'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

28 February 2011

New Computer

We went to one of the massive cardboard container stores yesterday so I could replace my no longer working quite right computer. I again have the capability to type the letters O and L as well as the punctuation mark Period. And the people rejoiced.

For the geeks who have an interest I'll give you the technical details.

It's a kind of brownish color with a rough sorta finish though some of it is black. There might be some silver on it as well but I'm too lazy to look right now. It has the usual buttons and blinking lights (They're flashing and blinking, flashing and blinking!). It has Meggies and Giggies and apparently a bisexual processor though I'm still not exactly clear on how that's supposed to work. It turns on and runs games and I can get to my blog with a minimum of curse words and practically no throwing of fragile objects. It has a bunch of stickers on it giving dire warnings and vague offers for sexual congress with nubile redheads if only I'll sign up for their product forever.

All in all a fine machine with which to sail the seas of the innertubes and converse with you, my gentle readers. I'm as happy as a Luddite who has a computer with questionable sexual preferences on his lap can possibly be.


27 February 2011

Sunday Kipling

With all that's going on in the world right now I thought this poem was appropos today.

The Ballad of the King's Mercy

ABDHUR RAHMAN, the Durani Chief, of him is the story told.
His mercy fills the Khyber hills -- his grace is manifold;
He has taken toll of the North and the South -- his glory reacheth far,
And they tell the tale of his charity from Balkh to Kandahar.

Before the old Peshawur Gate, where Kurd and Kaffir meet,
The Governor of Kabul dealt the Justice of the Street,
And that was strait as running noose and swift as plunging knife,
Tho' he who held the longer purse might hold the longer life.

There was a hound of Hindustan had struck a Yusufzai,
Wherefore they spat upon his face and led him out to die.
It chanced the King went forth that hour when throat was bared to knife;
The Kafir grovelled under-hoof and clamoured for his life.

Then said the King: "Have hope, O friend! Yea, Death disgraced is hard;
Much honour shall be thine"; and called the Captain of the Guard,
Yar Khan, a bastard of the Blood, so city-babble saith,
And he was honoured of the King -- the which is salt to Death;
And he was son of Daoud Shah, the Reiver of the Plains,
And blood of old Durani Lords ran fire in his veins;
And 'twas to tame an Afghan pride nor Hell nor Heaven could bind,
The King would make him butcher to a yelping cur of Hind.

"Strike!" said the King. "King's blood art thou --
his death shall be his pride!"
Then louder, that the crowd might catch: "Fear not -- his arms are tied!"
Yar Khan drew clear the Khyber knife, and struck, and sheathed again.
"O man, thy will is done," quoth he; "a King this dog hath slain."

Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief, to the North and the South is sold.
The North and the South shall open their mouth to a Ghilzai flag unrolled,
When the big guns speak to the Khyber peak, and his dog-Heratis fly:
Ye have heard the song -- How long? How long? Wolves of the Abazai!

That night before the watch was set, when all the streets were clear,
The Governor of Kabul spoke: "My King, hast thou no fear?
Thou knowest -- thou hast heard," -- his speech died at his master's face.
And grimly said the Afghan King: "I rule the Afghan race.
My path is mine -- see thou to thine. To-night upon thy bed
Think who there be in Kabul now that clamour for thy head."

That night when all the gates were shut to City and to throne,
Within a little garden-house the King lay down alone.
Before the sinking of the moon, which is the Night of Night,
Yar Khan came softly to the King to make his honour white.
(The children of the town had mocked beneath his horse's hoofs,
The harlots of the town had hailed him "butcher!" from their roofs.)
But as he groped against the wall, two hands upon him fell,
The King behind his shoulder spake: "Dead man, thou dost not well!
'Tis ill to jest with Kings by day and seek a boon by night;
And that thou bearest in thy hand is all too sharp to write.
But three days hence, if God be good, and if thy strength remain,
Thou shalt demand one boon of me and bless me in thy pain.
For I am merciful to all, and most of all to thee.
My butcher of the shambles, rest -- no knife hast thou for me!"

Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief, holds hard by the South and the North;
But the Ghilzai knows, ere the melting snows, when the swollen banks break forth,
When the red-coats crawl to the sungar wall, and his Usbeg lances fail:
Ye have heard the song -- How long? How long? Wolves of the Zukka Kheyl!

They stoned him in the rubbish-field when dawn was in the sky,
According to the written word, "See that he do not die."

They stoned him till the stones were piled above him on the plain,
And those the labouring limbs displaced they tumbled back again.

One watched beside the dreary mound that veiled the battered thing,
And him the King with laughter called the Herald of the King.

It was upon the second night, the night of Ramazan,
The watcher leaning earthward heard the message of Yar Khan.
From shattered breast through shrivelled lips broke forth the rattling breath,
"Creature of God, deliver me from agony of Death."

