Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Real McCoy

Houston McCoy On August 1st, 1966 a twenty-five year old man took several firearms onto the observation platform of a building at the University of Texas. He killed sixteen people that day - his mother and his wife, three innocents in the building itself, and eleven more from his perch twenty-eight floors up. Among his victims was twenty-two year old Austin police officer Billy Speed, shot to death in the company of other cops responding to the shooting. Thirty-two people were wounded

Picking his way through the carnage, riding an elevator up toward a madman, Houston McCoy led fellow Austin officer Ramiro Martinez out onto the deck. There, the two confronted the man McCoy would refer to ever after only as "the sniper." Both McCoy and Ramirez fired shots that hit the murderer - in the end both received credit for the rounds that ended the killing.

Officer McCoy left law enforcement and became a flight instructor. He battled alcoholism and PTSD. His children remember him as the man who raised them in the country, to be self-sufficient and drive "anything with wheels, once we could see over the steering wheel." Friends called him a "great police officer, and a great friend."

Houston McCoy died on December 27th, the same day as General Norman Schwarzkopf. Fitting - both of them rejected the label "hero," preferring to be remembered as men who answered the call of duty.

Rest in peace, Officer.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On Earth, Peace

Joseph's Studio 6" Nativity Set Holy Family - New for 2012And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."  Luke 2.

This blog is dedicated to James Davies, Jennifer Sebena, Celena Hollis and all of the other police officers who gave their lives this year. May their friends and families, in their pain this holiday season, feel the warmth of love and friendship from those around them.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A New Rope

"The food on this ship sucks."
"Say something positive, huh?"
"I'm positive the food on this ship sucks."

My perfectly-cooked lamb chops nestled affectionately against a small dollop of mashed potatoes. The sauce, a red wine reduction, clung to the meat and lent just a hint of dark cherry. Across the table, my wife looked lovely, radiant.

We were sailing for Jamaica on the Freedom of the Seas, a gorgeous 3400 passenger beauty. We'd suited up for dinner - she in a great red dress and me a tux. I'd had a ceviche appetizer, half a glass of Kendall Jackson Cabernet and I was feeling damn content with myself. Then...they walked in.

Monday, December 17, 2012

More Than Words

"And I looked and I beheld a pale horse,
And his name that sat upon him was death, and Hell followed with him."*

The New York Daily News captured the scene - "The Connecticut mass murderer used an assault rifle to slaughter his 26 victims, spraying dozens of bullets into a helpless group of first-graders ..." Within this one sentence battle lines have already formed. Someone will write, if they have not already, that the rifle used was not an assault weapon.

So the hell what.

The rifle I carry at work is, as a practical matter, indistinguishable from the one used in Connecticut. Both are direct descendants of the AR-10, designed by employees of the Armalite Corporation in the 1950s and marketed to the US Military as their next generation shoulder weapon. Among the design features was increased magazine capacity (30 rounds being common), an ergonomically-friendly pistol grip, recoil-reducing mechanisms and a straight bore-to-shoulder alignment that makes the weapon easier to control - that is, remain on target - during rapid fire.

Over the decades, with many years of combat experience to draw on, the modern rifle incorporates a dizzying array of options depending on mission requirements. I have chosen a holographic optic that projects an aiming ring onto a small glass square (the red dot moves as the device's perception of bullet impact point changes), a small flashlight attached to the handrail, a soft pistol grip and a competition trigger. Why? Because my job may require engaging in an armed encounter with someone shooting a weapon at me, as has happened in the past to several of my coworkers. As happens all over our country, every day.

Why would such a weapon be freely available, so much so that one disturbed individual after another can acquire one, arm themselves with it and wade into a gathering place shooting indiscriminately? Some Pro-Gun Absolutists maintain that mass executions are the price we pay as a free society.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Packing the Gear

"My orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps."*

Packing is either a tasty preamble, a way to set sail before actually leaving or.... A nightmare of missing buttons, meaningless checklists and a gnawing up-at-two forgot-my-freakin'-head sensation. Since all the big-boy and big-girl bloggers occasionally do a random thoughts post (I can dream, can't I?).... This might be a random crash and burn, but it will be something to do while I'm trying to decide whether two pair of cargo Dockers will be enough...or too much.

- Guidebooks will tell you "Don't let the dogs see the suitcases." One says put the suitcases in a room a week before, another says bring them out randomly so the dogs don't associate suitcases with separation. Really? I sling my work gear carrier (it's not a man purse, it's my Go Bag) and the dogs get that just-ate-a-dead-mouse-I-found-out-back look. Honestly, they are too intuitive anyway. I get spooled up to get the hell out of Dodge and they know something's about to them.

- Some of the coolest articles of clothing I own I bought after forgetting to pack something.

- No two Hawaiian shirts are alike. I need them. Seriously!

- Along the same lines, print and camouflage are perfectly acceptable combinations on vacation.

-So why am I bringing only plain and plain?


- Pack Grandpa, he deserves the vacation.

- Looking for a picture to post with this, I Google "Funny packing pictures." There aren't any.

*Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, Full Metal Jacket, 1987

Friday, November 30, 2012


“I just knew I had to help him.”  Hear the heartwarming story directly from the NYPD officer in this photo, Larry DePrimo:

NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo sets a benchmark for kindness, purchasing boots for a homeless man in Times Square. Where is yours?

Cruisin' Denial

"The rest of those who have gone before us cannot steady the unrest of those to follow."

Fall vacation. Just the words put a lilt in my voice and a warm ray of sunshine in my heart. It means "slipping the surly bonds of Earth" and flying to some far away destination. It means some beach somewhere. It means the undivided attention of my lovely, bright, engaging wife - and my undivided attention to her. A big boat, a room with a view. It means Kindles and restoratives, swimsuits and suntan lotion, lavish dining, a tux for me and an evening dress for her.

This year, it is also an escape from pain. The loss of a coworker is only part of it - a huge part, to be sure. But I've had to watch, powerless, as friends around me struggle to understand that loss. When a good friend mentions that a part of him believes his buddy is on vacation and will soon call...and there are no words for him I feel helpless.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Writing Cops

Homicide detective Mick Jenkins stepped through the tavern doorway onto the sidewalk. Showing his back to the icy afternoon wind, he turned up the collar on his soiled trench coat and headed for the station. The worn garment was about all she'd left him. That, and a broken heart.


funny cop thComedyPolice.jpg photoA good street cop is often a widely varied subject matter expert. Generally fluent in tequila-ese, able to glance authoritatively at an auto engine, whistle sadly and call a tow, he or she has one thing in common with all brothers and sisters of the blue.

We are SMEs on us.

Consequently, any writer presuming to venture into cops as characters would do well to meet some, marry one or be one. Failing those (my wife would caution against marrying one, but that is a separate blog) I humbly offer a few tips. First, some caveats.

1) We are not who we appear to be. Most of us are especially guarded about who we are and what we do. My publisher's editor once told me he "knew" female cops because he'd "met one." One?!

2) Sometimes, we drop F Bombs like Aspen snowflakes in January. Never...well, rarely in public. Behind closed doors, f*&k yeah.

3) We are people. We laugh, we cry, we feel fear, pain...heartbreak. Just because we don't show it off to anyone but our intimates doesn't mean it's not there.

