Friday, September 22, 2017

Summer's Gone

Well, summer's done now and my injuries are getting better to the point where I can start thinking about when, or if, I'll get back to running.  Meanwhile, it was a summer that seemed to pass me by with plenty of business that I was engrossed in but no trips, except to visit a vineyard out by Leesburg with a friend.  (A Rose.)

I did manage to visit some museums in the District which I hadn't been inside of in years.  I had some lunches, and walks, or both, with friends.  (My running buddy friend from my former workplace.)
I did my annual Billy Goat Trail hike with a friend, and saw some movies, the best of which was Dunkirk, a noisy but emotion-laden film which underscored the cost, horror and travail of war.  I clomped around in a boot trying to heal my achilles strain, and saw a couple of ballgames, one at which I saw an old law school classmate unexpectedly.  (The Museum of Natural History.)
Now that I'm looking ahead to fall, when my sore back gets better maybe I'll take my long-promised car trip or sign up for more volunteering in the Virginia governor's race or read more than a book every other month.  Or maybe I'll do nothing at all except go to DC occasionally.  (The cool atmosphere inside the National Gardens.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Summer's Almost Gone

The summer is over, and I haven't been running since May, although I have gotten into the District a bit and seen some places and friends.  Here is the bright summer sky reflected off the tranquil waters of the Haines Point channel across from the DC waterfront.

I recently went in for lunch with a couple of my former running buddies and we took a walk instead and went to the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum.  We've all fallen off the running wagon due to injuries but at least Katie, on the left, hikes miles and miles on national park trails out west where she now lives and Leah, on the right, plays ice hockey twice a week.

I went to Great Falls with a friend, and we hiked its trails and enjoyed views of the rugged falls on the upper Potomac River.  It's not the District but it is a nearby national park.

I enjoyed lunch of all the fixin's from a nearby BBQ shack with my former colleague Leah at a new waterfront park in DC near the Marina.  A running group came through and stopped to do calisthenics in the park before running off, which made us feel guilty as we ate our chicken and beans.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

More books

The year is slipping away! A blue funk, since November 9th last year.  Way back in May I posted that last year I read 14 books, two of which were entirely inconsequential (light reading by the same historian on the history of World War One and World War Two using the same minimal outline for both), and listed the six most significant (to me) works in ascending order (Oswald's Tale, Silas Mariner, Death of a Salesman, Jane Eyre, True Grit, Agnes Grey).

I've been trying to get away in the last couple of years from reading recent history almost exclusively and get back into literature.  So now that I have listed the six most impressive (to me) books I read last year, here are the next half dozen:

Case Closed-Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner (1993).  Yep, Lee Harvey Oswald did it.  I've visited the sniper's perch on the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository and that street below where the presidential motorcade was crawling away below the sniper-scoped viewpoint of the assassin is a killing zone.  Couldn't miss.  That, of course, doesn't explain how the perfect storm of events came together that led this derelict of history at that moment to be there ready to kill this historical figure.  I'll note that his Russian wife Marina was probably a KGB operative, and Kruschev was humiliated by Kennedy in the Cuba showdown that threatened to eradicate all human life on the planet.  I read this tome while recovering from double hernia surgery.

Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era 1910-1917 by Arthur Link (1954).  Woodrow Wilson was a near near-great American president, who accomplished many things, many of which were good.  He was also a racist.  I have learned not to comment on the Internet about presidents who owned slaves or were clearly racists.  So...Zip the Lip.

Yoni: Hero of Entebbe by Max Hastings (1979).  Don't know what Entebbe was?  Look it up.  Yoni was the revered older brother of the current Israeli prime minister, and he died at Entebbe and his nation mourned.

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede (2002).  A heart-tugging book about how the inbound travelers to the USA from overseas had to scramble on September 11, 2001 and in the week that followed, when US airspace was closed on that tragic day.  The eastern-most international airport in North America, in Canada, which had been relegated to backwater status after the Cold War (the US basically built it so its forces could quickly deploy to Europe) and the town reverted to about 2,000 close-knit residents who mostly maintained this world-class airport.  About 120 jumbo jets landed there on September 11th and 12,000 refugees overran the isolated town's resources immediately.  You think the Canadians didn't cope, take care of and welcome these confused, fearful travelers?  Think again.  O Canada!

Dieppe by Harold Palin (1978).  Don't know what Dieppe was?  Oh, never mind.  This is an account of the armed incursion that presaged Operation Overlord two years later.  It was a disaster but O Canada!

