Police Dog

I am not particularly impressed by police officers.  They do a tough job, and I respect them for that, but I’ve been exposed to cops all my life.  I’ve seen the good, and the bad.  “To Serve and Protect” doesn’t thrill me any more than “To Serve God.”  There’s always at least one who’s anxious to get into the sacramental wine, or forbidden fruit-of-the-loom underwear.

For years, in my youth, my home town only had one policeman.  After they ceded the little park/lake to my boys club, that expanded to a chief, and two constables.  Tough enough in the winter, but busy in the summer with tourists.  For a couple of summers, my brother volunteered for Friday and Saturday-night ride-alongs.

Once upon a time, you could throw a drunk in jail and set him free in the morning when he sobered up.  Then it became necessary to have someone to check on him.  After he retired, my Dad took that job.  He’d get a call, pack a book, a sandwich and a thermos of coffee, and be gone all night.

My brother-in-law wanted to become something political.  In his mid-twenties he took some training and became a justice of the peace, because that gave him exposure and contacts.  Our town already had two JPs, both real estate agents in their fifties, who didn’t want to be awakened at 2 AM, to sign a warrant for some drunk.  The town five miles away had one JP, just as sleepy and grumpy.

Sister and B.I.L. liked to go out and party with the movers and shakers.  From 12 to 16 I was drafted to babysit their five kids, Friday and/or Saturday nights.  They often partied till after sun-up, but it wasn’t unusual for them to return earlier than that, accompanied by police – our town cop, the one from down the road, an Ontario Provincial Policeman who patrolled local highways, the R.C.M.P. officer who was responsible for the attached Indian reservation, and later, Indian police.  I’ve been in rooms with up to five on-duty officers, drinking coffee, beer or whiskey, waiting for paperwork to be signed.

In a small town, at the ass-end of nowhere, most officers were older, and sedate.  The young Mountie, however, was sharp, and aggressive.  I was walking home from high school one June day, when I heard a hot-rod.  Car-crazy, I knew that sound.  It turned off the highway, and proceeded up the street I was walking on.  At a time when a policeman could just pull you over and give you a ticket for excess noise, this thing howled!

In 1962, this was a ’52 Ford convertible, loaded with paint, chrome and muscle.  Bbrraapp, half a block and 30 MPH in first gear.  It zipped past me, and I recognized my unfavorite Mountie driving.  Bbrraapp, past the elementary school, five minutes before closing bell, at 50 MPH in second gear, in a 30 zone.  Bbrraapp, into third gear and still accelerating as he went up the hill towards the B.I.L.’s house.

Sure enough, when I got there ten minutes later, he was waiting to show off the new toy he’d bought.  I mentioned the amount of noise he produced, and told him that I’d seen him doing 50 in second gear, in a school zone.  Instantly, he went all lawyer on me.  How did I know it was 50 in second??  It could have been 30 in first!  Because I already saw and heard you do 30 in first.  I’m just pointing out that someone other than me might have seen the same thing, and lodge a complaint, especially in a school zone.

A month later, just as school vacation was starting, he showed up one night for a warrant.  While others did things in the kitchen, he joined me in the living room.  Out of the blue, and purely coincidentally, he wondered if my friends and I might like to party.  If I just told him what we liked, he could get it for us, beer, wine, liquor, grass, pills, just name it.

I asked him how he would “just get it.”  Oh, he’d just impound it from some guy he caught, and “forget” to log the evidence.  The guy would be released.  What’s he gonna do, complain??  At 17, I didn’t party like that, and not with a group.  If I had accepted his offer, he’d have had something to hold over me.  My previous comment about noise, speeding and dangerous driving was never mentioned.  I think he was disappointed when I graciously declined.

I wasn’t out to get him, or any advantage, and never mentioned the occurrence to anyone but him.  About seven years later, I was reading an article in the Readers’ Digest, about the R.C.M.P. cleaning up the Mob and the drug traffic in Montreal.  Guess whose name was given as the head of the Montreal narcotics squad.  They shoulda heard him comin’ in that noisy hot-rod.

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Community Writing

I may have invented another new English term.  As opposed to “Committee Writing”, where two or more authors collaborate on a book, or books, Community Writing is when a group of authors each produce a book or books in a large series, by themselves.

About 1974, I read a science-fiction book titled The Guns of Terra 10, by an author named Don Pendleton.  Heavy on both sidearm and particle-beam weapons, and light on character development, it wasn’t the worst book I’d ever read, but, having been spoiled by the likes of Asimov and Heinlein, it was well down the list.

