Friday, February 29, 2008

The Book Meme, Part II

My blog-friend Connie from BrainFoggles tagged me for the Book Meme which, even though I did it once previously, I don't mind doing again at all because it's quick, it's easy, and it's about books and I do love books, even though I haven't been reading them anywhere near as much as I used to and would like to (damn this addictive computer!). My supervisor handed me a copy of the latest Stephen King book, Duma Key, the other day that his wife had just finished reading so I'm hoping to actually read it shortly provided I can tear myself away from reading everyone's blogs instead!

In the meantime, for purposes of this meme, the book that just happens to be sitting here on the computer desk is Amanda's copy of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It was required reading in her English class this year which I was actually rather happy to see as I know that there are some schools out there that have banned it. Personally, I just don't get that at all. The book was written accurately for its time and is not at all mean-spirited like some might think.

It was a different time and a different world back in 1884 when Mark Twain wrote this book and maybe people weren't quite as enlightened as they are now but there are a lot worse books out there by a long shot. I read this book when I was even younger than Amanda and it certainly didn't affect the way I thought about people of different colors or race at all. It was a great adventure and no one could bring characters to life quite the same way as Mark Twain.

I even quite enjoyed the Broadway play Big River which is based on Twain's book and features both bluegrass and country music written by Roger Miller, who was one of my Mom and Dad's favorite singers. As a matter of fact, I just found out that Goodspeed Musicals is planning a revival of the play this fall to be performed at the historic 1877 Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam which is not too far from where I live. Perhaps I'll be able to catch a performance as it's been quite some time since my cousin and I saw it at a dinner theater outside of Washington D.C. in April of 2000.

In the meantime, it appears that I have gotten somewhat sidetracked from the meme! Okay, first the rules for anyone else who might want to participate (I'm not going to tag anyone but if you haven't done this one or have done it but want to do it again, feel free to jump right in and just let me know so I can go check it out!).
The Rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

The Book:

The Next Three Sentences:
"When we got to the house, the street in front of it was packed, and the three girls was standing in the door. Mary Jane was red-headed, but that don't make no difference, she was most awful beautiful, and her face and her eyes was all lit up like glory, she was so glad her uncles was come. The king he spread his arms, and Mary Jane she jumped for them, and the hare-lip jumped for the duke, and there they had it!" - Chapter XXV
I would love to have posted a video from the play Big River but alas, there didn't seem to be anything good out there that I could find. Maybe Jamie can find something - she's so much better at finding good play clips than anyone else out there!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Joins Line of Duty Death Honor Roll

A member of the Nevada Highway Patrol died at approximately 2:45 a.m. this morning from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident on Monday night and becomes the 25th officer to be placed on my sidebar's honor roll. Honestly, this is growing way too fast - way too fast.

Trooper Kara M. Kelly-Borgognone, 33, of Sparks, was responding lights and sirens en route to a report of a possible bomb at a Spanish Springs, Nevada gas station when her northbound patrol car was struck by an eastbound Chevrolet sport utility vehicle at an intersection controlled by a traffic light.

Her family, through the Nevada Highway Patrol, had announced on Tuesday that she was not going to survive and that her organs would be donated per her wishes and directions as an organ donor. She was kept on life support at Renown Regional Medical Center while doctors conducted tests to find suitable recipients for the organs. Doctors finished the harvesting procedures early this morning before declaring Trooper Kelly-Borgognone dead.

Trooper Kelly-Borgogone spent eight years with the Nevada Division of Parole and Probation before joining the Nevada Highway Patrol almost two years ago. She and her husband, Dirk, have two young daughters, ages 3 and 13. Her brother, Chris Kelly, is a 14-year veteran with the Highway Patrol and is assigned to the Reno area.

People who worked with Kelly-Borgognone remembered her as a good worker and someone with wit. "Kara was a tireless worker, who truly took her commitment to the citizens to heart, this shift and I will greatly miss her," said Sgt. Robert Stepien, who was Kelly-Borgognone's supervisor.

Tests are being performed on both vehicles to determine whether all components were functioning at the time of the accident. Five or six members of the sheriff's major accident investigation team are on the case in an attempt to determine what happened.

I would like to personally thank Trooper Kelly-Borgognone not only for her dedication and service to her community as a Nevada Highway Patrol officer but for also being an organ donor and wanting to help people in death just as she did in her life. She truly is a hero and my thoughts and prayers are with this young woman's family. May God bless.

Photos from Florida

Just in case anyone's been wondering what my youngest daughter has been up to these days down in Florida, I am happy to report that her father has put her back in high school and she seems to be doing much better than she was. Even though there are many, many, many children out there who thrive and benefit from homeschooling, Jamie was not one of them. Part of the problem could have been that her father and stepmother tried to start this process when she was a few months into her freshmen year at high school and part of it also could have been Jamie's attention span - or lack thereof - when it came to being handed some papers and directions and told "okay, do this".

Add on the fact that she really, really missed being around kids her own age and it apparently just didn't make for a real good idea. She started back at her old high school last Wednesday and seems to be settling back in quite well. She even told me last night that she was trying out for a part in a school play, though she couldn't remember what play it was!

Her dad has been allowing her to do some more drawing lately, too, which she really enjoys doing and it's a good outlet for her. She's taking an art class at school and one of the assignments was to draw a picture of a favorite childhood character. Jamie has always, always, always been a big fan of Winnie the Pooh so that's who she drew. She sent me the picture of her drawing above that she took with her cellphone and I've got to say that it's a lot better than I could ever do! I'm glad that her father is allowing her to do some of the things she enjoys and I'm sure he'll notice an improvement in her attitude, too.

One of the other ways she's been passing time is apparently to go out and hunt down critters outside of the mobile home they live in as evidenced by this other picture she sent me yesterday. Sorry that it's a bit blurry but I guess when you take a picture of a squiggly lizard with your cellphone while trying to hold it still at the same time can be tricky! She assures me that she released the little fella back out into the yard (and that she also washed those dirty hands of hers afterwards!) which is good as he probably had another Geico commercial or two to do!

Lord knows what she's going to send me a picture of next - I sure hope it's not one of her holding a baby alligator that she just happened to find wandering around out in the yard!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer

As I was sitting here trying to think of what on earth I could write about tonight I decided to turn on the TV - something I don't do very often. Sometimes I wonder why I continue to pay for Direct TV when neither Amanda or I ever seem to really watch TV but of course every time I mention having it shut off, Amanda tells me how much she'd miss not being able to watch it every once in awhile. Sigh ... 'tis one of those "rock and hard place" conundrums of life!

Anyhow, I was looking for a little background noise so I switched on "Cash Cab" on the Discovery Channel and then switched over to "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune". I like game shows that require me to use my brain a little bit and don't have contestants jumping up and down all over the place squealing in delight every time they get an answer right. Granted, some of them actually do that on "Wheel of Fortune" but I guess I can live with it though I wish they wouldn't feel the need to shout out every letter they're guessing. Yelling "T!" isn't going to make one be there if it wasn't in the puzzle to begin with. Maybe, though, Pat Sajak is secretly deaf ... hmm ...

