An Unappealing Part of Parenting

Note: I was working on a list of New Year's resolutions for the blog, but decided to go with this post instead.

After a being slow to post here and comment on other blogs due to the holidays, I am looking forward to a return to normal next week.

Happy New Year and best wishes to everyone in 2010.


One lousy yet official duty of being a parent is having to tell your children when one of their beloved pets has died.

This will be my second my time.

Though our friend has not passed away yet, it will happen soon.

A few years ago, I had to tell the oldest boy that my springer spaniel pal for so many years (I have to admit that we grew up together), was no more.

Soon, I'll have to tell the same boy and now his younger sister (as the youngest boy would not understand) that their family cat has passed.

At 16 or so, the gray-tabby is a great underdog story. She was a stray in the South for the first portion of her life.

I was walking my dog at my girlfriend/future wife's apartment complex when this skinny little fluff trotted from the woods and followed us up the stairs to the Mrs.' door. Preoccupied with trying to keep the dog from jumping the brave feline, I went inside the apartment and thought nothing more of the encounter.

Fifteen minutes later, the Mrs. heard loud meowing from the stairwell. She opened her door and in strolls this cat.

Evidently, we had been selected by "Emmy."

I still remember my father, a career Marine holding back his tears, informing my brother and I each time that one of our family canines had died. Telling children news like that does not get any easier through the years.

Last January, Bill Simmons, a fantastic writer known for his perspective on sports, authored a moving tribute to his family dog: Daisy or "The Dooze."

The entire article is worth the read, but his closing perceptively captures what bothers parents the most when family pets are no longer:

...The day after The Dooze left us, our little boy woke up and my wife carried him downstairs to feed him like she always does.

I was still half asleep and could hear her footsteps. Then I heard this: "Day-zee. Day-zee."

That part didn't make me sad.

The part that made me sad happened three mornings later ... when my wife was carrying him downstairs again and he didn't say anything.


Update: Our family pet passed away this morning (1/10/09), and the message was delivered to our kids. Thanks for your kind words.

An Alternative to Dorm Life

Ok, so the cost of a college degree has been increasing steadily, resulting in students being creative to make ends meet.

In the extreme, Duke University graduate student Ken Ilgunas scores one for innovation:

Even by starving grad student standards, Duke student Ken Ilgunas’ campus housing is humble. It is, however, mobile.

Ilgunas, 26, is shacking up in a 1994 Ford Econoline as a means of getting through his liberal studies graduate program without debt.

His vehicle parked in a lot on the edge of campus, he cooks with camping equipment and subsists largely on peanut butter.

Ilgunas, who grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y., doesn’t think he’s really roughing it. He showers and exercises in the campus gym and knows all the 24-hour buildings where he can keep warm, dry and connected to the Internet.

“I’m rarely in the van. Just to eat and sleep,” he said. “Generally it’s not the most convenient place. The closest bathroom is a quarter mile away, and there’s no source of water nearby. But with that said, I live pretty comfortably. I bring a water jug to campus and fill it up.”

Ilgunas isn’t doing this out of necessity. Rather, it’s a self-test of sorts prompted by the $32,000 in debt he was left with after getting his undergraduate degree from the University at Buffalo, a state university in New York.

He paid that debt off working full time for 2½ years, and he swore never to be similarly saddled again...
It is not clear from the article if Ilgunas' van is parked on university property or not.

If he is parked on city or private property, I doubt that persons responsible would be very excited about having a permanent resident of that nature.

From the university's perspective, though there's not a rule forbidding a "house on wheels" on Duke property yet, I am quite sure the administration will pass something applicable soon.

Once officials realize that they are missing out on revenue (he is residing there), there are sanitary issues (no housing inspections and I am sure the guy does not walk ten minutes round trip to use a restroom at 3 am), as well as the added complexity of providing safety to a student sleeping in the backseat of a vehicle, they will want to ban such a practice on campus.

I do admire the guy's sacrifice to avoid debt.

At least, when he invites a friend over for an evening of pizza and a movie, he does not have to waste time in asking: "Your place or mine?"

Instead he can just offer: "Why don't we make it your dorm and I'll bring the peanut butter sandwiches..."

Note: Photo was used from here.

Reading Between the Lines

Read Between the Lines Story #1

Last week, I skimmed a few stories on the sad missing person case of Utah mother Susan Powell.

Josh Powell, her husband, reportedly last saw her at home on December 7, 2009, after he left with his young sons (ages 4 and 2) to go camping.

