Whining

The recent snow storms have left us with lots of the cold white stuff.

For kids on holiday break from school that means snowball fights, building snowmen, snow/ice forts, and sledding.

For the dad/child recreation director charged with entertaining kids on holiday break that means full days of being pelted with snowballs, the endless process of gathering snow for snowmen, pulling grade schoolers on snow tubes, and constructing forts that provide adequate hide-and-seek spots.

So, please ignore the whining and moaning you might hear from up this way--I understand that school will start again.  When it does, I'll look into hibernation options.

Wait.. Darn work always getting in the way of things.

Happy New Year to all.

Looking forward to Cruises and Ginsu Knives

Perhaps recently you received an email or heard someone say something similar to this:

Remember: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month.

Reminder:  All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls.

.... You will be charged for these calls...

To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.

It is the National DO NOT CALL list It will only take a minute of your time.. It blocks your number for five (5) years.

You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

Help others by passing this along...

As usual Snopes.com offers correct information to dispel the above rumor about telemarketers and cell phones.

But wait...

Now that I think about it, the only calls that I get on my cell are either mundane and work-related or family ones that add to my always endless "Daddy's To-Do List."

Maybe getting calls announcing that I won a Caribbean trip or that I qualify for a free set of Ginsu Knives if I act now on a new low loan rate might not be such a bad thing to spice up the day...


Somewhat Autistic

As the nation mourns for the victims of the tragic school shooting yesterday in Connecticut, I look for a backlash targeting those with autism after multiple media reports (citing information allegedly obtained from his brother) described accused shooter Adam Lanza as "somewhat autistic."

Unfortunately, this will give the uninformed their opportunity to blame the one in eighty-eight US children battling this medical condition for school violence in general.

It will simply add to the stigma and difficulties that these children already face.

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In general, I thought the coverage of yesterday's school shooting was disturbing.

Identifying the wrong shooter and then plastering his photo everywhere?

Multiple reports of misinformation about the shooter's connection to the school.

Interviewing eight-year-old girls who just a few hours before lost dozens of classmates, with questions like: "What did you think when you heard the gunshots?"

It is obvious to me that the welfare of the surviving little victims is not the priority of those reporting the news.








Blogging?

What is the blogging thing and how does it work?

Ok, I need to dust things off here.

I apologize for my absence, but when life demands become overwhelming, unfortunately those activities that do not create wealth get cut;  as in blogging.

In any event, I plan to be back in mid December, and I hope everyone had a nice holiday break.

Nicknames

Sorry, no missing person post this week either...
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Over the years, I have been referred to by many names other than my own.

And yes, I can even include some on this blog.

Omitting "Slamdunk" because it does not have a good story behind it, here are a few:

Monsignor
Somehow in college, I became a fraternity member.  I am not fraternity material, and would look dreadful wearing a toga similar to those of the party guys in Animal House.

In any event, I was a frat boy for my undergraduate years and served as president during my junior year.

My secret to rising to the top of a "greek" organization?

Outstanding leadership and organizational skills? Great mobilizing of resources? Superb motivational speaker?

Umm, well, no, no, and no.

I think I was the "go-to" guy at the frat because I was actually sober at the parties and social events.

Once that I was seen as "responsible," the "Monsignor" nickname was given and I took over as president soon after.

Running Man
I finished first in my police academy class in running and fitness. When I hit the streets with my training officers, being the Running Man earned me the job of "designated foot chaser" of fleeing criminals, while the older smarter officers drove or watched--keeping their uniforms clean and dry.

The Janitor
I always seem to have a keychain full of keys. I have keys for vehicles, houses, deposit boxes, shed locks, and probably, if I looked at each key, a few that I don't remember what they open. As such, an officer that I worked with (now a police commander), tagged me with the custodial nickname.

So that guy walking past you with the loud jingle--that may be me "The Janitor."

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I also do have two nicknames that I aspire to earn, but it is a work in progress:

T-Bone
I think this is such a diverse moniker--it can create images ranging from a football star to an eclectic musician.  Plus, George from Seinfeld made "T-Bone" an all time classic.

Trophy Husband/Arm Candy
I can dream can't I?

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Do you have a unique nickname?

Lunch Money Woes: Husband Gets Frogged

Today I was "frogged."

Frogged as in when someone punches your muscles in the upper arm near your shoulder, and it causes that weird feeling.

The Mrs. was the person who frogged me.

And she did it with intent.

Why?

I am not sure, but let me relive the events leading up to my unexpected bonk...

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

The Mrs. calls me on the cell phone and asks if I have any money in my wallet.

I tell her that I have $32.

She asks if I can drop by her office around 11 am, and give her some cash that she needs for a surprise lunch meeting.

Being the responsible husband, I am there at 10:50 am with an open wallet.

I enter the building, climb the stairs, and approach her chair in the upstairs window office.

I hold cash in my hand, and say in my best Southern twang accent:

Here's $2 ma'am. Now, you go buy yourself something real pretty, ok?

I then received the solid round-house punch causing the frogger.

After reflecting, I am at a loss to explain it.

Anyone help me out where I went wrong?

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Have a good weekend everyone.


Case Quacked

Creativity and criminality often walk hand-in-hand:

(ATLANTA, GA) Two women remained jailed Tuesday after being arrested last week in an alleged identity theft scheme that targeted police officers and firefighters.

"The women advised that the city was changing its insurance options and offered AFLAC disability insurance, life insurance and health insurance supplements," Jones said. "The women solicited several officers and supervisors to fill out an application packet that included vital personal identification information for the employees, their spouses and children."

Jones said that when the women went to the APD Zone 1 precinct, a lieutenant began to question them, "and eventually ejected them from his precinct."

The lieutenant contacted the department's Personnel Unit, and learned from AFLAC's actual representative to the city that the women were not authorized to solicit information.

"At this point, Major Fraud and the Homeland Security/Intelligence units were contacted," Jones said.

"Ms. Pedone was reached by cell phone and she agreed to come to police headquarters and turn over the documents that she had, which she did," Jones said. "It was discovered that the second suspect was at the Embassy Suites Hotel near the airport. Major Fraud units went to the hotel to recover the documents that she had. She was located and transported back to headquarters."

...The women were taken to the Fulton County Jail, charged with multiple counts of identity theft and racketeering. They remained in jail Monday on $55,000 bond.

Jones said that 39 packets of personal information have been recovered.

Cooper said detectives were still trying to determine what the women intended to do with the personal information.

Personally, I think the case was cracked (or better yet "quacked") when one of the officers wanted a free squishy hand-held stress reducer of the AFLAC duck that those sales folks always carry by the truckload.

When the accused person could not produce the duck made famous by AFLAC in their commercials, the officers had no recourse but to launch an immediate investigation.

In sum: if in doubt, always ask for the freebies.
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Note: For those who do not know who the AFLAC duck is, here is a link with one of the commercials.


How to Prevent Lost Luggage

I am still shaking sand off from our visit to Padre Island, TX, so no missing persons post this week.

Instead I have this...

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My travel joke with the family has always been:

Tell me again why I need to pack a bag? If I am going to be at the beach for three days, can't I just wear three sets of clothing on day one, board the plane, and then simply remove a set of clothes on each morning?

Well, I did not use this approach on my trip to the beach, but I did get the last laugh on the Mrs. when the family arrived at our destination, and the airlines had temporarily lost the checked luggage for every passenger on our flight.

