Surprise: You are Now Featured on Man versus Wild

I think Ian Cole, a Michigan tourist visiting Australia, likely shaved ten years off of his life after this experience:


Australian authorities are investigating a recent incident in which a Great Barrier Reef dive boat accidentally left behind a U.S. snorkeler, forcing him to swim to another boat.

Ian Cole...said the Passions of Paradise tour boat took off without him Saturday on Michaelmas Cay near Cairns.

Cole, who was given a $200 restaurant voucher as compensation by the tour company, said he feared he would drown in a scenario reminiscent of the 1998 case of abandoned American scuba divers Tom and Eileen Lonergan off nearby Port Douglas - an incident that inspired the film Open Water.

"Panic kicks in, your heart rate goes up, and you don't know what's going to happen. I was sucking water back into my snorkel and was really trying hard to stay calm," Cole told the Sydney Morning Herald.

''When I got to the other boat they looked down like 'what the hell are you doing here?' They said my boat had left 15 minutes ago. I thought they were joking.''

Though I enjoy snorkeling close to shore, I would be "on edge" to take a dive boat into the ocean for a swim.

My personal safety precaution would be to insist that a rope be tied to my leg with the other end securely fastened to the boat captain's leg.

In essence, the boat and captain are not leaving that area without me dragging him into the water.

Also in the article about Mr. Cole's swim, a representative from the marine park tourism operators accused Mr. Cole of embellishing the dangers involved in the incident and offered this gem:

...told the Herald that Cole was "making a mountain out of a molehill," dismissing his ordeal as no worse than "being left behind at a beach."

Yeah, a beach on a DESERTED ISLAND that features predators and an occasional ship passing--a ship with a crew not expecting to see a human being swimming for help.

Sleep and Dreams

After some self-reflection, I realized something that is likely of little importance.

If I don't get a reasonable amount of sleep, I either do not dream or have no recollection of them.

In contrast, if I able to carve out sufficient time for sleep, I have lots of vivid dreams.

So, either I should get more sleep and enjoy the dreaming, or prevent those darn aliens from abducting me at night for their secret testing.

---------------

Do you have memorable dreams every night or just periodically?

Does the amount of sleep impact you remembering dreams?

The Limit

I am not sure when I'll have my next "Missing Person Monday" post.

I have lots of cases that I am researching, but nothing ready for the blog yet.

Thanks to all of those readers who made suggestions on missing persons and crime victims, and the cases that I am currently studying are (in no order):

Nikki LaDue January
Jacob Wetterling
David Hartley
Robert Wone

Anyway, I offer this for a Monday...
__________________________________________

Our older son has always seemed mature.

When he was two, the Mrs. would drag him to meetings at her work, and he would sit quietly looking at a book until they were over.

Note: We would never try this with either of our younger twins. It would likely result in a fire and several calls placed to 911.

As a fourth grader, we received reports of him helping to tie the shoes of a younger student after he saw the boy crying.

His maturity fits well in our noisy household that includes an attention-seeking sister and an unpredictable brother (his little brother has an autism-related disorder, but enjoys laughing and is quite the comedian nonetheless).

In respect to the older boy's maturity, I recently observed that he is not embarrassed when:

--Mom or I show up to retrieve him at basketball practice in the lowly mini-van. 

--He receives recognition from a principal for high grades while his friends relish in mediocrity.

--His brother goes into a screaming fit in a store, and we as a family make a hasty and noisy exit.

--I display my cannonballing skills in front of him for the little kids at a public swimming pool.

--His younger sister tries to give him a hug when we pick him up from school.

So what is older brother's limit?

His little brother's new "fixation" is on the youth "boy band" Big Time Rush. Little Luca now sings and dances in front of mirrors mimicking the young television performers.

Yes, having your four-year old brother repeatedly belt out the words "Looking for a Boyfriend" from a Big Time Rush Song while the family walks through a shopping mall was too much for the older boy.

With his head down and face turning red, big brother was embarrassed.

I see it as good training though.

Just wait until big brother turns 12 or 13 and realizes all of dad's faults (I mean beyond public cannonballing)--now that will elict some bright red colors.

-------------

Note: The words to the song are actually "You're looking for a boyfriend", but of course the little guy missed the "You're" part to change the meaning quite a bit.

Do You Write Like a Girl?

In 2003, researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Bar-Ilan University in Israel developed an approach that attempted to predict an author's gender based on word usage.

