Monday, February 28, 2011

Restaurant Review: The Dégagé Jazz Café


The Dégagé Jazz Café
301 River Road
Maumee, OH 43537
(419) 794-8205

Tu - Th: 5pm - Midnight
Fri - Sat: 5pm - 1AM
Sunday Brunch 10 - 2
Sunday Dinner 5 - 9


I've never been one to pass up a good meal complimented by live jazz, so when Flopsy and Mopsy rolled into town Friday night, Main Lady suggested we all go over to the Dégagé Jazz Café on Saturday, get dinner and chill out to the live music, well... how could I refuse? I've never been to the place and there's always a chance that I'll find an excellent jazz club that the great unwashed has yet to stumble into. Fat chance.

Getting right to the point, unless you're one of those people who like to stand in line for an hour or more before you get seated at the lousiest table in the house, make reservations. Tell whomever it is that answers the phone that you insist on a good table, and that you both know that location is everything. If you can't get a decent table, don't go. Believe it. The Dégagé Jazz Café occupies three separate rooms, and while you can hear the band in all three you can only see the band in one room. The other two rooms use wide screen wall mounted televisions that the patrons can watch. We were seated in the annex, meaning that we watched the band on TV, listened to the music and enjoyed a good deal of privacy. For my money, we got the best table in the house, but not everyone will see it that way.

The Annex
Our waitress stopped by immediately to rattle off the specials of the evening and answer any questions about the menu. The trouble was that the band was playing at that time and she was unable to make herself heard above the trumpet. This was not because the music was too loud; this was due to the waitress being reluctant to speak up. I suspect that our waitress was new at her job, and although she tried hard she was untrained.

The drink menu at the Dégagé Jazz Café lists every au courant concoction known to vogue fashion plates from New York to Paris and a few new combinations. While the ladies tried to decide on the color and texture of their poison and perused the concordance, I ordered one of my old standby drinks. I feel that the true test of a bartender or a waitress is a dry martini, straight up. These days I'll forgive a waitress (a young waitress, anyway) for asking if I want gin or vodka, as the current generation are poorly informed amateurs who don't know that martinis are made with gin, and gin only; Gimlets are made with vodka. If the bartender fails to chill the glass or the gin, then he's not much of a bartender and the only safe things to order from him are shots on the rocks, beer or wine. Likewise if he's so ignorant that he actually shakes the martini, the resultant watered down gin will get sent back to him with the suggestion that he return to bartending school for a remedial class on mixology. An experienced cocktail waitress will ask to the brand of gin and a preference for olives or a twist. An exceptional waitress will bring a tall glass of water as a chaser, and if you are fortunate enough to have one of these, hang on to her pal, she's in demand.

I ordered my martini straight up, "just as dry as high school history and as cold as a banker's heart - a Republican banker." My waitress enquired as to the brand of gin; I specified Megellan if they had it, Bombay Sapphire if they didn't.

Martini
I'm happy to say that the bartender knows what he's doing. He chilled both the glass and the gin and rinsed the glass with a little dry vermouth before adding the gin. The waitress neglected my garnish, as neither olives nor twist was present. Well, at least she didn't spill any and she got the martini to the table before it started to get warm. By this time the ladies were ready to order their drinks, all of which escape me. One was a frothy pink concoction served up in a martini glass, and I think someone else ordered a light beer. Then it was time to order dinner.

Menu - Click to Enlarge
I didn't get a regular menu, as the place was so busy that they actually ran out of menus. Well, I suppose there are worse things. I ordered the Char-Grilled Steak Frites, substituting a wild mushroom side dish for the asparagus. The ladies ordered a half-dozen different appetizers and side dishes, intending to set up an impromptu smorgasbord.
   
Asparagus

Bruschetta
Our food arrived in good time, even given the packed house. I ordered my steak medium, and was pleased with the result. I was served a good quality steak, the asparagus was replaced with a side dish of wild mushroom and cream sauce, but the french fries were absent. Our waitress vanished. A short while later the manager stopped by to ask if everything was alright, and I started explaining about the absent fries. The manager was silently joined by our waitress and an assistant manager (whose name I forgot to get, which is a huge mistake on my part. He's a young man, average height, mid twenties, dark hair and complexion, competent and enthusiastically helpful). Between the three of them the problem was fixed in short order. I consider this an important point, as what really counts is how the staff solves a problem.

One advantage to our seating was the proximity to the band. We could easily carry on a conversation while the band was playing, which was nice. The band, by the way, was excellent.

Eric Dickey ant the  Scott Potter Group
The band was very tight and played jazz standards all night. We stayed for two sets and I'd have liked to hear a third set, but Main Lady wanted to head home.

Fluegelhorn
Eric has a lot of breath control and didn't overpower the other instruments or the room. One complaint I often have about live music is the volume. Some well meaning mental midget invariably cranks the volume on the amplifier up to ten, feeling the need to overpower everything in a 20 by 30 room packed with listeners. The result is that the music is blurred by a speaker being driven by an overpowered amplifier, and the audience is deafened. This band had the sense to keep the volume down so as to fill the room and no more.

Dog House Bass and Drums
The bass and the drummer synchronized nicely; few things are worse than a bass player and a drummer who are not on good speaking terms.

Dog House Bass
I didn't get the names of the musicians, which I regret. In particular, the bass player has an outstanding voice which I would have never guessed. But then, most of their repertoire is instrumental.

Main Room
I got this shot of the main room on my way out. As you can see, the place is packed. I'm glad to see that business is good, as I'd like to come back here again.

Chef and Manager
Here's the chef, Joseph Jacobsen,  and the general manager. Again, I neglected to get her name, for which I apologize. The chef is a somewhat taciturn man; obviously well-suited to the kitchen by the quality of the meals he prepares. The manager makes herself available to everyone and is the person you will want to speak to if you aren't satisfied with something.

The only negative comments I have about my dinner concern our server. Our waitress didn't stop by the table often enough, and although she tried hard to do a good job she lacked training and experience. If it weren't for her attitude, I'd have complained bitterly to the manager and gotten another waitress. Also, I note in their advertising for the Sunday brunch that Kids 6 and Under Eat Free! which I think is a mistake. The venue is not designed for children, even well-behaved children. If you welcome the little monsters in for brunch, they are liable to show up for dinner as well and ruin an otherwise excellent evening for the patrons who have the ill luck to sit at the adjacent tables.

The food is good. It isn't great, it isn't outstanding and it is not a discriminating gourmand's delight; the dinner is a good enough value for the price. I plan on making a return visit.

The ambiance is pleasant, quiet and comfortable. You won't see any ball caps or cut off jeans in the crowd, nor is a bar fight likely to break out. The worst thing I experienced was a big mouth woman at the table next to me who would occasionally interrupt everything in the room with her stentorian, braying laugh. 

In summary:


  • Ambiance: 8 (with entertainment)
  • Service: 5 (which I expect will improve)
  • Food: 7

Overall rating: 7

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

One year ago today I started Mad Jack's Shack. Funny how time flies when you're having fun. My first essay, Who knew that this would be the start of something?, was titled by default (I didn't know what to title it) and dealt with the situation in Lincoln Woods involving Clay Hausenfleck. Clay defended home and hearth against a home invasion which resulted in one fellow, Louis M. Mason, measuring his length on the floor and leaking badly. When the police arrived they investigated Clay's basement and discovered that Clay was quite the horticulturist, busy developing a new strain of cannabis sativa. The local constabulary took Clay to the hoosegow.

At Main Lady's insistence With Main Lady's support I circulated a flier encouraging the local residents to write to Judge Stacy L. Cook, encouraging Her Honor to incarcerate Clay so as to keep him out of Lincoln Woods. Clay went to the big house and remains there today. My thanks to all law enforcement agencies involved for doing a good job.

