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.