Their method "described a Bayesian network where weighted word frequencies and parts of speech" could predict whether an author is male or female.  They also noted distinctions between fiction and non-fiction writing styles, and include separate yet similar methods for evaluating each type.

Based on the research, an easy to use "Gender Guesser" was developed. 

You can go here to the Gender Guesser, and paste a sample for an evaluation (at least 300 words for best accuracy).

I plugged in a sample of my informal writing and received this analysis:

Genre: Informal
Female = 455
Male = 443
Difference = -12; 49.33%
Verdict: Weak FEMALE
Weak emphasis could indicate European.

Weak female?

Not 100% male?

Wait, I want a recount.

No, no I am ok.

Sorry, but I'll be over here belching and eating beef jerky if anyone needs this guy.

-----------------

So how masculine or feminine is your writing?

____________________________________

Have a great weekend everyone.

Best Gift

What is the best gift?

I am sure the answer varies somewhat for each of us.

I offer that a best gift is one that is meaningful, involves lots of effort to make happen, and is given to someone who will never be able to repay you.

Something like this one:



CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA— ...It was a simple request, but one that meant everything to him in his last days.

Kevin McClain wanted to see his dog one last time, before he passed away from lung cancer.

His hospice staff and workers at a local animal shelter made it happen; he died a few days later.

His dog "Yurtie" has been adopted by a new family and is adjusting well.

My thanks go to the paramedic, the hospice workers, and the folks at the animal shelter for making this happen for a homeless man.

I hope that all of us can deliver a few "best gifts" before we pass from this earth.

---------------------------------

Note: If you have trouble watching the imbedded video or it is too small, you can follow this link and watch it here.

Two Weeks or 26 Years: The Pain is Real

I usually limit my missing persons posts to one per week, but I have two this time...
__________________________________________________

Blogger Sister Copinherhair has been keeping me informed on the latest in a 1985 missing child case from the Pittsburgh, PA area--that of Cherrie Mahan.

Sister Copinherhair remembers this sad and frightening story being on the news every night when she was a child. 


On February 22, 1985, at around 4 pm, then eight-year-old Cherrie exited a school bus near her home, and has been missing since.

A blue or green Dodge van with a distinctive skier mural was seen in the area, but unfortunately has been a lead that never materialized.

Last week, detectives were investigating promising tips on this decade old case, but it ended in disappointment:

PITTSBURGH -- Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle just spoke with authorities in Michigan who said they have looked into claims from a tipster there that Cherrie Mahan was alive, well and living in rural Michigan...

A spokesman for the sheriff’s department in Michigan told Earle that the woman in questions is not Mahan.

The spokesman said his investigators interviewed the woman and saw a copy of her birth certificate. He said they also went to the local high school where she graduated from and saw pictures of her from as early as Kindergarten...

State police here in Pennsylvania had been investigating the claims after several people came forward and said they spotted a van similar to the one used in the Mahan abduction, and a girl matching Cherrie’s description at a track meet in Michigan 26 years ago...

Paralleling this emotion, the pain of a missing daughter was exemplified in this touching scene from Friday's daily press conference on the search for missing college student Lauren Spierer:

...Her father, Robert Spierer, became emotional as he reminded reporters that Sunday would be Father's Day.

"I would ask any of the children out there to ... let your parents ..." he managed before emotion kept him from going on.

His wife, Charlene Spierer, stepped in to finish for him.

"I'd like to say that Sunday is Father's Day and the greatest gift Robbie could have is getting information about Lauren," she said...

Whether it is two weeks or 26 years of disappointment and not knowing, the pain continues for the families of Cherrie and Lauren--as each holds onto hope to be reunited with their loved one. 

Hoping and praying for a miracle.

Part V: Crime Victim Sgt. Patrick Rust

This is my last planned post on the Rust case...
_________________________________


Case Summary

On March 16, 2007 at about 1 am, US Army Sergeant Patrick Rust, who had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan, left a bar called Clueless in Watertown, NY. Rust had been drinking with friends at the establishment for several hours, was apparently intoxicated, and the bartender refused to serve him any more.

After leaving the bar, investigators reported that Rust's phone was used twice to call one of the friends he had talked with that night/morning. Police have been unable to find anyone who saw him alive again.

Rust did not show-up for work at Fort Drum that next morning and Rust's mother, his roommate, and his supervisor subsequently reported him missing.