I got three comments for my efforts, although two of them were inflammatory and authored by "Mike", a mysterious account that likely hasn't had much activity lately. I suspect that "Mike" is actually Gary Groszewski, and ex-city worker with an alcohol problem and an irrational disposition. Gary was busted for drunk driving 13 times, which you can read about here if you like. Gary's dislike for me stems from activity on another local venue, Toledo Talk. You can read a little about Gary here if you're curious. I don't deal well with drunks, and Gary is no exception.

I enjoy writing, so I think I'll keep Mad Jack's Shack going for another year and see where it ends up. I remarked to my brother Big Mike that I expected more commentary. Mike pointed out that my topics are about local activities and tend to be rational rather than the over the top emotive blathering of a Moonbat in heat; moreover, the venue is not conducive to an online discussion, all of which account for a dearth of commentary. I think Big Mike is right about this.

My thanks and a hoist of the old bourbon glass to everyone who takes the time to read my blog. I trust all of you must enjoy some part of it or you wouldn't waste time reading it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Power Outage

Back in the bad old days when I was a mere sprout and my poor father had no inkling as to just what he'd gotten himself into, our family would lose electrical power on a fairly regular basis. An ice storm would reliably knock one or more wires down, and during any given thunderstorm lightning would strike the transformer at the end of our driveway and put us in the dark for a day or two. Our family had well water, meaning that we were without water until the Toledo Edison saw fit to send a crew back into no-man's land and restore the electricity. For those who have never lived outside the city, this means that you get your water from the ground, pumped to your home with an electric water pump. This also means no funny tasting chemicals get added to your water, and if some enemy nation like the Nazis, the Japs or al-Qa'ida get the bright idea of slipping a few poison pills into the local water tower, you'll be among the few that wake up on the sunny side of the lawn the next morning.

Up until today we've been lucky, but around 10:00 this morning everything went dark. I used my cell phone to call the automated response system, then I took a drive to see what I could see. I found Toledo Edison utility trucks scattered up and down the road and was informed our power would be restored in about ten minutes. At 1:00 PM the lights came back on. I'm not complaining, as this is a whole lot better than the bad old days when we'd end up cooking and heating the house by the fireplace in the living room. Ah, the good old days. No electricity, no phone, driveway blocked by snowdrifts that only a bulldozer could move.

So, in celebration of civilization and the soft life it has provided, here are a few pictures I took of the immediate area.

Mrs. Cardinal

Here's Mrs. Cardinal. I think we have three or four males and perhaps two females in the woods, but I can't be certain as yet. Anyway, Mistress was in one tree and her mate was in the other.

Mr. Cardinal
I've been trying for the classic picture of the male and female cardinal against a backdrop of fresh, white snow, but the little birds are camera shy. This is the best I've been able to get so far.

Here's a photo of their neighbor, Mr. Woodpecker, who is a very wary bird and will depart at any movement nearby.

Mr. Woodpecker

We have three species of woodpecker around the house; The Red-Bellied Woodpecker, the Downy Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is the shyest of the three, and I haven't managed to get a decent photo of him as yet.

Ice Storm Results
Everything is covered in a layer of ice, and when these bushes are in full sunlight they become dazzling. Unfortunately, full sunlight is rare.

Ice on the Brambles
I think that a lot of our song birds make their home inside the brambles and brush along the driveway, which is a very good excuse not to clear the area out. For one thing, it would take all summer. For another the clearing would cut back on the wildlife.

Ice on the Trees
These trees are in the back yard. This is the shot I'd been trying to get most of the day - full sunlight on the ice. This was taken in the afternoon around 4:30 or so. I think the ice will be with us for a few days at least, and I hear there's more to come.

For anyone living South of the Mason-Dixon Line, this is why you don't live up North.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ice!

I'm being manipulated.

We had a little dusting of snow earlier this month which the weather nit wit referred to as the Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011. A day or two later we got an additional eight inches of snow that was supposed to be three inches. Last night we got an ice storm. Around four this morning Main Lady woke up for some reason and discovered that at some time in the middle of the night the power had gone out. No surprise there. She woke me up to tell me about it.

"Jack, the power went out."

I try my best to ignore this, as it bodes no good. Besides, the power is now back on as evidenced by the flashing digital clock next to the bed. Main Lady fixes the clock to make it stop flashing and to dim the display.

"Jack, I think I should go over to Mother's house. What if she wakes up and sees everything flashing?"

What if indeed? What if this bed had wings? There is no help for it. My car is blocking the driveway, but I don't think that has much to do with the situation at hand. It's four in the morning and I must get dressed and take Main Lady over to Centenarian's house. Moreover the dog, Excellent Rachmaninoff, sees this as an opportunity for fun and games, and so must go along with us. Even at four in the morning I can see that this isn't your average ice storm. Things are bad and likely to get worse. The dog and I deliver Main Lady to Centenarian's house and return to my nice warm bed, where I snooze until a civilized hour - 9:30 AM. Main Lady has returned and is walking the dog around Lincoln Woods. I go out to join her.

Ice!
The evergreen trees in the front yard are bent over with the weight of the ice, and they look to me like they're ready to come down.

Evergreens
Most of the trees out front are oak, which is not reassuring to me. Oak trees are strong but they don't bend easily, which is what is needed here. I haven't seen this much ice on the trees in many years.

Blocked Driveway
I called Mom to see if she still had power, which she does. Mom instructed me not to come over because the driveway was a solid sheet of ice and several branches were down. "At least give me time to go out and saw them up." Mom said. I considered just how best to proceed.

"How about leaving the branches alone for the time being, and getting them removed later on?" I know this argument won't work because Mom has never put off for tomorrow anything that could be done today.

"Why? I have a nice little saw and I can just saw them into small pieces. I can't carry the big stuff like I used to do."

All of which is true, but not the point. "What if you slip and fall?"

"Oh, I'll be careful." Mom reassures me. "I can do this."

"Okay, mom? I want you to leave the branches alone until later. If the driveway is impassable and you fall, how will anyone get back to help you?" This makes good sense to me, but Mom still sees it as unreasonable. The logic, however, does not escape her. Mom reluctantly agrees to wait a while and do the branches later on. This gives me time to drive over to Mom's house, swipe the crosscut saw and hide it and saw up the branch that's blocking the drive. Walking is treacherous.

Trees Down
I got rid of the willow branches blocking the drive, and I noted two trees that have fallen into the pasture. These will have to be cut up and the brush disposed of before any horses can be turned out. I'm glad we had the chainsaw serviced earlier this year.

Well, Main Lady did fix me a delicious breakfast this morning, explaining that the breakfast was my reward for getting up at four in the morning. Now, Main Lady is a licensed clinical psychologist, complete with PhD, and I know that one of things she's had to do to get her degree is modify the behavior of lab rats. You do this with food... So I'm just wondering, you see. Just kind of idly speculating, you know, about food, lab rats, breakfast and four in the morning activities that do not involve conjugal relations. Just wondering, is all.

Range Report

Email from Big Mike:

Jack:

Saturday?

Big Mike

My reply:

Big Mike:

Yes.

Mad Jack
Men of few words are we. I've noted in the past that Mike will often fail to affirm anything by email, considering a UNIX type response to be it's own affirmation. That is to say, no news equals success OR true OR yes. Big Mike claims he doesn't communicate well with people. I don't agree with that assessment. I think the real truth is that most of the people Big Mike encounters are on the other side of the bell curve, and Big Mike is not well-versed in primate sign language. I further observe that he is content in his ignorance. Still, dogs and cats seem to like him. As a case in point, Dante the cat will sometimes allow Mike to pet him. Excellent Rachmaninoff likes Mike just fine, but I suspect that Rocky's affection might be because Big Mike's Achilles tendons are conveniently located close to the ground and out of Mike's usual line of sight.

When I called Big Mike late Saturday morning, Mike told me he'd be over around 1:00 or so, "....which really isn't an issue because the bar doesn't open until 3:00." I'm beginning to wonder about my priorities here.

