Tuber of the Week #31: Sportsmanship

To my distaste, much of collegiate sports in the United States has become big business.

Regularly, students are not athletes representing their colleges or universities, but simply performers needed to bring money and recognition back to the institutions.

Many fans, athletic boosters and coaches promote "win at all cost" mentalities to young athletes, and unfortunately some competitors buy into that message.

Instead of great team and individual performances, the viral sports videos from the last couple of years seem to be dominated by football players punching, soccer players pulling hair, and baseballers brawling.

It is too bad that more attention is not given to virtuous displays in amateur sports.

Like this story from Ellensburg, Washington:

Certainly, Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace's act is a vivid illustration of sportsmanship and a powerful reminder of how things should be.

I am a bit jealous of Sara Tucholsky and her final at-bat being a home run.

My final chance at batting in high school baseball resulted in strikeout on three pitches. I still remember each swing and miss.


Note: The officials on the field at the softball game misinterpreted the rules for an injured player hitting a home run, and should have allowed the coaches from Western Oregon to insert a pinch runner to run the bases for the injured player.

A Simple Pleasure and Awards

A Simple Pleasure

After a few years of marriage and the wonderful experience of raising little ones, I think it now requires much less to make me happy. Recently, the Mrs. volunteered me to serve on a committee for a non-profit that was updating their technology plan.

The day after I participated in the first meeting, the chair of the committee saw the Mrs. and expressed to her gratitude for connecting me with their group--that my insights had been excellent.

The Mrs. thanked me for making her look good.

It was a simple pleasure that I likely would have not appreciated in my younger days.


I was graciously presented with two awards: Let's Bogie and The Quillfeather.

General Rules of Acceptance for the Awards:

1) Link to the person's blog who gave you the award

2) Give the award to other bloggers and notify them of the recognition (I did 6)

--->Specific Rule for the Quillfeather: 3) List how you prefer your eggs.

--->Specific Rule for the Let's Bogie: 3) Discuss 5 things about yourself


Writer and excellent blogger Stina Lindenblatt over at Seeing Creative presented me with the Quill Feather.

Interestingly, Stina reports that she was told by a high school guidance counselor not to even bother with applying to a university: "That I would never succeed."

She does not state whether or not that she sent a copy of her MS degree after graduation to the man with the wildly inaccurate assessment (as I would have been tempted to do).

In any event, I prefer my eggs scrambled.


Second and for the Let's Bogie Award, humorous police blogger Momma Fargo presented me this distinction.

She describes police encounters with her wit and wisdom--even when they involve kids and sledding:

"I often sled with kids in my cop uniform. Did so just yesterday. We all love it...the kids, the parents, and me. Or at least I thought they did. Except for that one kid when I pushed him off his sled and commandeered it. It was a police emergency."

Her blog is a fun read.

In accordance to the rules, here are five tidbits about me:

Number 1--Through my four years of high school, I had a massive crush on a cheerleader with an outgoing personality. Despite being an introvert, I was somehow able to become friends with her, but never worked the courage up to ask her out on a date. We even attended the same university and talked regularly during the following four years of undergrad.

Related to my failure to impress her--I only scored one touchdown in my high school football career. After the big play, the players were pumped and the crowd was cheering. The coaches even replayed the video the next day several times to boast about it, but where was my cheerleader friend when it happened?

She had gone home ill at halftime and missed my one shining moment.

Oddly enough, the cheerleader is now married to someone with my same last name.

Who said that God does not have a sense of humor?

Number 2--As a child I idolized my father "the Marine." In our backyard, I could regularly be seen marching barefoot with my backpack full of books and carrying a child's muzzle loader rifle. I am glad their is no photographic evidence of this as my hat was soldier green, my canteen was red, and my backpack happened to be bright orange--I likely resembled a peacock more than a grunt.

Number 3--I have enjoyed singing to my children while pushing them in strollers or in swings in the backyard or at the playground. My favorites, well, are comprised of an eclectic group of songs--with a healthy dose of 19th century military marches and church hymns.

When the children are school aged, their music teacher will likely be confused regarding how their favorite songs are Goober Peas and Low in the Grave He Lay.

Number 4--Several years ago, my mother suffered a short and painful battle with cancer that ended her life. Prior to her diagnosis, my parents visited the Southern city where I lived and were able to go to lunch with the gal I had just started dating.

Mom and my new girlfriend hit it off and they both enjoyed the lunch immensely. It was the one and only time that mom got to spend time with the Mrs.

Number 5--In elementary school, I received two paddlings from teachers for poor behavior. The first grade incident was for wrestling during story time, and the fifth grade incident was for, um, playing a boys tough guy game outside music class that involved hitting your friends in the lower lower midsection.

My kids have never let me hear the end of those examples of unruliness.


And the Awards Go to...

Finally, here are six excellent bloggers that I pass these awards to (Note: You are welcome to accept both awards, one of them, or none of the recognition--no pressure):

1) CL Beck: Write Up My Alley: Published author who always has something funny to say.

2) Rainbow Gulf of Love: I am always inspired after a visit to Gladwellmusau's blog.

3) Ann T. Hathaway: One of my favorite bloggers--great insights on politics, current events, policing, and life. She even splashes in super photos to show her many talents.

4) Riversongs: Great photography--I enjoy her views of nature.

5) Luke I Am Your Father aka James (Seattle Dad): A father with a big heart and a talent for telling stories.

6) Parasailing Poet: Talented writer and reflective thinker.


Thanks to all who stop by and read my posts.

Part I: Christine Walters Missing Person

The is the first post in a two or three part series on a missing woman in Northern California.

The Disappearance

On November 12, 2008, twenty-three year old Christine Lindsey Walters arrived unexpectedly on the doorstep of a rural home in Arcata, California.

The temperature that Wednesday was about 58 degrees with some light rain falling.

Despite the chilly weather, Ms. Walters was nude and covered in scratches. The likely result of her skin contacting briars as she ran through the woods.

Ms. Walters appeared scared, and after authorities arrived, she was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in nearby Eureka.

Evidently, Christine would not disclose any details to police as to her previous whereabouts.

While at the hospital, the woman called her mother in Wisconsin--stating that she had been involved in a "ceremony", and believed that someone was following her.