Six months later, Rust's skeletal remains were found in a field six miles from the bar. An autopsy was inconclusive as to a cause of death.

-------------------------------------

So, we have a missing active-duty Army sergeant whose remains are found in a farmer's field several miles from where he was last seen months earlier leaving a local tavern.

Sgt. Rust's wallet and some money are located with the remains.

The night he went missing, he reportedly inquired about purchasing cocaine, and met friends at a tavern that is described by some as a "gay bar."

Oddly, a few hours before Rust was scheduled for work, Sgt. Rust's roommate notified Rust's supervisor that the man did not make it home the previous night and would not be at work that day.

Three law enforcement agencies conducted investigations, but the case is currently closed (referred to as "administratively closed") with no arrests being made--with no plans to reopen it unless new information becomes available.

Why is it closed?

I believe the case is not being pursued for three reasons:

1) The Coroner's Report Revealed Little Information

Was Sgt. Rust strangled?  Was he stabbed?  Was he poisoned?  With a system full of alcohol, did he die of hypothermia on that cold night?  Without specifics that can be used to prove that a crime was committed involving the sergeant's death, developing a criminal case is quite difficult.

2) The Case Was Not Thought to Be a Death Investigation 

Initially, it was believed by military officials that Sgt. Rust had gone AWOL.  As with missing persons cases when foul play is not expected, leads and information that may have been present on day one, are later gone or certainly much harder to find.

3) There is a Person of Interest, but He is Not Talking

In October of 2008, Detective Steven Cote of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department confirmed in the media that police had been trying to talk with a soldier who had reportedly been with Sgt. Rust prior to his disappearance.  Evidently, the soldier provided military investigators an oral statement, but was soon after deployed to the Middle East.  When the person of interest returned to the US,  he refused to provide written statements about the case, was discharged from the military, and then invoked his right to an attorney.

Authorities decided to speak to the now ex-soldier's ex-wife, and she made some startling statements. 

In describing a previous altercation, she told authorities that her soldier-husband stated that she would end up like Rust unless she did as she was told.  She further stated that her ex-husband had a deep hatred for those he thought were homosexuals, and had also threaten to assault another gay friend of hers. 

In essence, she felt her ex-husband was certainly capable of violence against another person he accused of being homosexual. 

----------------------

In sum, with the unknown cause of death, confusion as to the reason for the man's disappearance, and a person of interest who is refusing to talk with authorities, Sgt. Rust's case is difficult to resolve.

From the title of the series, it is obvious that I believe Sgt. Rust to be a crime victim.

In any event, my prayers are with his family, and for a resolution to this mysterious death.

_________________________________________

More information on this case can be found at Patrickrust.com or my other posts on Sgt. Rust are here. The family's website and their collection of news items is an excellent resource.

Riots in Vancouver: The American Reaction

I was not surprised to see rioting occur in Vancouver Wednesday night after the Canucks lost to Boston in the NHL championship series.



Combine lots of alcohol, crowds of young people, and an issue folks are passionate about, and it is not uncommon to see revelry that results in broken windows and torched patrol cars.

I was surprised to see Vancouver's police chief attribute the problems to the pre-planned actions of "criminals and anarchists," and it will be interesting to see if police are able to substantiate that charge after additional arrests are made for all of the destruction.

Contrary to the official explanation, the images and videos seem to show what one would expect to see in a riot: young drunks impulsively acting out violence while fueled by alcohol and the exhilaration of the moment.  

On a lighter note about the riot, one commenter had this to say:

Boston being out riotted by Canadians!?!  Just another sign of American's (sp) decline...
Yes, we Americans are even overly competitive in our ability to perpetrate large-scale urban vandalism and looting.

Good grief.
___________________________________

Have a good weekend everyone. 

The Best that Never Was

A documentary that is worth watching debuted on ESPN late last year.

The Best that Never Was is more of a human interest story than one of a sports.

It focuses on the life of Marcus Dupree, an amazing athlete from a small town in Mississippi, who during the 1980s was one of the most heavily recruited football players of all time.



Marcus was bigger, stronger, and faster than any of his peers. 

He was what scouts described as a phenom--a talent that is seen once in a lifetime.

Marcus Dupree was a "can't miss kid."

But he did.

In short, a lack of maturity, injuries, and persons wanting to exploit his talents resulted in him never achieving athletic greatness (Note: I was glad that substance abuse was not an issue; one that has been a challenge for so many).

