Friday, February 05, 2016

Hick'ry

Every little country store has a bank.  Or, at least around here, they call it a bank.  Little country stores are cash-heavy enterprise s, or they were in the '80s before the advent of debit cards.  The "bank" was the cash bag kept in the store to provide change for the days business.  Normally $300-$500, depending on the needs of the store.  Any excess went to a real bank as the day's deposits, but every little business kept its bank for day-to-day operations.

There was this little store in northwest Louisiana.  We'll call it Anne's Store because Miss Anne ran it.  She had been in the store business most of her life.  She got there every morning about 5:00 a.m., opened the place, put on coffee and started a tray of biscuits in the oven.  It was a small store in a one-horse town and it provided a place to get bread, sandwich meat, milk, basic groceries.  Miss Anne also ran a breakfast/lunch counter.  As such, the store became a meeting place, a spot for working men to park their trucks out back and meet with crews.  The logging industry was big in that area.

I was the parole officer assigned to that area.  As such, I drank coffee at Miss Anne's counter several times per month.  Many of my parolees worked in the logging industry, and when they came by in the mornings to meet their crews, I could check on them.  Being one of the few police officers in that geographical area, I was on speaking terms with just about everybody.  Like small towns all over America during that time, there were no secrets.  Even though I worked for The State, I knew the local constabulary and they knew me.  We worked together frequently, depended on each other, shared information freely.

Next door to Miss Anne's Store, there was another building, an old, defunct general store.  It had been closed for a decade or longer before I was assigned to the area.  It sat there vacant, the ragages of time slowly taking a toll on the building.  In the very back of that store was a small storeroom, with a restroom.  A standard toilet and wash-basin.  Which brings us to a fellow we'll call Hick'ry.

Hick'ry (not his real name) was somehow familialy entwined with the past operators/owners of the store building.  As I recall, the building itself was entrapped in that legal limbo called "an heir property".  Hick'ry himeself may have owned a portion of the building. Hick'ry had been to the pen a couple of times for burglary and after his latest conviction had come under my supervision.  Hick'ry also happened to live in that small storeroom in the building next to Miss Anne's store.  One bare lightbulb, a cot and a small restroom provided all the basic needs that Hick'ry desired.

One morning, I got up early and headed over to Miss Anne's store.  I wanted to get there early and check on a couple of parolees I hadn't seen that month.  They were pulp-wooders and met the crew at Miss Anne's.  I got there just before daylight, and Miss Anne met me at the door.

"Get in here quick," she said.  "I've been robbed. Somebody broke in here and got my bank."

I asked if she was okay, and she was.  She hadn't been robbed so much, as burgled, but I drew my revolver and made her stand by the front door as I cleared the store just in case the burglar was still there.  After I was convinced we were alone, that the burglar had gone.  I told her to call the sheriff's office.  She led me to the little stainless steel sink beside her cook-top and showed me a muddy footprint in the sink.  The window above the sink was open.

I went outside and got my flashlight, walked around the side of the building to the window.  The ground outside was soft and I could see a trail of footprints leading across to the abandoned general store.  I followed the trail around the building to the back, where the final muddy footprint ended at the door to that storeroom.

I unholstered my revolver, pushed lightly on the door and it swung open.  The floor of the storeroom was littered with beer cans.  Hick'ry lay on the cot.  Drunk.  Very drunk. He was snoring loudly and Miss Anne's bank bag lay on his chest.  I backed out of the room and took a breath.  About that time the deputy rolled up.  He was a young fellow, named Tony.

"Morning, Tony." I greeted him.  "You want to make an arrest?"

I showed Tony the trail leading from the store, I showed Tony the muddy footprint on the storeroom step, then I pushed the door open and showed him Hick'ry sleeping, drunk, with Miss Anne's bank bag on his chest.  "That, sir, is what we in law-enforcement call a clue."

Tony snorted.  "Help me get him up."

We put the Habeas-Grabbus on Hick'ry, cuffed him and stuffed him.  I stayed with Tony long enough for him to get Miss Anne's statement.  A couple of weeks later, Hick'rys parole was revoked and several months after that he pled guilty to yet another count of burglary.  The judge sent him back down the river for an extended stretch.

I wish they were all as easy as that one.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

OC Spray

If you look on any cop's belt, you'll likely find a small can of OC spray. Oleoresin capsicum, also known as pepper spray, is manufactured by several companies for use as a less-lethal chemical agent.  OC attacks the mucous glands, sends them into overdrive and causes a sharp, burning sensation.  Nowadays, it is part and parcel of the police experience.  We've all been sprayed with it as part of our training, and we've all regretted it.  It sucks.  You can hear your eyelids slam shut (an interesting auditory experience) and in about 30 seconds, you have a mucus ball hanging down from your nose to your navel.  After about 15 minutes, the pain begins to subside from excruciating to merely crippling.