They sought the King among his girls, and risked their lives thereby:
"Protector of the Pitiful, give orders that he die!"

"Bid him endure until the day," a lagging answer came;
"The night is short, and he can pray and learn to bless my name."

Before the dawn three times he spoke, and on the day once more:
"Creature of God, deliver me, and bless the King therefor!"

They shot him at the morning prayer, to ease him of his pain,
And when he heard the matchlocks clink, he blessed the King again.

Which thing the singers made a song for all the world to sing,
So that the Outer Seas may know the mercy of the King.

Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief, of him is the story told,
He has opened his mouth to the North and the South, they have stuffed his mouth with gold.
Ye know the truth of his tender ruth -- and sweet his favours are:
Ye have heard the song -- How long? How long? from Balkh to Kandahar.

25 February 2011

Creeped Out

Lu loaned me her laptop so I'm back in business. Of course Lu also told me I 'owed her' and that she could collect anytime she wanted. I'm guessing me and the pooper scooper are going to be getting downright chummy for a couple of weeks until I pry the price of a new computer out of my ass.

I've noticed something about bucolic Hurricane, Utah. The people here tend to stare. It threw me for a bit. I'm used to California where any eye contact longer than a split second is deemed 'Mad Dogging' and a mortal insult to a large percentage of the population.

When I taught crime prevention one of the things we talked about was this very issue. I always taught people, and especially women, to walk tall and confident. Head up, eyes scanning, shoulders back and arms swinging freely. Walking with downcast eyes and slumped shoulders is fairly shouting to the predators that here is easy prey. If you look like a victim it's pretty much assured someone will attempt to make you one. As for eye contact I taught a short meeting of the eyes and then back to scanning. Never look down afterward, just pause briefly and then resume your scan of your surroundings. No staring contests or attempts at intimidation, just a quick meeting of the eyes to let everyone who's interested know that you're alert, confident and not one to be taken unawares or lightly.

It's different here. I've had sharp words for more than one person who I caught openly staring. The thing about eye contact is that if you're challenged the options are to return the regard, challenge the starer openly or simply act as if nothing untoward is happening. I usually follow the course of avoiding trouble whenever and wherever I can and simply act as if I didn't care but sometimes a challenge should be met. Fortunately for me in every case the starer looked away red faced and acted genuinely contrite. It made me consider.

I now believe it's a small town phenomenon, maybe even something unique to small Mormon communities. I think they're looking for a family connection. In this area there's still a lot of tribalism. Many, even most, of the folks living here have a family connection to the founding and long term families. Lu has been approached more than once by people who either did or thought they recognized her or her family resemblance. The old families here do share a remarkable degree of familiarity. We've been to a few gatherings and a casual perusal made identifying family ties quite easy and illuminating. There was, and to an extent still is, some interbreeding. Oh it's generally at arms length but the numbers of distant cousins marrying and producing offspring is still quite high. Lu's father's family is a perfect example. The family resemblance even among the more distant cousins is striking, especially among the males. I saw 2 children of a family patriarch who recently passed away, one of Lu's uncles. They looked absolutely nothing like the family archetype. Turned out they were adopted. The rest of the family there could have been brothers and sisters, so closely did they look like one another.

So now I've had to reconsider my responses. Chances are that the guy staring openly at us is trying to decide which branch of the family we're connected to. Or rather Lu since I'm an outsider and look like one. Maybe a family member or friend trying to decide if he can approach and talk about all the things that are important to them. Of course he could also just be a creep checking out my oh so beautiful wife in which case all bets are off and a full set of lumps is in the offing. Do I ignore, greet or thump? I can't yet decide based on the small amount of input I have garnered so far.

Frankly it's giving me a headache. I need to run a course for these people; "Why Staring Is Rude". I don't know what the hell you're looking for but it's beginning to creep me out.

Please excuse me now while I go clean my carry piece.


24 February 2011

Br0ken C0mputer

I n0rmaIIy keep my c0mputer 0n the fI00r next t0 my barkaI0unger The 0ther day I managed t0 spiII an entire gIass 0f water 0n it I dried it 0ut as best I c0ud but as 0f t0day the 0, EII and Peri0d keys are refusing t0 c00perate It's kind 0f a massive butt pain

I guess I'II be heading f0r Best Buy T0m0rr0w

I hate it when I d0 stupid things

21 February 2011

RIP Beloved Millie

The Sarge and Mom In Law suffered a terrible loss last night, they lost their sweet Millie.

Millie was an 11 year old miniature dachshund and she was an absolute delight. Millie never met a soul she didn't love and who didn't love her in return. She had a joyful outlook on life and brought that joy into every life she touched. To know her was to love her.