She was treated medically, allegedly tested negative for drugs, and authorities, feeling they had no legal authority to detain her, allowed the hospital to release Ms. Walters.

Christine, with the help of her parents, rented a room at a local hotel. Once she was settled, her parents then began arranging for a flight back to her home in Wisconsin.

On November 14th, Christine's mother faxed her daughter identification papers--as Christine had stated that her ID had been lost.

At the copy center where Christine retrieved the paperwork, workers described her behavior as paranoid and added that she had tried to hide the documents.

At about 3:30 pm that same day, Christine left the copy center and has not been seen since.

From Wisconsin to Oregon to California

In May of 2008, Christine completed her spring semester at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she was studying botany and ethnobotany.

That July, she bought a round-trip ticket to Portland, Oregon, to visit a friend for about three weeks:

...She was set to return to UW-Stevens Point in the fall. Before leaving Wisconsin, she and her mother decorated a bedroom in the house she was to share with friends in September.

But toward the end of the Portland trip, she called her parents and said she wanted to stay on the West Coast a little longer to travel to Northern California.

Friends and family who were regularly in touch with her in late summer and early fall said Walters fell in love with the area's natural beauty and a lifestyle that embraced it.

It fit with recent changes she had made: embracing natural foods and thrift store clothing, eschewing makeup and working on an organic farm in Stevens Point.

While still in Wisconsin, she taught Pilates and yoga in Deerfield and at Madison's Princeton Club, and had been offered a similar job in Stevens Point.

And it appears that in California, in addition to reveling in the landscape and summertime music festivals, she had connected with a spiritual group. She told a Stevens Point friend via a MySpace message that she had attended a shamanic gathering.

"She was getting back in touch with herself," said UW-Stevens Point student Toni Osiecki, whose final MySpace message from Walters came in early October. Osiecki said Walters apologized then for a lapse in messages, saying she had "been off the grid for a while."

"I can totally imagine her being completely content living day-to-day," Osiecki said...

Why do authorities have more hope than not that Ms. Walters is still alive?

Why do I believe the parents of the missing woman have been criticized unfairly?

What seems odd to me about the case?

What did social networking sites reveal about the woman?

I'll discuss Ms. Walters' case more next week.


The first photo was used from this site, and the second came from here.

Oh, So That Was the Noise at 3 am

In policing as with other professions, innovative ideas may not necessarily be good ones:

A shadowy figure lurking in the garden in the early hours. A rattle on a window latch.

It must be a burglar.

But don't panic too soon and call the police.

That could be them outside.

Officers have begun testing windows and doors at night as part of a campaign to increase home security.

If they find one open, they are under orders to knock on the door and drag sleepy residents from their beds and lecture them.

The move is part of an initiative called Operation Golden which aims to slash burglary rates in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

Police say their actions are necessary as almost 40 per cent of all burglars gain access through an unsecured window or door.

But some residents have condemned the plan, saying it could cause alarm and increase the fear of crime, especially among the elderly.

One 82-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said: 'If they're not careful the police will end up arresting their own officers.

It's going to get very confusing for them. If I got a knock on my door at 1am I'd tell whoever was there where to get off and I wouldn't be polite about it.'

Resident Adrian Dodd, 42, said: 'I think it is preposterous. It is all well and good advising people but you can't come trespassing on property in the dead of night and waking people up. Someone will have a heart attack.

Inspector Gareth Woods, who is heading the operation, said that it would be in effect from 4pm until 2am.

He admitted that some residents will not be happy about the wake-up call, but said: 'If we're told to get lost then that's a risk we take...

'Most reasonable people will say thanks for letting them know and be grateful.'

...Last year a 38-year-old woman from Hove in East Sussex was stunned when she walked into her lounge to find a PCSO clambering through her window. The woman, who did not want to be named, was then given a stern lecture by the officer on home security.

'I thought it was a bit much really, but it did make me think,' she said...
It is understandable that English citizens have concerns about the strategy, but can you imagine police officers in the US trying this?

Once, during my police patrol days, while assigned to the overnight shift, I was dispatched alone to a residential alarm on a busy Saturday morning about 1 am.

I found the street that the house was supposed to be located, but could not find a number matching that of the alarm call.

Representatives from the alarm company were unable to reach anyone associated with the alarm and could provide no more additional information about the house's location.

I was certain that there must have been an address error in the alarm company's system, but I did find one house on the street (away from the others) that did not have a number.

I peeked around the different sides of the house and saw nothing suspicious. I then rang the front doorbell and knocked persistently, but heard no sounds.

I remembered seeing a car that was parked inside a chain-link fence in the rear of the house.

Impatient and not thinking tactically, I double checked the fence for dogs.

Satisfied I was not going to be eaten by a family mauler, I opened the back gate, and walked through--passing near a row of windows and a sliding glass door so that I could read the license tag on the vehicle (my hope was to check the license plate though our computers and then determine if this was the correct address for the alarm or not).

Before I stopped moving, a motion detector floodlight suddenly activated in the yard and lit me up like soloist at the Metropolitan Opera.

I turned toward the house and now could clearly see a mom pointing a solid black 9 mm Beretta handgun at me through the windows. Her teen daughters squeezed in close behind her.

Mom's hands were shaking.

Using up several of my nine lives that evening, I was fortunate that she did not shoot me.

We all had a laugh about the misunderstanding (ok, mine was a nervous laugh).

It turned out, she did not own an alarm, and obviously thought I was trying to break-into her home.

How does this relate to police in the UK yanking on house windows at night?

If the "police pretending to be burglars" strategy was tried in the States, officers would be dodging bullets, ducking under the swings of ball bats, and otherwise be actively engaged in lots of fisticuffs with scared (and rightfully so) homeowners trying to defend themselves.

Police executives here would have much more opposition to such a policy than just disgruntled residents angry about being summoned to the front door during the early morning hours.


I first saw this story on this site, and the window image is from here.

Memory: The Good and the Bad

------> Childhood Home Phone Number: 799-3828.


------> High School Locker Combination: 31-22-15.


------> Favorite Varsity Football Play: Wing Right Tight, Across, 430 Boot at 9, on 2.


------> The year that residents of Vicksburg, Mississippi began celebrating the Fourth of July again after the Civil War: 1941.


------> The name of every homeroom teacher that I had up until the 7th grade : Junek, Smith, Roberts, Lamar, Gibson, Mangrum-Daniels, and Downing.