At 12:30 am.

With the weather below freezing.

This related Associate Press story caught my attention:

SALT LAKE CITY — Police said Tuesday that they want to question the husband of a missing Utah woman about a car he allegedly rented that was driven hundreds of miles after his wife's disappearance.

"It was rented in Joshua Powell's name, and there were several hundred miles put on it," West Valley City police Capt. Tom McLachlan said. "The company that rents the car has said there is no stored GPS data that would indicate where it was taken..."

McLachlan said Joshua Powell rented the car during the 24-hour period that his van was in police custody, about two days after his wife was reported missing...
Here is my translation of what the Captain wanted to say:

"The chief sent me here to make statements to the press because he is busy punching holes in walls. He is trying to determine how the surveillance system we had to monitor Mr. Powell, as a person of great interest in the case of his missing wife, failed so miserably--since we now realize that he traveled hundreds of miles unmonitored while our crime scene geeks were tearing apart the family van looking for clues."


Read Between the Lines Story #2

The following crime item resides in a password-protected news database, so I am unable to link it:

An alert Department of Transportation manager noticed suspicious activity at Green's Market early Sunday, so he decided to follow three young men he spotted hurrying out of the store, he says.

Police eventually met up with the three suspects, and the trio is now accused of burglary.

The witness said he would have regretted not taking action if he had read in the newspaper the next day the store had been broken into.

He was driving while supervising snow-removal work for the county just after 2 a.m. Sunday when he noticed people leaving the store.

Here's his account of what happened:

The people leaving the market were moving quickly and carrying something.

"It just didn't seem right" for 2 a.m., he said.

He realized he may have stumbled onto a burglary, and he considered what he should do.

The witness thought he could turn around to try and get a license-plate number, or just keep going.

But if he kept going and he read the next day that the store had been burglarized, he'd feel bad about missing a chance to help catch the culprits.

As he turned around, three people got into a Jeep and pulled away without the lights on, which confirmed his suspicions

As the Jeep turned onto a local road, the civilian was on his cell phone with a State Police dispatcher who said there were no troopers available at that moment.

The civilian kept following, trying to keep up with the fast-moving Jeep in snowy conditions and get close enough to at least get the plate number.

The Jeep then turned onto the Interstate.

In the meantime, a State Police unit cleared a call near the incident and the dispatcher said troopers would wait at the next exit for the Jeep.

The Jeep took the exit and police pulled it over, taking the three occupants into custody.

Troopers asked the witness to check Green's for signs of a break-in.

He returned and found the front door smashed in and broken glass on the sidewalk and inside the store...
My translation:

The call-taker who initially spoke to the transportation manager at the 911 Center coded the incident as a suspicious vehicle instead of a burglary-in-progress. Upon seeing the non-emergency 'suspicious vehicle' call pending, the dispatcher decided to hold the call because their were no police units in service.*

It was not until the witness continued to chase the suspects and informing the operator by phone of their location, and the burglars continue to flee at a high rate of speed with no headlights, that the dispatcher realized that this needed a higher priority code.

He/she then appealed for an officer to become available or the dispatcher would find another agency to take the hot call.

An A+ to the witness who single-handedly made this felony case for authorities (even having to return to the market to verify that there was entry).

As a citizen, there is nothing wrong with being persistent. Even when someone on the phone tells you there are no police units available to help.

*Note: I am not blaming anyone for the way this scenario played out. Police officers get busy at scenes. Call-takers make judgments on how to code calls. Dispatchers send units to priority incidents first. Just glad the citizen following the burglars refused to give-up.

Christmas Carols and Hymns: All 'Merican

During the Advent season and on Christmas, I enjoy the American tradition of listening to and singing our wonderful home-grown holiday carols and hymns.

Hearing Silent Night, is a moving experience.

Wait, that one is of Austrian origin?

Well, Good Christian Men Rejoice is excellent.

Oh, that is a mix of German vernacular and 14th Century Latin?

We still can claim Angels We Have Heard on High, right?

No? An 18th Century French tune, you say? Hmm.

Don't tell me Joy to the World.. written by Isaac Watts... You mean Isaac was English?

Ok, so we Americans have borrowed from the fine talents of those around the world to musically celebrate the holiday of Jesus Christ's birth--though we did contribute Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear among other tunes to the mix.

