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

28 July 2010

Revenge Of The Nerds

I'm not going to name them here but the group that likes to protest at Fallen Warrior funerals have apparently met their match in the persons of....

I got the link and story from Blackfive and it's a must visit. Apparently the Legions Of Slime descended on Comic-Con in San Diego and were met by the Legions Of Nerdom and the Nerds whipped some serious ass. Go check out the story and the priceless pictures. What's the best way to put the smack down on people like them? Ridicule.

Kudos and a tip of the helmet to the fine Trekkies, Nerds and Jedi Knights at Comic-Con.

Nice job.


27 July 2010

France Declares War

Nicolas Sarkozy seems like a pretty serious guy. He's been talking tough for a while and now has taken the next step, at least in Mauritania, by declaring War on AQIM. I'm not completely clear on just what role the French took in the raid beyond 'technical support' but I'd bet there were some French military assets involved.

My favorite part of the story was the comment by the the Socialist Party;

"We have no quarrel to pick provided everything is done to protect both the security of our fellow citizens ... and of French territory," Socialist party spokesman Benoit Hamon told France-Inter radio. (Rueters)

Say what you will about the French but they've been active in anti pirate operations and if they are serious about the Al Queda threat anywhere it's a good thing. The French are light years ahead of the military of any Second or Third world country you care to name and better than many First as well. France currently has about 3500 troops in Afghanistan and as late as January 2010 Sarkozy confirmed his intention to maintain their presence until the job was done.

In light of the latest atrocity by those who profess to follow the religion of peace, the beheading of a 78 year old French aid worker, an increase in French operations is certainly possible and would be welcome. I could even see a time, during the current administration, when France could take over the lead in prosecuting the world wide war on terrorism. And wouldn't that be a kick in the nether regions.


26 July 2010


Lagniappe and his Guy are going through a very hard time. Please go give them some love.

You guys are in our thoughts and prayers. I understand how hard this is.

Trooper is Ok but still fading pretty fast. His eyesight is completely gone now and as of tonight he has to sleep in the living room because he can't make it to the dog door from our bedroom and has accidents in the house. Twice last night. I'll be sleeping on the couch for the forseeable future.

Where did the time go? I thought we had some left.


25 July 2010

Sunday Kipling

Cold Iron

Gold is for the mistress -- silver for the maid --
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade."
"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all."

So he made rebellion 'gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
"Nay!" said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- shall be master of you all!"

Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
When the cruel cannon-balls laid 'em all along;
He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
And Iron -- Cold Iron -- was master of it all!

Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)
"What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?"
"Nay!" said the Baron, "mock not at my fall,
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of men all."

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown --
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown."
"As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- must be master of men all!"

Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
"Here is Bread and here is Wine -- sit and sup with me.
Eat and drink in Mary's Name, the whiles I do recall
How Iron -- Cold Iron -- can be master of men all!"

He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
"See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
Show Iron -- Cold Iron -- to be master of men all."

"Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
I forgive thy treason -- I redeem thy fall --
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- must be master of men all!"

"Crowns are for the valiant -- sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!"
"Nay!" said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of men all!
Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!"

100 Mile Bike Race

I wanted to make this post as it truly fits the effort on the Six's behalf. Now, I'm not a Teddy Roosevelt fan but he did make some brilliant speeches, it's to bad he was a Progressive. I do believe the relevance of the following truly fits this situation.


"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the Strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred buy dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails, while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

end quote


22 July 2010

He's a man already...

Yes, the boy may only be 4 but he's already a man.

It's been hot here, see, and so he sweats.

And his back itches.

And he can't reach it.

So he asks me to scratch his back for him.

... I just shake my head.

I've got to teach him to scratch on a wall corner like Papa does!

-The DO

21 July 2010


Johannes Mehserle has been found guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter. He's facing 2 to 4 years with a potential addition of 10 years for using a gun. DOJ (The same DOJ who dropped the Black Panther case) has apparently opened an investigation for civil rights violations and he may face federal time after his state time is served.

There's a lot of video on this shooting out there. I've watched as much of it as I can stomach. A few things are obvious, both from the video and testimony. I'm not a huge fan of wikipedia but this entry has a lot of very important and factual information all in one place with good footnotes.

BART uses the Taser X26. If you go to that link you'll see it has a safety on the left side that must be rotated up before firing. This not only enables the Taser to discharge but also turns on a red dot laser. That's the clear plastic lens under the cartridge below the muzzle. The holster for the Taser is also different. The Taser is locked in at the top and the thumb is used to push the plastic retainer forward. It is unlike any normal pistol holster with which I am familiar.

BART, like most law enforcement agencies, requires a weak side carry of the Taser and a cross draw, strong hand draw.

