Sunday, April 30, 2006

Watching my ex on TV

It's windy and rainy here today. In fact it was howling and blowing around so much last night that I expected to get up this morning and see snow! But it's just a cold spring rain. We needed rain to dampen the grass fire hazard. I walked to the little gas station to buy and Sunday paper and some milk. My new jacket buttons and zips down so well that I stayed dry and warm.

We were watching the TV "Cops" and they had some traffic stops. The officer talked about furtive movements, and they had lots of light shining into the car(s) and found drugs a couple of times and weapons, in one car. It was even more interesting to watch after learning about it in the CPA classes.

"My Name is Earl" had an episode about the power of a police badge. He found a badge and was using it to get freebies and impress people. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like the show. "Earl" reminds me so much of my ex-husband, my son's dad. He even looks just like him and has that '70's thing going on. And the weird conglomerate of friends, crazy ideas and not much respect for the law--yep, that's my ex all right! But it's a cute TV show and I think they should pay my ex royalties for it! Someday I'll write about some of the strange situations with him, as he was a sweet guy but a real trouble magnet, just like Earl. Or maybe I won't write about him, not sure I want to go back there.

Mom is at church right now. Neither apartment manager has called yet as they had promised. On Monday I'll probably have to call them both again. They DO want to rent those apartments, right? Oh, and at my favorite coffee shop was an ad for a studio apartment that sounds just wonderful for me! But it's too soon, as both Mom and son need apartment options before I can really start looking, darn it. I'm not sure what my son is planning to do. He has mentioned getting roommates for the place here (when Mom and I move out) which would be great. Hope this all works out. Have a great rest of your weekend!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hands can hurt us

They couldn't show us the apartment last night, so it was a disappointment yet again for Mom. But we may look at two this weekend. Also I finally connected with a friend I haven't seen for a long time! We're going to meet at the May Day Celebration and then go to my favorite coffee shop. She had been waiting for the company I work for to post those two jobs. BZ just told me Friday that the jobs still won't be posted this weekend. The friend really wanted one of those jobs, but had to find something else in the meantime--in the theater department at a local U! She may just want to stay put in her new job.

I always tell people to not say where they heard about the job, and they laugh, thinking I'm making a joke. But I'm serious. BZ won't hire them if she knows they're a friend of mine! The name-dropping thing won't work, if the name dropped is mine. The other (meaning well, but annoying) thing people say is, "If it's such a wonderful job, why don't YOU apply for it?" Well--because I wouldn't stand a chance in hell, is why! I have the credentials, but to them it would be like hiring the janitor to be the bank vice president. It WOULD provide them with a whole lot of amusement, during the interview and all. No, I don't think so.

My son came home (relatively) early last night. He went out with friends after work for a couple of beers. He's always been pretty careful about drinking and driving and more so now that I've relayed some of the stuff we learned at the Citizens' Police Academy (think I'll call it CPA, as I'm really tired of typing out the entire name each time!) The blood/alcohol limit in our state is .08, this number goes down each time a person is stopped (I didn't know that.)

1st & 2nd drunk driving stop = .08
3rd drunk driving stop = .06
4th & 5th drunk driving stop = .02

The 5th drunk driving stop is a felony with a $10,000 fine and jail or probation for a year. My new state takes it very seriously, unlike the old one where drunks apparently just keep driving and risking others.

At the 6th CPA Session we also learned how to act during a traffic stop. It's just common sense, but I wasn't seeing it from the officer's point of view. They are really worried about what your hands are doing, "Hand can hurt us." all the cops repeated many times, like a cop mantra they learned in cop school.

I've been stopped a few times for speeding and a "rolling stop" when I was coming home from my second job at 4:00 a.m. and got off with a warning from all but one (by the Highway Patrol, in the state I live now!) And the first thing I do is open the glove box and try to find my insurance information, because they always ask for it right after your driver's license. I hadn't thought about it but YOU probably know that it's not a good idea to do that! The police called it a "furtive movement" and it would raise their threat level, not a good idea.

So the simple, logic tips to do when stopped are:

Pull over immediently, don't find a "good spot" as the officer turned on the siren and lights in that particular spot for a reason, usually it's good lighting so they can see into your car.

Stay in your car and roll the window down to hear their commands.

Put your hands on the steering wheel where the approaching officer can see them, no furtive movements.

Wait for further commands.

Well, that's all for today. Hope you never get stopped by the cops. Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Stopping Traffic

The Citizen's Police Academy was about traffic stops: routine and dangerous. They showed several videos of real situations. One was of a woman police officer (wish they would have shown a man!) making several errors on what should have been a routine traffic stop. The guy attacked her, broke her jaw in several places and knocked her out. She was alone but her squad had a video recording system so it was all caught on tape, horrifying. That was her last day as a police officer as she quit before she got out of the hospital. She wasn't from our area but they use that, and other scary video as police training tapes. We were asked to analyze, what did she do wrong?

She had missed several cues that the man might be violent, but her basic mistake was in getting too close to him and not keeping the 2 1/2 angle of advantage. In our state the officer will come up to your car window at a back angle so they can see into the car and so you'd have to turn around to attack them. Even with this precaution my new favorite cop (I'm fickle!) has twice been hit in the knee with a car door. There are two instances where the officer will make the driver come out of the car instead of going up to them:

The first is for a felony traffic stop. The person is known to have weapons, has used them, has a prior record of violence, or is suspected of just committing a crime like a bank robbery. Two or three squads will make the stop. They will park at an angle several car lengths behind the vehicle, instead of one car length, like a regular traffic stop. The officers will actually draw their weapons and (with a megaphone) order the driver to come out of the car and approach them, backwards. They will cuff and put the driver in a squad before dealing with the passengers, if there are any.

The other instance, in our state (states are all different) is when the patrol stops a semi or other large vehicle. They stand behind and ask the driver to come back to them. Stopping any sort of truck or even an SUV is more dangerous than stopping a regular car because the officer can't see as well into the vehicle. When we participated in traffic stops I found out how hard it was to see into a car! I came up to the driver window (a cop, not a real traffic stop) and was doing my thing when my new favorite cop said, "He's got a gun. See the gun?" And I couldn't see it until I came around to the passenger's side window.

The cops were good at play acting traffic stops, they would drop their driver's license out the window. We were not supposed to bend over to get it but ask them to retrieve their license. One of our simulated stops had all the makings of a meth lab in the back of the jeep, so it quickly turned into a felony traffic stop and not a regular one so we had to call for backup before going any further.

We had seen from actual videos before we had the demonstration traffic stops that many people who are stopped become abusive. I saw this even in my ride-along that people are hard to handle, they don't obey commands and often need to be physically moved, out the door in a bar, away from a fight in the street, to the squad car for an arrest. A cop's job is very hands-on!

But my new favorite cop is their "secret weapon" which is why they called him away from his traffic cop duties to demonstrate to our class. They call this guy "the voice" because his commands are hynotically suggestive. You just want to do whatever he says! The sergeant said that officers usually find one or two things that they're unusually good at, and giving commands (and getting people to comply) is his. I didn't mind the black leather jacket and boots either!

Well, we talked about drunk driving and other issues which were also very interesting. Maybe I'll write about it more another time. It's so sad that we have only three more sessions left.

Neither apartment came through for my Mom last night so tonight we're going to see another one. Today should be not as hectic at work, as many co-workers are gone at work-travel. Have a happy Friday!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Not Miss Congeniality

Yesterday was certainly a busy and productive day! Work was hectic and favorite co-worker has dumped heaps of work on me before leaving on vacation. Did she save it all up or something, I wonder.

BZ is coming back today from a work trip. She's not going to be happy with me. I suppose we'll have to have one of those talks, shudder. She called me Monday from a distant airport when I was expecting her in the office. She'd changed her travel plans and then her flight ticket! That wouldn't have been so bad but then she also didn't have a hotel room for that night! Have you ever tried to find a Conus room in DC the very last minute, like the SAME DAY?? I did find a room at a decent hotel but it was quite a bit more expensive. I called her and left a message. A few hours go by. She called me back and I missed the call (on another line) to tell me that she found a room! So then the hotel that I booked won't cancel without a penalty, because it's less than 24-hours notice. Yikes, a comedy of errors and guess who will get yelled at for the extra expense.

I suppose I should have asked more questions during that first phone call. But it was so unexpected that I was just sort of surprised and didn't even think of the hotel question until after we'd hung up. Then, I guess I should have called her back. --I'm practicing for "the talk" today, as I'll probably have to go through "what I should have done" a few times in great detail.

I really don't know why I can seldom anticipate BZ's moves. I've worked with her for six years, the first two as a temp and the final four as a real employee. It's true that I've only worked closely with her for the past several years, but I still can't figure her out, she's so very unpredictable. All of my former bosses were easier to work with, I could write letters and memos for them that sounded exactly like the way they would do them, same vocabulary, same style. I wouldn't want to even try doing that with BZ because I'd fail miserably. I can almost never figure out how she's going to react to things either. Usually I try the opposite of what I first figured (like the "opposite" episode on Seinfeld) and it comes out somewhat closer but not correctly. Am I just not paying enough attention, or what? I have never had this problem with any other boss I've ever had. It really frustrates the heck out of me.