Several years later, I was attending a Christmas get-together at my sister’s.  The gals were cooking, setting tables and general women stuff.  The guys were downstairs in the rec-room, watching an exciting (Yawn!) hockey game.  I stayed in the living-room, hoping to score a snack before the real eating began.

I spotted a book that one of my nephews was reading and tried a couple of chapters.  It was by Don Pendleton and was number 15 in a series about an ex-army Special Forces who was waging war against the Mafia, who had destroyed his family.

Liberally stocked with things that go boom, but with much better character portrayal, it wasn’t long before I was haunting second-hand book stores to acquire the series from the beginning.  It took a while for word of mouth to let the series take off.  Pendleton wrote about 56 of these books before he, or his publisher, decided to farm them out.  They were being released on a monthly basis to keep up to the now-popular demand.

A group of 8 or 9 production writers was engaged to write individual books.  All Pendleton had to do was create story arc, co-ordinate timing and establish limits.  At about book number 85, some genius saw the limitations of a protracted fight against the Mafia, and “killed” the hero off, to have him reborn as Colonel John Phoenix, scourge of terrorists everywhere.

As well as the 250/300 page, numbered books, there were dozens of 450/500 page Superbooks.  I quit buying after number 216, and 30 or 40 of the Superbooks.  Finally dying off, the numbers approach 400.  To support the hero, Pendleton invented a three-man domestic team, and a five-man foreign-soil team, headed by a fox-faced Canadian, eh.

They were so popular that two other authors were handed the task of writing a series about each.  One guy got to 36 books, and the other to 52, before interest or writing ability died.

Besides ennui, one of the reasons I gave up that series was the discovery of another.  Jack Adrian dreamed up a series about a four-man, two woman, survival group in post-apocalypse America.  He wrote the first couple and then let his hired guns write about these hired guns.  The author name used is James Axler, but none of the 8/9 pet writers is named that.

The writing in the Pendleton series is so smooth and even, that all the books might have been written by the same person.  Not so with the Axler series!  It’s hit and miss.  Some are great.  The Mars Arena contained every literary reference imaginable.  Both Tom Sawyer and Mark Twain showed up, smooooth!  Hell Road Warriors, on the other hand, contained historical and geographical errors, as well as questionable technology.  Also, every chapter, sometimes almost every page, contained English usage errors.

This series is essentially about the man on the outside.  Adrian then dreamed up another series, set another hundred years in the future, basically about the man on the inside, who wants to get out.  Another group of 8/9 writers was hired to pump these babies out each month.  There is a bit of cross-pollination.  Occasionally one of the A-series writers produces a B-series book, and vice-versa.  At last count, there were 112 of series A published, and exactly half of that, 56, of series B.

Having followed the older series for ten years, and the newer one for five, through a total of almost 160 books, I’ve finally decided to stop buying them.  They’ve both become soap-opera-ish, especially the newer series; multi-dimensional sauroid space aliens called Annunaki, from Earth’s unseen twin planet Nibiru, controlling Man’s development for the past 30,000 years with the help of an evil dwarf named Sindri.  Every old superstitious story is woven in to sell more books.  Fun’s fun, but I’ve had enough.

I’m eight books behind and no chance of catching up.  I have 10 Clive Cussler books, and about twenty others to read, including the two “Locator” novels, and Pouringmyartout’s e-book, Saloon at the Edge of Everywhere stranded on Kobo.  My son has introduced me to some nice new books, including the 1632 series(?).

This started as a stand-alone book, positing a small Virginia town, suddenly stranded in 1632 Germany.  Having established the parameters, the author, Eric Flint, has invited other writers like David Weber, Virginia DeMarce (the irony), and Marilyn Kosmatka to take a bite out of his little universe and write connected stories from their literary viewpoint.  The print copies since 2000 number 26.

There is a strong online presence to these books, with a website and very active discussion page where fan-boys, and –girls, submit detailed short stories about mentioned characters and occurrences, to flesh out the narrative.  Flint reads them all, chooses the best, edits and accumulates them, and publishes them in print as The Grantville Gazette, I thru XII.

This is a different type of Community Writing from the above, and the wealth of detail makes the stories, and the people in them, as real as your neighbors, and a treasure trove of historical social study, from war, politics and religion, to love and marriage.

DisAnDat

Spring is sprung.

The grass is riz.

I wonders where the birdies is?

The birds is on the wing, I’ve heard.

Hmm, I thought the wings was on the bird.