BART officers carry the Sig Sauer P226. The pistol has no external safety. It does have a decocker on the left side that rotates down to function. The decocker does not have to be manipulated before firing and in fact would do nothing if one were to do so. It is for safely lowering the hammer after firing or cocking the hammer. I think I'm on safe ground when I say no agency trains it's officers to sweep the decocking lever before firing the first shot.

The other officer struggling with Grant was Tony Pirone. One of his statements was;

"Pirone said he told Grant "Stop resisting, you're under arrest, put your hands behind your back." At that time Pirone said he heard Mehserle say, "Put your hands behind your back, stop resisting, stop resisting, put your hands behind your back." Then Mehserle said, "I'm going to taze him, I'm going to taze him. I can't get his arms. He won't give me his arms. His hands are going for his waistband." Then Mehserle popped up and said, "Tony, Tony, get away, back up, back up." Pirone did not know if Grant was armed. Mehserle had fear in his voice. Pirone had never heard Mehserle's voice with that tone. Mehserle sounded afraid." (Emphasis mine)

Mehserle's partner on duty, Officer Jon Woffinden, said the "incident was one of the most frightening he had experienced in his 12 years as a police officer." (Emphasis mine)

Oscar Grant was no angel. He'd served two stints in state prison, once for fleeing after a traffic stop while armed and resisting arrest. This was not known to Mehserle at the time of the shooting. There had been 2 incidents in the precious hour where guns had been found on BART passengers. There were a minimum of 6 officers (and perhaps as many as 7) at the incident.

If that was the most frightening incident the officers had ever experienced then the level of calls in BART would make Mayberry look like South Central LA.

As I watched the video and read some of the testimony and statements I was struck by one thing. At least some of the officers involved, and most especially Mehserle, were frightened and rapidly losing control of the situation. At the risk of monday morning quarterbacking, they were systematically over reacting to a relatively minor incident (past tense fight on the BART train, drunk or stoned participants). As a very experienced former officer I can see a call going bad from a mile away and this one was a prime example. As soon as attention was turned to Grant this encounter went rapidly downhill. Pirone was angry and haranguing Grant before the arrest attempt. You can see it in his body language even though it's not audible (Pirone was later fired for misconduct in this case). Pirone knelt on Grant's head instead of grabbing an arm and trying to assist Mehserle in handcuffing and controlling him.

Anger is contagious. Panic even more so.

You can see and feel the tension and emotion ratchet up as the incident progresses and the crowd grows more vocal. Mehserle struggles with Grant's arms for a few seconds while Grant lays face down on the ground. I see Grant's hands as beneath his body, an officer safety no no and certainly a factor that Mehserle must deal with. Pirone moves away from Grant as Mehserle stands up, fumbles with his pistol as he draws it and shoots Grant.

Mehserle was a relative rookie. This incident took place on January 1, 2009. Mehserle graduated the Academy in 2006 and started with BART in March, 2007.

Now there is nothing wrong with being afraid. All of us are at one time or another. Even fear for your life. I've been afraid of dying on more occasions than I can count. But if there is one thing an officer cannot do, ever, is panic. The person in any violent and dangerous encounter that must be in complete control of his fear is a police officer. If you cannot control your emotions, your fear, your fight or flight responses you have no business in the profession. Period.

It stretches credulity to the breaking point to believe Mehserle didn't know he had his Sig P226 in his hand when he fired. I can buy not being able to tell the difference between the Taser and the pistol by feel in the heat of an encounter (With serious reservations). But remember; cross draw, safety, red laser sight and fumbled draw. At some point Mehserle had to know what was in his hand. Had to. It's what he was selected, trained and paid to do. Every officer must. It's as basic as breathing. The Taser is drawn and operated distinctly differently from the pistol precisely to prevent such a mistake.

From the preliminary hearing;
After the seven days of testimony, Judge C. Don Clay concluded that Mehserle had not mistakenly used his service pistol instead of his stun gun. The judge based this on Mehserle's statements to other officers that he thought Grant had a gun. He also noted that Mehserle had held his weapon with both hands when he was trained to use just his left if he was firing a Taser. (Emphasis mine)

Mehserle panicked in a situation that he and the other BART officers allowed to spiral out of control. He was so panic stricken that he was convinced Grant was an imminent threat to life and limb, drew his firearm and deliberately shot the supine Grant. He may have formed the idea that he thought he was reaching for his Taser but I'm unconvinced. I think he lost control of his fear and his fight or flight response took over and he reacted instinctively. When faced with a perceived deadly threat he responded with deadly force. It may have been subconscious (in fact it almost certainly was as opposed to a reasoned, thought out action) but it was still a deliberate response.