After about 30 minutes you start to get it together, and all you want is copious amounts of water to wash the resin off your skin.  When training at the academies, we normally plan the OC demonstration for the last part of the day.  This allows the trainees to return to their home or dorm, jump in the shower and get the final indignity of the day.  As the OC resin comes off your skin, it re-activates and runs down your body to your nether regions.  Then comes the final Oh-My-God-What-Have-I-Done experience as your private parts take on a warm, tingly... lets draw the (shower) curtain on the final act of this tragedy.

The early '80s were a magical time to be a cop.  Gaston Glock had just come out with his plastic pistol.  Radio technology was getting better, we were getting radar units in the vehicles.  PawPaw was a parole officer and we had just installed new radios in our vehicles.  The new 150 Mhz High-Band radios.  With newfangled repeaters, we could actually talk from one side of the parish to the other.  If you were up on a high hill.

About the mid '80s, pepper spray came out and the department scheduled training for us.  We suffered the indignity and were certified to use OC spray.  And, I tell you all that to tell you this:

Regular readers will notice that mobile homes run through my narrative.  Lots of folks in rural areas live in mobile homes.  It's economical, it's fast, and it's convenient.  Some trailer houses give very good value.

One sunny morning I was out seeing my caseload, working the territory, and the next stop was a guy who lived in a mobile home.  My normal routine was not to climb the redwood steps, but to knock on the side of the trailer on the metal siding.  This particular morning, as I knocked on the siding, I was surprised to see a large hog stand up from under those redwood steps, snort loudly, and take three steps toward me, grunting with each step.

It was a big ol' hog, I estimate about 200 lbs on the hoof.  Not a cute little shoat, but a big ol' hog.  PawPaw decided to test his OC spray, so I took it off my belt andn gave that rooter a snoot-full.  A good one-second blast.  It wasn't covered in our training, but I figured that a hog has mucous glands just like I do.

That hog squealed, turned and stampeded under the trailer.

The parolee came to the door.  "What was all that racket?"

"A hog." I replied.  "You own a hog?"

"No," he replied.  About that time we heard running water, so he stooped and looked under the trailer.  "What the hell?!?"

It appeared that the hog, in his mad flight to escape, blinded by OC spray, had become entangled in the PVC plumbing apparatus.  Pipes dangled and water squirted, and it was a hell of a mess.  I believe that hog had dragged most of the plumbing out from under the house in his frenzied stampede.

I stood and handed the parolee a Monthly Supervision Report. "Here, sign this before you get muddy."

I felt sorry for the fellow, but there was no escaping the fact that OC spray is very effective as a hog repellent.  I reported my observations to my superiors later that day.

Cowboys

I know just the way he feels.


Stolen shamelessly from Angel.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Road Work

Being a parole officer in rural Louisiana back in the early '80s had its challenges.  Generally, the radio system sucked, so we cobbled on to the statewide network that covered the state, but even the old Motorola 39.5 Mhz system couldn't reach everywhere.  Many times we were out of radio range from anything, so we relied on our wits and our humor to keep us safe.  There were no cell phones.

I recall one parolee who live way out near The Lake.  Hilly country, he had wedged a new (used) 14 X 70 mobile home into a pine thicket and called it home.  The only problem was, once he got the trailer leveled, the main entrance door was about eight feet above ground level, while the other end of the trailer was stuck in the side of the hill.

So, doing what he had to do. He cobbled together a stairs and small porch out of whatever lumber he could find.  Custom made, to fit his trailer.  It was rickety, tall, not well engineered, but it suited him.  He could get in and out of the trailer.

This fellow had gone to the pen over a simple burglary charge, served one year of three and came out on parole.  His family were pulp-wooders.  Folks who cut short pulpwood and sold it to the local paper mills.  On a good day, a fellow with a chain saw and a strong back could make a hundred dollars.  It was a living. And, he was a big ol' boy.  About 6'4", 260 lbs, and all muscle.

We had to see our parolees in the field, which meant NOT IN THE OFFICE, and we had to make home visits.  The best time to see a pulpwood-hauler is when it's raining.  So, one morning after an all-night soaking rain, I drove out to The Lake to see this fellow.  As I drove up his gravel drive into the pine thicket and entered the clearing where he had wedged the trailer, I noticed two things immediately.  First, his truck was there, which meant he was there.  And second, his porch was missing.  Gone, Vanished.

I figured it had collapsed, and I wondered briefly how we were going to have our little chat, but I grabbed a stick and tapped lightly on the front door, pondering how he was going to get down to ground level so he could initial the supervision report.  I heard his footfalls come, thump, thump, thump down the length of the trailer, and a realization struck me, so I took a couple of steps to the side, out of the way of the front door.

The door opened, and one booted foot came out, and he took one step to the ground.  "AAAAAHHH!" Thump!  The sound when he hit the ground was like a bag of wet Portland cement being dropped.

He looked up at me in amazement.  "What the hell happened to my porch?"

I asked him if he was all right?