A little known children's carol, another from outside the US, has become a favorite of mine. Curoo Curoo or Carol of the Birds traces its history back to 18th century Ireland:

Full many a bird did wake and fly
Curoo, curoo, curoo
Full many a bird did wake and fly
To the manger bed with a wandering cry
On Christmas day in the morning
Curoo, curoo, curoo
Curoo, curoo, curoo

The lark, the dove, the red bird came
Curoo, curoo, curoo
The lark, the dove, the red bird came
And they did sing in sweet Jesus' name
On Christmas day in the morning
Curoo, curoo, curoo
Curoo, curoo, curoo...
Merry Christmas everyone and safe travels to those on the road over the next few days. I hope you get a chance to sing some of those 'Merican carols...

*Note: This is verses one and two of the carol, the full lyrics can be found here.

Tuber of the Week #24: Sand Animation

Give me a thousand dollars in art studio equipment, materials, and paints and I'll produce something of little value (likely described as "a mess").

Provide Ilana Yahav a light, a glass table, and sand and she will give you this:

In researching sand animation, I saw that actor Ashton Kutcher recently promoted it via his social media tools.

Glad to see that I am not far behind the Hollywood trend setters with information.

Also, if you like this form of art and have 8 minutes, the Ukraine's Kseniya Simonova offers a moving sand animation telling the story of her homeland's occupation by the Nazis during WWII.

Part VII: Kathleen McBroom Missing Person

Sheila Kathleen “Beany” McBroom has not been seen since October 27, 2008 in Anchorage, Alaska. She was reported missing by her family the next day.

Four days after Ms. McBroom's disappearance, her truck was discovered abandoned by family members on a highway south of Anchorage. The vehicle contained her cell phone and other personal items.

Ms. McBroom was an avid writer and her online journal can be viewed here.

In my last two posts, I presented four questions that I believe should be pursued by the family regarding Ms. McBroom's investigation:

1) Were Kathleen’s medical records subpoenaed?

2) Was her encounter with police (on the morning she vanished) videoed?

3) Was a traffic collision/accident report completed concerning Ms. McBroom’s truck striking the guardrail that morning?

4) Was her cell phone active beyond 9 am that morning?
To complete the list, I offer one more question.

5) Why has the McBroom case not received more publicity?

Back on November 4th, I talked about how Kathleen's online friends and blog readers had pushed Anchorage area media outlets for coverage of her disappearance. The prodding was marginally successful as a few television and newspaper stories were aired.

Unfortunately, most were just one time stories and little follow-up was done.

It seems the intial disappearance received some cursory attention, the woman's family was interviewed once or twice, and then the story was forgotten.

In November, I also discussed how surprised I was to find that Kathleen's information had not been listed on the investigating agency's website or the Alaska's State Troopers website dedicated to missing persons cases.

How can authorities find a missing woman if the public is not aware of the details of her disappearance?

Curious, I contacted the lead agency for Kathleen's investigation.

The contact person confirmed that the McBroom case is still active, but that there was not a missing persons bulletin/summary sheet/poster immediately available. The represetentative stated that she would try to locate the document and pass it along.

I also contacted representatives at the state who explained that Ms. McBroom's information could be posted to their site if the case details came from the investigating agency; and evidently it had not.

Now, a month later and I see that there still has been no addition of the Kathleen McBroom case to local or state missing persons websites.

Last week, I received notice from the US Department of Justice that their new missing persons database was online.

NAMUS or the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Database is the federal government's attempt to catalog the wealth of information on active missing persons and found remains so that law enforcement, medical professionals, and the general public can help close some of these cases.

Exploring the website, I was quickly able to read the posted summaries of three of the four cases that I have profiled on this blog: Ray Gricar, Brianna Maitland, and Morgan Nick.

Which missing person case is absent from the NAMUS database?

Sadly, its Sheila Kathleen McBroom.

Of these questions that I believe the family should be receiving answers, no response is more important than why authorties are not involving the public in their search for her.

Police owe this much to Ms. McBroom's loved ones. As well as to Kathleen.


Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Kathleen McBroom" on the right margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here

*Note: The photo was taken from Ms. McBroom's blog.

One Courageous Teen

If have not added Jessica Watson's blog to your daily reading, it is worth a look.

Jessica is trying to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world non-stop.

Despite having a few years on her, the young woman's journey is something I won't be trying anytime soon.

Well, there is some fear of the open ocean and one other little issue: that I barely have the water-faring skills to navigate a paddleboat around a duck pond.