When "Deal or No Deal" first came on I liked to watch it but it's gotten to be a bit on the ridiculous side what with it taking a contestant an hour to open cases. Maybe it's the stodgy New Englander in me but I just can't stand over-the-top contestants be they either male or female. Just open the damn cases and get on with it! This is probably why I will never be a game show contestant - well, that and the fact that I would have to pass an audition test (there is that whole failed the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" test twice thing that I still haven't blogged about!) or I would have to make an audition tape along with "my people" and send it in for the producer to toss in the trash because I'm a) not bubbly enough, b) not interesting enough, and c) I don't really have any "people" so they'd know I hired some stand-ins! Which is too bad because I could really, really use a million dollars and would love to meet Howey Mandel.

Still, I do like game shows and like to watch them from time to time which brings us to the question of the post -

What game shows do you like to watch or
would you love to be on if you could?

By the way, if any game show producers come across this post via a Google search then I beg you to give me a chance! I could be interesting and maybe even bubbly if the price was right (no pun intended!).

Monday Night Crash Claims the Life of Another Law Enforcement Hero

A 33-year old Baton Rouge Police Officer lost his life at approximately 11:30 PM, on Monday, February 25, 2008 from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Louisiana State Police reported that K-9 Officer Corporal Mark Beck, crashed his 2005 Chevy Impala police cruiser into the back of a tractor-trailer stopped at a railroad crossing. Corporal Beck was transported from the scene of the accident in the East Baton Rouge Parish via Acadian Air Med to the Earl K. Long Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A 1996 Freightliner tractor-trailer carrying methanol was northbound on US 61 when it approached the railroad tracks and came to a stop as required by law due to the nature of the cargo. The driver had activated his hazard lights prior to stopping but for some unknown reason the police cruiser impacted the rear of the tractor-trailer. The driver of the Freightliner was not injured however Corporal Beck's K-9 partner is being treated for injuries received in the crash. Late Tuesday, Beck's car was taken to the police garage, where it will be looked over by Louisiana State Police in an attempt to determine the cause of the crash.

Chief Jeff LeDuff of the Baton Rouge Police Department said of Corporal Beck "... his dream was to become a dog handler, a K-9 officer in a big department like Baton Rouge, and be part of that team. And tomorrow (February 27th) would be one year that he had been a member of that team." The Chief has asked the department to stand together and he wants the public to stand with them, "To the community, I beg you - put your hand on my guys' back and help me hold them up."

Corporal Beck is the fourth Baton Rouge police officer to die in the line of duty since 2004. He leaves behind his wife, a former police officer, two sons ages 10 and 7 and a a 17-year old niece that raised as his own.

Once again, I ask you to remember the family and fellow officers of yet another fallen hero whose time came way too soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's a Mystery to Me

Who out there doesn't love a good mystery? As a kid I used to enjoy reading the Nancy Drew mystery books and was usually lucky enough to get a few volumes every Christmas. I loved the stories of the teenage strawberry-blonde-haired sleuth who would drive around in her blue convertible with her good friends George (Georgia) and Bess solving mysteries while her attorney father, Carson Drew, seemed to not pay a whole lot of attention and housekeeper Hannah always had a hot meal waiting no matter what time of day or night Nancy came in from her mysterious adventures.

The Secret of the Old Clock, The Clue of the Broken Locket, The Clue in the Diary (where Ned Nickerson becomes Nancy's official boyfriend), The Hidden Staircase, The Moonstone Castle Mystery, The Clue of the Old Stagecoach ... I loved all 56 of the books in the series and read and reread them many times over. I wish I still had the books but alas, when one's military family is moving every couple of years it isn't practical to keep everything and despite the fact I didn't get to keep them, I'm sure those books ended up in some other lucky girl's hands.

Even though I enjoyed reading the mysteries contained witin the pages of the Carolyn Keene books (who, by the way, was not a real author but one who was invented by The Stratemeyer Syndicate, the producer of a number of series for children and adults), I never aspired to be a sleuth when I grew up. I had no visions of becoming the next Charlie Chan or Hercule Poirot or Jessica Fletcher or even Sherlock Holmes though I really did enjoy saying the occasional "Elementary, my dear Watson!" when I managed to figure out something that had been particularly elusive. I never owned a magnifying glass or Meerschaum pipe or black and white hounds-tooth deerstalker hat, though the latter might have been pretty cool now that I think about it! Mysteries were fun to read and fun to watch but I had no great desire to have any in my real life. Fiction was just fine, thank you very much!

However, it seems that I now do have a bit of a mystery on my hands and it's got me going in circles (or is that ellipticals?) because I can't for the life of me figure out the answer - and trust me, I've tried! I'm at the point where I'm about ready to call in Scooby Doo and the rest of the puzzle-solving gang in the Mystery Machine to help me figure this out - especially if I can get the Freddie Prinze, Jr. version of Fred - rowr! I'm sure those meddling kids could manage to unveil the mystery man or woman after yelling "ZOIKS!" a couple of times, hiding in wooden barrels, and scarfing down a vast quantity of Scooby Snacks. At this point I could definitely use some help with this mystery I like to call - The Case of The Mystery Visitor.

Now I know that it's not at all unusual for all blogs to have their "stalkers" - people who pop in and read on a regular basis and never leave comments. We all have stat counters and we're all aware of repeat visitors but when we notice a trend chances are good we get curious - especially if we have no clue who that silent mystery visitor might be. Normally I don't mind stalkers as at least I know that someone is reading my blog and I must be doing something right if he or she continues to come back on a regular basis. Sure, I'd love for them to leave a comment every once in awhile but some people just prefer not to leave comments. Maybe they figure I write more than enough for both of us so why bother, maybe they don't like to be bothered with having to jump through the Google hoops to leave a comment? Whatever the reason, it ain't no thing for the most part and I'm sure not going to post a sign on my sidebar that says "Stalkers Keep Out!" That would be just downright silly - not to mention rude. This isn't a private blog, it's a public blog so read away people!

However, that said, I have one visitor in particular that is driving me virtually crazy. It isn't a recent thing either - this all started sometime last April or May when I noticed a visit to my blog via a search of my full name from Stockton, California. Having lived in Stockton some years ago, and still having ties to the city, this made me somewhat curious as who on earth would I still know in Stockton we could a) spell my last name correctly and b) want to do a Google search on me? My good friend, MizCyn, lives in Stockton but she's always accessed my blog via the Norwich Bulletin website and her stats come up with a locked referrer anyway (I always know when it's her based on that alone); Sandee from Comedy Plus lives close to Stockton but I am familiar with her ISP on my stat counters and she leaves comments (thanks, Sandee!) so I know it's not her; my beloved former grandmother-in-law probably doesn't even know how to turn a computer on never mind do a Google search; and my former roommate Scott who is a sports writer for The Stockton Record would have left a comment by now (snarky former New Yorker that he is) plus I told him about my blog when I first started it.