Academies and agencies spend a considerable amount of time on officer safety training. It's a part of the FTO curriculum. It's a rated category and failure can lead to dismissal as well as death or serious bodily injury. The problem is we have a couple of generations who have grown up without hunting or gun handling experience who are now serving officers or will soon be. The job they took as an officer isn't just their first LE job, it's their first job period. They lack maturity, real world experience, critical problem solving skills, logical thought processes and common sense. They are being scared to paranoia by horror stories from instructors who tend to emphasize the worst case in every scenario. This makes for jumpy cops who ratchet their way up the use of force ladder far quicker than is necessary in most cases. And that's the rub right there. Most Cases.

There will always be those out there who are looking for any excuse for a fight, whether it's with a cop or a spouse or a total stranger. Ambushes, hideouts, hidden accessories, a call can jump up and bite you on the ass pretty quickly and without warning. Training and preparing for these situations is only good sense but we've got to find balance. We've gotten to the point where officers (mostly young but by no means are they the only demographic represented) view everyone through the Worst Case Scenario, Officer Safety Lessons Learned lens. I want every officer out there to go home at the end of their shift but I also don't want any person shot who does not absolutely deserve and desperately need to be.

It's a dangerous job. Everyone knows that but if you're unwilling to die on the job stay away from the profession. I wanted to go home as bad as anyone out there but I prepared myself and my family for The Call. We must accept the inherent risks associated with policing and the losses of officers doing their jobs if we are to avoid such incidents as this one. That doesn't mean stopping officer safety training but it does mean halting the horror show it's become for a more real world and common sense approach.

I'll give a story here to establish my bona fides and give an example of what I'm talking about.
Many years ago I was working midnights. I was blacked out on a major thoroughfare watching for drunks when an officer I'll describe as sluglike in work habits sped past with lights on. The Voice (in my head. Yes, that's what I called it) said "Hey! You might want to follow up with officer Escargot there Skippy." Off I went and pulled in behind the traffic stop. As I got to the passenger door (Escargot was at the driver's window) he turned to me and practically screamed "Pat search That Guy!" That Guy was the passenger who turned out to be a 6 foot, 300 plus pound mountain of humanity. I got him out and said "I just need to do a quick pat search sir. If you'll just turn around and raise your hands this'll only take a minute." Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The response was one word. No. "No really sir, this will only take a second. It you'll just turn around and raise your arms up." No again. I got insistent. "Turn around and raise your arms" with a hand to an arm to encourage compliance. He shook me off and then announced in a loud and clear voice "I've got a gun." He followed that announcement up by sticking his right hand inside his jacket and pulling on something.
I now had 2 choices. Pull my pistol and shoot him as soon as he produced the gun or take him on. I wasn't really afraid. Oh, I was deeply concerned but I was confident in my training and fitness. I could take this guy so I took him on. I grabbed his right wrist with my right hand, pivoted around behind him, grabbed his left wrist, pulled him into a bear hug (Lord this guy was big), lifted him off his feet, unceremoniously dumped him on the ground face down and held him there until the cavalry arrived. Longest 2 minutes of my life. He kept screaming that he had a gun. Turns out he had a revolver in a shoulder holster with the butt in one ham like fist. The hammer was caught in the cloth of his jacket. A misdemeanor arrest and an admonition that maybe pulling guns on cops was contraindicated and we were done. Afterward no one batted an eye. It was routine and I was perceived as having handled the situation well and as expected (I later learned that Officer Escargot has seen a couple of guns in the back seat, something he neglected to pass along at the time).

I tell this story to illustrate how conflicts can be controlled and reasonable choices made even in life and death situations if one keeps one's head and does not panic. In a split second I weighed what I saw and knew against my skills and abilities. My point is that I used my head and those precious few fractions of a second that I had to assess the situation, form a plan and react appropriately. I was just an ordinary street cop but I did the job the way common sense and decency told me to do it. I saw a way to avoid killing this man and I took it. Yes, my life was literally on the line and I could have easily lost that fight. If I failed or was wrong not only was I going to pay but officer Escargot probably would as well. That's what I got paid to do, protect life, even a criminals, when and where I possibly could. Killing was a last straw and meant it had either completely dropped in the pot or I screwed up bad though I came very near to choosing to kill this man. Others would make that choice and that's Ok, as long as that decision is made from the standpoint of training, experience and self control. Not panic or blind fear.

Common sense, decency, a willingness to accept casualties on the police side and calmness in the face of violence and ridicule aren't just good ideas, they're supposed to be the hallmarks of policing in America. These precepts were conspicuously missing in the BART incident. Indeed, as far as I can see the whole thing was pretty tame by comparison to a real life or death event.

