Friday, September 30, 2011

Handcuffing and Arrest Techniques from the WPA

As promised, here's a little of what I learned at the Writers' Police Academy.  This session was on Handcuffing and Arrest Techniques, with instructors Stan Lawhorne and Dee Jackson.

The first objective with dealing with a violent suspect is to secure him/her.  Stan and Dee demonstrated a number of hand to hand takedown procedures but this is not the preffered method.

Ideally, the officer will be able to order to suspect to lay facedown, arms spread, palms up.  (Dee entertained us at this point with a number of the excuses they get for refusing to lay down, including, "Hey, that ground's all wet.  I ain't laying in no puddle.")

The office then approaches the suspect, kneels down and applies the weight of one knee to the suspect's shoulder - not the neck or the side (ribcage area) where the weight could cause injury.  The officer applies the handcuff to the near arm first and orders to the suspect to raise his/her other arms.  If the suspect is uncooperative at this point, the officer is in the best postion to lean across the suspect and grab the other arm without losing control.

Believe it or not, most handcuff keys are interchangable.  A handcuff key is simply a small rod with a "nipple" on the end.  This is a standard universal handcuff key.

Most handcuff manufacturers provide this type of key with a new pair of cuffs.  Stan explained that these keys are small and can be difficult to work with in the field so many officers purchase keys with a larger grip surface (below - bottom) or a key holder into which a small key can be inserted (below - top).


Since handcuff keys are universal, they are very easy to purchase and not that hard to make.  Thus, officers have to assume many of the people they need to cuff will have their own key.  This is one of the reasons hands are cuffed behind the suspect's back.  The correct position for handcuffing is with the palms facing out and the lock opening facing upward to make it impossible for the suspect to pick the lock. 

The most common types of handcuffs are chain and hinged. 
Although the chain variety are easier to carry, the hinged provide better security (less flexibility to the wearer). 

The cuff circle is made up off a fixed wider side  (the dark side in the picture below) and a moving narrow side (the lighter side).  Cuffs are not opened to apply to the wrist.  The narrow side is slapped against the wrist with enough force to push it through the opening in the wider side and it will swing full cirle and come back into the locked position around the wrist.  

Because the lock is a simple rachet style, it will continue to get tighter as pressure is applied.  To prevent the cuff from getting tight enough to cause injury - either through struggle or deliberately by the suspect in an attempt to have the cuffs removed - most cuffs now have a double lock that can be applied to fix them in place.

Okay, that's today's lesson on handcuffing and arrest techniques.  Any questions?

Groaner of the day: Is an FBI sketch artist a bureau drawer?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Hump Day

Happy Hump Day.  I'm a little behind schedule this week, getting my posts up midday instead of the night before.  Hopefully, I'll be back in sync by Friday, when I'll be telling you more about the wonderful Writers' Police Academy.

I want to do something a little different today.  I'm a bit of a camera bug (taking pictures, not being in them), and I feel like sharing a few shots I especially like.  Hope you like them, too.

Mr. Dragonfly.

I like to call this one Kung Fu Diving

A bit of last winter.

This one was actually borrowed by the local Red Cross chapter for their aquatics class calendar. 

My all time favorite.  He was hunting for stones to throw in the water.  Very serious work.

So how about you?  Do you like taking pictures.  Ever share any on your blog?

Groaner of the Day:  For many years a certain white whale and a tiny herring had been inseparable friends. Wherever the white whale roamed in search of food, the herring was sure to be swimming right along beside him. One fine spring day the herring turned up off the coast of Norway without his companion. Naturally all the other fish were curious, and an octopus finally asked the herring what happened to his whale friend.

How should I know?" the herring replied. "Am I my blubber's kipper?"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scenes From the Writers' Police Academy

Just a few of the many scenes from the Writers' Police Academy.

Ride alongs.

Jail cell searches. 

Blood splatter patterns. 

K-9 teams. 


Driving simulator. 

Gunshot victim. 

Shallow grave crime scene. 

Take downs. 

And arrests.

Don't you wish you could have been there?  More next time.