This unknown visitor pops in at the strangest times of the night and sometimes it's several times in one night - the most recent visit came in at 4:32:43 a.m. this morning and 01:51:12 and 2:29:54 a.m. the day before. Most of the visits are later at night which leads me to believe that this mystery visitor is more of a night person or an insomniac - one or the other! Sometimes the visit is limited to just one page and other times visits go back to posts from the past as well as current ones. For some unknown reason one of my stat counters stopped recording the number of visits at 255 but that was long ago and the visits have continued. Needless to say, this has me somewhat befuddled and mystified and right now curiosity is most definitely getting the better of me! A mystery is no fun if you can't solve it!

Unfortunately my stat counters, for all that they tell me of this visitor's presence, aren't doing me a whole heck of a lot of good in solving this mystery. Sure, I checked the ISP but that merely tells me that whoever is visiting is using AT&T but so am I and so are a lot of other people so no luck there. I'm not sure what else to try other than to write this post and ask - nay, plead - to whoever this mystery visitor is to consider letting me out of my misery and either leaving a comment or dropping me an email. There's a mailbox over on my sidebar for just that very purpose. There's also a guestbook where you can leave a comment if you'd prefer to go that route and it can either be public or private. Or I'm in the book with the same number for years - pick up the phone if you're really feeling brave.

I don't mind that you're reading, whoever you may be, but I would really like to know who you are. If you're someone from my past then great - maybe we can renew an old friendship or, if you're a new person to my life, then please introduce yourself and we can share a cup of cyber-coffee or something.

What do you say? Please? Pretty please?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Manic Monday - Explosive

Dang! Our Manic Monday host Morgen really threw a tough one out this week and I have wracked my brain for the past few days wondering what on earth I could write about using the word "explosive". I know why he picked the word (ew!) but writing about explosive body functions just didn't really appeal to me. Now if Meloncutter wants to write about those sorts of things that's great and probably par for the course for him but I'll pass (no pun intended!) and let others go for the more basic interpretations - which is exactly what Mo did in his own post!

Having no clue whatsoever what to write about, I decided to try Googling the word and see what they might be able to offer up for "Explosive" and - lo and behold - I found a pretty good music video made by an Australian/British string quartet that specializes in classical/crossover music named Bond (not to be confused with the blogger Bond who has a big leather couch and specializes in other kinds of music!).

The quartet consists of Haylie Ecker (first violin, from Perth, Australia), Eos Chater (second violin, from Cardiff, Wales), Tania Davis (viola, from Sydney) and Gay-Yee Westerhoff (cello, from Hull, England) and is considered to be the best selling string quartet of all time, selling over 4 million records. Their first album, Born, was released in March of 2001 and removed from the UK classical charts, owing to it "sounding too much like pop music", but in spite of that later rose to the #1 position on 21 different charts around the world.

Following Born, the quartet released Shine in October of 2002 which went gold in six countries. They next released Remixed, which featured remixes from their first two hit albums as well as three new unreleased songs. Their third studio album, Classified, debuted in June of 2004 and was an instant success achieving platinum status in Australia as well as reaching the number one spot on both the classical and pop charts.

After the success of Classified, Bond released another compilation album, Explosive: The Best of Bond. This release contained not only the audio CD but also a DVD which has three music videos, a photo gallery, their complete discography, and all the tracks on Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The quartet is set to release a fourth currently untitled studio album sometime between September and November of this year.

Explosive, a single that was released from their third studio album, Classified, became a massive hit in Australia when it was used as the theme song for the national TV coverage of the 2004 Athens Olympics and it's easy to see why when you listen to it - which you can do as I've posted the video released for it below. Even though this isn't the type of music that Amanda normally listens to, I think even she might like it being that she is a big Trans-Siberian Orchestra fan as well as a flutist in her concert band at Norwich Free Academy. If I've taught her nothing else, I hope I've taught her to appreciate good music and this is good music!

I hope you enjoyed my take relatively tame take on "explosive" - for more explosive Manic Monday musings, don't forget to visit It's a Blog Eat Blog World!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tragic Motor Vehicle Accidents Claim the Lives of Two More Law Enforcement Officers

The month of February continues to be one of great loss in the law enforcement community and in particular, the State of Texas as two more officers join the Memorial Honor Roll on my sidebar following their deaths this week secondary to tragic traffic accidents. The last three Line of Duty Deaths have all come from Texas - two from the Houston area alone.

On Thursday, February 21st, Harris County Texas Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Miller died as a result of injuries suffered when his undercover unit collided with a truck that pulled out in front of him in west Houston.

Officials said Jose Vieyra was driving a box truck when he left a car dealership, crossed all three lanes of the Katy Freeway eastbound feeder road near Mason Road and hit the deputy's unmarked sport utility vehicle shortly before 8 p.m.

The impact caused the deputy’s vehicle to become airborne before landing across a concrete barrier that separates the service road from the freeway’s main lanes. Firefighters had to cut the deputy out of the vehicle in order to extricate him from the wreckage. Despite the best efforts of the rescuers, Deputy Miller died at the scene. The driver of the truck that caused the accident has been charged with criminally negligent homicide.

Family, friends and fellow officers mourned Miller's sudden death and remembered him as a funny man and devoted father. Miller, 43, is survived by a wife, Michelle, and two young children.

Miller, who joined the department in August 1987, was assigned to the Investigative Support Unit in April 2006, "I can't even imagine what the family must be going through," said Capt. John Martin, spokesman for the Sheriff's Department. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them."

It was the Sheriff's Department's first death in the line of duty since 2002

Senior Corporal Victor Lozada-Tirado, a 20-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, died Friday morning, April 22nd, while escorting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's entourage to a rally near downtown Dallas when he lost control of his motorcycle after apparently hitting a railing and then crashing into a concrete barrier.

Cpl. Lozada-Tirado was in the rear of the motorcade on the Houston Street viaduct around 9:20 a.m. as it took a turn not far from Dealey Plaza, where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. The Kawasaki 1000 Police Special motorcycle that he was riding apparently hit a concrete abutment; it was estimated that the officer was thrown about 20 yards by the impact.

The motor officer was rushed to nearby Methodist Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Dallas police said Lozada-Tirado has been a member of the department since December of 1988. He had been assigned to the Traffic division since 2003 and was also well-known in the East Dallas community for his work at a storefront station on Hall Street. Cpl. Lozada-Tirado had been with the department's motorcycle unit for a little over a month and this was his second assignment; he also was part of the motorcade for Senator Barack Obama when he brought his campaign to Dallas earlier this week.

Senior Corporal Lozada-Tirado, age 49, is survived by his wife and four children — two boys and two girls.

Cpl. Lozada-Tirado is the third motorcycle officer to die as a result of injuries sustained during a motorcade. On August 28th, an officer from Rio Rancho, New Mexico died when his motorcycle crashed as a Presidential motorcade approached the airport in Albuquerque. The officer, Germaine Casey, was 40. He was the lead motorcycle in the motorcade when the crash occurred. On November 23, 2006, Honolulu Police Officer Steve Favella, age 30, crashed on wet roads during President Bush’s motorcade in Hawaii. Officer Favella died of his injuries a week later. Two other officers injured in the crash were released from the hospital.