Millie had been ailing for a while. Late last night her breathing became very labored. Sarge and MIL took her to the emergency clinic where she was diagnosed with advanced cancer. It was interfering with her ability to breathe and the Vet wasn't even sure she'd survive the night. Sarge and MIL made the decision we all dread and Millie was eased from her pain and sent on to the Rainbow Bridge where she's playing with Samantha and Moses and waiting for those she loves best.

Our hearts go out to you both. May you take comfort in the idea that Millie led a loved and happy life and when it was her time you did your duty to her regardless of your pain. Lu, the DO, the kids and I send you our love and support.


20 February 2011

Sunday Kipling

The Holy War

"For here lay the excellent wisdom of him that built Mansoul, that thewalls could never be broken down nor hurt by the most mighty adversepotentate unless the townsmen gave consent thereto." -- BUNYAN'S Holy War.

A tinker out of Bedford,
A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
A minister of God

Two hundred years and thirty
Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
And Bunyan was his name!

He mapped for those who follow,
The world in which we are--
"This famous town of Mansoul"
That takes the Holy War.
Her true and traitor people,
The Gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
Recruits of every class,
And highly-screened positions
For flame or poison-gas;
The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had 'em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two.

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
Who crack beneath a strain--
John Bunyan met that helpful set
In Charles the Second's reign.

Emmanuel's vanguard dying
For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
To the State-kept Stockholmites,
The Pope, the swithering Neutrals
The Kaiser and his Gott--
Their roles, their goals, their naked souls--
He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
In Bunhill Fields to lie,
The wisdom that he taught us
Is proven prophecy--
One watchword through our Armies,
One answer from our Lands:--
"No dealings with Diabolus
As long as Mansoul stands!"

A pedlar from a hovel,
The lowest of the low --
The Father of the Novel,
Salvation's first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
And Bunyan was his name!

18 February 2011

Choices And Life Lessons

I took the grandkids out shopping the other day. We were looking for flowers and some gifts the kids could give Grandma Lu for her birthday. We stopped in to the local Ace because hey, it's Hurricane Utah for Ghu's sake and the list of gift shops here is pretty dang thin. And I'm a cheap bastard. There, I said it.

As we perused the scintillating selection of Grandma birthday gifts we ran across some cheapo detective's magnifying glasses. You know, the kind that Inspector Clouseau uses to find a Clue? The kids have been watching the Great Mouse Detective for days now and were instantly awestruck. Goggle eyed and everything. They picked them up and turned to me with the question obvious in their eyes. I decided it was a teachable moment. I told them they could have the magnifying glasses or get a gift for Grandma but not both. They decided on the glasses. I asked if they were certain and was assured that they were. Purchase made we headed home, me a little disappointed in their choice. The boy began to snuffle almost immediately and after a moment went into a full cry. It turned out that he had felt rushed and didn't want the glass after all, he wanted to get something for his Grandma. We went back to the store and I told him he'd have to throw the glass away (It was cheap and I was trying to make a point). He stood at the trash can for a full minute, staring at that wonderful implement of cartoon detection and then, oh so reluctantly, dropped it in the trash. I hugged him and told him how proud I was. He smiled and I could actually see the relief pass across his face. We went back inside, trailed by the girl, and he joyfully picked out a gift that said Grandma right there on it. He was now happy and content with his difficult choice. Heaven.

The girl was stubbornly sticking by her purchase, all the way home. When we got into the driveway she re-considered and began to cry as well. Those soft, heart breaking tears that melted my knees and almost made me cry. She wanted to give up her now beloved glass for a Grandma gift as well. We loaded back up and off we went. When we got there I gave her the same ultimatum. Magnifying glass for gift. She walked slowly to the trash can, legs as leaden as a condemned prisoner walking that last lonely mile. At the decision point she chickened out and said she was keeping it. I reminded her that this meant no Grandma gift. She paused, looking down at her feet and slowly twirling her magnifying glass in her small fingers. I turned back to the truck and saw her out of the corner of my eye turn and make her way back to the trash can. She slowly raised the glass, perhaps saying goodbye, and then dropped it in. I hugged her and told her I loved her and how proud of her I was. I took her hand and we went in the store to shop. She brightened almost instantly as she perused the offerings and thought about just what she'd get for her beloved Grandmother. Gone was the memory of her disappointment and hesitations. Of course her gift also had to say Grandma right on it as well.

Two happy children who had made the choice that giving was more important, and ultimately more satisfying, than receiving.

Tears and uncertainties. Weighing personal gratification against selflessness. Hard choices and difficult lessons for 5 and 6 year olds but when do we teach such things if not now? When the opportunity to provide a life lesson appears what do we do? I was torn I admit. My job as Grandpa entails such lessons but I was as torn as these two precious children. A big part of what I do is provide a guilt free environment for them, apart from the discipline their parents must instill. Grandpa buys them stuff, whatever they want (and even what they don't know they want yet). My heart nearly broke and yet in the end, when the tears had dried and the joy of learned (or perhaps realized) selflessness has taken root in their still unformed minds, the value of the lesson was self evident. It was the right thing to do regardless of the pain that all involved had to endure. As hard as it was for their Grandfather to deny them something they wanted, to make them choose between two diametrically opposed options, it was joyous to see them grow into the challenge and know that in their small chests beat the hearts of children who will grow up recognizing that the needs of others sometimes takes precedence over their own.