If I had only gone with my layered strategy.
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Note: The airline quickly located our flight's bags at the airport where we had departed (changing planes) and got them to us a few hours later--plus a $50 gift card. It was no big deal for us.

I am not sure whose bags arrived with us at our final destination, but I am sure that somewhere in this connected blogging world of ours, someone else wrote a moving post on the lost luggage that I stared at as it moved off the conveyor belt last Sunday.

At the Beach

I am at the beach this week, and will be back to blogging soon (once I shake the sand off of everything).

In the meantime, I still have an opening for one team in my blog's fantasy football league.

We play for fun so there is no experience required--we have two or three first-time competitors already this season.

If you are interested, just send me an email to theslamdunktrove@gmail.com .

Finding Control

I hope this does not become pandemic:
(Greenfield, WI) A 97-year-old man who wanted to watch a Milwaukee Brewers game called 911 to report someone had stolen his remote control.

According to the Greenfield police report:

The man called 911 to report someone had stolen his remote control from his residence in the 9300 block of West Howard Avenue prior to 8 p.m. Sept. 26.

The remote control was found after police responded, so the man was able to watch the Brewers game.

With the kids around here "forgetting" to return the remote to a visible location, I think I spend more time looking for television remote controls than I do actually watching the old "idiot box."

Oh well.

Is the remote control thief active in your neighborhood?

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I hope everyone has a nice weekend.


Married Guy Fashion

My annual "Visit My Father on Padre Island, Texas" trip will be here in a few days, and accompanying older boy and I this year, will be little Sissy.

She is pumped--a trip to the beach and her first time flying in an airplane.

Anyway, Sissy and mom have been shopping so that she can show off warm-weather fashions during the adventure.

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Sissy stands in front of a full-length mirror staring at a colorful summer dress.

SISSY: Dad do you like this outfit? Mom and I bought it yesterday.

ME: You look great buddy!

She smiles and points to two other dresses on the table.

SISSY: I get to bring the pink and the blue dresses too.

ME: I am sure you'll be a big hit with all those South Texas style critics.

I exit the room and return in couple of minutes. Sissy is still looking at her clothes.

ME: Hey Sissy. What do you think?

I do a half-turn in front of the mirror, hands on my hips. Sissy looks and opens her mouth to say something, but stops; obviously confused.

SISSY: Ummmm. What do I think about "what" Dad?

ME: My outfit? I mean my shorts specifically.

I do the half-turn again highlighting the oversized khaki shorts that I am wearing with a thin belt.

SISSY: Well Dad, they look like what you regularly wear in the hot weather.

ME: No. These are special. They are my "eating pants." See I can adjust the belt to a "before and after buffet" setting.

Sissy laughs.

ME: I like to think that I set fashion trends as well while away. My style is likely best referred to as "Over-the-Hill Married Guy."

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Ok, so my good calorie intake on vacation is balanced by being able to take a daily morning beach run.

It does wonders to quiet my "eating" conscience.

Not Just an American Thing

Of the missing persons cases that I discuss here, I primarily focus on those being handled by American law enforcement.

I feel competent in US investigation techniques, and feel that I can best speak on cases from that perspective.

But, volumes of missing persons cases exist worldwide.

And sadly, the investigation into the disappearance of Piers Hopson was recently closed:

(EAST SUSSEX, ENGLAND) The family and friends of St Leonards man Piers Hopson paid their last respects to him at his funeral and thanksgiving service on Tuesday.

Scores of people gathered at the Church of St John the Evangelist in Crowborough for prayer and to pay tribute to him...

Piers, 35, who lived in Southwater Road, St Leonards, suffered from Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.

He disappeared on January 25, 2010 from his care home after saying he was going on a walk. The last sighting of him was in Rock-a-Nore Road.

His family spent two-and-a-half years searching for him, distributing posters with his face on across Sussex, Kent and beyond.

Numerous possible sightings of Piers were made and reported to police, but none were confirmed.

His sister, Abigail Gutteridge, took the search online by setting up a Facebook page, called Help Find Piers Hopson, which drew more than 2,000 followers.

Piers’ family even offered a £10,000 reward for his safe return and made numerous televised appeals and in the local media.

But Piers’ body had already been found eight miles off Newhaven in September 2010 by a French trawler and taken back to France.

It took until April this year for his remains to be formally identified despite a DNA profile being taken a year earlier.

Piers’ family were told the devastating news by police in June after the results were passed on to Sussex Police.

Mr Hopson, in his tribute at Tuesday’s service, thanked Sussex Police, the charity Missing People, the media and everyone who helped in the family’s search for Piers...
Coordinating law enforcement efforts when multiple countries are involved is complex, but I hope French and English authorities are able to provide better services to their citizens when something like this happens again.

Making the family wait for years for an identification to be made is inexcusable.

Also there maybe something omitted in the article, but I can't imagine being a sea captain, pulling a body out of the water eight miles off the coast of a country and not returning to the closest port or even giving local authorities a "head's up" about what was found.

Anyway, kudos to the organization Missing People, a United Kingdom charity, for publicizing the Piers Hopson story and search prior to the discovery of his body.

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To read more of my Missing Person Monday posts, you can click here.

No Robbery Here

Sometimes, police work involves fighting crime, but unfortunately it also includes incidents that are a complete waste of time and resources:

A driver used his cellphone to call Memphis police dispatchers on Wednesday, reporting that he was chasing a man who had just robbed him of about $500 at gunpoint, according to a court affidavit.

The robber was firing shots at him as he gave chase, the man said.

Memphis police scrambled to locate the two vehicles and one officer did at 4:54 p.m., just as the man giving chase told police dispatchers that the robber had fired more shots at him.

However, the officer reported that he did not see any weapon or any shots fired.

Police then stopped both vehicles involved in the chase at Bill Morris Parkway and Ridgeway, according to the court document.

They found no gun and no $500 in the auto driven by the 29-year-old man being chased.

Officers from two precincts shut down Bill Morris Parkway at Ridgeway for about two hours trying to find a gun, according to the court document. They didn't find one.

The Memphis man who called police from his car, Brian D. Harris, 27, said he didn't know the man he was chasing, investigators reported. However, his cellphone revealed that he had spoken to that man several times on Wednesday.

And the 29-year-old man being chased told police that he and Harris had agreed to meet at a Mapco convenience store and gas station at Winchester and Kirby.

The man was to buy some marijuana from Harris, he told police, but took it without paying for it and fled in his car, according to the court document.

Police on Thursday charged Harris with the felony of making a false report.

He was held in Shelby County Jail on $20,000 bond...

Roadways closed for hours.

Multiple police personnel and units committed to the incident.

Sad, that this type of wild goose chase is all too common.

And we the public have to pay for it--both monetarily and with our time.

Blah.

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I hope everyone has a super weekend.

Ouch My Elbow!

Recently, the following incident occurred at our older son Benjamin's basketball practice.

Put a group of fifth grader's in a room or gym for an hour and entertainment is guaranteed.

Also, Joey Basketball is one of Benjamin's aggressive teammates.

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JOEY BASKETBALL: Coach my elbow!  Ouch, ouch, ouch!!!

Tears stream down Joey's cheeks.

COACH: Joey, calm down! Can you move it? Ok, good. What happened?

Joey wipes the tears from his face with his non-injured arm, and goes back to rubbing his elbow.

