30 August 2011

Floods and stuff....

One of the few good things in SF, the Golden Gate

From the Soldier side: Again our country has been hit by a form of terrorism on the East Coast..…this time it was something predicted and something there was knowledge of…a Hurricane! 

If you check out all the damage since Sep 11th 2001 that has happened in the US, you’ll see most of it was caused by “natural” or “manmade” disasters.  Earthquakes, floods, fires, natural gas fires, other chemical leaks etc.  In none of these incidents did some terrorist cause any damage. 

Some of the things I’ve seen and heard in the network news that took place in the East of the US, it appears that some government agencies were very well prepared for the hurricane and flooding.  However, others chose to not take any action and then go into the worst mode of disaster preparation- panic.  “Call the National Guard!  Call FEMA--- save us!”

I know a major disaster can be difficult to prepare for and then work through after it hits… I’ve been to a few rodeos and saw how many leaders had to learn things the hard way—while some others did very well and we felt good with them leading us.  Then when I had to lead and decide when or when not to put troops into danger--- for what?  I would look at what we were asked to do and see if it was really needed, or if somebody just thought the National Guard could do anything…with nothing.
The vintage 5 Ton Dump Truck

If you just take one disaster- flooding.  Flooding can happen in almost anywhere in the world.  Even places where it may not get much water it can flood.  To plan for floods you should see where the water has gone in the past floods and plan on the worst case. 

One of the floods I went to with the California Army National Guard in the 1990’s was in the Russian River area of California.  We responded with our B.A.A.Ts’ (Big Ass Army Trucks) a few days BEFORE we knew it was going to flood.   We took the team leaders out and drove around with the locals and they showed us what roads would flood and which we could drive out on to evacuate those whom we knew would ignore the evacuation orders.  There are always a few who either don’t think the rules apply to them or that it won’t really be that bad.  These knuckleheads end up putting the emergency responders at risk when the call and say: “come and save me, this shit is worse than I thought.”   I think I’ve written about this in the past, so I won’t go on. 

Another very important part of emergency workers and “volunteers” who respond to an emergency—the MUST be properly trained and guided by those with some experience or at least a lot of common senses.  Without one or both of those qualities, failure becomes a big option. 

Several years ago, after I had just been home from Iraq for about a month, I went back to work at my old Police Department.  We had a lot of very good officers in that department.  We did not have a lot of good top leaders though.  And what always scared the shit out of us is when one or more of those top leaders showed up on the ground at a critical incident.  They would tend to try and fu—things up with lack of common sense.  One of them had been in law enforcement for over 25 years, so he should have had experiences to help, but whatever he had learned in the past was wasted.  (God I’m glad I’m retired so I can talk about this stuff now.)

On the morning of a big flood, I was one of the few cops who made it to work and actually had a loaded pistol with me.  Our locker room was under a few feet of water along with all of our personnel gear and duty guns.  I had an off duty (.380 auto and spare magazines) with me at home, so I brought that.  If we had an armed encounter, there were only a few of us with a gun.  Turned out we were lucky and never needed to use guns, but we had enough other stupid shit going on. 

Our entire down town was a raging river.  As we were standing on high ground and watching I told the Chief: “did you see what floated by?”

The Chief looked at me and said: “No, what?”

Me: “Our next raise.” 

A few minutes later, one of the other big bosses came over to me and said I needed to walk across the river which had been our main street down town and get to an apartment where an elderly lady was waiting to be rescued. 

Now, here’s the difference between me and one or two of my former bosses…I had common sense.  The water was 3 to 4 feet deep and moving at over 10 MPH…a lot of force.  There was no way I was going to walk across that river and drown myself…so I walked over, 20 feet away to where the “Swift Water Rescue” guys were staged with their cute little wet suits and boat.  I explained the problem and they told me that the water was moving too fast.  I told them to change their names to “Slow Water Rescue” and be honest. 

