Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Maybe he won't sleep too well in jail either

Ever tried flying a helicopter?  Even Sky Kings who bop around in their own Cessnas will tell you, helicopter piloting takes an entirely higher levels of skills and experience.

A Maryland State Police helicopter weighs more than four tons, and it takes a lot of vigilance while aloft to keep it so.

But that seems to matter little to one Connor Grant Brown, 30, of Sykesville. You see, the other morning at 1 AM, Mr Brown's golden slumber was disturbed by the sound of the police helicopter providing air support to the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, and did he respond by rolling over in his sleep sack and pulling the pillow over his head and dozing back off?

He did not.  He ALLEGEDLY went out in the yard of the house where he apparently lives with his parents and shined a laser pointer into the helicopter eight times. As those of us who live in the polite side of things all know, a pilot's vision can be compromised, and his/her vision permanently damaged, by laser beams like this. 

"This is a very serious incident for people working inside an aircraft to be hit with a laser beams. These high-powered beams can cause temporary blindness. They can cause damage to somebody's retina, so not only does it cause problems for people on board the aircraft, but it could also be catastrophic for anybody on the ground, should they lose control of the aircraft," MSP spokesperson Elena Russo said.

The pilot and the officer flying with him had to be treated for eye injuries and will require follow-up treatments and tests.  

The FBI can lodge federal charges against Brown, on top of the local counts of reckless endangerment, obstructing and hindering and shining a laser pointer at an aircraft. 

In his defense, Brown told the police that he was mad because his sleep was being disturbed by the helicopter.

Well, I mean, as long as he had a good reason to attempt to blind two men and cause a helicopter to fall from the sky.

Brown mugshot
Look for his court appearance on March 24. And watch for some attorney to stand there and say, "Your honor, my client fully appreciates the gravity of this situation and wishes to apologize if he caused any problems. He states in mitigation that he was understandably irate by having his sleep interrupted that morning,
because he wanted to get a good night's sleep before spending his day off helping to refurbish toys for orphans and planting a garden outside a senior center. He has agreed to submit to three sessions of stress management counseling and feels certain that this will prevent any recurrence of this regrettable lapse in judgement."

I hope the judge sends a message to anyone else who feels that trying to make a helicopter crash is appropriate behavior. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

It's amazon, how things have changed

Where the airpark USED to be
When people familiar with that portion of the I-95 superslab that passes through our county would ask me where we live, I could tell them, in the old days, that we were close to that crazy local airport.  You'd be coming up or down 95 with an 18-wheeler and a bread truck on either side of you, and some yahoo riding a crotchrocket behind you, and all of a sudden, here would come a Beechcraft Bonanza or a Cessna Crash'em coming across your bow for a landing.  Thrills at 70 mph back then, but then the operators of the airstrip figured they turn those acres into many many dollars, and now there are many many houses there.  

I always wonder though, if there might be some old pilot who hasn't been around here for thirty years or so, who might just come in for a really surprising landing one day?  

And that's not even what I want to talk about today.  Just a hoot and a holler down the highway from that spot is another empty lot where there were plans to build a 100-store outlet mall. Oh, it was a big, big deal.  The regular mall around the corner - White Marsh Mall - with the Sears and the Boscovs and the food court and 17 shoe stores - fought it hard, took it to a referendum, and before that even came to the voters for approval, it was all OK'd. So now, three months later, comes word that the whole thing might be forgotten.

According to the Baltimore SUN, "The Lightstone Group, the developer's New York-based parent company, said it is considering selling the site after receiving 'several unsolicited inquiries.' "
"We are considering all of our options moving forward, as we continue our predevelopment activity," the firm said in a statement supplied by an outside public relations firm. "We appreciate all the support we have received from the Baltimore community."

The county councilwoman who represents that part of the county is a great woman, whose name is Cathy Bevins.  I knew her from her stellar work in the county executive's office when I was still a county employee, and she is the one who spearheaded the project through the planning and zoning process, including working out the stormwater runoffs and having the developer pay for an exit ramp off the highway to bring business to the outlets.  Ms Bevins told the newspaper she doesn't think the project is dead in the water, and for the sake of economic development, we can all hope for 100 new stores to open someday not too long from now.