JOEY BASKETBALL: Well, I was trying to get that last rebound and I slammed my elbow hard! It went right into Benjamin's face!  Ouch, ouch ouch!

Frowning, coach looks at Benjamin--he is rubbing a red mark on his forehead and smiling.

COACH: Good gosh Joey! Get back out there! Ball in!

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I knew Benjamin having younger siblings who act like he is a human trampoline and daily pummel him would pay off with toughness.

Bring it on Joey!



Thirty Years Later: Juanita Returns Home

The complexity of missing persons cases varies widely.

But no matter how frustrating the investigation becomes, one strategy for detectives, voiced best by Winston Churchill, is essential:

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up!

Three decades of persistence helped investigators with the Hall's County Sheriff's Office (GA) close a missing person/unidentified body case last year:



Her family gave Juanita Adams the Lakota name “Omani Wi” – woman on the longest walk.

Adams’ journey, which started more than 30 years ago, was to end today when her remains are laid to rest beside her mother and other family members on Red Shirt Table.

Adams’ burial will conclude a 30-year quest to identify skeletal remains found along Interstate 985 in Hall County, Ga., on May 22, 1980.

It also ended a family’s search for a missing mother, daughter, sister and cousin.

Adams disappeared in 1978, according to her cousin Roxanne Two Bulls. She left a 3-year-old son behind.

Adams participated in the American Indian Movement’s “Longest Walk” to Washington, D.C., in 1978. She returned home for a few days then left with friends she had met on the walk, Two Bulls said.

“No one ever heard anything from her again,” Two Bulls said.

After the skeletal remains were discovered, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation attempted to identify them.

Forensic examinations by law enforcement agencies and the Smithsonian Institution concluded that the victim was between 17 and 24 years old and of African American or Native American mixed with Caucasian descent.

The victim was likely 19-20 at the time of her death, according to a Hall County news release.

Adams was 20 in 1980, according to her obituary...

One telling feature of the woman’s remains was a prosthetic right eye and indications of old injuries to the right side of her face.

Two Bulls said Adams was injured in a car accident. Surgery to install the prosthetic eye was done at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

According to Two Bulls, Lt. Gerald Couch of the Hall County Sheriff’s office was assigned to the case. He spent years trying to trace the origin of the eye and following leads.

Several skeletal reconstruction composites were created and published.

It wasn’t until Couch asked a forensic artist to enhance scars on the victim’s face that a family member recognized Adams on the GBI website last May...

The family waited 10-months for the University of Texas to perform DNA testing that confirmed Adams’ identity.

According to Hall County authorities, a cause of death could not be determined...
A missing person who has a prosthetic can certainly can aid law enforcement in locating the man or woman in question.

Unfortunately, so many of these unsolved cases contain very little about people that would be considered "unique identifiers."

As such, the Churchill quote on never giving-up is a painful daily reality for family members and investigators searching for those missing.

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You can read more of my Missing Person Monday posts by clicking here.

Barbecue Fail

For the most part on this blog, I enjoy highlighting and commenting on police stories.

But I can't resist this fire department news item from last month (emphasis added below):

(Madisonville, KY) The Madisonville Fire Department (MFD) had a busy weekend and start to the week, largely as a result of excessively dry conditions in the Hopkins County area. 


Below you will find your weekly update of fire department activity in the Madisonville area.


...At 6:16 PM, MFD personnel noticed a column of black smoke a 1/2 mile north/east of station 1. Battalion-3 and Engine-17 responded to the area to investigate. 


Upon arrival fire crew found a tire next to a barbeque grill, both on fire. 


The fire crew extinguished both with a portable water extinguisher. 


Upon further examination, a 2 pound block of frozen hamburger was found in the ashes. 


The homeowner stated that they were going to cook the hamburger over the burning tire because they had seen it done on the food network. 


The homeowner was advised that it was illegal to burn tires and that it was extremely dangerous to eat food cooked over burning rubber. 


Both units return (sic) to service...

Nicely done by the MFD, and though my cooking abilities are limited, I don't need an explanation as to why "collect old tires out of local creek for this weekend's bbq" should not be my current To-Do list.

Thanks to all of our public servants out there for their dedication, and well...especially for their patience.

Have a super weekend everyone.

Spicy Parenting is in My Future

Sissy is our spunky just-turned-six-year-old daughter. She is one of those kids who is six going on twenty-two.
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I walked into the front room where little "Sissy" was engrossed in an episode of classic Looney Tunes.

"Sissy, are you finished with your lunch?" 

Sissy nods, still staring at the television.

"Ok, hand me your plate and milk."

Receiving the plate and cup, I notice two used Klenexes on the floor.

"Hand me those tissues that are on the carpet.  Yuck."

Again without looking, she grabs the tissues and gives them to me.

"Thanks," I offer.

As I turn to exit the room, I see two balls of brown and pink lying on the end of the couch.

Those balls are Sissy's socks from yesterday: pink being their original color and brown reflecting the mud she collected after a fun evening of puddle jumping.

I sigh.

"And Sissy, please get those dirty socks off the sofa. You know where those belong."

Annoyed, Sissy breaks her concentration on the television, turns toward me, and frowns.

Handing me the used socks, she replies:

"Geez Dad, can't you do anything yourself?"

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After analyzing this conversation with a kindergartener, I have concluded two things:

1) My life as Dad will become increasingly difficult as Sissy gets older and more opinionated; and,

2) These exchanges between Sissy and I will make for entertaining and spicy blog posts. I should have lots to write about in the future, but I may be smiling less and less as each post is published.

At least I can laugh now.

Attempted Child Abduction

As scary as these attempted child abductions are to watch, they are very useful for those studying the tactics of a kidnapper.

This incident in Philadelphia involved a 10-year-old girl, and her 2-year-old brother.

The suspect does not appear particularly concerned about if anyone is watching.

He seems to be focused on the girl victim.

Someone who would try this at about 4 pm on a sunny urban street would definitely be a person of interest to investigators looking at unsolved missing persons cases.

Big cheers for the courageous little ones for screaming and fighting back.

In situations such as this, I am an advocate of a youth kidnapping resistance strategy called Kid Escape.

With his approach, safety consultant and black belt John Hall teaches children to wrap themselves around fixed objects using their arms and legs while screaming for help.  If no fixed object is available, the strategy would be to wrap around the attacker's leg and create as much of a disturbance as possible.

It is a shame that we have to be concerned with children and such things.

But the need to protect young people is a reality.

The man accused by Philly police of being the failed-kidnapper, Carlos Figueroa-Fagot, fled the scene.

He turned himself into authorities last Thursday (thanks to all the publicity).

The video of the incident is below.




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To read more of my Missing Person Monday posts, you can click here.

I Might Be a Redneck If

I might be a redneck if...

The Mrs. told me she was showing the kids some sparklers and a stray spark started a tiny fire on the front-yard grass.  Evidently, the sparkler demonstration turned into mom's best tap dancing routine as she stamped out flames.

I might be a redneck if...

While sitting in water at the local swimming hole, I observed older boy reenacting the techniques demonstrated on the show "Hillbilly Handfishin." He did not have any luck in catching a fish, but did pull a $10 pair of sunglasses out of the water--and whoa was he all smiles.

I might be a redneck if...