I am so very proud of my grandchildren. I was before but now I am seeing them now for the first time through the lens of their inevitable maturity. Growing up is hard to do, no more so than for those of us who wish they would stay children forever. I even made it up to them later. I went down to my shop and dug into the boxes holding the detritus of my career. I found magnifying lenses, evidence notepads, a fingerprint kit and some other items that will allow them to experience the joys of crime fighting and case solving that they have been watching cartoon mice perform. A salve to my conscience and an acknowledgement that all things have their place and their time. Joy.


Scars Within

From the book Tears of Ink, by LCDR Roberto J. Prinselaar

Scars Within

The bloody scars within my mind
That open now and then
Let loose the ancient memories
And I'm at war again

It's like a movie worn with age
With all the actors once well known
But now I only see a few
For the rest I cry and moan

For they're the ones that bled and died
And left me with my scars
And I wonder just how many more
Live thinking of their ghostly friends
That died in forgeign wars

15 February 2011

It's Here!

The new rig arrived today and it's absolutely beautiful. A reminder before I go into the rig itself. A couple of months ago I ordered a custom competition rig from Michael at Michael's Custom Holsters. I wanted a pancake style with belt and mag carrier in brown basketweave. Michael and I traded many e-mails to ensure he understood what I wanted but more importantly what I needed. He even did some research into IDPA (the primary use for the rig) to make sure it fell within their fairly strict guidelines and was something I'd enjoy using. A note to the FCC; I paid for this rig in full and neither Michael nor I have any expectations beyond that.

This is what we came up with. My wants, our ideas and Michael's execution. This is a fast first impression as I opened the box just an hour ago. I'll be doing follow up posts as I take it out for it's first shoot as well as long term as it gets worn in and battle scarred.

This is the holster with mag carrier, belt and two extras; a small wallet with allen wrench and extra screws for the retention system and a nice dust bag for the whole rig. The first thing I noticed was the quality feel and absolutely perfect finish. The leather is thick and well formed with a nice softer leather lining. Hardware is brass, which sets off the brown color nicely if I do say so myself, with stainless screws. The edges are dyed black, including the belt slots. It's obvious that Michael's attention to detail is first rate. The basket weave pattern is sharp with darker dye in the crevices making it really pop. The three pieces color match very well.

Here's the rig with G35 and two extra magazines in the carrier. The holster covers the trigger and the muzzle is flush with the bottom. The magazines sit high for easy access but there's sufficient coverage to hold them securely. They're still stiff from no use but even so both pistol and magazines fit well and release with a good tug. Both holster and carrier have an adjustable tension system that Michael came up with himself. Note the well formed pistol outline and the lack of visible stitching on the exterior of the holster and carrier. Both are made with hidden stitching. The belt has visible black stitching that is a nice, subtle touch while being virtually invisible. The holster has a slightly forward cant but is nearly neutral.

Here's the back of the rig. The belt lining is smooth tan leather while the holster and carrier are unfinished leather that's tough and I expect will wear well. Note the brass plates with stainless steel allen head screws. That's the adjustable tension system. It'll allow me to adjust the tension holding in both pistol and magazines on the fly and as the rig wears in. The pistol and magazines cannot release during hard use and competition but also can't stick. They have to fit snugly enough to be retained but release when I need them. I'll most likely end up using Blue Loc Tite on the screws but I won't know until I've run it for a while. The belt buckle is brass as are the retention screws. You can see the white stitching on the back of the holster and carrier.

Here's an overhead view inside the mag carrier. You can see the lining and the tension system. On the right you can just see the hidden stitches. How the heck does he do that anyway?

Another view of the wallet, allen wrench with extra screws and dust bag. I have always said that I'll pay more for good service. It's the little things that make me smile and these were an unexpected and delightful touch. A small thing I know but very much appreciated. Way too many folks out there will give you the absolute minimum, only what they must and has been contracted for. Customer Service doesn't begin only if you have a problem. If the relationship starts out well it's a good indication it'll end well.

Here's an end view showing the black dyed edges and the thickness of the leather as well as the inward curve of the holster and carrier. I didn't get a chance to try it on yet (that should happen tomorrow) but in holding them up to my waist they fit very naturally.

