Thursday, December 20, 2007

Another Christmas Rant

As if it's not bad enough that whole radio stations are devoted to Christmas music, I noticed today that my favorite channel on XM radio has "ramped up" for the Holiday. They have switched roughly 60% of the program to Christmas Classic Rock!

Unfortunately for us, the catalog of holiday oriented Classic Rock is very limited.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tempus Fugit

This past year has gone so fast. It is hard to imagine that we are almost to 2008! All I know it I am totally un-prepared for the new year and I can finally say that I truly understand the concept of Tempus Fugit.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What do you know about Sarcasm?

So I've been a bad boy for the past three weeks. Somehow, I failed to post and every day I feel more and more guilty.

So I had this thought two weeks ago but I wasn't ready to write it yet. Well now I am and I hope you enjoy....

My mother is fond of saying that the word Sarcasm comes from a Greek word that means 'to tear flesh'. So of course this has become a favorite joke for my wife and I, since we are never sarcastic people.

Now I've already professed my love for my wife (see my post about the Zorse) so I suppose it's time to publicly acknowledge that I also love my mother. But I have to say, I always thought she was a little off her rocker with the whole tearing of the flesh thing.

So here is my public apology...not. But in case you're interested read about sarcasm here. Be sure to check out the notes at the bottom of the page!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Follow Up the Tip

I was just going to respond to Guy's comment but I think it warrants a separate post...

I wasn't specifically accusing the Clinton campaign of lying. Rather I feel that Hillary has a knack for taking advantage of a person, for political gain in a disingenuous way. See, I feel that if someone would like to lead this country and make daily decisions that affect us all, then they should exhibit personal integrity. And I would argue that neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton demonstrate personal integrity when they campaign using a strategy of the ends justify the means.

I also happen to think that as part of the political process it is incumbent on us all, to hold up our public officials to close scrutiny and reveal mediocrity when it exists.

Now it may be true, that most, if not all politicians fail to exhibit high standards of conduct. But that doesn't mean that we should elect a candidate who refuses to debate issues in a primary election because she feels that it weakens her party's position against the Republican opposition. Nor should we revere a candidate that has such little regard for the very people that she wishes to govern.

As noted by Obama's campaign "Senator Clinton has clearly decided based on political calculation that her campaign strategy is to tell the American people as little as possible, avoid the difficult issues and try to blur as many differences as possible."

Is that what we want, a win-at-all-costs candidate who will then try to restore our national reputation?

And so now, back to Anita Esterday, the waitress in the original story. Hillary's campaign has made a big show of setting the record straight. Apparently they did leave a $100 tip for sure, on the credit card, and if it wasn't on the card then it was paid in cash. Just ask the manager, who wasn't there. The campaign staffers who haven't been identified and who won't come forward will vouch for it.

And if you don't believe that, then for sure you might want to know that according to the Associated Press, almost the exact same incident occurred during Hillary's 2000 Senate campaign.

So I'll just cut to the chase, Don't Elect Hillary Clinton! She doesn't deserve to be President, even if the image of Bill as First Lady is humorous for a minute.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Campaign Stop

I heard a story on NPR this morning about a campaign stop on Hillary Clinton's tour of Iowa where a waitress complained that "Nobody got left a tip". I noticed that as I was writing this, a note had been added on the NPR site that the campaign not only paid, but also left a $100 tip.

Now, I have no idea what really happened, but it seems to me that just because Hillary has lunch somewhere and meets a mother (the aforementioned waitress) that has to work two jobs to make ends meet, that doesn't give her the right to insert that individual into her campaign speeches and take advantage of the story.

And I can't understand how the subject who obviously had contact with Hillary to relay her story, could have failed to know about the tip. Further, I would think that Hillary would go out of her way to make sure that the person who's story she hijacked for political gain would at least have something positive to say about the meeting, other than, she's glad that she got her 15 minutes of fame.

Now call me crazy, but this smacks of the classic scene from Primary Colors where the character of Jack Stanton, rumored to be symbolic of Bill Clinton and played by John Travolta, leaves a campaign meeting where he told a tearful story about an illiterate uncle, only to reveal that he has no uncle.

The message that I got from the movie was that the political character of Jack Stanton was willing to lie in order to further his political agenda and that the ends justified the means. Likewise the character of Susan Stanton, ostensibly Hillary Clinton, was as politically ruthless as her husband. Forgiving even her husband's extra-marital affairs for the cause...

So if you believe that the roman à clef story was a realistic portrayal of the Clinton's' political strategy then it appears to me that it's politics as usual on the Clinton campaign trail. Only this time someone went back and dug a little deeper. Now the Clinton spin machine is hard at work to counter the bad publicity and I have to wonder, will we experience the same type of ends that we did the last time a "Stanton" plied their political means?