That  boss had heard the conversation and then actually said one of the few smart things I ever heard come out of his mouth: “Maybe we should wait for the water to go down.”

No shit. 

Then yesterday, as I watched the news on the flooding from Hurricane “I”  on the east coast….I saw some brilliant New Jersey Army National Guard troops destroy 2 LMTV trucks.   I’m sure somebody will get an ass chewing over that…we learned long ago to NEVER drive big trucks through water deeper than the running boards or moving faster than about 3MPH.  I once drove a  28,000 pound Army 5 ton dump truck into moving water.  It was below the running boards…but moving so fast it started to move my truck sideways.  I drove out at a nice slow steady speed before I went any deeper.  If a little flood water can move 28,000 pounds, just think what it can do to a small car or a person.

 Watch some dumbass stuff here:  These guys give the Guard a bad name

  Note: I’ve been told a few times that I’m “too negative”.  Well, I suppose that’s right.  How could I not be.  However, I try to just report the story as I saw it, and let others judge: “was that person a dumbass or not?”

28 August 2011

R.I.P. Crown Vic'

From the Cop side:  I just heard the sad news the other day.  It was very sad news.  Yeah, I know if you work in police work as long as I did you are going to hear a lot of bad news.  But to fully understand the magnitude of this loss you have to go back in time and see why I feel this way.  The loss I’m talking about is that Ford Motor Company has announced that they are going to stop make the Crown Victoria Police car. 

Yeah, I know they’ve said that a few times in the past, but I think they mean it this time.  And now you ask why would the CI Roller Dude be so upset over the loss of a car from the production lines in Detroit? 

Well, like I said, you have to go back in time and see some of the crap we had to drive as police cars.  When I started in 1979, the department I worked for had a small fleet of cars, so we used most of them 24 hours a day.  We had for the most part Chrysler products with large V8 engines.  These old cars still used carburetors and Chrysler over came the lack of power by making the engines really big.  I mean big ass engines compared to what we use today.  440 Cubic Inches!
Circ 1980s Dodge Diplomat POS

Then Detroit was forced to install lots of smog controls in the California cars and made the engines much smaller to save fuel.  So what the cops ended up with was a piece of shit for a patrol car.  The only way we won in pursuits was by good driving and the bad guy crashing.  Some of those shit cars had a top speed of 85 Miles Per Hour!

As the 1980’s moved along, the Chrysler patrol cars got worse and worse.  I remember getting on the highway going Code 3 to an emergency with my foot glued to the floor--- and getting passed by a transit bus.  Old VW beetles could out run our cars then. 

Then, in the early 1990’s Ford came up with a better patrol car.  Yeah, at first they still were not that great, but they were comfortable. 
Circa 1991 Ford Crown Vic

Then they got better and better.  I loved them.  They could go fast and handle well and they were comfortable enough to ride in for a 12 hour shift…and carry all the crap we needed in the trunk.  Fire extinguisher, first aid kits, flares, computer, body armor, entry tools and devices, spare paperwork, lunch, and whatever else you needed. 

Now, they are going to retire the Crown Vic.  Ford says it’s going to make the Taurus car into a cop car.  Well, good luck. 

24 August 2011

Are you prepared?

From the Cop side: One of the “other assigned duties I had as a Police Sergeant over the years was I was in charge of disaster planning/training and preparation.  I guess since I had a bit of experience in real disasters, it was a good job for me to have.  I had responded to multiple State Active Duty Missions with the Calif Army National Guard...floods, fires, earthquake and riot...

With the recent big earthquake they had on the east cost of the US, it’s kind of a reminder to make sure you are prepared.  In the past, most people in the US had specific things that they would prepare for…and the east coast did not have earthquakes on that list of things to be ready for.  As a rule of preparation, you should be prepared to survive on your own for at least 3 days.  This means you have some type of shelter, food, water etc to survive. 