I am just as pleased as punch. This is the first custom rig I've ever had and I couldn't be happier so far. It's exactly what I had in mind when I first started down this road and that's thanks to Michael's hard work and devotion to giving me what I envisioned along with what I needed. When ordering a custom rig like this one it's vital to have an open dialogue between customer and holster maker and Michael and I spent a lot of time trading ideas back and forth until we narrowed it down to what you see here. It's absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Pictures truly do not do it justice. It's a work of art. Fit and finish are first rate and the quality of materials and craftsmanship really shine through. Michael is an artist.

The proof is in the pudding however and I intend wring this rig out as hard as I can. Time will tell but from initial impressions I'm confident it can take anything I can dish out. I'm certainly intending to run it as hard as I can. This will not be a closet Queen. It's a competition rig and will be used as such.

I am so happy. Thanks Michael.


14 February 2011

Happy Birthday Lu

Today is my wonderful wife's birthday. She's a Valentine baby. It's unfair to her to have her birthday fall on a holiday but I have to admit it has made my life easier over the years. She doesn't even mind. She's just a happy woman.

I just want to take this moment to let her know how much she means to me and how very much I love her.

Lu, you're the best thing that ever happened to me. The luckiest day of my life was the day you came into it. I will love you forever.

Happy Birthday sweetheart. May we celebrate many, many more together.


13 February 2011

Sunday Kipling

Holy crap am I late today. Many apologies. Chalk it down to a house full of kids and a very sick Lu.
The Wage-Slaves

Oh, glorious are the guarded heights
Where guardian souls abide--
Self-exiled from our gross delights--
Above, beyond, outside:
An ampler arc their spirit swings--
Commands a juster view--
We have their word for all these things,
No doubt their words are true.

Yet we, the bond slaves of our day,
Whom dirt and danger press--
Co-heirs of insolence, delay,
And leagued unfaithfulness--
Such is our need must seek indeed
And, having found, engage
The men who merely do the work
For which they draw the wage.

From forge and farm and mine and bench,
Deck, altar, outpost lone--
Mill, school, battalion, counter, trench,
Rail, senate, sheepfold, throne--
Creation's cry goes up on high
From age to cheated age:
"Send us the men who do the work
"For which they draw the wage!"

Words cannot help nor wit achieve,
Nor e'en the all-gifted fool,
Too weak to enter, bide, or leave
The lists he cannot rule.
Beneath the sun we count on none
Our evil to assuage,
Except the men that do the work
For which they draw the wage.

When through the Gates of Stress and Strain
Comes forth the vast Event--
The simple, sheer, sufficing, sane
Result of labour spent--
They that have wrought the end unthought
Be neither saint nor sage,
But only men who did the work
For which they drew the wage.

Wherefore to these the Fates shall bend
(And all old idle things )
Werefore on these shall Power attend
Beyond the grip of kings:
Each in his place, by right, not grace,
Shall rule his heritage--
The men who simply do the work
For which they draw the wage.

Not such as scorn the loitering street,
Or waste, to earth its praise,
Their noontide's unreturning heat
About their morning ways;
But such as dower each mortgaged hour
Alike with clean courage--
Even the men who do the work
For which they draw the wage--
Men, like to Gods, that do the work
For which they draw the wage--
Begin-continue-close that work
For which they draw the wage!

09 February 2011

Lost Wallet

Lu had an unfortunate incident today. She lost her wallet. In it was an ATM card, a credit card, her drivers license and her Social Security card. The SS card was there only because she had just that day changed in her California DL for one from Utah and they needed to verify her legal status. We did the usual and I thought this was a great time to talk about this issue and ID theft.

Many of us carry our lives in our wallets or purses. ID, credit cards, cash and all the things society requires us to have to maneuver through the various roadblocks. Those things tend to represent the sum total of our identification lives. The loss of such is more than just the hassle we must endure to replace them, it's the opportunity for the immoral to steal, sometimes more than just material things.

With identification, credit cards and a Social Security card the clever thief can steal your very identity with all the attendant problems that you'll endure. What can you do to protect yourself? The keys are speed, diligence and reporting.

The first thing I recommend is Don't Panic! This is resolvable and you can protect yourself and even find and prosecute the thieves of you're smart and persistent.

First, retrace your steps as carefully as you can, you might get lucky. Make yourself known at every shop or stop you made where there's even a minute possibility that you may have lost your wallet there. Ask them to check and announce you'll be making a police report immediately. I see it's story time again.
Just before I retired I was detailed to a couple from Hong Kong staying in a local hotel who had lost the small satchel containing their ID's, passports, tickets, credit cards and all the cash they'd brought along. They'd taken a cab from the airport to the hotel and discovered the loss after checking in. They were distraught but were sure they'd had it in the cab. We retraced their steps and I called the cabbie in and thoroughly searched his cab. I then let him know I'd be watching and made him aware of the penalties if it turned out he'd made off with the satchel. The bag turned up the next morning in a park in a neighboring city, situated so the first person to see it would be the Park Ranger. Not a thing missing. Coincidence? Maybe but I believe the cabbie found it and decided to keep it until I confronted him. He went through the risk/reward odds and decided it was better if the satchel was 'found' and couldn't be traced to him. That's what we're going for here. Let it be known loudly that you're not a victim, will be actively searching for your property and are taking steps to find the thieves and you've ratcheted up the risk as opposed to the reward.