Groaner of the day: A policeman accidentally arrested a judge who had dressed as a convict for a costume party. That cop learned never to book a judge by his cover.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Special Message

Sending this from the Writers' Police Academy.  I'm going to have lots to share when I get back.  But today's (Friday's) post needs to be dedicated to something else.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

I miss you every day and I'll love you always.

That's all.  Have a great weekend.  See you on Monday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Hump Day

Hey there!  Happy Hump Day.  I'm running around franticly trying to get ready to leave tomorrow for the Writers' Police Academy in Jamestown, NC so this will be a short post.  (Why do I always leave everything until the last minute?)  I'll tell you all about it when I get home next week.

But I couldn't leave you without a little something to help you over the Hump.  So here are a couple giggles for the day.  Scoll down slowly - you want to read the text before seeing the picture.


Why would you even ask me that?
I am so insulted!
Every time something goes missing around here,
everybody looks at me!

This next one's actually a bit sad.  We all hear about puppy mills and the problems that can occur with too much inbreeding.  Here's an example of an inbred cat.

Aw, come on.  You laughed.  You know you did.
Okay, that will have to do for now.  Tomorrow night I get to do a "ride along" on patrol with a Guilford County Sheriff's Deputy.  I'm excited.  If I can, I'll do a quick post from NC on Friday.  Otherwise, see you next week.
Groaner of the Day: The maharajah of an Indian Province issued a royal decree. He ordered that no one was to kill any of the area's beautiful Bengal Tigers while he was the country's leader. The decree was honored until there were so many tigers running loose that the people were in constant danger.  
After a local family was eaten and the ruler still refused to revoke the decree, the people revolted and threw the maharajah from power.
This is the first known instance of the reign being called on account of the game.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Color Me Grateful

Last month when discontinued my old blog and started this one, I was bemoaning the lost of all the Followers I left behind.  But I also left behind a few other things, including the blog awards I'd received there.  So my new blog has felt a little naked.

Last week I was delighted to receive not one, but two, blog awards from fellow blogger Angela Brown.  Thank you so much, Angela.  You made my week. 

I discovered Angela's blog, in a Pursuit of Publishness, just recently and I really enjoy it.

Of course, most blog awards have rules attached for receiving and for passing along, so let me properly accept the following.


1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you - Okay, did that above.

2. Share seven random facts about you - Here they are:

I'm a die hard Red Sox fan although I left Boston at the ripe old age of four.

I chew gum when I write. The more intense the scene, the harder I chew. I've made hamburger out of the inside of my lower lip working my way through a good murder.

I love live theater. Broadway (when I'm in NYC) to local community theater and everything in between.

I'm not an obsessive grandmother or anything like that, but the license plates on my car say "Da Nana".

I am totally freaked out by spiders. All other kinds of creepy crawlies I'm okay with but not spiders. I think it comes from seeing The Incredible Shinking Man when I was a kid. If you know the movie, you'll remember the scene.

I was a first wave Red Cross disaster relief worker after Katrina. I had to set up a shielter for 100 evacuees in a community center with no showers, two single stall bathrooms, no working phones (landline or cell), and no supplies. We were about a county and a half beyond the end of the established suppy lines.

I have a black thumb. Houseplants have little chance for survival in my care. Silk flowers don't fare much better.

3. Pass this award to five new blogging friends - And here they are:

Nay at Cover to Cover and Everything in Between

Maryann Miller at It's Not All Gravy

Cate at Cate Masters

Larri at Seams Inspired

Isis at Isis Rushdan

 4. Contact and congratulate the awarded bloggers - Heading out to do that now.

1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you - Again, did that above. Hi Angela!   *waves*

2. Share seven random facts about you

I'm a tea drinker. Hot tea.  All day, all year round.  Never have developed a taste for coffee, although I will drink one of those frou frou mocha concoctions from Starbucks on occasion.  Odd side note: I love coffee flavor ice cream.
I have lived at different times within 15 minutes of both coasts.  I have to admit, I'll take the northeast over the southwest (my apologies to my friends in Southern California).
I did get as far in my writing career as being signed by an agent a couple decades ago.  Sadly, we were not a good fit and nothing ever came of it.
I have spent my entire adult life on a diet, just coming off a diet, or thinking I need to start a diet.  I have lost enough weight to create several clones. 
I can't ride rollar coasters.  Absolutely terrified. I don't do ferris wheels very well either.  But tilt-o-whirls or scramblers - anything that stays close to the ground - I love.
Surprisingly, considering that last fact, I love rock climbing.  Not very good at it, but love doing it.