Johannes Mehserle killed Oscar Grant. I cannot possibly know what was in his mind but I am imminently qualified to judge his actions and the actions of those officers with him. I am convinced that they took a loud, drunken, emotional incident and let it spiral out of control to the point that Mehserle made an instinctive decision to employ deadly force through blind, panic fueled fear. Mehserle probably should have been identified as an unacceptable officer early on in the selection and training process. As a former training officer myself I can say with absolute certainty that officers prone to panic and fear based decision making are easy to spot and virtually impossible to rehabilitate. Some people are cut out to do the job properly and some are not. Most in fact are not and that's Ok. Let's just avoid giving them a job that's beyond their ability. If it was easy we wouldn't need people the caliber of these.

Mehserle was convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter. California Penal Code Section 192 covers Manslaughter. Take a minute, go to that link and read it in total. It covers Homicide and malice. In part;
192. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. It is of three kinds: (a) Voluntary--upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.
(b) Involuntary--in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection. This subdivision shall not apply to acts committed in the driving of a vehicle.
(c) Vehicular--
Murder is covered by Section 187 PC:
187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.
188. Such malice may be express or implied. It is express when there is manifested a deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a fellow creature. It is implied, when no considerable provocation appears, or when the circumstances attending the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.

I'm am not an attorney but I am of the opinion that malice was absent but heat of passion (evidenced by Mehserle's panicky response to the provocation of a resistive Grant) is very much in fact. I'd have gone for Voluntary but Involuntary isn't unreasonable and hardly a slap on the wrist. Mehserle is going to prison for a long time, bank on it.

That said, we're supposed to be held to a higher standard not a lower one. I'm not buying accident or mistake or even heat of the moment. If he couldn't handle the pressure and the fear he should have turned and walked away. I'd much rather be on my own then partnered up with a hysteric. It's a tough job and only them mentally tough should be allowed to even apply.

Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant in the back and killed him. By any reasonable standard he should go away for the rest of his life at a minimum. His actions are indefensible. I've said it before and I'll go on saying it til the day I die. America deserves the best law enforcers possible. The bullies, the hysterical, the fear and emotion driven need to be identified and weeded out.

I love my brothers and sisters in the profession of policing. Love them. They've chosen to pursue one of the most difficult careers in America. There are more ways to screw up that I can possibly count. Many will cost you your health, your job or your freedom. A lot of them will cost you your life. Ask Lagniappe's Dad what the cost is. But we must learn from our mistakes. This shooting was avoidable and should never have happened. Oscar Grant should have gone to jail as he so richly deserved and paid his debt to society again (as small as that undoubtedly would have been).

Oscar Grant was not a hero nor a man to be held up for your children to emulate. His actions most certainly contributed to his own demise. But make no mistake, the end result was badly out of proportion to the provocation and cannot be excused. The real tragedy is that Johannes Mehserle's action has now made this man a martyr and given those less inclined to obedience to basic decency and the rule of law an excuse to once again riot and help themselves to other people's property. Perhaps the only true victims in this sad case.


20 July 2010

Sunday Kipling Tuesday

I've been so remiss lately.

The Young British Soldier

When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier OF the Queen!

Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts --
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts --
An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An' it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it's beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

Now, if you must marry, take care she is old --
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!


So it was time to do one of the honeydo's highest on my list of things I really, really did not want to do. Taking out the Jasmine vine out front. Why now?'Cuz I don't want to end up like this guy.
This is what that mess looked like before I started. Each wing of the vine is 16 feet long and a little over 5 feet high. There are 3 main roots and, as anyone who has ever messed with these things knows, about a million little roots.
Started by pushing it over as far as it'd go because I'm a gorilla and that's what gorilla's do.
It's been up for 20 years or so and the 4x4's were rotted pretty badly. I pushed and pushed but surprise, surprise it completely failed to fall over and onto my trailer. It was pretty obvious some cutting was needed. Cue my double bitted axe because I broke my chain saw doing the fence. Yeah, I'm that guy.
Half down and ready to be dragged away. Yeah, that's my help laying on the lawn sunning themselves with the cooler nearby. Oh, turns out the vine was heavy. Really heavy. Like about 500 pounds of heavy. Oh, my aching 50 year old legs. That's about 2 hours of solid, backbreaking work. Well..... work for an old guy anyway.
Hey, I can see the street!
And the house.
One down and one to go. Luckily for me my timing worked out perfectly and Lu got home just in time to help out with half number 2. Tell me that isn't a frickin' mess.
Number 2 is gone and Lu poses next to her triumph. She finally got me to finish what I've been swearing I'd do for the last 15 years. Remember that bear in the procrastination poster? He's got nothing on Lu. Man, I need some window treatments now. Sigh.
For comparison. That trailer is 5 feet wide and 10 feet long. I'm 6 feet tall. That is a pile o' Jasmine. Unseen under that pile is about 1200 pounds of broken concrete and brick that used to be 2 benches (you can see one of them in the before photo). I'm thinking I'm gonna have to cough up a lung at the dump.
The After picture. Please ignore the partial glove on the left. I was lacking adult supervision at that moment. We can now see out and, even more importantly, it no longer looks like the entrance to the Brazillian Jungle Ride at Retarded Otto's Amusement Park. My neighbors will be so happy.
All this just so I can rent the place out and someone else will miss out on the joys of Jasmine pollen and Jasmine trimming.
Becoming a slum lord better be worth all this effort.