Okay, here we go.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Horse Sense

"There is nothing so good for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse." Ronald Reagan

What a miserable ten days. A popular, outgoing young man became my police department's first duty death, the victim of a mishap at the hands of another officer. I missed the funeral only because I was fourteen hundred miles away beginning the process of finding an assisted living facility for my mother. Watching the service on a laptop, tears in my eyes, texts from my wife filling in some of the details, I felt estranged and terribly alone.

Today's horseback riding lesson could not have come at a worse time. Tired, jet lagged and self-absorbed, I went only because our cruise is fast approaching, the horse-born shore excursion will be more enjoyable with lessons and it seemed like the thing to do.

The trainer began the lesson expressing condolences. I appreciated that greatly - many people don't know what to say, so they say nothing. Then, she said "Let's focus on something else for a while."

I've taken lessons on and off...mostly off. I know how to make the beasts stop, and go. I'm comfortable when the horse is walking slowly, less so at the faster trot, and the canter, also known as a lope but not quite the run-like-hell.... Eject, eject, eject! So when the subject of loping came up I just chuckled. "That Val, helluva sense of humor."

She was serious. It was terrifying. It was ragged, flailing...amateurish. It was awesome. I got so the horse would keep me on his back as we loped along all the way around the arena. Getting settled - sit back, heels down, hands following the rhythm of the long strides - took every bit of concentration I could muster. I felt strong,

Turns out I needed tonight desperately.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Lionel Tribbey: "It's from Penzance, or Iolanthe. One of the ones about duty"
Ainsley Hayes: "They're all about duty."*

Something was wrong.

An old friend wore his police uniform - he does not work a uniformed assignment - as he climbed into a car in the lot. A Denver Police vehicle sat in front of our station. Unusual. I got to my desk shortly before six in the morning and called Dispatch.

There'd been a call - a prowler, maybe a burglary. Random shots, then purposeful ones. Someone had been hit.

The shock of hearing from the calltaker that a coworker had been killed on duty did not wear off for several hours. There were occasional, unpredictable moments of tears. Anger led to grief and then disbelief when I learned that the shooting was accidental, a tragic case of misidentification. I didn't really let go until I'd found my wife's arms, standing in full uniform in our kitchen sobbing on her shoulder.

Policework is a 24/7 proposition. Our shop never closes. I appeared in uniform at six the next morning. Low, gray clouds hung a pall in the air. Snow fell in the early afternoon. Officers went about their business in robotic inanimation, hollow voices relaying routine messages to equally washed out dispatchers. Citizens' needs handled by rote - men and women with black-masked badges and red-rimmed eyes delivering perfunctory, if adequate police service.

The community was respectful, even reverential. Flowers appeared, bags of cookies, pizzas. Money, offered by organized citizen groups or collected ad hoc in small denominations, handed over for the family. To do something, anything, for a man who'd left behind a young wife, two children and hundreds of friends.

Then - the inevitable. The alert tone summoning us to a burglary in progress. Was it starting again?

Eight of us showed up. Guns out, go the numbers. Careful, calculated. A person detained, the house empty. A misunderstanding. Our luck holds. Cold, melting snow ran down the back of my neck, but that did not cause the shiver I felt. We returned to our cars and departed.

Adrenaline junkies? Hardly. Each of us had accepted this day as a possibility long before our friend fell. An imperfect society summons men and women to its aid. We respond not for riches or fame.

We feel a sense of duty. To you. To each other.

Especially to each other.

*John Larroquette and Emily Proctor, And It's Surely To Their Credit, The West Wing, 2000.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hidden Victims

Today we lost one of our own. I wanted to write, but words escaped me. So, read my daughter's writing. She expresses the struggles of the hidden victims far better than I ever could.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Little Big Man

"Tearful nights, angry dawns."

Patriotic Ribbon #2Over the course of these past months I have been called racist, misogynist and my friends. I have been urged to vote not out of passion, or principle but for revenge. I've been encouraged to believe that the triumph of one candidate over the other is a mandate to band together and take things belonging to others not out of necessity, but out of envy. Polling places, and the people serving them, were adorned with the likenesses and campaign regalia of one of the contestants. A man who cobbled together a coalition of the self-interested accepts victory by urging us forward as "one people" without ever having announced a destination. The winner was dragged over the finish line by cheerleaders fawningly giving him credit for the bravery of others and at the same time refusing to hold him accountable for his own cowardice. Commentators celebrate a storm that killed over a hundred people, hinting that it made a positive difference in the election. The President's one recent shining moment recorded him watching accounts of citizens fighting for, and losing, their lives as he wore a $5000 suit they bought him, sipping $40 a pound coffee from a gold-rimmed cup.

I can't sleep.

Yet, I see the standard bearers of my own faith once again leading us into a bitter wilderness. We preach liberty and practice intolerance. We reap the harvest - literally and figuratively - of hard-working families encouraged to cross our borders only to feign shock that they have remained among us "illegally." We brand one form of love as spiritual and all others as cursed. Far from embracing fellow citizens for the content of their character, we apply values tests as though ours is the one and true faith. We have eliminated from our midst those who would work shoulder to shoulder with us, to build a future not only for ourselves, but for the generations who will accept a staggering burden of debt as our parting gift.

It is nearly dawn, and for the first time in my adult life I'm frightened.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Standing for Something

"Here rests in honored glory An American Soldier known but to God."

Some years ago, I was touring Arlington National Cemetery. A small crowd gathered at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I guessed - correctly - that the guard changing ceremony was about to begin.

An NCO, a sergeant, marched purposefully to the center of the viewing area. Six feet tall, trim and fit, his perfect uniform displayed the kinds of ribbons and insignia of a man who had been there and done that. Among his doodads was the Combat Infantryman Badge. He'd been in combat.

He spoke in a clear, commanding voice. When the ceremony began, he thundered, we would stand - silent and still. I had no doubt that the consequences of ignoring this man would be grave. Even his harsh glare might do permanent damage, to my soul if nothing else. I did as I was told, as did everyone around me.

Behind me among the crowd was a cluster of elderly, frail men. They bore a wreath. Plainly, they had come to pay respects and lay their token at the tomb. Their hats identified them as veterans from Ohio. At the conclusion of the ceremony the NCO made his way to this group.

"Don't worry about a thing, sir" the sergeant said to one of them, soft, calm and assuring voice visibly relaxing the men. "You just let me do all the work. We'll go at your pace."

Today, as a storm brews along the East Coast, soldiers guard The Tomb. They represent the best of America, epitomized by the young African-American sergeant who shepherded a group of old warriors on one last mission of valor.

Friday, October 26, 2012

"In The Company of Heroes"^

"I cherish the memory of a question my grandson asked me the other day, when he said, 'Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?' And Grandpa said, 'No, but I served in the company of heroes.'"*

Master Sergeant Gary Gordon
Gary Gordon
On October 3rd, 1993, American Rangers, Delta Force operatives and SEAL Team 6 members descended on a safe house in Mogadishu, Somalia. Their target was members of a warlord's command staff. In the course of the operation two helicopters were shot down. One of them,  a Blackhawk called "Super Six-Four" commanded by Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant, crashed in a hostile part of the city. She was descended upon by a crowd in the hundreds, many of them armed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romney Recommends Out of Ideas

Out on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney apparently uttered the words "out of ideas." Given the way politics has been conducted of late, I've decided to spin his comments my way. He meant, of course, to endorse my novel. It would be entirely appropriate for him to do so, inasmuch as it begins in Wisconsin and then travels to Florida - two critical states in his bid to replace Barack Obama.