While I was assembling my gear, I pointed my browser at Free Printable Targets, and from there to Free Targets for Shooters! where I printed a few novelty targets. Like many things in life, this seemed like a good idea at the time, but then so does driving at 120 mph on an empty highway at 5:00 AM on a Sunday morning.

We arrived at The Bullet Stop around 2:30 and actually had to wait a few minutes. No problem; we shoot the breeze with the owners, play with the dogs and look at the guns under the glass. A short time later some guys left and we took a single lane. I let Big Mike warm up a little with his .22 Buckmark and I ran a clip through my Ruger .22 before I took out the new targets. Big Mike is somewhat dubious, thinking the targets are rather small. I make disparaging noises at his doubts and load up the first target - ten balloons. I resist the urge to offer a Kewpie doll as an incentive.

First Effort
Big Mike goes first, and after a brief argument Mike forces me to humiliate myself by trying to hit a target I can barely see at 25 feet or so. We both score four out of ten. My target is on the right side (First Effort) and what irritates me is that I shot consistently low all across the top line. Just an inch higher and I'd have conclusive proof of mediocre marksman's skills.

My Target
This is a lot harder than I thought it would be, and the dim light at the Bullet Stop isn't helping either of us. About midway through the next two targets the owner came out to try and fix the electric target return on the leftmost lane. The man complains bitterly that he'd run a private range for 20 years without a problem, but just as soon as he opened the place to the general public, "They tear the hell out of everything." The ceiling has bullet scars on it, and it's easy to see that the track has been hit several times. Probably closer to several hundred times. Okay, well then - when was the last time you changed the oil in a rental car? What bothers me are the holes in the ceiling right above the shooter's position at the beginning of the lane. There aren't just one or two, either. When the all clear shout is given, we continue.

Challenging Target
When I produced this target, Big Mike tried to back out. "No. There is no way I'm going to try that one." Mike is emphatic, but it isn't until I shrug and tell him I'm going to shoot one anyway that he relents. I don't know what Mike's problem is; all he'll lose is a little pride, and it isn't like that's never happened before. At 25 feet, these dots are impossibly small. They didn't look that small when I printed the target out at home, but the lighting and distance seem to have an affect on things. Anyway, mine is on the right side. We didn't do badly with this one.

Next we hauled out the .45s. Big Mike shot his Kimber, which has adjustable target sights, custom grips and a trigger pull that usually requires the services of a high quality gunsmith to achieve on a stock gun. I drag out Betsy, knowing I have my work cut out for me.

Shooting .45s
The only thing I can say is that Betsy has combat sights, which means that with my lousy eyesight Betsy's iron sights are vestigial at best, invisible at worst. My shots are good enough for government work, and I even manage to land a few. I'm happy in spite of my lousy score.

Final Target
Big Mike takes out his .380 and I load up my S&W 9mm. We've had enough fun and games for the day. Mike puts up a regular target which we hammer to death.

Total Eclipse Breakfast Stout
The bar being open at Maumee Bay Brewing Co., we had no choice but to stop in for a late lunch. I decided on the Breakfast Stout, which I haven't had before; It is excellent! This is possibly the best stout that I've had in a very long time. The only drawback is that it's quite filling. I had the cheddar cheese beer soup and a French dip sandwich, both of which were excellent. A good shoot, take it all around.

We have a new waiter at Maumee Bay, one who is conscientious and hard working. I recommend you ask for Ivan if you want the best service available.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cops: My Ride Along

Back in December of 2010 I was contributing to Toledo Talk in my usual insightful, compassionate yet succinct manner when I got waylaid by Solleks. The topic had to do with the performance of the Toledo Police Department and fantasy versus reality. Click here for the post that started most of this, but the quote from Solleks was:
If you want to be really disappointed...go on a ride along.
Solleks observed that the hoi polloi could not possibly understand the workings of the police department until they had ridden along with the police and observed regular operations. I responded that I'd tried to ride along with police and been told to mind my own business, so I felt that Solleks was pretty safe with his comment. Solleks immediately offered me the chance to ride along with him and his partner.

Red hot damn!

Solleks works out of the Scott Park police station (2301 Nebraska Ave., Toledo, OH). He and his partner, Partner, work the 3:00 to 11:00 shift which I'm given to understand means we'll see some excitement. Better yet, the February weather breaks and the temperature climbs to an unseasonable high of around 50 degrees. I have hopes of high speed driving with the lights and siren on. Curbing my enthusiasm, I arrive at the Scott Park station a little after three. The station is nicely appointed with a rough cut stone floor in the foyer and a helpful Sargent behind the ubiquitous glass partition. I'm presented with a list of rules and a release of liability, which essentially states that if a criminal sprays the car with machine-gun fire, the city of Toledo is not liable. Solleks shows up a few minutes after three.

Solleks is not what I expected. For one thing, he's a little short to be a policeman. I meant to talk to him about this, but it slipped my mind. Physically, Solleks is the antitheses of the hackneyed, doughnut munching policeman. By his own admission Solleks works hard to stay in shape, and I suspect his partner does the same. Both officers are fit with the athletic build of a hiker or swimmer. Additionally, both Solleks and Partner are articulate and obviously well educated, possessing excellent diction. As the evening progresses both display erudite legal knowledge along with an awareness of civil rights and practical application that is impressive.

Solleks takes me on a tour of the Scott Park station including the firing range downstairs. The gun range was built by the University of Toledo police department just before the station was sold to Toledo. The range is great, and includes a rifle range and moving targets. I note that the walls and ceiling are somewhat scarred from stray lead, and Solleks explains that the department can use the range for various scenarios, including having a patrol car parked in the middle of the range. In the past, the city of Toledo provided officers with ammunition for regular firearm practice. This is no longer the case, Toledo being dead damned broke and in hock right up to the top floor of One Government Center. I ponder this situation for about two seconds as we walk along the range. I'm a recreational shooter, and I find the cost of ammunition to be somewhat prohibitive. A quick check of Cheaper Than Dirt reveals that good old 9mm Blazer ammunition costs $11.00 for a box of 50 shipped right to my door. Regular practice (in my opinion anyway) requires at least 100 shots per week, meaning one visit per week to the range, and I'd be happier with two visits. That's four boxes per week, meaning that if I'm to stay in shape I'm going to shoot the hell out of $50 a week. That kind of money tends to add up, and I think the city should be picking up this tab for everyone.

Solleks takes me out to the parking lot where I meet his partner, Partner. Oddly the man reminds me of Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon, hence his moniker. Partner looks nothing like Eastwood, being about 80 years younger and lacking in Eastwood's weathered appearance – two things his significant other is likely grateful for. Our patrol car is a Dodge Charger with a very durable partition between the front and back seats. Guess who gets to sit in the back.

I'm tall. I still stand five foot eleven and a half inches in my stocking feet, and I'm carrying a lot of extra weight. I consider the rear compartment with it's hard plastic seat and six inches of leg room. I fold myself into thirds and slide in, trying to find room for my knees. There isn't any. I fidget around and try to find a position that works without overwhelming success. I ask Partner if he'd move his seat up just a little. He agrees, but Solleks objects saying that physical discomfort builds character. I sit sideways with the seat belt buckle digging into my rump. After I locate and move the thing that's sure to cripple me after the third chuck hole, I feel measurably better. Solleks informs me that they'll let me out every time they stop unless there's likely to be trouble. He adds that he hopes the bad guys don't steal the car while I'm stuck in the back. This is my hope as well.