I took Sissy and older boy to a monster truck show last weekend. My three-year-old nephew loves monster trucks, so brother-in-law and family accompanied part of my crew for the hot, muddy, and loud competition.  Zoom zoom.

I might be a redneck if...

A birthday party the little kids were going to was unexpectedly canceled.  We received a call that the community pool had to be closed for the evening as it was being shocked and cleaned after a child dropped a poo in the water. Frustrated, our kids could not understand why the community pool cannot be cleaned as fast as our backyard pool--when Dad picks up the $20 wading pool, dumps the water, wipes it clean, and refills it in 15 minutes.

I might be a redneck if...

So with the pool being unavailable for the birthday party, we took the kids to the local "beach." Around  here the "beach" is a rocky and sandy strip of flat land with a creek. The creek water is about waist deep on me this time of year.

I might be a redneck if...

Older son showed me a heavy iron-like ball he bought for 20 cents at a yard-sale.  The kid found the rusted one-pound ball at the bottom of a box of toys.  He thought it was odd and might be something historic.  I agreed, and we researched my guess as to what it was.  The weight, diameter, and physical appearance are consistent with "grapeshot" used by artillery in the American Civil War. I am not sure who was more excited--me or him. Below, is a photo of what son's grapeshot looks like (one ball).


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So, there you have it.

I may be transforming.

And, only you can help.

Now, before my porch becomes a crash-pad for 13 dogs, and my front yard becomes littered with old truck parts, I ask all of you bloggers this: please continue writing educational posts.

This exposure is essential for me.

If I can continue being cultured and challenged by all of you out there, I can prevent myself from becoming fluent in "redneckanese."

My fight continues.
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Have a good weekend everyone.  

Police Overtime and a Top 10 List

Just as an FYI--I was not compensated for offering my opinion on the following policing top 10 list. 

In contrast, one of Dr. Moskos' insights fits well with an observation I wanted to make on a current criminal justice event.
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Recently, I read an insightful article by Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer and current professor at John Jay College.

Dr. Moskos discussed the Top 10 Things Police Officers Learn on the Job.

Here is one of the points:

To cops, overtime is like a drug. It's something you'll crave, and something that influences far too much of what you do on and off duty.

Police officers can make great money through overtime. They can also rake in the cash moonlighting.

As such, good law enforcement managers limit the type and amount of overtime and "extra-jobs" that officers are permitted to work.

On my NFL blog, I discussed a recent story about an officer working an extra-job at a bar who arrested Minnesota Vikings football player Adrian Peterson.

Not sure how the case against Peterson will pan out, but the arresting officer and the agency are getting plenty of negative publicity.

Advice for new officers working extra-jobs?

Be smart.

Be selective.

Avoid becoming dependent on the income from working overtime--it can certainly have a negative impact on one's personal and family life.

If the agency does not ban working off-duty at bars, steer clear of those high-paying yet high-risk opportunities like the plague.

They are always more trouble than they are worth.

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You can read Dr. Moskos' full top ten list by going here, or by going to the host site CriminalJusticePrograms.com.

Georgia Tann: Baby Snatcher

Last week while discussing the unsolved missing persons case of then four-year-old Majorie West, I mentioned that when kidnapping theories were discussed in the early to mid 1900s, one name that was regularly mentioned was Georgia Tann.


Here is more on Ms. Tann.
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Georgia Tann was a woman of high-society who dedicated her life to helping orphan children.

Or so it seemed.


Tann was a nationally recognized children's advocate, and operated the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis for decades (1924-1950).

Eleanor Roosevelt once sought her guidance on child welfare.

President Harry Truman invited Tann to be his guest at an official function.

But in 1950, Tennessee state authorities completed an investigation and closed Ms. Tann's agency.

She died of cancer a few days before the information about her agency was made public.

What was Ms. Tann really?

After her death and the truth about her child welfare activities were revealed, she became known as "The Hollywood Baby-Snatcher."

It was estimated that Tann sold through "adoption" nearly 5,000 babies--many to wealthy clients that paid her large sums of money.

Superstar actresses Joan Crawford and Lana Turner both used Tann to adopt infants.

Unknown to them or other want-to-be-parents, Tann acquired these infants through fraud, deception, and old-fashioned kidnapping.

She regularly targeted the poor, mentally ill, and women in prison--children that she could remove from families that could not fight back.

One of her common strategies was recounted in this article:


As she watched her baby coughing in her cot in a corner of her tiny apartment, Alma Sipple felt increasingly desperate. 


A single mother in Tennessee, she could not afford medical care for ten-month-old Irma. Suddenly, a knock on the door heralded a turn in her fate: there stood a woman with close-cropped grey hair, round wireless glasses and a stern air. 


She exuded authority as she explained she was the director of a local orphanage and had come to help. Alma rushed to show the lady her sickly child.  


Examining the baby, the woman offered to pass her off as her own at the local hospital in order to obtain free treatment. 


She warned Alma not to accompany her, explaining: 'If the nurses know you're the mother, they'll charge you.'  Lifting the child from the cot, the woman turned on her heel and disappeared. Two days later, Alma was told her baby had died.  


In fact, Irma had been flown to an adoptive home in Ohio. Alma would not see her daughter again for 45 years.  


For far from being her saviour, the woman who had taken Irma was a baby thief.  


For 30 years, Georgia Tann made millions selling children. A network of scouts, corrupt judges and politicians helped her steal babies. 


She also targeted youngsters on their way home from school, promising them ice cream to tempt them away from their homes.  Legal papers would be signed saying they were abandoned - most would never see their families again...

And, she did this for more than 20 years.

Tann's criminal activities led to reform of adoption laws in Tennessee and later the US.

And what became of the thousands of Ms. Tann's child victims?

Authorities in the 1950s made no effort to reunite birth families, and very few ever saw their natural mothers and fathers again.

In 1997 after a lengthy court battle, some of Ms. Tann's victims were allowed access to adoption records, but as one can imagine, many of those involved were deceased or the files had been falsified.

A sad ending to one individual's life of crime.

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

So, could a little missing girl from Pennsylvania have been sold by Tennessee's Georgia Tann?

Yes, it is possible, but based on the information released about the case of 4-year-old Majorie, it is not likely.

Tann's "child grab" activities seem to be relegated to Tennessee, Mississippi, and Connecticut.

But, if a kidnapper contacted Ms. Tann and stated that he had a young girl for sale, I have little doubt that Ms. Tann would make that purchase with no questions asked.

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

You can read more of my Missing Person Monday posts by going here.  

On Responsibility

I wrote this a few days ago, but with the release of the Freeh Report on Penn State's failed leadership during the child sex abuse scandal, the message is certainly contemporary.


On a side note but related to the Freeh Report, JJ from Phila continues to comprehensively cover the disappearance of former Penn State area prosecutor Ray Gricar.


His latest post is entitled Proving Walkaway and can be read by clicking here


What is the connection to the Penn State scandal and the missing district attorney?


Ray Gricar was one of the prosecutors that decided against prosecuting Jerry Sandusky after accusations had been made against the former Penn State coach.


Anyway, here is my offering on responsibility for today.
______________________________________________

The Mrs. learned mid-week, inadvertently, that older boy was placed in the wrong camp this week.

We all thought he was attending archaeology camp and would be out at a dig site Tuesday, but instead he was hiking at a general outdoor camp.

One organization runs both camps and the staff, times, drop-off, and pick-up sites are all the same.