Now, if I can only get him to publicly deny his endorsement (in fact, I'd venture to say he's never heard of my book, or me), decry my shameless bit of merchandising (athough, as an entrepeneur himself he might applaud my audacity) and then ask for a campaign contribution as attonement....

Anybody got his phone number?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

You're Killin' Me, Smalls

I've voted.

Last night, I repaired to the downstairs TV room to watch the San Francisco Giants. Since my beloved but dreadful Rockies are out (and have been since May) I'm rooting for SF against despised Matt Holliday and his Cardinals of St. Louis. I pour a Chardonnay, settle onto our overstuffed couch and flip on the big screen.

Two well-coiffed guys in five thousand dollar suits are standing nose to nose on a stage, speaking into microphones. It appears a rap competition has broken out at a conference of chief financial officers. "Yo, Yo, your incompetent ministrations have emboldened our enemies and cast consequential aspersions on our allies," says one. "Chill, Homey," the other replies. "I envision defenestration regarding your impolitic remarks." At least, that's what I think they said because, recognizing another political ad, I've muted the sound.


Alma mater Syracuse is playing Connecticut before the usual packed house at the Carrier Dome. Football, and the game appears lopsided, with the Orange on the correct side of the lop. We score another touchdown and the network goes to commercial.

Apparently, some guy I never heard of, running for an obscure political office, sells drugs to children. Or, he used to. I assume the point is that this is a disqualifier, even in Colorado.


Saturday, October 13, 2012


"Writers write so readers can read."*

This blog is several years old. I've written about all manner of things - a helicopter ride, a cruise, a grandson. Some have been fun, others legalese and a few just a man alone with his laptop. I have mostly a small following and get 30-40 hits on each post. One offering, a piece about the Aurora cinema shooting, has received about 120 hits since July. When a small-time writer grows a following, he or she begins with a core of loyal readers and builds from there.

Last night, alone and terribly angry, I sat down to frame some thoughts about the Jessica Ridgeway case. I intended a warning but instead hope came out. Hope for the just conclusion to this sad case, brought into being, in large part, by the selfless dedication of professional men and women in law enforcement. Local cops, State officials and Federal officers, dispatchers, victim advocates, records specialists, criminalists.... It's what we do, and people like Jessica and her family for whom we do it.

To date, this post has received two hundred seventy hits in twenty four hours.

I am touched, beyond my meager ability to express. The greatest gift to a writer, writing from the heart, is to have someone read it.

To everyone who read, shared, commented or said a silent prayer for Jessica, I can only say thank you.

*William Forrester (Sean Connery), Finding Forrester, 2000

Friday, October 12, 2012

Justice for a Little Girl - UPDATED

Police announced today that the "body" found in an Arvada Colorado field was that of ten year old Jessica Ridgeway.

Police officers are often asked "How do you stand it? I couldn't do your job." This case is an example of why so many of us stick with it. An astonishing number of police officers are wherever they are, doing whatever they are doing and wanting to be the one who puts handcuffs on this little girl's killer. Not rough them up or meet street justice on them. No, that would make them a hero to some.

Handcuffs make a satisfying, distinct ripping sound when they are applied. Rendering all but the most agile and motivated arrestee relatively harmless, they signal control. Control over the arrestee by the forces for good, for justice. Control over our emotions, declaring the suspect satisfactorily restrained. Be it for a minor infraction or a stunning evil, to a cop handcuffs mean peace, victory.

How do we stand it? For the chance to be that guy, the one who puts handcuffs on a killer and thereby takes them off the street.


UPDATE - I'm sure there were high-fives today with the arrest of a suspect in Jessica Ridgeway's murder. There is so much more work to be done, so many more professionals who will have a hand in the final just outcome. The exceptional DA's Office in Jefferson County, working with the involved law enforcement jurisdictions, now gets down to the business of prosecuting. The realization that a serial offender, perhaps capable of many more such crimes, is sitting in a secure building is a huge relief to everyone, cops included. Prosecuted as an adult, spending the rest of his life behind bars? We'll see. But, I'll bet I know what the pros in Westy, Arvada and all of the other involved organizations will do when the day's paperwork is done, and the scenes are processed.

They'll go home and get some sleep. At least for the moment, this fellow will kill no one else's child. Thanks to them.

UPDATE - Two absolutely unsurprising developments in court this morning. The judge ordered the suspect held without bond (can you say "Continuing danger to the community"?) and Jeffco's DA will try him as an adult. While the defense made the usual argument of no criminal history, Scott Storey reminded the court - and us - that he has DNA and a confession. He probably has a whole lot more, but.... Arvada and Westminster have not released details that are called "investigative keys" for just the day someone wants to confess. Only the killer, and the cops, know them. If, in his confession, the suspect has these details, it's more likely than not that he's the right asshole. In addition, although the Supreme Court muddied the sentencing waters last term, a juvenile charged as an adult can still get a significantly more severe sentence. With luck, this fellow will never again be free.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No One Left to Lie To - UPDATED

"The truth? You can't handle the truth!"*

This morning, two former US Postal Cycling members confessed to doping. One of them, George Hincapie, rode beside Lance Armstrong for most of his 19 years as a professional cyclist. While not a big surprise, that the truth is finally surfacing is unsettling.

 Labeling "everyone did it" as trite masks a much more complicated situation. Through serial denials and cute comments ("What am I on? I'm on my bike, four hours a day.") Postal tried to convince everyone they were riding clean. During an era when many (most?) of the other riders had tested positive at one point or another during their career, the protestations sounded hollow. Many of Armstrong's friends do not believe him. Yet....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nicely Plated

"There's no reason to take any chances this close to the end." A friend at work.

Four gun calls within 36 hours. A suicidal man with a shotgun. A woman firing off a shotgun at fictional "drug dealers." A guy doing backgrounds for the Feds chased across an apartment complex by a woman with a loaded twenty gauge. An armed robbery. I went to all of them.

Then, Aurora happened.

My wife and I chat several times a day, regardless of work schedules. Often, one of us just wants to hear the other's voice. There is, of course, family business to address. Occasionally, some mis-dialing.... So my wife's question - "What's a plate carrier?" - in an otherwise innocuous conversation did not take me entirely by surprise.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Tomorrow I appear on "Just Romantic Suspense," which is exactly what the name suggests it is. There will be a give away so come over, leave a comment and enjoy the other authors' blogs while you are there.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Port Call

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. Psalm 107, King James Bible

The view from seat 13A of the US Airways Embraer RJ145 was spectacular, if not breathtakingly colorful. The rolling New England countryside has yet to see autumn's changing leaves. Green and lush, made more so under a cloudless blue sky. House Island, and the revetments of historic Fort Scammell are clearly visible from fifteen hundred feet above the Atlantic Ocean as we turn to land in Maine.