In stark contrast, this 16-year old Australian has been at sea for two months and has traveled about 7,000 miles. She is in daily contact with her family and others assisting her with the technical portion of the voyage.

But Jessica is still alone on her thirty-three-and-a-half foot yacht, The Pink Lady.

Below is an image from her post today.

In summary of that entry: she had scurried up the yacht's mast to make some adjustments when the wind velocity increased. She was smart enough to bring the ship's remote control steering with her to adjust the vessel's heading and make going back down a more pleasant journey.

I am thinking: the view from up there, with the wind bouncing you around, in the middle of the open ocean, by yourself; now that must equal courage.

Tuber of the Week #23: Involvement

Recently in Alton, TX, an officer arrived at the scene of a fight call, intervened, but was overwhelmed by several juveniles who began assaulting him on a residential street.

Who comes to his aid?

A pregnant woman heroically came to the rescue of an Alton police officer earlier this week and the incident was captured by a dashboard camera...

Angela Gutierrez -- who is nine months pregnant -- was driving with her husband and child, when she witnesses a group of teens attack the officer...

The dash cam video shows Gutierrez swoop in and pull one of the teens off of the officer and eventually the rest of them relent and flee the scene.

"Something felt like I had to help," she told the news station. "I told the guys to leave him alone."
Three cheers for Ms. Gutierrez, and I hope the agency gives her a medal, but if I was her husband, I would be shaken--thinking that I hope she and the little-one-on-the-way never want to jump into a fracas like that again.

I was able to imbed the video of the incident from the officer's dashboard camera (below), but the audio is poor.

For the local news version with better audio, you can go here.

This Guy Found What in a Tree?

We have a metal detector that the kids and I like to take outdoors and try to find buried treasure.

Unfortunately, we have yet to recover any “treasure”, and have mostly found discarded junk.

My status with the in-laws is still in recovery mode after I took the detector out for a hike near their house last year.

Following a forgotten path to a copse of trees, the metal detector started beeping like crazy. After a half-hour of digging to remove a couple of feet of earth, I located the hidden metallic objects—-beer cans. Lots of old beer cans.

Yes, I had found a teenage crew’s private beer drinking spot likely from the 1970s.

To add insult to injury, in the old railroad parking area where we had stashed the car, my father-in-law found $1.12 cents in loose change on the ground.

Final score for the outing was: Grandpa’s Wisdom = 1 and Slam’s Metal Detector = 0.

I still have high hopes that someday, we will follow in the footsteps of Maxx Martel:

Maxx Martel, from Glendive, Montana, is known as a man who finds things.

“When I’m out, I look around everywhere. Just yesterday, I found a .45-70 bullet, and an 1857 penny, the kind with an eagle on it.”

Martel’s country is the wide open grasslands and huge cottonwood bottoms of the Yellowstone River. He was born there, a descendant of the Assiniboine and Oglala people that have called it home for centuries. The place is dense with stories of raids and fights, fur trappers and voyagers.

Martel began his life as a finder in 1996, “just trying to find arrowheads,” he said. In 2000, that search led him to discover an entire battle site, the Battle of Whoop-Up Creek, where Sitting Bull and his chiefs led 400 warriors against the 22nd Infantry of Lt. Colonel Elwell C. Otis.

Now recognized by historians, the site near Glendive had been forgotten for over 130 years…

But he had never found anything like what he encountered a couple of weeks ago.

“I was walking in the riverbottom, just looking around,” he said. “I saw part of the butt of the rifle sticking out of a tree, up off the ground.”

Martel had to climb up to where the rifle was hidden, and he found it encased in tightly packed leaves. When he dug it out, he says, it was preserved with what he believes is bear grease. The rifle was in a remarkable state of preservation.

“It really made my day,” Martel said, with his trademark quiet understatement. He took his treasure back to Glendive with him, to the home of Pat Brophy, a gun expert who runs a local rifle and pistol range and is a licensed firearms dealer.

Brophy examined the rifle. “It fits the description of a Springfield Armory rifle, made sometime between 1847 and 1852,” Brophy said.

“The barrel bands and all that are identical to the photos I have in my books.” But the rifle has no maker’s mark at all.

Brophy says that this is not necessarily unusual. “That rifle design was mass produced by just about everybody at the time. It was a very common rifle, the main rifle of the Civil War.”