------> My first lousy report card grade: An "Unsatisfactory" in "Cutting" (Use of Scissors).


------> All 50 US state capitals: Yes, since a 6th grade teacher required that we keep taking a test on the topic until we scored a 100%.


------> My old police employee number: 63360.



------> Why is all of this historically interesting yet unimportant knowledge taking up residency in my brain, while I have no clue where I put my car keys last night?


The Town that's on Fire

In a previous post series entitled Off the Beaten Path, I discussed unique travel destinations in the United States.

One such place that I mentioned is called Centralia--a one-of-a-kind community located in North Central Pennsylvania.


Centralia is a town like no other.

Sure, it is small. The community lies in an old coal mining region. The hills and curves on area roads can make winter driving very interesting.

But that is not what makes people remember this place.

Centralia is likely the only town in the world that is on fire: literally.

The favored theory explaining this mess goes back to 1962 when a small fire started in a local garbage dump. Unfortunately, the flames spread and ignited nearby coal veins to create a massive blaze that burns uncontrollably underneath Centralia.

Efforts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and the flames have now burned for more than 47 years--with no end in sight.

In the early 1990s, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania declared Centralia, with the high levels of carbon monoxide, sink holes, and other environmental issues, a health hazard and acquired all properties in the town through eminent domain.

The majority of the people followed the State's warnings and left, but not everyone.

For a decade, the State did not enforce the relocation order; hoping that negotiation and attrition would solve the problem of those people who remained--but still several hardened residents refused to leave.

A couple of years ago, government officials took a more aggressive approach and began bulldozing homes. The goal is to make Centralia a "ghost town."

As the struggle between government and the individual plays out in this community, naturally, human interest stories like these have made the national news lately:

Standing before the wreckage of his bulldozed home, John Lokitis Jr. felt sick to his stomach, certain that a terrible mistake had been made.

He'd fought for years to stay in the house. It was one of the few left standing in the moonscape of Centralia, a once-proud coal town whose population fled an underground mine fire that began in 1962 and continues to burn.

But the state had ordered Lokitis to vacate, leaving the fourth-generation Centralian little choice but to say goodbye – to the house, and to what's left of the town he loved.

"I never had any desire to move," said Lokitis, 39. "It was my home."

...(In the past two decades) More than 1,000 people moved out, and 500 structures were razed under a $42 million federal relocation program.

But dozens of holdouts, Lokitis included, refused to go – even after their houses were seized through eminent domain in the early 1990s.

They said the fire posed little danger to their part of town, accused government officials and mining companies of a plot to grab the mineral rights and vowed to stay put. State and local officials had little stomach to oust the diehards, who squatted tax- and rent-free in houses they no longer owned...

The remaining holdouts, weary after decades of media scrutiny, rarely give interviews. But the town's 86-year-old mayor, Carl Womer, said he doubts he'll have to go.

Indeed, Lokitis and others believe that elderly residents will be allowed to live out their final years in Centralia – even after a Columbia County judge decides next month how much they should be paid for their homes.

"Nothing's happened. We're still here," said Womer, whose wife, Helen, who died in 2001, was an implacable foe of relocation. "No one's told us to move."

In reality, Centralia is already a memory – an intact street grid with hardly anything on it. All the familiar places that define a town – churches, businesses, schools, homes – are long gone...

While Lokitis felt he was in no danger, he had little recourse than to move from his late grandfather's two-story row home on West Park Street when an order to vacate arrived, one of two such notices sent last year.

Now living a few miles away, he tacked a sign on the front porch of the old homestead. "REQUIESCAT IN PACE" – rest in peace, it said. "SORRY POP."

He couldn't bear to watch the home get knocked down a few weeks before Christmas. But he couldn't stay away, either, going back after the wrecking crew had finished its work.

"It was part of my life for all 39 years, that house," he said. "It was difficult to leave it and difficult to see it demolished."

Difficult, too, to give up his dream of Centralia's rebirth.

I can understand not wanting to leave your home (especially one that has been in your family for generations), but when the quality of life deteriorates so much that your home is no longer recognizable, and conditions make it unsafe for your family to continue to reside there, I would have called it quits.

No need for me to wait and watch sink holes like this develop...

Or crumbling roads showing the fires energy going on underground...

Or water that resembles some sort of orange Kool-Aid flavor before I decide to relocate.

But each of us is a little different.


Note: All photos were used from this site.

Missing: Olivia Newton-John's Former Boyfriend

A few weeks ago, blogger My Husband's Watching TV asked me about the missing person case of Patrick McDermott.

At the time of his disappearance, McDermott was best known for being Olivia Newton-John’s boyfriend--though they had just ended the relationship after 9 years.

McDermott went missing in 2005, but new information was released last year that certainly attracted widespread media coverage...


Case Summary

McDermott vanished during an overnight chartered fishing trip off the coast of San Pedro in June of 2005. The trip included 22 other passengers and his wallet and keys were later found on the boat.

Some passengers could not remember seeing him on the charter at all, but it is believed that he was on the trip and had placed at least one order for food and drinks.

After not showing up to a family event several days later, he was reported missing by his family.

In 2006, the US Coast Guard closed their investigation into the case without finding enough evidence to make a determination-—though one media report stated detectives believed that the victim had drown.


The Latest on the Investigation

Fast-forward to 2007, when the television program Dateline hired Philip Klein, a private investigator from Texas.

Klein and his associates either learned or verified the following:

• The missing man allegedly secured a second passport under his birth name of Patrick Kim prior to disappearing.

• That McDermott purchased food and a drink an hour before the vessel he was aboard returned to port. This compact time frame made it less likely that he had fallen overboard without anyone noticing.

• More than 20 witnesses (obviously with varying degrees of confidence) reported seeing McDermott in parts of Mexico and Central America after he had vanished.

• That McDermott had previously filed bankruptcy, owed child support payments, and was heavily in debt prior to going missing. Through the disappearance, his teenage son (from a previous marriage to actress Yvette Nipar) was evidently able to collect a $100,000 life insurance payout.
Klein then spent two years chasing leads and using information gleaned from their website about the case to reach a conclusion: that Mr. McDermott is alive and hiding from his past.

Klein states that this was confirmed when his office received a fax from a “representative” of the missing man--stating that McDermott had violated no laws and simply wanted to be left alone.