In truth I'm too excited to notice much discomfort. I've been in worse places than the back of a patrol car and I'm still okay, and I want to see some bad guys busted. Solleks shows me the computer system in the car and the listing of opportunities for police work. I count about a dozen items waiting for attention, but none of them are remotely serious, Partner says. Solleks selects one from the list, a burglary which was discovered about 1:30 this afternoon. The criminals are long gone, but a report must be taken and the officers can look the crime scene over. We get interrupted on our way by a call about a possibly suicidal woman at Flory Gardens. Solleks turns on the lights and siren and offers conclusive proof that he knows what the accelerator is for. I'm happy. I estimate our speed at 60 or better. Cars move out of the way. One SUV stops dead in the hammer lane and Solleks stops behind him until he moves to the right. One car in front of us takes advantage of the hole in traffic to pass a half dozen other cars before pulling over. We arrive at Flory Gardens, which is part of the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority and a woman buzzes us in. We find the correct apartment number and Solleks informs me that when two officers team up, one does the driving and the other does the talking. Ergo, Partner will knock on the door and see what's up. I'm tempted to ask if Partner needs to practice what he learned in his last sensitivity class and if Solleks is perhaps mentoring him, but I refrain.

As it turns out, the woman in question is an overweight fifty something living in a one bedroom apartment and she doesn't spend a lot of time cleaning house. The woman can't stop crying. Partner offers some reassurance and tries to find out the problem. It turns out that the woman had her taxes done by a local preparer who told her that she'd get a nice refund check from the IRS. When she called the IRS they demanded a PIN that she didn't have, and that's when the world came to an end. She has bills, she says, and she doesn't know what to do. Given the monolithic labyrinth that is the bureaucracy of the IRS it's little wonder that the poor woman is upset. The IRS is not designed to provide tax refunds, correct information or friendly customer service. Rather, it is obstructive by design. This woman is poor and is near the wrong end of the bell curve. What hope has she?

Solleks and Partner turn in a stellar performance. While Solleks asks a few questions and offers reassurance, Partner uses the phone and dials the IRS, then navigates the customer support automation tree right up to the prompt for a social security number. Partner then passes the phone back to the woman, who tearfully enters her SS number and begins working the system for herself. After a minute she gets a pen and paper and writes a number down; the PIN she needs for her refund check. Partner concludes the visit by offering advice on dealing with frustration (leave it alone for a while until you cool off) citing his own personal experience with fixing his own plumbing. A very frustrating experience, Partner says. I briefly envision Partner lying in a tight crawl space under his house, threatening a leaky pipe with a three pound ball peen hammer. I successfully stifle a laugh.

I try to congratulate Solleks and Partner as we are walking out, but I'm interrupted by a loud argument from an adjacent apartment. An unseen woman screams at someone else. The reply is lost, and she screams again, “Shut the fuck up!” Flory Gardens is depressing, but I'm told that it's much better than it used to be.

We get back on the street and are flagged down by a middle aged man who points down the street. “Those kids are throwing rocks at cars, officer! There he goes, the kid in the red shirt.” I see a brief flash of red that vanishes between two houses. Solleks hits the gas and we hustle down the block, where Solleks and Partner spot a boy in a red sweatshirt walking down an alley. Solleks makes a hard left and we speed down the alley, pulling up next to the boy who is holding a nice, round snowball. Partner rolls down the window and braces the little miscreant in his best no-nonsense voice.

“Alright you, drop the snowball.” Partner commands. The boy complies and Partner follows up with a few more rhetorical questions. The boy is not particularly intimidated. He wasn't doing anything. He didn't throw any snowballs at cars. He didn't hit any cars with any of those snowballs he didn't throw either. Partner elicits an address, which mysteriously changes once the young man is ensconced in the back seat with Yours Truly. The young man is twelve years old, his mom isn't home and he doesn't know how to get hold of her. His sister is supposed to be watching him, but she left for parts unknown. We take the young fellow home and Solleks tries knocking at the door, to no avail. Partner delivers a stern lecture about snowballs and cars with the threat of a return visit should the misbehavior occur again. Solleks suggests that it's time to get some homework done.

We drive over to the site of the burglary, but there's no one home. We'll have to come back later on, Solleks says. Not that it will do much good. The thieves stole four hot water heaters and two furnaces out of a basement, and they are long gone. Solleks says that they are likely crack addicts and will turn the appliances in for scrap. It's unlikely there's much evidence around, which is disheartening.

A few minutes after we leave, Solleks spots what he believes to be a stolen car. We make a u-turn and give pursuit, finding the car parked on a side street with two men standing and talking next to it. Tall Man is laughing and gesturing while Short Man has some money in his hand. When we pull up Solleks and Partner pile out, leaving me in the car. I can see why. Tall Man is high and can't give a straight answer to anything, but instead offers constant commentary on everything. He sees me in the back seat and decides this is an episode of Cops. Solleks fails to dispel this delusion. Short Man is sullen. The two are handcuffed and Partner lets me out of the back. When Partner remarks that Tall Man looks familiar to him, Tall Man retorts that “Not all black people look alike.” It strikes me that he isn't offended so much as he's happy to play the race card and get an argument started with Partner. Partner remains unruffled. Four adults sit on a nearby porch watching us, completely stone faced. They stare at us with less recognition than Excellent Rachmaninoff gives a television sit-com. We are the commercial for Geico insurance; a meaningless interruption to an equally meaningless day. The registration comes back clean and there are no warrants for either man, so we are on our way again. Tall Man has a record that includes two prison sentences and a host of misdemeanors. Short Man has no criminal record, which Partner finds unusual.

We get another hot call about a domestic. It seems that there is a brother and sister fight, and Sister says that Brother pulled a gun. Sister has called nine one one. Partner explains what's going on, adding that Brother probably doesn’t have a gun, but you never know. Solleks throws the hammer down and I get to watch everyone get out of the way again. Fun! We are the second unit on the scene and we learn that Brother took off driving a white Impala. We go looking for the Impala. Solleks spots a white car six or eight blocks away from us and throws the hammer down, but there are two women driving. We continue to search and find a white Impala, which obediently pulls over for us. Solleks and Partner exit, Solleks getting the driver to step out of the car while Partner watches from a distance. I note that Partner's hand is next to his pistol, and so stand back out of the way. It turns out that this isn't Brother, but we have found a lawbreaker anyway. When Solleks asks if there is anything in the driver's pockets he should know about, he gets a confession. The driver has two tiny plastic bags of marijuana.
“Yep, Officer, jus' as soon as I see them lights come on I knows you had me.” The driver is not upset about being busted or going to jail; he's upset about losing his money. It seems that a while back if you were arrested the first hundred dollars of your money was confiscated by the County to pay for your room and board at the County lock up. This policy was successfully challenged in court (innocent until proven guilty) and is no long in force. Solleks reassures the lawbreaker that it won't cost him any money to go to jail, and the prisoner becomes cooperative. I'm amazed. In his mind, going to jail for the night is no big deal. It's just one of those things that happens to everyone. Or something. The prisoner is handcuffed and helped into the back seat. Solleks rides in back and I get to ride in the front with Partner. The front is a lot more comfortable than the back.

On the way to jail the prisoner makes a phone call explaining his recent bad luck to someone. Judging from his reaction the prisoner doesn't get the response he was hoping for, possibly something along the lines of sympathy, bail and rescue from the clutches of the law. Shaniqua Theater begins to develop, but by that time we're at the jail and Solleks tells him to hang up the phone. I learn about the booking procedure and the paperwork involved in processing a prisoner, which is lengthy. Actually, this is an understatement. The paperwork was developed by a team of bureaucrats whose purpose in life is to obstruct real work by those who are tasked with performing it. Clearly these paper shuffling developers are happy filling out forms and so, being good little communists, they want to spread the joy far and wide. Solleks fills out forms on line while Partner handles the evidence. Evidence must be labeled and packaged correctly according to an inch thick book of regulations. It is then placed inside a locker in the downstairs evidence room according to the type, size and disposition of the evidence, as computed by a mystical formula devised by the very same gremlins that are making Solleks life intolerable in the offices upstairs. The downstairs evidence room is the size of a large walk in closet and stinks to high heaven of pot. I learn that our prisoner will be processed and cut lose, probably staying in jail for two hours or so. He'll have to find his own way home. We go back to our car and are about to leave when Solleks sees a vice cop he knows and stops to talk. When he returns he informs me that there are going to be several raids tonight, and we might luck out and get to watch a raid in progress. Prophetic words, as it turns out.