Asked if he was surprised at Martel’s find, Brophy said, “I’ve hunted artifacts with him before. He is the luckiest person at finding things that I have ever known...”
Any guy that can reach into the hollow of a tree in the middle of nowhere and find an 19th Century musket has my respect.

Now, can he be on call later in the week when I misplace my car keys in the house?

Note: Photo was used from this article in the Billings Gazette.

Part VI: Kathleen McBroom Missing Person

Sheila Kathleen “Beany” McBroom has not been seen since October 27, 2008 in Anchorage, Alaska. She was reported missing by her family the next day.

Three days later, her truck was discovered abandoned by family members on a highway south of Anchorage. The vehicle contained her cell phone and other personal items.

Mrs. McBroom was an avid writer and her online journal can be viewed here.

In the previous post, I presented two questions that I would want to know if Ms. McBroom was a missing relative of mine:

1) Were Kathleen’s medical records subpoenaed?
2) Was her encounter with police (on the morning she vanished) videoed?

Here are two additional issues I would want addressed by authorities:

3) Was a traffic collision/accident report completed concerning Ms. McBroom’s truck striking the guardrail that morning?

In addition to wanting to know if the missing woman’s field sobriety test was recorded, it may also be important to review any police reports that were completed-—since the trooper who spoke with Ms. McBroom that morning was evidently the last person to see her.

I would want to know if the accident report contained any statements made my Ms. McBroom. Did she say that she was falling asleep at the wheel or provide another reason for driving erratically?


For instance, say that Ms. McBroom stated that she swerved her car because she was talking on her cell phone and was distracted. That excuse would seem reasonable to an officer investigating the incident.

However, maybe her family would characterize such a statement as odd if Ms. McBroom was firmly against distracted drivers talking on the phone. It would seem to indicate that the conversation Kathleen was having was very important and/or she was acting out of character by speaking on her cell while driving.

In any event, the report may reveal clues as to the reasonableness of Ms. McBroom’s thoughts and actions on that morning.

Note: Depending on the policies of the Alaska State Troopers, a traffic accident report may not have been required of the minor collision; thereby, no report may exist. If the guardrail was damaged and another state agency needed to be notified, then one would expect such a report to have been completed.

4) Was her cell phone active beyond 9 am that morning?

From examining the case, Ms. McBroom was not a person to be stopped by police on a regular basis. Whatever the reason that Ms. McBroom was driving poorly and was not close to her office that morning, an encounter with police could have certainly had a negative effect on her.

As noted previously, Ms. McBroom was wearing her walking shoes that morning and not her work shoes. Despite my thoughts and some of the commenters that this may not be important, her friends and family described this out of character.

Kathleen wanted to portray a professional image at work and would not have worn walking shoes--one family member commented previously that she did not believe that Kathleen intended to go to work that morning at all.

The embarrassment of being detained by police and "caught" not going to work, performing field sobriety tasks, and being interviewed on the side of the road, in full few of the public for more than 30 minutes, may have turned what was a bad morning into a world-is-crashing-in-on-me dreadful experience.

I understand the privacy issues involved with releasing specifics about Ms. McBroom’s cell phone activity, but the family should be able to confirm whether it was in use beyond 9 am.

If it was being used until late in the afternoon that day (as was rumored), then the location of her truck may be less important as a focus area for searches.

Next time, I’ll complete my list of questions.

Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Kathleen McBroom" on the right margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here.

Energy Conservation: A Family Affair

Exuberant Third Grade Boy: Dad, I have great news.

Me: What is that?

Exuberant Third Grade Boy: Well, with my new night-vision goggles, I can now help you save electricity.

Me: Really?

Exuberant Third Grade Boy: I wear these goggles in the bathroom, and they work so well that I don’t need to turn on the light anymore while using the toilet.

I flip on the light switch and peer into the tiny half-bath.

Me: Son, I commend you on the innovative strategy to reduce household power usage, but I am guessing that there is a positive correlation between your goggle-tinkles and the volume of yellow splatter present in this restroom.

Me: Perhaps, the colored residue now visible on the sides of the bowl, the floor, and the laws-of-physics-defying side of the sink is an unintended consequence of your new energy conservation effort.

Exuberant Third Grade Boy moves into the room and inspects the evidence.

Exuberant Third Grade Boy: Oh...

Haunted Houses, Guns, and a Questionable Policy

It is mid-December, time for a Halloween post right?

Ok, so I am a bit tardy on this one, but I think the issue raised is important:

A Baltimore city police officer delivered the fright of a lifetime to a haunted house employee, pulling a gun on the chain-saw-wielding man at the end of his act, authorities said Monday.