Visiting our daughter Beth has involved the sea since she left Denver in 2005. Moving first to Ft. Myers, Florida she now resides in Portland, Maine, a law student at the University of Maine. A 3L.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


"What happened to Jack?"
"He fell behind."*

The great legs makes me feel like George Hincapie
Denver weather in the middle sixties, clear blue sky overhead and what does any self-respecting bike cop do on the second day of vacation? You got it - go for a bike ride.

It's not as goofy as it sounds. What do the guys on "Deadliest Catch" do in the off season? Go marlin fishing in the Keys. Billy Kidd, the great Olympic skier? Still skis down Mount Warner at Steamboat Resort every winter day at 1 PM, tourists trailing behind. Just because I often noodle a mountain bike three or four hours on a work day doesn't mean I let my road bike collect dust at home. It also doesn't mean I don't suffer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Don't Read This

Read this instead. The story of Rick Rescorla chronicles one of the great heroic acts of 9/11, a day full of American heroes. Born in Cornwall, England, an officer in the US Army during the Vietnam War, he saved all but two of the several thousand Morgan Stanley employees where he was security director. He was one, going back into the building to ensure he'd gotten everyone else out. He was never seen again.

Read "The Real Heroes Are Dead," an excellent New Yorker article.

Be proud to be an American today. It is his legacy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Summer in the City

"Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?"*

Last weekend marked the unofficial end of another summer. For some, it signals blessed relief from the heat, a visit to SNIAGRAB (the yearly snow-sport sale at Sports Authority in Denver, held on Labor Day weekend for the last 57 years) and one last visit to the Farmer's Market for roasted Hatch peppers. For others....

I glance at the mountain bike I ride at work and sigh. We have passed the end of our "rotation," the four months my summer team spends together. We said good bye to some members, and greeted new ones. I prepared for the inevitable moment I set the bike aside because of snow and cold. But, not without a fight.

I, and a few others, find a way to extend the riding season by taking advantage of Denver's often mild winters, making sound uniform choices and practicing advanced denial skills. "It's snowing? Yeah, but it's only sticking in the grass!" Never give up, never surrender. Deploy the winter gear!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Giant Leaps

“Christopher Columbus, Charles Lindbergh, and Neil Armstrong. Ha, ha, ha. Neil Armstrong!”*

Photo of Armstrong smiling in his spacesuit Neil Armstrong has died. I received that information not with shock or sorrow, but disbelief. He became, on July 20th, 1969, the first human being to set foot on another planet. Henceforth and forever more he will be so.

Born in 1930 in Ohio, educated at Purdue University, he became a Navy combat pilot. Enemy fire crippled his plane, and he clipped a pole with his wing at an altitude of twenty feet. He was able to fly to safety and eject successfully. He later flew a number of test aircraft, including the X-15, which was capable of speeds in excess of four thousand miles per hour. Selected as a NASA astronaut, he completed the first docking of independent spacecraft on Gemini 8. That mission terminated early due to a short-circuiting thruster that caused his vehicle to tumble dizzily. Commanding Apollo 11, he set the Lunar Module on the Moon’s surface with a negligible amount of fuel left, barely enough to give him and co-pilot Buzz Aldrin a safety margin in the event of an aborted landing attempt.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. ~Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood (introduction), 1982.

"Unwanted subject."

Dispatch sent my friend to the call, and I volunteered to help. A woman complained to the calltaker that two men were refusing to leave her apartment. She requested help in sending them on their way.

More times than not the act of calling the police motivates the unwanted to vanish before we arrive. Often, avoiding some sort of complication - the person has a warrant for their arrest and would prefer not going to jail - becomes a singularly advantageous outcome. Other times, the dope in their pocket calls out to make haste. Finally, some people are downright antisocial.

We arrived, knocked on the door, and a young woman answered. The men were gone, she said. Entering with permission, we confirmed that she was alone with her toddler.

The apartment was devoid of furniture, save a bed, dresser and pack-n-play for the child. A TV sat on the living room floor. Boxes of cereal were arrayed neatly atop the refrigerator, kitchen utensils arranged logically on a clean counter. The young lady didn't have much, but what she did have gleamed. We asked her why she'd called.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Another Hurdle

"She has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be – vixen, virgin, victim." Jere Longman, New York Times, August 4, 2012.

Lolo Jones-IOS-013916.jpgLolo Jones made the US Olympic team running hurdles. She finished fourth, one tenth of a second out of the bronze and a quarter second slower than the Olympic record set by the gold medal winner. A commentator described her as an athlete who "runs on emotion – anything is possible when she's on the track." Through hard work, preparation and sacrifice, she ran one hundred meters barely three seconds slower than Usain Bolt's world record in the men's one hundred. Not one hundred hurdles…just one hundred meters of clear track.

In his hit piece, Longman describes her as more marketing than performance. Come on, really? Seriously?


Monday, August 6, 2012

A Man, A Gun and A Shattered Peace

On End Apathy's MySpace page, band members call their music, “a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress.”

Read more:

One of the many things preventing "true progress" is respect for each other. I could go through the usual litany but what is the point? Someone like Wade Michael Page, hate musician and murderer of six in Wisconsin, is going to be unmoved by any appeal to better angels. Frankly, individuals of his ilk have none.

What about the rest of us?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Michael Phelps

Was anyone else charmed by the American Judo athlete? After her improbable bronze medal, the daytime NBC guy interviewed the young lady with the memorable name of Marti Malloy (Riley's sister-in-law, perhaps?*). Platitudes galore? The judo equivelent of "They have a fahn football club"?

No. She was delightful. A "professional eater" she says about herself on Twitter. Told that another medal winner had dropped his medal in the shower and broken it, she exclaimed "In the shower?!" Asked if she would take hers into the shower - "NO!" which also looked a whole lot like "Hell, no!"

Her Olympics are over and she has time to kill. "What events will you go see?" she was asked. She rattled off a couple of obscure sports, including table tennis. Why? Her friends and roomates are competitors. She was off to root for them.

Michael Phelps seems a fine man. My nephew Bryce, an exceptional swimmer in his own right, is friends with gold medalist Missy Franklin, and says she's a genuinely nice young lady. I'm glad.

But somebody ought to drag Marti Malloy in front of a camera in prime time and introduce America to her.

*If you don't know who that is.... Why haven't you read Out of Ideas?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Feel the Rhythm

"I'm feeling very Olympic today!"*

Men's volleyball is on, and the US just got a point because Serbia's "backup opposite was clearly over the three meter line."

Of course. How could he be so clumsy?

BeachvolleygerI love the Olympics. I've been –with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim to the Munich Games, 1972 (yeah, those Olympics), and with our girls to Salt Lake City in 2002. I get choked up watching the opening ceremonies, amazed at the costumes (I don't really care who made them) and...where is Andorra? I soak in the human-interest stories. I root for Americans, but enjoy every athlete's efforts, be they gold medal or merely "making their only appearance in the Games." I listen to the great martial music year round and wait impatiently for the next Olympiad, when "Summon the Heroes" greets me morning, noon and night. The Greer Family lexicon is animated with Cool Runnings quotes like the above – can you imagine any other occasion when "Tallulah!" is an appropriate exclamation? The politics are dull and pointless, but whenever human beings gather there are always boorish souls among them who can't resist. The commercials ("Only Human," for example) have been Super Bowl good.