I've been married 42 years. (Yes, to the same guy.)

3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it! - Well, I'm going to cheat on this one a little. Not all of these are recently discovered. Just blog friends I want to share this award with.  These are all blogs I enjoy and recommend.

Maria at Maria Zannini

Mason at Thoughts in Progress

Dru at notes from me

Sarah at Falen Formulates Fiction

Jemi at Just Jemi

Liz at Liz Fichera

Mary at Giggles and Guns

Diane at Spunk of a Stick

Stacy at Stacy's Rantings anad Whatnot

Shellie at Chapter Writer

Lee at Tossing It Out

Susan at Susan Says

Mooderino at Moody Writing

Lynnette at Chatterbox Chitchat

Mary at My Place by the Sea

Okay, there we go. Thanks again, Angela. It was fun receiving and passing along.

Note: I had this blog all done and ready to post when Blogger hiccupped and wiped out all my links. That's why I'm so late today.  Personally, I'd love you all to accept this award without feeling obligated to pass it along to quite so many if you don't have the time.

Now I have to race around to everyone's blog and let them know.

Groaner for the day: Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became a famous actor. The other stayed behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to much. The second one, naturally, became known as the lesser of two weevils.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Visiting the Ohio BCI

I had a great time today touring the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Headquarters in London , OH.  I also learned quite a bit.  Here's a sample:

The BCI has three Divisions:  Identification, Investigations, and Laboratory.  I had a pretty good idea what the Identification and Laboratory Divisions covered but I was intrigued but Investigations.

The Investigations Division contains the following Units:
  • Crime Scene 
  • Criminal Intelligence
  • Cyber Crimes
  • Environmental Enforcement (includes hazardous waste, pollution, and OSHA)
  • Narcotics
  • Clandestine Drug Lab and Marijuana Eredication
  • Special Investigations (serial crimes, police-involved shooting, public corruption investigations, dignitary protection, etc.) 
  • Missing Persons
  • Technical Operations
 These guys would be involved in pretty much any crime I might dream up.  Got my imagination working overtime.

Did you know that their Predictive Analysis people can study five crimes (commited by the same person) and predict where number six will be?  They're doing so, and very successfully.

Other interesting facts:
  • 25% of the usable prints found at crime scenes are palm prints, not fingerprints
  • The Ohio BCI gets 100 hits per month on their CODIS (DNA) database
  • Light wave technology can be used to identify different inks on the same document (i.e. altered checks)
  • Fingerprints scanned into the computer system are assigned identification points (70-75 ave. per print).  The system uses the points when searching for matching prints.
  • It takes approximately five minutes for the system to search four to six million prints on file and yield twenty possible matches for further comparison.
  • The Trace Evidence Lab can tell if a car's headlights were on or off at the time of an accident
  • Normal turnaround time for DNA analysis is 125 days, although this number is being reduced with the addition of newer equipment and more staff.  (NOT TV CSI's <60 minutes.)
Oh, and I never realized the BCI falls under the State Attorney General's Office.  I guess it's obvious but I never made the connection.

All in all, a very interesting day.

How was yours?

Groaner of the Day:  (Lots of reading above so here's a short one.)  A farmer was milking his cow. He was just starting to get a good rhythm going when a bug flew into the barn and started circling his head. Suddenly, the bug flew into the cow's ear. The farmer didn't think much about it, until the bug squirted out into his bucket. It went in one ear and out the udder.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy Hump Day - and We Have a Winner

Opps.  I'm afraid I got so wrapped up in my 9/11 posts, I completely forgot to announce the winner for last Wednesday's Caption Contest.  Congratulations to:   Maryann Miller.  Maryann, I'll be contacting you by e-mail about your prize.  Thanks to everyone for participating.