Sgt. Eric Janik, 37, was charged with assault and reckless endangerment for pointing his service handgun at the worker, who was dressed as Leatherface, the killer from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Baltimore County police said.

The employee, Mike Morrison, followed Janik and several other people up a staircase Sunday night at the end of the haunted house tour in a bid to get "one last scream" out of them, police said.

When the group exited into a parking lot, Janik pulled his gun and pointed it at Morrison from less than 10 feet away, according to police and Morrison, who said he dropped the chain saw, put his hands up and backed away.

Only then did Janik identify himself as a police officer, said Morrison, who retreated into the building.

"I started shaking pretty bad," he told The Associated Press.

Another employee of the House of Screams called police.

According to charging documents, Janik smelled of alcohol and told police two different stories about what he did with the gun. First, he denied drawing the weapon, but later he said he pointed it at the ground.

Morrison and two other witnesses told police that Janik pointed the gun at Morrison's chest...
In my opinion, the most interesting part of the article is here:

...City police officers are required to carry their service weapons while off duty within city limits and can carry them at their own discretion outside the city, Guglielmi (a police spokesman) said...

Mandating off-duty personnel be armed at all times is not in the public's best interest and is simply ludicrous.

Does the agency really want the liability associated with non-uniformed officers being armed and facing split-second decisions after just consuming multiple adult beverages?

What about being armed while swimming?

Or, does the department's leadership prefer that the officer's gun be kept in his gym bag, wrapped in a towel, under a lounge chair while he/she indulges in a few cannonballs from the high dive?

If an agency does its due diligence and hires good people, there is no need to remove discretion concerning off-duty officers carrying guns.

A police department should mandate that officers be armed while wearing uniforms, acting in official capacity, or using departmental vehicles, but leave the other off-duty instances to their people's best judgment.

Part V: Kathleen McBroom Missing Person

This is a continuation in my series on missing person Kathleen “Beanie” McBroom.

Ms. McBroom has not been seen since October 27, 2008 in Anchorage, Alaska. Four days later, her truck was discovered abandoned by family members on a highway south of Anchorage. The vehicle contained her cell phone and other personal items.

Mrs. McBroom was an avid writer and her online journal can be viewed here.

If I was a member of Kathleen’s family, and my loved one had disappeared, there are several questions that I would want answers from authorities including:

1) Were Kathleen’s medical records subpoenaed?

From her journal, Kathleen had several troublesome health issues. She had previously fallen down a flight of stairs and the injury had been causing her serious back pain. She was a victim of previous abuse.

The missing woman wrote that her relationship with her supervisor was causing her great stress, and that she disliked her job. Also, she stated that her medications were making her loopy and tired—-seemingly a change from being a driven worker who had difficulty sleeping.

With these health issues and since accidental death and suicide are still possible explanations for the disappearance,, determining what medications she was taking as well as in what quantities is important.

It could also be used to compare medications with those, if any, that were found in her truck.

Further, it may be important to understand any other undisclosed serious health problems that Kathleen may have been dealing with. The subpoenaed records certainly could provide insights into Ms. McBroom’s actions and behavior on the day she went missing.

2)Was Kathleen’s encounter with the Alaska State trooper videoed?

If so, I would want to see the recording of the police officer’s administration of the field sobriety test. If there is no video, I would want an explanation as to why.

Just a little background on Ms. McBroom's police incident: At around 8 am on the morning she went missing, Kathleen was evidently seen driving her green truck (the truck depicted above) erratically well south of her workplace in Anchorage.

Reportedly, she was observed by several motorists including a trucker--who saw her swerve into oncoming traffic, strike a guardrail, and continue driving. The truck driver then contacted police, but was dismissed by the trooper after the officer arrived on the scene.

According to news accounts, the trooper’s call involving Ms. McBroom lasted for more than 30 minutes. During that time, Kathleen was questioned, a field sobriety test was conducted, and she was run through warrants. The trooper’s agency stated later that Ms. McBroom passed the field sobriety test and there was no other legal reason to detain her at the scene. The trooper then advised her to take a nap if she was tired. He then left.

In many police departments and just about every large agency, field sobriety tests conducted by officers are recorded using video. It is reasonable then to assume that at least part of Kathleen's encounter with the state trooper was recorded-—maybe there was also audio of the contact.

