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In Memoriam

Molly birthday1Our daughter Molly, at her 12th Birthday Party

Twenty six days before the accident

I’m so much better a man for having known her.

I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!

Twenty Years Ago, Today

(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)

There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.

The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.

My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.

A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc.  The reasons don’t matter.

Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.

I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad.  The Protector.  The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.

I carry a sidearm.  I’ve done so for 41 years.  Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends.  It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.

And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father.  It’s what father’s are supposed to do!

We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road.  A little after 1 PM.  Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback.  Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping!  The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then.  It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong.  Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.

And many lives changed forever.

I’ve no memory regarding what happened next.  Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later.  I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.

I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!)  Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship.  Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs.  Ribs pushed into a lung.  Broken collar bone.  Broken arm.   Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.

My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could.  Not wanting to answer the obvious question:  Where was Molly?

In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.

My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support.  Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery.  I am forever grateful to her for this.  A number of folks benefited from her decision.

The funeral was that following Tuesday.  I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.

Thank God.

Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.

I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.

Until I could pay my respects.

That came weeks later.

I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath  –  Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!

Because you may never get another chance.

AND be an organ donor.

I try to remember the good times.  The IMPORTANT ONES.  It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.

My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.

(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel.  Thanks, again.)

Death Of The Cinema

dvdI remember as a child, the whole fam damly (as it was sometimes described) being shuffled into the station wagon, and off to the movies!  Usually, a drive in theater.  They were ubiquitous, and readily available in the Arizona weather.  Much of the time, they were an extension of the TV-as-babysitter, translation:  put the boy in from of a moving picture and he’ll go out like a light!

Then later in my youth, being dropped off at a Saturday afternoon matinee, with a friend or two, and funds for goodies – what a way to get them out of the house and from under foot.  The only rule was call when the movie let out (translation:  make certain you had a dime left from that fiver!)

Being a self-described child of TV, when gadget-addict friend Bob P. (one of the many Bobs) announced he had a videotape player/recorder, I knew something was beginning to change.  This Magnavox machine took VHS tapes, but no standard had yet to be decided upon, and tapes made upon it wouldn’t play on later standardized VHS machines!  It also had vacuum tubes as part of it’s construction, weighed a ton, and cost about $1000 (in 1975 dollars)!

Thus began the slow decline as technology continued to develop, and people began renting Beta and VHS tapes, (remember Laserdiscs?) then DIVX, then DVD, and now can see many movies/TV shows via the Internet and BlueRay.

And the audience figured out that while the kids used to hang out in the back of the Vista Cruiser in their jammies, and the adults dressed up to go to the theater, it was just more convenient for all to stay in the living room in their jammies.  (Or boxer shorts, in the case of my Dad.)

And cheaper.

And you didn’t have to trudge across a gravel-laden parking lot in the dark to a grimy snack bar restroom, either.

And while the drive ins have mostly faded away, now the indoor theaters are as well.  Few want to pay $15+ each for a seat, plus another $20 for drinks and snacks, when they can watch Netflix or Amazon at home in their skivvies.

Another childhood dream of a secret agent meeting place in an nearly empty theater is going away.

And teenaged fantasies of making out (or more) in Dad’s station wagon now have to be redirected.

Declining Theater Attendance @ a 20 Year Low

h/t Flavorwire

(FTC – Magnavox, Amazon and Netflix have given me nothing!)

Selma

selmaNo, not this SELMA!

ProudHillbilly won the Internets with this!

So what’s the difference between these two photos, outside of the obvious that they were taken 50 years apart?

 

 It’s what’s missing.  Compare the number of American flags in photos from the two events.
AMEN PH, AMEN!!

A Humble Remembrance

A loyal and (sometimes) vocal follower of this tiny blog pointed me in a direction I’d somehow overlooked, in local history:

35 years later, we should remember fallen firefighter

Ed Gaiki

Ed Gaiki

Ed Gaiki.

I’d not heard or thought of his name in many years.  Thirty-five years ago, I was still living in this town, before I got married and a year later bought a house with the wife and moved to ‘the big city’.

(excerpted from the above link)

Ed was the only firefighter to die in the line of duty in this town’s firefighting service in it’s history.