But despite that stress, yesterday really was a pretty good day. I was very busy, but got to attend a Vendor Show for office supplies, since I'm the one who orders them. The show had food but I'd already eaten with a fun former co-worker. They had tables of free samples all the way around the room, and a nice big bag in which to put all of the goodies. I ran into two women from another branch of our organization and hung around with them for a bit. But they were too slow, lining up behind a horde of people to get a particular product when there was another table with not as many. It was amazing how so many people acted like they had all day to meekly stand in line to listen to five people ahead of them talk to that vendor. I guess they (all those other, slow people) were just trying to kill time to not have to go back to work. But I'd rather go back to work than waste all that time standing in line when shorter lines are available! I think I even made a comment about it when I ran into the two sort-of-co-workers again, because they wondered where I had gone. Hmmmm probably I won't be winning Miss Congeniality at work anytime soon.

But I want to spend ten minutes grabbing up the freebie samples, bring them back to work to test drive for the next week or so, and then call up the vendor if we decide we want to order them. To me, that's the point of the whole thing. Oh, and I did take home a really cool pen (with buttons to push for any one of four colors) sample that wouldn't be of any use at work!

The short (half hour) lunch with the former co-worker (from another company) was fun. I showed her the two job openings that my place has, but both require a bachelor's or higher degree. I didn't know that she didn't have a degree, since she often talks about school. It's funny how my friends are pretty much split between those with school, but no degree, and the members of the Scone Club--who all have their Master's but me. I'm the most uneducated one in that bunch. I do plan to get my Master's some day, in fact it was part of my Master Plan to go while saving money by sharing expenses with my Mom. You will note how THAT one has worked out!

Speaking of Mom and moving, we're looking at two apartments for her tonight. She's quite interested in both of them and already planning out furniture purchases. So I guess this is really going to happen, and it'll be the best thing for the both of us. Things have been quieter at home lately, and she's been doing the dishes during the day, too, quite a nice perk for me! Although I did a sinkful of dishes this morning....

The Citizen's Police Academy was awesome again last night, as usual! I did find out that the woman who sits next to me rode with "my" cop last Friday. She had fun but was critical of him, grrrr. At least she didn't fall in crush with him like I did, so he's still "mine" all "mine!"

Out of time with all of this rambling. Maybe I'd have time to write about the Academy Session tomorrow. Have a good one!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Buzzed 'n Happy

OK, much better today. Must have gotten the rant out of my system, which is the beauty of journaling! Either that or all of that coffee last night made me happy! Boy, did we have coffee; each of these drinks had a doubleshot of espresso, and the drinks themselves are thick and filling. I'm lucky I didn't get sick from it all and wonder if anyone did.

We started off with learning frozen coffees and I had a mocha. Later when we were all making them for each other, I had another half mocha. Then we had to play barista for each other and take orders. I was up first. For my turn Chase ordered a frozen mint mocha, so I made him one (wonder what that tasted like, it smelled good.) We went down the line, each making a coffee for the next person. Most of the coffees had leftovers, so we got to try them, too. Let's see, I tried a Raspberry White Chocolate mocha, which everyone raved over, but I'm not big on raspberrys or any type of fruit in coffee. Someone made a Pumpkin Vanilla frozen latte, yum yum. When it was finally my turn to have a coffee made for me, I was tried of all the frozen ones and chose a Vanilla Latte with a touch of Cinnamon. Kylie was the barista who made it for me and I swear it was the BEST coffee I've ever had!

I came home totally buzzed after all of that caffeine. I think the air was shimmering! My son was home, he had the day off, which is unusual. He was discussing his future career plans and apartment plans. The car accident cost him plenty, even with insurance. So if he really wants to go to school or find another apartment, I'll help him out.

Tonight is the Citizens' Police Academy. Sadly, we are over half done but I never want it to end! I was thinking again, of the fun of the ride-along and how "my" cop stepped in front of me to protect me from any danger. And also how he asked which speeders he should stop for me! It was kind of bad for the speeders (and I didn't want any stopped but the ones who were whipping fast) but really fun for me. It's just not any old day when someone will pull over cars for you!

Traffic stops are the topic of tonight's session, which is probably why I was thinking about my ride-along again. We will see arrest procedures and get to participate. I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds quite fun!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A rant instead of a dream

Maybe even Blogger doesn't like to read about dreams! Blogger hasn't wanted to publish my new posts for the past couple of days. I did have two great ones (dreams) last night. But don't worry, I don't have time to get them down in writing!

Life has been hard lately, I guess that's just how life is. It so often comes down to money or luck, and the first is usually closely related to the second. For example: an in-law of a friend is always publicly congratulating herself that she is a single parent, but never had to get any help from social services. Well, I should think not! Her parents gave her a car (while paying for the costs), gave her a "spare" house they had for her and the kids to live, and took care of the kids for free--no daycare costs. That pretty well covers most of the steep expenses of single parents. She was just plain luckier than many single parents in that she received a lot of help from her parents--who had money. Parents without money couldn't help their children out that much, not even with daycare if they both were working all day. To have someone pick up any one of those three big expenses would really help out a lot!

And then I see the mother on the bus with three kids. The kids are restless, in clean but obviously hand-me down clothing. People are frowning at every little infraction the little kids make. That looks like hell to me, and it is, to have to take kids everywhere with you on public transportation because they have no car. You'd better believe she wouldn't be doing THAT unless there was no other way!

I guess the part of it that really bugs me is that people who are luckier and/or have more money sometimes (or OFTEN!) think it's because they are smarter, harder working, more moral, etc. and etc. than these poor people. It's just not true. Stupidity, immorality and laziness are pretty much spread across the board; it's just that people with money (or more likely, they have FAMILIES with money) have some leeway to cover their mistakes or bad fortune with cash to solve the problem.

A poor person with a car (a rather lucky poor person to have a car!) that breaks down doesn't have the money to get it fixed but must barter or find friends to help. Someone with even a bit more money can just get the car fixed and go on their way again--or buy a new car and make car payments. Much less energy expenditure and hassle involved when you have some money to cover your expenses.

Well, that's enough of a rant for today, but only because I'm running out of time and must leave for work. Yeah, I know people don't always like rants either, along with hearing all about dreams!

Tonight I go to the last session of the "Espresso Yourself" class. This time we get to make coffees for each other and it should be challenging and fun!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Command on Wheels

OK, I know most people consider that hearing about dreams is very boring, so none for today. Instead I’ll tell you about the Mobile Command Center we toured as part of the multi-learning bonanza that was last week’s Citizen’s Police Academy!

First, it’s big, longer than a normal RV and taller too, not even counting the sky scraping antenna (3) on the top. They fold down for travel. The actual length of the van is 40 feet long and the tallest antenna reaches 56 feet up in the air. The department purchased the vehicle with an almost $300 Homeland Security Grant. They had needed a mobile command center but did not have that kind of money previously. We divided the class into halves to tour this vehicle. I was in the second half to go into it.

We had to help the two non-able-bodied people up into the van. It was a steep ramp of stairs even for an able-bodied person. Inside the van are large maps on one side and several TV screens. One of the antennas has a camera and we got aerial views from all around the vehicle, it was very cool! In fact we could see the motorcycle cops setting up the orange cones and practicing. The back of the vehicle closes off for two police dispatchers, and serves as an emergency post if the main underground bunker is ever disabled. There are other computers and hook ups in the van but we noticed that the chairs were office rolling ones on wheels. The commander said they are secured with bungee cords when the vehicle is moving! I use bungee cords for lots of things in and on the jeep, they’re very useful. Not very high tech, though.

The main thing that really surprised us was that the vehicle has no bathroom! We women were shocked and someone asked, “What if you’re out at a site for hours and hours?” The commander said they have a latrine TENT, but it would need to be set outside of the vehicle. The wonderful technology of the commander center was lost on us women after that point! How would that work for a dangerous hostage situation? “Excuse me, hold your fire. I need to go to the latrine tent!”

On another subject: I just finished a really good book. Not long ago I’m read an interesting excerpt from it somewhere, maybe in the New Yorker. So when I saw it in the library on Saturday, I nabbed it. The title is “Breakfast with Tiffany: an uncle’s memoir” by Edwin John Wintle. It’s his first book, and autobiographical about himself, a gay man, who took in his 13-year-old, too wild for her single mother, niece to raise in NYC! It changed both of their lives and is a great, and quick (I couldn’t put it down) read.

Have you read any good books lately?