The Interloper-Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union by Peter Savodnik (2013).  A portrait of newly-weds, and Russian agents in the apartments next door and the recordings that came out of their planted bugs.  Did they capture the full breadth of the first days of these two "lovebirds" (one was abusive, the other was an agent), because the Minsk agents knocked off at 12PM.  Two years later Lee Harvey Oswald slew the president of Russia's greatest adversary, and his wife knew nothing about it!  Yeah.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The final dental visit

The third and final trip to the dentist this year, to get the new permanent crown put in, came two weeks after the temporary crown was put in.  Again, it capped a tooth which had had a root canal done so I declined the offer of novocaine before the dentist went to the drill to clean off the stump, remove the temporary cement from the site and clear out or enlarge the pinhole the post in the crown was going to fit into.

The dentist remarked that the crown with a short wire rod jutting out below it, much like the old crown which had been unusable, was a thing of the past and he hadn't even trained in dental school last decade on its use.  Cements were so much better now, he indicated.

But he dropped it in, worked on tamping it down into the hole (I suggested at one point that he just use a rubber mallet) and got it seated perfectly.  Two months later I haven't had a hint of a problem with it.

I was pleased that the 40 minutes or so had not produced the dreaded jolt.  The bill for the three hours of work came to over $2,000, my insurance costing about $40 a month paid about $40 of it, and the good dentist charged off most of it as a courtesy.  I paid the rest.  I'll see my new dentist again when I have my next dental emergency, hopefully not for years.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dental, day two

The second day of dental work after a crown come out on July 4th was uneventful although protracted.  The first attempt at a permanent mold wasn't successful because I couldn't keep my jaw bite still enough for the entire five minute setting period, so evidently it got some bubbles in it.  Another five minute period was ordered up, which evidently was satisfactory this time around.

I remember a lot of drooling, due to all the stuff I had in my mouth for minutes at a time.  I wondered where the tiny swing-away porcelain sink was which my former dentist had.  Nowadays they do a lot of vacuuming up of saliva, give you tissues to wipe your chin with and if necessary to get grit out of your mouth, a dixie cup half full of water with which you can drink, swish and swirl, spit back into and give back to the tech.

Then I sat through a couple of sittings for settings for the temporary crown (I must have moved my jaw again and introduced bubbles on the first time), it was cemented in and I was done for two weeks while the mold was sent away to the lab so a permanent crown could be made.  There was no drilling this time, except for some rasping and buzzing with a dull bit to remove the excess cement or clay or play-dough or whatever they used in the oral cavity.

I once used a temporary crown for fourteen months while I gathered enough money to come in to sit for a mold for a permanent crown.  There isn't any dental insurance in this country that is worthwhile so dental work tends to be on a pay-as-you go basis, if you do it at all.  My last dentist told me just before she retired that she knew me as an emergency-basis-only client, a challenge overtime I walked through the door.  She was the best, but I was liking Nick already because of his dedication, care and solicitous nature.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

More dental, day one.

The twenty-six year old crown with a post that had been wrenched out by chewing on a cold snickers bar was formerly over a ground-down tooth that had my first root canal in it.  Back in the eighties, that procedure turned into a gruesome two-week process for me.  I think it was that dentist's first root canal and several times as I was deep in the chair hearing the electric whine of the drill and smelling the smoke of pulverizing bone, I drew back as an electric shock raced through my jaw.

This always annoyed that dentist and after the obligatory, "Did you feel that?" he'd jab some more novocaine into the back of my mouth.  If the jolt happened again during that session, he'd always dismiss me for a day or two and have me come back later.  This went on for two weeks before the root canal was finished, a time I'll always remember, and I had so many novocaine shots in my mouth that my mouth hurt like, well, the living pincushion it was.

Back in the present, the dental tech lightly placed the old crown into place, saw that it fit, took it out and went to get the dentist.  He repeated that process, saw that it fit perfectly and tightly, and tried to get it back out.  That turned into a struggle that ended with the porcelain bullet finally popping out of the confined space and the suddenness of its release caused him to drop it by accident into my mouth with my face facing upwards and my jaws stretched wide open.

I have always feared something dropping down my throat during a dental procedure but I deftly swept the crown into my cheek with my tongue, where the dentist fished it out.  After the vacant place was filled with cement, there followed a long series of unsuccessful attempts to get the crown back  into place so that it seated correctly.  The fit was too tight and eventually the dentist told me that we would have to create a new crown.  He then ground the tooth stump down a little to clean it off, after asking me if I wanted novocaine although assuring me that I shouldn't feel anything because of the root canal.  I declined the shot and waited nervously as he worked with the drill in my mouth but he was right and I didn't feel any jolts.

So that was the end of day one and I was scheduled to come in to create a mould the next day, as my visit had already consumed 90 minutes.  The doctor asked me if I wanted a prescription for valium to allay my discomfort and anxiety but I turned that down by joking that a staff shot of bourbon would do just fine.  He laughed and said, "Well, we shouldn't be celebrating just yet because we still have work to do."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Psst!

"Do you have your Safeway card?"
"Yeah, sure. Here it is."
"What's this? It's a library card."
"Oh, I brought the wrong card in from the car."

