Monday, May 30, 2016

Another Called To Serve


We are so very proud of you. We wish you luck, the guidance and love of God. May he see you through your service, and deliver you safely back to us.

The Polarization Express

I have this friend. Perhaps she is also a coworker.  We've actually never met, but she has, for nearly ten years, supported my writing career. You probably know who I'm talking about but here at Bikecopblog we hardly ever name names.

Yesterday, she did a nice thing. She posted a meme that basically said "Point a gun at a cop, suffer consequences. You're not a victim." It seems simple. Officers are human beings who do not intend to sacrifice themselves on the alter of passing fancy. The law allows us to defend our lives, if necessary. Pardon us.

Simple, no? Of course, several of her "friends" trotted out some old, tired groaners that are not worthy of repetition. Suffice it to say that they quoted statistics, but, when asked politely for the source of their data...replied that it was self-evident. Or, something. And, tisk, tisk - you're part of the problem. Wait till they come for you! Etc!!

 One of the risks of writing police thrillers (even when sex is involved...for the characters. Stop it!) is that there are some people who will never believe cops are, for the most part, caring men and women who are trying to do a tough job with courage and honor. They have never sat with a friend who has shot someone and watched them struggle to reconcile the conflicting emotions (yes). They've never had a gun pulled on them (yes). They've never fought for their lives (yes). They've never spent a day with an officer, yet they "know" we kill people without cause hundreds of times per year. They are clearly not going to buy Out of Ideas, or The Heart of the Matter.

People like my friend never stop caring.

Someone wrote a chalk message on another friend's driveway a few days ago. It was a simple thank you for his service as an officer. It is this kind of gesture, and the courage shown by people willing to suffer criticism at the hands of Facebook Rangers that give us hope. 

We stick together, brothers and sisters in blue, and do the job because it needs to be done for our society to flourish. We have come a long way as a profession, eliminated most of the deadbeats and misfits. We go where ordinary citizens prefer not to go, involve ourselves in shit shows not of our making and try not to hurt anyone along the way. When called to defend ourselves or others, we will. 

When somebody gets it, appreciates it...  

Thank you.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Why Poppies

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Fields  (written 1915) John McCrae, MD

John  McCrae was a Canadian soldier, medical officer and poet during World War One. He was present in the Flanders region of Belgium when German forces launched the first of many chemical attacks. He noticed how quickly poppies filled in among the new graves, one of them being his best friend's.

At King Soopers this morning, two men from a VFW post passed out poppies. They did not seek contributions, but gratefully accepted them with a soft "thank you." I took mine, offered a few dollars and wished them a good Memorial Day. These were men who had, when they were younger, taken up the torch of freedom, held it high and kept faith with the fallen. 

There were several individuals who did not accept the poppies. They were free to do so, and the men in turn wished them well. There we no recriminations, no finger wagging at the micro-aggression of indifference. One can never tell why that decision, not that it matters.

Each year, Bikecopblog honors an individual fallen service member, as a representative of all of those who have given their lives for the cause of liberty. This year, it is Dustin Crookston of Denver. Dustin was a member of the US Army's "Big Red One," the 1st Infantry Division. He was grievously wounded by an IED during combat operations in Iraq during 2007. He made it back to the States, but succumbed to his wounds in January, 2008.

I work with his mom. I remember that she would take time away and visit him in a medical facility in Texas. Although the prognosis was always grim, there was hope and she clung to it. I see his picture at her desk, of a grinning young man with pink cheeks and sparkling eyes. He was 19 when he died.

Take a poppy. Remember the young men and women who loved, and were loved...and are loved still.

What The Trump?

(Senator Sam Irvin, chairman of the Joint Watergate Committee, after reading a letter from Xerox corporate counsel requesting that they ask for "copies using the xerographic process" instead of "Xerox copies.")
"Somebody make a mess of Xeroxes of this."

"He that troubleth his own house, shall inherit the wind." Proverbs 11:29.

There are a number of issues raised by growing old. Colds are more easily caught, hit harder, and last longer. Stairs are steeper, loads heavier and a good night's sleep involves only one trip to the bathroom. Everything that is supposed to work doesn't, or works without warning. Friends on bicycles apologize for riding too fast.

But, people my age don't have to read history to remember the lessons of the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon's administration. Articles of impeachment were presented, detailing allegations of "high crimes and misdemeanors" committed by the administration. Among them were:

The Administration had obstructed justice, in that some of its members, the president included, had acted to cover up  - to be accessories after the fact of - the burglary of DNC Headquarters located in the Watergate complex in Washington.