This led to follow-up phone calls with the representative concerning McDermott's case.

From Klein’s site:

In October of 2008, McDermott was traced to a small hotel on the Pacific rim of Mexico's western mainland shore...

McDermott, feeling the heat from the hunt of the investigators tracking him down, fled the Cabo San Lucas area of Mexico and traveled by ferry to the mainland of Mexico following a path down the western coast of the mainland visiting smaller cities so that he could blend in...

Thinking investigators would try to track him back to Cabo - McDermott took a job with a local family on a million dollar yacht.

His looks - his mannerisms - his knowledge of what the rich and famous like and most of all his ability to attract the ladies, made him a choice pick for living and working on a million dollar yacht and simply blending into whatever port he arrived...

In February of 2009 when the heat was on - and investigators went public asking for the help of citizens all over the world - McDermott did what he is best at. He simply blended into the yachting community of Puerto Vallarta and was able to leave the area headed south...

As he barely escaped he enlisted the help of "friends" that he had trusted with his true stories. And he sent a simple message through those friends by fax. Thinking that investigators would back down and leave him alone - he now was ready to continue his life.

Was it an insurance scam with others involved? Was it a fear of going to jail? Was it an attempt at legal extortion of the owners of the freedom (Note: "Freedom" is the name of the charter fishing boat)?

Or was it just a broken man that could not hold a job, a girlfriend or be a true father to a fine young man?
Investigators believe that McDermott has disguised himself with a long beard and dyed his hair black, and his still hiding in Mexico or South America.


My Two Cents

Here are a couple of observations on the role of Klein's case website:

1) Did you notice how inflammatory the final questions were?

They seem to go after McDermott by attacking him personally and then criticizing his actions as a father. It appears that those words were directed at McDermott specifically to enrage him.

Angry persons often act carelessly and I bet that is what they were hoping from the missing man.

2) Once investigators felt confident that McDermott was checking their website, Klein used site tracking information to select specific areas in Mexico to search.

I could not find a reference to it, but remember hearing that Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK Strangler, was believed to have frequented the Internet site setup by authorities examining his crimes.

I wonder how many missing persons, who are really in hiding, visit websites created to discuss their case?

How many perpetrators of crimes against missing persons and/or others regularly visit Internet sites to learn more about their investigations?

In any event, congrats to Philip Klein for providing a plausible solution to the Patrick McDermott case; especially after authorities had all but given up on it.

Horn Honks Not From Impatient Drivers

In a similar vein to my post this week on the appeal of facial recognition software for stalkers, this defendant misused technology to saddle his former employer with plenty of reimbursement payments to customers as well as lots of lost sleep for management:

More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.

Police with Austin’s High Tech Crime Unit on Wednesday arrested 20-year-old Omar Ramos-Lopez, a former Texas Auto Center employee who was laid off last month, and allegedly sought revenge by bricking the cars sold from the dealership’s four Austin-area lots.

“We initially dismissed it as mechanical failure,” says Texas Auto Center manager Martin Garcia.

“We started having a rash of up to a hundred customers at one time complaining. Some customers complained of the horns going off in the middle of the night. The only option they had was to remove the battery.”

The dealership used a system called Webtech Plus as an alternative to repossessing vehicles that haven’t been paid for.

Operated by Cleveland-based Pay Technologies, the system lets car dealers install a small black box under vehicle dashboards that responds to commands issued through a central website, and relayed over a wireless pager network.

The dealer can disable a car’s ignition system, or trigger the horn to begin honking, as a reminder that a payment is due. The system will not stop a running vehicle.

Texas Auto Center began fielding complaints from baffled customers the last week in February, many of whom wound up missing work, calling tow trucks or disconnecting their batteries to stop the honking.

The troubles stopped five days later, when Texas Auto Center reset the Webtech Plus passwords for all its employee accounts, says Garcia.

Then police obtained access logs from Pay Technologies, and traced the saboteur’s IP address to Ramos-Lopez’s AT&T Internet service, according to a police affidavit filed in the case.

Ramos-Lopez’s account had been closed when he was terminated from Texas Auto Center in a workforce reduction last month, but he allegedly got in through another employee’s account, Garcia says.

“Omar was pretty good with computers,” says Garcia.
Projecting forward a few months, I wonder:

Will Omar be able to list the "good with computers" quote on his resume after he serves his time in prison and is looking for a job through their correctional work-release program?


Wearing his unblemished green uniform and standing far from the basketball hoop, my nine-year-old son skillfully catches the passed ball.

He suddenly looks nervous.

Not quite the white-tail deer frozen in the beam of a headlight, but close.

Without much thought, he launches an errant shot at the basket. The floating ball misses everything and falls out of bounds--an air ball.

Unfazed, he hustles down the opposite side of the court.

"Let's play some defense guys," I say from the bleachers.

This is my son's first season of basketball, and he enjoys it immensely.

Being a part of a traveling team and learning the rules took some time to get used to, but he has always been a teachable kid, and has slowly improved his game.

The key to his progression has been dedication.

Every school day at recess, while his classmates play tag or find other ways to entertain themselves, he grabs a basketball and spends his free time shooting hoops. From close and then long, from the right and then the left, he repeatedly fires balls at the basket.

Everything has gone reasonably well, except through the first eight games, he has not scored a basket.


After a few more missed shots, the boy's coach calls a timeout and the players huddle on their respective sides.

The gymnasium is not crowded.

A few dozen parents and relatives are scattered on the silver riser seats to watch the youngsters play basketball. Low scoring affairs are commonplace, and if one of the teams total more than twenty points, it is humorously labeled a barn-burner.


Back to action on the court, the boy catches a ball in the paint. He turns and launches another shot.

The ball bounces twice on the rim, and then falls to the court into the hands of an opposing player.

"Good shot. Hustle back on defense," I say.

Unfortunately, his practicing has not translated into points as he has struggled with shooting.

Averaging three shot attempts per game, some of the misses have been so close, and others were, well, not pretty.

Last weekend, his grandfather (my father-in-law) attended two games with the hope of seeing his first score. It was not meant to be as no matter how hard the little boy tried, the shots would not fall.

Disappointed but not defeated, my son continued his practice schedule at school the following week, raining shots from all over the court.