18 July 2010

Animal Cruelty

Some people shouldn't be allowed to have pets and in my opinion Lawrence Hodgson is one of them.

He left his long coated dog Scout outside without shade and water on a 97 degree day and when the dog ran itself into what appears to be a bad heat injury it fell into the Potomoc River and nearly drowned. A Park Police Detective jumped in and rescued the dog. What was Mr. Hodgson doing at the time? He was playing tennis.

Afterward Mr. Hodgson initially refused medical treatment for the dog without first ascertaining it's condition. From the video it seems to me, as a very experienced owner and trainer, that Scout was in serious condition and needed immediate medical intervention. Heat injuries can kill.

And who did he blame? Why the police of course. He admitted leaving the dog off leash (for which he was given a $25 ticket) but refused to acknowledge his own culpability in nearly killing Scout. He blamed the park Police for trying to capture the at loose dog.

Watch Hodgson's body language in the video. Does he look like he's concerned for his dog? Does he look contrite for the incident? Does he thank the detective for saving Scout's life? Or does he rather look like an arrogant asshole who is more concerned about his image than his dog?

Mr. Hodgson, I love my dogs and they are treated like members of my family instead of possessions to be treated with disrespect and contempt. Do Scout a favor and turn him over to someone who will love him and give him the care and devotion he deserves. If this is how you treat a dog maybe you shouldn't have one. I'll even step up. Drop me a line and I'll be happy to give Scout the home he deserves. I think you're an arrogant prick who believes you can do anything you want with no concern for how it affects anyone else.

Including an innocent dog who damn well deserves better.

I'm naming Lawrence Hodgson my Asshole of the Month. Enjoy it Mr. Hodgson, you richly deserve it.


Update. Sadly Scout died, apparently after this putz took him out of the hospital against veterinarian orders. May Hodgson suffer the same fate.

17 July 2010


I have discovered a Very Frightening Thing.

Those who know me would never describe me as a conspiracy theorist (Please ignore the bomb shelter, arsenal and years food supply. They're for personal use only. I swear).

All that notwithstanding, I have stumbled upon a discovery so shocking, so frightening, so terrifying in it's sheer scope that I hesitate to mention it. Of course then I'd have nothing to talk about so forget I said that part about not mentioning it.

Ready? Ok, here it is. My dogs drool heavy water.

That's right, heavy water. The stuff needed to make nuclear weapons. Right here in my dogs water bowl.

How did I make this monumental and world altering discovery? Let me explain.I have 2 brain damaged Black Labs. Of course saying your Lab is brain damaged is a little like saying the sun is hot. They just naturally go together. Labs. Brain Damaged. Redundant.

Anywho. These 2 dogs go through water like a dying man in the Sahara. Oh, they don't actually drink it but they instead do a messy imitation by plunging their faces into the bowls while making lapping, slurping noises and somehow managing to swamp the floor and surrounding walls to a height of 6 feet. So much so that we are required to refill their bowls approximately 17 times a day. With much mopping. I always wondered why.

I wonder no more.

It was during one of these interminable bowl refills that I made The Discovery.

When finished "drinking" they made a crucial error in their nefarious plans. They left some of the "water" in the bottom of their bowls. When did this go from a simple case of excreting a substance necessary to the construction of weapons capable of destroying Hoboken, New Jersey to a suspected plan for world domination? When I caught Trooper giving me the stink eye when he caught me making The Discovery.

It was pretty disgusting to look at. Some water mixed with floating bits of kibble, cookies, grass and various unidentifiable bits that Labs just naturally pretend to eat but are really just storing for later. Then I looked closer.

Don't ask me why I decided to take a closer look at this noxious mess, I don't really know. Maybe it was divine inspiration. Maybe it was my keen interest in broadening my mind. Maybe I was just bored.

In any case, take a closer look I did. And what did I see? I saw a clear substance floating in the bottom of the pan. Similiar to but heavier than water. You see where I'm going with this. Clarity struck me like a groin kick from an angry prostitute in stiletto heels (Again, please don't ask). It was obviously that fabled substance of story and song, Heavy Water.