The Mrs. spoke with the administrator who handles the paperwork, and evidently the woman accidentally put his enrollment forms in the wrong pile--causing him not to be placed in the digging camp that he has been looking forward to all year.

A camp that we shelled out some good money for.

Many years ago, I learned something the hard way.

When you are in charge of something and there is a customer service problem, just make it right.

Especially if it is related to a mistake you made.

Take responsibility.

Apologize.

Correct the mistake quickly.

And, take measures to ensure similar errors don't occur in the future.

A simple yet full-proof plan to make the best out of tense situations.

When confronted with her mistake, the woman from the camps instead said this to the Mrs.:

Well, I don't want to blame anyone here, but if your son would have said something yesterday, this would not have happened.

Wow.

Blaming a fifth-grader who had simply assumed that there were two groups for the same camp and that it would be his bunch's turn to dig this morning?

Yikes.

That is guaranteed to get an immediate and unpleasant response from most parents.

Therefore, I apologize to anyone who was startled by the loud KABOOM heard from our neck of the woods Tuesday at about 1 pm.

It was the result of the exploding Mrs. giving the woman immediate and unpleasant.

Lots of immediate and unpleasant.

The situation was resolved and kiddo finished the week where he was supposed to be.

Hopefully, the administrator learned the same lesson that I did so many years ago.

Just take responsibility.

Poor Sport

Many years ago, when I played youth sports, the worst I worried about was whether or not the opposing team had spit on their hands prior to the post-game handshake--not this:
VANCOUVER - The RCMP said Wednesday it plans to recommend assault charges against a minor hockey coach who tripped a 13-year-old player following a game last weekend, causing the child to break his wrist.
A hockey mom in the stands captured on video UBC Hornets coach Martin Tremblay tripping a Richmond Steel player during the post-game handshake, despite his team’s 5-4 victory Saturday at UBC’s Thunderbird Arena.
Video footage shows the coach shake hands with the goalie of the opposing team. He then appears to purposefully march down the line of Richmond Steel players before sticking out his right foot to the side and trip the youth, causing another player to also fall.
Tremblay then spins around, jabbing his finger toward the second player, who’d leapt back up to his feet to face the coach... Tremblay was arrested after the incident and released same day, on a promise to appear for court date at the end of August, Gidda said.
After watching the video of the incident, I was surprised that the coach involved did not cause a riot in the stands and end up flattened--one thing that few want to face is the fury of moms and dads in defense mode attending their kids' sporting events.


The link to the video is here.


Below is a screenshot of the trip.


One of Pennsylvania's Oldest Missing Child Cases

For Missing Person Monday, I selected the oldest case from Pennsylvania listed in NamUs or the national missing persons directory.  


This is the story of a little girl who has been missing for more than 70 years.
_______________________________________



On May 8, 1938, four-year-old Majorie West and her family enjoyed a Mother's Day picnic in the rural community of White Gravel in McKean County, PA.

Majorie and her older sister, Dorothea, picked wildflowers from a field near a road and a large boulder. Her father had warned the children about going near the boulder for fear of rattlesnakes.

At around 3 pm, Dorothea went and spoke to their mother leaving her little sister with some of the flowers, but when she returned, Majorie was nowhere in sight.

The family conducted a brief search of the area, but nothing was found so they contacted law enforcement.

Using bloodhounds, police determined that Majorie's scent trail stopped in the middle of the road by the wildflowers that she had picked earlier.

Did Majorie get lost in the woods?

Did she fall into an abandon mine that was evidently nearby?

Trained dogs being unable to find a little girl's scent on a spring day nice enough for a picnic would seem to reduce the likelihood of her getting lost.

Possible but less plausible.

Witnesses told police that two vehicles were seen driving near the West's picnic, but authorities did not believe either driver had anything to do with the girl's disappearance.

But, even in the 1930s, a four-year-old standing alone near an isolated road could have been a kidnapping scenario for an opportunist.

After the case was publicized in newspapers, a taxi driver in Thomas, West Virginia reported that he saw a girl closely matching Majorie's description riding with a man at 11:38 pm on the night she vanished.

The cabbie told authorities that, after being stopped, he gave the man directions to a nearby motel. A few minutes later the man and girl returned--the man saying that the motel was full. He then allegedly asked the cab driver where he could get some liquor, and the driver directed him to a local bar.

Police were unable to identify the man the cabbie spoke to that night or corroborate his story, but the driver did believe that the little girl he saw in the car was Majorie.

Authorities did not rule out the sighting--as it was determined to be about an 8-hour drive from the disappearance location to that part of West Virginia.

Time went by and the case went cold.

Speculation about the missing girl's relatives, abduction scenarios, and other explanations continued to be discussed, but no leads panned out.

The disappearance of then four-year-old Majorie West remains unsolved.

The young girl was last seen wearing a blue dress, red hat, and a navy-blue mid-length coat with the collar edged in pink.

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

Discussions about the possible kidnapping of young children in the early 1900s, like this one, often include the name Georgia Tann--one of America's most infamous "baby snatchers."

I'll talk about Ms. Tann next week.

______________________________________

A more detailed description of Majorie's disappearance and the painful aftermath suffered by family members can be read by going here


My other Missing Person Monday posts can be found by clicking here.  


Look Busy

Our home is quiet.

The afternoon sun illuminates young faces focused on electronic devices.

Older boy is watching Discovery Channel's car guy show "Fast and Loud"; dreaming about someday owning some fast and loud ride.

Little girl is practicing her bullet blocking bracelet techniques in front of the television while imagining she is Lynda Carter from the classic Wonder Woman series.

Little dude is perched in front of the computer next to the bay window playing Nick Jr. games from the Internet.  The sounds of the cartoon bunnies Max and Ruby playing hide and seek are common here.

Meanwhile, I am sitting and reading a new fantasy football magazine I picked up.

"I can grab Donald Brown in the 9th round? Man, that is a steal."

I am certainly lost in thought.

But, in an instant, the calm and near silence is broken.

"Mom's home!" the little boy yells.

"Quick, everyone look busy!" the older boy directs.

Wonder Woman gets turned off.

Fast and Loud becomes...well...quiet..

The football magazine gets shoved haphazardly into the desk drawer.

The three of us then move in opposite directions to look for activities that will meet with approval from the Mrs.

The little boy never moves from what he is doing, and continues to click and find those hidden online rabbits.

"Hi mommy," he greets her as she pushes open the front door.

"Hello Luka.  Where is everyone else?" she replies.

"I don't know," Luka says.

And so, the other three family members pass the "busy" test, and live to goof-off another day.

Oh, the perks for Luka of being the baby in the family.

And, just a day in the domestic life of the not-so-hard-working Slamdunk.

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

Note: The Mrs. is an occasional reader to this blog--perhaps she'll miss this one.  


Mr. Busy Pinky signing off.  

I Am a Guest Blogger and Call Me Pinky

First day back and I guest posted for the multi-talented police officer Raindogblue--as he is enjoying a vacation.

On the home-front, I challenged older boy to a game of mini-golf and thought I did well with a 5-under-par game.  Unfortunately for me, he finished 10-under-par and currently owns family bragging rights.

We did have a wager on the game: for the loser (that is me), the next time we play mini-golf, I have to play the  entire round using a pink ball.

So just call me "Pinky" and it is a good thing that I am comfortable with my masculinity.