And a Happy Belated Earth Day! I went to the Farmer’s Market Earth Day celebration on Saturday. There was a celebration at the Whole Foods Coop too.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Yar who Yar

Ahhhh Saturday, I slept in until after 7:00 and lay in bed until nearly 8:00. It was so great to get to stay in bed and recall a great dream I'd just had. That's the trick to recalling dreams, as you probably know: stay in bed and tiptoe back through whatever you can remmember and more details will come back to you. This is much easier to do if you sleep alone like I do! Usually the moment you get up or speak to someone is when your dream disappears like smoke. You may get faint, frustating almost-memories of it, but the dream is basically gone and out of your conscious reach.

This dream was rich in details and interesting (to me, anyway) so I went back through it to pick up the details: I was at a large event/fair and people kept giving me things, all sorts of things and some were larger, like a bike! I think what they were giving me may have represented something, as dream are seldom foretelling (darn it, I'd really like to get some of that stuff!) But I didn't want to go over my dream too many times while lying in bed, as some of the details start to get rounded off, and my mind starts to fill in blanks that maybe the dream left open for a reason.

Everywhere I went in the dream people, well, guys, would tell me their life story. For example, I went into a pizza place and the waiter started telling me where he was from and details of his childhood. He was interrupted by the owner starting to tell me all about HIS childhood! During most of the dream I was looking for a beautiful bike, which someone had given me, but I had left somewhere at a seminar.

In the dream I had hair long enough to sit on and the same color as my real hair, blonde. Someone gave me a hair swatch of the same length, but it was dark brown, so I interweaved it into my own hair for a long ponytail. It sound kinda strange and ugly, but in the dream anyway it looked nice! I walked by a pool with a sage who had a long, braided piece of hair hanging down his back. Of course he told me his life story!

But as I was leaving, he wrote on a slate he had, "Yar who Yar"

I looked at it and said back to him, "That would make a great t-shirt!"

He grinned a toothless smile and said, "I know." and pulled out a pile of t-shirts from the back of his small stool!

Well, there were lots more details, of course but that's enough of recounting my dream. Many people are not interested in hearing about other people's dreams, or listening to their life story either! Actually, in the dream I walked away from each life story long before they were done, kind of rude but it was only a dream!

I think I had some other stuff in the back of my mind to write today, but it's gone now, like dream smoke. Oh well. Have a super Saturday!

Yar who Yar

Ahhhh Saturday, I slept in until after 7:00 and lay in bed until nearly 8:00. It was so great to get to stay in bed and recall a great dream I'd just had. That's the trick to recalling dreams, as you probably know: stay in bed and tiptoe back through whatever you can remmember and more details will come back to you. This is much easier to do if you sleep alone like I do! Usually the moment you get up or speak to someone is when your dream disappears like smoke. You may get faint, frustating almost-memories of it, but the dream is basically gone and out of your conscious reach.

This dream was rich in details and interesting (to me, anyway) so I went back through it to pick up the details: I was at a large event/fair and people kept giving me things, all sorts of things and some were larger, like a bike! I think what they were giving me may have represented something, as dream are seldom foretelling (darn it, I'd really like to get some of that stuff!) But I didn't want to go over my dream too many times while lying in bed, as some of the details start to get rounded off, and my mind starts to fill in blanks that maybe the dream left open for a reason.

Everywhere I went in the dream people, well, guys, would tell me their life story. For example, I went into a pizza place and the waiter started telling me where he was from and details of his childhood. He was interrupted by the owner starting to tell me all about HIS childhood! During most of the dream I was looking for a beautiful bike, which someone had given me, but I had left somewhere at a seminar.

In the dream I had hair long enough to sit on and the same color as my real hair, blonde. Someone gave me a hair swatch of the same length, but it was dark brown, so I interweaved it into my own hair for a long ponytail. It sound kinda strange and ugly, but in the dream anyway it looked nice! I walked by a pool with a sage who had a long, braided piece of hair hanging down his back. Of course he told me his life story!

But as I was leaving, he wrote on a slate he had, "Yar who Yar"

I looked at it and said back to him, "That would make a great t-shirt!"

He grinned a toothless smile and said, "I know." and pulled out a pile of t-shirts from the back of his small stool!

Well, there were lots more details, of course but that's enough of recounting my dream. Many people are not interested in hearing about other people's dreams, or listening to their life story either! Actually, in the dream I walked away from each life story long before they were done, kind of rude but it was only a dream!

I think I had some other stuff in the back of my mind to write today, but it's gone now, like dream smoke. Oh well. Have a super Saturday!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Police Ox and Black Leather

Have you seen the Toyota Prius? Maybe you OWN one! A co-worker bought one and we trooped out of the office to admire it in the parking garage. She had to special order it as they’ve become very popular with gas prices going up again. She told them that she didn’t care about what color it was, but luckily it’s a deep dark red, such a gorgeous car! And such a space-age car, it looks like the car of the future! It has a bizarre way to start it, a screen showing the engine, and the coolest hologram-type thingy on the dashboard, and oh, that new car smell. It gets around 50 miles to the gallon. I want one of those! Well, at least the jeep headlights are working now.

So, what did I learn in session 5 of the Citizens’ Police Academy? That motorcycle cops in head to toe black leather are gorgeous, even more so than a nice new car! I didn’t realize that we even had any motorcycle cops over here in my new city, had never seen any until last night (now I’ll be looking). The presenter asked how many of us had seen motorcycle cops, and nobody raised their hand, so he laughed and said that unless you’ve been stopped by one, you probably haven’t seen them! They’re very stealthy, sit under trees and in alleyways to catch speeders. The bikes are huge Harley’s and they have that blinking light pole in the back, but still people don’t see them—until it’s too late. And the cops like it that way.

Before we went outside, they showed us a training video of some of the officers going through a riding school. It looked tough and we got to see them progress from dumping the bikes continually to making very tight corners and stopping quickly. Outside in the police parking lot with those orange cones set up they showed us some wonderful trick riding. We also learned how to pick up a dumped Harley (which weighs 800 pounds!) by sitting on the seat sideways and pushing it up with your legs. Even a small, slight woman could do it! In fact they told us that small women usually make the best riders because they can’t muscle a machine like that but have to finess it around tight corners. Our police department doesn’t have any women motorcycle cops, though.

We didn’t get to ride the bikes, of course, but it was pretty exciting to watch. They even attracted a neighborhood crowd. They lease the bikes at $1 each per year and some of my classmates were quite interested and asking questions about how to get a deal like that. But it’s through a special program for law enforcement from Harley-Davidson.

After that we saw a bicycle demonstration. It may sound pretty tame after seeing the motorcycles and all that black leather, but it was very cool. Most of us didn’t know that the department has bicycle cops either. They use them for the same reason as the motorcycles, stealth. And most of the bicycle cops ride at NIGHT, which surprised me and sounded pretty dangerous. But they can ride quietly into an alleyway or on a sidewalk and go right up to vandalizing kids, or a garage break in without the “perps” seeing or hearing them.

For the demonstration, the bike cop easily rode down another cop running and trying to evade him. They went through the grass, around cars, up and down stairs and the running cop (even though in good shape) started to get worn out long before the cyclist cop did, and got easily nabbed. Of course they can’t arrest or take away anybody on a bike, but need to call for a squad for that.

There were more interesting things at Session 5, but it ended with an interesting proposition, and perhaps one of the reasons that they hold the Citizens’ Police Academy yearly:
Two people in uniform came in, dressed in uniforms, they even had police jackets. They told us about the Police Auxiliary, a volunteer unit that help the police with community activities like races, fairs, parades, festivals, and other large public events. “Members of the Auxiliary Police also provide crime and accident scene security at large incidents. They also provide traffic control as backup to on-duty officers. Members of the Auxiliary Unit receive special training and are assigned the uniforms and special equipment necessary to help them in the performance of their jobs.”

They called it “Police Aux” which sounded like “Police Ox” to me--that seems rather unattractive--like large and slow and stupid. But if I became a Police Ox I could eat whatever I liked, right? Uniforms, driving a squad car, special equipment, guarding a crime scene and learning evasive driving tactics—where do I sign up!

Oh happy happy Friday to all!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Now a Two-way Street

I'm nervous about my "presentation" at the meeting today, if that's what it is. It's much easier to speak in front of strangers--and to be prepared! A non-critical audience would help too. Oh well, I'll be done with it by noon so I don't have much longer to stress about it.

I came home a couple of nights ago and our street was turned around backwards! By that I mean the parked cars were (mostly) all facing the opposite direction. My Mom's car had a ticket on it. Luckily it was just a warning ticket. They have made our street into a two-way instead of a one-way so now we have to park with traffic. It's because of the construction and traffic obstruction at one end of the street. They didn't seem to give much warning about the change, it just was suddenly a two-way and traffic flow and parking direction changed.

My new city seems pretty serious about parking too, as if you remember back, I got a $16 parking ticket for facing the wrong way on the avenue. We have alternate-side parking in effect and it goes back and forth. I think the street is a bit dangerous now. People are used to it being a one-way and cars are suddenly coming from both ways!