It’s official weather fans, at least in this part of Southern Ontario, the back of winter is officially broken.  Oh, we may still get a cold snap, or even another good snowfall, but we’ve had almost a week of above-freezing temps, and clear sunny days.  My driveway is finally devoid of any snow or ice.  There’s a foot and a half of grass at the edge of the driveway, and the path I pounded down in the backyard for the dog, is turning green.  I have heard, though not actually seen, robins, for the last two weeks.  Houselights which used to be turned on by 4:30, are now not needed till after six.

This is the type of spring where I used to have my motorcycle on the road by March 15, instead of April 1.  The son and I went to a Chapters bookstore on Sunday, and there were several bikes out, enjoying the first decent riding day.

On Saturday, March 2, we took a slightly different route to the farmers’ market.  Just after our most recent snowstorm, we passed a house where, instead of building the usual snowman, someone had carved 6 or 7 Easter Island Moas out of snow.  Easter IslandWe weren’t the only ones impressed.  Monday morning a picture was on the front page of the local paper.  The wife downloaded it for me, and I’ve included it to show local artistic talent.

“Lost” shopping carts, taken off the property by various people, for various reasons, are a problem for supermarkets.  There’s a man near the daughter’s place, who made part of his earnings by driving around in his pick-up, and returning carts to stores.  Several local markets have installed a buried magnetic strip around the property.  If a cart crosses the mag-strip, it causes one of the wheels to lock.  The number of abandoned carts has decreased significantly.

My favorite market decided to go a different way.  They got rid of their old carts, and brought in a new batch which require the insertion of a quarter to release a chain, which not everybody likes, or has a ready quarter for.  This not only reduces the number removed from the property, but tends to insure that they’re not abandoned in parking spaces….or so the theory says.

In practice, lazy, inconsiderate fools will continue to be lazy, inconsiderate fools, even when it costs them 25 cents.  I was in the store last week, and two asshats had abandoned carts which were blocking the exit doors.  I’ll put them away for 50 cents.  The next day, I went back for something else, and removed two from parking spots, including a handicap spot.  I’m still doing what I used to do and bitch about, only now I get paid for it.  C’monnn  asshats!  Retirement is expensive.

I was in a different market last week, and saw the backs of several boxes of different spices.  The identification on the boxes simply read, Mt. Scio Farm, Mt. Scio Road, and gave a 7-digit phone number, no town, city, province or state, and no area code.  Always curious, I plugged it into an internet search-engine.  Man, you can find anything on the webz, if you know how to ask.  Turns out this farm is about a mile from KayJai’s place in Newfoundland.  Anything’s possible, but gourmet spices and The Rock, just don’t seem likely to happen in the same sentence.

The Pope has resigned, and the Catholic Church is in the midst of choosing another Pope.  Anyone who wants some God/Pope jokes, ask, and I’ll email them to you privately.  All I’m going to say is:  There is a Bishop in England, who has been accused of homosexually assaulting three priests and an ex-priest.  (You can be an ex-priest??  I thought it was like the Mafia, or the Hells Angels, you were in it till you were dead.)

The man who is most responsible for hushing up the story, and allowing this man time to quietly resign from the Church, is Cardinal Marc Ouellette, the Canadian with a good chance of becoming the next Pope.  It’s depressing to see that it’s still business as usual for the Holy, infallible Church.

Several years ago, while visiting Niagara Falls, I picked up what appeared to be a folded American one-dollar bill.  When I unfolded it, I saw a message which read, “Disappointed?  Not as disappointed as you’ll be, when you find that you’re going to Hell, because you haven’t accepted Jesus as your savior.”

Recently, I picked up a “Smart Card”, a business-card sized document.  Good thick card-stock, rounded corners, gloss finish on both sides and an inch-square fractal-metallic “hologram” area on the front.  This is an expensively produced artifact.  The card instructed the finder to press his/her thumb on the square “for exactly 15 seconds” to see if you were a “good person”.  If you are, the square will turn bright green.

The back of the card, which is covered in fine print, says, “Sorry….you’re just like the rest of us.  The dictionary says “good” is to be “morally excellent.”  Let’s check the standard – The Ten Commandments.”  It then rambles on for about 500 words about, accept Jesus, obey God, don’t lie, don’t lust, forgive sins and read the Bible, but assumes that the only way to be “good”, was through the Ten Commandments.

I am singularly unimpressed with any organization, or those who claim to represent the agency, who feel that this degree of trickery is needed to advance their moral position.