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Fred Siemens, a Missing Person find . . .

During the early 1980s I was one of two second-level Customs supervisors in the inspection force at the port of Brownsville, Texas and on a very special evening I was performing my supervisory duties on the swing shift—4 pm to 12 midnight—at the Gateway Bridge. At some time near the middle of the shift, a pedestrian of a different kind walked in from Mexico and the officer on sidewalk duty referred him to my office.

The pedestrian was an elderly Anglo male, probably in his sixties, wearing slacks and a white shirt, his tie still knotted but hanging loosely. There was blood on his face and his shirt was stained with blood, apparently from a nosebleed. He walked erratically and seemed oblivious of his surroundings. My first thoughts were that he was either drunk or under the influence of drugs, but his answers to my first questions were always the same—I don’t know. My most pertinent question was Do you know where you are? His answer was simply No.

I asked him for his name and he said Fred Siemens. I asked him where he lived and he said San Antonio, and my next question was Are you an attorney? He said Yes and I realized that he was Fred Siemens, a prominent attorney in San Antonio, nationally and internationally known for his work in criminal law. Because of him and an article on him that appeared in one of San Antonio’s local newspapers, I became a devotee of Henry David Thoreau’s writings, specifically Walden or, Life in the Woods and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. The image on the right is my well-thumbed copy of the work on which Mahatma Ghandi based his passive resistance movements. Click here for an explanation of how, when, where and why I first met Thoreau and his writings.

I suspected that he could be the subject of a missing person alert, and I immediately called the Brownsville Police Department and asked for an officer to come to the Gateway Bridge. Two officers arrived in record time, and I told them that they should contact the San Antonio Police Department and would probably find a missing person lookout on the man. They thanked me and gently escorted the attorney to their vehicle.

Now read about the non-existent grateful appreciation expressed by the Brownsville police for giving them a well-known missing person and the opportunity to shine a bright light on the coordination between local and federal law enforcement in the city of Brownsville. I never heard from the Police Department—I called the Department the next day and the people on duty claimed to have no knowledge of the incident.

However, several days later a lengthy article appeared in the local daily newspaper detailing the fine work done by Brownsville’s police in returning a missing person to his home in San Antonio. The article stated that in the early evening on a certain day Mr. Siemens was found wandering around in the vicinity of the Gateway Bridge, apparently unaware of his surroundings, and an investigation determined that a missing person lookout for him had been made by San Antonio police. Obviously there were some really ambitious officers on Brownsville’s police force!

I should have known what was going to happen, because the two officers that took custody of the missing person neglected to ask for my name or for my position in the Customs hierarchy. If I gave that any thought at the time, it would probably have been that they would return for the specifics of the interdiction, and also to tender the thanks of the local department to the Customs officers on duty that evening, specifically to the inspector on pedestrian traffic duty and to the supervisory officer on the shift, the person that recognized the missing person and initiated the investigation. I mean, like hey, everybody likes to shine!

So I can only offer kudos to the local police for their fine work in solving a missing person lookout and returning a brilliant and nationally-known criminal law attorney to his home and to his loved ones. Good work, guys!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
 

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Neighbors ‘R Us . . . (via The King of Texas)

The original posting has been available since September of 2009, and has garnered zero votes and a similar number of comments, so I’m bringing it out of the Stygian darkness of past postings and into the brilliant light of a South Texas August sun. Casting any semblance of modesty aside, I can truthfully say that is beautifully written, tremendously interesting and well worth the read—enjoy!

Neighbors 'R Us . . . The purpose of this posting is to share a recent e-mail from my next-door neighbor and my response to that e-mail. The posting includes titillating observations on house-sitting, cats, iguanas, the Galapagos Islands, timeshares, exotic places, lawyers, teachers, builders, grammar, Fox News, McDonald’s, skiing, Texas, Colorado, refrigerators, snot and more—it’s a veritable smorgasbord of completely unrelated items—brace yourselves for a bumpy … Read More

via The King of Texas

 

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Rogue cops and rubber hoses . . .

Picture this:

A lad of 16 years jailed on suspicion of being involved in auto theft, kidnapping and murder—completely innocent, of course—being bullied by burly bulky bastardly bastions of the law—I do really love alliteration-–and threatened with a rubber hose. Click here to learn how such an unsatisfactory situation developed.

