player. Friends remember him playing Billy Joel tunes with zeal.

Joe also had a love of saltwater fish. He had four tanks including a 90-gallon showpiece. Have you ever tended a saltwater fish tank? It's not a walk in the park. His enthusiasm was infectious and many coworkers learned how to care for their own fish through Joe's guidance.

Joe had a lot of enthusiasm and many diverse interests. His wife of 26 years, Theresann, called him "a life explorer."

Joe and Theresann lived in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. By all accounts he was a good father to their two children and a good husband. He encouraged the kids to follow his example of devouring new experiences and supported their talents and interests.

Speaking of devouring, Joe had another passion: food. Some friends called him a gourmet chef but others suggested it went way beyond that. He was fearless with food and tried as many exotic ingredients as he could find, often querying staff members of New York restaurants about how to find the next, weirdest ingredient yet.

Which was probably yet another reason Joe was excited about his new job in New York City. He grew up in Long Island and went to New York Law School in Chinatown. He worked as a reinsurance consultant and often visited the city but the new job with the Devonshire Group would put him in the heart of the financial district. And it put him near some great restaurants where he could learn tricks and procure new culinary delicacies.

His son, Joe Jr., was attending St John's College and they agreed to share an apartment so that Joe Sr. would have a place to stay whenever he would be unable to commute home. It was a perfect arrangement.

His first day of work was September 10, 2001. His office was on the 77th floor of 1 World Trade Center (the North Tower). He called a friend at about 5pm that evening and left a message for them to meet at a Chinese restaurant later that week. Later he called Theresann from the apartment and they discussed family news, what bills needed paying, and that he would call her from work in the afternoon the next day, as was his habit.

I hope they told each other they loved each other. I suspect they did.

The next morning at 08:26 am, hijacked American Airlines flight 11 struck the North Tower somewhere between the 93rd and 99th floor. One hundred and two minutes later WTC1 collapsed.

Joseph Lostrangio was 48 years old.

I never knew you, Joe, but researching your story has made me sad that I did not have the opportunity to make your acquaintance and call you a friend. Perhaps you could have taught me to master that silly F chord.

You have inspired me and challenged me to devour life. Yours was cut way too short but you made the most of it.

"… I'm not sure about a life after this
God knows I've never been a spiritual man
Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river
That is running to the promised land

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep
We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We're all carried along
By the river of dreams
In the middle of the night…"

Billy Joel – River of Dreams


This memorial is part of The 2996 Project administered by D.Challener Roe.
You have done an amazing thing Mr. Roe.


The New York Times

September 11 Victims: Joseph Lostrangio

9-11 Heroes: Joseph Lostrangio Joseph Lostrangio

September 11 Class Action: Statement of Theresann Lostrangio

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Panic: it creeps in around the edges

Just when I thought panic attacks were a thing of the past I got a nice taste of one on Tuesday. Here’s how it played out:

It was my day off from work so I fed the dog in the morning then went back to sleep. Kelli was working the late shift from 10:30am to 7:00pm so I rolled out of bed about 10:00 with just enough time to kiss her goodbye and wish her a good day.

I had a project in mind and I discovered an essential ingredient was missing so I took the dog for a quick walk around the block and then jumped into the car and took off to the store. Without eating anything for breakfast.

It started with a sneeze. Halfway to the store I sneezed and had that momentary light-headedness one might get from sneezing. But it didn’t go away immediately.

That’s pretty much all it took. Last December I had that thing where I caught a virus which caused myocarditis and the first symptom was a fainting episode. Eeek.

See the thing about panic is that it isn’t the trigger which is the problem, it’s what happens when you’ve been triggered that’s the problem. In my case it’s light-headedness and serious and sudden fatigue. And since I fainted last December I couldn’t help but freak out a little.

I was pretty sure it was “just a panic attack” and probably low blood sugar since I hadn’t eaten anything but… well one just never knows.

I went into the store, managed to buy what I needed (it sounds so mysterious but it was t-shirt transfer paper) and a sandwich but I had to use all the panic tricks to maintain.

On the way home (yes I felt safe to drive and wouldn’t have if I didn’t) I called Kelli who luckily was able and willing (bless her) to meet me at home. A half a Xanax and some chicken soup later and I was feeling a little better (sandwich went into the fridge uneaten). Blood sugar was fine, blood pressure was a little low.

I went to the doctor, at Kelli’s insistence, who did an EKG just to be sure and an A1C to make sure my blood sugar wasn’t all wacky long-term. By that time I was feeling just plain ol’ sick with a bug. My doc chocked it up to a virus with the low blood pressure causing the initial light-headedness.

That was Tuesday and today was my first day back at work. I’m still a little illish but overall I just had a virus of some kind. EKG and A1C came back fantastic.

I’m fine but… the panic thing isn’t permanently cured.

I hate that.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Door to Door Salespeople: No, you cannot shoot them.

If you run a crew of door to door salesperson, especially magazine sales, please send me a note and tell me you are not a dirty dirty criminal.