"Yeah, I'm okay" He looked around wide-eyed and confused. "The porch was here last night when I came in!"  He looked at me again, confused. "Are you sure you haven't seen it?"

I shrugged my shoulders.  "Nope.  It wasn't here when I drove up."  I was trying to suppress laughter.  Keeping a straight face.

He looked around again in amazement.  "Some sonofabitch has stolen my porch!  While I was asleep, some sonofabitch slipped in here and stole my porch."

I handed him a supervision report.  "Here, sign this."

He signed the report, then handed it back to me.  Looked up at his open front door.  "How the hell am I going to get back into my trailer.  The back door is locked, and the keys are up there!" He pointed at the open door.

I offered to drive him to his parent's place so he could borrow a ladder.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Iowa Caucuses

The Iowa caucus is over and the winners have been announced.   From my perspective, it's hard to get much knowledge from them, and certainly not a clear winner.  So, let's look at how it shook out.

Republican
Cruz - 27.7%
Trump - 24.3%
Rubio - 23.1%
The rest of the field split the remaining votes, with none of them garnering over 10%.
Those results are interesting because the top three fairly closely split the vote.  It should give some o the folks in the undercard enough information to suspend their campaigns, but for the top three, it may be a long slog to the convention.

Democrat
Clinton - 49.9%
Sanders - 49.6%
O'Malley - 0.6%

This is interesting.  The Democrats have just about evenly split between a lying, cheating, power-hungry, unethical criminal and an avowed socialist.  Pore ol' O'Malley simply couldn't get any traction.  I understand that he's dropping out of the race.

Next week, we look to New Hampshire, then after that the Super Tuesday elections on March 1st.  Later that week, on Saturday, five other states choose.  By that time, this race should be shaping up nicely.

But the opening round is over, and it's left us with more questions than answers.

Demotivator

Tried my hand at making a demotivator poster.


Not bad, for a first time out.  I think I might have some fun with this thing.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Lean

In the previous post, Old NFO makes a comment that he claims is a nitpick, but I'm not sure.
The only thing that would worry me is that left hand being out ahead of the muzzle... That's a nitpick, I know.
That's a good point, and I'll have to ponder that.  It's part and parcel of the game, ans we see a lot of shooters pushing that off-side hand out in front of them as a counterweight.  Our game is a game of milliseconds and tiny angles.  When you start doing the math, it's amazing that we hit the target as often as we do.  We have rules on holster angles, but nothing that tells us how to stand, so lots of folks have experimented and lean backwards a bit to increase the angle of the holster in relationship to the target.

For example, this little cartoon shows a very familiar sight.


And there's that off-side hand acting as a counter weight.

Here's another photo of two very good shooters (and very good friends) going head to head last summer at the Southern Territorials.  You'll notice the lean.


Some of the guys lean back so far that it looks like they're doing the limbo.  Everybody has to find their own style and their own comfort zone.  It's true that our hand is out in front of the muzzle, but I don't believe anyone has brought that up as a safety issue.  I do the same thing, I get that hand out front as a counterweight so that I can get just a degree or two more angle on that holster.

I'll have to ponder this some more.

It Begins

Our great experiment in self-government kicks off again tonight, like it does every four years, with Iowa starting to thin the herd.

PawPaw is probably going to sleep through it.  Nothing I can do will change the outcome, and because Iowa is a caucus state, the weather will probably play a bigger role than the individual candidates.

I'm sure that there will be plenty of prognostication in the morning, which is also Groundhog Day.  I'm sure there is some irony there that I'm missing, but I think it's funny.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Practice

Practice Day at Thorn Valley.

Zachary was hot today, running in the 6s.  His best series was a 0.646, 0.616, 0.600, and a final 0.575.  He was hot as a two-dollar pistol.

Son-in-law took some slow-mo video of him on the line.  Good form, good speed, and if he cankeep this up, he'll be a contender at Texas State in April.

Short, slow-motion video.  He's the kid nearest the camera.



That's how you run a single-action revolver.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Most Dangerous Cities

Compliments to Mostly Cajun, who takes us to this list of the most dangerous cities in the world.  I'm not sure how they prepared the list, but I see some usual suspects.  I don't see Raqqa, Syria on the list, so the list is immediately compromised,, but it's interesting to look at these things.

Of US cities, topping the list is St. Louis, MO at #15.  I also see our beloved New Orleans, LA at #32.  I don't see Chicago, IL on the list, but we do have Baltimore, MD at #19.  I don't see Chicago, IL at all, which makes me curious.

Of course, New Orleans is a Democrat run hell-hole, only concerned with taking down Confederate monuments.  You'd think that the City Council would have something better to worry about than all those old, dead, white guys.  Like for example, all those newly-dead people littering the streets.    Of course, as Mostly Cajun says,
Yep, our very own New Orleans, a city that gives America a chance to visit a Third-World hellhole without leaving the USA, 
I guess if the tourists want to visit a third-world hellhole, it's okay.   But, New Orleans ain't Louisiana.