In mid-afternoon of that Sunday following our arrest and incarceration, two very large men came into the room that held the two strap-iron cells occupied by me and my brother. They introduced themselves as plain-clothes detectives and started asking questions. After a series of questions relating to our lack of identification, our hot-wired car and the rifle bullets they found in my pocket, one of the men—the larger one–unlocked the door to my cell, entered and locked the door behind him—yeah, like I was going to flee and fly out to freedom and become one of the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives, with my mug shot featured prominently in every post office in the nation.

I was standing while he was outside, but when he entered I sat down on my bare metal bunk. That was a defensive measure. I believe I felt that should he decide to hit me, I would at least have only a short way to fall before hitting the steel wall behind me or the concrete floor. I could be wrong, of course—I may have sat down because of the sudden weakness my knees developed, and I mean that in all seriousness.

He held a piece of black rubber hose in his right hand. The hose was short in length, thick in diameter and long in menace, and he kept slapping it into the palm of his other hand, staring at me intently all the while.

If anyone reading this thinks I wasn’t scared, think again—I was scared witless, filled with fear that approached the point of something that rhymes with witless. I was a 110 pound 16-year old and he was a really big man, six feet tall and counting, weighing well over 200 pounds—a goodly portion of that weight was centered in his overhanging stomach, but his weight distribution detracted in no way from the fear that I felt, fear generated by his size and by the menacing length of rubber hose he wielded.

Believe me, reader, had I been guilty of any one or all of the several wrong doings of which we were accused, I would have promptly admitted that guilt. Had it been possible I would have cheerfully laid it all off on my brother—yep, I would have squealed like a pig and perhaps made a deal with the cops, or at least plea bargained my way out of what I considered to be a really bad situation. Frankly, I figured that my brother had gotten me into a big mess and I owed him zilch—none of this was my fault—I mean, like, hey, brotherly love has its limits.

The detective finally stopped slapping his hand with the hose, probably because it was beginning to hurt. He knew that he had my undivided attention, and then he held the business end of the hose close to my face and asked some really stupid questions, to all of which I gave some really brilliant answers:

Do you know what this is?

Yes, sir.

Do you know what I can do with this if you lie to me?

Yes, sir.

Did you boys steal that car?

No, sir.

Did you boys kidnap someone?

No, sir.

Did you boys kill someone and dispose of the body?

No, sir.

Have you answered all our questions truthfully?

Yes, sir.

See, I told you his questions were stupid and my answers were brilliant!

The detective ended the conversation, and taking his rubber hose with him he stepped out of my cell, locked the door and started questioning my brother, but he did not enter my brother’s cell. Evidently my brother, a World War II veteran almost twice my age, had been around the block before—he told our inquisitors in firm tones to not bother threatening him with the rubber hose, that he had been threatened with far more than that in World War II combat and survived, that he had told the truth about everything and that all they had to do was make a few phone calls to prove it and finally, that they could delay our release but could not prevent it.

In his telling my brother used some really salty language, some of which was related to the detectives’ parentage, including the legality of their births and their relationships with their mothers, and lots of other language that brought their sexual proclivities and practices into question.

Hey, my brother spent six years in the U.S. Navy, the last four of which were spent overseas in combat zones during the big war—that’s the way sailors talk. I expected the two detectives to beat him senseless, even to the point of his not recovering and spending the rest of his life as a tomato or a cabbage or a stalk of celery perhaps, but no, they listened to his tirade without responding. After he wound down with his remarks, they left the area without comments, and we never saw them again.

I find it difficult to believe that they were intimidated by my brother—I believe that they were amused and perhaps even respectful of his actions. My brother was much older than I but he was not much bigger, and I must admit that while I was shocked by his remarks, I really admired his stance in the face of bigger men with all the power of law at their disposal.

We were held incommunicado for 23 hours, just one hour short of the 24 hours the law allowed before formal charges and booking were mandated. The so-called authorities either made enough phone calls on Monday morning to prove our innocence, or perhaps had simply tired of the cat-and-mouse game they had played with us for 23 hours.

Whatever the reason, they released us, offered nothing that remotely resembled an apology and told us to get out of town and not come back. Other than the handful of rifle shells there was no need to return any possessions to us—the only things we possessed were the clothes we wore. The few dollars we had went for the burgers, and they kept any amount that remained, and I wisely refrained from demanding the return of my rifle cartridges. There was no need to return the keys to our car—we never had any—the starting lock was gone and the starter was hot-wired to the fog lights, and were soon on our way.

After a brief stop in St. Louis in a futile attempt to borrow gas money from my stepfather’s sister—click here for that story—we continued to New York City and stayed there for several weeks, then traveled to Mississipi where I was promptly shipped off to a farm in Alabama to live with a first-cousin and her family—a life very similar to that of an indentured servant. Click here for that posting.