Now pardon me, while I go belch, spit, and pump some iron.

In any event, my post over at Raindog's blog is entitled "Surprising Admission" and can be read by clicking here.  

Happy Fourth of July to all!

Back

Well, I am back, but used my only ounce of creativity writing a "guest post" for a friend's blog.

As such, it is almost midnight and I don't want to waste anyone's time with something just to fill space, so I'll try visiting blogs and have a more appropriate "first post back" tomorrow.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying summer--at least for all those north of the equator.

Blog Break

I am taking a blog break until the end of June to focus on some work stuff.

Promise me we can talk then and share summer stories about great tans, experienced/planned vacations, best swimming pool cannonballs, or something related?

I expect to be periodically visiting blogs during this time, and available to frown at any email spam messages that you send my way.

Take care everyone.

A Missing Girl and Ball Mosaic Art

You can access any of my previous missing persons posts, by clinking on this link.

Now, for today's installment of my Missing Person Monday series...
________________________________________


On February 5, 1981, fourteen-year old Dean "Deanie" Marie Peters was with her mother waiting for her little brother's wrestling practice at Forest Hills Central Middle School in Grand Rapids, MI to end.

She told her mom she was going to the restroom.

It was around 5 pm.

Instead of going to the restroom, witnesses told authorities that they saw the girl exit the gymnasium.

Deanie has not been seen since.

Police investigated whether Deanie ran away or was abducted.

They searched, but found nothing.

The case went cold.

In 2008, a grant-funded cold case squad reopened the Peters disappearance, and eventually focused on a man named Bruce Bunch.  Bunch lived in Grand Rapids at the time Deanie went missing, and was a high school junior then.

One time, Bunch had allegedly told friends that when he was in Grand Rapids, he had accidentally backed over a girl at school and then dumped her body near the Interstate off of Snow Avenue.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bunch died of a heart attack before he could be interviewed, and authorities were unable to corroborate the Snow Avenue story after searching multiple locations.

Bunch is the only suspect never to be cleared in the Peters' disappearance.

With Bunch's story (if only a part of it is accurate), it is logical to believe that if a body was transported and buried, that the act involved more than one person.
------------------

Fast forward to downtown Grand Rapids at the C.O.D.A. Gallery last Thursday (May 3, 2012), where celebrated artist John O'Hearn unveiled a mosaic in honor of Deanie's disappearance.

O'Hearn had been contacted by a group of the missing woman's friends and classmates to assist in the effort to publicize the disappearance--and he had agreed to participate.

The effort's goal is to learn where Ms. Peters' body is buried to provide closure for her family and friends.

The art unveiling event also was to include words of hope from the missing woman's younger brother.

I hope it went well.

My prayers are with those involved in the search for information, and that this sad case can be closed after 30 long years.
______________________________________________

Thanks to Sara Huizenga from Peace for the Missing for giving me the idea for this post.

Note: For those interested in learning more about artist John O'Hearn's technique called "Ball Mosaics," the following short video shows his creative process. I found it interesting.



Best Prank

Talented blogger and friend Miss Caitlin from Candyfloss and Persie recently left a comment on my site that included a link to a clever (ok and illegal) prank that Alabama fans played on supporters of LSU.

Last December, the LSU Fan Site's website was hacked, and for a few hours featured the crimson and white merchandise of their rival the University of Alabama.

Her insightful comment reminded me of my favorite college prank of all time.

It is known simply as the "Great Rose Bowl Hoax," and earned a group of fourteen students legendary status as pranksters.

Here is a shortened version of the story.

-------

GREAT ROSE BOWL HOAX

On January 2, 1961, 100,000 people were attending the annual Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena, CA.  Millions more viewed it on television.  The year's game featured the University of Minnesota versus the University of Washington.

At halftime of the contest, fans settled back to watch the marching bands from both universities perform.

Band members from the University of Washington had coordinated a flip card routine that involved the participation of more than a thousand fans seated in a section of the upper deck.

Fans in certain seats had been left color-coded flip-cards and instruction sheets.  Following these instructions and cues from the Washington performers, fans would then display the appropriate cards, and when the group's effort was viewed from a distance, pictures and words were revealed.

The show began.

Staring at the upper deck, fans roared in response to familiar images and text touting their school.

The routine was flawless.

That is until the twelfth movement.

As per the instructions, the card-holders depicted what appeared to be a beaver (noticeable bucktooth) instead of what was planned--the institution's "husky" mascot.

The next set of cards showed "SEIKSUH"--the backward spelling of "HUSKIES."

Confused and nervous, Washington cheerleaders wondered if they had accidentally mixed-up the complex card numbering system.

Not knowing what to think and likely eager just to finish, the performers continued.

The crowd cheered for the final card display.

And this is what millions of people watching Minnesota vs. Washington play saw that day:


CALTECH?

What?

What did the California Institute of Technology or Caltech, a local private university there in Pasadena, have to do with the Rose Bowl game?

Well, combine fourteen smart students (known as the "Fiendish Fourteen") with a little too much free time, months of planning and plotting, and you get a prank for the ages.

How did the Caltech students pull this one off?

To what extent did the University of Washington cheerleaders get duped?

How many thousands of instruction sheets had to be altered?

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

For the answer to these questions and background on what I agree is the "Greatest Sports Prank of All Time," you can click here at this link and read the complete story--the specifics are interesting, but too long for my blog.

It is also humorous to know that the prank's details were revealed by group member and student Lance Taylor in a 1962 magazine article.

Ironically, the article was from Caltech's own periodical called Engineering and Science.

Wow!

What a wonderful example of practically applying educational concepts--definitely taking the classroom to the real world.

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

Note: The color card prank has been replicated to some extent a few other times at sporting events since the 1960s (like what Yale supporters did to Harvard fans several years ago), but the accomplishment of the Fiendish Fourteen remains unmatched. 

___________________________________________________

Thanks again to Miss Caitlin for the LSU prank link, and to all readers for their comments and visits.

I hope everyone has a good weekend.

On Devaluing Work

Bob over at The PA-IN Erudition, beat me to the punch a few days ago in mentioning Brendon Grimshaw's story.

I still wanted to add my two cents.
_______________________________________________________

Last week, this story was deservingly featured here in the States:

Thanks to one man's dedication and love, the beauty and wonder of an island in the Seychelles will be around for years to come...

According to the Daily Mail, Brendon Grimshaw bought Moyenne Island, off the north coast of Mahe, Seychelles, in the early 1960s...

At the time, he was a successful newspaper editor in Africa who was itching to start a new life. It took nine years for him to take the jump but finally, in 1973, the journalist from Dewsbury, England, moved to his new island with nothing but a dream.

Grimshaw has lived there ever since. When he first arrived at Moyenne, the island -- abandoned for over 50 years -- was overgrown with shrubbery so dense that coconuts could not fall to the ground.

Together with a Seychellois named Rene Lafortune, Grimshaw tirelessly worked to transform the island. Over the last 39 years, Grimshaw, now 86, and Lafortune planted 16,000 trees by hand -- including 700 mahogany trees that have grown to reach 60-70 feet in height -- and have built 4.8 kilometers of nature paths...

Lafortune died in 2007, leaving Grimshaw to care for the island alone.

According to Joseph Johnson Cami, director of a documentary about Grimshaw called 'A Grain of Sand,' while Lafortune occasionally lived on the island when the two were working on it, Grimshaw has been the only permanent inhabitant of Moyenne and has virtually been living alone for four decades.