Marcus played just over one year of football for the University of Oklahoma before he quit the team, and returned home.

He then played two years professionally, but suffered a major injury that nearly ended his career. 

When he finished football after another two-year stint; he was a good player, but nowhere near the legend that everyone thought they would see.

 And after his sports career was over, still a young man, he returned home and drove trucks.

"Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising."  --Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise

Even today, Marcus still regularly deals with people recognizing and reminding him of what could have/should have been in sports.

It must be a difficult burden.

Despite the disappointment, Marcus is thankful for the opportunities that he had, obviously wishes that things had gone differently, but is content with his current life.

That of a quiet existence away from the limelight.

-----------------------

The story got me thinking of my own life.

What dream for the future did I have as a child?

At what was I was going to be the greatest?

What dream went unfulfilled?

My answer is a geologist.

Ok, so it was not the most glamorous dream, but the thought of digging in the dirt all day and finding precious gems and fossils was a star that I was once shooting for.

I read rock books.  I studied charts and photos, and soon impressed everyone with my new found knowledge. 

Anyway, things changed, and I chose criminal justice as a field. 

But that child with the the shovel and bucket wanting to find a shiny stone still resides inside of me.

Fortunately, our kids will let me take them on a fossil hunt--at least a small taste of what might have been.

___________________________

So, is there a profession that you could have been one of the greatest at had you pursued it? 

Is there an unfulfilled career aspiration that you dreamed of as a child?   

A Spouse Confession: Selective Listening

This was a recent conversation between the Mrs. and me.  I might have been a little distracted.

----------------------


THE MRS.: Now, this week is busy.  I have afternoon meetings on Tuesday and Thursday.  Sissy starts her gymnastics on Monday at 4 pm.  Will you remember that?

SLAMDUNK: Uh... Uh...Yeah...

THE MRS: Big Boy has camp every day until 4:30 pm, and on Wednesday, little Luca's TSS worker won't be able to go to preschool with him, so you two have a guys' morning out.  Are you listening to me?

Moment of silence.

SLAMDUNK: Er...Sure...

THE MRS: You also have the car repair appointment on Friday--the one for the recall.  And, thank you for folding the bath towels.  You did a great job, this time.

----------------------------

Okay, now the same recent conversation from my perspective.

THE MRS.: Tada, tada week is busy. Tada, tada, tada, starts her gymnastics tada, tada, tada.  on Monday tada, tada.  Will you remember that?

SLAMDUNK: Uh... Uh...Yeah...

THE MRS: Big Boy tada tada tada tada Wednesday, little Luca tada, tada, tada tada. Tada tada you listening to me?

Moment of silence.

SLAMDUNK: Er...Sure...

THE MRS: Tada tada tada Friday--tada tada tada.  And, tada tada folding the bath towels. Tada tada tada great job, THIS TIME.

SLAMDUNK:  Wait.  What was that?  This time?  What's wrong with my towel folding?

----------------------

So this is what a spouse refers to as "selective listening."

Ok, I plead guilty as charged. 

On Campus Police

Sorry No Missing Person Monday post for this week.  Instead I wanted to discuss this story...
_________________________________________

One of the more difficult jobs in law enforcement is that of the college/university police officer.

Since each college/university and state has different requirements, campus law enforcement varies--some have armed state certified police officers, while others are unarmed security guards. 

For the certified police officers on campus, often, employees and students of the institution view them as a "rent-a-cops" and offer little respect. 

The general public's opinion of these men and women is likely to be worse. 

But, the most difficult aspect for certified college/university police departments is this--higher education administrators rarely want their officers to truly be police officers:

It was a Saturday on campus when David Sedmak, a Rice University police officer, heard "Officer down, officer down!" on his scanner: Two members of the Houston Police Department had been shot downtown. Sedmak rushed to the scene to help his fellow officers.

But Rice didn't see Sedmak as a hero. Instead, the university fired him, citing "dereliction of duty."

The university said in a statement that its officers often assist other law enforcement agencies when the need arises. But Sedmak erred, it said, by not informing the university police dispatcher about where he was.

"Sedmak left his post when only two other officers were on duty and failed to notify his supervisor of his whereabouts for nearly an hour, which could have endangered the safety of our students and campus," according to the university.

