Archive for June, 2010

The Sounds of Silence

The boys went home with daddy today after a half week at MeeMaw and Papa’s house. We planned on painting birdhouses Monday, but the boys said it was too hot in the morning and it rained all afternoon. Okay. We were going to paint them Tuesday but after breakfast and feeding was done, it was too hot again. We went inside until later in the afternoon when hopefully it would cool off, but it rained again. New plan: We were going to paint the birdhouses right after breakfast and before feeding while it was still sort of cool still bearable outside for active little boys.

“Ooooooh, MeeeeeeeeMaw”, said Jacob, in his best “I’m tellin'” voice while I was fixing another bowl of cereal for the youngest, Dylan. “Iiiiit’s raining!”

“Ha ha, very funny, we’re going outside as soon as your brother finishes. Pick up your toys!”

“But MeeMaw, look out the window! It really is raining!”

Oh, SNAP. It was pouring down rain. Those poor little boys had spent Monday, Tuesday, AND now Wednesday inside. How unfair! And the birdhouses remain unpainted. I had a station set up for them on a covered patio (no WAY are they painting birdhouses inside the house) but MeeMaw, being a worrywart and all, wouldn’t let the boys outside to paint while lightning was striking all around and thunder was booming.

After the boys left, I really, REALLY needed to mop the kitchen floor, vacuum and shampoo the carpet, and scrub down the kitchen, but I ended up outside doing the morning feeding during a non-raining interval. SwampMan then came home from work and fell asleep in his La-Z-Boy. Well, that was a good enough reason for me to sit around and be silent which meant (grin) no housework! Woohooo!

SwampMan woke up while I was quietly reading.

“Are you planning on cooking, or do you want to go get something?”

“I really don’t feel like going anywhere; I’ll cook.”

“Are you SURE? You look like we should go out.”

“Uh, why? Do I look exhausted?”

“YES! You look really bad.”

Hunh. Maybe sitting up watching cartoons with two little boys then waking up at every noise worried that it may be them needing something in the night, then getting up at the crack of dawn might be showing!

Unfortunately, my former daughter in law had called today and asked me “Are you okay? You sound sick!”

So, now I’m wandering around periodically feeling my forehead and muttering “But I feel okay! Really!” and periodically peering into the mirror and recoiling. Dang. I look like I missed several years’ worth of beauty sleep. Unfortunately, I’m too tired to sleep!

Every time daughter has gone through a pregnancy, I’ve had sympathetic symptoms of some type. I’ve gained weight with her (but I didn’t lose it when the baby was born). She’s going through the extreme fatigue and nausea part now. Oh, dear.

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Update: Dontae Morris in Custody for Killing Two Tampa Police Officers, Three Others

TAMPA — Two Tampa police officers were shot to death Tuesday during a traffic stop, police said.

Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis, both 31, were shot in the head at 50th Street and 23rd Avenue, said Mayor Pam Iorio.

As the city reeled from the second fatal police shooting in less than a year, a massive search was launched for two suspects.

The male shooting suspect was a passenger in the car and was wanted on an outstanding warrant from Jacksonville, police said. He shot both officers as they attempted to arrest him, police said. He fled on foot, police said, while the woman driver took off. By mid-morning, police had surrounded an apartment complex about a mile from the shooting scene.

Kocab died at Tampa General Hospital and Curtis died several hours later, police said.

Curtis’ family kept his body on life support so his organs could be donated, police said.

Police were looking for a 1994 red Toyota Camry they said was involved in the shooting.

The shooting suspect was described as a black man in his mid to late 20s, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 150 to 170 pounds. He had a short afro and was last seen wearing brown shorts and a white T-shirt and a black vest. No description of the woman was released.

The incident began about 2:15 a.m. when Curtis spotted a car at 50th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard that did not have a visible tag. The car stopped over at 50th Street and E 23rd Avenue.

Curtis asked for identification of both occupants and soon discovered that the passenger was wanted on an arrest warrant for a worthless check in Jacksonville.

Kocab was called for backup, standard procedure when someone is found to be wanted, police said.

Neighbors said they heard shots fired and the driver took off in the Camry. The shooting suspect ran away. He ran through an apartment complex at 3212 N 50th St., said Rose Dodson, 32, a resident there.