"Well, enter your phone number, that'll work."
"Okay. This probably means that my Safeway card wouldn't work at the library."
"That's what I'm thinking too. Here's your receipt."

"Thanks, and would you do me a favor?"
"What's that?"
"Please don't tell anyone that I read books. It could ruin my reputation."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day 2017

Labor Day 2017 was a beautiful day, heralding the end of summer.  The weather was nice, but the news was and has been disastrous.

Are we going to nuclear war in Korea?  According to our leading luminary, "We'll see."

A noontime meal of pizza took my mind off the endless cycle of news we've had since January 20th.  There's the latest news cycle featuring the current weather devastation stories that Harvey has struck and Irma is coming, but fortunately climate change is merely a Chinese hoax, and the news today about the Dreamer's program ending, negatively impacting immigration, so I wonder where the labor is going to come from that's going to restore Houston and surrounding coastal communities to habitability.

On November 8th last year, I spent an 18-hour day down in Newport News poll-watching to facilitate and ensure a fair election.  I didn't figure, however, on a laser-focused and successful Russian interference in our electoral process and now as our late summer ends with ominous clouds on our horizon, I remember waking up at 3 a.m. on November 9th to a blaring TV with the announcer intoning that Donald Trump is our new president, and I can now recognize that my immediate and incredulous foreboding at that moment was justified, because I believe now that from that moment forward nothing is ever going to be the same again.

Monday, September 4, 2017

See ya, or be ya

September 5, 2016.

Labor Day 2015.

Labor Day 2014.


The 1990s.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Back to the dentist, day one

The dental technician was familiar to me from all the trips to the dentist I took in the fall of 2015 when I had over $6,000 worth of dental work done, and she got me seated in the chair and presently the new dentist came in to say hello and assess the situation.  He had read my health condition update and asked about my running, which I said was on hold for the foreseeable future while I healed from an achilles strain.

I noted from reading the plaques on his wall that he had graduated in 2011 from SUNY Buffalo dental school and I told him that I'd traveled to Buffalo several times during my last two years at work for cases and I thought it was a grand old city, although it tended to be a little cold (all my trips seemed to occur in the winter).  I also noted that he'd done his dental internship at a hospital in Syracuse and asked if he'd commuted to there from Buffalo or moved there, because it seemed to me that it was hours away.  He said he had moved there for his internship and it sounded like pretty interesting stuff--being on call at the emergency room and being brought in to treat smashed teeth from fights or teeth driven into the jaw or cheekbone from a car wreck.

That was an education, he told me, and he got a faraway, nostalgic look on his face as he thought about (not so) old times dealing with true emergencies.  I didn't know dentists did internships in hospitals because I never imagined hospitals dealt with acute dental problems but if you think about it, they must see terrible dental mishaps lots of times that they're not equipped to handle.  The ER doctors might save your life, but not your teeth.

And now the good doctor was ready to deal with reinserting an old but intact crown and that didn't seem like it was going to be interesting, challenging or hard for him, not like in the olden days when he saw teeth displaced by force and driven into strange places.  The good news was that we were already on a first name basis, Nick and Pete, but the bad news was that about four hours of being in the chair spread out over three days in the next fortnight was only getting started.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

In the dentist chair again

On July 4th, a hot, sultry day, I thought it'd be a grand idea to cool off by having a chilled Snicker's bar, purchased from the cooler at the drugstore across the street from where I had a holiday lunch.  By my second bite into the hard, cloying mass, I was thinking it might not be a good idea to keep eating it because lesser things have pulled crowns out of my mouth before.

One more bite, a totally ill-advised one obviously, a tentative bite spurred on mostly by the thought that I'd just spent $2 on this confection, and a crown that was installed over a root-canaled tooth in 1988 was now in my hand, metal post at its base and all.  But it was intact, and maybe it could simply be cemented back in.

I didn't know it, but I was destined to be in the dentist's chair three times over the next fortnight on this emergency dental condition.  But now I had dental insurance, so I'd get to discover how effective it would prove to be because having a crown come out, or having a new, necessary crown put in, was surely a procedure that dental insurance would cover.

Two days later, I was in the chair with a new dentist, because my former dentist retired after 20 years of inspired dentistry in service of me, and forty years of service to the underserved public.  The new dentist was recommended by her, about 8 years from dental school, very personable, apparently concerned about me and very knowledgeable about mouth matters, and I was going to get the opportunity in the coming two weeks to get to know him much better.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Brzzz

I've had dental work done lately. Check out my 2015 posts, late in the year, for my recounting of having thousands of dollars of dental work done, based upon emergency conditions.

The fact that then I paid for it entirely out of my pocket (and didn't ever go to the dentist except when something bad happened) reflects upon the American health insurance for-profit industry, which is genuflecting at the altar of profiting obscenely from people's misfortune.  Dental insurance is known to be practically useless, which matters because the condition of your mouth can presage your body's general overall condition or imminent decline, as any dentist of reputable status knows.