The May 7 episode that led to Sedmak's controversial dismissal began when Jesse Brown, 20, was seen with a pistol as he tried to buy a ticket at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Houston. When HPD officer Fernando Meza, working an off-duty job at the station, confronted Brown about the weapon, Brown shot him in the hand. Soon after, Brown shot another officer, Timothy Moore, in the leg.

Sedmak said he arrived on the scene and prepared for a confrontation with the armed suspect. Several HPD officers came in after him and took cover behind his patrol car. Brown, who had been accused of shooting a 3-year-old girl, her grandfather and another man on Halloween in San Francisco, then shot and killed himself as Sedmak and the other cops closed in...

A few points:

--University administrators have to understand that an "officer down" call universally translates to units respond immediately and help--especially when the officer was a few miles away from the shooting in a city where the mayor stated that due to personnel shortages with the city police, increased cooperation is necessary. If what is stated is true, punish the officer for leaving his jurisdiction without permission, but don't fire him.

--From what was released, it is unclear if Officer Sedmak failed to "properly" notify personnel in his agency about his actions or if he did not notify anyone at all--there is a difference.  

--Officer Sedmak's trip to the shooting scene was between two and four miles. If he was involved in engaging an active shooter (as implied by this article), it is understandable that he would not have an immediate opportunity to converse with his supervisor back at the university.

--The university's statement implying that Officer Sedmak left the institution and his fellow officers unprotected is misleading. Rice University, like an other institution has mutual aid agreements--any emergency call for police service at the school would be covered by other police if no one at Rice was available. Further, if officials at Rice University are concerned that the temporary loss of one officer puts the campus at risk, then perhaps a staff of two officers and a supervisor is inadequate.

--In my opinion, too many stories in the news bolster the thought that university administrators want to advertise a safe campus with professional police, but they would rather officers not be involved in actual law enforcement--just keep those guns in the holsters at all possible costs.

Two issues appear to be the drivers for Sedmak's dismissal: 1) Sedmak's superiors were angry at him for not being notified that he was assisting the wounded Houston Police Department officers; and, 2) Sedmak had become involved in a policing activity, off-campus, that was not viewed as essential to the University's mission.

--------------------

In sum, university officials need to understand what having a police department entails.

Their police officers are armed professionals and certified by the State of Texas.  If assistance is needed nearby due to an armed confrontation, they have to allow their personnel to be emergency responders--immediate notification of a supervisor may not be feasible.

Because next time, it may be an active shooter at Rice University--a call that these same officials will want no hesitation or delays in the response by outside agencies.

Too Much Information

Media attention on crime including specifics provided to the public is usually a positive, but I am not so sure in the following case:



CINNAMINSON, N.J. (CBS) – Three New Jersey women are behind bars for a crime that is becoming more and more common, according to police.


Authorities say they stole brass markers from the graves of veterans at local cemeteries and sold the stolen markers to a scrap yard.


Authorities tell Eyewitness News the suspects needed drug money.


“You need money that bad, you have to start desecrating a grave?” said Sgt. Bill Covert with the Cinnaminson Police Department.


Authorities say the women they arrested are responsible for stealing 380 grave markers and flower urns from local cemeteries, including St. Mary’s in Bellmawr and Lakeview Memorial Cemetery in Cinnaminson.


Police say 19-year-old Arielle Levin, 25-year-old Tosha Fugett and 27-year-old Jamie Babcock didn’t care about the meaning behind the collection, all they cared about was the cash...


Sgt. Covert says a Philadelphia scrap dealer who paid around $1,500 for the stolen goods is the one who tipped off authorities.

If you take the $1,500 scrap metal offer and divide it by the 380 markers, each item's calculated worth is about $4.

Is it really necessary to report the $1,500 value?

I wonder if some opportunistic thieves got any ideas from this potentially easy steal?

Many of the other reports of this story omitted the value of the markers; in my opinion, a much more responsible journalistic approach.

The cemetery directly behind our house is loaded with the brass veteran markers (some from before the American Civil War), and it would be a shame for them to disappear.

True to the old adage: there is no honor among thieves.

Part IV: Crime Victim Sgt. Patrick Rust

More on this case...
__________________________________________________

Case Summary

On March 16, 2007 at about 1 am, US Army Sergeant Patrick Rust, who had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan, left a bar called Clueless in Watertown, NY. Rust had been drinking with friends at the establishment for several hours, was apparently intoxicated, and the bartender refused to serve him any more.