That the Administration had used the IRS to disadvantage political enemies.

That the Administration held Congress and the laws it had passed in contempt.

One other Article, which did not pass out of committee, was an allegation that the Administration had conducted a "secret" bombing campaign against Communist forces located in Cambodia. How one goes about keeping a bombing campaign secret is another issue.

Forget, for a moment, that you (faithful Bikecopblog reader) support, or are offended by, the current president. It is awfully hard to ignore the distinct possibility that the articles of impeachment brought against President Nixon bear a striking similarity to allegations of misconduct on the part of the Obama administration. So, what is the difference?

Brighter bulbs than mine have weighed in on this subject. What appears to be the answer is that the power of the press has become so diluted, and at the same time so omnipresent, that the electorate pays scant attention to it. "High information" individuals abound, mostly on Twitter and Facebook, taking nasty swipes at each other in between allegations of trollesque-ness. They discuss such esoteric concepts as "supply-side economics" and the implied powers of the president as though they actually have formal training and experience with those matters. They are familiar with the assertions of malfeasance against the Obama administration, and Congress's apparent inability to do anything meaningful to solve it. How they reconcile the mountain of information is their business.

Regular people, the ones entirely too busy with their own lives to argue bullshit polysci minutia, don't spend much time with this. They make a relatively quick emotional decision, hunt superficially for information in support, and then get on with their lives. These are called "low information voters" or "average citizens who have better things to spend their time doing." They find no joy in the progressive/conservative wars, right up until somebody tells them to pay attention. They vote (mostly), they pay taxes (mostly) and they make their contributions by keeping their noses clean and working hard.

And who would alert them to pay attention?

The press.

Whatever glory days were enjoyed by the ink-stained wretches over the last century, they have fallen sound asleep. There is not a single bit of hello that stirs them into action. An IRS official admits that conservative groups were singled out and their applications delayed (or dismissed) simply due to their political opinions and... Zzzzzzzz. The Administration facilitates the overthrow of Libya's asshole leader, bombs the shit out of government forces and then ignores Congressional attempts at oversight... Zzzzzzzz. There are laws about handling classified information, which the former Secretary of State ignored. Once the cat was out of the bag, there was a delete-fest to rival anything in Washington, ever... Zzzzzzz. Four men are killed during an attack and ensuing protracted firefight at American government buildings in Libya, no attempt is made by US forces to intervene and the official response is "What, at this point, does it matter..." Zzzzzzzz. The President, for reasons of his own (good or bad) refuses to work with Congress, instead accuses them of inaction and then - with a stroke of a pen - makes or modifies law in a manner foreign to our constitutional structure... Zzzzzzzz.

People wonder why someone who says "They are all idiots. I'm going to Washington to kick some ass" has found support? Like him or not - I don't - there is something appealing about the message that our government was designed to benefit us, the ordinary citizen busy trying to make ends meet. We don't work three jobs just to send a third of our wages to Washington's value vacuum. We don't build businesses and employ our fellows only to be told we should STFU about taxes - we "get to keep" a fair amount. If The Donald is an obnoxious, narcissistic, self-aggrandizing nutcase with a very loose association with honesty, he promises to find others of the same stripe and pick a fight with them.

I'm not sure that the Framers had this kind of thing in mind two hundred and forty years ago. Then again, they left us with an exceptionally useful tool to find common ground when all else fails.

They wrote The Constitution. They tacked on the Bill of Rights for good measure. They warned us about their own faults and failings, how we should take this government and do better with it. In so many ways we have.

In so many ways, we have only inherited the wind.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kindergarten Cop

Detective John Kimble: I have a headache
Lowell: It might be a tumor.
Kimble: It's not a tumor! It's not a tumor. At all!
Kindergarten Cop (1990)

Ask an elementary school teacher about the cold and flu season. Go ahead. They will tell you the same thing a Police Academy staff member says.

Me: Where is Recruit (fill in a name)?
Them: In the bathroom, puking.
Me: Awesome.

Just like a cruise ship, only without mai tais. Next thing you know, a third of the class has norovirus. Or some kind of virulent bug that begins as a runny nose, and then takes over the entire respiratory system. Midnight hacking and coughing, head full of gunk... "Reality-a concept" connection with surroundings.

In the ten years prior to Academy duty, I called in sick twice. I've missed four days in the last ten months.

