Monday, January 25, 2016


One night I got sent to a vehicle stuck on some railroad tracks. The caller had told dispatch she had no idea where she was, but a train was coming. Pretty much the whole shift was driving around like maniacs, trying to figure out where this car might be. It was about 2AM, and pouring rain.

As I was passing a dead end side street, which didn't go over any railroad tracks, I happened to spot a woman standing back in the dark, waving at me. When I got turned around and back to where she was, I realized a) she was drunk as a skunk, and b) her car was hung up on an old unused railroad spur. It was adjacent to an active track, but was in no danger of being hit by a train. In her alcohol-induced haze, the driver had thought it was through street.

This person had actually driven her car over both tracks, and it was hung up on them. we couldn't move it, so we called a tow truck to assist. The truck showed up, and the driver affixed a cable to the rear of the stuck vehicle. He cranked up the winch and started pulling.

I was standing right there during this process. When I realized the winch was continuing to turn, but the car wasn't budging, I decided it might be a good idea for me to move.

Sure enough, the was a sudden, loud twang! as the cable snapped. The cable end that was still attached to the car whistled past me, recoiling so fast and so hard that it actually punctured the sheet metal on the side of the car. Had I not moved, that cable would've hit me.

Lesson: tow truck guys are awesome, but they don't always really know what they're doing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

So, You're Just Driving In Your Squad Car When

some fuck runs up and shoots you 3 times. Not to be deterred, you exit your vehicle, give chase, and shoot said fuck in the ass. He is later taken into custody.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: No Shit, Sherlock

Everyone who lives around here knows we are supposed to get wind chill temperatures in the neighborhood of -30 degrees F overnight tonight. But Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman, just interrupted my program to remind us not to go outside unless we have appropriate clothing on, or we might get frostbite.

I guess that nixes my plan to sit out on the patio in my swimming trunks, sipping an umbrella cocktail.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Puppy Mill Dogs

In 2010, we took in Dirk, a male Golden Retriever who had spent his first 8 years in a puppy mill. When we agreed to foster him for the rescue organization we volunteer for, we had no idea what being a puppy mill dog meant - for us or, more importantly, for the dog.

We brought Dirk home, and he met our two resident dogs without incident. But that was where any shred of normalcy ended. He was afraid of everything that our resident dogs took for granted: the TV, the ceiling fan, carpeting, tile floors, stairways, doorways. And when I say "afraid", I mean cowering, trembling, frozen fear. He had no idea what to do with a toy. He was startled by every loud noise and sudden movement. I didn't see how we could keep him.

But miraculously, over many months, Dirk's dogness began to shine through. He watched our resident male intently and followed him everywhere. I will never forget the evening Dirk lay on the floor, watching our resident male chewing on a rawhide snack. When our resident finally tired of it and walked away, Dirk slowly made his way over to it, sniffed it a few times, then lay down and began chewing it. It was a genuinely moving moment to watch this little soul find within himself a little bit of what it means to be a dog.

Dirk eventually learned how to play, and would dash around our backyard with our other two. He was incredibly fast, and seemed to delight in just running free - perhaps for the first time in his life.

One day, Mrs. Cynical announced that Dirk would no longer be our foster dog, and we would no longer be posting updates on the rescue website. We would be adopting Dirk ourselves, and he would be the next member of our family. I knew better than to argue.

Today, now 13+ years old, Dirk still exhibits some of the traits he first came to us with. He still startles at loud noises. He hesitates before climbing stairs. And, oddly, he still does not like having a camera pointed at him. I have many photos of Dirk with Mrs. Cynical, in which just one of his eyes is peaking out from behind Mrs. Cynical. But for the most part, Dirk is just a quiet, gentle, happy boy, soaking up all the attention we can give him.

My point here is this: If you want a dog, please look into what puppy mills are and how their dogs are treated. Very often, they are isolated for years with little human interaction. As a result, they are very poorly socialized and without the skills and knowledge you expect in an adult dog. Your local pet store very likely gets its dogs from a puppy mill.

My suggestion? Go to your local dog pound or Humane Society. Lots of great dogs are looking for homes there. If you're bound and determined to get a specific breed, look into the many rescue organizations out there. Many are breed-specific, and have dogs of all ages looking for homes. Please don't contribute to the suborganic scum who are creating dogs like Dirk, then casting them out when they're done with them so that someone else can fix the damage they've created.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


I'm admittedly a TV addict. And I've noticed the increasing number of shows that involve "war". Storage Wars, Whale Wars, Parking Wars, Design Wars, Cupcake Wars (for Christ's sake!)...the list goes on. Basically, they're shows that try to inject contrived drama and suspense into the miserable lives of mostly unpleasant people who, for one reason or another, take pleasure in abusing others (including animals), being abused, or just generally not getting along with others.

It made me think of how the word "war" has degenerated into something meaningless for so many. Anything even remotely resembling conflict, no matter how stupid and trivial, is now a "war". Even recruiting commercials for the armed services, where people are shown parachuting, SCUBA diving, touring foreign cities, going to college, and the like - all presented with a backdrop of nothing. No context of the genuine risks of getting captured or wounded or killed.