This week I'm making it easy on everyone.  These sillies come with captions.  Just enjoy.

I love the last one. 

Please take a moment to say hi if you stop by.  See you on Friday.

Groaner of the Day: In a kingdom far far away, and a long long time ago, a party was being given. To this party the king had invited everyone in the kingdom to his castle. And everyone was having a grand time. The wine was flowing, the tables were overflowing with food, and the dancing was beautiful.

Suddenly, out of thin air a gnarled old man appeared out of thin air. His hands clutched in tight fists by his body, smoke streaming from his shoulders, he walked up to the king and said, "How dare you have a party and not invite your own court wizard! For this insult I curse this castle with the dreaded Curse of the Fingers. Anyone who attempts to leave here will be rendered limb from limb by huge disembodied fingers!"

The wizard waved his bony arms about and shouted in a guttural foreign language. "There!", he said and vanished.

All at once, the people of the kingdom looked to their king. What would he do? How could he save them. The king pursed his lips and looked about him. Finally, he turned to his knights and asked for a volunteer to ride to the next kingdom and plead with their wizard to remove the curse. Of course all of the knights wished to go. The king selected the knight with the greatest seniority and sent him on his way.

The knight gathered up all his weapons, put on his best suit of armour and headed out. As soon as his foot stepped off of the drawbridge, gigantic yellow fingers appeared from nowhere and ripped him limb from limb.

One after another, each knight attempted to ride out of the castle, each one in turn was ripped to shreds. Finally, no knights were left.

The king looked about him. "Is there anyone else who would brave this curse and rescue us from this horrible fate?", he said.

"I will, sir!", said a small boy who had been serving one of the knights before he died.

The small boy packed up his belongings and provisions for the journey. Since he was a poor serving boy, he had no horse and would have to walk. As soon as he crossed the drawbridge, the yellow fingers appeared and tried to rip him apart. They couldn't! Each time the tried to grab him, the boy wriggled free and continued on his journey!

Several days later, the boy was back at the castle with the neighboring kingdom's wizard. The king was overjoyed to have the curse lifted and he called the boy to him.

"How did you escape from those monstrous fingers? All my knights couldn't get past them and they were killed. How could you do it?"

The boy looked up at the king and replied, "Your majesty, I realized after the last knight was killed that the only way to escape this curse was to...let your pages do the walking through the yellow fingers."

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 - A Different Kind of Memory

When Eleanora Leszczuk was sixteen, Nazi troops rolled through her small village in Poland.  They took her and one of her two sisters and put them on separate trains to Germany.  She never saw that sister or anyone else in her family again.

Eleanora survived the war as a prisoner, working on a forced labor farm.  It was there she met Tony, who would become her husband, and there that she gave birth to her only child, Stan.  After the war, Eleanora, Tony and their son spent five years in various refugee camps in Europe before securing a sponsor who could bring them to America.  They settled in Detroit, found work, enrolled their son in the local parish school, and started building a new life.  Stan grew up, became a US citizen, was commissioned as an officer in the US Air Force, and got married.  (And I received the great gift of having Eleanora as a mother-in-law.)

At the time of the tragedy of 9/11, Eleanora was living near us in Ohio.  Tony had passed away a few years before.  In the patriotic fervor that followed 9/11, I happened to ask Eleanora why she'd never become a US citizen.  She told me she had wanted to, back when Stan did - when he turned 21 - but it was not possible for Tony (who had no formal education) and she didn't want to disrespect him by doing what he could not. I asked her, "What about now?  Would you still like to?"  She answered, "I'm too old.  They wouldn't want me now."

Of course, this wasn't true.  I downloaded the requirements for citizenship, including the test materials, and offered them to her. She spent months learning facts most of those of us who were born here don't know.  We helped her submit the formal request in the spring and, on August 8, 2003, her 77th birthday, 52 years after she came to this country, Eleanora took and passed her examination for citizenship.  Now all that was left was the official 'swearing in' ceremony.

