Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Intruder Killed in Home Invasion

In this story, a man and wife found themselves targeted by a home invasion. An intruder broke in with a pipe, a hatchet, and an unloaded pistol demanding money. They fought with him for a long time before they could get to their phone to call 911. By the time the police got there, the intruder was either dead or dying. Nobody knows why the intruder did this. His family said;

"..he was having financial problems."

Well, sorry to hear that, but I don't feel bad in the least. This story is an example of how sometimes people have to fend for themselves before help can arrive.

Something I Noticed

I got this link in my email today. It's a series of pictures from Hurricane Ike. These pictures are amazing. Life is coming back to normal for many residents. However, in hard hit areas like Galveston they are still trying to rebuild. I've learned that power has been fixed in some of those areas. One thing I'd like to say is I've noticed a glaring difference between the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Don't get me wrong, I love New Orleans. Some day I'd love to have an apartment in the French Quarter when I retire. However, we're not hearing all of the tragic stories from Galveston that we did in New Orleans. We're not hearing of Galveston people shooting at rescue workers. We're not hearing politicians grandstanding, using the people of Galveston as pawns. Most of all, the Galveston mayor appears way more capable of handling a crises than Ray Nagin. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Court Agenda Items of Interest

I found two items in the Harris County Commissioner Court agenda for this coming Tuesday, Sept. 23. Remember all the controversy the Chronicle started with the contract deputy program? Well an item to be discussed Tuesday;

"The court could authorize a transfer of all patrol contracts to the constables and require the
Sheriff's Department to provide general patrol service throughout the unincorporated

Yep! The idea is strip all of the contracts from the sheriff's department and give them all to the constable departments. Not a bad idea in my book. However, another idea that is a little troubling.

"It is recommended that constables not be allowed to establish SWAT capability. All
county law enforcement should use the HPD SWAT Team as a primary resource, with the
Sheriff’s Department to be used as a secondary backup if necessary.
Constables should be prohibited from acquiring high powered automatic weapons even if
they are furnished by a provider at no initial cost to the county."

So, the commissioners court had decided that HPD alone should provide SWAT services for the whole county (which they do now anyway). However the city of Houston gets priority. So, if they are unavailable and there is an armed hostage crises, Harris County is out of luck. Plus, why can't Constables, who are police officers by the way, be only allowed pop guns by the logic of the commissioners court? I'm assuming that they are including semi-automatic rifles in this definition here. Three years ago, Pct.4 deputies found themselves in a shoot out with a bank robber with an AK-47 rifle. The deputies had AR-15 rifles to defend themselves with. I guess (God forbid) there is a Columbine type school massacre going the Constables will have to wait for HPD SWAT to suit up and make it there while people are dying. I guess they think Constables can call 'time out' until HPD SWAT makes it out there.

So It Begins...

It's been over a week since Hurricane Ike pounded south east Texas. As of now, about a million people still do not have power. There are neighborhoods where one side of the street have power and the other side doesn't. Driving through darkened neighborhoods one hears the distant sounds of many generators running. I've been saying from the beginning that when all this is over, the power companies (namely Centerpoint and Entergy) are going to take a big public backlash like FEMA did for Katrina. In today's Houston Chronicle it's already starting. I think it's a fair question. Those million people without power would like to know why it is taking so long. So far I've heard stories that power workers couldn't work because trees had to be cleared and there are no tree cutters around. Some power workers saw lights on a house and assumed the power was on (when in reality it was a generator doing the work). If I were the head of Centerpoint I would already be in damage control mode and explaining why areas are still without power. Or maybe they have, I just haven't been watching news lately.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ike's Pix 2


"..and our flag was still there.."

Damaged traffic signal on Hwy 6

Next three pictures are of a transformer box that exploded. Nobody was injured.

Next two of the damaged Alamo Drafthouse on Mason Rd. It was open two days later.

A Harris County Park that lost some trees. It will be okay.

Gas pumps that were destroyed on Clay Rd.

Ike's Pix


The street leading out of my neighborhood the next morning.

Me going down the Katy Frwy the evening before the storm. Notice how empty the Katy Frwy is on a Friday afternoon? That never happens.

Heading east on Katy Frwy looking for a place to eat. When the interstate is a ghost town that's a bad sign.

The swimming pool for the adjacent neighborhood.

Intersection of Mason Rd. and FM 1093

An empty parking lot. There is an Alamo Drafthouse, a Starbucks, and other businesses here.