If video and/or audio exists, I would want to see the tape. I think viewing the video (especially if it had audio) could provide clues to people who knew her well; especially as to her state of mind and the potential effects of any medication.

Perhaps one of Kathleen's responses to the trooper on that morning would mean something to a loved one, while the value would not be perceived by the law enforcement "stranger."

I'll continue next time with more questions regarding Ms. McBroom's disappearance.

Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Kathleen McBroom" on the right margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here.

The photo was used from here.

Dude, My Luggage!

Note: I need another day for my next missing person post on Kathleen McBroom.

In the meantime...

If it is not the threat of H1N1 to dissuade one from flying, perhaps it is the fear that you and your luggage will not arrive at the same destination:

Authorities say a Waddell couple has been indicted in the theft of nearly 1,000 pieces of luggage from baggage claim carousels at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Maricopa County prosecutors say the 45-count indictment was handed up by a grand jury on Nov. 12 and announced Thursday. It charges 61-year-old Keith King and his 38-year-old wife Stacy Legg King with theft, burglary and trafficking in stolen property.

Phoenix police arrested the couple on Nov. 2. They believe the Kings had been taking luggage from the airport for at least a year.

Police say the Kings' house northwest of Phoenix contained 14 rooms and had stolen luggage and personal belongings piled from floor to ceiling. Many of the bags had been stripped of any identifying information...
I bet airline execs took deep and loud breaths while singing in harmony, "see we did not lose all of those bags on our own."

Fourteen rooms piled to the ceiling with over 1,000 stolen items?

Let's all mark our calendars for December 2010, when the Phoenix PD and Maricopa County officials host one humdinger of a yard sale/auction to purge their inventory of all this unclaimed property.

Are You Sleeping Soundly?

I wanted send a message wishing a "good" night's sleep to the third defendant who fled the scene after this grisly crash in Indianapolis:

Police have arrested two men in connection with a robbery that led to crash that critically injured a young boy and tore a hole in the side of a north side day care.

While pictures of the suspects have yet to be released, officers have identified the men as 21-year-old Darron Crowe and 19-year-old Theo Sanford.

Crowe and Sanford have been preliminary charged with armed robbery, carrying a handgun without a license and fleeing the police. Officers said additional charges may be added as the investigation continues.

The 1997 red, Jeep Cherokee that crashed into the day care belonged to Sanford, police said. Detectives found a handgun, cash and clothing in the Jeep that they believe was used in the robbery.

Police believe a third suspect may have fled the scene after the crash...
Let me understand this.

You and your pals rob a store at gunpoint. Roar away from the scene in your sport utility on busy city streets, and a short time later crash into a child care facility.

The impact injures one adult and four small children (a five-year old boy remains in critical condition).

Surrounded by the screams of children scared and in pain, you smash the window out of your vehicle, jump out, and step on and over the little bodies laying on the floor as you abscond the scene.

You don't offer to help any of the injured kids. You push anything and anyone out of your way in an effort to save yourself.

I think your actions provide a glimpse of the desperate people that police deal with on a daily basis. It is a disturbing world that few others see.

I'm not sure how third suspect, the man that is free, could ever sleep again. Or, maybe he is resting comfortably, and therein lies the problem.

Note: The photo is from WIBC's site .

Time Stand Still

Setting: This story involves our family's recent visit to the home of my wife's grandfather in New York.

“We’ll back in a couple of hours,” the Mrs. stated as she escorted the elderly man out the front door.

The diner they were going was not far, but her grandfather’s pace at 93-years old while walking with a cane after a hip surgery would make for a long lunch.

With the sound of the front door closing, the three-year old boy knew he had the run of the place. He darted from the living room to the kitchen to the dining room driven by the stimulating sights and sounds of a strange house.

Grandpa built this home himself on Long Island in the 1950s. He dreamed big, worked hard, and had raised a family within these walls. But now, he lived alone. The empty rooms made the small home much too big for the man.

Hearing giggles and footsteps, I realized the little boy was climbing the short-flight of stairs nearby. I followed as he raced to the end of the hallway and stopped to face a closed door. Driven by curiosity, the youngster pushed open the interior door. The old metal hinge responded with a squeak.

Inside the room and immediately to the left of my son was a bed. A down comforter was folded neatly at the foot.

Impulsiveness reigned supreme, and within a moment, the boy was on the bed and rolling around.

Just to the left of the entry-way, pegged to a cork board on the wall, was a calendar displaying September 1994.