"Wash your hands!" "Cover your mouth when you cough."

Heard 'em all. But when you pack forty-eight people into a room...

I have to go. I'm having a coughing fit. But, at least it's not a tumor. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

An Alarming Bark

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
Johnny Depp

There is, normally, no way to greet an Oh-Dark bark other than with groggy disdain. This is especially true when the dog would rather eat snow than drink water from a bowl. Exit the warm bed, wander to the door and hope to sidestep the blast of arctic winter air making a play for the dining room.
Relieved (one way or another), the K9 jumps back into bed, cold wet paws pressed up against cramped bodies under the covers. Slumberus interuptus.
Colfax Marathon Day. No, I had not taken leave of my few senses, to run along with the young and fit. I was the sergeant assigned to "supervise" a group of bike cops working security at one of the locations. Roll Call - 0500. On the course by 6, ready for the first runners shortly thereafter. I set two alarms and went to bed early.
Woof. Woof.
WTF? There was no snow on the ground. CJ had been sleeping through the night recently. How about you let me just lay here, keep warm and make the most of the rest of my "night."
Woof WOOF!
Fine. I let her out and looked at the clock.
Our police psychologist has specifically said not to catch the time during mid-sleep awake periods. Why? Because math (especially for a Greer) is a higher brain activity. You look at the display and immediately calculate how much sack time remains. Can't hurt.
0433. Twelve more minutes before the...
Oh, fuck!
It is possible to dress in a uniform, shave and be out of the house in 12 minutes. Getting to the station takes perhaps 7-10 minutes, fewer if the roads are empty and CSP is at shift change. I may have looked frazzled, I may have been a colossal shit show, but I got to roll call with time to spare.
I love my PWD CJ.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Writer's Brain

We are near waking when we dream we are dreaming. Novalis (German author cir. 1800).

I can't imagine I am different from other writers. Recently, a coworker and I witnessed an unusual event. "Could you write about that?" he asked. "I've got most of the first chapter sketched out," I answered. And I did.

I've taken much of the last four months away from novel writing, preferring to focus on the blog, and on marketing. Truly, telling people they should read The Heart of the Matter or purchase a copy of A Miracle of Zeros and Ones from my quickly dwindling stock is far harder than actually writing the books. Wild Child Publishing does a lot of the heavy lifting, but small indie authors are expected to be out front, selling. 

This week, I embarked on "Amy 2," working title But Always Me. I'm not happy with the title, but the manuscript... It's totally coming along. The first draft is done, the revisions well underway. Amy discovers a small number of officers who just don't get the message and...

I recently had a chance to do a book club interview, facilitated by daughter Beth. Among the many great moments was the revelation that some readers found Amy's husband Ken...well, kind of a dick. I didn't write him to be that way, specifically, but it is not an unreasonable conclusion. In Amy 2, he shows a darker side that will not surprise those readers. The first several chapters are on their way to my writing coach. Just FYI - the ending is so powerful I did an all nighter so I could begin "Amy 3," just to make sure she was okay.

When a brain is reintroduced to a drug it craves, weird shit happens. I had a dream last night, a strange dream. I was at a truck stop (I've recently discovered clips posted by a woman trucker on YouTube who Vlogs a ton - great stuff) and was introduced to the "Schuffenglobben," an artillery piece that fires shells that can be targeted to one person (and it will seek them out - sort of smart munitions). The operator of the weapon tested it out on the guy standing next to me, a tame-looking guy in a white t-shirt who was buying a bag of chips and a road warrior-sized drink. I decided to beat feet most riki-tik, because the shell had been fired into the air and I had zero plans for being around when it landed. 

Weird, huh? I speak very little German ("ein bier, bitte" being the full extent of it) so it's a little odd this machine - a sort of metal box on a tracked chassis - would have a name I can hardly pronounce. It probably means something crass or crude. I'm not going to guess. That's not the end of the story.

The dream became...well, how would I structure the blog? Where to begin, how to describe the armor. Why is there no gender-neutral singular pronoun? It is taken (Cousin It, on Adam's Family) and he/she... If it isn't written "she/he" is that a micro-aggression? Would readers find this fascinating, or creepy? Should I go for funny, introspective, or just tell the story and let them decide.

I'm dreaming about writing. I've been away from it too long.

Oh... Heart is selling like crazy. It's a really fun story, a look at how moms cope with our crazy profession. You should buy a copy. Before I have to take more time off, and another dream forces me to blog.