Our provisions for the night of the storm. We underestimated what we needed.

The next two are a closed Exxon on Mason Rd.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Still Here

Well Ike came in slapping us around like Tina. My power went out Friday evening and finally came back on yesterday. I have to say, modern people are spoiled. Humanity thrived for thousands of years without electricity. If you think going without power for two hours is a pain in the butt, try two days. It sucks. My wife and I were hot, miserable, ill tempered, and my poor dog was burning up too. Society is slowly returning to normal in our neck of the woods. Pictures soon to come.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How Ironic!

There was a festival scheduled this weekend in Houston in remembrance of hurricanes Katrina and Rita - it has been cancelled due to hurricane Ike. Oh, the irony!!

The Rush Begins

As Hurricane Ike churns across the Gulf of Mexico, the mad rush has begun. People in south east Texas (especially the Houston-Katy Metroplex area) are, for the third time, scrambling to buy gas, water, food, batteries, and other necessary supplies. I was in a chill mood considering the last two storms were basically false alarms. According to the reports, Ike is supposed to hit land roughly tomorrow night/Saturday morning. I decided Thursday morning would be an okay time to get all my preparations done. I expected a small crowd, but obviously thousands of other people were thinking like me. My first clue was when I drove past two service stations. The shell was empty and the Mobil across the street (all this in Fort Bend County) was crowded. My fuel gauge was at a quarter of a tank. I started getting worried. I need to fill my tank to last me the weekend. I'm not evacuating. All my driving is going to consist of going to and from work the next few days. I make to the HEB off Hwy 99. I pull into a line. There are lines behind every pump. The parking lot of the store is packed. I sit back and snap some pictures. I have to remember that patience is the word here. Yet it is hard to be patient when stupid people are around. For example, anyone coming out of the store should realize the gas station is crowded and find another way to exit the parking lot. Yet, people kept lining up (they were not there to buy gas) to get out of the parking lot. I then watched another woman, who was about to fuel up (waiting on another car) realize her fuel tank was on the other side of the car. So, she pulls out of line and turns around. When it is her turn to pull up to the pump, she hits her gas and backs into a pole, taking out one of her tail lamps. I shake my head. Suburbanites (especially Katy suburbanites) have the survival and tactical instinct of a dung heap. After 20 minutes it was my turn. I pulled in, handled my business, and was out in three minutes. I felt that the gas pump was not the place to pop my hood and check my oil, or load my trunk, or other tasks like that. I then pulled into the store. Talk about mad house. I grabbed whatever I thought I might need. I already have 2 cases of water at the house, but managed to snag a third case. It took probably 30 minutes waiting in a line. The lines went into the aisles, almost to the back of the store. I figured people would be rushing at the counter. Wrong. Most people were leisure, talked on their phones, one woman tied up a line for about 10 minutes with a cantaloupe in one hand, and a stack of coupons in the other. Once again, no fore thought. I just found out that I will be working 12 hour shifts for the next couple of days. I'm not surprised really. All it means is I need to scramble to get everything else I need to take care of done today. I will try to snap some more pictures. In the meantime, anyone down here, be careful and stay safe.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Numbers Can Paint Any Picture You Want

The local news media is running the story of a Houston Police taser audit. According to the numbers, white officers are more than likely to use the taser. The numbers also show that black people are more than likely the subjects of taser use. The chronicle story just says that white officers just stun black suspects. I've said it before, for each and every use of taser, there is a policy that has to be followed. A supervisor has to make the scene, collect the darts and see they are tagged into evidence. A full report has to be done to explain and justify the taser use. The entire encounter is documented. Yet, the chronicle, in its usual bang-up job of reporting won't bother with details. They just want to further divide people along racial lines. As anyone knows you can take statistics and make up any story you want.

"We need further analysis of the patterns we have discovered — that there are racial and ethnicity differences in how officers use Tasers and in who they are used on," Parker said Monday after presenting the audit to City Council's public safety committee. "We need to know why that difference exists."

Okay, fine. I can tell you the answer. However it won't be the answer that the chronicle, nor the racial pimps will want to hear. KPRC has the same story, yet slightly better facts even though the title implies faulty training in dealing with minorities. KPRC seems to be under the impression that minorities should be treated differently than the rest of the public. So when Hispanics become the majority around 2050, will whites be considered a minority and require special handling? I wonder how the news media will report on those numbers. I guess the notion of impartiality and treating people equally is lost on the media.