Last night at the Citizen's Police Academy I found out someone else will be riding with "my" cop on Friday! Should I be jealous, feel betrayed? Bet she will just fall into crush with him too, he's SUCH a cutie!

After the Academy session was over last night, it was 10:30 and dark outside. I was driving out of the police parking lot and it seemed a little dim. I got onto the main street and realized that my headlights were out! The jeep has done that a couple times before, it's some sort of electrical glitch that they can't seem to fix. So I had to turn on the brights, but my regular headlights worked by the time I got home, a few blocks later.

THAT was not good--to drive from the police parking lot with no headlights, geez. Wonder if my new cop friends would have picked me up and given a citation for it? I bet they would have!

We covered Patrol Operations last night, and that's a wide area. If I have enough time, I'll write some about it tomorrow. I can't wait until today is over, and tomorrow too, and then a weekend. I guess I'm wishing my life (time) away. Happy Thursday to you!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lots of drinking

I fell asleep after my alarm went off this morning. I almost never do that. But the people upstairs woke me several times, including around 3:00 a.m., and then both Mom and son were (separately) in the kitchen (which borders my bedroom wall) a half hour before my alarm goes off. I shut off the alarm when it went off and went back to sleep.

I dreamed of being on a skiing trip with my co-workers. I've probably mentioned that they are all marathon athletes except me (with the possible exception of BZ, but she's small, fit, and much much younger than I am) so I was a bit concerned since I haven't been on downhill skiis for probably 20 years! One was looking at my old wooden skiis and shaking his head, saying they would probably break. We were at a ski lodge type place that belonged to a former co-worker. They were going for a food run and needed $35 from me for my share. It seemed like a lot of money, even in a dream, but I pulled out a $35 bill from my pocket! Then I had to stay and clean up the messes the owner's cat made, while they all took off in a van. Then while cleaning I realized I was in my bathrobe in the dream, and then remembered that the alarm had gone off, so I woke up. I do have a second alarm set for 15-minutes later than the first, but I'm almost always up at the first one. The second alarm had not gone off yet when I finally woke, and got up.

So I got up in a hurry, showered and let the ferrets play and noticed there is a lump on my head from when I hit it on the bathroom cabinet yesterday. I was waiting for the coffee to be done, had started it as soon as I got up. It won't be as good as what I had last night, though!

Last night in the Espresso Yourself class we made espresso shots, cappuccino and lattes. I got to actually make and drink all of those! It's more tricky than it looks, as the temperature is fussy and the sanitation too--but I was glad to see the last one, since I have coffee and a salad there almost every Saturday! We ended up throwing out a lot of the steamed milk, as it must be just so. The teacher just laughed and said that's why we were charged a materials fee. She had also made some orange scones with chocolate bits in them, yummy, and not too sweet (well, except for the chocolate, of course). We each had one and there were three left, so I got to take one home for Mom and son to split. They thought it was kind of weird but seemed to like it.

I'm stressing about the meeting that BZ is bringing me to on Thursday. I'm there to talk and answer questions but I don't know about what yet! I like more advance time to plan stuff out.

Tonight is the 5th Session of the Citizens' Police Academy. There are only 9, so we are half done. One of the remaining ones is the shooting range one, though, plus I'm hoping to get to do a ride-along again. The session tonight is on patrol operations and should be good, like all of them.

Happy Wednesday. It IS Wednesday, right?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Not too taxing

I woke up in the night and for some reason thought it was the weekend again. Now, wouldn't THAT be great, work one day and it's a weekend again? It was busy at work yesterday, Mondays usual are, especially since they moved our staff meeting back to Monday. I have requests and reports to do on Monday, so liked it better with our meeting on Tuesday. But all the other work plus doing the meeting minutes does make the day go fast. Sometimes I wonder, though, about wishing the days away. We only have a limited number.

I found an awesome little apartment--well, haven't seen the INSIDE of it, so possibly not. But the outside has a sweeping view of the lake and it's back in my former city/state. The owners have a message on their machine that they are out of town so I haven't seen it yet. I worry about my son, as that apartment is just big enough for one person. I'd like him to find a place with some roommates and be more indendendent. He doesn't want that right now, is thinking of going back to school, while I've had it with family living and want some alone time and space!

Tonight is the second session of "Espresso Yourself" class at my favorite coffee shop. It will be my FIRST session and they've probably already covered the basics, since there are only three classes. But part of the class is drinking the coffee, so I can certainly help and join in with that part!

I saw "my" cop when I was driving to work yesterday! Also had to quick get the state tax done (yes I know, last-minute!) but at least I had already done the federal form and mailed it in. First I'd tried the free online tax, went through putting all of the information on, only to find in the end that I earned just a bit too much to get it for free. Since the info was already on, I almost went for buying it, but when I found out it was almost $20 for EACH (state and federal) I decided to just do it the regular way and mail them in. Did you get your tax forms in yesterday? Probably you did them long ago! I used to be much better at getting them in, too.

Well, I'd better finish getting ready for work. My Mom didn't get up yesterday morning to sit and have coffee. It made it easier to get out the door and I was at work the time I always used to arrive, which was nice. Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mirabilia Report

I had a horrid Easter. My younger brother, “The King” came to visit Mom with very little warning. I think it’s because she’s been writing him almost every day about god knows what. Probably all bad stuff about us. I know she never misses a beat now to say something bad about my son, which is so sad because they used to get along so well. Anyway, we (son and I) were NOT INVITED to the family Easter dinner, ouch! We haven’t done anything wrong. Aren’t families the best? I ate McD’s alone in the car while watching the waves in the big lake. It was soothing. And I brought son home some too once I’d calmed myself down enough. That was our Easter dinner.

Guess I was SO naive to fall for the one-big-happy family myth once again (of living together as an extended family) and buy my Mom's ploy to trick us into taking care of her. She never had time for me when I was a child, I barely knew her until my Dad died when her sharp tongue was somewhat muted. You'd think I would have been cured of all of that wishful thinking a long time ago. And to rub salt into our wounds, the only thing my Mom has been talking about since is how wonderful The King and his family are, the food, the decorations, the kids, etc. The only thing good about Easter this year is that it is over--oh, and that I didn't have to cook Easter dinner for all those people! They went out to my Mom's old house (that The King had bought from her). Hope your Easter was a lot better! Enough of that.

From my E-mail: Something cool to pass along…

(Mirabilia n. eccentric enchantments, unplanned jubilations, sudden
deliverance from boring evils; from the Latin mirabilia, "marvels.")

* "The average river requires a million years to move a grain of sand 100
miles," says science writer James Trefil.

* Clown fish can alter their gender as their social status rises.

* When she is born, a baby girl has all the ova she will ever have.

* Bluebirds cannot see the color blue.

* Kind people are more likely than mean people to yawn when someone
near them does.

* There are always so many fragments of spider legs floating in the air
that you are constantly inhaling them wherever you go.

* Gregorian chants can cure dyslexia.

* Scientists in Antarctica have photographed whales farting.

* To keep from digesting itself, your stomach generates a fresh layer of
mucus every two weeks.

* Bob Hope donated half a million jokes to the Library of Congress.

* Bees perform a valuable service for the flowers from which they steal.

* All the gold ever mined could be molded into a 60-foot bust of your

* The moon smells like exploded firecrackers.

* Physicists in Tennessee coaxed electric signals to travel through coaxial
cable at four times the speed of light, even though the equipment they
used was cheap stuff from Radio Shack.

* Revlon makes 177 different shades of lipstick.

* Your tongue is the strongest muscle in your body.

* The most frequently shoplifted book in America is the Bible.

* Copper, iodine, alcohol, iron, sunshine, sodium, and cholesterol are
harmful to you in large amounts, but good for you in small quantities.

* "I always turn to the sports page first," said Earl Warren, former Chief
Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. "It records people's accomplishments;
the front page, nothing but man's failure."

* "Leafing through *Forbes* or *Fortune* magazine is like reading the
operating manual of a strangely sanctimonious pirate ship," wrote Adam
Gopnik in *The New Yorker.*

TO READ More excerpts from the book, go here:

I wonder if all of that is true? May you have many Mirabilia!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Light Blue Gloves and Street Fighting

The Use of Force session at the Citizens' Police Academy was great! The presenters started with controlling and handcuffing a subject. It's harder than it first looks! They had an audience member cross his arms firmly and had four of us try to pull his arms away and put them behind him to be handcuffed--we couldn't do it. Then the police guys and their trainer showed us how to "persuade" arms to move, how to bring people down and fun and useful stuff like that. There are a lot of tricks to making people move how you want them which led into...