I'm also wondering how long before Hillary starts claiming that NPR is part of right-wing media conspiracy to discredit her.

Everyone Needs A Zorse!

Well maybe not a Zorse. Although, they are kind of cool looking.

But seriously, everyone needs pets. Believe me, we have dogs (4), cats (3), Cockatoos (3), other birds (?), rats (?) and hamsters (2). At least those are the ones I know about. And as much as I hate to admit it, I love them all and I wouldn't get rid of them.

I can't believe I'm actually writing this cause I'm sure my wife Melodie, will read it and I don't want to imply that it's OK to bring any more animals home. But I have to say she's great about taking care of them and as much as I joke about it, I am sort of offended if someone asks me why I go along with having so many pets.

First, let me just say "Happy Wife, Happy Life!" I know that Mel loves all her animals and the kids totally dig them too.

Second, I heard that kids that live in houses with pets, have stronger immune systems and are less likely to develop asthma. The good news there is that none of my kids should ever get seriously ill and I don't think inhalers will ever be an issue!

Third, it may not seem like it all the time, but I love my wife... and did I say "Happy Wife, Happy Life?" After all, she's the crazy bird/dog/cat lady, not me.

Now my lifestyle may not be for everyone, but there is something special about the unconditional love of a dog that will lick your face even after you just scolded them for something they did wrong. I'd just prefer if they didn't do it after eating from the cat box!

So if you've never had the pleasure of being a pet owner, please call me. I'll get Mel to hook you up. She even knows where you can get a Zorse, if you want one. But don't think I'll be giving up any of ours.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Quick Prison Follow-up

I don't intend to make this blog solely about my experiences working as a Corrections Officer, however, my dad did request that I comment about the average intelligence of inmates.

My personal experience was that inmates were difficult to categorize on a group level and that as is the case with almost all other prison metrics, the inmate population tends to be a slightly skewed mirror image of society.

Overall, I would say that the majority of inmates lack formal education beyond the high school level. According to a report I found from the National Institute for Correctional Education, during Fiscal Year 2001 25,648 inmates were identified as needing some sort of correctional education program. The inmate population for 2001 was not listed, however, the 2005 figure of 32,753 inmates was provided. Based on the recent rate of incarceration and summary reports I have seen, I would estimate that the 2001 inmate population was between 27,000 and 30,000 inmates. So roughly between 85 to 95 percent of inmates required educational programs in 2001 and at least 7,918 (roughly 31%) of those failed to meet 8th grade equivalency.

I would say that is pretty good evidence that, at least in the case of Arizona, a significant portion of the inmate population is not as well educated as the public. However, I personally knew many inmates who were extremely bright and I suspect there are a great number of very intelligent prisoners in the system. So how did they get there? I would be willing to argue that intelligence is not what keeps people out of prison, rather, opportunity does.

Unfortunately for Arizona the rapidly growing prison population is putting such a strain on the State's budget that we are 49th out of 50 in per pupil education spending. Which means that opportunities for the next generation are being squandered to pay for prisons today. That being said I think the situation is bound to get worse before it gets better and "we" smart people on the outside better figure out a way to fix it soon.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Shame on Wal-Mart

So I take my son to Wal-Mart to buy a bicycle for his third birthday and what do I hear? Christmas Music on November 2nd???

I thought there was a law that said that Christmas season doesn't begin until after Thanksgiving? If there isn't, there should be.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Who wants to go to prison?

So I have been out of prison for just over two years. Oh, didn't you know that I was a Correctional Officer for the State of Arizona? Well I was, and now I'm not. But I worked for almost five years at Lewis Prison Complex, one of the ten prisons in Arizona.

I almost exclusively worked graveyard shift, from 20:30 (that's 8:30 P.M.) to 06:30 and for most of the time I worked Thursday night through Sunday night. Which means that I had the great fortune to spend four Thanksgiving dinners behind bars and I either worked Christmas eve or Christmas day four times.

Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was that I was thinking of writing a book about my experiences, so I figured some writing practice wouldn't hurt. Of course, most of my memories are starting to fade so I'll probably write a fiction book set in a prison instead. Besides, you'd be bored by the real prison stories.

There were a few homicides on my yard and I've seen enough assaults and performed more searches than I care to remember, but other than that, not much really happens in prison. Believe me, even those shows you watch on the Discovery channel are highly distilled accounts of what it's like. And by the way, if an inmate is being interviewed, he's probably lying.

That's one of the funniest things about inmates, they lie. I don't mean they tell little fibs, I mean they flat out fabricate the truth!

Here's an example; I supervised night-time work crews of inmates who clean the various buildings on the yard. So I have this inmate on the crew, I'll call him J, and one night he starts telling me all about his crime. Now I distinctly remember telling him I really didn't care what he did or how he ended up in prison, but he's going to tell me anyway. So he's telling this long complicated story about how he was an undercover informant working for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and that he uncovered major corruption like Serpico did in New York and as a result, he was framed and sent to prison.