Please keep the family, friends, and colleagues of both of these fine officers in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Dead Dads Club Redux

My Dad once said that he thought February was the most miserable month ever and I'm inclined to agree - especially living in New England and just wanting winter to go away while it tenaciously hangs on with one bout of lousy weather after another. By this time of the year I'm ready to scream from the cold, the dark, the hope of spring just around the corner but still out of reach, and the memories that February inevitably brings.

Five years ago was one of the coldest and most miserable Februarys ever and went beyond miserable when my Dad died that month. I guess that considering how he felt about February it was quite fitting that he chose that month to start his "big dirt nap" as he used to call it.

Maybe people think that you can't just choose when you're going to die outside of suicide but I tend to disagree. I know that in speaking to Dr. Slater, Dad's oncologist, he said that a person can't just decide they don't want to live anymore but I think he might be wrong on that one. My Dad was tired and worn out from battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and as much as he hated leaving my mother, he was tired of fighting and just wanted to rest. I guess in the end I can't blame him for wanting that but it doesn't mean I still don't miss him and think that it was horribly unfair that he left when I was finally beginning to appreciate who he was as a man and a father.

Last year I wrote a post about The Dead Dads Club so I thought I would repost an excerpt from that post for those who might have missed it and also because I can't really put the feeling of having lost my father into words any better this year than I did last year ...

The Dead Dads Club - originally posted February 22, 2007

CRISTINA: "There's a club. The Dead Dads Club. And you can't be in it until you're in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss ... My dad died when I was nine. George, I'm really sorry you had to join the club."
GEORGE: "I ... I don't know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn't."
CRISTINA: "Yeah, that never really changes."

Cristina is right, that never really changes. Four years ago I became a member of The Dead Dads Club when my father passed away unexpectedly in the middle of a CAT scan procedure. Four years later I still have trouble believing it because it still seems so surreal. If you have never lost a parent or a close loved one, you can't grasp the enormous sense of impossibility that never seems to go away. You learn to exist without that person, you have to, but you will still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and it will take you awhile to remember that person is gone because it will just never feel right or real. It isn't just at night either, it can be anytime of the day or night when the overwhelming sense of loss overtakes you from out of the blue. I will never get used to it.

But as much as the loss of my father has affected me, I know that the loss to my mother was immeasurable. My parents were just a little over two years short of their 50th wedding anniversary when Dad passed away and I have no doubt that losing someone after that amount of time has got to be just like losing a part of yourself. How my Mom has survived the ensuing years without him is amazing to me, especially considering that she always thought that she would never have to face that possibility; that with her family's health record she would go before him. Even when my Dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma my Mom still thought she would die first but I think that was more of a desire of wanting to go first because she couldn't imagine an existence without him. I admire her strength in being able to go on and I thank her for sticking around when I'm sure she really wanted to just lie down beside my Dad and join him on the other side.

Death is obviously an inevitable part of life - we're born and we die - it's the whole Circle of Life thing but that doesn't mean that it's easy to understand or even accept sometimes. I deal with death a lot in my job - not on a personal level but on a level where I have to come to know a lot of our patients by their names in the computer or on the spreadsheet. I talk to people on 911 whose family members are dead or dying; I've heard their anguished cries and the disbelief in their voices on the other end of the phone; and I have sympathized with them over their loss. Thankfully I deal with death from behind a computer, a telephone, and a radio microphone. How the guys and gals that are in the field deal with death face-to-face is beyond me. I could never do it, I know my limitations, but I admire those that can and do.

For anyone else out there who is part of The Dead Dads Club, there is a website where you can memorialize your father and post a tribute to him next to those of others who have lost their fathers. Just click here. And if you aren't a member yet, go tell your father how much he means to you while you still can. Along with your mothers, your grandparents, and anyone else you may have forgotten to tell that to lately.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Eureka! I've Found a New Song I Like!

Things were pretty quiet (a word one never ever says out loud in a dispatch center if one wants to keep it that way) at work this past Saturday morning and after watching the same news and weather repeat over and over about six times I decided to flip through the channels on TV to see if there might be something a little more interesting for Kevin and I to watch. There wasn't but VH-1 was actually showing videos for a change on their Top 20 Countdown show so I decided to stay put on that channel for a bit and see what might be new in the world of music outside of My Chemical Romance, Mindless Self Indulgence, Panic At the Disco, and the other bands that Amanda listens to constantly. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those bands, I've come to like them all but still ... a little diversification is a good thing, right?

One of the videos that came on really caught my attention not only for the song itself but also because I thought the singer was very pretty in a sweet sort of way, she looked like someone you could sit down and talk to and she wouldn't be full of herself but just really nice. I'd never heard of her before but I get the feeling I'll be hearing about her in the future.

Her name is Sara Bareilles and she's from the town of Eureka, California. And yes, for those of you who are reading that and thinking "You're kidding me, right? There really is a Eureka, California?" - the answer is yes, it's a small coastal city with a population of less than 30,000 in the northern part of the state in Humboldt County, land of the giant redwoods. I was there once many, many years ago and it was a very pretty place!

Anyhow, geography aside, Sara is a singer-songwriter and pianist, who was born and raised in that cute little coastal California city where she graduated from high school in 1998. She sang in community choirs and in her high school plays and was voted "Most Talented" by her class her senior year. From there she attended UCLA and performed in the college's A Capella group, Awaken, before graduating in 2002 and playing small gigs in small clubs. Her big break came in 2005 when she signed on with Epic Records and began work on her first major-label album. While writing songs for her new album, Sara would open for bands such as Aqualung and Mika. She also co-headlined a tour with Jon McLaughlin before opening for Maroon 5 on their 2007 U.S. tour.

The song that was on the video I saw Saturday morning - Love Song - was released as the "free single of the week" on iTunes in June of 2007. The following month her album Little Voices was released and it shot to #1 on the list of most downloaded albums at iTunes while debuting at #45 on the Billboard 200 chart. Since then the Love Song has entered the Billboard Hot 100 and was obviously in theVH-1 Top 20 Countdown.

I don't exactly "get" the video but there are so many of them that I don't get that I've basically given up worrying about the interpretation anymore and just enjoy the music for what it sounds like. Luckily a quick search of YouTube produced the video so I'm able to post it for you here. I always figure it's best to let you hear what I'm writing about when I start talking music so that you can then give an objective opinion of your own before you start shaking your head thinking "she listens to that?" or "yeah, good choice!" So, take a listen and tell me what you think. Oh, and I'm going to post the lyrics below for those who, like me, aren't sure what some of the words are!