But - shortly after Christmas, I decided to get a couple of fleece vests (perfect for those days when a sweatshirt isn't totally enough but you don't need a parka!), and a pair of really warm gloves, and a book about how Ray Kroc's wife bequeathed all that McDonald's money to worthy charities.  

Did I trot out to a mall to buy these things?  I did not.  

Image result for crimson tide
I used the Amazon gift cards Santa brought me, and in just a few clicks of the very keyboard on which I am currently pounding, I bought that stuff, and in a matter of days, uniformed FedEx personnel were dropping it off on our porch.

The tide of commerce is changing.  And so am I!  You'll see me coming in one of the vests - it's crimson!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Rerun: The Name Gain

It's true that I was born and christened with a perfect name for the career that I first worked in. Radio DJs who were born with names like Brian Anthony Hummelfinger had to call themselves Brian Anthony, but I just worked as myself, which made it easier for family and bill collectors to follow me from station to station.

However, I often wonder what it would be like to be named something different.  Leon. I'd love to be named Leon.  Leon is always a guy you can count on ("Leon said he'd be around later with the truck to help you move") and Angus suggests a certain Scottish stockiness ("Angus said he'd be around later to help bring the cattle back to the barn") and Ernest just sounds so...earnest. 

Of course, this was not a well-known name at the time I was born, but Elvis is a great name for baby boys.  Just sayin'...

Enzo to the rescue!
There's a blog called SheKnows that featured a list of great ideas for names of baby boys.  How about Thorn?  Enzo - that was the name of the baker in The Godfather who stood fast with Michael at a time of danger, his only weapon his bare right hand in a pocket.  Brooks - well, this is Baltimore, hon - the world capital for kids named after Brooks Robinson.  They suggest Nixon as a boy name...I met a little boy named Nixon.  At the age of 3, he already needed a shave, he kept hunching his shoulders and raising his arms, and he seemed, I don't know, shifty.  They mentionLincoln as a first name, which is cool, and Porter, which is of course the name of the great country singer Porter Wagoner, so the kid with that name also gets to wear a really cool suit.
Mr Porter Wagoner

The inartfully named Shitastrophy blog makes these points for new parents looking for a name for a male baby.  They recommend against professional names (Baker, Sheriff, Carpenter...although I would love to meet a kid namedTirechanger or Pizzabringer) and money names like Cash, Kash and Million. It's a bad start for a kid to be thinking of moolah at an early age.

Their research of census documents (hey!  how about naming the kid Census?) shows that some parents are going with names from nature, like Cove, Boulder, Granite, Moon, Moss, Sun, and Woods. Take this advice, please: do not name a child Moon.  You'll be glad later.

Car names?  AudiLexus?  Rolls-Royce? Why not Impala or Rav4?

It might be good to remember that the lead singer of The Showmen and The Chairmen of the Board was the late General Johnson, but still, I wouldn't be in a rush to name a little guy Captain or Commodore or some other military title. 

And I don't know if a little guy named Waldo can stand to have people looking for him all day.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, January 28, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Doors!

It's always touching when show biz royalty meets show biz royalty. I have to wonder how genuine this picture is, since it's autographed by "Nancy and Reagan Reagan."
They will roo the day they started this.
J. Edgar Hoover took off his dress long enough to "inspire" this novel about crazy teenage hoodlums from long ago.  Fonzie's girlfriend is, from all appearances, trying to smuggle two Nike missiles under her shirt.
This house in Iran has had people living in it for over 700 years. The landlord says it's not time yet for new carpeting.
This is an Egyptian sunset.  It doesn't sphinx.
And this is a collection of knives confiscated by English police officers from 41 different police agencies there. 
There is a lot to say about Jan and Dean, the legendary hot rod and surf music duo.  Jan (left) was attending medical school, but even having an IQ of 180 did not give him sense enough not to race his Corvette on the streets of Beverly Hills. He crashed there in 1966 and never was the same.  Dean Torrence (right) built a career in graphic arts and sporadically performed with Jan until Jan passed on in 2004.  What might have been...the saddest words of tongue or pen.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Easy Rider

The other day there was one of those online brouhahas that I have learned not to take part in, because it hurts my head to see people write things like "Your a moron."  The topic was whether the effete Eastern liberal types disdain people who drive around in pickup trucks.