More on my life on the farm and why I left it can be found here.

This story is all true, embellished a bit perhaps in the telling, but it’s all true and there’s nobody around either to disprove it or substantiate it—by now all the participants have departed for other realms. My fervent hope is that my brother and the cops involved in our short stay in Valley Park, Missouri traveled in opposite directions when they departed their lives on earth. I readily acknowledge that there in no way to confirm their paths, but I would like to believe that my brother ascended to his next life and the cops descended to theirs.

That’s my wish and that’s my story, and I’m sticking to both!

PeeEss: We were never told that we could ask for an attorney and were not Mirandized, but that is understandable—the year was 1949 and the Miranda law did not exist—it was still seventeen years into the future, 1966. Click here for information on the Miranda warning.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Miranda warning—is anyone awake out there?

This a re-do of the original posting made in June 2009. It was, and still is, a beautifully constructed dissertation on the use of the Miranda warning by our nation’s law enforcement officers. I labored long and strong to support my contention that the warning is almost universally misused, and that such misuse is highly detrimental to our efforts to stem the ever-escalating crime rate in the United States.

It is my humble and completely unbiased opinion that I made my case, yet I have received zero comments on the posting—not one comment after ten months online, neither positive nor negative—nothing, nada, nicht, nein, ninguna, nessun, aucun, keine. The posting has garnered only one vote, albeit a vote of excellence, and in the interests of full disclosure I must reveal that the single vote is mine. In a state of despair, desolation, deprivation and delusion from the lack of attention shown to the posting, I first voted for myself, and then briefly considered doing away with myself—no, no, not that way. I briefly considered shutting my blog down, but I decided that, for the greater good for the greatest number of people, I would continue my Herculean efforts to educate—and yes, entertain—the legions of Word Press users.

I decided to vote for myself in the hope that the initial vote would spark a flood of comments and votes. The complete absence of votes and comments pushed me perilously close to the brink of despair. I was in a blue funk, “a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.” I blissfully dreamed of my posting catching the attention of persons at high levels, and ultimately bringing recognition from those levels, perhaps in the form of a presidential gold medal—or at least an attaboy on paper from one or more of those persons.

But I feel better now—that first vote helped a lot!

The original posting follows—it’s dated June 15, 2009, and you can find it here. Try it, you might like it! Oh, and just one more note: The original posting and this re-post allow multiple votes, comparable to our multiple voting for political candidates in our national elections.

I was a federal Civil Service law-enforcement officer for the final 26 years of my 48 years in the work force (I spent the first 22 years in the US military). In the early years of my law enforcement career, before I was taken off the street by a series of promotions, I had cause to administer the Miranda warning on numerous occasions.

My reason for this posting is to express an opinion concerning the Miranda warning.

I believe the Miranda warning, as given in most jurisdictions by most law enforcement officers, has been corrupted by the wording of the warning—with no ulterior motive on the part of law enforcement officers but none the less corrupted. The wording of the warning, as given by most officers, has perhaps contributed to many, perhaps most, of their suspects exercising their right to remain silent and to request an attorney. They take this action to avoid incriminating themselves, whether guilty or not guilty, rather than cooperating with officers and giving answers to questions, answers which, while not necessarily incriminating the suspect, perhaps could have contributed to solving crimes.

Read on for the details

The background information below was gleaned (borrowed, lifted, whatever) from Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miranda_warning.

A Miranda warning is a warning given by police to criminal suspects in police custody, or in a custodial situation, before they are interrogated. A custodial situation is one in which the suspect’s freedom of movement is restrained although he or she is not under arrest. An incriminating statement by a suspect will not constitute admissible evidence unless the suspect was advised of his or her “Miranda rights” and made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of those rights (the term “Miranda rights” is somewhat misleading, as the mandated Miranda warning simply clarifies preexisting Constitutional rights).

The Miranda warnings were mandated by the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona as a means of protecting a criminal suspect’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid coercive self-incrimination (see right to silence).

The Supreme Court did not specify the exact wording to be used when informing a suspect of his or her rights. However, the Court did create a set of guidelines which must be followed. The ruling states:

“…The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says may be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he or she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him or her.

Every U.S. jurisdiction has its own regulations regarding what, precisely, must be said to a person when he is arrested or placed in a custodial situation, the typical warning being as follows:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?

The remainder of this posting is strictly mine, with references to the above information.

For starters, check out the above two phrases in red in the Wikipedia information above—the first phrase is the Court’s requirements for the wording of the Miranda warning, and the second is the wording used in most police jurisdictions—they are not the same—aye, there’s the rub!