In a fitting tribute to the enduring strength of our nation, the ceremony was scheduled for the afternoon of September 11, 2003.  It was a large group, all eager to become part of this great country. Eleanora was supported by Stan and I, her two grandsons and their wives, and her three great-grandchildren.  There were lots of speeches and the oath was administered and we all sang God Bless America.  And Eleanora Leszczuk became a brand new US citizen.

Two months later, for the first time, she went to the polls on Election Day and voted.

It's a better memory for 9/11, don't you think?

(I'll bring the groaners back on Wednesday.  Just don't seem to fit today.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering 9/11 - the Personal Side

This weekend we're all going to be remembering 9/11, which is as it should be.  There are so many images we've seen over and over, they're part of our collective memory.  But we have our personal memories, too.  I think it's fitting that we share some of those.

Everyone remembers where they were when they heard about it.  I was working at the American Red Cross then.  I hadn't been listening to the news that morning, had no idea what was going on when I walked into my office and was immediately pulled into a meeting.  Disaster had struck and we needed to mobilize, nationally and locally.  I was sitting in that meeting, half watching the large TV on the wall when I saw the second tower go down.  For a moment there was silence, then we pushed on.

I remember the frantic call from my son.  They were evacuating his little boy's daycare center, which was located just outside a major Air Force base.  There was a fear that military installations would be targeted.  My son was on the road and couldn't get there in time.

But my most intense memories came later, when I was assigned to relief operations at the ARC Respite Center, World Trade Center.  We had set up in a university building, inside the perimeter around ground zero.  A place where the firefighters, police and other emergency personal working the pile could step away, eat, drink, rest, talk before returning to what was probably the most horrific job they would ever do.  Most of the memories I have from that time I would rather forget, but I will share this one.

We had set up a sleeping room lined with cots for those that refused to leave the site, to go home and rest.  They came in, slept for an hour or two, and went back to work.  On each cot, along with the bedding, was placed a small teddy bear.  The Red Cross often has teddy bears at shelter sites, to comfort the frightened - usually children.  I was working the kitchen that day but happen to pass by the sleeping room.  The door was slightly ajar, leaving the first cot in view.  The firefighter had simply stepped out of his boots and shed his helmet and coat before falling onto the cot.  He was sleeping.  And clutched tightly in his arm was a small teddy bear.  A very small comfort in a sea of misery. I was grateful we were able to give him that.

Will you share a personal memory of 9/11?

No groaner today.  Instead, a simple prayer - God Bless America.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy Hump Day - Caption Contest

Happy Hump Day!  Although for many of us, it's a short work week this week so we're getting over the hump a little sooner than usual. Still, I feel like doing something I haven't done for a while - a CAPTION CONTEST.

The rules are simple. Leave me a comment with your best caption for one or more of the pictures below (aw, come on, do all five) and your e-mail address.  Deadline is Saturday at midnight.  I'll throw everyone's name in a hat and draw a winner.  The prize is a book of the winner's choice picked from a selection of titles I'll send to the winner.

Ready, set, caption:






Did you think of some good ones?  I can't wait to read them.

Groaner of the Day:  A young man was in love with two women and could not decide which of them to marry. Finally he went to a marriage counselor. When asked to describe his two loves, he noted that one was a great poet and the other made delicious pancakes.

"Oh," said the counselor, "I see what the problem is. You can't decide whether to marry for batter or verse."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The End of Summer

Officially, summer ends on September 22.  But for all practical purposes, it ended yesterday - on Labor Day.  We mark the end of the season with pools closing, schools opening (if they haven't already), the final cook-out holiday of the year, and a little reflection on what we did or didn't do over the summer.

My summer was a mixed bag.  On the high side, I attended my first two writers conferences.  Met some great people, gathered lots of good information, and received an invitation to submit when ready from five agents/editors.  My hubby and I also managed to attach a mini vacation to one of those conferences and had a wonderful time.  I got to spend time with all my grandkids and had a lovely visit from out of town family.