Again, my son is passed the ball.

Nine feet from the basketball hoop, without hesitation, the boy jumps and fires a shot from the left, just over the outstretched arm of a defender.

The ball seems to hang in the air for an eternity; like I was watching a slow-motion replay.

Finally, the basketball falls directly through the net, and the unmistakably sweet sound of a swish emanates through the gym.

He did it. He scored one basket.

Looking up at me while running back, he flashes a smile as wide as a child bouncing down the stairs to the living room on Christmas morning.

I smile back.

He then turns to some of his teammates and says, "Now I need to play some defense."

All parents want their children to excel beyond their own accomplishments, and I was proud to share that joyful moment with my son.

I have to admit that my first hoop in a game did not occur until I was 13 years old, so he has already bypassed me.

I did learn that it is not necessarily the successful basket, the big win, or the league championship that is the most joyous.

It is understanding the daily practice and dedication that made his personal victory possible.

All of those tiny failures and moments of despair prior to success, when quitting seemed like a reasonable option, were instead countered with courage and perseverance, and are as much a part of the final celebration as the simple swish of the net.

Rewards in this world are short lived as there is always more work to be done--exemplified by how rapidly the little guy's first two-point basket happiness transitioned into new responsibility: "Now, let's go play defense."

I think the experience was a valuable lesson for a father and his young son.



My son finished this basketball year with 13 total points (6 field goals and a free throw), and at the conclusion, had worked his way into the starting lineup. He is already practicing for next season.

Tuber of the Week #30: Great News (for Stalkers)

A few weeks ago, a new camera phone application, called Recognizr, made its debut in Europe.

Recognzr employs facial recognition technology to compare digital photos, and then locates personal information about the subject in the image.

In short, the user photographs a person using a cell phone, presses a button, and then can view the pictured person's name and other details.

Fortunately, this program currently requires participants to opt in before their names and numbers are visible to other subscribers; thus, reducing the chance for misuse.

I am sure that nothing could go wrong with this business model.

Something like this would never occur: a large sorority signs up for fun, and, weeks later, sketchy guys at a bar take a cell phone photograph of one of the participating young woman. The creepy dudes then instantly access all of the college student's personal information while seated across the room from her.

No, no way.

Or, a vengeful guy fraudulently registers with the service, provides someone else's image, and forges paperwork so that the name, address, email, and phone number of his ex-girlfriend is available for users worldwide to access.

No, I am certain reasonably sure guessing that these and other personal safety issues have all been addressed.

In any event, this scary technology will likely result in Internet users uploading more photographs of themselves showing only facial profiles, their backsides, or doing their best impersonations of the headless horseman.


I first saw this story here.

Part IX: Kathleen McBroom Missing Person

Nothing new on this investigation, but I did want to share some questions asked of me about the case.

Case Summary:

Shelia Kathleen "Beany" McBroom has not been seen since October 27, 2008 near her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. On that morning she did not show up for work, but was stopped and interviewed by an Alaska State Trooper who was investigating a reckless driving complaint.

Reportedly, the trooper was the last person to see Ms. McBroom.

Four days later, family members discovered her abandoned truck on a highway south of Anchorage. The vehicle contained her cell phone and other personal items, but offered no sign of Kathleen.

Prior to disappearing, Ms. McBroom was an avid writer and her online journal can be viewed here.


A reader over at the site Peace4themissing asked me several questions regarding Ms. McBroom's disappearance.

Here is some of that exchange:

Question #1:

In this report, it says she was pulled over by the trooper because she was driving erratically, and yet, in the next paragraph, the spokesperson says she pulled over to take a nap because she was tired. Which is true?

My Response:

The published articles vary on exactly what happened that morning, but here is what I believe:

Citizens, including a truck driver, apparently observed Ms. McBroom driving erratically and possibly striking a guardrail. One or more of them called 911.

The citizens were able to get her stopped and everyone waited until an Alaska State Trooper arrived. The trooper told the citizens he would handle the incident and they the other witnesses left.

The spokesperson for the State Troopers stated that Ms. McBroom passed a sobriety test, was checked through records, and the trooper talked with her for a short time.

Ms. McBroom evidently told the trooper that she was sleepy.

Finding no reason to detain her any longer, the trooper allegedly told the woman that if she felt tired she should take a nap (apparently they were off the road of a well-traveled highway). The officer then left.


Question #2:

This link has some interesting comments....

This comment particularly stood out to me, from someone in Anchorage, because it was my first gut reaction, also. The Trooper was the last person to see her alive, haven't found the name mentioned in news reports (yet), and sends up a red flag to me:

...Lie: Trooper says he pulled Kathy over morning of 10/27.

Truth: 3 civilians had her blocked (after flashing their lights and getting her to pull off the road) to prevent her from getting back on the highway as they waited for the trooper, after witnessing her erratic driving and confused, odd behavior, one witness even spoke to her.

Trooper also says she was sleeping, yet witness had just talked to her minutes before.

He shouldv'e called a family member to come pick her up. It was absolutely incompetent for the trooper to allow her to drive again. She needed help! That type of driving could've killed someone.

Troopers and detective never contacted witness after she went missing. Witness had to contact them.

Lie: Troopers say they found her truck still there and further down the road doing a welfare check.

Truth: The family found her truck as they searched themselves and were not notified by troopers until that time that a trooper had talked to her the previous Monday.
Why wasn't the family told about what had on 10/27? The family reported her missing Tuesday.

What are the troopers hiding?

My Response:

I was not there and do not know Ms. McBroom's condition when she was stopped. From the statements released by authorities, they argue that their officer had no legal ground to prohibit Kathleen from driving that day.

Thus, the trooper made a judgment call to let Ms. McBroom operate the vehicle again.

It is unclear if a traffic accident report was completed (if Ms. McBroom struck a guardrail), but since it appears that the trooper did not get the witnesses contact information, representatives from the agencies involved (Alaska State Troopers and Anchorage Police Department) had no choice but to ask the public for those with information to come forward for statements—-and they did.

Why the family was not told is simple: it was two different large agencies involved, and representatives had no idea that Ms. McBroom had been stopped there that morning by the police since little or no paperwork was completed due to the trooper’s selected course of action.

Unfortunately, these things happen.

From my perspective, it is not uncommon for a trooper or officer’s name not to be released to the press in cases like this unless there is a proactive media or family representatives involved to push for such.