My hands shook as the realization sunk in. My dogs drool Heavy Water. How? Why? I was dizzy with questions. It may have been the cough syrup I'd been drinking all morning but whatever. The point is that I was dizzy.

What to do now? Did the dogs know that I knew? I didn't know if they knew. Or that I knew that they might know that I suspected that they drooled Heavy Water. Would they kill me quick or just lick my face until I died of radioactive dog cooties? I can't begin to tell you how frightened I was. Well, I could but the Nyquil was starting to kick in about then and things got a little fuzzy for a while there. But I'm certain I was scared. Quite certain.

The happy looks on their water drenched faces didn't fool me for a minute. They were riveted to my every action. Almost as if they were watching me to make sure I didn't make any sudden moves toward the cookie jar.

I decided to go the casual route. I only pretended to pour the water down the drain while what I really did was pour it into a glass I had left in the sink. It had some dried milk from a few days before but what the hey. Any container in an emergency as my old Grandpappy used to say. Pretty peculiar guy, that Grandpappy.

I then carefully rinsed the pans and filled them with normal tap water. About this time is when I noticed Trooper (aka The Muscle) giving me the stink eye. It was unmistakeable. Stink eye. Right there in my kitchen. Chrisi (The Brains) pretended casual indifference but there was definitely a "look" between them. A "now we're gonna have to kill him" kinda look.

I feigned a casual indifference while leaving a water trail across the floor as I carried their pans back to their spot in the kitchen. Both dogs quickly scampered over and very carefully inspected each one, taking turns and going back and forth many times. Satisfied that there were no traces left of their special drool, they wandered off to sleep. I think that Heavy Water production must be draining. That would explain the 22 hour daily "naps".

I was certain. My dogs somehow managed to convert normal tap water into nefarious Heavy Water by some hitherto unknown Special Labrador Drool Gland. Probably by combining the water with some other, seemingly harmless substance. I suspect the pigs ears.

Later that night, as each was busy munching on their nightly pigs ear (See!?!), I quietly stole back into the kitchen and recovered the evidence. It's in the freezer right now, it's damning milky heaviness taunting me. Are they stockpiling this Heavy Drool? Is this a terrorist attempt to build The Bomb? The insane experiment of some evil mad veterinarian? A plot by the Canine Mafia to take over the world?

Or is it just the lunatic ravings of a mind pickled on Benadryl and Mountain Dew?

Man, I gotta get rid of that glass before Lu sees it. She'll freak.


12 July 2010

Epic Failure

Thanks to everyone who has supported me in my endeavour for the magical 100 mile ride. I'll start by saying I had a lot of fun, raised a few bucks for cancer research, learned a lot and...well. Some explanation is in order.

The start was at the San Jose Performing Arts Center. I was a member of Team Fatty. Yes, I did fit right in. Check out the shorts. Stylish, no? Yeah, bubba isn't allowed to wear tight spandex by law. It's the whole hysterical blindness thing.
Riders my size are commonly referred to as Clydesdales. I think you can see why.

We got off at the crack of 0730. Lu and I got up at 0430 to make the trip. Lu paralleled the ride and took photos. She also offered plenty of moral support and later some medical assistance. That's called foreshadowing right there.

A reminder of what we were there for. Kids with cancer were given rides over part of the course in pedi-cabs. One million dollars was raised at this event.

The course took us through San Jose and into Los Gatos on surface streets. Here you can see me about 15 miles in wondering exactly what I had gotten myself into.

And the cheering throngs lined the roads. Hey, it's lonely at the back of the pack.

Head down, legs moving in a barely discernible rotating motion propelling me forward uphill at a dizzying rate. I are a bicyclist.

I did mention it's lonely at the back? The course was much hillier than I had anticipated. Much hillier. Did I do a course pre-ride you ask? Why no, I surely did not.

Whoa. An action shot of me actually passing someone. This was at about mile 34. I didn't know it but I had broken a spoke and wrapped it around my rear hub. Lu heard it when I passed her and I knew something was funny because it wouldn't shift right but I had my ears full of MP3 player and was yet to discern the problem.

35 miles and I'm pulling in to where Lu has parked. One quick look and the spoke issue became apparent. I hailed a passing course marshall and was directed to a mechanic just up the road. The mechanic was terrific. He managed to fix the thing and get me back on the road. 45 minutes later. Time enough for all that nice lactic acid in my legs to settle in and make them nice and stiff. This all took place at the bottom of the category 1 climb, 1.8 miles straight the hell up at 5 to 12 percent grade. Can't you just smell the impending doom?