I amaze myself, too, with expert commentary about sports I watch every two years. "Well played," I suggest admiringly, watching curling during the winter games ("It's kind of a winter sport, you know.). Curling, the only sport playable with a cold Molson's Canadian in one hand, a lit Export A dangling jauntily. Curling, about which I know next to nothing (there is ice, and rocks with handles. Brooms). In the Summers, I tut-tut when the judges deduct a tenth for some imperceptible hop after a high-wire routine (or is it high bar?) and oh-my-God did you see Abby Wambach get sucker punched? And stay the hell away from me when water polo is it true the referee goes through three whistles in a match?

Like any other Olympic geek, gear has an allure all its own. The archery apparatus seem a fascinating combination of William Tell and the mortar guy's gun sight in Stripes. Timing devices that can measure a hundredth of a second difference in a pool – are you kidding me? The boat races are very cool – how much sailing coverage this year?

The dogs are sleeping, I'm writing and the Olympics are on. This time, the Beach Volleyball women are wearing what looks like Under Armor full body suits, with their itsy-bitsy bikini tops on the outside. A new option – something about allowing more of the world's women to participate. The Dutch woman just did the "jump float serve." The Brazilian woman's set was perfect, her partner dropping it right down the middle.

Nicely played.

*Sanka Coffie (Doug E. Doug), Cool Runnings, 1993

A Cotton Pickin’, Finger Lickin Chicken Plucker

"I want to be a cotton pickin', finger lickin' chicken plucker,
The same as my old man."*

The only time I've ever had a Chick-fil-A sandwich was at the Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center in 2008, where we were assigned interior security. The organizers had arranged to feed us once per shift – and (ironically) the first day provided a cooler full of chicken. They were fine.

I have no dog in the current "fight" with Chick-fil-A, its president or his opinions. I strongly support gay marriage, however, so maybe I'm at odds with the "Eat More Chikin" folks. I wasn't really paying attention to what is an entirely silly, contrived dispute. That is, right up to the point the Mayor of Boston got involved.

"If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies," Menino told the Boston Herald, referring to Chick-fil-A. "Open up their policies" apparently means…. What? Absent any evidence that the company actually engages in discrimination, presumably the company president cannot voice opinions with which the City of Boston officially disagrees. If he does, there is a price to pay.

Shall we fiddle with the facts?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Hard Heart

"Your rifle is only a tool. It is a hard heart that kills."*

This undated photo released by the Clark County Sheriff's Office in Ohio shows Clark County Sheriff's Deputy Suzanne Hopper. Hopper, a 12-year veteran of her agency and a former officer of the year who frequently won commendations for her work, was killed Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011, in a trailer park standoff. (Clark County Sheriff's Office/AP)The Aurora victims' pictures grasp my heartstrings and rip them asunder. Portraits of living, loving men, women and child with no notion of the horror to befall them. Innocents, chosen at random, swept up in a vortex of madness. It's hard not to look at them, hard to meet their eye and know what their last moments held in store. Photos snapped by family members, friends, colleagues now left to fill an unfillable void, still an unappeasable longing and search, often in vain, for a way to stop the pain. Aurora police officers rushed headlong into danger and unfathomable carnage, and saved lives. A job well done by men and women who will carry the sights and sounds of that movie theater to their own graves.

The booking photo of the murderer, self-satisfied smirk forever underscoring an empty vessel, looks hauntingly familiar. It is the face of sociopathic indifference, of a lack of empathy for others so profound it defies common sense definitions. To label him evil is to distill out the bitter poisons of human loathing inside of him, only to reveal his deeds in the frankness surrounding the five o'clock news. This is a man who will never again be free, if there is any justice in this society. The perpetrator of another gun crime.

Guns. The mere mention of them turns a normal conversation into a raging inferno. In the aftermath of "another massacre" at the hands of a gunman, normally kind people carry on like preachers at a revival, all fire and brimstone about banning weapons, banning ammunition, banning trigger fingers. Removing the means of killing so many, so quickly. Rage, against the dying of the light.

They have a point. What would the average citizen – hell, the average police officer – need with an AR-15 magazine that holds fifty rounds? In fact, to go farther, an AR-15 is an assault rifle. Why should someone outside of the military or law enforcement (with restrictions) have access to such a powerful, frightful tool?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Painful Introspection

The Penn State internal investigation is out. I have read lowlights. I have listened to writers on talk radio discuss it. I have been made heartsick and disgusted.

Nothing perverts the goodness of men more readily than fame and fortune. In a post "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" I discussed the preliminary information available when the scandal broke. The new information tends to suggest I was wrong.

It was much worse.

The takeaway is obvious. Serious individuals with important jobs made clear their priorities - their reputations and that of a powerful university over the safety of children. Covering for the criminal, corrupting themselves, guaranteeing that more children would become forced victims.

I look in the mirror each work day and hope I am worthy of the uniform I will wear. I'm no different than any other adult vested with responsibility for the welfare of others. I refuse to believe otherwise.

Even now.

Do You Copy?

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Charles Caleb Colton.

In the world of radio communication, nothing is as important as ensuring receipt of a transmission. A police officer sending out vital information to another is wasting her time if the intended recipient does not "copy," does not receive the data and understand its import. That kind of stuff slips into day-to-day conversation as well - "repeat?" or the ever favorite "en route" entering not just my speech patterns, but the Greer family lexicon as a whole.

A different kind of "copying" finds its way to the pages of social media, with an entirely different communication agenda. It is highly annoying and lends little to personal exchanges.

I refer to the popular and useless practice of copying political punditry links and pasting them, accompanied by a helpful observation or two, onto social media. What was once a fairly harmless neighborhood comprised of friends and family, vacation pictures and grandkids is now awash with charts, graphs and boldly defamatory rhetoric of the most vile kind. It has made being available for conversations with my out-of-town children daunting.

Open FB in the morning and I am likely to be told that - Republicans want the sick and uninsured to die, Barack Obama is a socialist from Kenya, or that Mitt Romney should be arrested for felony violations of Securities and Exchange Commission rules. Often, these posts are accompanied by slick and colorful visuals that helpfully reinforce the less-than-faithful treatment of the facts. The posting "friend" adds "Fairly balanced observations," or "I highly recommend this." My favorite - "HELL, YEAH!!!!!!!" as if the caps and punctuation somehow lend themselves to making the point.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Another Arresting Tour

"Cofidis [bike racing team] hotel raided, [racer] Di Grégorio arrested at Tour de France." Cyclingnews, July 10, 2012

"This Court is not inclined to indulge Armstrong's desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement or vilification of Defendants, by sifting through eighty mostly unnecessary pages in search of the few kernels of factual material relevant to his claims."* U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks in Austin, TX July 9, 2012

Read more:

Thirteen years ago, Lance Armstrong put US cycling back on the map with a stunning and unexpectedly dominant Tour de France win. Previously, he had ridden to stage wins and made a bit of noise, but had never been a serious contender. Then, the nearly fatal bout with cancer, admirable comeback, seven straight TdF wins and international scorn. Doping accusations seem to haunt him even after his "retirement." How can that be?
Simple. There are two very good reasons Sir Lance is hounded by investigators.