Street fighting, where we learned how to stay alive and get the best of someone who jumps us, regardless of whether we're buff (like the cops) or an ordinary person. We learned proper stance and some tricks to disable or prevent an attacker. The trainer ended up with blood on his arms and hands. It got on the mats. The police guys dismissed it as "training injuries" but we could see that cops play very rough with unwilling suspects! They demonstrated that it's necessary in order to control them, cuff them and get them into custody. One class member asked about the dangers of bodily fluids and whether the cops should be wearing gloves. The cops all popped out with light blue gloves that they carry, put them on and said, "Now, how would you feel if we advanced on you like this?" It was very threatening, looked like they were ready for surgery or something! We all agreed that it just wouldn't work out that well. And plastic gloves would be too slippery to hold weapons very well.

Then the police guys demonstrated their club. It looks small and fits onto their belt but expands out to a long wicked weapon. It conveniently folds back into a small length with a hard tap on the floor/ground. The cops in my new state use it to break knees. That isn't allowed in my old state, where the police hit a person on the thigh (which they demonstrated, ouch to the trainer) and his leg folded from under him and he was on the mat.

Next we talked about pepper spray, which they call "OC." They don't use Mace anymore because in high concentrations it can kill people. The cops all have to take a hit in the face with pepper spray in their training school, so they know how it feels and what it can do. Some people are highly allergic to it and have a bad reaction (their throat closes shut!) and for others it's like 100X Tabasco sauce in their eyes and face. Plain water doesn't stop the burning.

Another device that some of them try out as victims in the cop "boot camp" is the Taser. The Taser is a yellow gun about the same size as a cop's service gun but more squarish. There are square black cartridges that fit on the end and cost around $40 each, so it costs that much per shot. But you can get some extra mileage on a Taser and use it many times on the same subject, if necessary as long as the hooks are still in.

The Taser isn't like the weapon Stephanie Plum uses in the Janet Evanovich cute little novels. The presenter passed around some wicked fishhook things with a caution not to get our fingers stuck. The Taser shoots two hooks into a subject with thin copper wires attached. Nobody volunteered to be a Taser target and the cops said they break out into a sweat just thinking about taking another Taser hit, apparently it really hurts intensely but doesn't leave scars or residual pain or injury. So we saw a video of some real Taser take-downs (they're online but I can't access them from dial up at home). It looks very weird to have the thin copper wires shooting out. The victim cries out and drops immediately. The average length of the shock is 5 seconds but in some of the video scenes the police had to Taser the suspect again and again before they were subdued. The electricity goes between the two hooks, so cops can touch the person and cuff them without also getting a shock. As a demonstration they shot the Taser hooks into an aluminum target. When they were done zapping the target, we got a piece of the Taser wire which I brought home to show friends and family.

Next we talked about deadly force. Cops in my state are authorized to shoot if either a gun or a knife appears. But in reality they would judge the situation accordingly to imminent threat. The trainer and the patrol boss cop talked about knives and that knives can do more damage than a bullet because of the slashing and stabbing ways they can be used. They demonstrated how to use a knife and then how to defend against them. Then they talked about knife fights and how to stay alive. Also that even a table knife, a mop handle or fireplace pokers can be deadly weapons. Hopefully I will never have to use such information, but it was very interesting!

Finally we talked about guns, shooting and the police service gun. It's a Barretta 9mm and they loaded a couple guns with blanks (sort of like paint ball) and were shooting it inside the classroom, to demonstrate gun battles and staying in cover. It was very interesting and the trainer soon started to take off the rubber tips of the bullets because they cause welts when they hit.

Of course a class member just had to ask whether or not the police would shoot a 12-year old with a gun and the answer of course, would be "yes" to contain a situation. A child with a gun is just as dangerous as an adult. The cops agreed that it would be a tragedy but that they would have to take out anyone who was threatening with a gun (unless they dropped it when commanded to, of course). The cops acted out a training scenario: a person is threatening suicide with a gun held to their own head, the cop approaches to try to talk them out of it, but then the suicide shoots the cop point blank. It was so shocking that some people actually audibly sucked in their breath. The cops said that it affects the new recruits in the same way and reminds them to be more careful in situations like that.

After all of that, they passed around body armor. The cops on patrol always wear it even though it's hot in the summer. One said that when his wife kisses him goodbye she thumps his chest to make sure he has his body armor on! That was very touching and a reminder of just how dangerous a job this is. The cops in our city wear 25 pounds of gear on their belt and counting the body armor. Well, that's all I can remember about the four-hour Use of Force class. It was very informative and thought-provoking. I can't say that I'm ready for a knife fight or gun battle, though!

A really funny thing is that when BZ, Favorite Co-worker and I (yes, I was invited, which almost never happens!) were sitting at Starbucks the day after in my old state, a cop walked by. They were checking him out while I was trying to see what equipment he was carrying on his belt, whether he had a Taser. So they were teasing me about checking out his equipment!

No, he didn't seem to be carrying a Taser, unless they use a different brand in my old state. Have a great holiday weekend!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The murder-mobile

Back again from the work trip. It was a good (set of) meetings. In fact the best joint staff meeting we've ever had! Contingents from west and east coast and we mid-rangers got along just fine and accomplished a lot of work. It was exhausting though, and part of it was the pre-stress of not knowing how well it would turn out!

When we were driving in the van, there was an RV ahead of us spewing red liquid from a tube. The liquid splattered all over the road, all over our windshield. We were tired by then and imaginations roaming. First we thought maybe it was a murder-mobile owned by a serial killer. But then we thought it was an unmarked bloodmobile (sort of like an unmarked squad) stealing around through the civilians, looking for a chance to get blood. But probably it was just an RV spewing waste on the road and on our windshield. How boring is that?

I came home to excellent chili made by Mom, quickly had some and then had to go to the Citizens' Police Academy for four hours to hear about the use of force. It was worth dragging my tired self there! But I'm not up to getting into it right now. Have a great Friday and weekend!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Getting ready to go

I'm getting ready for my quick trip for work. I'm bringing the same suitcase I would bring for a WEEK trip, just because I don't have a smaller one. That should have been on the list for my shopping trip last weekend. I could use a tote bag but need wheels! I already have enough work stuff to lug around, I don't really want to be carrying my clothes and stuff too.

The invitation for this trip was so last-minute that I'm missing the first session of the "Espresso Yourself" class tonight. They were OK with that, but I'm afraid that in missing the first class I'll be missing how to run the machines to make different types of coffee, and all the basics. Maybe not so bad as there seems to be a quick learning curve for that, I see brand new people in the shops who are doing as well as anyone by my next visit. All all types of people, too, it would seem most anyone could learn that skill. But then again, some people might say that about driving a stick too!

Mom and I went to see an apartment last night. It wasn't nearly as nice as here, and smaller and more expensive. My Mom didn't like how all the floors seemed to be at a different level and that there was a bump across each one of them. What's up with that? Also, that the managing company has inspections four times a year. It wasn't subsidized housing! I realize that some people are horrible slobs but that still seems far too invasive. No deal.

I do hope that we will return in time for the Cop Class. It would break my heart to miss it! I really do NOT want to miss the session on Use of Force, including the taser. It's good that I got to go to this work meeting, though. Even as a last-minute invitee.

I seriously don't think that my new cop stance and body language had anything to do with ANY of the developments. They were probably in the works for a while. It would take more than two days for people to, first notice the difference, then process the difference, and then possibly change their own behavior. Even if my new behavior was noticed in that small amount of time, others would think it a temporary change unless it persisted. Maybe it is a temporary change. We'll see.

See you in a couple of days!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Cop communication

It's a Monday again today (so soon!). Things cooled off later last night but we are still looking at another apartment for Mom after I'm done with work tonight. The Vegetable Man called the house while I was "on vacation" and got an earful from my Mom. He called back later to make sure we were all still alive. But I couldn't talk to him about it very well with an audience so made him ask me questions and then I'd say "yes" or "no" to them! Sad for him that it was a long-distance call.

About a week ago I was reading a romance novel set in Hawaii. It was about an undercover cop and he was afraid he'd give his position away by his body language. Seems that cops are trained in a certain style of body language. Since this was about policemen, I was interested and researched it a bit. Here's some excerpts from a piece written by a (woman) cop for fiction writers:

Command Presence.
Command presence is acting, appearing, being calm, cool, professional and in control regardless of whether you feel calm, cool, and in control. It is our first and omnipresent level of force in a situation. An officer's air of confidence can mean the difference between being challenged or not being challenged. Command presence is taught from day one in the police academy. You must hold your head high, back straight, feet wide. Look people in the eye and speak in a strong voice. Walk with a purposeful stride. Wear clean, pressed uniforms, keep your weapon belt and shoes clean and shined. Command presence is the first step in keeping an officer alive. After awhile, it becomes automatic to look as though you control the world. Your police characters must display some command presence both on duty and off. Remember, however, that showing a police character without command presence could symbolize a lot of different things...

There's a lot behind the way an officers stand. Legs wide with one foot back, chest out, arms out and hands free. Do we stand that way just to look cocky? No! Try pushing a person down who's standing with her feet together and then with her feet apart. A wide stance provides infinitely better balance and stability. And when it comes to a fight, balance is the name of the game.