…As they arrived, smoke was rising from the roof of the Jumbo Bagel Deli, at the end of the strip center.

Within five minutes of the call, Gaicki and eight other firefighters would go into building to search for people and the source of the smoke. Within 15 minutes, the roof collapsed, flaming wood pancaking down onto the nine firefighters.

Deputy Chief Gary Ells, the only remaining active firefighter who was there that night, was one of those trapped. Four of the men got out quickly. News reports at the time describe how four others, including then-Capt. Ells, had to crawl through the building, beneath the remnants of the flaming roof, eventually having to share an air tank before they were rescued.

One man didn’t make it out alive.  (January 15, 1980)

He was 27 years old.

A memorial service on the anniversary of his death will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Gaicki Park, 5616 South McClintock Drive. (January 15, 2015)

“… I think it’s also important to keep the story alive as a reminder to the rest of us, of the men and women who serve us every day and sometimes pay dearly for it.”  – Deputy Chief Gary Els

Since that time, much personal history has passed.  We had a daughter, got divorced, lost the house, and our daughter passed away.  And I never got to go into ‘public service’, as I had wanted.  I probably didn’t remember, as I’d been just married two weeks before (January 1).

Regardless, we should always remember those who gave their all, whether in the armed services, police or the fire departments.  We owe them that measure, minimally.

Thanks, Ed.

h/t The Arizona Republic, KM

Lock-Picking For Fun And Profit!

lock picks

similar to mine, without the leather case!

(Disclaimer:   I-in no way-endorse illegal activities of any kind.  If you are reading this in a correctional facility (and are not staff) you should probably disconnect before the guards are alerted to your activities!  They generally have no sense of humor! – Guffaw)

From The Art of Manliness…

An Introduction to Lock Picking: How to Pick Pin Tumbler Locks (link)

Why You Should Learn How to Pick Locks (Even If You’re Not a Criminal)

Some of you might be thinking, “Brett, why should I learn how to pick a lock if I don’t plan on breaking into people’s homes?”

Great question.

There are a few good reasons why law-abiding citizens should learn how to pick a lock:

Lock picking opens your eyes to the “illusion of security.”

It makes you handy.

It’s cool and fun!

When I was a private investigator/security supervisor for P**M**, my boss and I decided it would be appropriate (cool) for each of us to obtain a set of commercial lock picks.  Pretty much for the reasons listed above.  We went to a commercial lock supply store, presented our P.I. credentials and each bought a set.  Then, we returned to the office and spent the rest of the afternoon locking and unlocking the exterior door of the office.

YES, we were both ‘adults’ at the time.

Of course, just like the PIs of yore, we had guns, binoculars and tape recorders, and thought this would be another (cool) tool for our arsenal.

IN THE REAL WORLD, I only used them once.  At my own home.  Because burglary IS a felony!

I still have them, tucked away somewhere.

But, in my mind, I have the voice of Thomas Magnum, “Work the lock, don’t look behind you!  Work the lock, don’t look behind you!”

They really do open one’s eyes to the “illusion of security”, though.  Not all burglars are opportunistic, door-shaking street kids – some actually have skills!  If you have something worth protecting, make certain you’ve enough good obstacles ( e.g. quality locks) to make the criminal go somewhere else!

Veterans Day

honor_redditMost holidays for me traditionally meant either two things:  I had to work or I had the day off.  Of course, Christmas was big when I was a kid, but other adult holidays had no meaning.  Veteran’s Day used to be one of those.
The Vietnam War brought the sacrifices of veterans to my attention, largely because I wanted to be in the military but was denied membership due to my physical disability.  Friends left, some didn’t return.
And I always tried to make it a practice at TMCCC to stop by the desks of veterans with whom I worked and thank them for their service.
Lonnie, Glenn, Glenn, Mark, John, Stan, Jim, Jodie, Ardith, John, Gloria and Clive (who had served in the U.K. Armed Services – with a name like Clive, how could he not have?  We miss you.)

To all my military friends on Facebook and WordPress, Thank You for your Service.

The Trouble With Tribbles

(As the election is FINALLY over, and it’s been a while since we shared a Guffaw!)

As told in LOLtrek GIF style!

Tribbles-Gif_zpsmq6l3lx1

Click to play whole episode, if it doesn’t work right!