First, several of the riders around him during his best years have been convicted of doping offenses. Roberto Heras, Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton…. On and on, teammates of his as well as the competition. It is hardly defamatory to say that professional cycling in the 1990s and 2000s struggled with performance enhancing drug use among its elite riders. One might comment, based on a reasonable inference, that attaining success during that era such as…perhaps…winning seven Tours in a row, would require either an athlete of monumental ability (possible) or the use of something other than Powerbars for strength, endurance and recovery. Call me a sentimental fool.

Second, when asked point blank if he used performance enhancing drugs Lance's reply has often been "I've never tested positive" or some variant. Oh.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Trial by Jury

"Sandusky found guilty."

Rejoice not in the vanquished, nor cheer the righteous. Weep only for the weak, the vulnerable, the men left wanting. Strive to make ours a better society. Be humble for the victims.

Remember Joe's broken heart. He suffered, in a way, for those who put their reputations ahead of the welfare of children.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Being the Enemy

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”*

Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster.jpgAs a matter of disclosure I must confess to conservative tendencies. They manifest themselves as membership in the Republican Party, that rag-tag but august collection of –isms often confused with big cigars, private jets and seven-figure private sector employment. More accurately, my particular flavor of this pathology is personal freedom, common defense and deference to established law as opposed to outcome-based judicial fiat. Yet, somehow, I and mine have become the enemy of all I hold dear.

I am…gasp…a public employee.

In circles both big and small within the conservative movement I have become anathema, a pariah, a parasitic creature both slovenly and voracious. I work a “non-punishing schedule” (Ann Coulter), am “overpaid” (The Wall Street Journal) and receive lavish, nearly gluttonous fringe benefits (Powerline). Visit the comments section of nearly any national conservative blog, offer a suggestion that public employee pay is not our biggest problem and wait to be pummeled. A guy from Minnesota who has “started a number of businesses” informed me that government was “way too big” and should be trimmed by firing significant portions of the inept workforce.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

At the Vent

Over at my other blog - A Vent for my Spleen - I'm carrying on about the true war on women. At least, the figurative one waged on their ability to disagree with orthodox feminist dogma.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Born To Run

"Five hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was flat and fifteen minutes ago you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."*

Taylor.jpgA typical detective's day begins slowly, almost casually. Visit with friends, grab a cup of coffee (no donuts - haven't you read about the national obesity crisis?) and settle into the cubicle. TV detectives, bent on crushing crime just in time to sleep with the new hot girl working "uniform," would already be out the door.

No, modern "detecting" is about workflow. The first real duty-related thing would be booting up the computer, signing onto the network and finding out what cases the boss has assigned. So, imagine if you will, a case where a prominent citizen - perhaps the president of something - has stated on separate public occasions that he was born in Kenya...Hawaii. "Wait, it will come to me," he exclaims. The detective turns off the computer, takes an Advil and heads for the gym.

Forget context, how this isn't really an issue and we all know that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. Forget that our hypothetical detective (actually, in Arizona, a very real task force exists) in our hypothetical police department wouldn't get this case in any normal way. Any trained investigator would begin with a simple question.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Goat Piss Into Gasoline

Mrs. Tarantino: Are you the police?
Elwood: No, ma'am. We're musicians.*

Dunn on stage playing bass guitar wearing a yellow Hawaiin shirtNo, the Obama Administration has not turned to a domesticated member of the Bovidea animal family for its latest green project. It's a memorable line from a movie, one sure way toward immortality. A bass player, talking about the past, said "We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline." Donald "Duck" Dunn…musician, actor, cultural icon…passed away yesterday at seventy.

Music is an emotional medium, ready to make you laugh - cry, dance and a thousand other things – at the drop of a hat. Movie makers use it to reinforce their most poignant scenes, TV producers offer a "theme" sometimes so distinctive that two or three notes brings the listener not to the show, but to the era. Back to who you once were, what you felt. Who you loved, and who loved you back.

The Blues Brothers released in 1980, Dan Aykroyd's homage to the blues. Two brothers, having grown up in a Catholic orphanage under "The Penguin's" tutelage, clad in cheap black suits, skinny ties…. The home is closing due to unpaid back taxes. Jake and Elwood scheme to pay them, at the urging of Cab Calloway and God. "Joliet Jake" has just been released from prison and the boys put the band back together. Do you see the light? The movie is a parade of slapstick, ill-mannered obsession and awesome music. John Candy plays a cop, Henry Gibson a Nazi – Illinois law enforcement receives a whole lot of good-natured ribbing – and in the end, the boys hand Steven Spielberg (playing a clerk) enough money to pay The Penguin's taxes.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Imaginary Lover

"Never turn(s) you down
When all the others turn you away
They're around"*
Yet another reason to be miffed at President Obama. Here I am, toiling…struggling hand to mouth as a freelance writer. Royalty checks dribbling in – a little here, a little there. Modest talent paired with comprehensive law enforcement experience aspiring to pay off credit cards pumped full of cruises, B&B vacations and wine. A minor scrivener pouring my heart into fictional Karen and Adam, just as fictional Amy and Ken, and trying to peek life into Cici. Then, I find out I'm competing with Barack Obama for the novel reader's attention. That's just plain wrong.

Apparently, when the President was in college, he had a girlfriend named "New York Girlfriend." Her identity was later established, to an extent. At least, her name is Genevieve. Sort of. In his book Dreams From My Father, President Obama recounts an important moment when the NYGF questions him about a play they'd just attended in New York. The emotionally charged conversation:

After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said—and she said that's different, and I said it wasn't, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn't be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn't. She could only be herself, and wasn't that enough.
Great stuff. A poignant moment, two good people struggling for common understanding, reaching out for each other. Only, it never happened.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thank You, May I Have Another

Last year, I lamented that I had poorly planned my vacation periods, allowing way too much time between them. I apologized, you'll remember, for seeming infantiley obsessed with cruise planning and multiple vacation periods. I explained that my employer, a municipality, requires me to work most holidays, but affords "days off" instead that I can take whenever deployment allows. An introvert, you'll recall, embraces these moments and uses the inevitable planning sequence as ancillary "vacations of the mind and soul." Still, it was a lesson learned and I would hesitate to repeat it.

So, of course, I signed us up for another cruise in December. I'm not sure about you, but this makes perfect sense to me.

Now you may ask yourself, what is he talking about? (No, I'm not going to channel Talking Heads). Couple of things.

First, there are few things in life as pure as boarding an airplane with my wife, on the way to vacation. I've said this a hundred times, written it a bunch and even had people pay me to read it. The walk down the jetway (we routinely call it the gang plank) is nothing but bliss. Last time, we were on the way to Ft. Lauderdale for a cruise. Clutched in hand was a delicious Schlotzky's sandwich Pat had scored, which I washed down with a perfectly serviceable pre-mixed mojito. Fresh from mid-winter Denver we had the cab driver roll down the windows in nearly eighty Ft. Lauderdale.

Second, we usually choose something closer to home for our spring vacation, leading to my second-favorite pure couple's moment - driving away from our neighborhood on the way out of town. Last year we pulled the popup to Moab, enjoying an anniversary dinner of Eddie McStiff's beer and pizza, our dogs looking on. This year, we left the dogs home (not literally) and did a bed and breakfast trip through Colorado.