After leaving the bar, investigators reported that Rust's phone was used twice to call one of the friends he had talked with that night/morning. Police have been unable to find anyone who saw him alive again.

Rust did not show-up for work at Fort Drum that next morning and Rust's mother, his roommate, and his supervisor subsequently reported him missing.

Six months later, Rust's skeletal remains were found in a field six miles from the bar. An autopsy was inconclusive as to a cause of death.

-------------------------------------

In the last post, I started on two aspects of the Rust case that I wanted to discuss further.

The first was:

The "Clueless" bar is known as an alternative lifestyle or gay (evidently not exclusively lesbian/gay though) bar.

Now the second.

According to what was reported, at least one of Sgt. Rust's companions at the bar indicated that Rust was trying to obtain cocaine.

Military investigators interviewed Rust's companion, his roommate, as well as persons gleaned from his cell phone records, and found that Rust had attempted to contact people outside his circle of friends. 

One individual left a message stating that he could not provide what (not being specific) Rust was requested, but offered another name for Rust to contact.

So, if a person was trying to purchase cocaine, it would likely put him/her in contact with strangers; strangers who could be violent.

An attempted buy, may also lead a person to a secluded place, or to a private place that the person would not usually go without concern for personal safety.

Related to the potential drug angle in this case, is a comment made by the roommate to investigators. 

He believed Sgt. Rust had over $20,000+ in his bank account.  The night Rust went missing, his roommate indicated that Rust withdrew about $200 from an ATM.

If someone is believed to have lots of cash in a bank account and is in contact with potentially violent criminals with the intent of purchasing drugs,  it is possible that the sellers may transform into armed robbers. 

In considering this transformation--despite some cash being recovered with Mr. Rust's remains, I don't believe a robbery motive can be completed eliminated.

Consider this for instance...

A person meets individuals they don't know to purchase cocaine.  The sellers have their sights set on scoring $20,000+ instead, but for some reason their planned robbery fails and they murder the buyer.

In haste, the sellers dump the victim's body in a field; unconcerned with the three or four $20 bills in his wallet.

In sum, robbery was the initial motive, but cash was not removed from the victim prior to dumping the body.

I'll finish this case next time with what is apparently a key element as to why the case went cold.

_________________________________________

More information on this case can be found at Patrickrust.com or my other posts on Sgt. Rust are here

On Parenting: The Burger-less Burger

Just on a parental "need to know" basis, it is possible to purchase a plain cheeseburger Happy Meal at McDonalds minus the burger. 

Yes, this is technically a "cheese sandwich" happy meal specifically for one discerning young palate in our family.

You may have to repeat the order several times to the confused clerk, confirm that you do want a burger-less burger, and pay the regular price, but it can be done.

This special meal was for the youngest preschooler who has never been a meat-eater and usually prefers the odd meal of a salad with Italian dressing from the Golden Arches.

Ironically, the boy's twin sister loves steak, burgers, chicken, turkey, and the like so we don't have such lunch ordering challenges.

We parents will go the extra mile to make each kiddo happy--from the carnivores to the herbivores.       

A Forgotten Victim

For this week, I am moving my Missing Person Monday post on Sgt. Rust to tomorrow or Wednesday so I can address another topic.
___________________________________________

Yesterday, my older son made a keen observation about this recent tragic story:

PHOENIX -- A 13-year-old Arizona boy was killed in a freak accident after a baseball hit him over the heart as he tried to bunt, officials in his Little League said Friday.

Hayden Walton went for the bunt during a game Tuesday night in the close-knit northern Arizona city of Winslow, said Jamey Jones, a Winslow Little League official.

"He took an inside pitch right in the chest," Jones said. "After that he took two steps to first base and collapsed."

He died the next morning at a local hospital.

The boy's parents, who were at the game, are heartbroken, shocked and unable to speak to members of the media, league president and family spokesman Dale Thomas said...

After hearing this story my son said, "It must be really sad as well for the pitcher. You know, the kid who threw the ball."

Indeed.

The players involved were just kids.  Trying to help their respective teams win. 

Kids playing a game.

The death just happened.

For the pitcher, it will be something that he will have to deal with for the rest of his life.

What happened is not his fault, but he'll carry the stigma--he will always be identified by peers as "the player who killed that boy."

We all wrestle with happenings in our lives that impact others.