This most recent time I had dental insurance, from GEHA, and it paid $77 in amelioration of over $2K worth of dental work.  Dental insurance did I say?  I pay about $39 per month for this, ahem, insurance.

My dentist retired in 2015, and then, before she left her practice, we took on the condition of my mouth and fixed all those cracked teeth which were apparently ready to shatter.  I had for years been going to her (on an emergency basis) because she was good and she was also was one of the few dentists in my life who had never hurt me.

That is, until my last last 2 visits, when she minimized my pain to, I suppose, an acceptable level as she fit the last last crown on an uncooperative tooth resisting the influence of novocain as it was being shaved to accommodate the fitting.  (Brzzz!)  I admired Dr. Rye because she was only thinking of my welfare and didn't run up the score and do unneccessary procedures or charge me excessively.  We also sometimes talked about our kids, who played soccer together way back when.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Rough 'em Up

The Acting Administrator of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, released a memo earlier this week instructing his employees to disregard the president's recent admonition to police officers to not be "nice" to suspects any more and instead rough 'em up a bit.  Director Rosenberg directed DEA personnel to always adhere to the "Rule of Law, Respect and Compassion, Service, Devotion, Integrity, [and] Accountability" in their interactions with the public, whether they be an arrestee, suspect, witness or victim.

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Rosenberg.  I was a police officer for nine years before I went to law school, two years as a sheriff's deputy at a county jail as transportation officer and director of the medium security unit, and seven years as a State Trooper, working nights on solitary patrol in remote parts where back-up often was 20 or 30 minutes away.

Mr. Rosenberg's pithily-stated directive is a much more efficient, productive and humane model for police work than the crassly stated screed of our president at the Suffolk County Police Academy graduation ceremony last week, with its the throwback appeal to bygone times.  Its successful application, as a first and foremost approach, acts to calm situations rather than escalate them, and I ought to know, that's how I conducted myself, to the best of my ability, those several years when I was a peace officer on patrol, tamping down heightened situations during scores of DUI and warrant arrests and several high speed chases and one gun discharge situation, and I never had a fight nor fired my weapon, except once to dispatch a grievously injured deer when no animal control officer was on duty.

I know Mr. Rosenberg personally and he is is no partisan advocate on one side of the political spectrum or the other.  He was in my small section at law school and I had many long conversations with him there, and I ran into him earlier this year and spoke lengthily with him then, and he is a devoted, apolitical public servant imbued with principles, who swears fealty to no man, loyal only to institutions and the truth.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Acceptance

The current issue of The Atlantic has an interesting article about nuclear brinkmanship by Mark Bowden, Can North Korea Be Stopped?  Bowden is the author of the best battle book I've ever read, Blackhawk Down about the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.

During the current president's term, the rogue nation North Korea is likely to obtain nuclear missiles it can deliver to the US mainland.  I live in Washington DC, so it's less of a concern for me as the residents of Los Angeles.  It's about 7800 miles from North Korea to DCA, and "only" about 5800 miles to LAX, probably a reachable distance for North Korean nuclear-tipped missile in a few years, or maybe months.  North Korean leader, the semi-god dictator for life Kim Jong-Un, has assured America that he will create a "sea of fire" here, or in Japan, South Korea or elsewhere for transgressions against the sovereignty of North Korea that his fevered mind perceives or conjures up. Apparently it's personal, because the Young One wants to stay in power for life and he intends to do this with a nuclear arsenal and a fevered populace whipped into a frenzy of rhapsodic xenophobia by fiery state-controlled rhetoric.

People of Los Angeles, do you want your personal safety to rest in the palm of President Trump's hand?  Unless you're related to him, do you think he has your best interests in mind?  But it is him who will act upon this threat, or not act. And the issue will be resolved by 2020, I am sure, one way or another.  The likely outcomes to me seem to line up along three main possibilities: a bombastic nuclear North Korea to be dealt with (acquiescence), a nuclear, chemical or biological desert somewhere (the light military option, turning the screws a little more tightly, with unpredictable results), or a vassal state in North Korea controlled by America, South Korea or China, with millions of Asians and thousands of Americans dead with possibly still an ongoing war or world war (the heavy military option).

Bowden lays out four options for the US, based upon the certainty that North Korea, in its current state, will never give up its nuclear program or ambitions because the Young One views this as essential to its, or his, survival.  None of the realistic options are good, as Bowden points out.