Love Song by Sara Bareilles

Head under water
And they tell me to breathe easy for a while
The breathing gets harder, even I know that
You made room for me but it's too soon to see
If I'm happy in your hands

I'm unusually hard to hold on to
Blank stares at blank pages
No easy way to say this
You mean well, but you make this hard on me
I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you asked for it
'cause you need one, you see

I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you tell me it's
Make or breaking this
If you're on your way
I'm not gonna write you to stay
If all you have is leaving I'm gonna need a better
Reason to write you a love song today

I learned the hard way
That they all say things you want to hear
And my heavy heart sinks deep down under you and
Your twisted words,
Your help just hurts
You are not what I thought you were
Hello to high and dry
Convinced me to please you
Made me think that I need this too
I'm trying to let you hear me as I am

I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you asked for it
'cause you need one, you see
I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you tell me it's
Make or breaking this
If you're on your way
I'm not gonna write you to stay
If all you have is leaving I'm gonna need a better
Reason to write you a love song today

Promise me that you'll leave the light on
To help me see with daylight, my guide, gone
'cause I believe there's a way you can love me
Because I say
I won't write you a love song
'cause you asked for it
'cause you need one, you see

I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you tell me it's make or breaking this
Is that why you wanted a love song
'cause you asked for it
'cause you need one, you see
I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you tell me it's make or breaking this
If you're on your way
I'm not gonna write you to stay
If your heart is nowhere in it
I don't want it for a minute
Babe, I'll walk the seven seas when I believe that
There's a reason to
Write you a love song today

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Two More Officers Fall During the Month of February

Our country's Law Enforcement community has taken another hit with the loss of two more officers bringing this month's current total to eight and a staggering twenty-one deaths overall since the first of the year.

Criminal Investigator Denise Phoenix, a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Nevada, died on February 14th while awaiting a double-lung transplant in Denver, Colorado. Her lungs had been damaged four months ago when she investigated a child-abuse case in a Montana home filled with noxious gas from methamphetamine production.

A Bureau of Indian Affairs criminal investigator and long-time Northern Nevada law enforcement officer, Investigator Phoenix had dedicated her life to improving her community and caring for children through her law enforcement career in Northern Nevada and Montana after the tragic deaths of her own two children and brother, Ronald Phoenix, in a fatal car accident in 2000.

Investigator Phoenix, age 43, is survived by her husband who is also a police officer as well as her father, stepmother, and several brothers and sisters.

Corporal Harry Thielepape of the Harris County Constable's Office, Precinct 6 in Texas succumbed to gunshot wounds sustained over three weeks ago while arresting a suspect for possessing drugs and illegally possessing a handgun. Corporal Thielepape was working a part-time security job at a local apartment complex at the time of the shooting

The suspect had been handcuffed behind the back and placed in the backseat of Corporal Thielepape's patrol car. However, the man was able to move his handcuffed arms below his legs to the front of his body. When Corporal Thielepape opened the back door of the patrol car a struggle ensued during which the suspect gained control of one of Corporal Thielepape's two handguns and opened fire striking him several times. Despite being critically wounded, Corporal Thielepape returned fire and killed the suspect.

Corporal Thielepape, age 57, was transported to a local hospital where he underwent several surgeries in an attempt to repair the wounds but they were too serious for him to survive. He was with family members at Memorial Hermann Hospital when he died on Wednesday, February 20th.

Corporal Thielepape was a 12-year veteran of the Constable's Office and was assigned to a special unit focused on finding fugitives and parole violators.

Please keep these fallen officers and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Message In a Bottle Meme

So, there I am, working way too many shifts yet again and minding my own business when a meme washes up on the shores of my blog (if you're using blog-speak then I guess it you could say it washed up on my bleach (blog + beach and not to be confused with a chlorine cleaning product!). The said meme washed up not just from one direction but from three which means I've been triple-tagged for the bloody thing (as Claire might say!).

The first bottle arrived from Mimi, Queen of Memes who has a dungeon and isn't afraid to use it nor threaten people with the place on a regular basis! I'm beginning to wish I'd never reminded her she had one in the first place but alas, too late now to amend that little error in bludgment (that's blog + judgment in the aforementioned blog-speak). Before I could even get that bottle picked up and dried off, another floated in from Sandee @ Comedy Plus and on the very next wave another rolled in from The Teach @ Work of the Poet. Suddenly I was awash in meme bottles!

Well, what's a girl to do but adhere to the rules of the meme and comply? I've heard bad, bad stories about Queen Mimi's dungeon and I'm sure it would do my back in something blerrible (blog + terrible) so I don't dare run the risk of displeasing her Majesty and not doing this meme. Besides, it's actually kind of easy once you read the rules - which I expect you to do next being that they are posted right below this paragraph! Bluoting (blog + quote) from the Queen's own blog:
"You are about to send a virtual Message In a Bottle across the Blog Ocean. Leave a message in the sand or on the bottle. Write anything you wish. Be a pirate or a poet. Serious or silly. Anonymous or not. What message would you like to send out to the universe?"
Here Are the Rules:

1. Compose a message to place in your virtual bottle.
2. Right click and SAVE the blank graphic below
3. Use a graphics program of your choice to place the message on this picture:
4. Post the Message In a Bottle meme and your creation on your blog along with these rules
5. Tag a minimum of 5 bloggers - or your entire blogroll - to do the same. Notify them of the tag.
Your virtual bottle will remain afloat in the blogosphere ocean for all blogernity (That's a Mimism for blog + eternity.)
In addition to those rules, you then need to head over to Mimi's Message in a Bottle Meme and add your site to the Mr. Linky list that she has while also leaving your blog's name and URL in a comment so that she knows you've completed the meme. She will then add it to the master list of message bottles. You can email mimiwrites2005 at if you have questions and , as always, participation is optional. Unless, of course, you have a problem with dungeons in which case I strongly suggest you do the darned thing and throw it back into the ocean of the blogosphere ... or something like that!

After going over the rules, I had to give some thought to what message I wanted to toss out there to either bob around for all eternity or wash up on someone's shores - did I want it to be humorous? ... did I want it to be profound? ... did I just want to write something quickly so that I could get this meme done and go to bed? ... the latter was very appealing!

Finally, I decided to use a quotation that I use at the end of my emails, one that I came across a few years ago and thought really made a lot of sense ...

Message in a Bottle... sometimes it's just easier to sit back and be miserable and blame it on the bad hand that life has dealt us - to take the easy way out and stick our heads in the sand - but if we really want to be happy then we're going to stand up, face things head on, and be courageous about it just like Carlos Santana said. Sometimes it takes putting yourself out there to be happy and sometimes putting yourself out there is one of the most courageous things you'll ever do.

So - now that I have tossed my own message out into the blogosphere for all to read and reflect upon, I'm going to tag a few of my other blog buddies to do the same. Bottles are landing on the shores of ... Maddy, Sarah, Connie, Pinky, and Dottie. Come on, ladies, you don't want to spend any time in that dungeon - the menu is bland and the mice are bold!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to Morgen!

Today is the birthday of one of the nicest guys in the entire Blogosphere - bar none! - Morgen of It's a Blog Eat Blog World!

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Mr. Pittman this past September when he was brave enough to take an Amtrak train from his home in Dowagiac, Michigan all the way here to Connecticut to spend a weekend with Ms. Maggie Moo and myself.

We had the chance to see some GREAT sites here in Connecticut as well as dine on some exquisitely cooked meals by Mags. We danced in Mags kitchen, made fun of the tour guide at Gillette Castle State Park, and went to see a free show performed by America at the Wolf Den at the Mohegan Sun Casino. It was a busy weekend but it was a lot of fun and I got to spend time with two of the most fantastic people ever.