The Supreme Court saays that a suspect must be informed that anything that person says may be used against that person in court. Compare that requirement with the wording in the typical Miranda warning used by officers: “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” This  offers a compelling reason for the suspect to remain silent and request an attorney.

Imagine yourself under arrest or in a custodial status, and imagine being told the conditions which will prevail if you choose to answer questions, and the conditions which will prevail if you choose to remain silent.

Which offer would you take? Which would you feel was more advantageous for you? The one that says that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, or the one that says anything you say may be used against you in a court of law?

Come on, ‘fess up—you would be more inclined to choose the one which says can and will be used against you and ask for a lawyer, rather than choose the one which says may be used against you. May means that what you say might be used and that it can be used, but not that it will be used.

The other option states unequivocally that what you say will be used against you—the inference is that anything you say can and will be used against you with no reference to, or apparent regard for, your innocence or guilt.

The wording of the Miranda warning, as used by most law enforcement officers, does not encourage a person in custody to cooperate in a criminal investigation. It instead encourages them to remain silent and request an attorney.

That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

This is my question:

How many people, guilty or not guilty, remain silent and request an attorney and thus contribute nothing to the investigation? Does the wording of the Miranda warning, the phrase will be versus the Supreme Court’s may be, perhaps influence that decision? Could the emphasis placed by the officer on certain words in the warning influence that decision? Stronger emphasis on the words will be, for example, might influence a person to remain silent and request an attorney. Conversely, emphasis on the phrase may be could possibly influence a person in custody, particularly an innocent person, to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation.

In my opinion, it’s worth giving it a try—simply change the wording to conform with the Supreme Court’s stated requirements and emphasize these key words, may be used against you, when giving the warning. This could possibly prompt the subject to cooperate in the criminal investigation rather than remaining silent, and the officer giving the warning would in strict compliance, word for word, with the requirements levied by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Does everyone—some one—anyone—agree with me?

Does everyone—someone—anyone—disagree with me?

I welcome input from everyone, whether in agreement or disagreement, whether in or out of law enforcement, but particularly from law enforcement officers currently on duty, retired officers, and persons formerly employed in law enforcement.

 

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Redux: Neighbors ‘R Us . . .

This is a re-do, or re-post, of a prior listing, a mini-essay that spells out the trials and travails of maintaining watch over my next-door neighbors’ home and its contents during  their numerous extended absences, times during which they jet off to exotic resorts in various states to rest and relax, to shrug off the tedious tasks of watering and maintaining lawns and plants and to be relieved of the tedious tasks of caring, feeding, petting and grooming their cat and their two large iguanas.

Actually, I haven’t really petted and groomed the iguanas, mainly because the girls (both are female) have a nasty habit of snotting at people. I’m unsure whether that is an expression of contempt  or respect or love—I am sure of its nastiness—I was struck just above my right eyebrow, a strike made without warning, not even a hiss or a growl or whatever iguanas do to signal a snotting. I am re-posting the original story and using these comments as a lead-in to the fact that my duties have been severely truncated. I still have the home and yards and plants and the cat to tend to, but the iguanas are gone, and in the words of that worthy from the 1960’s (MLK):

“I’m free at last, thank God all-mighty, I’m free at last!”

And now for a speedy disclaimer: Almost none of the above rant is true—almost everything in that drivel is my pathetic attempt at being humorous. The truest part is the fact that I do, in fact, voluntarily act as the caretaker for my neighbors, and I am generously compensated for my efforts, compensation that for a long time included the use of an upscale condo, one located in a very desirable area. However, they finally despaired of me and my family for not utilizing the condo, especially not for extended lengths of time, so they sold it—bummer!

The most untrue part in the above paragraphs is any indication I may have given to a reader that I’m glad the iguanas are gone. That of which I am glad is the fact that they went to the home of a doctor, a licensed exotic reptile collector, one that will undoubtedly attend to every wish and whim of the iguanas.

I’m happy for them, but I miss them—their care was never a burden for me. Well, I suppose the part that involved removing their potty pan from their cage, cleaning it, refilling it with water and returning it to the cage was not my favorite task, but it never detracted from the care I lavished on the ladies. I had my favorite, of course. The larger lady actually winked at me occasionally—not that I consider her act a come-on—it was probably just a friendly gesture meant to reinforce the bond that existed between us. The smaller one never winked at me, not even once, and she in fact was the one that snotted on me. I’ve been rejected by females many times over the years—well, not really that many times—but never so strongly and never so final! The iguanas are no longer part of my neighbor’s lives, nor of mine. I have a sneaky hunch that they do not miss them nearly as much as I do—in fact, I can truthfully state that the pleasure they display when we discuss the iguanas borders on ecstacy.