In this investigation, I don’t see the police as "hiding" something.

I think it could be argued that authorities were concerned of the civil litigation involved in the trooper's decision to let Ms. McBroom go that morning--especially concerning would be if the disoriented woman fell to her death after she was released by police.


Question #3:

The other thing that's worrisome to me is why her family would have her declared dead so quickly, and how did that happen if Alaska law says 5 years?

My Response:

Alaska law does include a year limit, but an application can be made at any time when there is a strong evidence to believe that the missing person is deceased.

I do not know what evidence was presented that had her declared legally dead.

One reader suggested that the information might be available via public records, and I am researching that possibility.

More questions and answers from this conversation can be found here.

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

*Photos were used from local media reports.

Connecting Pennies and Urinals: It Must Be Friday

Recently, Amy of Windy City Whimsy used a creative approach for a post.

She employs a site tracker on her blog to record visitor stats, and from that information, compiled a list of odd and humorous keywords that readers have entered in search engines before arriving on her website.

Many site trackers are free to download, like Sitemeter (what I use) and Google Analytics, and they are useful in identifying posted topics that interest people.

Curious, I wondered what peculiar entry methods characterized some of my blog's visitors.

Here are five:

5) Keywords: "Fancy Urinal"
Post Result: Awkward

Before starting restroom repairs at your school, social club, or neighborhood bar, it is essential to know the greatest equipment designs for men needing to relieve themselves.

Also, me visiting a public restroom while juggling rowdy twins in need of diaper changes offers a bit of comic relief.


4) Keywords: "Chuck E. Cheese Arrest"
Post Result: Where a Kid Can Be a Kid/Delinquent/Frat Pledge

Yes, even the nation's premier family restaurant and arcade gets its share of bad publicity due to crime on-site.

I ended my post with this observation about criminal activity at the Cheese:

...I remember during my patrol days, during a pre-shift briefing, one of the supervisors read an extra patrol due to gang activity at Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza. Amidst all of the laughter, I immediately thought about how much street credibility that “gang members” could possibly have who were concerned with marking the skee-ball and dancing mouse stage as their turf.

3) Keywords: "Guaranteed Pick-up Lines"
Post Result: Pick-up Lines and Crime

Connecting a dumb criminal story with golden pick-up lines like: "Did it hurt? You know when you fell from heaven and landed here" should qualify me to readily dispense dating advice to readers, right?

Ok, maybe this role is way past my skill set...

In any event, I hope my tips worked for these visitors and their social lives.


2) Keywords: "Coins and Breathalyzer"
Post Result: Trying to Beat the Breathalyzer

I am sure the popularity of this search is correlated to those trying to avoid being arrested from excessive New Years Eve, St. Patrick's Day, and Fourth of July celebrations.

And no, keeping pennies in your mouth does not disrupt the breathalyzer machine, but it is more sanitary than what the Canadian fellow tried (also described in the post).


1) Keywords: "Pimp and Stun"
Post Result: Tuber of the Week: Brachial Plexus Stun

Though these two words seem like an odd combination, they are actually spot on to see a classic brachial plexus stun application that was an old favorite used by trainers in police academies.

I should charge each of these visitors a fee to view this video, as it took me hours to find it online when all I could remember about the clip was the technique and that it had to do with a man confronting disorderly prostitution activities.

It is a wonder that I am still married with some of the search engine results that I had to ignore before finding this gem.

Career Watch: I Can Do That!

The US Department of Labor estimates that workers between the ages of 18 and 38 change jobs an average of 10 times, so in the current perilous economic environment it is imperative to develop a diverse set of employment skills.

I am doing my part, and being ever vigilant for opportunities to improve my chances of continuous employment.

Recently, I considered building some artistic abilities into my skill set.

Though I am starting from nothing, I remember practicing long hours in grade school during Math and English classes (as opposed to listening)--drawing numerous iterations of naval battleships, submarines, and destroyers engaged in ocean skirmishes.

I know that my drawing skills, comprised almost exclusively of stick figures, need improvement, but after viewing the following wanted posters from police sketch artists, this career path may be an alternative worthy of further consideration.

Sketch #1

This person is wanted for robbery, and we have whittled the list of suspects down to human beings... who wear dark sunglasses...

Sketch #2

Be on the lookout for this suspect who definitely has one nose and one chin.

Sketch #3

I may apply for a job at this agency in Portugal as a I am guessing that their sketch artist resigned mid-drawing*:

In sum, I am brushing up on my coloring with the little ones, and I'll let you all know how my exciting future as a police sketch artist proceeds.


The idea for this post was taken from the Huffington Post's recent article entitled The 14 Funniest Police Composite Sketches, and you can see more humorous wanted person drawings there.


*Note: This image was not officially released by police, but was recreated by members of the media after interviewing persons who met with authorities.

Tuber of the Week #29: Give 'em Somethin' to Talk About

Do you want your idea or product to attract attention?

One essential marketing element involves investing lots of creative energy so that the item's vehicle has universal appeal.

Building a mind-boggling Rube Goldberg Machine as the members of OK Go did for their song's video This Too Shall Pass doesn't hurt either...

Here is additional information on the making of the video.


Note: I initially saw this on this blog.

Part IV: The Disappearance of Beau Ramsey

I wanted to thank Rowe at Societe Amore for recognizing one of my February entries with an SAP award that she gives monthly for two posts that offer ", zest, exuberance" in the blogosphere.

I'll have to verify how much cash that I owe Rowe for making such a public statement of support.

Today's entry is the fourth and final planned post for my series on the disappearance of Beau Ramsey.


Case Summary:

On August 17, 2004, twenty-three year old Beau Ramsey, was following his employer to a construction site in Benton, Arkansas. Beau’s coworkers reported that Ramsey fell behind in traffic and never made it to the job’s location.

A few days later, Beau’s motorcycle, with the keys in the ignition, was found abandoned on a dirt road near the county line.

Nine-months after Beau had been reported missing, his decomposed body was found in a heavily wooded area about three miles south of where his motorcycle had been recovered.


In Part III, I discussed sightings and the recovery of the missing man's motorcycle.

Police and volunteers were able to conduct additional searches of the rural area where the bike was found, but unfortunately nothing new was uncovered.