Start observing police officers, and notice, when they stand, which foot is always back. It's the gun side foot. Cops are 100 percent aware of their guns at all times. We keep our gun sides back and away from people. If we walk through a crowd, our elbows are pressed against our weapons. Why? If an officer's weapon is taken from him/her, chances are he/she will be killed with it. Cops know that. We live with it. And many of our movements are in protection of that gun. That's also why our hands, at least our weapon hand, is kept free at all times. We have to be ready to draw.

One thing an officer avoids is squaring off with someone, toe to toe. We are taught to stand "quarter to quarter." That means our left shoulder facing their left shoulder. It provides additional balance in a fight.

Personal Space.
Reaction time can kill you or keep you alive. In order to have more reaction time, you have to stand back. Americans generally require more personal space than many other cultures, and cops need even more. (This goes back to the gun retention issue again.) If you get right up in someone's face, it's more difficult to be aware of your surroundings, and it limits your reaction time.

Cops stand back. Even touchy-feely cops stand back.

I can sense when someone crosses into my "safety zone," off- duty or on, and I am immediately aware and on guard. That intuitive reaction is something to keep in mind when writing about a cop.

Eye Contact.
Police officers focus on what can hurt or kill them. Eyes can't pull a trigger, but hands can and often do. A cop will focus on the hands and center of the body, and this, again, is a safety issue. An officer won't stare intently at someone, usually, but will scan the surroundings. He or she tries to anticipate areas of possible threat. This lack of eye contact is often interpreted as apathy or attributed to the officer not paying attention. Not so. When I'm in contact with a person, I am listening to them, to my radio, to the sounds around me, and at the same time watching them and the surrounding area. This is a vital skill for a police officer who wants to stay alive.

Hmmm, these could partly explain why those guys seem just so darn attractive. But then the fact that it was a woman cop who wrote this caught my attention. So, starting last Tuesday I started trying to implement some of that body language at work!

It had interesting results:
1. On Thursday BZ came into my office and presented me with a bunch of papers. It was my long-lost raise! And retro to the first of the year! OK, I should have received it after my yearly review instead of getting demoted, but I have it now, so am happier...

2. And, they are thinking about making a new (accounting) position for me.

3. And, I am coming with her (BZ) to a board meeting.

4. And, I'm traveling with the rest of the team (was not invited before) to a meeting with our cohorts from other parts of the country. While this will not be a fun meeting because we have to work out some things, I'll get to stay in a really nice hotel, eat out in the evenings, etc. The meeting is THIS WEEK and I don't even know what time we'll be going. I hate planning for last-minute stuff like that but it will be sort of fun and being excluded was far worse.

So, what's your verdict, did cop body language assist with any of the above: Coincidence or not? Maybe they just thought I was carrying a weapon!

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A peep of light

Sunday today and my Mom is gone to church! It's the only time she's ever gone out of the entire week. The constant togetherness is really getting to me. Before we all moved in together she said that she liked doing many things alone. But she must do them while we're gone at work, for she wants to be with me, do (or watch and critique, rather) everything I do. Tiring. I relish the 45 minutes to one hour that she's gone each week as a breather, but it's never enough.

So I took a vacation from her yesterday, and oh the situation changed really quickly! Saturday I got up later than normal because it was a weekend. Quickly showered, dressed, cared for the animals (an important point later) and got out of the house before she got up. I knew she wouldn't be happy but thought she'd understand that I need time just for me, too. But nope, she was upset with me, that I didn't hang out with her all day or take her with me everywhere. Upset enough to want to move out. Of course she wanted me to do all the calling apartments and actually finding something, but I got a start already and have one to see on Monday night and one on Thursday night, both after work.

She said she just can't live with our animals any more, that she hates them. My poor little dog was in a state when I came home, so I don't know what she did to her. I never had my parents babysit my son when he was little. Not once. I didn't trust them not to hurt him. So guess I'd better not trust my poor little dog alone with Grandma either. Yikes!

If I sound fed up, I certainly am. Let me give you a sample day with my Mom:
I get up, try to quickly post and comment before she gets up. She gets up and I have to sit and have coffee with her. Everywhere I move to get ready for work, she's there, standing in my way, blocking the path. At first I thought it was funny and a coincidence, now I'm not so sure. I think it's genius instead. Also, most days I barely make it to work on time.

I have to cook dinner the instant I get home (from my often stressful job). Nothing has been touched during the day, no vacuuming, dusting, dishes, sweeping, no housework at all. In fact the place is usually quite dirty. First I cook, with her watching and critiquing my cooking (I HATE cooking, remember) then we eat together, then I do the dishes and sweep the kitchen, do a couple other chores, all under her watchful, critical eye. Finally we sit together in the living room.

My butt has barely hit the couch cushion when Mom asks, "Would you like some toast?"

"No thanks, we just ate." I reply, but know where this is going. A couple of minutes go by.

"Are you SURE you wouldn't like some toast?" she asks. I could reply in the negative again, but know I'm about to be assigned for more work, so just get to it.

"Would YOU like some toast, Mom?" "Oh yes, I would!" she says. So I make her some toast and bring it to her.

"Would you like some tea?" she asks.

"I'll make some tea." I say, resigned to NOT getting to sit in the living room in peace until she goes to bed.

"Good, this toast is so dry. Maybe you could put more butter on it? I think it all melted into the bread." she says. And so it goes, my night after work. The next day it's the same thing all over again. Enough to drive one crazy. I think I AM crazy by now!

So I took a vacation and went shopping yesterday. I did NOT drag her along with me. Shopping with her takes forever and it's an exercise in push and pull. On one hand, she will urge me to buy new clothes, but then criticizes how I look in them, thinks I spend too much money, etc--even for clothes she helped pick out. So I shopped alone and bought black jeans, a black top, one of those fitted sports jackety things and a spring jacket. I also tried on some beautiful suits, sat at the library and read magazines, and in short, had a wonderful day until I figured I'd better get back home.

She wanted to go out to eat the moment I got home (4:00) but I talked her into seeing a movie first. We saw "Failure to Launch" a really cute movie and I enjoyed it. Then we went out to eat, then home where I did some laundry.

I feel much refreshed after my vacation. And especially because now I have hope....haha! Have a great rest of your weekend!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Casing the cops

I got up with the alarm, groggy but full of things to write. Now that I'm sitting here at the keyboard, nothing. Yesterday I made a comment on Magpie's blog (sorry, I simply must look up how to do links again!)about seeing "my" cop. There are two bridges I can take to get to my workplace. I usually take the shortest route to the oldest bridge, which goes right by the police station, and where we have those Citizens' Police Academy classes. But since Saturday when I drove by I don't only slow down (to be going at or under the speed limit!) but I look carefully at the lined up police cars to see if there is anyone I know. Tuesday I scored! Saw "my" cop getting out of his vehicle, and I waved at him. He was probably going to the station to do his paperwork for the night, as his shift ends at 8:00 a.m. and paperwork would take over an hour to complete.

I was happy and thrilled to see him until I started thinking about it. What if he thinks I'm driving by at that time on purpose? One of the major things I learned on the squad ride was how suspicious cops are about everything! It's their job to check out any abnormality or oddity. Also, I was not the only rider to become somewhat besotted with cops--so I bet women have REALLY stalked them! Pretty funny, but embarrassing, I said that I had a bit of a crush, not a major nutcase obsession! So I have to drive the long way to work now? Nah, maybe not, I'll just not do the looking and waving thing again! There are lots of vehicles that look just like mine, I'll sneak by--at the speed limit or below.

I didn't watch the news last night (often don't) so I don't know if we were on the news or not. I tried to avoid the camera as much as possible so even if they showed clips, I'm probably not on them--I hope! The women who was drafted to hold out evidence, etc. for the camera had forgotten about the "old clothes" warning. So maybe that's why the news crew picked her, she was dressed decently unlike the rest of us! She also couldn't jump in the play with the powders and such like we could either. I'm glad I remembered to wear old clothes, the experience of watching would not have been the same as doing!

Oh! It's Friday! Happy happy Friday to you!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Clearing the room

The 3rd session of the Citizen's Police Academy was just as interesting as the first two, and yet each class has been totally different. We split into two groups and went into the police garage to review a "crime scene". Ours was of an apparent suicide. We were to determine whether it truly was a suicide or whether someone else (boyfriend prime suspect) had shot her instead. We learned a lot about crime scenes, evidence collecting--and typical suicide!

We collected evidence and trooped to the evidence lab to test the stuff. There we used a range of materials, from magnetic powder, putty and even superglue! The superglue is one of the most typical methods they use to lift fingerprints and it's a weird, but cool process. The glue is placed in a small open container and heated to give off a residue. The chamber the police use is a home-made one: long 20-gallon aquarium, Styrofoam lid, element heater, a coffee cup. The glue is put into the aquarium on the heating element, the coffee cup filled with warm water, the pop cans and other fingerprinted material placed inside and the makeshift lid closed. We waited 15-minutes for it to be "done".