Image result for rusty pickup truckMaybe some of those hi-falutin' wine-sippin' cheese-eatin' book lovers are that way, but I'm here to tell you, I had three pickups in my day, and I would still have one today except for the guy who drove into a Honda that hit another Honda that hit a Toyota that hit my pick-'em-up and totaled it, as I sat still waiting for a light to change.  I loved all my trucks, and when it was time to haul some top soil or a dozen bags of leaves or mulch or help a buddy move, I was right there.  I always had 4-wheel drive so I could get to work in the snow and mud and rain and ice and whatever nature threw at us.  

I can't say enough about how much I love pickups, and I would still have one, except that after the last one got wrecked, I realized I was getting a little old to haul sofas and entertainment centers around for friends who were relocating, so now I limit my participation to standing around helping to sort socks or frying pans.  Let the firm of Two Guys With A Truck handle the rest.

But that friendly argument started when someone pointed out that the top 3 selling vehicles last year in the USA were the Ford pickup, the Chevy pickup, and the Dodge pickup.

Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book says two words explain the appeal of pickups: "Functionality and flexibility," he says. "Everything you need in a big, roomy crew cab."

You can fill the extra seating area with kids or relatives or tools or friends or a picnic basket.  But still, a lot of those trucks being sold are the basic model with no back seat.  

I used to see people buying teeny sportscars and wonder how they hauled home a pile of 2 x 4s they took out of a construction dumpster legally purchased at a hardware store.  They usually said, "What's a 2 x 4?"  

Anyway, is your current ride on the top ten sellers?  Here they are:

1. Ford F-Series pickup  595,656

2. Chevrolet Silverado pickup 425,556

3. Ram 1500 pickup 359,226

4. Toyota Camry  297,453

5. Honda Civic 283,783

6. Toyota Corolla  275,818

7. Honda CR-V   263,493

8. Toyota RAV4   260,380

9. Honda Accord   258,619

10. Nissan Altima 242,321

Source: Autodata

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Losing Benjamin's Buttons

You know that fellow Weird Al Yankovic, right?  He does polka-flavored song parodies and he is funny.  He must be; he's been around since the late 70s and he's still getting laughs.
Image result for weird al daughter mouse
Interesting fact about Al: he confirmed to Howard Stern that he has never cursed, never sworn.  I'll be damned if I can make that claim, but good for him.  Besides profanity, he also is a stranger to alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.


Anyway, Al recently created a dialogue online by stating that his teenaged daughter Nina makes a habit of buying mice from the pet store - those little mice that are sold as snake food - and releasing them into nature.

That's what she wants to do with her allowance, and that's her business, right?  And it ended then and there, right?  And no one piped up with a word in opposition and went back to reading and listening to fine music, correct?

Oh, did the sluice gates open! People took time to put down their hamburger and type that the young lady was wasting her time, that owls would eat the mouse she just set free by the time ten minutes went by, that she was making some snake go hungry...on and on they ranted, and I sincerely hope that young Ms Yankovic did not see these words, or care much about them if she did.

We've become too cynical if telling a 14-year old that trying to do something to help an animal is a foolish waste of time. 

It seems to me that if we aged backwards, like in that Benjamin Button movie, and lived in a sardonic manner as children, and then grew out of that and acted with childlike innocence by the time we entered the workforce and mated, things might be nicer.

Especially for the mice!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

This December, when we look back over 2017 and start selecting the best pictures, events, and quotes of the year, look for this one to be in the top ten dumb things anyone said:

"I'm drunk. I'm stupid. I'm a Pats fan."
The author of that quote, one Dennis Harrison, is 25, and to paraphrase Casey Stengel, in ten years, he's got a chance to be 35.  
But don't expect him to be much smarter than he is now.

In the middle of the night last Saturday night/Sunday yawning, young Harrison ALLEGEDLY left a party of his fellow intellectuals and went to the hotel where the Pittsburgh Steelers were asleep prior to Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Boston New England Patriots. 