When I was a kid, we lived in the middle of tornado country.  As a kid, I thought it was really cool when we saw tornados….I didn’t know what kind of damage they could do.  I also lived on the east cost a few years and remember getting ready for hurricanes.  And having lived in California all my adult life, I knew to be ready for the “Four Seasons”- Floods, Fires, Earthquakes and Riots. 

However, there is one disaster….that everybody around the world should be prepared for…and that is when the Zombies attack.  The first things you need is sturdy shelter and a large caliber weapon with lots of ammo. 

An old example of when Zombies attack: 

If you are prepared for Zombies, you are prepared for anything. 

15 August 2011

The "WALL"

From the Soldier side:  When I joined the US Army in 19--- I didn’t get the job (MOS) I had asked for…but I guess it turned out OK anyway.  It was at the end of the Viet Nam war and it seemed the US Army was really short of grunts in most of it camps in Germany.  I went through AIT (Advanced Idiot Training) at swampy Fort Polk Louisiana and became an 11 C 10- Indirect Fire Crewman..or in plain language- Infantry Mortars.  A grunt who could both readn and write.

Not only did I fail to actually get the job I thought really wanted in writing, but I failed to get a duty location in writing…so Uncle Sam sent my ass to Frankfurt, Germany.  For a few days in transit, we stayed in a former German prison….it looked like a former prison. 

Those of us who failed to get a written guarantee for a duty assignment were herded into a big room and told: “most of you are grunts…so look in the map of Germany and where you see Blue Pins is where they need grunts.  Pick a place and we’ll try to get you there.”
CI Roller Dude was in C-2-6 weapons platoon

I looked at the map and it was covered in blue pins….every US Army base in Germany (there were a lot in those days) needed grunts.  As I looked at the map, I noticed that there were blue pins way over inside of East Germany---in the City of West Berlin.  Wow.  That looked kind of cool.

When my turn came up to talk to the clerk and tell him where I wanted to go I said: “I’d like to go to Berlin.”

The clerk looked at me and said: “Shit!  Do you know how much paper work that is?  Oh well, if that’s where you want to go I’ll do it.  Give me your ID card and we’ll have to make up special orders.  You’ll leave tonight....put on your Class A uniform.” 

And off I went on the over night “duty train” to West Berlin. 

The anniversary of the “Wall” coming down was the other day.  I remember two things very well about The Wall.  When I was in West Berlin, we joked that our kids and our grandkids would be going to Germany to keep the Commies in check.  We felt that the wall would be there forever.

The 2nd thing I remember....When the “Wall” came down and I was watching it on TV with my sons…I said: “ I thought you guys would be going there to keep the world free.  Oh, by the way, you see that part of the wall right there?  That’s where I got drunk one night and pissed on it….and waived at the East German Border guard up in the tower.    

13 August 2011

Free money for those who didn't earn it

From the Cop side: Many, many, many years ago, before I became a Cop, I went to Kollege to get me an ed you ma kation.  I was only able to obtain this enlightenment because I had spent a few years in the service of Uncle Sam in the US Army. 

My dee gree was in what they call the Administration of Justice…which sounds pretty cool unless you knew the real reason I went to college and chose this program.  My buddies from High School, who stayed home while I went off to Germany, told me all about this program.  They said the classes were pretty easy and you learned cop stuff.  Sounded cool to me.

Out of the four of us in that old group, I am the only one who ended up getting a degree and the only one who went into Police work.

But really none of that is what I decided to write about today---this was just some background info to give some kind of credit to what I used to think about crime and society….which was somewhat changed over 32 years.

What I was told in school was that in our society, “most” of the population is good.  This is true.  What cops have done for years is spend about 90 % of their time when dealing with true crime that was caused by 5 to 10% of the population.  I know some days it seemed like I only saw the worst of society…and took them to jail when required. 

However, in the last few years, I found that some of these numbers have changed in some places.  These are places where there is economical problems…sometimes not because there are few jobs, but because there are few people who want to work.  Why should they?  They can sit on their ass in the apartments that are either free or low rent.  They are handed free money and food stamps.  They can sleep until noon, then get up and go look for something to drink or smoke and steal….why on earth would they want to work? 