Regular readers of Mo's blog know he's been going through a tough time of it with the break-up of his 15-year relationship as well as a recent move but I've got my fingers crossed that this is going to be the best year ever as he more than deserves love and happiness and all sorts of good things!

Please join me in wishing Mo the happiest of birthdays and if you can, stop by his blog and join in the fun at MorgEpalooza 2 which Mo is hosting to celebrate his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Morgen - I love you!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Manic Monday - Two

Manic Monday host Morgen of It’s a Blog Eat Blog World has given us the word “two” for this week. So I had to think what could I write about using the word "two"? What might people find of interest?

Hmm, well, I could write about my two failed marriages – nah, too boring. I could write about my two daughters – nah, I do that a lot anyway. I could write about my two grandsons – nah, maybe not as my son has yet to send me any new pictures despite that lovely digital camera he got for Christmas. What about my two tattoos? Nah, I think I’ve written about those before, too. So what to write about? Think, think, think …

Finally it dawned on me that I could write about two of Amanda’s favorite bands that I’ve taken to listening to lately – AFI and Blaqk Audio. Not only is it two bands but two of the band members of AFI make up the band Blaqk Audio when they branched out to do something just slightly different in between recording albums with the rest of their main band. By golly that's two uses of the word "two"! Perfect!

Just to give you some background on AFI, the band originated in 1991 in the small town of Ukiah, California when two friends formed a hardcore punk band and called it AFI (A Fire Inside). Those two friends, vocalist Davey Havok and drummer Adam Carson, were attending high school at the time along with guitarist Markus Stopholese and bassist Vick (who was replaced after several months by Geoff Kresge). They played a few local shows and released a split 7” titled Dork as well as an EP titled Behind the Times before the band broke up so that its members could attend different colleges. During a holiday break the band got back together to play a reunion show and audience response was so positive that they decided to quit school and concentrate on music full-time.

AFI1997 saw some changes in the band when Geoff Kresge left and was replaced by bassist Hunter Burgan before guitarist Markus Stopholese departed and Jade Puget took his place. In addition to taking on the role of lead guitarist for the band, Puget also started sharing songwriting duties with Havok. The restructured band released an EP titled A Fire Inside in 1998 followed by Black Sails in the Sunset in 1999, a more mature full-length CD. A year later The Art of Drowning was released and even though the band already boosted a loyal core base of fans, the single Days of the Phoenix saw those numbers grow along with its moderate success.

In 2003 AFI crossed over into the mainstream with their major-label debut album Sing the Sorrow for Dream Works. With the release of that record, their fan base grew considerably while national news publications praised them and several singles found airplay on MTV. In June of 2006 they released their seventh and most labor-intensive record to date, Decemberunderground which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and became an instant success.

Anyone who’s ever played Guitar Hero III is probably quite familiar with the song Miss Murder which is off of the album, Decemberunderground. I’ve played it a number of times myself (on the medium level) and can’t listen to the song now without going over the finger movements in my head! Amanda has also done a drawing based on the song Love Like Winter which was also released as a single off of the same album and is one of AFI's most popular and recognizable songs.

AFI - Love Like Winter
Love Like Winter by Amanda

As a side project to AFI, Davey Havok and Jade Puget formed an electronic band called Blaqk Audio. According to vocalist and lyricist Havoc, the concept began at some point between 2001 and 2002 and then went on hiatus for an extended period of time before being revived in 2006. Puget, who writes and programs the music, worked on the development of Blaqk Audio in his spare time during AFI's tour schedule. He would write the songs before sending them to Havok to write melodies and lyrics. As Puget explained, "Everything's electronic, no instruments. We've been experimenting -- everything from industrial to ambient stuff. We're just going to see what happens."

What happened was that after being signed to Interscope Records, Blaqk Audio released their first album, CexCells, in August of 2007 and gained another fan in the form of my oldest daughter. Even though their music has been described as "Electronic body music" which is mainly known by its acronym EBM - a music genre that combines elements of industrial music and electronic punk music, Blaqk Audio's music mostly falls under the genre of "Electropop" - music that is mostly a pop song at heart, often with simple, catchy hooks and dance beats, but differs from other forms of electronic music like techno, house, electroclash, etc. because strong songwriting is emphasized over simple danceability. If that sounds all Greek to you don't feel bad - if I didn't have a 15-year old daughter who listened to this sort of stuff I'd have no clue what I was talking about either! At any rate, this certainly explains why Amanda has been bugging me about wanting a keytar!

Blaqk AudioDavey Havoc and Jade Puget of Blaqk Audio
Of course, having a 15-year old daughter also means that I get to hear a lot of this music both at home and in the car and, if I'm being honest, I've got to say that I actually do like quite a bit of it. I'm not horribly enchanted with Davey's hairstyle, which Amanda thinks is to die for, but I do like the music and because of that, I'm going to post a YouTube video of the song Where Would You Like Them Left so that you can get an idea of what type of music I'm writing about here.

Blaqk Audio has yet to put out an actual music video for any of their songs but if you'd like to keep up with them, you can visit their website at or you can check out their MySpace blog where they also keep their fans up-to-date on the latest news.

And that's my take on "two"! If you'd like to see what other people thought about the word then pop over to Morgen's and check out some of the other Manic Monday Minions!

Decisions, Decisions

Today's quick and easy survey is about decisions - something we all have to deal with on a regular basis. Some decisions are easier than others - sleep in or get up early; coffee or tea; go to the party or not when you get birthday invitations; chicken or beef; Burger King or Wendy's; etc., etc. Other decisions are not so easy - Democrat or Republican; conservative or liberal; college or no college ...

No matter what the choice, though, we all have to make a decision sooner or later. As my father-in-law from my first marriage used to say, "Just do something even if it's wrong!" Indecision can give you ulcers!

Undecided? Take this survey - it's fun and there's nothing to it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fifth Sentence Book Meme

One of my very favorite bloggers, Jamie @ Duward Discussion tagged me with the Fifth Sentence Book Meme last week and I am at long last getting around to it in my usual inimitable couldn't-get-to-it-very-quickly style! Of course, having seen Ms Maggie Moo's interpretation of this meme, I figured that the rest of us might as well just bow out graciously and give the honors of doing this meme strictly to her! Whoa ... !!

Anyhow, first the rules and then my boring - compared to Ms. Moo - results!

Here are the Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you post it to your blog, so I can come see.

In the Land of Second Chances
"In the last few years there have been rumors that her post-marital sexual tastes have switched. I don't care if they have or not. She is a fine peace officer and a hard-core member of the Circle."
It's been so long since I've read this book that I don't really remember exactly what it was about except that it's centered around a small bed & breakfast in Ebb, Nebraska and a handsome stranger who comes to town selling games of chance who manages to solve everyone's problems using nothing but common sense and three simple arguments. Heck, I can't even remember where those three sentences are going in the big scheme of the book but this was a fun meme and easy to do!

For that reason, I tag Ralph, Patti, Joan, Pinky, and Connie! If you've already been tagged then I apologize - like I said I'm late to the party on this one!