As soon as we're back on the street we get another call. Another unit is going to serve a felony arrest warrant on an escaped prisoner and wants to know if we'd like to help. “Would we?” I ask Solleks, who affirms that, in fact, we would. We're after a man who has two felony arrest warrants, one for felony escape and another for felony assault. This could get interesting. We are the second unit on the scene, and we arrive quietly and park down the street against traffic with our lights off. I'm a little worried about being hit by a car, but I discover that it's amazing how much leeway other drivers will allow a police car. The officer serving the warrant, whom we'll call Al, knows the criminal by sight and thinks he's inside the house on the corner. This is a two story home in a lower middle class section of town. The lights and TV are on, the drapes are closed. Solleks and I stand across the street and watch while the officer knocks at the door. A large dog sounds the call to battle stations. Shortly after the authoritative knock the drapes next to the door move aside briefly, allowing one of the inhabitants to make eye contract with the officer on the front porch.

Pay dirt.

The criminal, Gerry the Genius, follows his infallible instincts and retreats quickly from the window. Shortly thereafter the dog stops barking. No one comes to the door. Al continues to knock loudly, demanding that Gerry come outside and repeatedly assuring everyone within earshot that he isn't leaving without Gerry. No answer. Al says that the dog is the biggest, nastiest thing on four legs that he's ever seen. Moreover, Gerry the Genius has company inside; Trixie Trailertrash and her two little kids are in there with him. Solleks opines that if it weren't for the dog, they'd probably just kick the door open and lay hands (and eventually handcuffs) on Gerry and that would be that. However, there are complications. The solution is to get a Sargent involved and let the Sargent make the call as to how to proceed. The Sargent in question is young; younger than Solleks and Partner. He's something of a string-bean, but I'm told he's a good man. The Sargent tries to get Gerry to come out, but clearly no one is home. The Sargent isn't buying the empty house theory and asks Al if he's sure that's the original Gerry the Genius in there and not a cheap substitute. Because if it is Gerry the Genius, he's coming out in handcuffs; but if there's a mistake there will be hell to pay – we're talking major liability here. Al states emphatically that, yes, that is the original Gerry the Genius who escaped and now is wanted back. Fine. The Sargent has another try at the door, then gives up in disgust. Send in the SWAT team.

Traffic is blocked off and more squad cars arrive. The Fire Department sends an ambulance in case anyone springs a leak. The Lucas County Dog Warden sends a deputy in an official dog truck, because there is a dog inside. By this time the neighbors have tipped to the fact that something might be up and are standing on their respective front lawns, enjoying the show. The Toledo SWAT team arrives in the SWAT truck, which is a converted ambulance. Two SWAT team members come out and survey the situation, trying to decide how best to proceed. They amble over and confer with Al and a few other officers while the rest of the SWAT team piles out of the truck and takes up a position right across the street from the house, using a police car as potential cover. About this time the EMS truck decides to move and park on the side of the street just down from the SWAT truck, thus allowing the stacked up traffic into what might become a DMZ. One of the SWAT team makes a disparaging remark about the general public and steps in front of the line of cars, holding up his hands in a 'stop right there' gesture. He smiles in what is meant to be a friendly manner while his sub-machine gun swings on a harness across his chest. Traffic comes to an abrupt halt and Solleks moves our Dodge to block the street.

It is decided that Gerry the Genius will be given one last chance to surrender. The Sargent gets on a public address system and broadcasts a message for Gerry to come out. There is no answer from the house; not even the dog. Meanwhile I get to meet a few of the men. I'm amazed. I was expecting a group of twenty-something steroid abusers with shaved heads, amped up on adrenalin, anxious to throw some grenades into the house before kicking in the door and laying waste to everything in sight. Not so. A few appear to be as old as I am, a fact easily attributed to clean living and a lifetime of healthy eating habits. Certainly all the SWAT team members are in good physical shape, but none of them sport the overdeveloped physique of the serious bodybuilder. Instead, they appear to have the build of a multidisciplinary athlete. Not all are large men, except one man who is larger than the doorway he's about to break down. He and Solleks are old friends and Solleks introduces me. Keith (not his real name) turns out to be a quiet, thoughtful man of about forty years. I get the impression he'd really rather be doing something else, but since Gerry the Genius won't come out, it follows the police must go and collect him. Keith adds that the dog will be dispatched on the way in, which he doesn't look happy about either. I ascertain that there is a woman and her two children inside, and offer that I feel bad for the kids. That strikes a chord with several officers who agree, and Keith states that he doesn't think much of Gerry the Genius. “He's a real coward.” Keith says. I learn that in many cases, the criminal will send everyone else in the house outside before the confrontation with the police SWAT team gets underway.

In spite of repeated demands, Gerry the Genius refuses to answer or come outside. SWAT will force an entry and arrest Gerry. They plan on shooting the dog on their way in. Solleks and I are assigned to the rear of the house, hopefully out of the line of fire should anything go wrong. The raid itself goes off without a hitch. About a minute after SWAT enters the house, Gerry the Genius is hauled out in handcuffs, kicking and screaming along the way. Gerry is a white male in his mid-twenties, about six feet two inches tall, around 175 pounds and muscular with several poor quality tattoos. He is naked except for his shorts. Even in handcuffs Gerry requires some severe management. He wrestles and struggles against the SWAT members escorting him to the waiting police wagon. The love of his life, Trixie Trailertrash, is escorted along behind him screaming hillbilly hell at everyone within a six block area. According to Trixie, some one or more of the (creative expletive deleted) officers present has made the biggest mistake of their (creative expletive deleted) lives by having the audacity to arrest Trixie for obstructing justice, putting handcuffs on her and stuffing her into a filthy, microbe infested police wagon – and mercifully, some officer shut the door to the wagon. Note that I have taken some poetic license with Trixie's diatribe; there were far more profane expletives than I mentioned.

Solleks opens the communication door to the wagon, allowing a few words from Gerry and a short tirade from Trixie before he quietly asks a very pertinent question: Do you have anyone to take your children? If the kids can't be placed with a family member or a friend, then they'll go into children's services. Gerry and Trixie stop their yammering tirade in a New York minute and Trixie provides phone numbers for her older sister and her mother. Solleks proceeds to call Aunt Responsible and explains that Gerry and Trixie are under arrest and that they'll be spending the night in jail, so someone is needed for the kids. The conversation is brief. Possibly this is not the very first time something like this has happened.

Solleks and I go inside the house. There are two kids in the small family room. The girl is around seven, the boy about five. Both are being entertained by police in SWAT uniforms; neither child seems to be traumatized. A plasma TV is mounted on the wall and the kids alternate between television and friendly police. After about ten minutes Aunt Responsible arrives with two more kids in pajamas. One little boy is gregarious and would much rather play with the police than watch TV. He's barefoot and one policeman carries him over the broken glass from the front door in the living room. Five minutes more and Grandma arrives. She's in her sixties, small, fairly complected and slightly bent over with age. The kids are glad to see her. Neither woman castigates the police nor looks too long at them. I think these women know the real nature of Gerry and Trixie and this late night crises is not a big surprise to either of them. The little boy begins to cry as the group leaves the house. The police feel bad and try to cheer him up, but there isn't much they can do. He's five years old, he's tired and his world has just blown up. That's enough to make anyone cry.

Before Gerry the Genius got undressed and pretended to be asleep he had the forethought to lock the family dog in one of the bedrooms where it survived nicely. Marking the time since Al first knocked on the front door and locked eyes with Gerry the Genius until the moment SWAT kicked in the front door gave Gerry one and one half hours to surrender. Any time he wanted, Gerry could have announced that he was calling the whole circus off and just gone off to jail, which is where he ended up. Instead, it took ten regular police officers, an eight member SWAT team, one EMS truck and one Lucas County Dog Warden truck to extract this silly son of a bitch from his homemade pill box. For her part, Trixie Trailertrash could have gotten her kids dressed, put the dog on a leash and walked over to spend an hour or so with her sister, who only lives a few blocks away. She didn't.