Incidents where we were not at fault, but still have to live with the results.

--A traffic accident where someone is injured.

--A family member who gets hurt while we are the responsible party.

--A friend who injures himself/herself after we missed certain danger signs.

One of those moments occurred when I was a young patrol officer.

I got a call on an older guy who had been found wandering around the outside of an apartment complex nude.  A maintenance man found him and gave "Marshawn" a pair of pants.

We were busy that morning, so the call had been holding awhile before I got there.

Upon arrival, I recognized Marshawn as someone that I had dealt with before--he had a nasty temper and seemed to revel in violence.

This time Marshawn seemed different.  He was mellow.  He responded to all of my questions.  He appeared to be sorry to have bothered the kind maintenance man.

I checked Marshawn for warrants, and the dispatcher found nothing. 

I asked him if he had taking care of all his court dates since the last time I had arrested him.

Marshawn put his head down, exhaled, and replied, "No, I missed that court date on the first of the month."

I had the Records clerk double-check; look to see if the paperwork had been misfiled.

Again negative.

With no warrant and no one wanting to prosecute for his nude wandering/trespassing, I decided to take a seemingly now sober and remorseful Marshawn to his apartment--which was down the street.

He thanked me and I never saw him again.

Three weeks later,  I see on the news that Marshawn was arrested.

He was accused of and later prosecuted for beating his girlfriend unconscious, dragging her into the front yard of that same apartment complex, pouring gasoline on her... and well you can surmise the rest.

Marshawn is currently on death row.

Could I have found some reason to lock Marshawn up after my encounter with him, and then had a tantrum at the records office until the missing warrant was found?

Would he have been locked up during the time that he killed his girlfriend three weeks later?

Probably not, but maybe.

But the would've/should've/could'ves will always be there.

In sum, send your prayers to the family of the boy who was killed in Arizona. 

But don't forget about the other young kid who threw the pitch.

His life has been forever altered.               

Bottlenose Dolphins in the Surf

I was looking through some old National Geographic award-winning images, and this one by Andrew Wong jumped out at me.


The description with the fantastic photo is:

Dolphins are known to jump out the back of big waves as they break against the shores. This pod of bottlenose dolphins was leisurely surfing in the waves as the offshore wind blew against the incoming waves, creating an atmosphere that was most unique and magical. At a place called Waterfall Bluff in the Transkei, South Africa.

We enjoy watching the dolphins play in the surf during our annual beach trip (though not quite to this extreme), but with no ocean vacation this year, I may have to periodically post some sand and surf images to stay sane.

A Survivor

I have been married more than a dozen years. 

Several years before matrimony, I was a fresh-out-of-college police officer living in big city.

With my first apartment, I had the realization that Michael Jordan wall posters and NFL team pendants that had adorned my dorm room and college dive pad would not suffice as decor for my transition to adulthood.

Fortunately, my new apartment was small with limited wall space, so I only had to purchase a few furnishings.

I like history and landscapes so I bought two inexpensive framed reproductions that I felt captured both. 

One was this work of the Yosemite Valley.


I had no grand vision of decor, just the work reminded me of our family vacations as a child--climb into the old car and travel west through states like New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Fast forward a decade (still back a few years ago), and all of my bachelor furnishings had either been trashed, donated, or were tucked away in the attic or storage room awaiting a similar fate.

My recliner with the heating element.

My beach glass lamp shade.

My oil of bird dogs standing in a field.

All gone.  Long gone.

One day the Mrs. and her mom were talking in our storage room, when Nana saw my old painting behind a dresser.

NANA: "What's this?"

THE MRS.: "Oh, that is Slam's.  Wrong frame. Uninspiring image.  I don't like it."

NANA: "Looks like a Bierstadt...  Yeah, I think it is."

THE MRS.: "Bierstadt?"

NANA: "Albert Bierdstadt was a famous 19th Century artist who was inspired by the American West.  Your grandma loved his work."

The Mrs. mulled this new information that her grandmother, her favorite relative, was an admirer.

THE MRS.: "Grandma loved his paintings?  Hmm."


Strangely enough, that Bierstadt, the last of my single-guy possessions from so long ago, is no longer dusty and hidden.

It is now proudly displayed on the wall in the bedroom of my youngest son.

Appreciated again.

A survivor.
___________________________________

Note: The original painting was finished in 1865 and is entitled Looking Down Yosemite Valley.