Sadly, the missing person portion of the story was closed when a citizen discovered Beau's clothing and house keys which led investigators to discover his remains:

...The bones lay in dense underbrush between a gravel road and a railroad bed in northern Grant County, about three miles south of the woods near Baxter Trail where Beau’s abandoned motorcycle was found.

After finding the keys, Donna Gentry—who was searching for Beau, as she has so often done since her friend’s son disappeared—called Sheriff Mask...

Beau’s father Jerry Ramsey took the keys to the apartment at his home, where Beau had been living; they fit...

The area around Baxter Trail had been searched extensively in the months since Beau’s disappearance. Though several people had come close, none had looked in the spot where the remains were found.

The fact that the area is so overgrown with bushes indicates that Beau may not have gone there on his own, but that his body was hidden there, possibly by someone in a vehicle approaching on the adjacent road...
Why was Beau's motorcycle abandoned on the seldom used road? What was his body found so far from the bike? Where had the victim been on the night he disappeared? Did he meet with his childhood friend (Jon Thibault), who police believed that Beau owed money to, prior to disappearing?

The answers to these questions are unclear, and the case remains an unsolved homicide.


What aspects are important in relation to future missing person investigations?

Here are three:

1) Citizen Involvement in a Case is an Asset

Donna Gentry, who found the clothing, is a friend of the victim's family. She had participated in the original searches and continued walking the wooded areas periodically for the months that followed. A citizen being observant helped bring some closure to Beau's family, and provided police with remains and evidence to further the investigation.

2) The Term "Cleared Area" is a Misnomer

As stated above, Beau's remains were likely missed during previous efforts.

It is imperative in these types of investigations that areas be searched comprehensively in an organized fashion (which can be a challenge when volunteers assisting have varying levels of training and skills).

Just because an area has been cleared certainly does not mean that there is nothing or will never be anything there in relation to a case.

There is nothing wrong with conducting additional searches in areas that have already been examined; especially as conditions change.

Perhaps the most well known example of the need to search a cleared area on more than one occasion was in the Caylee Anthony case--when authorities resisted several opportunities to search a "cleared area" before eventually finding the young child's body there.

3) Case Information Distribution is Essential

It is essential that pertinent information relating to the missing person, including the specifics regarding his/her vehicle, be entered into law enforcement databases and otherwise disseminated.

Had Beau's recovered motorcycle been linked immediately to a missing person case, investigators could have processed it properly as well as initiating additional searches in a timely manner.


In sum, studying missing persons cases that have been closed, and identifying positives and negatives, can only help authorities and the public better respond to these incidents in the future--as sadly, there will be more puzzling cases like Beau Ramsey.

For the previous posts in this series, click here.

What is this Mayor Thinking?

This story was the subject of an interesting post by James Gunter over at The Crime Map:

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Twitter account with no ties to Portland police is using the police bureau's badge and operating under the name "pdxpolice."

The operator of the account has already posted some startling tweets, including one that declared the user was using Photoshop to place Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman's face in gay pornography.

Some Portlanders said the account could send the wrong message to unsuspecting visitors.

"People are looking for the Portland police department and that's the information they get," said John Stevens, who works in downtown Portland.

Other posts on the Twitter account poke fun at the fact that a Portland police officer had a gun and Taser recently stolen from an unmarked police vehicle. The tweets also touch on Officer Chris Humphreys, who shot a 12-year-old girl with a beanbag round during an arrest last year.

The police bureau's real Twitter account, located at Portland Police, boasts 1,784 followers.

The fake account, located at PDX Police, has just 28 followers and Mayor Sam Adams is among them.

Adams press secretary said he was not interested in commenting on the account...
I am guessing that more fake Twitter police accounts will soon appear elsewhere in the US, but Twitter's Verify Account (which is currently being tested) or some other solution will soon make impersonators a non-issue.

In my opinion, Mayor Sam Adams response to the situation is the disturbing part of this story.

As the city's leader, you cannot allow your name to be linked to an individual who is spewing offensive content on the Web.

With the Mayor listed as a follower of the impersonator, it adds some credibility to the deceptive police agency's account.

When the story broke, I think Mayor Adams had two options after telling the press that his office was looking into the matter:

1) He admits to being duped and states that he mistakenly registered to receive Tweets from the fraudulent account. He continues that the problem has been resolved, and that he is no longer a follower of the impersonator; or,

2) He learns that the fake police follower on Twitter is not using his account and is an impersonator as well. He then informs the press of his staff's findings.
"No comment" is not an acceptable answer for an executive when his/her photo appears next to some goofball discussing porn online.

It is even more inexcusable considering that the story broke over three days ago and the mayor, with his smiling face, is still listed as a follower to offensive police impersonator.

UPDATE: 3/6/2010

I spoke directly with Portland Mayor's Communication Director Roy Kaufmann and verified that the comment originally left on my post was from him.

I appreciate Roy taking time to leave his office's explanation as to the story, and I wanted to attach his text directly to the post:

Thanks for your post. Here at the mayor's office, we utilize twitter and other social media platforms to follow conversations happening in the Portland community. Initially, we followed the twitter feed in question as one of hundreds of portland feeds. however, with the feed's tweets becoming increasingly intolerant and hurtful, we have stopped following this feed. I appreciate the conversation around this issue and always want to get better at navigating social media and the public sector.


roy Kaufmann

communications director

office of mayor adams
Roy also stated that the "no comment" I referred to in my post was in relation to the legality of the police impersonator in which he referred the media's questions on that topic to police officials.

Further, he told me that he confirmed this morning that the mayor was not a follower of the police impersonator (I tried to verify the removal as I write this update, but still see Mayor Sam Adams as "following" the bogus law enforcement Twitter feed).

Becoming a Girl Magnet

Our nine-year-old son spoils us.

He has always been well-behaved and mature.

In school, we found out another parent asked the teacher to have her son be seated next to our child as much as possible-—to help with the other kid's in-class behaviors.

Honestly, mom and dad can take little credit for our oldest child’s goodness; as illustrated daily by his raucous younger brother and sister.

In addition to being well-liked by the teachers and boys at school, our son's athletic ability, muscular tall build, and easy-going personality evidently appeal to his classmates of the opposite sex as well.

I say evidently because I did not carry such “burden” in school.

In any event, I thought the following was a revealing exchange between father and son.