Police were combing that area side by side looking for evidence.

Another witness said she heard four or five gunshots. Chris Arline, 49, said she was buying a candy bar at a nearby Shell gas station when she heard the gunfire. Her son thought it was a truck.

“That’s not a truck,” she said. “That’s bullets.”

Arline left the store and saw paramedics giving CPR to someone on the ground.

The shooting happened so quickly the officers did not have a chance to return fire or radio for help. They were shot at close range, said Police Chief Jane Castor. Both were wearing bullet-proof vests, but they did little good.

Castor said she did not know the type of gun that was used.

A 911 call six minutes after the car was stopped was the first notice police had that the officers had been shot, police said. A passerby stumbled on the scene and found the officers shot, police said.

Detectives issued an urgent plea for witnesses to step forward. They want to talk to anyone who was in the area of N 50th Street and E 23rd Avenue about 2:15 a.m.

Anyone with information is asked to call (813) 231-6130.

Dozens of police and Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies were searching for the suspects.

They set up a perimeter that stretched from MLK to Interstate 4 and 40th to 50th streets. Traffic was blocked in both directions for hours. The northbound lanes were reopened by 7:30 a.m.

Several hours after the shooting, about 100 cadets from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office dressed in grey formed a line and searched the crime scene for evidence.

Castor said at a second news conference that the suspected shooter’s “best bet” is to give himself up.

“We’ll take the search nationwide if we need to,” Castor said. “We’re going to find him.”

Kocab leaves behind a wife who is nine months pregnant, Iorio said during a news conference at Tampa General Hospital. Kocab joined the Police Department about 14 months ago from the Plant City Police Department.

Curtis has a wife and four young children, Iorio said. A former Hillsborough County jail deputy, he became a Tampa police officer 2006.

Kocab’s wife was in Kissimmee, and Curtis’ family was in Sumter County. Both families gathered at TGH in the hours after the shooting.

Curtis has four children: Austin, 9; Sean, 6; Tyler, 5; and Hunter, 8 months.

“We are doing everything we can to help the wives and the family members,” Iorio said. “It’s just a very bleak day for us in Tampa.”

After the news conference Iorio burst into tears when recounting the call she received at 3 a.m. from Police Chief Jane Castor.

“She said ‘Mayor, I’ve got really bad news. We’ve had two officers shot and one is dead.'”

As soon as she saw it was the chief calling she knew it was bad news, Iorio said. She remembered getting a similar call from now-retired Chief Steve Hogue when Cpl. Mike Roberts was shot and killed last year.

Roberts was shot to death as he stopped to question a homeless man. Humberto Delgado has been charged with first degree murder in that August 2009 shooting.

Iorio said it is “heart-wrenching” to watch relatives and cousins grieve the deaths of Kocab and Curtis.

“It’s just been overwhelming grief inside the hospital,” she said.

Times staff writers Jessica Vander Velde and Katie Sanders contributed

To recap: A black man in his 20s, 5’10” tall, 150 to 170 lbs. has shot and killed two police officers that attempted to arrest him during a traffic stop when they found he had an outstanding on bad check charges from Jacksonville. He has absolutely nothing to lose because he’s already earned a death sentence. He may be looking for transportation in which to flee, so be alert and be armed.

Update: Captured

A convicted felon accused of killing two Tampa police officers during a traffic stop surrendered after detectives spent more than a day negotiating with an associate of the man, police said Saturday.

Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, turned himself in at a police station about 10:30 p.m. Friday, police said. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab early Tuesday.

“Honestly I can never remember a point in my life where I felt more relieved,” said Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor.

Police said Morris also was suspected in two other slayings, and by early Saturday he faced a third murder charge in the May 18 shooting death of a man killed outside his family’s Tampa apartment. A statement from Tampa police Public Information Officer Laura McElroy said ballistic tests indicate the same gun was used in the officers’ killings this week.

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Sea Turtle Nests Being Relocated to Save Hatchlings From Oily Doom


To save a generation of sea turtles from being wiped out by the Deepwater Horizon disaster, state and federal biologists have hatched a daring but risky plan.