"The report noted 55 complaints filed against police officers for using their Tasers, only three of which resulted in discipline"

So it looks like HPD does respond to complaints. I notice the story doesn't specify what discipline was administered. Had the complaint been the illegal use, or exessive use of force the officer would either be fired or indicted. Was the discipline for the taser use at all? Or was it for some other policy violation? Again, you have to read between the lines and ask questions. Don't rely on the media to get the whole story. Now, pay close attention to this line.

"Auditors asked officers during focus groups exactly why they believe black officers use the Taser less than white officers.""Basically, the bottom line is they felt that African-American suspects related more to the African-American officer,"" said J. David Ahola, an auditor from Mir, Fox, and Rodriguez, P.C."

We have a winner!!!!! Does anyone realize what that statement means? It means that an ugly truth is rearing its head but because of the PC status quo hardly anyone dare mention it. I'd be surprised if the chronicle ever mentioned it. Many of the same black persons "who better relate to black officers" hate white people, especially white officers. Therefore, in an encounter with a white officer, the black person is more than likely to be confrontational, resistant, and more likely to run or fight a white officer than they would a black officer. An example of this mentality can be read here. White officers hear all the time "I don't want to talk to you, I want a black officer," or in the case of a simple disturbance "you're being racial, I want a Mexican officer here! Oh your last name is *******? Well you're not a real Mexican!" However, that kind of racism is acceptable to the media and the PC status quo. This kind of racism against white officers occurs every day and black and Hispanic officers are often called terms like "sell out" and "Uncle Tom" by other black people and Hispanic people. This further makes officers' jobs difficult. Yet the news media would never dare suggest the public become colorblind.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Funeral

"That's why they call them funerals and not Mardi Gras!"
Estelle Getty

Ever since I heard the late Estelle Getty utter those words on TV they stuck in my head. It's true. Nobody likes funerals. Last Wednesday we went to Daniel's viewing in NW Houston. We brought a picture from New Orleans with the group and placed it on the table amongst the others. I saw some people I hadn't seen in a long time and some I've never met before. My wife and I browsed the photographs. Then it came time to walk up and view Daniel. I took a deep breath and prepared myself. We followed some friends and walked up to Daniel. Seeing a friend or family member laying in a casket brings a tidal wave of strong emotions and new realities. This was the guy who walked the Mississippi River with us. This is the guy who came to our old house. Now his body will spend eternity in this black casket. When faced with this, people turn to defense mechanisms. Everyone who stood there cried. Some harder than others. My defense mechanism became anger. Anger at why this happened.

"This is so f****** senseless!!!!!" My mind screamed.

My wife was crying hard. We walked out and looked back on the pictures. This is the Daniel I choose to remember. It also reaffirmed my faith in God. Now, I'm not a fiery preacher type or anything. I believe people should decide to have faith in God and vice versa. After all, God gave people free will. Some people would say if there really is a God why would this happen. I just can't accept that. I look at it in the way that God knows what will happen and if Harris County doesn't punish the killer, God will. That also made the whole situation easier for me to deal with. We then socialized, shared memories and shared laughs. That also helps the grieving process. I was also approached by friends and family members who read my last post and thanked me for writing it. I was humbled by it. I really am flattered that his family read and appreciated my post. I will never forget it. Nor will I forget Daniel's little niece. She couldn't have been more than ten years old and it was hard on her. How do you make a little girl make sense of this? I don't think you can. I just hope her parents help her through the grief.

The next day was the funeral. We arrived during the last half hour of the final viewing. We went in and viewed Daniel one last time. During the service some kid kept hollering and hooting. I know the kid can't possibly comprehend what is going on or that his or her behavior is not appropriate for this time. Then I wondered why the parent couldn't walk out of the service with the noisy kid. I thought that was inconsiderate of the parent. We then drove to the cemetery for the burial. We partook in the custom of laying a handful of dirt on the casket ourselves. Upon completing that, I saw the funeral director signal the cemetery crew who practically gave us the bum's rush. I can understand getting the bum's rush at a steak house, but at a grave side service? I thought funeral companies would give some time at the graveside for the family and friends before they started the burial. To me, it just shows a lack of sensitivity. That's just my opinion. Anyway, the whole day was emotionally and physically draining for everyone. Now, we try to get back to our regular routines while still going through the grieving process. I do tell myself while we go back to our normal lives, Daniel is looking down on us, beginning a new adventure in Heaven.