Report the loss/theft to your local law enforcement agency. Immediately if not sooner. Get a police report number and the name of the reporting officer. You're going to need them later. Make sure you list everything that was in your wallet or purse in the report. Everything. The reporting may be done in person or electronically. If you have a choice do it face to face with an officer. If things progress to more serious crimes remember this. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Be polite but be a pest. Keep calling the Investigations Bureau until they assign your case to a Detective and find out who that officer is. Keep in touch with him/her. Be friendly but don't take no for an answer. Ask for updates and offer your total cooperation in the investigation and prosecution and be sincere. Nothing stops a case faster than a victim who refuses to help or won't prosecute after the work is done. Make sure they know you're in it for the long run, that you're a partner and not another adversary.

Cancel all your credit cards and ATM card (Or your checking account if your checks were also lost). Again, you may have to do it electronically but if you can call and speak with someone. Check your accounts to see if there have been any charges on your cards and contest them immediately with your bank. Let your local PD know as well so they can follow up. Most banks have a good understanding of the issues and will work with you to resolve them. They may be on the hook for unauthorized uses of your credit cards so they have motivation to be helpful. Remember, you've been paying them for years and this is the time for them to help you so insist that they do so. If there has been use of a card or cards, especially locally, the PD can check those places for suspects and camera footage. Again, insist that they follow up and do their due diligence. If someone is using your accounts it's theft and, depending on the amount, maybe a felony. If your bank/credit card company has an ID theft office make sure they're notified. They can be of great help and have resources you can use to make sure your victimization is kept to an absolute minimum.

The three major credit reporting companies are TRW, Experian and Equifax. They monitor your credit and are the prime agencies to help you in cases of identity theft. Contact them and report the loss/theft as soon as possible. This is where that police report number comes in. When you contact them let them know you've filed a report and give them the report number. Same goes for your credit card companies and banks. That report number shows that you've done your due diligence and gives the companies something to hang their hats on and makes recovering your identity massively easier if it comes to that.

Get a new drivers license with a new photograph. Many DMV's have a fraud division. File a report with them if you can. When you replace your credit cards see if you can get the ones that put your picture on the back. Anything that makes it harder for the bad guys to rip us off is a good thing.

If your bank or credit card company notifies you of an unauthorized usage find out if they're going to report it to the PD. If so, call the PD and make sure they did. If not do it yourself and make sure it's included in the original case file. Most criminals aren't caught in the course of an hour long TV show by brilliant deductions or a dramatic confession on the witness stand. They're caught by persistent and thorough gathering of facts and evidence and if you're in this situation you're a part of that process.

Consider one of the credit monitoring companies like LifeLock. I use that company only as an example. I can't and won't recommend any of them but check around and see if one might be right for you and your needs. It may be worth the investment in your time.

Keep a record of all your steps, who you talked to and when. This will be important later on if things progress beyond loss/theft to ID theft. Get everyone's name and contact info. Keep notes of conversations and be specific on what you were told. This can turn ugly and if it does it'll be hold their feet to the fire time and your best asset is information.

Keep the contents of your wallet/purse to what you really need to get through your day. If you don't need it leave it at home. That keeps any loss/theft disaster to an absolute minimum. I mentioned Lu's Social Security card. She only had it because she needed it that day, otherwise it's kept in the safe at home. In our case this will require a trip to the local Social Security Office for another report and a new card. Any other day and it'd be one less worry. For those of you who routinely carry in a purse or other bag that may become separated from you, consider all your carry options. A bag may be the best answer but the potential loss of a weapon kicks the liability up an order of magnitude.

Hey, it's life and shit happens. Don't pound yourself about it. Go ahead and get angry but direct it at those who deserve your ire. The people who would victimize you. Keep your head and be proactive in protecting your name and assets. No one else is as invested in this process as you. No one else has as much to lose as you. In the end the outcome will rest as much in your hands as anyone else so make sure you do anything and everything you can to insure a positive conclusion.

Oh, and to whoever picked up my wife's wallet. Turn it in now and forget you ever saw it. I'm actively looking for it (and by inference you) and you really don't want me to find you with anything that belongs to her. To quote the great John Wayne in the best movie ever made; That would cause me great annoyance and displeasure.


07 February 2011

A Day Exploring

Lu found a nice hiking trail just a half block from the house so we loaded up the kids and Chrisi and went for a nice afternoon walk. Where the sidewalk ends and adventure begins....