And now on to my redux of the original iguana posting—you can find it here.  Both the original and this redux are long reads, mini-dissertations if you will, but in my humble opinion are well worth reading. The original post is dated September 27, 2009.

The purpose of this posting is to share a recent e-mail from my next-door neighbor and my response to that e-mail. The posting includes titillating observations on house-sitting, cats, iguanas, the Galapagos Islands, timeshares, exotic places, lawyers, teachers, builders, grammar, Fox News, McDonald’s, skiing, Texas, Colorado, refrigerators, snot and more—it’s a veritable smorgasbord of completely unrelated items—brace yourselves for a bumpy ride!

A rather lengthy (but highly educational) prelude to the e-mails:

Please overlook my ending the next sentence with a preposition—sometimes in writing, one must simply suck-it-up and run with an improperly located preposition.

In the house on the immediate west side of my home reside two of the best friends and neighbors any reasonably sane person could wish for.

There—I did it—I ended a sentence with a preposition. Look how silly it would be to end the sentence thusly: “. . . for which any reasonably sane person could wish.” And here I must echo the words of Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister and hero of World War II, as regards the prohibition of never ending a sentence with a proposition: “This is a situation with which I will not up with put.”

I rest my case.

AIntoThisStuffMy next-door neighbors own several timeshares, broadly scattered around our fifty states. They share their domicile with a cat and two large—quite large—iguanas. Well, they don’t share the actual domicile with them—the cat rambles everywhere, but has a pet entry into their garage for his return at nightfall and at sunup. As for the iguanas, they pass their days and nights in a comfortably large outdoor cage on the backyard patio, a cage with natural climate control aided by a cool-water misting system for summer and a heating system for winter. Both iguanas are ladies by nature, although both lay eggs—lots of eggs, with no contact or input (so to speak) from the opposite sex—which is probably a good thing—if there were contact and input we would probably be up to our waists in iguanas.

The ladies spend their waking hours eating lettuce and iguana-food pellets (enhanced with a sprinkling of orange juice), dumping into a large water-filled pan and hissing menacingly at passers-by. Incidentally, iguanas have a nasty habit of marking spectators. At first I thought they were expectorating (I got hit just above my right eyebrow), but I later learned that the iguana was not spitting—it was snotting.

ALizzieBigYep, the material came from its nostrils. I suppose the word snot as a verb would be conjugated as follows: present tense snot (Do iguanas snot on people?), past tense snotted (The iguana snotted on me), and future tense snotted (By this time tomorrow the iguana may have snotted on me again—but I hope not). My online research revealed many things, not the least of which is that iguanas in the Galapagos Islands snot salt—an environmental curiosity, I suppose. And sometimes the snalt (combination of snot and salt) is green in hue, a color caused by a bacterial infection. In my case I was not subjected to the “green sheen” category—obviously my neighbor iguanas are healthy.

Yeah, I know—TMI (Too Much Information). It’s simply that I enjoy sharing trivia—even gross trivia. Just imagine throwing up (so to speak) this tidbit of information for consideration by attendees at a crowded cocktail gathering—why, one would be spotlighted and lauded by all! And all would welcome learning a new word—snalt. And just consider the possibilities for spirited speculative discussions—should an iguana be fed pepper, for example, the nasal output could be called snepper. And I would suppose that if it were black pepper and a bacterial infection existed, the snepper would perhaps be tinted black, and if red peppers, the snepper would be tinted red. And if fed green peppers, the snepper would probably be green, similar to to the ocean-green hue of snalt, as documented in the Galapagos Islands.

AMineAllMineI would like to believe that the action of my neighbor’s iguana stemmed from mutual respect and admiration, but I believe it was delivered to the tune of, “Stop staring at me!” Since that single incident I have kept my distance with my cap pulled low—just above my eyebrows.

They both work (the neighbors, not the iguanas). The husband is a highly talented builder and the wife is an educator in a local school district. They have vacation timeshares and occasionally jet off to some exotic location for a week or so of rest and relaxation, this time in Colorado.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that my family also has a timeshare. We gather in the spring at an exotic location for several days, a location that has all the amenities one could desire. And also in the interest of full disclosure, I must state that the location is only a short drive from home, and is made available to us by our neighbors. Their action is purely altruistic and is in no way related to my house-sitting, cat-sitting and iguana-sitting in their absences. If I felt that it was in the form of compensation I would reject it.