Awards Times Two

Make My Day AwardOne of my transplanted British buddies Maddy, who hails from across the pond but now makes her home in the San Francisco Bay area and writes two (yes, two!) fantastic blogs, recently awarded me with two (yes, two!) lovely little awards on her blog Whitterer on Autism. The first is this adorable little "You Make My Day" Award that she herself received from Tara over at tlcillustration. According to Maddy, "Linda is a real gem. How she manages to juggle career, family, blogging and the pressures of work I can hardly imagine." Well, thank you, ma'am - I wonder how on earth you juggle your homelife with two rambunctious boys and two blogs and all that you do, too. Perhaps we've all just become mistresses of talented multitaskings?

Speaking of talents, I'm going to pass this award on to Connie at BrainFoggles who amazes me with her ability to blog every day while battling a laundry list of ailments that would put anyone else down for the count never to blog again; Pinky at Cheese in My Shoe because she always says the nicest things both in her posts and in her comments as well as posting about foods that make my mouth water; and Mighty Mom at My Wonderful Life because there's another talented woman who juggles home, work, and her blog with a sense of humor and adventure. All of these ladies truly do make my day!

Royal Banana AwardThe second award that Maddy was more than kind enough to pass along to me is "The Royal Banana For Blog Yumminess" Award which she in turn received from Slouching Mom. I can't say that I've ever been awarded a banana before but in her presentation of this cute little award Maddy said about me, "Now there's a woman who is a real trooper [now that I think I understand what a trooper is supposed to be - it always sounded like an insult!] There are so many different aspects to Linda's blog but if you've not visited before then her posting here called "Count five things" is a great introduction. [and I'm sorry I called you a sausage, I know that should have been 'hot dog'!]

... Uh, I'm not so sure I'd want to be called either a sausage or a hot dog but I think I get what Maddy was trying to say in that transplanted vernacular of hers! Thanks bunches (pun intended, bananas - bunches, get it??) Maddy for this cute little award and I shall pass it along to a couple of other bloggers that I find particularly yummy - Morgen of It's a Blog Eat Blog World and Captain Jean-Luc of Captain Picard's Journal. Not only do these two fine gentlemen have outstanding blogs but they both play damned fine Scrabulous games, too!

Do you know anyone who makes your day or exhibits blog yumminess? If so, then snag these awards and pass them along!

I Couldn't Resist ...

Sometimes when I'm on the computer and need some background noise I listen to Launchcast Radio on Yahoo! Messenger. I have it set to "My Station" and it comes up with a pretty odd mix at times. There has been more than one time when Amanda has asked me what on earth I'm listening to as it jumps from music by My Chemical Romance to Nickelback to Eminem to Default to some odd 80's disco stuff and assorted country music that somehow manages to sneak itself in. I don't blame her for asking as sometimes I'm not at all sure how THAT managed to come up in rotation! It's odd - very, very odd but occasionally a song will pop up that I had forgotten all about but really liked at one time!

Anyhow, one of the songs that came up today fell into that category and reminded me so much of someone from my past that I just had to go over to YouTube, look up the video, and post it here. I guess you might say that this is a rhetorical question as I really don't expect an answer but I'd sure like one - more and more each day!

Time Alone For a Change

So far I've had a nice peaceful weekend as Amanda is down visiting her friend Darcy in New Jersey until Monday night. I was going to do a post about that but the pictures I took at the train station didn't come out due to some sort of issue with the memory card for the digital camera - dang! I'll have to do a catch-up post when she gets home as there is new hair to be shown! We've got blue and pink this time, folks!

Anyhow, having all this time to myself is kind of novel these days and would probably be the perfect time to do some self-assessment or some housecleaning or some catch-up DVR viewing or something different but instead I've spent most of my time trying to get the computer in the dining room, the one that Amanda primarily uses, cleaned up and in better working order. Now there's an exciting project for a weekend alone!

Yes, it's true, ladies and gentlemen - I have no life! Who'd a thunk it??

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dreaming of You ...

A couple of my blog friends recently took a survey about dreams so I figured I'd take it because it was quick and easy and because I'm one of those people who believes that dreams hold quite a bit of significance in our lives. Yeah, yeah, it's a bit "New Age" but maybe Sylvia Browne is right about dreams and how they affect our lives - or she and I could be way off base and the only thing dreams are is a way for our minds to keep on blogging after we've gone to sleep!

Anyhow, lately I've been dreaming quite a bit about people that I don't normally dream of which then makes me think about them more in my waking life. Is there a connection? Does that mean that they're thinking of me, too? It would be nice to think so - at least in some cases and in others I sure hope not like with that dream I had the other night that was way too much like a scene out of Sweeney Todd! I wonder what on earth I ate before I went to bed that night? And no, it wasn't meat pies!

While doing all of this thinking about dreaming I remembered one of my favorite songs that I hadn't heard in quite a long time but used to listen to quite often called "Dreaming of You" by the beautiful Selena, the Mexican-American singer who was tragically killed by her fan club president on April 12th, 1995. She had an incredible voice and an incredible talent and this is an incredible song. Enjoy the music and then take the dream survey, too, if you'd like!

A Milestone Missed

I had been more or less keeping an eye on my stat counter as I knew I was close to reaching the 60,000 visitor mark but apparently I was watching it less than I was more as I have now passed 60,000 by some 200+ visitors. Oh heck ... and here I had a great gift of some Bose headphones, uhm - leftover Valentine's candy ... no wait that wasn't it either ... oh yeah, it was a virtual hug and a big thank you for the illustrious 60,000th visitor but I went and missed the occasion completely.

According to my stats over at Site Meter, my 60,000th visitor was from Ash Shariqah, Sharjah, Dubai. For those not familiar with Dubai (or إمارة دبيّ if you can read Arabic!), it's one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates that is located on the Persian Gulf coast and it's an extremely wealthy place. Most of what I know about Dubai I learned on The Today Show last summer when Matt Lauer paid a visit to the place but if you want to know just how wealthy they are over there, let's put it this way - they have an honest-to-goodness ski slope in one of their malls and rooms at The Burj Al Arab Hotel (Arabic: برج العرب "Tower of the Arabs"), which is the tallest in the world at 1,053 feet until April of 2008 when the Rose Tower in Dubai opens, start at $1,000 a night and increase to $15,000 right up to $28,000 a night for the Royal Suite. Like I said, they're pretty wealthy over there!

At any rate, I doubt that particular visitor will be back anytime soon to collect his or her virtual hug and big thank you but for those who do come back on a regular basis - thank you very much for visiting and for commenting (or not), and for being a part of my little section of the Blogosphere. Consider yourselves all virtually hugged!

Friday, February 15, 2008

There's No Crying In Dispatch

I'm a 911 dispatcher, a professionally trained and certified emergency medical dispatcher with years of experience under my belt. I help save lives. I have the knowledge. I have the well-scripted protocol. I have the ability. Sometimes all of that doesn't add up to a hill of beans.