I read a lot of WWII history. I'm especially interested in firsthand accounts of Marine infantrymen in the Pacific Theater, I guess because that's what my Dad was, and I followed in his footsteps 25 years later. One of the most vivid personal, and for me terrifying, accounts I've read was by Robert Muhlbach, related in John Wukovits' One Square Mile of Hell: The Battle for Tarawa:

There was a lot of bayoneting. The strangling and gouging is kind of movie stuff. It happened where there was occasion when we had to use our knives. You wanted to get it deep inside to make sure that it was a kill, and you'd get it in there and wiggle it around, and then extract it. You'd hold onto your rifle. Just as soon as you had a chance to do it, you'd kick the body and pull on your bayonet, wiggling it a bit and loosening it, then pull it out and put it into the next guy. It's hard to explain, but you're in a fight, like a fight in a ring between two boxers. You're just thinking of trying to find an outlet where you could get a punch or a kick in. That's what you're thinking of, damaging the other guy, and there's not much thought of anything else but trying to find that outlet to kill the other guy. Those movie versions - I guess they've got to come up with something that's dramatic. It wasn't dramatic with us. We were supposed to fight, to find a way of killing the other guy.

That's war.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why We Wear Ballistic Vests

This Deputy was attempting to stop a robbery suspect. The subject exited his car with one hand raised, then opened fire on the Deputy as he approached. The Deputy was hit in his ballistic vest and returned fire. The subject was later apprehended, and had been wounded twice by the Deputy.

NOTE: I don't know why there is a brief blackout in the video at 1:05 in the second (backup Deputy's) video. I'm sure someone from the "chemtrails" conspiracy sect can fill me in.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Shots Fired

With New Year's Eve recently upon us, I was reminded of all the "shots fired" calls I've taken on 4th of July and New Year's Eve.

Where I worked, it was pretty unusual to deal with actual "shots fired". However, on those holidays on which fireworks are commonly in use, "shots fired" calls skyrocketed (no pun intended). For whatever reason, people were convinced that what they were hearing couldn't possibly be fireworks - it was "shots fired".

I can't tell you the number of times I was confronted by someone who gave me his whole life history with respect to firearms handling, and told me that he could differentiate without fail a gunshot from a firecracker. Of course, producing expended fireworks from where the caller said "shots" were being "fired" did nothing to dissuade the caller of his expertise.

Now, I understand there is the occasional loony that cranks off a round in his backyard at midnight on New Year's Eve. I was even present one time when this happened. But there is no way the frequency of such idiotic acts matches the frequency of the "shots fired" calls. If it did, there'd be wounded lying all over town from the projectiles raining out of the sky.

So, if you hear a bang at midnight on December 31st, or a boom on the evening of July 4th, don't panic. It probably isn't "shots fired".

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: Measurements

As I write this, I am warming up my snow blower to remove the "< 1 inch" of snow that Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman, predicted we would get overnight. I will have to do it again before the day is over. But, hey, it's just "< 1 inch".

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reckless In Seattle

This guy brandished two handguns in several stores in downtown Seattle, carjacked three vehicles at gunpoint, and fired at pursuing officers before this insane climax to the incident.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Getting Pulled Over

I don't routinely respond to comments on my blog posts. I feel that space belongs to my readers (both of them) to respond to me or to each other as they wish, without me getting involved. But I was recently asked, and have been asked many times before, the correct "protocol" for a driver being pulled over by a police officer.

First, it's not set in stone. Different law enforcement agencies have different routines. Some I agree with, some I don't. Also, drivers do a lot of different things because they're nervous, and most of the time I don't care. But in general, this is what I like to see.

1. When the lights and/or siren come on, pull over to the right and stop. The officer has decided this is where the stop is to take place, and it's up to the driver to comply. Pulling into a driveway or a parking lot is OK, provided it's your driveway or the parking lot is right there. Don't just drive along until you find a place you're comfortable with. That's a red flag for officers, wondering why this person isn't stopping right away.

2. Stay in your car, unless the officer directs you to do otherwise. Now, I understand some agencies routinely have drivers exit and come back to them. But no one on my agency does that, and I would never let that happen. If the person exits with a weapon, you're a sitting duck closed up inside your squad car.

3. I don't really care whether the driver already has their license and proof of insurance ready when I walk up there (I never ask for registration - that info is on my computer when I run the plate). In fact, I love it when people just leave their hands on the steering wheel until I get up there. If they don't already have their documentation in hand, I just ask for it. What I don't like to see is a bunch of bending and reaching as I'm approaching - especially into center consoles or glove boxes - because I don't know what they're reaching for.

4. If you have a concealed carry permit and are carrying a handgun (or have it in the center console or glove box), by all means keep your hands on the steering wheel and advise the officer of those circumstances. Then, follow their instructions. By no means do you want to be going for your insurance card in the glove box, and have your .45 slide out. That tends to alarm cops.

4. Be polite. I always said that I'm as nice to people as they allow me to be. I understand you don't want to get a ticket. But my job is to enforce laws, and that includes traffic laws. If I have any discretion in writing the citation, I'm way more likely to exercise that if you're decent with me. If you're going to be like the lady I once stopped for 15 over in an active school zone, who told me "Just write the motherfucking ticket", you can bet I will do just that.

5. Take the citation to court if you feel you've been unfairly ticketed. You always have that option, and I always encouraged people I stopped who were unhappy with me to register for court. But remember that a violation is almost certainly on dashcam and/or bodycam video. I was always very lenient in writing tickets, so the violations I did cite were pretty obvious. I never lost a court case.

Remember: this is just me.It isn't intended as anything other than personal advice. Other cops and other agencies have their own routines. Theirs may be better or worse than mine, but I'm still alive and kicking after thousands of traffic stops.