Then one thing I saw happening…is recruiters from the local community colleges would go into these neighborhoods (after noon of course) and tell these people about how they can get more free money by going to college.  The recruiters may have been trying to help these bums get off their ass and get an education and perhaps learn a skill so they could get a better job…but in so many cases all the welfare bums heard was “….sign up for so many units and you can get state/federal aid for free.” 

I am not making this shit up.  I talked to the folks who worked in the admissions offices and the offices where they gave out the finical aide…even they, who were very liberal were complaining that these bums were coming in and demanding the money.  They were told to go sign up for classes, and walked over to the admissions folks and “demanded” that they sign them up for however many classes they need to get the free money---that they were entitled to. 

The admissions folks would try to explain that the student had to figure out what classes they wanted and qualified for…and the welfare bums would just say: “put me in any class I can get into so I can get my money.”

For this college I’m talking about, they typically had about 10 workers to process “free money” for students.  At the same college to process the paperwork for the Veterans, they had ONE person.  The Vets had to talk to a class counselor, set up a specific program and take classes and PASS them, or they go cut off.  So the vet’s paperwork had to flow through ONE person, then hopefully all was filled out right and then get sent to the VA office in the area…and hope the person processing it was doing the right thing…and IF everything worked out right and the stars aligned the right way, the Vet would get their EARNED school assistance money before the semester was over.  In many cases, they waited months to get the money they had EARNED.

Meanwhile, the welfare bums wake up at noon, show up the 3rd or 4th day of the semester and demand somebody fill out all the paperwork and give them money that they never earned. 

That’s your tax dollars being spent at California Community Colleges….  I worked everyday of my life from the age of 16...and many times I worked more than one full time job. 

Edit update: What I forget to say in the first posting of this was: Most of these bums who showed up for free education money only went to class the first few weeks of the semester.  Once they were "locked in" to being paid, they stopped going to class---but still got paid.  They could typically get away with this for 2 semesters, then get cut off.  A typical Vet going to college on the GI bill got paid late and if they didn't show up for class, they not only got cut off, but had to pay back the money.

06 August 2011

The Way to Iraq?

From the Soldier side:  After reading "America's First Sergeant" blog yesterday, I had to dig back into my hard drive and find some other F.A.S. (Funny Ass Stuff)...
And due to popular vote, I took off the music playlist. 


05 August 2011

The "Specialist...AKA "Sham Shield"

From the Soldier side: Many years ago I was proud to be a US Army Specialist E-4.  The US Army came up with the “Specialist” rank structure in the 1960’s I guess.  It was a strange system that used to start at the E-4 pay grade and at one time, went all the way up to E7.  The weird thing about this rank system is it was parallel to the “hard stripe” rank system.  In other words they also had Corporal E4, Sergeants E5 through E7. 
CI Roller Dude when he was neither CI or Roller, but 11Charlie

In those days, they gave the “specialist” ranks to soldiers who were not in the infantry (with some exceptions) …like clerks, cooks, medics etc. However, I was in the Infantry, (81MM Mortars) and they made us Specialist.  The odd part was, if for example a Spec Five was in a squad and there was a Corporal E4 as the squad leader, even though the Corporal was paid less, he’d be in charge.  In some ways this was a good system…as for example when we were doing training in the States for Iraq and we'd often get mixed in with a bunch of other soldiers for training…and because the Cook Sergeant First Class (E7) was the highest ranking person in the group, he’d be put in charge.

I’m sorry, I know I’m going to hurt somebody’s feelings, but I will NEVER EVER want a friggen’ cook in charge of me ever again.  If we'd been in combat, we'd all been killed!  ...some stupid...bla bla bla...