For everyone else I have three pieces of advice:

1. Post a ‘no soliciting’ sign on your door. And a ‘no trespassing’ sign and the end of your driveway. And a ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ sign in your kitchen. It might not help but it can’t hurt.

2. Do not let anyone who you don’t know in your house for any reason at any time. I don’t care if it’s Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus – let them stay in your manger but don’t let them in your house. I also don’t care if it’s a category 5 hurricane outside and the streets are filling up with sewage. Let folks wait on the porch while you call Brownie at FEMA.

3. Never buy anything from anyone selling anything door to door, especially magazines. Especially if the salespeople claim to be “working on improving their public speaking skills” or “trying to win a prize.”

Here’s two versions of the trick (as I understand it):

a) Scuzzy magazine companies hire young adults and ship them far away from home to do these sales. The distance is important so it’s harder for them to just quit then they expect these kids to work long hours for very little pay. Indentured servitude, dig it. Check out Parent Watch for more specific info on this.

b) I’m sure these kids are being horribly taken advantage of… yet I’m also certain some of them are casing residences for later burglary. Whether this is orchestrated by the crew leaders or on their own volition, I don’t know and I don’t care. Do not let them into your home. Keep your doors locked. Be holding a phone with which to dial 911.

I’m not kidding. If you do not patronize these kids then the more legitimate of the companies will dry up and blow away and the outright frauds will be under more scrutiny.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Compassion Fatigue / Stress

I mentioned the main point in the Compassion Fatigue seminar: Relax Your Kegels.

Beyond this piece of voodoo, hippie dippy, swami salami craaaaap, it was good to go to the class.

It’s always nice to get a break from the routine and listen to folks with other jobs and other perspectives.

It was nice to be reminded that:

All I can do is all I can do.

There is power in this statement. It’s a succinct version of the serenity prayer (not as pretty but it does allow me to avoid praying).

Another thing this guy talked about was (did I mention that he was doing sphincter-checks dozens of times an hour?) living in the moment.

I love this idea but I can’t see how it’s even possible.

You cannot change the past and the future cannot hurt you (yet) so don’t worry. Plan to avoid stress but otherwise there’s very little you can change but your attitude about things.

Okey dokey but part of what makes me good at what I do is that I second- (and third- and fourth-) guess myself.

All I can do is all I can do but if I pick it apart then next time I can do better. I can forgive myself but I cannot forget. And if I screw something up then what I did was not good enough. I’m eventually moving on but I’m not going to just skip over mistakes with a “oh well, fiddle dee dee tomorrow is another day.”

Forgetting the past and therefore being doomed to repeat it is unfortunate but ignoring the past and repeating it is … unnecessary.




Scarlett O'Hara

Anxiety (another sphincter reference)

From the Syndey Morning Herald (emphasis added by me):

Eastern suburbs cat high on cocaine

September 1, 2007 - 6:49AM

A cat in Sydney's eastern suburbs was taken to a vet high on cocaine and benzodiazepines.

The eight-month-old Himalayan cat arrived at the Double Bay clinic on Monday morning with dilated pupils and a racing heart after being accidentally locked in a cupboard overnight, Fairfax newspapers reported.

It was having trouble walking, was easily startled, paced incessantly and was too anxious to have a thermometer inserted into its rectum, said a report in this month's edition of Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

The owner was adamant the cat had not been exposed to drugs, mouldy food or toxic plants.

But when the vet phoned the owner's wife, she admitted the cat could have licked "plates of cocaine" which had been served at a dinner party two days earlier.

A drug screen also revealed benzodiazepines in the cat's system.

The owner was counselled and allowed to take the cat home as there is no legal requirement for vets to report such cases to the police.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Relaxing your Kegels for fun and profit

I attended a two day training seminar earlier this month on Suicide / Self Mutilation and Compassion Fatigue.

I’ll sum up all the knowledge bestowed upon me (and save you $350):

Unclench your pelvic floor and you will be stress-free.

Yes, really.

Evidently Eastern cultures have known about this for centuries. It’s a first chakra, yoga sort of thing.

Apparently there is a physiological reason for this. It has something to do with your neocortical function being reduced when you are clenched in the “fight or flight” response. In the presence of a perceived threat if you consciously unclench for 30 seconds it will cause your neocortex to flame back into life and therefore you’ll be able to use those higher functions like speech and complex planning, etc. This unclenching is for times you feel stress when you are not actually in danger: public speaking, test taking, etc. The instructor advised us to do a “pelvic floor check” periodically throughout the day.

Paraphrasing George Carlin, you never see anyone running and crapping themselves at the same time.

For clinicians (and law enforcement) suffering from compassion fatigue: you’re feeling burned out because you are clenching. No clenching!
But I’m more than a little dubious when someone tells me the solution to all of life’s problems can be solved with one simple trick.

I don’t care if a Yogi, a Boo-boo, and a Ranger can totally relax through releasing all sphincter muscles, that’s one trick which probably isn't going into Eric’s pickanick basket.