Prevention envisions a massive military strike suddenly launched by the US either with or without South Korea that a) would be a surprise to the Hermit Kingdom of the north; b) hopes China would idly stand by; c) involves Seoul, 40 miles south of the DMZ, being subjected to hours or days of massive artillery bombardment with horrendous casualties (not to mention Tokyo being subjected to a missile, or nuclear, attack by the north only about 800 miles away) and d) imagines everything going like clockwork (no fog of war) and that the North Korean army doesn't escape to Manchuria or the mountains of North Korea (or South Korea) to form a formidable guerrilla army.  It is unimaginable that this option would go well, even if the US could sneak a million soldiers into South Korea along with several air fleets and many naval units offshore and the South Koreans would cooperate, even if that meant merely standing by (their people would suffer the most).

Turning the Screws is the military option lite.  It imagines limited but aggressive military responses to provocations like bombing nuclear production sites whenever a test missile is fired or a nuclear device is detonated (tested).  An attempt at altering the north's state of mind and behavior with a firm cause/effect infliction of force.  It's hardly likely that this approach would work and either North Korean behavior probably wouldn't change one whit except to become even more determined or insidious, and it could easily and quickly slide into the scenario outlined above, only without the surprise start.

Decapitation is a third alternative being considered.  Take out the Young One with a pinpoint strike of some sort and hope that a more reasonable leader would assume power who could be pressured or bought off or reasoned with to abandon nukes.  This seems highly unlikely because it's not like we could send a drone over to drop a bomb on the North Korean leader (it would be shot down) and the US doesn't send suicide squads out (this would be more complicated than the ill-fated mission to rescue the Teheran hostages under President Carter, which doomed his presidency).  If such an attempt was made and it failed, the response from North Korea would probably be entirely unpredictable and disproportionate.  This is the stuff of a spy novel thriller, not the real world.  Bowden implies that a better option than trying to kill the Young One is to wait and hope he'll die in the meantime from being so obese so young and the fact that he comes from a family with a history of heart afflictions and strokes.

Acceptance is the last option, and the most likely to occur, if by nothing else, with the passage of time.  It's the inevitable or immutable occurrence, dealing with an armed and bristling North Korea like we deal with a hostile Russia and an inscrutable China, through the time-tested resort to MAD (mutually assured destruction) because we could annihilate North Korea with a nuclear strike and for the foreseeable future, even if the reclusive nation could hurt us, it can't destroy us.  North Korea is a real problem, and could conceivably be the source of ending life as we know it, but Bowden's choice, and I guess mine, seems to be to just deal with it.  Unless we are ready to have millions die due to an action we undertook.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Happy Birthday!

It was a Friday evening, and I was there on the sidewalk outside her (our) house, adhering to the sidewalk rule (if you go onto the porch and knock on the door, the police are likely to come sirening down the street 2 minutes later in response to a specious 9-11 call that you're enraged and breaking down the door), awaiting any action to my call to voicemail announcing that I was here to pick up my children for visitation pursuant to a longstanding court order.  Out of the gloam, their mother, Sharon, came down the cement stairs from the house to the sidewalk, with her date trailing behind, as is customary with her menfolk.

"What are you doing here?"  "I'm here to pick up my children for weekend visitation, because this is my time to be with them pursuant to the court order governing this, and I expect them to be here ready to go with me."

"Well, I made them ready to go with you but they refused to come out so you can leave."  In my opinion, she lied (again) because the house behind her was totally dark.

"Come on," she ordered to the man hanging back behind her, "let's go."  He came down the stairs upon her command and got into the driver's seat of the vehicle at the curb as she climbed into the passenger side while I retreated (in order to not present a "menacing" appearance; if you get divorced, this crap will become standard fare soon enough if the woman plays the female victim card as Sharon fallaciously did, and for long while she got the advance to go card) to the asphalt fifteen feet behind this vehicle.

I practically always carry a camera.  It was out, and charged, ready to snap a picture.

The vehicle came to life; it had twelve or more feet in front of it to put it out into the traffic lane going forward, unobstructed.  I was a State Trooper for seven years and I pay attention to these sort of details.

The back-up lights came on the vehicle and it roared backwards.  I was transfixed in place with fear as the 2-ton metal monster closed the distance to me rapidly.

 Well, the man killing machine didn't back over me, and the frightfully close steel behemoth was thrust back into drive at the last moment and driven away.  Hey birthday boy, what happened in the cab at that moment, if that was you dating this covert narcissist (in my opinion) that night, did you actually choose your own course finally at the last split-second, or did you just chicken out in your (perhaps commanded) aggression?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A boot and a crown

So the Dog Days of Summer arrived.  I'm in a boot now, because of an achilles strain I incurred while running (the doctor said, "If the boot doesn't work, I'll refer you to the surgeon.") so I'm just sitting around getting fat.

I went in to the District once to have lunch with my past and hopefully future running buddy, since I'm currently incapacitated and haven't run in months.  The Fourth of July arrived, and at noon I went to the Lost Dog Cafe for lunch.

Nobody I recognized came in.  But how would I know what my children would look like anyway, since I have never laid eyes on any of them even once when they were of majority age.