Anyway, when I was in Berlin in the 70’s, I arrived as a Private E-2.  That gave me one little skinny stripe on my collar.  My goal was to be a “Specialist” E4 as soon as possible.  However, they told me that since my first enlistment was only for 2 years, that it would take 18-24 months before I could be an E-4, so I’d likely never get promoted beyond Private First Class (E3). 

Wrong.  I was promoted to E-4 after about 11 months in service—mostly because I could both read and write (neither was a requirement in the Infantry in those days.)

The Army did away with the “Spec” ranks above E4.  However, they still have both Corporals and Specialist.  A Corporal is always considered a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) but a Spec 4 can be either “enlisted” or and NCO, depending on the needs of the minute.    

With all the jokes you can make about any rank in the Army, whenever I went to a new camp in Iraq and needed something, it was ALWAYS a Specialist who got me what I needed and showed us what we needed. I called these “Command Specialist”   

1.    The Specialist Creed

No one gets away with more than I. I am a non Non-Commissioned Officer, a beast of burden. As a junior enlisted soldier I realize that I am a member of an underappreciated, much chastised group of soldiers which is known as the ribcage, or perhaps pancreas, of the Army.

I am proud of myself and my fellow Specialists and will continue to bitch, whine and sham until the absolute last second regardless of the mission at hand. I will use my grade and position to avoid responsibility, accountability and any sense of presence of mind.

Ignorance is my watchword. My two best excuses will always be on the tip of my tongue "I didn't know," and "It wasn't me." I will strive to remain invisible and unavailable for details. Never ever volunteer for anything is my rallying cry.

I am aware of my role as a SPC and if you need me for anything, I'll be on appointment. I know the other soldiers, and I will always refer to them by their first name or in some cases derogatory nickname. On weekends, or days off I will consistently drink myself into oblivion, and I will never answer my phone. I understand that for a person in my hierarchal position, rewards are going to be few and far between, and punishment will always be swift and severe.

Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties, because I will be accomplishing them for them. I will kiss up to their face and badmouth them behind their back, just like everyone else. I will be loyal to those with home I serve, provided there's something in it for me. I am the last bastion of common sense that stands between me and the Army philosophy of "Work Harder, Not Smarter." My voice is a tool and my complaints are a weapon that I wield with unmatched skill and finesse. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget, Specialist is the greatest rank in the Army and rank has its privileges.


02 August 2011

It's only a joke....

From the Soldier side: Ever since I was a young private in the US Army, I enjoyed pulling practical jokes on people…anything for a laugh. 

As I got older and matured, I My rules were simple: 1.) It can’t be too offensive 2.) It can’t get anybody killed or injured really bad 3.) It has to get as many people to laugh as possible. 

When we were in Bosnia, it seems we had lots of fellow soldiers serving with us who not only lacked a sense of humor, but were also not very bright.  When I had any free time, I would send an e-mail joke to some of my friends at other camps in Bosnia.  One day I read in my favorite on-line news source (www.theonion.com) about a gay pride parade.  Funnyass e-mail sent out

It was easy for me to re-write the article and send it out in an e-mail.  In my version of the already phony story, the gay pride parade had taken place on Eagle Base, our main camp in Bosnia.   Well, I didn’t know that some of my friends would forward the e-mail to others…who forwarded it to others and so on.  Eventually the joke e-mail worked its way down the intelligence chain (from the brightest soldiers to the least bright until it eventually reached some with a very low I.Q. 

Within a week I was getting e-mails back where the sender had hit “reply all” and demanded to know how the US Army could allow such a parade to take place on one of its camps.  I started to get several e-mails back asking why the sender had not seen or heard of the parade.  Since the upset soldier was not very clear about why they were upset, I simply responded that I’d pass on that they wanted to march in the next such parade.

Just to be clear, there was no such gay pride parade at Eagle Base while I was in Bosnia.  But when you get attached to a unit who was filled with red necks, it was worth the laughs we got letting people think there had been a parade like that. 

I just felt my duty was done when I got a laugh....