When we took out the material, the fingerprints were clearly outlined! So the next step was using tape to get them off the can, gun or whatever. We also used putty to take tool marks from a windowsill (that was from the other case, not our apparent suicide). After that we talked about fingerprinting, classifications of fingerprints and the FBI database. And that was just the first half of the class!

After a short break we went back to the class-meeting room to see clips, articles and hear a presentation from the head of Investigations from a real crime from around six years ago. The DA's home was firebombed, with him, his wife and 3-year old daughter asleep upstairs! They woke up in time to escape the place but it caused a lot of commotion from the FBI and other federal agencies for the next year. The suspect was a drug lord, in custody for a homicide, who had threatened the DA and a police officer. The officer was one of the guys who do the introductions for our class each week!

Some of the material was graphic, we saw a color photo of the entry point for the bullet in the victim's head. His own 17-year old son had shot him, under gang orders/encouragement so they could take his house, car and money. The police had apprehended different gang members taking the wrapped, weighted body in a boat (on a trailer behind a vehicle) to a nearby lake to sink it. There were a lot more details in the investigation to put together. The presenting officer asked if it was OK that it was running over the allotted class time but nobody got up to leave, it was fascinating! Much better than TV shows because it was a real story, and local news during that time.

Speaking of news, we had the local media filming us during portions of the class. Some of us women were sighing about the choice of sessions, because for this one we were wearing old clothes because of the possibility of staining. One woman keep getting asking to hold up pieces of our evidence for the cameras, I kept getting asked to move! I think it was mostly because I was trying to avoid being on film. Everywhere I went, it seemed like they wanted to move a camera there shortly afterwards! Finally, and thankfully, they packed up, went away and left us to our investigation. I hope I won't be on the news in my stained t-shirt, yikes!

After class last night I came home late, Mom was still up, also my son, and the animals. I was almost afraid to look in the bathroom. But probably would have known if anything was amiss the moment I opened the front door--it had been that bad, totally unusable until cleaned. This morning all was clear too, thank god.

It's Thursday already. The landlords were supposed to come last night about my closet, maybe tonight. Have a good day!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Evidence collecting

Tonight is another Citizen's Police Academy session. This one will be on collecting evidence at a crime scene. We were told to wear old clothing. I think we'll be working with fingerprinting and collecting fingerprints, looking through the microscope and stuff like that, interesting! I'm still listening to the police scanner at home. My Mom likes listening to it, too.

Rather than venting about work or home, here are some-

Jokes from my E-mail
A bad day
There's this guy in a bar, just looking at his drink. He stays like that for half-an-hour. Then, this big trouble-making truck driver steps next to him, takes the drink from the guy and just drinks it all down.

The poor man starts crying. The truck driver says: "Come on man, I was just joking. Here, I'll buy you another drink. I just can't see a man crying."

"No, it's not that. This day is the worst of my life. First, I fall asleep, and I go late to my office. My boss, outraged, fires me.

"When I leave the building, to my car, I found out it was stolen. The police, they say they can do nothing.

"I get a cab to return home and when I leave it, I remember I left my wallet and credit cards there. The cab driver just drives away.

"I go home, and when I get there, I find my wife in bed with the neighbor. I leave home, and come to this bar.

"And just when I was thinking about putting an end to my life, you show up and drink my poison."

The Evolution of Casual Day

Week 1 - Memo No. 1

Effective this week, the company is adopting Fridays as Casual Day. Employees are free to dress in the casual attire of their choice.

Week 3 - Memo No. 2

Spandex and leather micro-miniskirts are not appropriate attire for Casual Day. Neither are string ties, rodeo belt buckles or moccasins.

Week 6 - Memo No. 3

Casual Day refers to dress only, not attitude. When planning Friday's wardrobe, remember image is a key to our success.

Week 8 - Memo No. 4

A seminar on how to dress for Casual Day will be held at 4 p.m. Friday in the cafeteria. A fashion show will follow. Attendance is mandatory.

Week 9 - Memo No. 5

As an outgrowth of Friday's seminar, a 14-member Casual Day Task Force has been appointed to prepare guidelines for proper casual-day dress.

Week 14 - Memo No. 6

The Casual Day Task Force has now completed a 30-page manual entitled "Relaxing Dress Without Relaxing Company Standards." A copy has been distributed to every employee. Please review the chapter "You Are What You Wear" and consult the "home casual" versus "business casual" checklist before leaving for work each Friday. If you have doubts about the appropriateness of an item of clothing, contact your CDTF representative before 7 a.m. on Friday.

Week 18 - Memo No. 7

Our Employee Assistant Plan (EAP) has now been expanded to provide support for psychological counseling for employees who may be having difficulty adjusting to Casual Day.

Week 20 - Memo No. 8

Due to budget cuts in the HR Department we are no longer able to effectively support or manage Casual Day. Casual Day will be discontinued, effective immediately.

Top Ten Signs You Have a Bad Computer
10. Lower corner of screen has the words "Etch-a-sketch" on it.

9. It's celebrity spokesman is that "Hey Vern!" guy.

8. In order to start it, you need some jumper cables and a friend's car.

7. It's slogan is "Pentium: redefining mathematics".

6. The "quick reference" manual is 120 pages long.

5. Whenever you turn it on, all the dogs in your neighborhood start howling.

4. The screen often displays the message, "Ain't it break time yet?"

3. The manual contains only one sentence: "Good Luck!"

2. The only chip inside is a Dorito.

1. You've decided that your computer is an excellent addition to your fabulous paperweight collection.

(Somewhat later): Gross subject, don't read if you're eating!
Well, you knew I couldn't do it! Yes, I just have to vent before I zip off to work for the day. I opened my bedroom door (Yay, I love having a door!) to an awful stench early this morning. I went into the bathroom and someone had been sick all over the toilet, in the back of the toilet, on the floor, then they walked through it to the sink. And I'm NOT talking vomit here but from the other end. The smell made me gag. I had to clean the bathroom before even starting to get ready for work, and it was making me feel ill!

I showered and played with the ferrets after, and got dressed for work. All the while I was wondering, who did this? We're all adults here, which of my two "roommates" would leave the bathroom in such a state, even if they were sick? I just found out it was my Mom. She toddled out to use the now-cleaned bathroom, told me she had been sick and went back to bed. If I had a Top Ten Reasons to want to live alone, this would be #1!

Happy non-smelly Wednesday to you!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I’ll be seeing red

It's always something: now I get to work on the set of The Apprentice! No, not in NYC but right here, across the bridge. BZ has known for some time--well, like from the time the change in office setup was first announced that I'm not happy with the impending office move. I'll be losing my private office with a door, walls and window for a desk sitting out in the lobby. Gee, who wouldn't like a move like that! I'll have no privacy or quiet to do the accounting work, which is a new part of my job, no privacy for phone calls. I'm not talking personal calls but business calls. Maybe it's weird but I HATE people listening in to my work calls! It makes me self conscious. In fact people will be able to walk all the way around me and observe what I'm doing at any time. I'll be on display all day at work. Oh how I'm going to hate that!

BZ knows how I feel about this, so I thought. During the staff meeting today we were again talking about the choices of paint and furniture for "our" offices. That is, everyone but me. I had to try very hard not to pout, it's just so unfair and mean of them to rub it in. I have no choices of paint colors or furniture because I won't be having an office anymore once we move. Favorite co-worker noticed my lack of enthusiasm during the meeting and asked me about it later. She feels bad for me. Yeah, so do I!

Later in the day BZ eagerly came into my office, her face was slightly flushed. "I need a piece of paper to draw the NEW plans for the office!" She took the paper I proffered and began to draw the layout. "It's been redone and you"re going to love it!"

I practically had to hold my hand to my heart, dare I hope was I actually going to get an office after all? We ALL had been promised separate offices when the move was first planned, last year. I had specifically asked if I would get one too and was told, "Yes, everyone will." But those plans changed somewhere along the line and they decided that I would be sitting on display in the lobby instead of having an office like everyone else.

BZ drew some lines and circles and squares. She is quite a good drawer but I stared at the drawing with dwindling hope, it looked the same to me! She started pointing out objects in the drawing with a flourish, "Here's where the copy machines and the fax machine will be! Here's the breakroom! Heres the tiny little circle in the middle of the floor where you'll be sitting!" No, she really didn't say that last one but might as well have said it.

So what was the new wonderful plan for the office? They are going to paint the walls around me a deep, rich red! OK, out of all the pretty colors we (not me!) could choose for the office, that would be the LAST one for my workspace! It's not that I don't like red, just wouldn't want to be surrounded with it while I work. My co-workers can choose a pale lemon yellow, a nice rich tan, a dusty blue, a pale grass green, or a rich gold for their office and I get RED walls? That, and the fact that they are going to put up a huge company logo behind me were the new plans for the office. Oh, I was just so excited.