We stopped off in Raton, New Mexico and visited Pat's sister Susan, husband Mike. Two relaxing, wonderful, blissful days with a couple with whom we'd be friends even if we weren't related. Easy-going, funny, hospitable folks - Mike and I did a bit of shooting at a neighborhood range, and even got Pat to bang away a couple times with an M4 carbine. Leaving was bittersweet.

We stayed in a nice B&B in Taos (next time we'll stay a little closer to town), a luxurious one in Ouray (the Captain's Quarters at the China Clipper) but the gold standard was the Rose of Crested Butte. You may tell yourself....

Chocolate-dipped strawberries greeted us in our room, along with a nice card wishing us a happy anniversary (I'd let all of them know the reason for our trip - Ruby was the only one who bit). The room was "cozy," the sure description of small, though hardy cramped. We ate at a delightfully-local pita place, drank Australian red while we watched Galaxy Quest (a vacation staple) and slept well. The only ones in the place, breakfast could easily have been Pat and I chatting, served graciously and left alone.

Pat and the owner hit it off in a big way. Chris is a recovering lawyer (my wife is married to one), a college professor and an entrepreneur with fireproof optimism. Two hours later, delightful inkeeper Cassie reminded Chris that he was now late for class at Western State. We think he passed us on the road to Gunnison - we were doing 65 and he was...not. They talked leadership, especially in the context of running college-level programs. They talked nonprofits. They talked.

We could have stayed. We could have invited Chris and his wife out to dinner, to continue an extremely compelling conversation. We could have done a lot of things, but what we did was head home to our beloved dogs. And cats. Of course.

But this December - gang planks and cruise days and a couple's massage.

We're headed for Jamaica, mon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If I've Offended You - Read On

"And now, for something completely different."

Election season is upon us, in all its glory. Right wing rabble rousers contend that the President's Ball Park Frank was, in actuality, the severed tail of an Alaskan Malamute (Beau made him do it). Left wing loose screws counter with obscure references to the Mormon angel Moroni (as opposed to the angel Marconi, the patron saint of wireless communication) and Mitt Romney's belief he is a direct descendant. Okay, I made that part up.

On the one hand, I want to get into the game. What good is the First Amendment - pre Nancy Pelosi's amazingly ghastly amendment, at least - if I can't take a few laptop-warmed-up-on-porch moments to rant.

However, this blog was never meant for that. Talking about baseball, cruises and some of the topics of the day suit all of us better. They make me happy. They help sell books - that makes me really happy.

So, taking a page from one of the smartest guys I know, I'm branching out. Come here for cop stuff, law stuff and general conversations. Go over to my other blog - Vent for my Spleen - to talk politics.

I'll have the right covered, so you'll have to bring your left with you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Unwasted Gaffe

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."*

In a question and answer session during President Obama's appearance at the Summit of the America's in Cartagena, Columbia, Mr. Obama somehow referred to The Falklands, a British-ruled group of islands off the coast of Argentina, as "The Maldives." He apparently intended to say "Las Malvinas," the name preferred by Argentina, who lays claim and invaded in 1982. It seems an amazing mistake as the islands were the scene of a nasty little war that killed a thousand people, and in which we were decidedly not neutral. The misstatement prompted me to look up just where the hell the Maldives are.

Sunset in the Maldives
Well, The Republic of Maldives (according to Wiki) is a series of coral atolls in the Indian Ocean. With a population of around a hundred thousand, it is noted for having the lowest highest (not a typo, thank you very much) elevation in the world - a touch under eight feet. As one might expect, even the theoretical possibility of the oceans rising has their undivided attention. Fishing and tourism drive their economic engine. Pictures, I'm sure, don't do it justice.

Of course, while the mainstream media largely ignored the misstatement, or labeled it "more akin to those of his predecessor," right wing punditry had a field day. Powerline's John Hinderaker was perhaps the most restrained, allowing that we have become used to the President's factual carelessness once he deviates from a prepared text.

Mark Steyn, as usual, was not similarly enjoined. He launched into a dyspeptic rant about, among other things, the quality of speechwriting from Obama's staff. Since this nugget was immersed in a column otherwise dedicated to the failings of the Secret Service (mostly involving the ill-timed contract dispute between a personal services provider and her...Secret Service customer) I assume it was a throw-away.  Nevertheless, Mr. Steyn once again swung the broadsword of his remarkable wit haphazardly, slicing into a group of people who must have gasped along with the rest of us.

His is but one example of overreaching from the right. Yes, it makes me laugh (I'm not much of a fan of the man from Chicago...Hawaii...Indonesia. Never mind). Come November, Mr. Obama's contract is up for renewal. Somebody ought to get their facts straight before we decide whether to rehire him and his teleprompter.

Maybe that somebody should be those of us who don't think an Obama encore is warranted.

*Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff, The Wall Street Journal conference, November 2008.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Droning On

"No thinking, that comes later. You write your first draft with your heart."*

Claudia Jean "Cici" Onofrio buttoned her uniform shirt in the locker room.

The beginning of a new manuscript, with new characters and story line. In the "old" days a blank sheet of paper stared back, mockingly. Today, in the lower left corner of the screen - "Page 1 of 1  Words: 0." Not even a title and only the barest plot idea. The best moment of the entire project. Oh, except when Marci Baun, Wild Child's publisher, says "We'll publish that." Okay, that's better. Go with me, though.

 I write about police officers because I know them, have met hundreds - perhaps thousands - over the course of my thirty-three year career. Many of them have found great success. Several are dead. All of the cops have contributed something to my understanding of what it is to be in law enforcement at the turn of a century, a time when our profession is changing. Men cops are interesting characters to write. But, the women.... Fabulous. Why?

Here, I offer a apology. I'm going to indulge in gross overgeneralization, and at some point offend. I mean to slight no one, and offer apologies in advance.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oh, I've Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth*

"A helicopter is 10,000 totally unrelated moving parts, bent on self destruction, flying in relatively close formation."

Pimp my helicopterToday, I used the Christmas gift certificate my wife gave me to fly in a helicopter. Big whoop? Maybe. Thirty minutes of vibrating our way around a city I've lived in for the better part of thirty years, landing at virtually the same place we started. We never got more than a thousand feet in the air, an altitude most commercial aircraft attain before they get to the end of the runway on takeoff. In thirty minutes we made it from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport to downtown Denver and back. I don't need lights and sirens to do that in the police car.

"Hovering is for pilots who love to fly but have no place to go."

Twenty years into a successful marriage, it's hard to experience something unexpected. Of course there are the blind-side things creeping into a life - an unfortunate diagnosis, an unanticipated life event. Somehow, my wife figured out how to give me a gift so unexpected, and so perfect, that it reinforces how people who seem settled in routine can offer the occasional, wonderful surprise.

"An aircraft in flight wants to fly. A helicopter in flight wants to crash."