Frog (actually a second chakra exercise)

Friday, August 24, 2007

I knew Oregon was full of tree-huggers but…

Campers Tie Alleged Peeping Tom to Tree

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A group of campers tied a peeping Tom suspect to a tree, keeping him bound until police arrived.

Richard H. Berkey, 63, was charged with private indecency, a misdemeanor, by sheriff's deputies who were called to the Big Fan Campground near Bagby Hot Springs last weekend, according to Clackamas County Detective Jim Strovink.

Campers told deputies they recognized Berkey from a similar incident at the campground last year and wanted to make sure he didn't get away.

The 2006 incident was reported to police but did not result in charges.

"Last year, we took down his license plate number and turned it in to the sheriff, but there wasn't a lot they could do really," said Jason Dugan, one of the campers. "This year, that wasn't happening."

Dugan and another camper, Michelle Brandow, said several friends were playing chess, eating and relaxing last Saturday, when they heard rustling in an area the women used as an open latrine. Dugan went to investigate, saw a man running from the area and tackled him.

With help from two other campers, Dugan led Berkey to the group's campsite and tied him to a tree. Another camper left to call police.

Berkey told KGW-TV in Portland he was surprised by the response. "I just didn't think it was that big of a deal," he said. A phone call to Berkey's house in Beaverton was not immediately returned Friday.

Berkey is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 18.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Didn't Know? Of Course He KNEW!!

Woman sets fire to ex-husband's penis

Thu Aug 23, 2007 2:37PM EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A woman set fire to her ex-husband's penis as he sat naked watching television and drinking vodka, Moscow police said Wednesday.

Asked if the man would make a full recovery, a police spokeswoman said it was "difficult to predict."

The attack climaxed three years of acrimonious enforced co-habitation. The couple divorced three years ago but continued to share a small flat, something common in Russia where property costs are very high.

"It was monstrously painful," the wounded ex-husband told Tvoi Den newspaper.

"I was burning like a torch. I don't know what I did to deserve this."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fountain of Old

I found a book at the used book store about making table top fountains and was inspired to whip one up for my father's birthday.

The base is a ceramic planter minus the handles. The handle holes are covered with copper buttons. The back splash is a Pier 1 bamboo placemat. The rocks are.. well, rocks.

The rest is copper pipe and copper wire.

I made a platform out of polymer clay with three different types of faux green jade and malachite but the rocks cover all that up so it could have been made out of a piece of rigid plastic (at much less cost in clay and time, but hey I'll know better next time).

Happy Birthday Dad!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Also courtesy of Pasta: she received a call from a woman reporting hundreds of golf balls in the parking lot of a baseball field. The caller thought a nearby driving range could have been vandalized or burglarized (it was the latter).

The funny part is that she told Pasta “at first I thought they were those white packing things… you know, “ghost poo.”

packing peanuts

Ghost poo? For the love of dog that’s funny.

Photo found on eBay

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hey, I’m not a doctor but…

I kid you not:

Pasta answered a call yesterday from a male requesting medics for a female in his residence. Describing her medical history he says:

She just got out of the hospital after having a double vasectomy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bone and blood is the price of coal

My thoughts today are with the miners and families of miners in Huntington, Utah.

click to watch this video, it's haunting:
Springhill Mine Disaster

The Springhill Mine Disaster
By Peggy Seeger (tweaked a little by U2)

In the town of Springhill Nova Scotia
Down in the dark of the Cumberland mine
There's blood on the coal, and the miners lie
In roads that never saw sun nor sky
Roads that never saw the sun nor sky

In the town of Springhill
You don't sleep easy
Often the earth will tremble and roll
When the earth is restless
Miners die

Bone and blood is the price of coal
Bone and blood is the price of coal

In the town of Springhill Nova Scotia
Late in the Year ...
Well the day still comes and the sun still shines
But it's dark at the graves of the Cumberland miners
It's dark at the graves of the Cumberland miners

Listen to the shouts of the black faced miner
Listen to the call of the rescue team
We have no water, light or bread
So we're living on songs and hope instead
We're living on songs and hope instead

In the town of Springhill Nova Scotia
Down in the dark of the Cumberland mine
There's blood on the coal, and the miners lie
In roads that never saw sun or sky
Roads that never saw sun nor sky

In the town of Springhill Nova Scotia
Often the earth will tremble and roll
When the earth is restless
Miners die
Bone and blood is the price of coal
Bone and blood is the price of coal
Bone and blood is the price of coal

photo from: Utah Miners Hospital

here's an Smussy update:

While mining is one of the most dangerous industries, here are the most dangerous jobs (in 2005 at least per



Death rate/100,000

Total deaths


Fishers and fishing workers




Logging workers




Aircraft pilots




Structural iron and steel workers




Refuse and recyclable material collectors




Farmers and ranchers




Electrical power line installers/repairers




Driver/sales workers and truck drivers




Miscellaneous agricultural workers




Construction laborers