When it comes to television entertainment, many times I’ve been behind the 8-ball!  For example, I liked science fiction as a child (must have read Bradbury’s Marooned on Mars 20 times in the 4th Grade, and watched Forbidden Planet and The Outer Limits whenever they were on).

But most 60’s TV, sci-fi wise was lacking.  Lost in Space?  Puleez!

I kept hearing about this show Star Trek from my geek friends.  “Gotta watch it!”  So one night when my parents were out for the evening, I turned it on.  The episode, unfortunately, was ‘The Trouble with Tribbles’.

I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever seen – right up there with the Adam West Batman show.  Of course, I didn’t understand ‘camp’.

Fast forward a few years and Star Trek went into syndication.  And I started picking it up by default.  Except for Tribbles, I never watched it in prime time.  Later, I learned to appreciate it.  Great stuff!

It was as if I determined I didn’t like all grapes because the one I picked was sour!

Of course, since that time, I became a minor trekker (not trekkie) and have seen most of the later TV permutations and movies.

(I even dated a beautiful sci-fi nerd who had Star Trek porn – but, that’s another post! :-) )

My career as an (unsuccessful) television critic continued when it was announced M.A.S.H. would become a TV show.  I’d seen the film, and read the book, and decreed there was no way they could do those things on television!  Of course, they softened and rebranded it, and it lasted (I think) eleven years!

This from the kid who was profoundly annoyed when they replaced The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In!

The times (and me, apparently) were a’changin’!

Halloween 2014

halloween frazetta

by Frank Frazetta

Halloween was probably my favorite holiday – as a child.  When else can I go out at night, largely unescorted after I reached school-age, and extort goodies from as many neighbors as I could, all whilst my identity was hidden!

Living in a city-locked white-bread college town, possible dangers were negligible, and we could get popcorn balls and caramel apples along with the usual  candy bars and such.  I even remember returning home on one occasion to get a second bag!

Then, I became a teen, and my interests lie in other than candy…

Fast-forward to fatherhood, and escorting my tiny daughter in her princess costume to a few neighbors.  This evolved to letting her go out by herself, in costumes she herself had sewn and designed (Jean Grey from the XMen, for example).  Dad got into the act at work, oft winning department costume contests, using makeup, wigs, even shaving my head and/or face a couple of times to make a costume character come together!

After the accident, the holiday lost it’s appeal.  I dressed up a couple times at work – but my heart wasn’t in it.

I don’t even give out candy.  Getting up and down to answer the door is just too time consuming and physically difficult.

And besides, Jean Grey doesn’t stop by, anymore.

Miami Vice Redux?

I LOVE(D) MIAMI VICE! (the TV show – the later movie, not so much)

The girls, the guns, the music, the gritty (for then) plot lines.  Being a young married guy at the time, who was shooting I.P.S.C. on Thursday nights, Friday evening was just right for kicking back and imagining my suburban life rebooted as Sonny Crockett.

NBC program director Brandon Tartikoff had put out the request for a new show with the memo:  Give me MTV Cops!

I’d admired the lead actor Don Johnson since A Boy and his Dog, and the fact Michael Mann (the producer/creator who had done the film Thief) hired experts to show the actors proper gun handling and techniques made this TV show too cool.  The Galco custom holster, the Bren 10 pistol (used by Johnson one year, until they could no longer get magazines!), the ubiquitous Weaver stances, Jan Hammer’s music…

Now. Johnson (@ age 64) is himself envisioning a Miami Vice reboot!

The stubbled star talks about being showered with women’s underwear and why the Reagan-era series is ready for a reboot (Rolling Stone)

I loved the show, but, what are they going to call it – Geriatric Vice?

h/t Jerry the Geek

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas - how he got in my pajamas I dunno!" - Groucho Marx as Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers

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It’s about who is at the tiller of this Republic’s Ship of State. - Guffaw

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1. ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED.

2. NEVER POINT YOUR MUZZLE AT SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY.

3. KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET AND YOU ARE READY TO SHOOT.

4. KNOW YOUR TARGET AND WHAT'S BEYOND.

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FEAR

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Bene Gesserit, from Frank Herbert's Dune

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