Yeah, right—of course I would—not!

AMyOnlyRegretThis is my neighbors’ original e-mail, sent just prior to their departure for one of said exotic locations:

Hi—our brand new refrigerator has a busted condensate pan! It is, of course, under warranty but we didn’t have time to meet a service tech before we left. Consequently, sometimes when it goes through the defrost cycle a little water leaks out onto the floor. I share this information with you not so much as a warning, but as a disclaimer against any potential legal action filed as a result of a slip and fall by a good-hearted neighbor in the process of feeding our critters! In the meantime, instead of getting packed, my wife is cleaning the house from top to bottom because she doesn’t want that same good-hearted neighbor to think that we are a bunch of slobs (as for me, I just issue disclaimers).

I’m going to send this now before my beloved bride reads this, because she might not appreciate my humor!

And this is my response to their e-mail:

Hi—I’m sorry to hear that your new fridge has a problem, but I’m sure the company will make it good. If you like, you can ask for the service tech to come in while you folks are out of town. We aren’t going anywhere. You can give the company my land line number and my cell number. Just tell them to call me and we can set up a mutually acceptable time for him (or her, or them) to fix the problem. I’ll make the fridge available and stand by to ensure that he (or she or they) do not abscond with either of the girls or Rhalph.

Is Rhalph spelled properly? Or is it Raff? Rhalph looks right to me.

Thanks for the heads-up and the disclaimer. I’m already considering my options in case some calamitous event precipitates a lawsuit. You know, of course, that my son-in-law is an attorney affiliated with one of the most prestigious law firms in the Dallas area.

However, please don’t even think of canceling and rescheduling your sojourn to the mountains. In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that the firm, and therefore my son-in-law, handles only lawsuits lodged against corporations—lawsuits against McDonald’s, for example, in the case of “Elderly Lady Spills Hot Coffee in Lap While Leaving Drive Through Lane,” thereby suffering extreme physical damage caused by the beverage coming in contact with certain highly sensitive epidermal tissue, and irreparable mental anguish caused by the depilatory action of the hot coffee.

As Sean Hannity of Fox News is wont to say, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” My son-in-law is the only lawyer I know, and I have no desire to know any others—nay, I have a pronounced aversion to knowing any others.

Oh, and still in the interest of full disclosure, I made up the part that reads, “. . . one of the most prestigious law firms in the Dallas area.” The firm could well be such, but I have never heard, read or seen the claim in any forum—not in discussions, not in print and not in radio or TV commercials.

Hey, I just realized that today is Saturday (I didn’t really realize it—my wife just told me) and y’all are already on your way, so obviously my offer to stand by while the fridge gets fixed is moot. However, I will give myself full credit for making the offer, albeit a day late, and I’ll still send this e-mail—otherwise I’ve wasted a lot of typing. And I’ll make the same offer for next week, or whenever, just in case you both need to stay on the job.

Enjoy, and be careful—I know that most skiers take the lift up and ski downhill. If you do ski, you should reverse that practice—ski only uphill and take the lift back down, and you’ll never be in danger of attempting to occupy the same space occupied by a tree, a situation that is impossible due to an immutable law of physics, namely that “No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.” And if you should happen to encounter a tree while speeding uphill, any damage, either to you or the tree, should be negligible.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it—I’ll get back to you later with more details.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Neighbors ‘R Us . . .

The purpose of this posting is to share a recent e-mail from my next-door neighbor and my response to that e-mail. The posting includes titillating observations on house-sitting, cats, iguanas, the Galapagos Islands, timeshares, exotic places, lawyers, teachers, builders, grammar, Fox News, McDonald’s, skiing, Texas, Colorado, refrigerators, snot and more—it’s a veritable smorgasbord of completely unrelated items—brace yourselves for a bumpy ride!

A rather lengthy (but highly educational) prelude to the e-mails:

Please overlook my ending the next sentence with a preposition—sometimes in writing, one must simply suck-it-up and run with an improperly located preposition.

In the house on the immediate west side of my home reside two of the best friends and neighbors any reasonably sane person could wish for.

There—I did it—I ended a sentence with a preposition. Look how silly it would be to end the sentence thusly: “. . . for which any reasonably sane person could wish.” And here I must echo the words of Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister and hero of World War II, as regards the prohibition of never ending a sentence with a proposition: “This is a situation with which I will not up with put.”

I rest my case.