...the nature lover has also attracted about 2,000 new birds to the island which he helps care for. He is also the loving caretaker of 120 giant tortoises.

Almost hunted to total extinction in the early 1900s, the giant tortoise -- though indigenous to the Seychelles -- continues to be at risk on most of the other islands, the Daily Mail reports. Grimshaw's island now also holds more than two thirds of all endemic plants to the Seychelles...

In the comments section of the linked article, I saw several readers discussing how they were envious of Grimshaw and that they would do what he did in a heartbeat.

Really?

Could they?


I think these folks are devaluing the extraordinary effort and dedication that is Grimshaw's life.

He left everything that was familiar to him and focused on one goal: creating beauty that was for anyone to experience.

For over 14,000 days he awoke and spent hours dirtying his hands--clearing and planting one small area of island at a time.

He worked and worked and worked.

No immediate access to NFL, NBA, or professional sports.

Bugs, bugs, and lots more bugs.

Limited face-to-face contact with loved ones and friends.

No Starbucks, Panera, or Poppa Johns.

Just sweat and dedication.

And I assume, regular doubts about what he was doing and whether it was worth the sacrifice.

Though news readers envisioning Grimshaw sunning himself on the white sand with a breath-taking view of the ocean is appealing, the reality is much different.

It is easy to miss his sacrifice and hard-work--exemplified in what is now this island.

Not everyone could do what Grimshaw has done.

No need to devalue the effort.

A journey of a thousand miles does begin with a single step.

Or a single tree planted in this instance.

One Hairy Inmate

I did not have time to finish my missing persons post this weekend, so instead I'll offer something less serious.
______________________________________


I was very glad to see that "Ralph Hunter" was apprehended in Flagler County, Florida last month.


An individual with this much hair can only be considered dangerous:


Ralph Hunter
3-19-2012


Personal Information




Ralph Hunter
Age31 Years OldSexM
Birth Date10-12-1980RaceWhite
Weight225 lbsEye ColorBrown
Height5'11"Hair ColorGray or Partially Gr
Birth PlaceBUNNELLCityPALM COAST, Florida
OccupationUnemployedZip32137
Arrest Information
Arrest Date3-19-2012

Total Bond$350




This mugshot and arrest record were actually posted in a database maintained by the Flagler County (FL) Sheriff's Office and made available to the public.  

It is humorous for an outsider (like me) to see when obvious employee pranking results in an "oops" that was accessible worldwide.

Yea for law enforcement and public information.


And, if Mr. Hunter is 5'11 and 225 lbs. as listed, then that is something I want to see.


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

Note: The Flager County Sheriff's Office evidently caught this funny mugshot and removed it from their site, but as they and all of us should know: nothing is ever completely deleted from the Internet--as in this case, it was recorded by multiple sites that search and capture mugshots, including this URL: Flagler County Mugshots.   

Childish

Recently, older boy and I were playing catch at a local park.

We had found a patch of open greenery between two young soccer teams--coed groups of energetic first-graders.

The football soared back and forth through the azure and cloudless sky.

Little Sissy would call for a turn and we would include her in the game as well.

Passing and kicking.

Quality family time.

A woman carrying a water bottle seemed to be watching us closely while walking to my left.

She appeared to be in her 30s sporting shoulder length blond hair and red-manicured fingernails.

As the woman past, I caught her eye, said "Hi," and then punted a low-line drive to older kid; trying not to make him run too far for it.

With an expression-less face she replied, "You kick like a little girl."

Stunned and embarrassed, I blurted out, "So you say."

She then disappeared into the crowd of soccer parents behind me.

Not my most witty retort.

Probably ranks up there with: "I know you are, but what am I?"

Doesn't she grasp the situation?

There are lots of innocent people around.

Folks who do not want to be hit by a flying ball, kicked by a "manly" dad.

I am directional punting and surrendering distance and form to keep an errantly aimed ball from disturbing parents or players using the park!

Can't she tell: I am kicking like this on purpose!

This internal Charlie Brown-like conversation that had hypnotized me ended when older son shouted: "Dad, I am open!"

I lowered my head, took several steps, and punted the ball as hard as I could.

The pigskin sailed well over older boy's head; fortunately hitting no one.

He raced to retrieve it.

Though unseen, I was sure that the lady was now standing next to parents and laughing uncontrollably.

I later apologized to older boy, but I did not mention the "you kick like a girl" accusation.

Humph...

Sometimes in our family it is difficult to distinguish the adults from the children.

Now pardon me why I go practice a more manly punting form.

_________________________________

Enjoy your weekend.

Assault by Orange

After reading this felony crime story from Florida, I was left with lots of questions:

FORT PIERCE — A 68-year-old former candidate for St. Lucie County Property Appraiser, dressed only in his underwear, is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly throwing an orange at a construction worker seven stories below him on South Ocean Drive, according to police reports.

William Wink was arrested 10 a.m. Friday at his seven-floor residence in the Avalon Beach Club condominiums in the 300 block of South Ocean Drive. He is out of jail under a $3,750 bail on the felony offense.

The road construction worker wasn't harmed, but Nathaniel Morris, 40, of Fort Pierce, "has a well-founded fear that the defendant (Wink) was attempting to strike him." Wink allegedly made contact with Morris and then threw the orange that landed within feet of the traffic-control sign operator. The report doesn't indicate what contact Wink allegedly had with Morris.

After the orange was thrown, Wink is alleged to have laughed and then gone back inside his residence, reports said.

Police went to Wink's condominium and quoted him as saying he didn't throw the orange maliciously and was just trying to get rid of it. "It was rotting and did not want the fruit" in his residence, according to police reports...


I am glad that no one was injured, but here are a few things that I wanted to know...

--Why was the defendant still dressed only in his underwear after being arrested?

--Did the construction worker see the flying orange and dodge it?

--Did the defendant rule out a watermelon toss thinking that it might hurt someone?

--What back-story exists between the defendant and victim?

--How far can a scantily-clad near-70-year-old toss an orange?

_________________________________

But I guess the most important question is:

Should this incident serve as a warning for me to curtail my activities of fruit/veggie throwing into our back field while sporting boxers?

If so, the deer are going to be disappointed.

Well, maybe not about the boxers.

Vultures, Missing Persons, and an Oversight

Today's post for Missing Person Monday features an unsolved case from this past December.

_____________________________________________

It doesn't matter how awful the situations for the families of missing persons, vultures are always present to make matters worse:

A promising lead about the whereabouts of Phoenix Coldon turned out to be a cruel hoax, causing the missing Missouri woman's family additional pain, their entire life savings and their home.

"Unfortunately, we will now be losing our family home," the missing woman's mother, Goldia Coldon, told The Huffington Post. "We have tried to explain the situation to our mortgage company but they don't care."

A tip that led the family to Texas came from a man who claimed to know Coldon's whereabouts and provided her family with very convincing details, Goldia Coldon said.

The family already had invested much of their money to search for Phoenix, she said, but spent the remainder of their savings on private investigators to follow up on the lead. It was not until after the family's money was gone that the man who provided the tip admitted he fabricated the story, Coldon said.

"They said he made it up to get attention," she said. "It cost us dearly and it led absolutely nowhere. It was just his idea of a joke."