Experience has taught me that whenever I pick up a 911 call and can hear the screaming before the receiver even reaches my ear it's not going to be good. Sometimes that screaming isn't a precursor to a totally hideous call, sometimes it's just the way that people react to situations that aren't life-threatening but scary and sometimes, well ... sometimes it's the precursor to a call that's not going to end well. Such was the case with a 911 call I picked up towards the end of my shift yesterday.

"American Ambulance, what's the address of your emergency?"

"Aaaaiiiiiiii ... help me, please somebody help me .... aaaaaiiiiiii!"

"Ma'am, please calm down, I need the address of your emergency so I can send you help."

"Help me, help me, help me - please send help! Oh help me!"

The dispatcher at the police department who had transferred the call over told me that the caller's husband was unresponsive and gave me the address and the phone number as well as the name that had popped up on their 911 screen (we don't have an enhanced system at our company so have to rely on the PD for the info when we can't get it out of the caller).

"Ma'am, can you tell me, is he breathing?"

"No, no, he isn't. Send help! Please send help!"

I tried to tell her that my partner was dispatching an ambulance and the fire department had also been started but she wasn't listening to me. Instead I heard her counting ... "1-1,000; 2-,1,000; 3-1,000; 4-1,000; 5-1,000; 6-1,000; 7-1,000". A pause and then a big breath. I turned to my partner and told him that she was doing CPR and he started a second ambulance to assist with what we call "a working 100", a code that means there is a potential cardiac or respiratory arrest and the patient could be dead already or could be brought back with the proper interventions and medications. In other words, it means we need more manpower and we need it there fast.

The caller finally came back to the phone still screaming for an ambulance and I attempted to calm her down using repetitive persistence, a technique whereby you tell the caller the same thing over and over in a calm and reassuring voice in an attempt to break though the hysteria. It wasn't working, I couldn't reach her as she cried to her husband to not leave her, to not die on her, that she loved him, that he had to wake up as she called his name over and over. They were the most anguished, heart-wrenching cries I had heard in a very long time and my heart went out to this unknown stranger on the other end of the phone.

I was finally able to get through to her enough to find out a little bit of information about his medical history and that he had gone to take a nap a half hour ago before she started to do what a lot of callers do - she started to blame herself. She should have checked on him, she never should have let him take a nap, she should have known something was wrong. I'm sure that my words of reassurance that she had done nothing wrong and not to blame herself went pretty well unheard but it was all I could think to say at the time. Where, oh where, was that ambulance or the fire department? The address wasn't far from us - what on earth was taking so long? Minutes seem like years when there is a life hanging in the balance.

The poor soul on the other end of the phone once again began imploring her beloved not to leave her, not to go, that she loved him and he couldn't die, he just couldn't. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I heard the ambulance crews arrive and the first responders come through the front door. I told her I was going to let her go and she said thank you before she hung up.

"Thank you"? For what? I didn't do a thing. I couldn't do a thing. All of my training, all of my years of experience, all of the well-scripted protocol, all of my knowledge and ability meant nothing with that call. I was simply a human voice on the end of a phone line; a person who heard the grief, the heartbreak, and the flat-out horror of someone finding a loved one no longer breathing and gone from this world. I was of no help to that poor woman at all. None.

After I hung up the phone I sat and stared at the spreadsheet in front of me, barely able to see it for the tears welling up in my eyes while feeling like a complete and total failure in my chosen profession and grieving for the poor woman whose name I didn't even know. But there's no crying in dispatch as there just isn't time. The wheelchair vans that I was dispatching that day were calling on the radio and I needed to acknowledge them even though I could barely speak around the lump in my throat. The phones were still ringing and couldn't be ignored. Life went on. At least in the dispatch center.

In spite of the best efforts of the paramedics, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and police who arrived on the scene of that 911 call the patient didn't make it. He was 49 years old. It was Valentine's Day.

There's no crying in dispatch but there is in the car on the way home.

Survey Says!

My friend Connie from Brain Foggles sent me a link to a new way to make a little money with my blog that seemed like fun so I thought - what the heck, why not? The bills have to get paid somehow!

Anyhow, unlike doing paid posts (which you all know I do!) dNeero pays you to do social surveys, post the results on your blog and invite others to take the surveys, too. Sounds pretty simple, pretty easy, and might even be fun, too!

So, check out my first survey which is all about me - like you guys really need or want to know more about me! - and then take it for yourself if you'd like. I'd always love to know more about you!

Memories of a Romantic Trip

It's been years and years and years since I've gone on a romantic trip anywhere but I remember with fondness a trip made to New York City way back in the late 1970's with a guy that I had met while I was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. The memories still warm my heart to this day.

After we'd known each other for quite awhile, Bob and I decided that it would be nice to spend a weekend in the Big Apple doing some of the things that tourists do so we made reservations at the Sheraton New York, hopped on the bus, and arrived in the city at the Port Authority on a rainy Friday afternoon. From there we took my very first ever New York City taxi ride to the hotel where we checked in and then checked out our room - which had twin beds so get your minds out of the gutter! I said "romantic" trip - not "x-rated" trip!

During a perfectly romantic dinner, we dined on roast capon in the hotel's dining room before walking arm-in-arm under an umbrella to the Shubert Theater to see "A Chorus Line", one of my very favorite Broadway musicals. It was also one of my very first Broadway musicals and I loved every single minute of it. After the show we walked back to the hotel taking in some of the sights and sounds of the city night along the way.

The next day was spent sightseeing at the Statute of Liberty, Central Park, and other New York landmarks before heading back to our lives waiting for us in New Jersey on Sunday. Even though the weather wasn't at all cooperative and it was cold and rainy the entire weekend it was still very magical and memorable and could only have happened in New York City.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, This Song is a Valentine From Me to You!

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Today is Valentine's Day - yeeha and big whoop.

I don't mean to be a Negative Nelly but I just don't think it's quite fair for those of us who don't have a significant other to be subjected to a day that is all about love and romance and chocolate and flowers and cards and cute stuffed animals and diamond jewelry and romantic dinners and ... and ... talk about being made to feel even worse about one's status when it comes to the lack of any sort of a romantic relationship ... yeesh! Perhaps I should take a stand similar to those of the people who are offended at hearing Christmas songs and say that I am offended by hearing all about love!

Ah, but even though I'm not in love, I do love love so I can't really rail against it and wish it away, now can I? I love a good romance novel, a good love song, a good mushy movie, a good kiss that makes your toes tingle and your knees weak, and happy endings all around in spite of this gruff and grumpy exterior! So ... I'm not going to boycott Valentine's Day like our dear Queen Mimi who has fresh memories of better Valentine's Days than this year's but who also wrote a beautiful post entitled "What I Know About Love"; I'm not going to begrudge anyone a single flower blossom, bite of chocolate, or romantic card; I'm not going to sit home and wonder why I'm sitting home alone; and I'm not going to hide under the covers until the day goes away.

Instead I'm going to be happy for, and perhaps a bit envious of, those who have a love to share the day with; I'm going to go right on believing that love will find me one day and it will do more than stay and visit for awhile; and I'm going to share one of my very favorite songs from one of my very favorite movies with you ... from Moulin Rouge, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman singing "Come What May" -

May everyone have a happy Valentine's Day - come what may in your own lives!
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