After lunch with the empty chair, I strolled around outside while I called a sibling, and a friend.  Then since I was hot, I purchased a refrigerated Snicker's Bar from the drugstore and while chewing on that semi-hard nougat mass, I pulled out a crown, one put in just two years ago.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dad's Day 2017

On the day following the recovery of one of my middle son's little black plastic toy soldiers from the yard, where Johnny had left him behind two decades earlier at the conclusion of some see-saw backyard battle between armies (probably darkness interposed), it was Father's Day so as usual on special days when I am around, I went for lunch at noon at the Lost Dog Cafe in the eternal hope that one of those bad boys of mine would show up so we could get on with the rest of our lives in some form of association with each other, starting that day. You know, reinstate the paternal relationship that was torn away extrajudicially by their mother and her coterie of "professionals," in my opinion, a decade and a half ago during the lengthy divorce when they were vulnerable minors through the imposition of parental alienation syndrome, a form of brainwashing through clever, lengthy and insidious manipulation.

I know this is a broken record, or in today's lingo, a stuck DVD.  But the pain, though lessened after a decade of radio silence from all three, doesn't go away.

In my opinion, my pain would be a delight to their mother and she succeeded in destroying their three childhoods in her enlistment of those vulnerable children in her visceral and beyond-the-bounds-of-decency unrelenting campaign to destroy me.  Divorce in the west!

I was sad that no child of mine showed up to wish me a happy Father's Day, again.  Maybe next time!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Frogman

It returned to my world on the day before Father's Day.  A fighting frogman, a black plastic warrior long buried in the mossy gravel of the driveway, hidden away for almost two decades.

My middle son, Johnny, whom I haven't spoken with nor heard from since 2004, used to play with plastic army men in the yard when he was little.  His mother used to say he was the most like me of my 3 sons; I used to play interminably with green (and tan) little plastic army men when I was little.

I ran into his mother, my ex, on a public sidewalk a couple of years ago and asked her if Johnny was alive, well, married, had children, and where he lived, because I don't know the answer to any of those 5 questions.  She stonily refused to answer even a single word, and I walked away having confirmed, in my mind, that she was the destructive covert narcissist I had come to discover her to be, in my opinion.

It's ironic that this soldier returned to the fold on the eve of Father's Day, to be placed on the shelf in Johnny's bedroom with 4 or 5 other toy soldiers who have come home in a similar fashion over the years.  Perhaps someday the prodigal son, his will having been overborne by his mother and her coterie of accomplices during the lengthy divorce when he was a vulnerable minor, in my opinion, will return to the fold also.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Trooper

A friend recently sent me a Red Skelton sketch where he joked about two state patrolmen stopping a very careful driver for a good driver award, only to find out that he was driving so carefully because he was totally inebriated and didn't want to draw attention to himself.  That skit reminded me of one of the most memorable DUI arrests I made when I was a state trooper three decades ago, an arrest that I call my hi-tech bust. 

One night just east of Boulder on the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, Highway 36, I topped the long incline leading out of Boulder and saw the long sweep of congested traffic below me on the long decline flowing towards Broomfield.  Since there was no possibility of catching an opposing speeder because of the median wall separating the two sides, I flipped off my radar unit. Half a mile away on the long decline I saw brake lights go off. 

Intrigued, I flipped the radar unit back on and the brake lights went on again and stayed on.  I flipped the unit off, and the taillights returned to normal. 

I increased my speed and weaved through traffic until I caught up with the car whose driver I had observed driving strangely, dragging his brakes whenever my radar unit was on, and I flipped on the unit again.  The brake lights came on and stayed on, in conformity with my radar unit's operation. 

The driver was hemmed in by the vehicular volume and driving along with the slower flow of traffic.  Since his lengthily dragging his brakes indicated erratic driving, I pulled him over.

I asked for his driver's license and registration and asked if he had a radar detector in his vehicle.  He confirmed that he did.  

Detecting the odor of alcohol on his breath and noting his slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, I asked him to step out into the space between our cars and administered a roadside sobriety exam.  He failed them entirely and I arrested him.

 As I transported him back to the Boulder jail, he demanded to know why I'd stopped him.   I was so proud of my "hi-tech" probable cause stop that I told the 10-55 how it was that i noticed him.

I explained that I had noticed that whenever I energized my radar unit, obviously his radar detector sounded its alarm and he apparently automatically put his foot on his brakes as a reflex action and kept it there until his detector stopped sounding off, at which point he obviously took his foot off his brakes and stopped dragging them.  Never try to explain anything that's even slightly complicated to a drunk, because for the rest of the ride to jail he kept screaming that I'd arrested him for having a radar detector and didn't I know that they were legal in Colorado! 