The trail runs along an old watercourse with flora and fauna never before seen by 5 and 6 year old eyes. Jaina decided she loves Cacti and pointed out every one we came across, each better than the last.

The trail went up toward the base of Hurricane Hill. Please note the backpacks filled with the necessities of life in the great outdoors; cold water and a peanut butter bar.

A little further up is the Hurricane Canal. When this area was settled it was all farms. Because it's an arid system water was brought down out of the mountains and fed into this concrete canal. Many of the later settlers came in just for this construction and ended up staying.

Dotted along the canal are these steel sluices that allowed the farmers to detour irrigation water to their crops.

I decided a wider angle view was in order so hiked up closer to the top of the Hill. Way down there, if you look closely, you'll see a smiling woman, 2 kids and a black dog sharing a snack and watching a grown man make a fool of himself.

I think the caves were the hit of the hike. Not exactly world famous, the kids thought they were awfully cool.

Brendan and Chrisi. A dog and her boy.
The end of the trail. Lunch, a cold drink and a warm house await our intrepid explorers.

Kids remind us of the wonder waiting for us just around the corner and that each day must be seized and wrung for all it's worth. What new sights will tomorrow bring? We'll never know unless we take the journey.

05 February 2011

Sunday Kipling

Something a little different today.

Angutivaun Taina
Song of the Returning Hunter (Esquimaux)
"Quiquern"--The Second Jungle Book

Our gloves are stiff with the frozen blood,
Our furs with the drifted snow,
As we come in with the seal--the seal!
In from the edge of the floe.

Au jana! Aua! Oha! Haq!
And the yelping dog-teams go;
And the long whips crack, and the men come back,
Back from the edge of the floe!

We tracked our seal to his secret place,
We heard him scratch below,
We made our mark, and we watched beside,
Out on the edge of the floe.

We raised our lance when he rose to breathe,
We drove it downward--so!
And we played him thus, and we killed him thus,
Out on the edge of the floe.

Our gloves are glued with the frozen blood,
Our eyes with the drifting snow;
But we come back to our wives again,
Back from the edge of the floe!

Au jana! Aua! Oha! Haq!
And the loaded dog-teams go;
And the wives can hear their men come back,
Back from the edge of the floe!

04 February 2011

A Laugh At Someone Else's Expense

So the Car Guy called me yesterday. I see some background is needed here. Car Guy is my bud. My BFF. We just recently swapped trucks. He had a 4 wheel drive he no longer needed but wanted a truck with more room. I had a 2 wheel drive extended cab I didn't need but I did need a 4 wheel drive. Both trucks are the same make and year and almost the same mileage. The stars came into alignment and a straight trade was made. Mine had a few aftermarket accessories I wanted as did his. We removed those items to be installed into our respective new trucks. Happy Happy Joy Joy.

Apparently he was putting in his stereo the other day. This required the removal of the upper dash. To do that he needed to move the shift selector lever. He put on the parking brake and moved the selector all the way down into D1. Did I mention his driveway is steeply sloped? Can you smell the impending disaster?

After a few minutes work he realized he needed to remove the lower dash. To do that he needed to, say it with me now, disengage the parking brake. Now Car Guy is a very experienced and competent mechanic. From minor repairs to total tear downs he can do it all and has many times which makes the resulting near catastrophe all the funnier. I mean ironic. Yeah, that's it. Ironic.

Car Guy reached under the dash and released the parking brake. The state of the gear selector lever was apparently forgotten in his intense concentration on installing the latest whiz bang satellite radio system. He was also hanging out the drivers door with his legs on the driveway at the time. You know, it's a funny thing. Sometimes, just as you do something monumentally stupid you get a moment of crystal clarity. It comes just after you do it and when it's far, far too late to stop. You think "Oh crap, I just did something incredibly bad and it's really, really going to hurt." You badly want to stop your hand or mouth but you just can't. It's no longer in your control and you can only watch, almost as an outside observer, as catastrophe and chaos take over. Your actions totally divorced from your conscious mind. You await the bang and hope the insurance will cover the medical bills.

Car Guy had just such an epiphany as he watched his hand release the only thing keeping his truck safely in his driveway. Inevitability took over and the truck zoomed down the driveway (It's very steep) and toward the road. Like a smart munition programmed by Red Adair, it headed unerringly for the fire hydrant across the street. Car Guy found himself holding onto the brake pedal, the only thing he now had to avert looming disaster, and being dragged just inches from painful mutilation by the rear wheels. He somehow managed to get a grip on the steering wheel with one hand and apply the brake with the other. The engine was off so he had no power assist just the panicky strength that comes from knowing one has committed a massive buffoonery and if one does not somehow wrest control of the situation from Murphy's slavering jaws injury and personal revenue disenhancement will surely ensue.