I recognized the pictures on the wall as folks from my wife’s family. Well, at least it was what they looked like in the early 1990s.

A dresser was covered with personal hygiene items: a toothbrush, a hair brush, a container of skin lotion, among other things. A small sewing machine was set on an adjacent table.

A dozen books were stacked on a shelf near the bed; mostly historical biographies. Grandpa’s wife loved to read about the presidents.

I flipped through several of the books wanting to test the theory that survivors of the great depression were apt to hide cash in old books rather than lose their assets to a bank failure.*

In each of the hardcovers, I did not find any twenty-dollar bills, but rather plain red or blue bookmarks that designated the last page read. The books seemed to indicate that the owner would return soon, and was just away shopping or traveling.

The dark-colored drapes covering the window were pulled shut; though some of November’s sunlight slipped into the room anyway. His wife's clothes still lined the closet. The room was dusty and cold, but seemed to have a purpose.

After awhile the little boy wandered into another area of grandpa’s house. As I closed the door to the bedroom, I looked at the calendar again. The page for September 1994 was fastened to the board by five thumbtacks and three push pins—clearly fixed not to move. Permanent.

Throughout the day, the little boy’s favorite spot to spend time was this room.

Later, the Mrs. told me that her grandmother had passed away in September of 1994 in that bedroom.

Each of us deals differently with the death of a loved one.

Recently, I saw a touching interview of Patti Canady-—the mother of television newscaster and murder victim Ann Pressly. Ms. Pressly was beaten to death by an intruder who burglarized her Little Rock, Arkansas home.

Ms. Canady stated to the interviewer that after learning of her daughter’s horrific death she immediately gave all of her personal items away. Canady argued that she would always treasure the memories of her daughter, but that her possessions could only be useful to others now.

After my mother’s death, my father gave away most everything of mom’s-—he did save a few items that were special to her, but did not want clothes or other items that reminded him of such pain.

In contrast, the Mrs.' grandpa had preserved his wife’s room. Things are just as they were in September 1994. Time stand still.

...I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
(Time stand still)
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Time Stands still
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger


*Note: If I ever do find money in an old book I really am not interested in keeping it, but be happy to prove that such a financial tactic was used in the 1930s and 40s.

On the Police Shootings: Clemency

The murder of four police officers in Washington state is disturbing, sad, and senseless. I'll let more eloquent writers discuss the specifics of the case and the grief that loved ones are suffering.

One aspect of the story that I did want to mention was the role of former governor Mike Huckabee. The governor is not usually considered a component of the criminal justice system, but when a state's top official uses the power of clemency, that leader becomes an integral part of the system.

In 2000, Governor Huckabee commuted the sentence of accused Washington police shooter Maurice Clemmons, thereby reducing his time to serve on several felony charges and making him eligible for parole.

During his tenure as governor, it is being reported that Huckabee provided clemency to three times as many prisoners has his three predecessors combined.

In essence, the diligent work of police officers, prosecutors, jurors, and judges was flushed down the toilet as one individual used his own judgment in an attempt to assign fairness.

Huckabee's press release is troubling to me as well.

Here is an excerpt (emphasis added):

"...The senseless and savage execution of police officers in Washington State has saddened the nation, and early reports indicate that a person of interest is a repeat offender who once lived in Arkansas and was wanted on outstanding warrants here and Washington State.

The murder of any individual is a profound tragedy, but the murder of a police officer is the worst of all murders in that it is an assault on every citizen and the laws we live within.

Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State..."
Not included in the Huckabee's official statement is any acknowledgement that HE was part of the failed system. When a leader inserts himself/herself into a working system, that leader should admit failures as quickly as they seem to trumpet successes.

Taking responsibility for mistakes shows character.

Obviously, I am not an advocate for any of the presidential pardon or governor clemency systems that exist. I think it provides too many opportunities for corruption, and allows for one powerful individual to overturn decisions made by a system (thought an imperfect system I'll admit)--one with the multiple checks and balances.

My prayers are with the families.

Update: Reader "Grannye" commented and the Mrs. told me that former Governor Huckabee has been on several talk shows accepting responsibility for his decision to use clemency with Maurice Clemmons.

Though I commend Mr. Huckabee for these current actions, I stand by post regarding his initial statement about the situation. The former governor cannot insert himself into the criminal justice system to commute sentences, and then extricate himself when it is convenient to place blame on such system.
Note: The photo was used from here.