They plan to excavate the 800 or so nests that the turtles have dug along Florida’s Panhandle beaches and the Alabama coast, and carefully move all the eggs about 500 miles to the east — most likely to a climate-controlled warehouse at Kennedy Space Center.

Any turtles that survive the move and hatch would then be released into the Atlantic Ocean, which so far has not been polluted by the oil spill.

Read the whole article! This move will kill potentially thousands of hatchlings and nobody knows what it will do to their homing instinct, but it may be the only way to save part of this year’s hatch.

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Grandsons are Here

The area in front of the television looks like a bomb exploded in the room. Toys, blankets, pillows, cereal…..CEREAL? HEY, FOOD BELONGS IN THE KITCHEN! The youngest just ran through the kitchen and collided with the trash can which went flying spewing trash everywhere. Looks like a trash volcano erupted. Then he came to find me to tell me about it (chocolate milk in hand) and now there’s chocolate milk spilled all in the carpet. What was I THINKING doing laundry? I’m surveying the ruins of the house and wondering whether I should attempt to clean or just sprinkle everything down with kerosene and light a match. Fire sanitizes, right?

My new flashlight is in pieces. Youngest dismantled it to see how it works (while I was cooking and distracted from watching with eagle eyes) and then announced proudly that he “fixed” it for me. Yes, it works, if you stick your finger inside to keep the battery firmly in place because there is a part missing somewhere. (Note to self: Do not let him near vehicle with screwdriver.) His brother, at the same age, took apart the vacuum cleaner which never worked afterward. Heh. The mark of an inquisitive mind and an independent nature. I may grumble because I think that flashlight is gonna have to be replaced, but it IS less expensive than the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher, and the DVD player which, if I recall correctly, were all victims of his older brother’s curiosity. I will be glad when Swampman is finished with summer school so that he can take the boys out into the shop and let them dismantle old transmissions and engines!

The oldest grandson, fearing an outburst of MeeMaw wrath, quickly and quietly did some straightening up while former daughter-in-law was on the phone inviting us all over to swim in their pool (but my vehicle is still nonfunctional due to a short in the electrical system that we haven’t had time to track down). Actually, they’re both being really quiet right now. Uh oh.

Am I going to get this mess cleaned up in time to cook lunch?

Youngest grandson just ran up, grabbed me in a big ol’ hug, and yelled MEEMAW! as though I had been missing for months and feared dead. Who cares about trash or ruined carpet!

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You Would Think, In a Troubled Economy, Businesses Would Have Good Customer Service

….but you would be wrong.

My mother, in her 70s with leukemia and bad arthritis who is caring for an invalid husband at home, called her plumber on Friday because her hot water heater (that was placed in a closet in the house) had sprung a leak and was damaging the walls and carpets. She mopped and mopped all day until he arrived. He looked at it, said yeah it was leaking (she already KNEW that!) and that since it was a small 30 gallon water heater, he’d have to get it from a special supply place and would pick one up Monday.

There was no cut off valve on the hot water heater but he didn’t address that. He just left. In order to keep the hot water heater from filling up, she had had to cut off the water outside and then fill up buckets and carry them in for the water for flushing toilets, cooking, washing dishes. There was no pan underneath the water heater to collect the water. The drain for the hot water heater was in the back of it against the wall and inaccessible for draining. It continued leaking.

She was terrified that the leaking would ruin the carpeting and the sheetrock, which they could not afford to replace due to all the medical bills and medication bills. She mopped, wrung out the mop into a bucket, and mopped more until 2:30 a.m., when her arthritis was so painful that she couldn’t do it any more. She went to bed with all the towels around the water heater which were soaked through pretty quickly.

She called me early this morning asking me whether maybe she should go buy a wet/dry vac because her hands and arms were so sore she couldn’t mop. She wasn’t sure how much clearance they would need. She relayed that my stepdad was so sick that she was afraid he was going to die, but he refused to go to the hospital. What would she do if her carpet/sheetrock got moldly with my stepdad’s severe respiratory problems? When I heard the story and relayed it to SwampMan, we were on the way. Why didn’t she call us yesterday!?