I think Keith is right. Gerry's a coward and a criminal, and we're well rid of him. Trixie Trailertrash can spend a few nights in jail and contemplate just exactly what it was she did to get there. For my part, I feel sorry for the kids and I know that a lot of the police feel the same way. The kids are getting a raw deal and there isn't a whole lot that can be done to help them.

The prisoners are being taken to the Scott Park station, so we get back into the Charger and head over there. All the standing around outside has made me stiff and I have trouble getting into the back seat. Solleks tries to leave without me, but it's no good; Partner is watching him. It's 10:00 PM when we get back to the station and I suddenly realize I'm tired out. I call it a night one hour early. I originally intended to ride along the entire shift, but the back seat is shrinking and it's just a little more difficult getting in and out now than it was at the beginning of the shift.

Suffice to say that I had a great time riding with Solleks and Partner, and I'd like to try it again during the summer. Both men did an absolutely stellar job, and they deserve a merit raise. I was impressed by the SWAT team. The team refrained from any overt use of force as evidenced by the well being of Gerry the Genius and Trixie Trailertrash, neither of whom had a bruise on them after they were arrested.

My thanks to Solleks, Partner and the Toledo Police for an excellent, enlightening evening.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Worthy Read

Flask is building a snow house that I think she'll eventually divide into apartments and rent by the week to any ne'er do wells who happen to fall off the Southbound freight train. I read about it here and Flask includes a video of the work in progress. It's worth seeing. Anyway, as I nosed around I found a link to an absolutely hilarious site: Hyperole and a Half: Wolves. My sense of humor is a little out of sync with the rest of the world (I find TV sitcoms irritating and inane) and I found this site enjoyable and funny. Take a look at Wolves.

Meanwhile, South of the border that irreverent, irascible coiner of curmudgeonly phrases goes on a rampage about the situation in Egypt - read about it here. Here's an excerpt:
England is a pathetic and usually wet has-been islet with delusions of significance, brandishing a bath-tub navy like a moldering codpiece of shriveled content; its soldiers, sepoys of America; its government a puppet licking the boots of Washington like a decaying harem eunuch.
Another man whose rants and ramblings regularly consume a portion of my allotted bandwidth is Beat and Release. Read his latest post: My Shameful Confession and offer him a solution and a few words of encouragement.

Rant: Drunks and Dangerous Driving

I don't do well with drunks. They're sloppy, unpredictable and there is every chance in the world your dead drunk best buddy will inundate the console, the carpet and front seat of your car with partially digested beer and pretzels while you're driving him home from the bar at 3:00 AM. He was celebrating the restoration of his driving privileges after his last DUI, you see. He no longer has to ride his bicycle to work during all seasons and in all kinds of weather, and he thought he'd just stop for a cold one on the way home. Nice of you to pick him up and all. I could continue, but why bother? Most of us have been there, done that and for all I know have the tee shirt concession in their home town. Can't convince the bartender to give you back your car keys? No worry - just call Mad Jack's Taxi Service at four in the morning.

The other person I do not react well to is the dangerous driver. By dint of passing a written test that wouldn't challenge a retarded twelve year old along with a driving test that is specifically designed to allow the completely incompetent to pass with flying colors, these mental midgets are officially allowed to get behind the wheel of a 3000 pound pick up truck and menace everyone on the street. They follow too closely, hugging the bumper of the vehicle in front of them in the belief that the other drivers will actually speed up and get out of their way. They weave in and out of traffic, cutting people off and racing to the next light, where they are forced to wait along with the rest of the traffic. They pull out in front of other drivers. They cause accidents with their asinine behavior.

Where are all the traffic cops when you need one?

So today when a small maroon pick up truck cut me off in traffic, I took note of the advertising on the truck. The driver headed East on Monroe Street, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating the people in front of him and driving like a maniac. I lost sight of him as he past Whiteford road. The driver is either drunk or stupid - or both, for all I know. I really don't care. Since I'm not a cop I couldn't pull him over and bust him for DUI. I can't really imagine a sober person driving the way he was, but I suppose it's possible. What I can do is write about his dangerous driving and refuse to patronize his company. Here it is:

Got Tint?
4534 Monroe St.
Toledo, OH 43613
(419) 215-7342

He's a menace and he ought to have his license suspended for a few years. I'll never spend a dime with them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Knock and Announce

Some time ago I entered a contest and actually won a prize. I did this without bribing the judges, and the prize was way cool. I wrote about it here. The prize was a USB drive in the shape of a bullet; a bright silver .50 caliber handgun bullet. You unscrew the nose and plug it in. Anyway, I got three of these in the mail instead of just one, so I gave one to Big Mike with the suggestion that he store gun pictures on it. Mike got a big kick out of it and said he'd use it in its primary office. The second I gave to California Dave, who thought it was the greatest gift this year, and who is tempted to take it to work with him but doesn't dare. His help desk crew might have heart failure and if they don't work the phones, then he has to. The third I kept and will use it for gun pics.

Sometime after the contest the village idiot objected to the author's musings and started raising moonbat hell, insisting the site be closed down and the author tared, feathered and run out of town on a rail. Well, the site closed up - hey, what's free speech to a moonbat, right? But I've just been informed that there's a brand new site - Knock and Announce. I highly recommend anyone who enjoys a well written cop blog go over and shout a few words of encouragement.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rant: Federal Government

My opinion of our government (Federal, State and Local) is that government best serves as a model of incompetence hidden by inefficiency, and those are the good days. At worst we have a fascist police state in everything except the name, supported by tyranny of the majority in the form of 'democracy'. The government wants control. Politicians thrive on it. Bureaucrats exercise it. The hoi polloi suffer from it, mainly due to a combination of apathy and a desire to be controlled. One recent example of the latter involved travelers stranded in Chicago on Lake Shore Drive during the great Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011. An example of the former is Senator Joe Lieberman's legislation calling for a master switch for the Internet.

Return of the Internet 'Kill Switch' by Ed Brayton
After failing to pass in the last session, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins plan to reintroduce a bill that would give the president the authority to pull the plug on the internet in cases of emergency.
The deal is that if The Anointed One decides that an emergency condition exists, Himself can turn the Internet off, much like a long-suffering father switching off the giant flat screen television in his errant child's bedroom. Of course, this being an entire nation of adults watching porn, there are a few restrictions. Lieberman issued a press release of sorts in which he begins by stating most emphatically that his bill does not just give The Anointed One the authority to turn the Internet off like president of Egypt Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak did recently. His bill is different in any number of ways.

LIEBERMAN, COLLINS, CARPER STATEMENT ON CYBERSECURITY
Fourth, when invoking these authorities, the President must notify Congress, and the emergency measures cannot be continued beyond 120 days without congressional approval.
Oh, well, since The Anointed One must notify Congress (no more TV, kids!) and since the Internet won't be shut down for more than 120 days unless Congress approves, well then - there you are! Naturally there will be no judicial review of this activity. We don't want to bother the court system with actions that are necessary to maintain a free State.

Reading various sources on the Internet about this noisome piece of legislation reveals that many writers really don't get the picture.

Could the U.S. shut down the internet? By John D. Sutter
Technically, the United States could do the same thing Egypt did to block internet access, Faris said. [Robert Faris, research director at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.]
The government would have to call four or five top internet providers and order them to disrupt Border Gateway Protocols in a way that shut down the majority of American internet traffic, he said. Others said the government would have to deal with the country's thousands of internet providers in order to fully clamp down on internet access, which would be logistically difficult.
But that's unlikely to happen here, experts said.
For one thing, the internet in the U.S. is bigger. There are more companies involved, more data at play and more locations where the internet comes in and out of the country.
Moreover, U.S. law would prevent such an authoritarian shutdown.
The experts are less than correct. Yes, the United States is bigger, the Internet is larger and more companies are involved. The Federal government is correspondingly larger as well, and very likely is proportionally larger than Egypt's government.