So he finishes this story and I go straight to the yard office and look up his sentencing information on the ADC Inmate Datasearch. Turns out he was really arrested for driving with a suspended license, possession of 4 ounces of Marijuana and violation of his probation from an earlier domestic violence conviction. No mention of a glorious law enforcement history, just a pedigree that didn't quite qualify him as a dangerous felon. Still, you wouldn't want to run into him on the street.

The next day I ask him to clarify his story a little and he tells me that he was with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Of course, once I told him I knew the truth, he got real quiet for a minute. Then our exchange went something like this:

Him: "Asshole, I knew you'd look me up, you cops are all the same, you never trust anyone."

Me: "Yeah J, cause you're so trustworthy."

Him: "Whatever, I was just trying to make conversation."

Me: "No problem, but why'd you lie?"

Him: "I got nothing better to do. Besides, you were gonna check anyway..."

So he finishes his work and I escort him back to his dorm, but before he goes to his bed, he begs me not to tell anyone about how he lied to me. As I walk away, I ask him "why do you care?" and he responds, "I have a reputation to protect." I leave him saying "Good luck with that", amazed that he'd lie to the other inmates.

See, he lied to me to promote himself and gain respect. Only it never mattered, because he knew I didn't respect him to begin with. But lying to other inmates? They might find out, and if they do, they'll kill him.

So don't believe what inmates say, and don't trust all the stories about prison that you hear. Most of them aren't true.

Nothing ever happened to J. that I know of, except the night before he was supposed to be released, I caught caught him kissing this she-male in the blue dining hall instead of cleaning the windows. That got him a few nights in detention and delayed his release. Had the any other inmates found out about that, I might have had a better story to tell.

Now the picture of the inmate above is not J. It's Steven J. Coy #047122, he and his buddy Ricky Wassenaar #065155 held two fellow Corrections Officers hostage for 15 days starting on Sunday, January 18, 2004. That particular morning marked my "Friday" for that week and in a way became the "Friday" of my law enforcement career. But that's another story....

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Old Truck

It's probably a good idea to explain the picture at right. That used to be my truck. It was a light-taupe 1997 Ford F-150 Super cab/Long bed with a medium-mocha interior. It was also the first (and thus far only) new car I have ever owned. I actually leased it in 1996 for two and a half years before I bought and then drove it until 2005.

The picture was taken in 2000 after a micro burst in Scottsdale caused a palm tree to fall over and crush the bed. Luckily for me, the damage was not that bad and the frame was totally intact. The bed was replaced and after draining my wallet the $1000 deductible I was back on the road. I have to say that I knock Ford quite a bit because while their motto is (or at least was) "Quality is Job One", I often feel like their motto ought to be "Why would anyone buy our piece of crap cars that everyone makes fun of and we issue lots of recalls for."

Well for the record, there were at least 20 recalls that I was notified about on that truck and I only had two of them fixed. But I drove it over 250,000 miles and for the last 80,000 or so I never changed the oil. It suffered several tire blow outs and the aforementioned falling palm tree plus over a hundred trips to the slums of Tijuana Mexico. It started life like the velveteen rabbit, with lavish attention every week including all-day detail sessions and ended with lots of dents and scrapes and a set of bald tires. But even when I had a wheel fall off while driving to work (remember to check your wheel studs often) I never had great cause to curse that truck. She got me through allot of rough times and I had allot of fun with her. And today I am proud to say that I own one of her cousins, a silver Ford Exploder. I only hope that this one takes me as far and I have much fun as my last Ford.

And about that palm tree....he may have gotten my truck....but I got his brother. Thank the maker for chainsaws!

Why am I doing this?

Well I figure it's time for me to make my mark on the Internet. All those other fly-by-night dot-comers have generated the hype, so Tombo has arrived and now I am ready to take over where Google, Yahoo and Facebook have left off. So look out Microsoft and Matt Drudge; I'm ready for my fifteen minutes.....

Well actually, I feel like I'm incredibly behind. I mean, I am a programmer and I should have some sort of web presence. I just never really thought I'd be a very good writer and I know about as much about web pages and html as I do about Sanskrit. So why am I starting a blog?

I'm not really sure. I kinda want to test the waters. Like one of those almost-famous local crazy guys that seeks the Republican nomination for President even though he doesn't own a car and he's been a Communist for the last 20 years. I want to see if anyone will read any of the crazy stuff that I think about. Actually I want to see if I can even think up crazy stuff any more.

Everyone always laughs at my stories so I know I can BE funny. Now is my chance to see if I can be spontaneously funny without trying too hard. After all, I had a couple of friends tell me that I should do something funny on the Internet. So sit back, relax and enjoy my rants.