AIntoThisStuffMy next-door neighbors own several timeshares, broadly scattered around our fifty states. They share their domicile with a cat and two large—quite large—iguanas. Well, they don’t share the actual domicile with them—the cat rambles everywhere, but has a pet entry into their garage for his return at nightfall and at sunup. As for the iguanas, they pass their days and nights in a comfortably large outdoor cage on the backyard patio, a cage with natural climate control aided by a cool-water misting system for summer and a heating system for winter. Both iguanas are ladies by nature, although both lay eggs—lots of eggs, with no contact or input (so to speak) from the opposite sex—which is probably a good thing—if there were contact and input we would probably be up to our waists in iguanas.

The ladies spend their waking hours eating lettuce and iguana-food pellets (enhanced with a sprinkling of orange juice), dumping into a large water-filled pan and hissing menacingly at passers-by. Incidentally, iguanas have a nasty habit of marking spectators. At first I thought they were expectorating (I got hit just above my right eyebrow), but I later learned that the iguana was not spitting—it was snotting.

ALizzieBigYep, the material came from its nostrils. I suppose the word snot as a verb would be conjugated as follows: present tense snot (Do iguanas snot on people?), past tense snotted (The iguana snotted on me), and future tense snotted (By this time tomorrow the iguana may have snotted on me again—but I hope not). My online research revealed many things, not the least of which is that iguanas in the Galapagos Islands snot salt—an environmental curiosity, I suppose. And sometimes the snalt (combination of snot and salt) is green in hue, a color caused by a bacterial infection. In my case I was not subjected to the “green sheen” category—obviously my neighbor iguanas are healthy.

Yeah, I know—TMI (Too Much Information). It’s simply that I enjoy sharing trivia—even gross trivia. Just imagine throwing up (so to speak) this tidbit of information for consideration by attendees at a crowded cocktail gathering—why, one would be spotlighted and lauded by all! And all would welcome learning a new word—snalt. And just consider the possibilities for spirited speculative discussions—should an iguana be fed pepper, for example, the nasal output could be called snepper. And I would suppose that if it were black pepper and a bacterial infection existed, the snepper would perhaps be tinted black, and if red peppers, the snepper would be tinted red. And if fed green peppers, the snepper would probably be green, similar to to the ocean-green hue of snalt, as documented in the Galapagos Islands.

AMineAllMineI would like to believe that the action of my neighbor’s iguana stemmed from mutual respect and admiration, but I believe it was delivered to the tune of, “Stop staring at me!” Since that single incident I have kept my distance with my cap pulled low—just above my eyebrows.

They both work (the neighbors, not the iguanas). The husband is a highly talented architect and builder, and the wife is an educator in a local school district. They have vacation timeshares and occasionally jet off to some exotic location for a week or so of rest and relaxation, this time in Colorado.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that my family also has a timeshare. We gather in the spring at an exotic location for several days, a location that has all the amenities one could desire. And also in the interest of full disclosure, I must state that the location is only a short drive from home, and is made available to us by our neighbors. Their action is purely altruistic and is in no way related to my house-sitting, cat-sitting and iguana-sitting in their absences. If I felt that it was in the form of compensation I would reject it.

Yeah, right—of course I would—not!

AMyOnlyRegretThis is my neighbors’ original e-mail, sent just prior to their departure for one of said exotic locations:

Hi—our brand new refrigerator has a busted condensate pan! It is, of course, under warranty but we didn’t have time to meet a service tech before we left. Consequently, sometimes when it goes through the defrost cycle a little water leaks out onto the floor. I share this information with you not so much as a warning, but as a disclaimer against any potential legal action filed as a result of a slip and fall by a good-hearted neighbor in the process of feeding our critters! In the meantime, instead of getting packed, my wife is cleaning the house from top to bottom because she doesn’t want that same good-hearted neighbor to think that we are a bunch of slobs (as for me, I just issue disclaimers).

I’m going to send this now before my beloved bride reads this, because she might not appreciate my humor!

And this is my response to their e-mail:

Hi—I’m sorry to hear that your new fridge has a problem, but I’m sure the company will make it good. If you like, you can ask for the service tech to come in while you folks are out of town. We aren’t going anywhere. You can give the company my land line number and my cell number. Just tell them to call me and we can set up a mutually acceptable time for him (or her, or them) to fix the problem. I’ll make the fridge available and stand by to ensure that he (or she or they) do not abscond with either of the girls or Rhalph.

Is Rhalph spelled properly? Or is it Raff? Rhalph looks right to me.