But on the down side, we lost our wonderful old dog, Brandi, in July and my daughter-in-law's mom, a very special lady, passed away in August.

I didn't get as much accomplished as I'd hoped for.  The WIP isn't done (still in re-writes), the regular lap swimming at the pool didn't quite happen, and several projects around the house are only partially completed.

But Labor Day also marks a beginning. Just like when we were kids, going off to start a new grade, notebooks full of fresh clean paper. A fresh start. A new year.  To be whatever we make of it. 

I'm excited.

How did your summer go?  Was it everything you hoped for?  Are you eager to move into the fresh start of fall?

Groaner of the Day:  Anne the harpist had a date with her boyfriend Sam, who picked her up right after rehearsal.  She was nervous about leaving her harp in his car while they went dancing but he told her not to worry, he was good friends with the owner of the disco and she could lock her instrument in his office. 

They had a great time, and quite a bit to drink, and the next morning Anne realized she'd forgotten about her harp.  She tried to retrieve it but the club was closed and she was forced to go to that day's rehearsal without it.

The conductor, of course, demanded an explanation.  Anne explained, "I left my harp in Sam's friend's disco."

Monday, September 5, 2011

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Happy Labor Day.  A day we celebrate by not working.

Someone evidently explained this to my monitor because it decided to take the day off. 

Nope - worse than that.  I think it's dead. *lowers head in sorrow*

I've dug out a spare, but, as I try to use it, I remember why I replaced it.  A trip to the store is in order.

Please come back tomorrow for my slightly delayed Monday post.  And your daily groaner, of course.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Query Letters - One Size Does NOT Fit All (Killer Nashville - Part 2)

One of the more interesting sessions I attended at Killer Nashville was on Query Letters.  The panel was made up of agents and editors from a diverse mix of agencies and publishers.  I thought I had a pretty good idea of what should go into a query.  I've taken classes, read articles, and followed lots of blogs on the subject, but I decided to sit in on this one and hear what they had to say.

The most important thing I learned - one size does not fit all.  As quick as one member of the panel said he/she wanted this but not that, the next one said just the opposite.  One wasn't interested in the word count but most of the others wanted it included.  One wanted the first couple of pages of the mss included.  Others said no pages until requested. Some wanted author credentials on all queries, others said credentials on non-fiction only.

There were some points that seemed universal:

No Dear Sir/Madam/Agent/etc.  Know who you're sending the letter to and address it properly.
No typos or basic grammatical errors.
Start with a strong hook.
Include the title, word count (for most), genre (for most), and a very brief description.
Let your voice come through.
Don't say it's the next best seller.
Don't be "cutsie".
Don't tell more about the author than the story.
Include endorsements (marketable), if you have any.
Keep it tight, one page only.

The one other point all the panelists agreed on: Do your homework. 

Research the agents/editors before you query.  If an agent's web site says "Not interested in fantasy." - don't send a query on your great story about unicorns.  Find and read the query guidelines and follow them.

Custom tailor your query for each person you send it to.  Give yourself the best chance to be read.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Groaner of the Day:  There was once a very influential farmer in a remote part of China, who had a problem. His chickens were losing their feathers and dying. He sought the counsel of the two wisest men in town, Hing, a scientist, and Ming, a sorcerer.

Hing, who had taken a number of courses in poultry science, consulted his text books and found a report that feeding the chickens gum tree leaves was a remedy for feather loss in chickens.

Meanwhile Ming studied the obscure writings of ancient wise men and learned that gum tree leaves could provide a cure.

So the two wise men reported back to the farmer. Ming says, "As gum sticks to tables and chairs, so shall an infusion of gum tree leaves make feathers stick to chickens."  Hing agrees, saying, "Studies show that infusions of gum tree leaves alleviate feather loss in chickens." The influential Chinese farmer is ecstatic, for the two wisest men in town are of a single mind. He decides to follow their recommendation.

But it doesn't work.

Moral of the Story: "All of Hing's courses and all of Ming' ken couldn't get gum tea to feather a hen."

(Oh, that is SO bad.)