Not being plumbers, we didn’t have the actual supplies on hand we might need to bypass her water heater, so we guessed on sizes and how it was set up. When we got there, we found that we’d guessed wrong (grin) and so off to the hardware store to buy $3.00 worth of materials to bypass the hot water heater, so she could have running (cold) water again. We released the pressure on the water heater so the rate of leaking slowed radically so that she could get some sleep tonight. She might have to use the wet/dry vac once an hour instead of mopping constantly, and towels should absorb the trickle overnight. We couldn’t move the damn thing outside because it still had a lot of water inside it despite all that leaking, and we hadn’t thought to bring a dolly along with us to move it with (probably because we don’t do plumbing for a living).

The plumber had a dolly on his truck to move heavy things. He also had the supplies to bypass the hot water heater, or at least he should have, as pvc pipe and fittings are the tools of his trade. He just didn’t do it. He didn’t even offer to do it. This was not a huge plumbing company where there was some jerk employee who was pissed off at his boss, so he was giving crummy customer service. This was the owner, the sole proprietor. What was he thinking? That if they were severely inconvenienced, that they would pay any price that he asked for getting that hot water heater replaced?

We went to Lowe’s, immediately found a smallish 30-gallon hot water heater (not a special order item at all, by the way), and came back home to check to see whether Mom wanted that hot water heater at the Lowe’s price which we could install Sunday morning, or whether she wanted to wait until Monday to see if the plumber could get her a better deal (but personally, I was pretty pissed off at him, and I don’t even know him). We’ll be back in Georgia tomorrow putting in a hot water heater. We figure it will take us @ an hour. The ride up and back will be far longer. She also won’t have to pay the probable several hundred dollars in labor and delivery fees.

You think that maybe this plumber was an aberration and that other service companies are being very helpful to their customers? Not hardly. An older lady that lives next door to mom had her refrigerator go out and called several repairmen. None responded for three weeks. After three weeks (with no refrigerator!), one called back and told her she just needed to get a new fridge and wouldn’t even come out and look at it. She and mom went off to Lowe’s where she picked out a new fridge. Daughter had thousands of dollars’ worth of new windows installed last year and, when they were under warranty, one broke (as in the frame came apart). It took THREE MONTHS to get the company to fix that broken window.

If you start a small business even/especially in these tough times and actually answer your phone calls and do what you can to help your customers in distress, you’ll be doing far, FAR more than your competition.

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Why Not To Be a Vegetarian

I’ve tried and tried to point out to people that very few people can afford to keep livestock as pets, so not eating livestock will not “save” them; it will cause their extinction.

H/T Mike C at GCP

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Happy Thursday!

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Here’s One For You, Federal Government!

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Governing Via Rolling Stone Magazine

Washington (CNN) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates backed keeping Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the job because he was vital to the war effort in Afghanistan, but Gates was overruled, a senior Pentagon official told CNN’s Barbara Starr.

The official has direct knowledge of the events but declined to be identified because of the internal administration discussions.

President Barack Obama relieved McChrystal of command of the Afghan war on Wednesday, a day after Rolling Stone published critical comments about top White House officials by members of McChrystal’s staff.

Too bad Rolling Stone didn’t do a story on the oil spill a day after it happened, huh?

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Don’t Complain If You Get the Wrong Calzone at a Place Called Goomba’s

From the Bizarre Florida section of Tampa Bay Online:

It wasn’t that big a deal when an ex-hit man was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. But the story in gives us a chance to recap the most recent downfall of Joseph Milano/Joey Calco.

He’s the Palm Coast pizzeria owner who was in the federal witness protection program until some really dumb acts revealed his mobster past.

We’ll skip over his bragging about his past to impress/intimidate his employees (after all, who would expect them to get in touch with New Jersey mobsters who still held a grudge against Milano/Calco?). Or even the name of his pizzeria (Goomba’s).

Nope, it was his pistol-whipping a complaining customer who had received the wrong calzone in a takeout order. Normally, that would just get him in trouble with the local authorities. But the beating was captured on a surveillance camera, and became a viral hit in cyberspace. That caught the attention of his old buddies in New Jersey, the feds and amused/appalled people all over the country.

Now, he could have 15 years in prison to ponder whether he made the best use of his second chance.

If you’re going to complain about service at a restaurant in Florida, remember to be polite!

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