Everyone left their rooms.
His "friend" drove Harrison in his own car to the hotel, and said he'd wait for him. Harrison ankled through the lobby of the hostelry and up the second floor, where he pulled the fire alarm to rouse the Steelers. And, of course, every other man, woman and child in the place.

Then, he beat feet back to the street, only to find his wheelman gone, and the car sitting there, with no keys.

So Harrison walked away, and that's where he was arrested, in one of the easier cases for Boston PD to crack since they busted Whitey Bulger.

What troubles me is that every report I've seen about this whole stupid prank mentions how inconsiderate it was of Harrison to mess with Ben Roethlisberger's night of golden slumber and the others in the Holidaze Inn.

No one talks about the risk that firefighters and police undertake to respond to the false alarm.  For all they know when they get the call, fire is busting out windows and smoke is filling the hallways and people are climbing onto the roof to be rescued. Check the statistics from the National Fire Protection Association to see just how often people who have lost some of their marbles decide to pull a fakeroo. First responders have been injured and killed during these incidents, and other citizens as well, from collisions with responding apparatus.

And add to that, someone two blocks away from the hotel might really need fire, EMS, or police assistance for a true emergency.

Not the look of a wise man.
The Boston Globe reports that Harrison pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and setting off a false fire alarm charges. He's due back in court on Feb. 13.

I for one hope he gets, at the very least, some time in the Walled-Off Astoria. He doesn't look like it's easy for him to learn this is a bad habit, but maybe others can learn from his stupidity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Next year, I resolve to make my resolutions on time

Image result for resolutionsI have, in years gone by, resolved to make no more New Year resolutions, because I always hated to see January 10 arrive and realize the list was pretty well shot already.

But really, why just make resolutions on January 1?  Any day of the year is a good to make changes.  The only thing remarkable about Jan 1 is that there are football games to watch, and Auburn usually loses.  

And it was a day in mid-September long ago when I stubbed out the last Kool cigarette I would ever smoke.  So the day you make the change is not significant; the change itself is the thing.

I found a list of anytime resolutions online, and I am a madman for online lists. Let's see how it works out...

  • A destination I'd like to visit: The set of The Price Is Right. Just to be in that room would be magic, whether or not Drew Carey invited me to play Plinko
  • A food I want to eat more of: Kale. I've always loved it, it's very healthy, and I almost feel like I shouldn't love it as much as I do, because it doesn't taste like food that's "good for you." Boil it, broil it, sauté it, make a salad of it, even roast it for snack chips...more Kale please! 
  • I'd like to spend more time: at the library. A world of information at my fingertips with a fireside reading room in which to enjoy it! 
  • A class I'd like to take: If any school anywhere ever offers a symposium on the life and writings of Ring Lardner, I will be there in the front row!
  • A bad habit I'd like to break: I just checked with Peggy and received confirmation that I have no bad habits whatsoever, and there's nothing about me that needs the slightest change. But seriously, I would like to stop fretting so much over other people's mispronunciations on radio and TV. I mean, I know what they mean when they say, "respitory," "tempacher," and "on tenderhooks," so I'm just going to seethe to myself from now on.
  • Something I need to fix is the junked-up, stacked up conditions of the garage, and pretty soon I'm going out there to clear out the detritus. Anyone who needs some extra tire irons, snow scrapers or Greaseman cassettes should be standing in the driveway when these items and thousands more go flying out of there.
  • I'm going to work harder at getting more exercise. My preferred method is walking. My doctor asked me if I'd ever been to Cleveland, and when I said no, he suggested I go...by foot. And walk home!
  • I want to wear more of what I call the Brick Heck look. Long tshirts topped with short sleeved shirts, cargo pants - short or long - and a rakish fedora or newsboy cap. The Goodwill was happy to get the lion's share of my ties when I retired; I kept just a couple for wearing to funerals (including my own) and my two remainging suits will do forever. No more Weejuns, no peeble-grain bluchers, no wingtips on my feet.  Like all retired men, I'm walking on Rockports or I'm staying home! 

Whatever your goals, be they daily or annual, good luck and happy rest-of-the-year!