United States law might prohibit the Internet being shut down, but authority would make that a fairly moot point. After all, certain recreational drugs are illegal but I notice that the drug law hasn't slowed down the drug dealers.

Masses will protect Internet rights By Nicholas Slayton
If they want to get their message out on the Internet, they will.
It took Google and Twitter less than a week to launch Speak2Tweet and connect the disconnected Egyptians with the outside world.
Imagine if they dedicated their entire staffs to restoring a cut off United States, with the raw hardware and machines available.
Working with American youth, it would be an unstoppable movement for connection.
Mr. Slayton writes a convincing argument, but I don't think it holds much water. He makes an argument for Google, etc. without realizing that the programming staff of Google will be ordered to cease and desist at best, and some key players will very likely be in jail for safekeeping. The major players (Google, Yahoo, et. al.) will all be on holiday for 120 days by order of The Anointed One. Now what?

Jason Hiner thinks the experience in Egypt should teach the United States something. This, in the face of prohibition and the Volstead Act, which was supposed to teach the United States government something and failed to do so.

Takeaways from Egypt: Kill the kill switch and decentralize the Internet By Jason Hiner
I see two big takeaways here:
1. US citizens should mobilize to defeat the current government proposal for an Internet “kill switch”
2. We need to reverse some of the momentum toward a centralized Internet, or at least devise a peer-to-peer connectivity alternative
Mr. Hiner is getting the picture, sort of. Yes, the US citizens should be writing or calling their elected officials screaming bloody blue murder about this incredible crap, but the vast majority will not. Apathy and the Nanny State citizen mentality (NSS) is what will allow this crap to become law.

Since Mr. Hiner's second point deals with the major players giving up a certain amount of their control, it can be forgotten. Yes, it's a good idea, but it will never work. Greed prevents it. That said, setting up some kind of peer to peer network as an alternative to having The Anointed One close the company down might fly. It appeals to self-preservation and maintaining control, both of which are good, self-serving arguments.

Someone raised the question of the need for an Internet kill switch as well as the method used to shut Egypt's Internet down, which Michael Duff addressed nicely.

Duff: Does the president need an Internet kill switch?
By Michael Duff
Mubarak’s thugs didn’t need a fancy control room, and they didn’t need to understand how it worked. All they had to do was call up the people who ran the telecommunications companies and demand that they shut it down.
Mr. Duff wrote an article that is truly worth reading, and he gets a large part of the picture. Lieberman, Collins and The Anointed One claim they need an Internet kill switch in the name of National Security. The Internet in the United States is a valuable national asset and is vulnerable to attack from our enemies, or so the argument goes. Never mind that such an attack would be aimed at shutting the Internet down, so switching it off would be the same thing as an unconditional military surrender in, say, Iran. Do that and the Taliban would likely declare a new annual religious holiday. What Mr. Duff understood was the method used to shut down the Internet in Egypt, which is either being carefully ignored (Armed thugs? What armed thugs? Those are security personnel. They're here to help us. They just carry guns because they have to. It's for our own good...) or the publishers behind most of the other stupid articles are being leaned on to print something else. Something other than the obvious truth.

If the United States really does need to protect the Internet from attack, then the government should begin by looking at t little history.

A long time ago England was having trouble with noisy, aggressive neighbors. In the name of National Security, a new law was passed:

Medieval Bow and Arrow - The Archery Law 1363
In 1252 the 'Assize of Arms' was passed which decreed that every man between the age of 15 to 60 years old were ordered to equip themselves with a bow and arrows. The Plantagenet King Edward III took this further and decreed the Archery Law in 1363 which commanded the obligatory practice of archery on Sundays and holidays! The Archery Law "forbade, on pain of death, all sport that took up time better spent on war training especially archery practise". Henry I later proclaimed that an archer would be absolved of murder, if he killed a man during archery practise!
Remember, for all intents and purposes they didn't have firearms back then. Their AK-47 was a long bow and a quiver of arrows. This worked pretty well for England. When the country was invaded, instead of a bunch of helpless farmers the invaders found a somewhat disorganized group of archers who could engage at 300 yards before advancing to the rear and engaging again. This was a fairly nasty surprise if you were invading, but provided a nice turn of events for the defenders. Some years later the barbaric, ungrateful, rebellious colonies recognized a similar inalienable right:
A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
In World War II Japan knew about this and as a result decided to 'postpone' an invasion of the United States until after the US surrendered unconditionally to the Japanese Empire. Well... it was probably a good decision on Japan's part. Everyone with a gun would have fought, and those that were not armed would be carrying a Japanese rifle is short order.

I don't think our immediate neighbors are going to invade, at least not officially. A case can be made for Mexico and an informal invasion, but I'm not going to go there today. Canada doesn't want much to do with us, which is fine by me. That said, the Archery Law and the Second Amendment serve as examples of what works. If the United States Federal Government really wanted to protect the Internet, it would take a portion of the military budget and allocate it to cybernetic warfare. Begin by funding the hackers, the best defense being a good offense. Spend a few more bucks and develop cybernetic security teams and countermeasures. Allow the people who use and develop the Internet in the United States defend it, both passively and aggressively. That's is PeeCee speak for defense (passive defense) and attack or counter attack (aggressive defense).

No, The Anointed One does not need an Internet kill switch. In fact, The Anointed One needs to stand aside and let the people of the United States defend it. If Congress wants to help, let Congress do what Congress does best: spend money.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Life: I'm pissed

I'm officially pissed off. Main Lady's cat Emma didn't make it out of surgery, which I blogged about here. Main Lady was very upset about the whole thing, and given the situation and the season - the ground is frozen solid around here - she elected to have the cat cremated with the intent of burying the ashes in the spring.

So today Main Lady went over to the vet's office to pick up the ashes, which they handed her along with a bill for $1,200. That's right, one thousand two hundred dollars. You know, I wouldn't expect to walk out of there for no cost at all, but to hand the vet a healthy cat and get handed back a dead cat, then get charged $1,200 for the failed effort just isn't quite right.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Emergency

Lucas County in Ohio went to defense readiness condition (DEFCON) 3 last night, and dropped to DEFCON 2 sometime this afternoon. I gather that at level three everyone is prohibited from using the street except the authorities and certain necessary news personnel. Heaven forbid we should miss the local talking heads blabbering about the lousy weather we're having. We, the great unwashed residing in Sylvania Township located in Lucas County, in the North by North West part of the great State of Ohio, were promised 16 to 18 inches of snow along with 1 to 2 inches of ice. We didn't get either. Instead, we got about six inches of snow topped off by a little sleet. I can deal with that. Now Chicago on the other hand...

Bad LSD Trip: Who's to Blame?

The title ought to tell you something. Cutting right to the chase, the National Weather Service and every other freaking service in the city of Chicago warned the residents in every way that residents could possibly be warned that the hammer was about to fall. Stay inside, they said. No foolin', they said. Still, after all that, well over 1000 people decided to drive home via Lake Shore Drive which runs parallel to Lake Michigan and which catches the fresh water spray off the lake, which spray then freezes... get my drift? Approximately 1000 vehicles got stranded on Lake Shore Drive around 5:00 PM, and at 8:00 AM the next morning they still hadn't towed all the cars off. Hell, people were still out on the highway at 2:00 AM, and some didn't get off the highway until 8:00 AM the next day. Meantime, the idiots who got stuck on the highway complained bitterly that the government should have closed down Lake Shore Drive sooner so they wouldn't have gotten stuck on it, and the government should have done a lot more to rescue them once they got stranded.


Clearly Chicago has it's very own brand of stupid. Call it Nanny State Stupid (NSS).

If I was young and dumb enough to get stranded on a highway in the middle of a blizzard and anyone, government or not was kind and generous enough to come out and give me a bottle of water and a blanket, you better believe I'd be six different kinds of grateful. After all, I'm the one who was dumb enough to pull this harebrained stunt to begin with. I have no one to blame but me.