I did know that radar detectors were perfectly legal in Colorado and I tried to patiently explain that he was under arrest for DUI, not possession of a radar detector.  My attempts at ameliorating his agitation were unsuccessful and I was sorry that I'd broken my usual rule of deflection and answered his question honestly.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day

I heard the rumble of thunder as thousands of motorcycles approached the capital on Saturday and I knew that it was Memorial Day weekend.  Rolling Thunder was rolling into town from all points west.

Early on Sunday morning I went to an overlook and viewed hundreds of motorcyclists rolling into the District from their overnight perches nearby, preparatory to rolling up and down Pennsylvania Avenue all day in honor of the KIAs in our endless wars and in hope of reclaiming our hundreds of MIAs.  It rolls by the Vietnam Wall which embodies the true cost of our nearly incessant conflicts.

There are members of my family who sacrificed for all of us in some of the wars, my father (the Pacific War), uncle Harry (Pacific War), Uncle Bill (Pacific War), Uncle Bob (Mediterranean War), Grandfather (North Atlantic in WWI) and brother (Beirut).  Fortunately they all returned intact, at least physically.

On Memorial Day at noon I went for lunch at my usual spot.  The food was good, the beer was delicious, and the company was nonexistent.

Maybe Father's Day.  ;-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reading, a little.

You might think that because I'm retired now, I would have a lot of time to read these days.  Somehow the days go by and although I'm busy around the house, I haven't made much time to read.  I blame it on two things this past year; my double hernia surgery last summer which took me longer to fully recover from, and the shock of November 9th when it became fully apparent that the Russians had pulled off a stunning coup and our world had changed for the rest of our lives.  I read fourteen books, however, and discarding the two short, sketched-in-outline-of-the-conflict on WWI and WWII by the same cruising historian, here are the best half dozen in ascending order, roughly.

Oswald's Tale by Norman Mailer.  Mailer was a great writer and this book was every bit as good as his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Executioner's Song.  This book on Lee Harvey Oswald, a still-mysterious figure that, perhaps lone wolf style, changed US history forever with his assassination of President Kennedy.  (Think Vietnam, the Great Society, RMN, Watergate).  The book details Oswald's dreary and closely monitored (by the Russkies) time in the Soviet Union after he defected, and when he came back married to perhaps a KGB operative.  In short order this secretive, querulous lazy-bones drifter committed the most improbable crime of century.  It was an interesting book, Mailer came to no conclusion as to whether Oswald acted alone, he said--Maybe.  Mailer did, however, convince me in seven pages at the end of this tome that Jack Ruby probably acted on behalf of the mob to rub out Oswald.

Silas Mariner by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans).  This short novel about a reclusive gold-hearted, gold-hoarding tailor is classic literature and tugs at your heart as all comes out right in the end.  It's depressing to think that in the nineteenth century women authors had to write under male names to get their books published, reviewed seriously and read.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.  This classic play introduced Willie Lomax to American lexicon, a prototypical loser, destroyed at the end, and full of closely guarded secrets, as are several of his family members also.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  My reading of Victorian novels by female authors continues, they are all worthwhile and I wasn't exposed to them in my educational upbringing at an all-boys high school.  I read Dickens and my sisters read Bronte.  I loved Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell) , which I read in 2015, and this was a good book too, especially the first half.  The incredible, improbable plot-driven coincidences piled up too high by the end for me to think this book is superior to her sister's stunning novel but it did give us the notion of the crazy relative in the attic.  Watch the 1943 movie starring Orson Wells, and read the book, and you'll be richly rewarded.

True Grit by Charles Portis.  A little known western novel that is totally engrossing.  Most people are familiar with the two cinematic adaptations, starring John Wayne or Jeff Bridges, both interesting in their own right, but this book will absorb you and is full of homilies and life truisms.

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.  The least known of the Bronte sisters' novels, interesting and convoluted.  From hard beginnings, this governess persevered and prospered because of the wholeness of her staid and sturdy character.  Is there a common theme running through the Bronte novels, do you suppose?  I just wish Emily had lived past age 30 and written at least a second novel.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Visitors

Visitors came to town over the weekend to attend a wedding last Saturday, and I spent an enjoyable few hours on Sunday wandering on the Mall with my nephew John while his girlfriend, Gudrun, went to a brunch with the happy couple after she had met me at a restaurant.  It's been rumored to me that I'll be seeing these two again next summer in Chicago.  (In from Chicago.)

Me and John took a Lyft cab (are they called cabs?) to the eastern end of the Mall so I could show him the Library of Congress with its underground tunnel to the Visitor Center at the Capitol.  That was the first time I ever took a Lyft, or an Uber (is that how you term it?), so progress is being made on my part as I claw my way into the 21st century.  (Garfield statue at the base of Capital Hill.)


Since it was Sunday, both buildings were closed, so we ambled down Capital Hill to the National Museum of Art.  There my visitor showed me something that I didn't know was there, the 15 foot blue rooster on its roof.  Cool!  (But is it art?)