Last night I was watching The Apprentice and noticed with horror that the reception area outside of Trump's boardroom is red. And it has a huge logo behind the receptionist. It looks very nice, if a bit stagy and ostentatous. So we are copying the set of The Apprentice for our new office! Well, I do like that show but hadn't planned to go to work there. And, does that mean that one of my co-workers will get FIRED each week? ;)

Monday, April 03, 2006

A kind of a crush

I’m in crush! Oh dear! The ride in the squad car was ever so fun and exciting! Even though I could not sleep during my Saturday planned nap, but just lay there awake in my bed, I stayed wide awake during the entire ride in the squad car. Nothing big happened but I got to ride along at almost 70 mph in the DOWNTOWN area several times and go over sidewalks and do quick turns. Those cop guys can really drive! In fact they seem to do everything abnormally well, I’m in awe! I’m also embarrassed to admit that I’m also a bit in crush! The police guy I rode with was just such a sweetie! Yet that chivalrous, funny, chatty person could change in a flash to an intimidating cop who was all business. Where can I find one of these guys, who is not already taken? At the end of the shift I wanted to bounce up and down like a little kid and insist, “Take me for a ride again, take me along with you!” But instead I got a strong firm handshake and a big engaging grin. Sigh, my heart melted! I can certain see now the appeal of men in uniform! I've never had a thing for cops before. This program has been educational, lol.

Some of what I got to see:
Drug testing of some pot in the police lab. It was positive, so I got to see it get tagged and bagged.
A car accident and police aftermath. NEITHER of the involved parties had car insurance. The guy who got hit was hanging around “my” policeman and whining about his car. It was a nice car, a dark blue Grand Am. The policeman was very polite and told the car owner that he would have to take the woman who hit him to court to get any money from her. But when we went back in the squad car he shook his head, “If he really cared so much about his car, he would have had insurance on it!
Crowd control outside of bars: lots of this because it was Saturday night and a time change. Some bars didn’t close when they were supposed to and the police had to move people out and also break up a few altercations on the sidewalk and in parking lots.
Domestic disturbances: I had to remain in the squad car for these. Several squads would pull up, they would sneak around the sides and back, peek into windows, etc before knocking on the front door.
Questioning of victims, perpetrators and witnesses: I got to sit in the same room for these. It was very interesting!
Roll call and briefing: At shift changes or additions the police who are not out on calls congregate in a large room with a board in the front to draw diagrams on. They discuss the situations currently in progress and what’s gone on so far in the day.
A field sobriety test: the guy failed miserably but both officers were very patient with him.

Oh, there was lots more I got to experience with “my” cop! He was disappointed that nothing big had happened, said he gets bored just driving around. In the beginning we drove around his assigned area which was quite a large one. We went on obscure back roads and to dark deserted places I’ve never seen before. The first or second place we drove to I said, “I have no clue where this is!” So after that he would tease me, “Do you know where we are now?” Usually, I didn’t. It was hard to see well at night and these weren’t normal places I’d go, like to lonely grain elevators and warehouses along railroad tracks. It was quite a comfort knowing that the police patrol areas like that.

We also drove down streets and alleyways in his assigned neighborhood looking for and checking out anything that looked abnormal. He said another patrol car was doing the same thing in my neighborhood. He ran any suspicious car plate number. We followed several suspicious cars for many blocks but he laughed and said that if a cop follows a car long enough they will be able to find some reason to be able to stop that car! Pretty scary. The police have a lot of power. But of course I already knew that, but it was quite different to actually see it in action!

When we first met at the station, walked to the squad car and were getting settled (he had to re-calibrate the radar machine on the dashboard that records traffic speed) he told my that my job for the evening was to keep him from falling asleep because he hadn’t gotten much sleep over the past many days. The police work 10-hour shifts. So I took my job seriously and asked all sorts of questions and we kept up a running chatter the entire time, except when the radio was giving out pertinent information. Some of my questions were probably pretty silly but he had patience with all of them and with all the many people we encountered during the night, including two scared teenaged girls, drunken people, angry people, angry parents, drunk AND angry people!

The main job of a police officer, he said is to help people solve or at least contain, their problems and communication is the key. He also showed me some excellent ways to take people down, too, ha ha! Most people, especially when drinking resist being moved along, cuffed or stuffed into the back of a squad car. The police have all sorts of ways to make them change their minds.

“My” cop has been pepper-sprayed (by accident, in a cop-crowd brawl) but not tasered. He said they will call for a taser volunteer during one of my classes. He also said that everyone says that being tasered hurts intensely, but only for an instant. So, should I volunteer? No, I don't think so. He wasn't daring or encouraging me, but rather warning me NOT to volunteer to be a taser target. Inside scoop: Dawn dish soap works well when you get pepper-sprayed! Apparently the spray burns not only your eyes but skin too and Dawn clears the skin and makes the pain stop better than anything else.

I don’t know which part of the evening was my favorite. Hanging around in the station with all the officers exchanging stories, joking around and talking about cases was pretty fun. Imagine being surrounded by a bunch of buff guys, in uniform, loaded with weapons! Mmmmm. And “my” cop was fun, I certainly wouldn’t mind keeping him awake again all night either! Imagine someone who carefully and gently shepherds you around, tucks you in and out of the car, steps between you and possible danger, but has a great sense of humor, is witty, intelligent and fun, and can drive a car and take people down like James Bond, yikes!

The squad ride started at 10:00 p.m. and I got home around 5:00 a.m. but only slept until 7:00 a.m. The landlords (finally) came to fix my closet and I found my old police radio! So guess what I listened to most of the day yesterday? Yes, very sad….and even more sad, it’s Monday today too.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Do you play tricks on your friends and co-workers? I used to but haven’t for the past couple of years. Tonight I get to ride in the police squad car so may be able to see some April Fool shenanigans. Also, the bars have to close an hour early and they often “forget” to do that, the officer told us at the last session.

I went to bed late to get somewhat turned around and had a cool recurring dream. I like those except when they’re nightmares, which I don’t have very often. After talking to my Mom for a couple of hours, the dream is fainter in my mind, but it was sort of a combination of “V” and “Dr. Strangelove” which we saw a couple of nights ago. In the dream I was part of an anarchist group surviving outside of the highly regimented system. We were called the S.O.S. which stood for “Shoot on Sight.” The dream had more than a bit of the book about street people and homeless that I just read, too, come to think of it. I was freezing cold on the “outside” and begging people for a blanket or a sweater. We were in spectacular scenery, looked like the sun setting over mountains in Utah or New Mexico! The “inside” where we were supposed to stay, live and obey orders was all in black and white. There were a slew of interesting details that I really wish I could recall now. But if I had stopped when first waking up and written this dream down, it would have been many, many pages!

This next thing is probably bad to put on a blog! If they are checking Google, they might even think that I’m offering drugs for sale! But no, these are what the narcotics team told us that the approximate street prices for drugs in our area are:

Cocaine: 1 gram = weight of a paper clip @ $1,000
28 grams= a ounce, and an eight-ball=3.8 grams
Crack Cocaine: $50/rock = size of a pencil eraser (can only be smoked)
Heroin: $275 an ounce. Quite uncommon nowadays, they said.
They passed around a large bag of pot, I think it was a pound, and said it was worth $800.
Meth: $100 per gram, 1/20 or 1/10 gram = $5 - $15, 1.7 grams “teener” = $150-$200
“Ice” version of Meth is twice as expensive, 3.5 grams or an eight-ball = $350-$450
They showed us and passed around other drugs in plastic bags, like mushrooms, but didn’t give street prices.

They diagrammed the Meth cycle: users have stayed awake for 14 days! They don’t get hungry or thirsty so don’t eat or drink liquids for much of that time, either, so their body suffers. Meth users who have children are totally unable to cope with the demands of parenthood. Sometimes they give their children Meth to keep them from demanding food, milk, etc. They showed a photo of a Meth baby. Even if the parents don’t actually give their children the drug, the kids are living in a highly toxic environment, and with parents who are not able to take care of them.

Of all the drugs, the officers agreed, Meth is the worst, quickest to harm the body, cheapest to get and one of the hardest to get off of. When the addicts go to a treatment center, they usually are sent home before the cycle of Meth is completed (45-days!) so the treatment doesn’t work as well for Meth users as for other addicts. Even in this smallish city, Meth pushers have given 14-year old girls free Meth—to get them hooked, so they can pay for their future drug needs with sex. Our county is second in the state for Meth labs.

The narcotics guys cautioned us to never open a cooler or bag on the side of the road, in a field, or not to mess with garbage lying around. You know how some organizations have people pick up trash from the side of the road? Well one guy opened a cooler that had waste from Meth manufacture. It blinded him for three days but he was lucky, they said, it could have killed him had he leaned right over the cooler as he opened it. The police think it was dumped off from a mobile Meth lab. It takes as little as 45 minutes to make a batch of Meth and there are traveling Meth dealers.

Well, enough parroting the police propaganda, but it was interesting and well worth listening. No April Fool on that!