I took off on my now kinda working legs and made it about halfway up when..I crashed. I fell hard on my left side and hurt my left elbow and right knee. I landed on the elbow and somehow managed to drive the handlebar into my knee. The visible injuries don't look bad but trust me, they seriously hurt, especially the knee which no longer worked quite right. Bad enough that I knew I wasn't going to be able to continue. And just like that my day was done.

Lu picked me up off the tarmac, administered a little wifely first aid and drove us home where she fed me and cleaned me up, treated my boo boo's and generally took care of me. Poor, poor baby.
I learned some important lessons.
First. I was woefully ill prepared. This ride was much harder than my training rides. I suffered on the climbs and wasn't ready for the leg breaker where I fell. More climbing, more street rides and fewer rides on the closed courses where I normally train. Also, lose about 25 pounds.
Second. I considered taking the bike in to a bike shop for a tuneup which would have caught the loose spoke (there were actually 2 but only one came loose and wrapped around the gears) and saved me time and, most importantly, pain. I procrastinated until it was no longer an option. I decided to just do a once over myself. Stupidity hurts.
Third. Crashing is painful. I discommend it.
Fourth. While this was an abject failure I have a much better idea of what this ride is going to take. Next year I'll be fitter and I will have a reputable mechanic go over the bike before the ride.
Fifth. Pre-ride the course.

So, there it is. A total, complete and Epic failure. I recognize that everyone who takes on new challenges fails from time to time and I'm no different but I hate failing at anything. Here's the really funny thing. I'm even more determined to make that 100 mile mark. I'm already planning my new training and even looking for another ride somewhere within reach. Maybe this time without the climb of death. And less crashing, a lot less crashing.
And I will be back at Livestrong next year. The people who put the ride on were awesome as were the other Fatty riders and it's a great cause.
Anybody know a good monastary that's taking in new recruits? The ridiculing may now begin.

10 July 2010

Tour De Six

Ok, tomorrow is the big day. 100 miles if I can make it. I've prepared as well as I can in the month I had and I think I have a fair chance to make the cut off time. We went and scoped out the big climb today. Yeah, I'll be walking a bit of that bad boy. Still, the rest of the course looks doable. Got signed in and have my kit all laid out. Bike is as good as I can make her. Tunes are ready. Got plenty of suitable food. Lu is going to parallel the course and meet me at various places with more food, drinks and encouragement. She'll also be bringing the camera so I'll post some action shots in the next day or so.

Unless I fail spectacularly. Then I'll quietly take down the blog, don sackcloth and ashes and go live in a monastary in the hills.


06 July 2010

The Flag

Laura has a great post up at The Trooper's Gal that is a must read.

Even is 1976, a year after the war ended and when anti-American sentiment was pervasive, a baseball player refused to allow the flag to be desecrated as a political message.

Never doubt. This is America and there is no pit deep enough to bury us. No chains that will hold us.

Thanks for the reminder Laura.


Oh My Aching Legs

Went out this morning and did 45 miles in 3:45. That's exactly on course for an 8:30 finish for the 100 miler. Of course that's 55 miles farther than I rode today but you know, details.

It's my last hard ride before the 11th. I'll spin for the next few days but nothing farther than 20 miles. I needed the miles under similar conditions to the actual ride so I rode over to Monterey, into Pacific Grove and back home. Then I ate everything I could get my paws on and washed it down with a gallon of Dew. My legs actually feel pretty good.
I'm getting more confident of my ability to make the actual mileage. Of course that's just taunting Mr. Murphy so I'm expecting at least one or two crises to crop up.
Maybe I better double check those brakes.

04 July 2010

4th Of July Sunday Kipling

Happy Independance Day to all. I've got the grill heating up with a mess of chicken waiting to be turned into a BBQ feast. Lu made potato salad so it's going to be a good day. We went for a nice little ride this morning as well. I'll take a minute this day and remember our own heritage, bequeathed us by men of vision and valor. May our courage and determination never falter.


The Heritage

Our Fathers in a wondrous age,
Ere yet the Earth was small,
Ensured to us a heritage,
And doubted not at all
That we, the children of their heart,
Which then did beat so high,
In later time should play like part
For our posterity.
A thousand years they steadfast built,
To 'vantage us and ours,
The Walls that were a world's despair,
The sea-constraining Towers:
Yet in their midmost pride they knew,
And unto Kings made known,
Not all from these their strength they drew,
Their faith from brass or stone.
Youth's passion, manhood's fierce intent,
With age's judgment wise,
They spent, and counted not they spent,
At daily sacrifice.
Not lambs alone nor purchased doves
Or tithe of trader's gold --
Their lives most dear, their dearer loves,
They offered up of old.
Refraining e'en from lawful things,
They bowed the neck to bear
The unadorned yoke that brings
Stark toil and sternest care.
Wherefore through them is Freedom sure;
Wherefore through them we stand,
From all but sloth and pride secure,
In a delightsome land.
Then, fretful, murmur not they gave
So great a charge to keep,
Nor dream that awestruck Time shall save
Their labour while we sleep.
Dear-bought and clear, a thousand year,
Our fathers' title runs.
Make we likewise their sacrifice,
Defrauding not our sons.