...Phoenix Coldon, 23, was last seen in the driveway of the family's St. Louis County home at about 3 p.m. Dec. 18. Her mother said she was sitting in her vehicle one minute and the next, she was gone.

Coldon said she initially thought her daughter had gone to the store but when she did not return that night, Coldon said she reported her daughter and her black 1998 Chevy Blazer missing to police the following morning.
Sad that folks with evil intentions target the families of this missing; viewing the misfortune as an opportunity to scam.

They operate like burglars who read obituaries to determine when the deceased and family members of the deceased will be away from their homes at funerals--knowing that opportunities for break-ins await.

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

On a related note--reading the details of this disappearance reminded me of another one that I covered in depth.

Like that of missing person Brianna Maitland of Vermont, police also unknowingly towed Ms. Coldron's vehicle several hours after she was last seen (in this instance, three hours after her mom saw her) .  Authorities had found the Coldron SUV unoccupied on the day she vanished about 25 minutes from her residence.

Another sad similarity between the Coldron and Maitland cases is that the family and not authorities initially discovered the missing woman's SUV had been impounded.  For the family of Coldron, her loved ones did not realize that the vehicle was in government custody until nearly two weeks later.

They then notified police.

In other words, a potential crime victim's vehicle was contaminated (during the impoundment process) and then sat for fourteen days--a long time before authorities could begin investigating this disappearance.

One hopes that law enforcement will adopt new policies/emphasize existing directives to ensure that impound lots are checked and rechecked for the vehicles of those reported missing.

Because it is just not happening every time.

Iron Mike Tyson

I was recently reading collegiate sports player profiles from a university that I attended.

Each profile had basic information, and then included answers from other questions like "Who is your favorite athlete?"

As expected, baseball players like Albert Pujlos and Derek Jeter.

Football players love Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, or Ray Lewis.

Basketballers named Lebron James.

Male soccer players like Landon Donovan, while female kickers cheer Abby Wambach.

Except for one female soccer player.

Her favorite athlete?

Mike Tyson.

Iron Mike?

Really?

Former heavyweight boxing champ, convicted felon, and repeat violent offender?

The guy who was disqualified from a match after he chomped an opponent's ear?

Wow, now if I were a reporter in that market, I would certainly want more information as to why she would answer Mike Tyson.

Not sure I have ever been more curious about an answer from a ubiquitous question on a college sports webpage before.

______________________

Note: Tyson has been in the news lately with his one-man performance about his life entitled "The Undisputed Truth--Life on Stage."  The show appeared in Las Vegas this week.


Have a good weekend everyone.






Phone Death

On Monday, blogger and writer friend Dr. Lydia Kang featured one of my posts on a poisonous bead inadvertently being used to make jewelry.

 She thought she may have purchased a necklace with the deadly toxin similar to the one I discussed.


What does Lydia learn?  


You can go here to find out.


Now on to today's topic.
____________________________________________________________

After a hiking and general fun trip with the family this weekend, I was hauling armfuls of stuff from the family car into the house.

It always amazes me that since we became parents more than a decade ago, how many extra bags we have to pack.

Anyway, in one load, I hurriedly dropped my cell phone, wallet, and extra keys into the children's insulated drink bag and placed it on the counter.

Later while unpacking inside, I started removing items from that insulated bag.  My keys, wallet, two sealed kids juices, a cold pack, and saw something else at the bottom of the case.

Something that I did not expect.

A mostly melted cup of vanilla ice cream.

Ice cream with a black cell phone partially submerged in it.

KERPLOP!

Argh...

Well, I dried the phone off and it works; well sort of.

All the volume controls are broken.

I can barely hear the ringer, the alarm feature is no longer audible, and the call volume is so low that I need just about complete silence to hear what someone is saying.

We will see how long I can hold out before the Mrs. gets tired of hearing me say: "Eh, what was that?  Say again please."

I said my condolences as my phone is the equivalent of dead.

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

How about you--has one of your phones ever experienced a death by ice cream?


Or, what creative ways have you killed or lost a cell phone?

Kari Swenson Case in the News

I am being overrun with work stuff, so I am changing my posting schedule to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (instead of the previous 4 days per week).

Anyway, for today's installment of Missing Person Monday, I wanted to revisit a missing persons case that was solved. The victim, Kari Swenson, was kidnapped while trail running and later shot and left for dead.  Her survival story is nothing short of inspiring.

Her abductors were captured and convicted.  One was released in the early 1990s.  The other kidnapper, still imprisoned, is in the news.
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Last year, I covered the Kari Swenson story extensively in a series of posts which can be viewed at the link here.



In July of 1984, then 22-year old Swenson was trail running near Big Sky, Montana. She was a world-class biathlete and was vying for a spot on the United States team that would compete in the World Biathlon Championship.

She was alone and on a break from her job at a local lodge.

Unexpectedly, she was confronted by two armed men, Don and Dan Nichols.

The father and son Nichols thought of themselves as "mountain men" and had been living in the heavily wooded and mountainous area there for almost a year.

The Nichols had decided to abduct young Kari that day--hoping that she would eventually become the wife of Dan and that they could start a family living in the wilderness.

To summarize the story, Kari was struck in the face by the older man when she tried to resist, and then immediately restrained with chains.  The group spent  the day walking deeper into the wilderness, and she was chained in a seated position to a tree at night; while the men slept.

Inadvertently the next morning, two volunteer searchers from the lodge where Kari worked wandered into the Nichols camp.  The search teams were expecting to find that Kari had fallen ill or had been attacked by a wild animal and was in need of medical aid--they had no idea that she had been kidnapped.

Quickly, the situation escalated.

In the commotion, Dan Nichols inadvertently shot Kari in the chest with his gun.

The father, Don Nichols, shot and killed one of the searchers. The other searcher was able to flee the camp and run for help.

While Kari was lying on the ground gasping for air and bleeding, Dan and Don Nichols packed their gear and fled the area.  Leaving the young victim to die with a life-threating wound.

In a testament of her strength and will to live, she remained alive for hours until authorities arrived.

After months of grueling medical treatment and determination, she able to compete in biathlons again--and was a member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. relay team at the world championships in Chamonix, France.

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Fast forward to this past weeked, when the AP is running stories like this one about how convicted kidnapper and murderer Don Nichols will go before a parole board this month and make an appeal for his release.

He is currently serving an 85-year prison term for his crimes.

HELENA, Mont. — A notorious "mountain man," who abducted a world-class athlete in 1984 to keep as a wife for his son, comes up for parole on April 27...

The elder Nichols has had a good track record in prison, where he has worked on the yard crew, and over the years has reportedly become a bit more apologetic for kidnapping Swenson...


Wow, "a bit more apologetic"?

Now that is convincing.

If one reads Mr. Nichols' "manifesto" about the incident he blames anyone and everyone involved in Kari's kidnapping--everyone but himself that is.

Mr. Nichols even points a finger at his victim for the violent crime so many years ago--that she was only chained lightly, was treated humanely, never was hit, and should have just done what she was told.

Mr. Nichols should be glad that I am not on his parole board.

I think the safety of our society is being preserved with this "mountain man" imprisoned--he murdered one man and tried his best to kill a young athlete.

"A bit more apologetic", eh?

I say let him out.

Yes, let him out after he FINISHES HIS FULL 85 YEARS, and is what, like 130+ years old?

Makes sense to me.