Thanks for the heads-up and the disclaimer. I’m already considering my options in case some calamitous event precipitates a lawsuit. You know, of course, that my son-in-law is an attorney affiliated with one of the most prestigious law firms in the Dallas area.

However, please don’t even think of canceling and rescheduling your sojourn to the mountains. In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that the firm, and therefore my son-in-law, handles only lawsuits lodged against corporations—lawsuits against McDonald’s, for example, in the case of “Elderly Lady Spills Hot Coffee in Lap While Leaving Drive Through Lane,” thereby suffering extreme physical damage caused by the beverage coming in contact with certain highly sensitive epidermal tissue, and irreparable mental anguish caused by the depilatory action of the hot coffee.

As Sean Hannity of Fox News is wont to say, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” My son-in-law is the only lawyer I know, and I have no desire to know any others—nay, I have a pronounced aversion to knowing any others.

Oh, and still in the interest of full disclosure, I made up the part that reads, “. . . one of the most prestigious law firms in the Dallas area.” The firm could well be such, but I have never heard, read or seen the claim in any forum—not in discussions, not in print and not in radio or TV commercials.

Hey, I just realized that today is Saturday (I didn’t really realize it—my wife just told me) and y’all are already on your way, so obviously my offer to stand by while the fridge gets fixed is moot. However, I will give myself full credit for making the offer, albeit a day late, and I’ll still send this e-mail—otherwise I’ve wasted a lot of typing. And I’ll make the same offer for next week, or whenever, just in case you both need to stay on the job.

Enjoy, and be careful—I know that most skiers take the lift up and ski downhill. If you do ski, you should reverse that practice—ski only uphill and take the lift back down, and you’ll never be in danger of attempting to occupy the same space occupied by a tree, a situation that is impossible due to an immutable law of physics, namely that “No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.” And if you should happen to encounter a tree while speeding uphill, any damage, either to you or the tree, should be negligible.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it—I’ll get back to you later with more details.

 

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Dollar Store with no limits on stuffed animals . . .

The salutation in the e-mail reproduced below is the result of our youngest daughter’s pronunciation of apple when she was a toddler—for her it was wap—rhymes with cap—so we called her Wap-Wap.

She has since learned to pronounce the word correctly.

As the proud grandparents of her daughter and son—ages five and eight—we are contributing to their education by posting automatic monthly contributions to their individual savings accounts. She thanked us for our generosity in a recent e-mail.

This is my answer to that e-mail:

Wap-Wap, we thank you for your thank you.

You’re welcome.

When I think of your children and their accounts, I remember you telling your mom what they said when you showed them how much money they have. They speculated that their money would buy a lot of stuffed animals at the Dollar Store.

I pictured them racing around the Dollar Store pushing shopping carts and tossing stuffed animals and other items into the carts, having been loosed, unfettered, with your permission to buy anything and everything they wanted. A home video of that would probably take the grand prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Winning the grand prize of $100,000 would be—would be—well, it would be grand, and even the weekly prize of $10,000 would net you a nice profit, but I am not suggesting, nor am I recommending, that you enter the competition, at least not at the present time.

You might consider competing at some time in the future, perhaps, after the Irishman (O’bama) gets us through this recession—or compression, possession, confession, depression—whatever this afflicted, infected, neglected and projected economic situation is called—it’s probably a combination of all the above.

Hey, here’s a thought—you might be able to make a deal with the Dollar Store to let you fake it. Unleash the kids, give them 30 minutes to fill up as many baskets as their can, up to the value of their combined accounts, video their efforts, then make them put everything back.

Considering the fact that your attorney husband can draw up some sort of binding contract for you and the store to sign, you would have a leg up (so to speak) on others entering the competition.

You couldn’t and shouldn’t tell the kids that the whole thing would be a scam—for one thing, they wouldn’t know what a scam is, and if you explained it to them they would refuse to cooperate—and even if they did cooperate, the spontaneous nature of their shopping efforts would be lost and you wouldn’t win the prize.

And if you were to win the prize you would have to split the money with the store in accordance with your contract, and you would have to suffer the wrath of the kids when they learned that you had fooled them, and no amount of prize money would help your case—not one iota—not one bit—not even one teeny weeny bit.

However, if you captured their wrath on video and combined it with the video of their shopping spree, then the big prize could well be yours.

Think about it.

Nah—bad idea—forget about it—or as they say in Noo Yawk, fuh geda bow dit.

I’m sorry I even thought of it.

No amount of money could compensate for the loss of your children’s trust.

Just forget the whole thing.

And then again, on second thought . . .

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2009 in Childhood, education, Family, Humor

 

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