02 July 2010

Buy S&W

Some good financial news?

Smith and Wesson continues strong sales.

My favorite quote:

"In fiscal 2010, we continued to execute on our strategy to grow the firearm business while expanding into new and growing areas of safety, security, and protection," Michael F. Golden, Smith & Wesson President and CEO said. "Although the period of heightened consumer demand, which began in fiscal 2009, subsided in mid-fiscal 2010, we grew our firearm sales, supported by a broad product portfolio that was strengthened with new products," he added. See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/aNiesa

Chew on that one for a bit Mr. daley. Mmmmmm. Crow.

I need to add S&W to the Six portfolio.


01 July 2010

On Grandsons And Johnny Quest

As a grandfather to a 4 year old boy I recognize that my contribution to raising him is helping to teach him what it means to be a man and how to get there. It's a part of the elders job to be a lore master.

I admit I had given it a thought when he was born but the reality hit me a couple of years ago. We went outside to wander the backyard. As I walked I put my hands in my pockets. I glanced down and saw him studying me intently. He looked down at his own pants, located his pockets and promptly jammed his hands in. It was an epiphany. I started watching the boy and saw how he studied and copied me. He wanted to be near me. To do what Papa did and go where Papa went. I started taking the job very seriously.

I grew up in a time when cartoons were very un PC. Anvils were dropped on heads, explosions could blow one to the moon and falls off a cliff resulted in body shaped holes in the desert floor. All shown uncut and without guilt or shame. Modern cartoons are pretty different. The DO monitors what the kids watch and does a very good job of steering them away from the worst of the brain washing. Still, I thought it was my task to introduce the boy to a cartoon that was manly.

I should point out here that I am still very much a kid at heart. I love good cartoons and even have a list I read online every day. You can see some of them to the right in the Warrior Roll. For TV I still love the classic Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny and the like. But there's one that's near and dear to my heart.

I love me some Johnny Quest. When I was a kid I envied Johnny but wanted to grow up to be Race Bannon. Race was all man. He could whip anyone in a straight up fight and usually had a firearm close to hand. He wasn't afraid to use it either. He regularly killed or otherwise caused the death of particularly evil Bad Guys or their Henchmen. Boat, explosion, firearm, tar pit, bridge or cliff, many a monster (both human and inhuman) met their fate at the hands of Race. Johnny, Dr. Quest and Hadji even got in on the action from time to time. The deaths were invariably met with steely resolve and honesty. No guilt or chest beating about the miscreant's childhood or how it was all society's fault. "He got what he deserved Johnny." "There was nothing we could do Johnny." "It was his choice Johnny." Johnny was taught that choices have consequences, that right would always triumph and that justice and defense of self and the defenseless were worth fighting and even killing for.

We have a cable channel that has been playing classic Johnny Quest cartoons. Not the later, politically correct toons but the original, first year episodes. They were on at 4:30 in the afternoon. I took the opportunity to introduce my grandson to what I consider one of the best cartoons American TV has ever produced. The quality is well short of modern but the messages are timeless and uniquely American. They teach self defense, hard work, staying calm in a crisis, the benefits of technology, overcoming difficult odds and situations, friendship, family, conduct and even responsible animal ownership. Bandit the dog went everywhere Johnny went and Johnny learned to trust, care for and protect his canine companion.

Every afternoon we'd sit on Papa's chair and watch together. Where possible, we never missed an episode. Time I cherish, spent with a grandson I love more than my life and a fun part of my job as his grandfather.

A small thing without a doubt. There is so much more I have to teach him. I am acutely aware that he's watching me, soaking in what I do, what I say, how I carry myself and interact with others. He has questions he doesn't even know to ask. Knowledge he needs but isn't yet aware of consciously. But he does instinctively know that I have at least some of his answers and he's determined to get them from me. As I am determined to give them to him. To the best of my ability.

I bought the classic Johnny Quest episodes on DVD. I'll be sending them to him in the next package. I even bought a set for me. The next time we visit, whether he comes to us or we to him, he and I will sit again and watch together. We will bond as only grandfather and grandson can. Lore master and pupil. Man and apprentice. And I will attempt to teach my beloved boy the lessons he needs to be the man I know he can be.

The journey continues even as the circle draws inexorably closer to it's completion.