I know art when I see it.  We saw Monets, Van Goghs and beautiful statues in there.  (Walkin' the dog.)

We walked through my favorite little garden on the Mall, which I call the Pocket Park but is actually the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, which had Allium 'Pinball Wizard' Flowering Onions in bloom.  I love these globular flowers that appear for only a fortnight each year.  (It's a Pinball Wizard, got such supple wrists.)

From there we walked through the nearby Enid A. Haupt Garden, which I know as Katie's Park.  I used to run through there with a friend named Katie, who subsequently moved away, whose favorite route to the Mall was through there, just like my favorite route to the Mall is through the Pocket Park.  The entrance to the African Museum is off Katie's Park and we toured the museum, filled with beautiful nailless woodwork and carved ivory, a mostly subterranean venue I had never been in before.  (A fifteenth century hunting horn.)

We walked from there past the Washington Monument, viewing the kites flying overhead there and ended up at the World War II memorial.  John noticed my favorite part of of that monument, the "Kilroy Was Here" :> graffiti.  I explained to John from whence the slogan came and why it was inscribed on that monument.  (Kite chasing kite.)

Then it was time to go and I started giving John detailed directions on how to return directly to his hotel so he could check out on time.  He stopped me, telling me it was a "generational" thing, but whenever he heard directions from anyone he zoned out and as soon as the directions were over, he just switched on his I-phone to its GPS app.  I smacked my head, saying "Duh."





Friday, May 5, 2017

The Silver Bullet and The Lone Ranger

Nate Silver at Five ThirtyEight has spoken--FBI Director James Comey gave us President Trump.  I don't think either side of the political aisle likes Comey, who roams the corridors of power in Washington unilaterally intervening whenever he sees problems that only he can discern, and then dispenses resolutions that sometimes fly directly in the face of long-established norms but no matter, he consults sagely before acting with--himself.

Neither side trusts this hifalutin Lone Ranger who wields greater independent power than the infamous J. Edgar Hoover did at the height of nearly four decades of criminal chicanery.

Comey destroyed our democratic process last October with his infamous "private" letter to Congressional leaders (Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz won the race to publicize it, within minutes) about initiating another (baseless) investigation into Hillary Clinton's missing e-mails rather than see (in his mind) the independence of the FBI "destroyed."  If finding those emails is so important, perhaps the president can ask his handler Putin for them.

Remember Rose Mary Woods and the missing 18 1/2-minutes?  We somehow survived that gap and we'll survive this one, and I also seriously doubt those missing emails would provide the scienter necessary to prosecute Hillary Clinton (I know, Lock Her Up!).  If there was criminal intent in those emails, the president's comrade would have already released them from his treasure-trove of hacked content.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/

#/:~/)  "Am I doing ok?  I'm president.  Hey, I'm president!  Can you believe it, right?"

Monday, April 24, 2017

Cherry Blossoms on Haines Point

I don't like running around Haines Point; it's too long and lonely and windy, and there are too many memories of hard ten-milers, half marathons and marathons there.  But it is beautiful when the cherry blossoms bloom.  (National Airport.)

This year was no different.  The blossoms were more full and hence more spectacular on Haines Point this year than around the Tidal Basin.  (Fort McNair.)

When I run at noon on the Mall with my friends, I park on Haines Point because parking is free for three hours, there's always parking available, and it's only 3/4 of a mile away from where I meet my friends, so that's my warmup.  I had plenty of opportunity this year to see the trees on Haines Point.  (The long, lonely road.)

Although the cherry blossoms in the District were impacted negatively this year because of the freakish winter weather, they still were a sight to see.  DC is a great place to run.  (The channel side.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Cherry Blossom Run

Last month I got together with a couple of running buddies from my former workplace and we did a noontime Cherry Blossom run around the Tidal Basin to view the flowering trees at their full splendor.  It had been a rough year for the blooms as the weather had been unnaturally warm for so long in February and early March that they started to bloom early but then they got hit with a spell of extended freezing weather which threatened to knock them off of their bloom.

But, hardy souls, they came out anyway, although muted somewhat compared to other years.  Still, a spectacular show as usual.

Pink pinks, white whites, the colors were there, it's just that the petals were less robust than normal.  Usually the flowering blooms are so frothy and numerous that they form a floating circle six or eight feet wide of downed petals along the walls of the Tidal Basin sea wall, but this year that effect was way off.

But it was a display not to be missed, as usual.  I love running in DC with friends at any time.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Flower Library

There's a flower library on the Mall, over by the Tidal Basin, near the Washington Monument.  Every spring it bursts forth with tulips shortly after the cherry blossom bloom.

This year the library bloomed spectacularly, as usual.  My sometimes-noontime running group ran by it earlier this month.

My running buddy likes to seek out the different flower amidst a group of similar flowers.  She calls them outliers.

There's always something to go see on the Mall.  DC is a great running town.