Car Guy contorted and strained with all his might. He pressed on the pedal and prayed to to the gods of all things mechanical. He may have even cried but if so it was just for maybe a minute or two so it really doesn't count and no one should think less of him for that. Somehow, in spite of doing virtually everything he could to bring on this massive kinda accident but really negligent negative vehicle/object interaction, he brought the truck to a halt just inches shy of the hydrant and the high pressure water event that surely would have resulted. He even managed to keep his soft personal parts away from the rear wheels but even he can't explain how. The day was saved.

But Car Guy just couldn't keep it to himself. He called his compadre, his amigo, his trusted confidant immediately afterward and, amid much laughing and many aspersions cast by yours truly, related the story finishing with the admonition "Dude, don't tell anyone!"

So to Car Guy. My best friend. My brother from another mother. The man I'd trust with anything and everything near and dear to me. I didn't tell a soul. I swear.

I'm just glad the antagonist in this cautionary tale wasn't me. It usually is but that's a story Car Guy will never tell. He swore.


On Chrisi And Emotions

Those of you who know are aware that Chrisi is Lu's Black Lab, sister to Trooper. She's different from any other dog we've ever had, even Trooper who was her half brother. She's much more sensitive and shows her emotions more readily. She also has more emotions that Trooper ever did or perhaps she's just more capable of showing them. I know how many view anthropomorphism but I am of the opinion that animals, and especially dogs, have many more emotions than most humans give them credit for. There is absolutely no doubt that Trooper loved me and was perfectly capable of expressing it. Dogs have body language all their own and if you spend enough time with them and pay attention to them you can see it and recognize it for what it is. Chrisi is a fountain of emotions and shows it in her expressive body language and behavior that fairly screams what she's feeling.

Back in August, when Trooper passed, Lu and I knew it was going to be hard on Chrisi, especially with the move. We started preparations for the move shortly afterward and were gone by November. Chrisi's has always hated having her routine upset. Hates it when one of the pack left, even for a few hours. She was sensitive to that Alpha Male's moods. When Trooper passed she went through a period I can only call grief, as deep as that felt by Lu and me. Expected behavior from any dog but felt keenly in a drooped tail and hung head and needing brown eyes.

After the move her behavior continued to change. She rarely showed the boundless joy Labs (and Chrisi in particular) are known for. She's paced and panted. She's escaped from the back yard and wandered the neighborhood, something she'd never done before. She took to wandering around our bed at night, panting, questing, perhaps puzzled. Many times I'd feel her cold nose nudging my arm in the middle of the night, asking a question I couldn't even understand much less answer. She's started sleeping on the bed with us, again something she has rarely done and even disliked when she was younger. I've seen it in her eyes. That lack of something. Call it a spark. Maybe a need she hasn't understood or been able to convey. She's hasn't been eating well. She stopped sharing meals with us and even turned down her beloved pig ears. It's been worrying, especially for Lu. While Chrisi knows who the Alpha Male is and is always attuned to my moods she's Momma's dog. It's Momma who she turns to when she's unsettled, in pain or just needing. She's been glued to Lu like a second shadow, hardly leaving her sight. Then something unexpected happened.

Our daughter and grandkids arrived last month, bringing with them the noise and happy chaos only two kids, 5 and 6, can bring. Lu said she thought that Chrisi would be happy to see them but I was unconvinced. I feared that their presence would unsettle Chrisi further. That the running, and fierce play and playful shouting would cause her to withdraw even more and stress her. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Chrisi has returned to the dog she used to be. She's calm and happy and at peace again. She's taken to sleeping either with the DO or in between the kid's bed at night. She wanders the house, from room to room, checking on the occupants and keeping watch. Her appetite has returned and she's stopped that stressed panting. You can see it in her contented body language. She's happy, really happy, for the first time since Trooper passed.

Perhaps it's the return of her pack, all together again except for one notable absence. Maybe it's her motherly instincts that are telling her the next generation is here and it's her job to guard and protect them. All dogs need a job, a reason to exist. I strongly believe that and you need look no further than Chrisi for proof. When Trooper was alive Chrisi's job was to be the Omega female. Trooper was the watch dog and Chrisi was content to leave him the job. Her job was to be Lu's dog, to run and play and fetch and travel with her. But now he's gone and I think she's discovering, in the kids, that she's inherited his job and she finally understands that. Whatever the truth, I'm grateful she's found her peace and perhaps her new role in the pack.

It's an old saw that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. That is patently false. Chrisi has found a new purpose and a new outlook. It strengthens my feelings that a new dog needs to be added. Chrisi is first and always a companion and she needs the surety of a large pack to feel truly at home. I think her teacher and protector sides are emerging, facets of her personality she and I never knew she possessed (Lu knew though. Lu always knows). A need she didn't know existed until two small children returned to her and showed her that her life still has meaning and purpose. She's still needed.

All at fourteen years old. A truly wondrous gift.