I arrived precisely on time to my appointment at Colorado HeliOps, was greeted by my genial host Dennis, and introduced to the various of the "crew." An affable, earnest young man gave me a safety briefing ("don't walk into the tail rotor") and I signed the usual release form stating (I'm a lawyer, so I'm paraphrasing) if the helicopter crashes it's really my fault and my heirs and assigns - wife, kids, dogs, cats, Facebook friends - can all go pound sand. I met the other two guys who would be passengers with me, killing time in the simulator while our pilot and helicopter returned from an elementary school, dropping off two grownups dressed in Easter Bunny suits.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mr. Marbury's Commission* UPDATED

"I beg your pardon,I never promised you a rose garden."

Today, President Barack Obama delivered a late amicus curiae brief with the US Supreme Court, from the Rose Garden of the White House, in support of the law colloquially known as "Obamacare." In it he implicitly urged the justices to overrule a case he evidently considers ancient, overreaching, and poorly written titled William Marbury v. James Madison. A little background is necessary.

On March 3, 1801, President John Adams, just before his term expired, signed a series of commissions, appointing members of his party to a variety of judicial offices. One William Marbury, a native of Maryland and a prosperous financier, was active in Maryland politics and a vigorous supporter of the Adams presidency. His office was to be justice of the peace in the DC District.

On the following day, Marbury's appointment was approved by the Senate; however, to go into effect, the commissions had to be delivered to those appointed ("Signed, sealed and delivered, I'm yours"). Delivery to Marbury did not take place prior to Adams' exit from office, and the commission expired.

Mr. Marbury sued, taking his case directly to the Supreme Court on the basis of a jurisdictional law passed by Congress. Here is where it gets interesting.

Forty-eight year old Chief Justice John Marshall, a Revolutionary War veteran (Valley Forge survivor) and friend of George Washington, wrote the opinion for the court, a decision now widely known as Marbury v. Madison. How widely known?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Have a Heart

DickCheneyMaybe he's not your cup of tea. That's fine. Maybe he advocated some things during his tenure as vice president with which you disagree. Gotcha. And all one has to say is Haliburton.... Although with gas prices approaching four bucks a gallon aren't you secretly rooting for them to find an enourmous amount of oil?

Yesterday, former VP Dick Cheney underwent heart transplant surgery. Apparently it went well, but on the whole it remains an especially daunting operation. Yet, last night Facebook was alight with comments suggesting their authors were less than sincere about the half-hearted well wishes.

Vice President Cheney was, is, and will be to the end of his life unabashedly, unapologetically pro-American. It has always gone beyond the oaths of office he has taken. Maybe that isn't to everyone's liking. So be it.

Let me just mention (I guess you don't have a choice) a couple of things.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Minutes Away

"When seconds count, the police are only minutes away."

The Sanford, Florida Treyvon Martin tragedy highlights several inescapable facts of law enforcement. Like them or not, agree or disagree, as members of a dynamic, complex and free society it is essential that people have some understanding of several key aspects of what is surely a difficult situation. One need not know anything beyond the basics, which are, as I understand them:

Treyvon Martin left a home to get candy and ice tea. Along the way George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood patrolman (nothing I've read discusses any formal training) encountered Martin and deemed him suspicious. Zimmerman called 911, but at some point a confrontation ensued. Zimmerman suffered minor injuries, and he shot Martin to death. As of today, no charges have been brought by local law enforcement.

Three factors are at work, again not requiring anything other than the above facts:

Monday, March 19, 2012

You Say You Want A Revolution?

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

kill-cop-tweetThis age seems to have brought out the crazies. The above twitter...tweet, or whatever, seems fairly straightforward. Yet, contacted by press for details, the author retreated most riki tik, explaining that he was, in fact, commenting on how "other" revolutions have expressed themselves. He was just a "rebelrouser [sic] trying to cause a stink and clearly it worked.”

The utter recklessness of the rhetoric emerging from the Occupy Movement is astonishing. It isn't enough to write this kind of crap off as a few "crazies" with time on their hands and a laptop on a TV tray in their mom's basement. The Occupy Movement is about the maelstrom of free expression, of fighting oppression by the 1% by getting together, standing strong and.... Having a multitude of personal, conflicting messages, one being as relevant as the next, I suppose.

So, Rusty Braxton of Oviedo, FL - come on up to Colorado. Spring is here, the trees are budding and I'd love to discuss your notion that I and a couple of my friends should die so your cause can be taken seriously.

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's Not Show Friends

SP_FEATUREMK3I wrote the below post just after the Broncos' loss to New England. Recently, the Denver Broncos have been front and center in the great Payton Manning Sweepstakes. Or is it the Great Payton Manning, etc. Jason Gay, writer with more talent in his shift finger than I possess everywhere else, suggests that the Broncos are being tacky. With thanks to Bob Sugar ( of Jerry Maguire fame) everyone knows its show business, not show friends. But the ungrateful crowd at Dove Valley need some lessons in grace.

A Good Old-Fashioned Ass Kicking

When someone kicks your ass, just be thankful you brought it with you. No one likes to show up unprepared.

I just wonder, as Tim Tebow meandered around the field - alone - after losing 45-10, who was going to put an arm around him and say that everyone endures days like he had. At least he didn't give up. Or, something.

Instead, he wandered around looking for someone to talk to. I wonder....

When he looks around the locker room tonight in Massachusetts, does he see friends? A band of brothers?

Or, a room full of people who were just along for the ride.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Unrest of Those To Follow*

"The rest of those who have gone before us cannot steady the unrest of those to follow," Avalon Landing, Finding Forrester, William Forrester, as read by Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), 2000.

Lynn "Buck" Compton died on February 25, 2012 in the state of Washington. He was a soldier in the 101st Airborne, a police officer, lawyer and judge. He prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for the murder of Robert Kennedy in a kitchen at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, and retired from the California Court of Appeals in 1990.

In the Band of Brothers series he described his D-Day landing - "That's when I lost that famous leg bag you hear about. There I was, with a trench knife, a canteen and about six candy bars." With that, he set off in enemy territory to find the 101st.

May we always remember those who have fought to keep us free.


I Know You Are, But What Am I...?

"That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."*

I wanted to weigh in on the great Rush debate. I'm not a fan, never was. So much of the bombast and bluster does not survive scrutiny of any kind, let alone close and circumspect.

This whole contraception debate has become silly, but does not require name calling. Just as I was warming up my laptop the indispensable Hugh Hewitt came through. Don't tell me Rush is a bad man while Bill Maher slithers from one talk show to the next. Or, vice versa. Apply the label to both. And what did Ed Shultz call Laura Ingraham?

Just a thought.

*Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare, 1597.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Prior Planning...Is That Redundant?

"Zombies hate fast food. Run like hell."*

A number of years ago my wife and I decided to prepare a cache of food, water and other necessities (tiny bottles of gin) for the extremely unlikely chance that the entire social fabric was rent asunder. Then, Barack Obama was elected.

Kidding! I wanted to see if you were still reading.

I finally got to it this weekend. I asked "What is the first thing we should save if we had to evacuate?"

"The animals."

I was kind of hoping she would say "You, dear. I never want to be apart" but after nearly twenty years of marriage neither of us pull punches. Okay, fine.

Of course, being a wonkish,  first responder type, I did the required reading. I bought a magazine offering the article "Bugout Bags: Disaster Preparedness." What could be more topical, more on point, more....

"I always begin my bugout bag with a Glock 19, plus two spare mags." Huh? Do they even allow guns in an evacuation shelter?