GRADE SCHOOL SON: The girls at school talk to me all of the time.

ME: Well, that must make you feel good. Anyone I know?

GRADE SCHOOL SON: Probably not, they are just in my class.

ME: What do these young ladies say to you?

GRADE SCHOOL SON: Well, this girl Abigail, who sits in front of me, told me yesterday how much she enjoys speaking with me in homeroom.

ME: Really?

GRADE SCHOOL SON: Yeah, she said that I am sort of interesting, and plus, when she turns to talk, she can stare at the clock on the wall behind me.


After so many years of school that included endlessly watching clocks on walls and wishing time would move faster, how did I miss this essential ingredient in becoming a female magnet?

All that I needed to get girls to talk to me was to sit in a desk directly in front of a classroom clock.

Missed opportunities…



First, I apologize for being tardy with my award duties.

Thank you to Suzicate and Doraz for graciously presenting me with the Sunshine Award.

Second, Natalie at Martin Enterprises gave me the Happy 101 Award.

With Natalie's generous gift, I have to list ten things that make me happy, so here goes:

1) Melting snow.

2) Gold medal-winning Olympians who no one gave a chance to finish first.

3) A 3rd grade basketball player who just scored the second basket of his career hours after learning that his grandfather had passed away.

4) Pecan pie and vanilla ice cream.

5) Reading to my children.

6) Playing catch with a dog.

7) Running alone.

8) Being half-way done with a good book.

9) Hitting the snooze button.

10) Remembering the holidays as a child.
With the awards, I am instructed to pass them along to others, and since I have two, the following folks are welcome to accept both, one, or none--no pressure.

--Diary from Scotland

--Proud Military Mom

--Binky's Alternate Reality

--What You Do Not Know Because You are Not me

--BobKat’s Lair


--Nikole Hahn's Journal

For what to do with the awards and rules, see Suzicate's post.

Note: The Happy 101 Award's rules are the same, you just have to list 10 things that make you happy in addition to the other requirements.


Now, after discussing images of flowers and pretty awards, I think I need a moment to regain a portion of my masculinity.

Please excuse the following manly photos to help me realign the equilibrium of my blog.

Note: The football image is from this site, and the venison jerky photo is from here.

Ok thanks, back to the post--and just be glad I did not include armpits or feet...


Odds and Ends

To ensure that any free time I have is not wasted, I'd like to thank the following bloggers for sending me free books.

--> Nikole at Nikole Hahn's Journal sent me Diane Mott Davidson's mystery novel Dark Tort.

--> Reggie at Grains of Sand sent me a copy of her excellent book entitled Gold Mines, Elephants and Foefie Slides: An Adventurous Weekend on the Garden Route.

--> Also, a big thank you to Sean Fraser aka The Dolls Point Blogger who met inspirational survivor Judith Sleavin in New Zealand (whose story I discussed in these two posts), purchased her book, and sent me a copy with a personal message inscribed by Ms. Sleavin.

Thanks again to everyone--the readers and writers. The blogging experience continues to amaze me.

Another Use for Playing Cards

Note: I'll be back next week with my next post on the Beau Ramsey disappearance. In the meantime, I offer this topic for Missing Persons Monday.

This past December, crime writer Stacy Horn discussed the State of New York dispensing playing cards to inmates that feature photos of missing persons and cold case homicide victims. The obvious hope is that those incarcerated will be able to provide new information on these baffling cases.

With New York's version:

...This deck was developed by Doug and Mary Lyall, whose daughter Suzanne went missing in 1998 when she was 19 years old. The deck comes with instructions about how the inmate can provide tips. The inmate is not required to identify themselves, although they may be eligible for a reward if they do...
Officials in New York are not the only state using this approach.

Since 2005, I saw that more than a dozen jurisdictions have used some version of a deck of cards featuring active investigations.

In reading about the strategy, I had two questions.


1) Do the Playing Cards Work in Generating More Tips?

I researched the issue and did not find the answer.

Ms. Horn's post does not say.

She includes total leads received for about 18 months regarding the cases featured on the playing cards, but, in reality, that new information could have come from numerous sources and not just the decks.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that a pair of cases have been solved using their decks:

In July 2007, approximately 100,000 decks of cold case playing cards were distributed to inmates in the state’s prisons. The two editions featured 104 unsolved cases from across Florida.

Two cases have been solved as a result: the murder of James Foote and the murder of Ingrid Lugo.

This year, state partners once again teamed up to develop a third edition deck. This deck was distributed to 65,000 inmates in all 67 county jails and to 141,000 supervised offenders serving on state probation. The third edition features 52 new unsolved homicide and missing persons cases.
In defense of measuring the approach's effectiveness it can be difficult to track the nature of the referral source when authorities are dealing with so many anonymous tips.

So, do the cards produce new case information?

It seems that this question would make for a difficult yet interesting research topic.

2) Should Missing Children Be Included?

Since the cards are being given to inmates, some who have been or are currently being held on sexual related offenses, I was curious if the cards include the cases of children.

In New York's effort, the answer is "Yes" as two of the fifty-two cards feature victims under 18 years of age.

Doug Lyall, the developer of the cards for New York, stated that he always gets permission from relatives before publishing the selected cases.

I skimmed through the decks of cards in Florida, and it appears that photos for any case featuring someone under 18 was not included, only a summary.

In addition, some of the Florida adult cases highlighted, like this card of 31-year old homicide victim "Pat" Amin, did not include a photo of the victim either:

In my opinion, not including a photo of an adult victim seems to defeat the purpose of the deck--someone seeing a familiar face that results in a new lead.


I think the playing cards are a good idea, but I would like to see a study of the results of this approach.

I would want to know information like:

--Which cases (fugitive, missing person, or unsolved homicide) are more likely to generate tips?

--Should the cards feature "new" investigations exclusively?

--How important is suspect information?
Also, I can understand why parents of missing children may want to have their son or daughter featured on a deck of playing cards as they desperately search for their loved ones.

Personally, I am not sold on giving all inmates cards that include photos of children. It would seem that some of those incarcerated, with lots of free time to conjure up fantasies, may use the cards in a demented way.

Obviously, this will not help society at all when these folks serve their time and are then released.


So, what did you think: should decks of cards be distributed to inmates that include the photos of missing children?