What really should have happened is this: Anyone stranded on Lake Shore Drive in the middle of a blizzard that they knew was coming is now on their own. If they can get out, fine. If they can't make it, then let the idiots freeze to death. This will serve as a warning to others as well as eliminating the number of people who are NSS. Darwin and all, you see.

As for me, I was just never that stupid and I never expect to be rescued by The State. I've got enough problems already, thanks.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

If you don't stop it...

Concerned Mother: If you don't stop that, you'll go blind!
Teenage Son: Don't worry Mom, I'll just do it until I need glasses.

In the small town of Hudson, Michigan there's a sign at the border that proclaims:

Welcome to Hudson!
Small Town - Big Heart
Located on the Pulse of Michigan

It says the same thing on the other side. Hudson is well and truly a small town, with the population at 2,284 people as of July 2009 . People are leaving Hudson, by the way. The population fell by 8.6% since 2000. You can check this and other interesting facts at city data.

I wouldn't bother to write about this except for one item buried in the local bird cage liner: Indecent Exposure Incident Alleged Against Hudson City Manager. From the article:
Hudson City Manager Steve Hartsel was accused last month of fondling himself while driving a city-owned vehicle in Adrian.
You see, I know Steve Hartsel. I haven't seen him in years, and the last I heard he was out in Granola Land, working for Uncle Sam as an officer and a gentleman in Unc's Navy. It wasn't until I was driving out to the Bullet Stop that Big Mike alerted me to the connection between the Hartsel I knew way back when and the one named in the scandal sheet. Well, red hot damn.

The last time I saw Steve he was graduating college, engaged to be married and was intending to join the US Navy, where he would complete boot camp and then begin his Naval career as an officer. Yes, he'd be on the very bottom of the food chain, but he would be an officer and no matter which way you look at it, being an officer is one whole helluva lot better than being a swabby. Before Steve went into the Navy he was not on my short list of guys I hang out with. Steve was self-centered to a fault, very impulsive and could be a real dick when the whim struck him. As I recall I was ready to flatten him once because of some crappy stunt he'd pulled, but I judged (correctly) that it wouldn't alter his behavior in any meaningful way, and the stunt was fairly minor. The Navy took care of Steve's attitude during boot camp, adjusting his mouthy, wise guy demeanor and predilection for mischief into a new and much more pleasing configuration. Case in point, even I didn't recognize his behavior after boot camp, and I was expecting a change.

That's not to say that the man had no redeeming qualities. Steve Hartsel is intelligent and very well read. He tended to get good grades in college without a lot of studying, and he was always willing to help others with their class work to some extent. Steve was also the sort of man you could call at 3:30 AM when you'd done something incredibly stupid (or had it done to you) and you were standing in the phone booth next to the gay bar in downtown Toledo in your tighty whiteys with only one quarter to your name and way more than half a load on. Steve would come and pick you up without giving you a lot of grief about how you got there or asking a bunch of stupid rhetorical questions, like "So when you found out she was a he... I mean, have you washed your hands?" Now some silly bitch is accusing Steve of pulling his pud in public.

Hudson, Mich., City Official Charged With Sex Act
A misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure was filed Jan. 12 in Lenawee County District Court against Steven Hartsel by the county prosecutor's office.
The incident stems from an incident Dec. 22 when a motorist said she observed a man in a minivan masturbating on South Main Street. According to an Adrian police report, she said they were stopped for the traffic light at West Beecher Street about 2:45 p.m. when she looked to her right and witnessed the man performing the sexual act.
She told investigators the door frame on the vehicle obstructed her view of the man's face, and after the light turned green, she got the license number of the minivan as it drove away from the intersection.
My first question should be obvious: How was she able to see him? The driver of any mini-van sits higher than a passenger car, and the window sill is about as high as your armpit. So, unless the alleged complainant was sitting in the passenger side of a semi-tractor or a really jacked up pickup truck, how did she see what was going on? She didn't, that's how. But why lie?

To understand this, let's go back a little. Steve was hired around August of 2009, if you believe the local paper that is. From an article dated August 14, 2009: Hartsel Offered Manager Position
Members of the council said they felt Hartsel’s military managerial experience and work ethic made him the best of the three finalists.

“He is our best option,” Borck said. “He has the potential to create a legacy in Hudson. His energy and enthusiasm shows he has what it takes.”

Councilman Dennis Smoke said Hartsel is the city manager he wants.

“With this gentleman, we will break the revolving door syndrome we’ve had with city managers in recent years,” he said.

Councilman Jim Steele said the city will benefit from Hartsel’s work ethic and ability to both lead and serve the city.

“His morale will really make the city employees feel like they’re wanted and appreciated,” he said.
Most of the city council was in favor of hiring Steve, so they made him an offer and he accepted, agreeing to start work in September. So far, so good. A little further down the road Steve encountered an obstacle in the form of Fire Chief Brian Gerig, who wanted to get into a pissing contest with Steve. Brian has a relative on city council and decided that even though he reported to Steve (the city manager), Brian would just go ahead and do things his own way. When Steve brought him up short and instructed Brian that he'd have to follow the chain of command, Brian told Steve to go piss up a rope. Steve fired him for insubordination, and the city council backed him up. Click Council Upholds City Manager’s Decision To Dismiss Fire Chief for the full story. From the article:
The Hudson City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to uphold city manager Steve Hartsel’s dismissal of former fire chief Brian Gerig.
Following a disagreement on procedure between Gerig and Hartsel, Gerig was fired Nov. 22 [2010 - MJ] from his position as chief on the grounds of insubordination. Jerry Tanner Jr. was then appointed acting fire chief.
Note that the vote is 5-2, not 7-0. Brian Gerig was fire chief for 11 months. Had he kept his balls in check, he'd likely still be fire chief.

As I pointed out, Hudson is a small town and it has some fairly vicious people in it. Brian Gerig has friends who do not approve of his dismissal or city council's approval of that action. Letters were written and heated discussions developed at the local watering hole. Finally, some months later we have this indecent exposure incident. Funny nothing like this has ever happened before. Now charges are filed, but the city council is loathe to convict a man based on the accusation of some nut job backed by a crowd of villagers with torches and pitchforks. Here are two sources:

Hudson City Manager Steve Hartsel To Remain On The Job
In a 7-0 vote Tuesday, the Hudson City Council said city manager Steve Hartsel will continue to perform his duties after an alleged Dec. 22 indecent exposure incident became public two weeks ago.
Mayor Dennis Smoke said the council’s stance is that they will “let the justice system do its work.” Any future decision on Hartsel’s employment will be determined after court proceedings have concluded.
Council Defers Action On Manager Charges
Council member Ed Engle then read a statement, which said in part: “A person accused of any crime — large or small — is presumed innocent until proven guilty in an appropriate Court of Law. Not tried in the newspaper; not tried by blog; not tried in the Court of Public Opinion; and not judged by knee-jerk reaction, gossip or innuendo. Presumptive Innocence simply means that Mr. Hartsel will — by right as an American citizen — remain innocent until proven guilty. It is also his Constitutional right to be faced by his accuser and to defend himself with the support of legal council. He is today an accused person; not a guilty person; and he will remain innocent until a judge or jury renders him otherwise by their verdict.”
Janine McClellan [speaking during a public meeting - MJ]: “I’ve worked with Steve ever since he’s come to town and I wanted to remind that I was raised not to criticize, judge or condemn anybody. This is nothing but a witch hunt, this is one person’s revenge. Who here was at that intersection? Anybody? Anybody here? Any of you guys at that intersection? That police report means nothing to me.
Note that the vote is 7-0, and the strong language used by city council.

I know that government corruption is common, and anyone who holds a public office is living in a fish bowl. I think it's refreshing to find a city council that refuses to convict and sentence someone before their case goes to trial. Especially in a case like this.

I'm waiting to see how this shakes out. The part I'd really like to see is Steve's attorney questioning the complainant.