Lions and Fires and Fairs, Oh My

(five postcards from summer to you)

- Oh My
The people who run the 36-hole disc golf/picnic area/swimming hole/fishing pond/campground/music venue in the countryside, northwest of Portland, have more than a dozen guard peacocks roaming their grounds. I collected this one—for you—at the beginning of the Summer during a disc golf outing.

This (almost-extinct) type of Mom-n-Pop business leaves a handful of money in a bucket on their porch under a hand-scrawled list of prices, instructing you to: make your own change. Of the many signs in both English and Spanish, one was in Spanish only. I asked my paramour to translate it and she replied, "It warns about the penalties for catching fish and not paying for them."

Oh my Mom-n-Pop...there's a reason you're goin extinct.

- LionsI will not beat them in a dimly lit cave, I will not beat them crowded on a rock, I will not beat them if depraved, I will not beat them even to shock.

The chiaroscuro quality from my camera phone, rendered what would have been a mundane snapshot of sea lions in a cave worthy of presentation.

- The Fair
I captured a rare public display of the popular-in-a-previous-century, African-American headdress, being worn by a bald member of the Caucasoid race. In other words: a bald red neck cracker wearing a blue doo-rag. Because he also wore a white t-shirt with torn-off sleeves exposing racist tattoos, and four of his friends and family members were wearing at least one item of camouflaged clothing, I feel confident about my classification.

Please note: This is not an accidentally blurry photograph. I took this after four hours at the state fair err... really it was the Oregon Brewers Festival...and successfully captured what my eyes were seeing at that time.

- Fires
We went to Crater Lake and it was as snapshot-pretty as you'd expect (*oohh aahhh so bluuue*). As we were leaving the National Park surrounding the lake, a rather vaguely written portable electronic sign along the side of the highway flashed: FOST FIRE BX MM 39/44 H138. No mention of a closed road. So, about fifty miles later (with the smell of smoke gradually increasing) we were slowed by traffic cones when the two-lanes narrowed to one in several spots because of an adjacent fire.

Taking a picture of a forest fire—as one drives passed it, in a car—is something most people, in the US, don't get to do (I know in some countries, like Australia, it's more commonplace).

- Non-conformity rocks!
On a beach with a half-mile of smooth gray, varying from torso- to Lima-bean-sized, (stacked over twenty feet deep) I fell in love with a white palm-sized skipping stone.

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. — Abraham Lincoln

In defense of . . .

Profiling. It's something every police officer does; all the time, every day.  Every effective police officer becomes an efficient profiler.   But, the definition of profiling has been twisted-into and confused-with that of:  prejudicial behavior (by lawyers and their ilk) making it necessary for those efficient members of law enforcement to add to their repertoire:  perjurer (which "adds insult to injury," compounding the negativity).  Profiling was (and still is) the best way to get the job done, it's just that now, police officers need to lie in court when they do it.

Black-marketing is an economic crime, which is enforced by US military law enforcement officials in some oversea locations.  Twenty years ago, I worked as a Military Police black market investigator in South Korea.

At that time, the 27" Sony Trinitron television was one of the more highly black-marketed items.  It could be purchased by US soldiers for about $550.00 in on-post stores but was available in South Korean stores for approximately $950.00 (because the South Korean government considered high-end Japanese electronics 'luxury items').

If Private Dingleberry wanted to make some extra money, he could buy a Trinitron and sell it to Mister Kim for $750.  Mr Kim saved $200, so he was happy.   PVT Dingleberry made $200 in an afternoon, so he was happy.   But the South Korean government lost $400 in taxes.  Put simply: black-market enforcement was, and still istax enforcement.

A black-market investigator accomplishes the same thing as a highway patrol speed-enforcement officer. You can't (and aren't intended to) catch all; but, by occasionally catching a few (and by maintaining a visible presence) others will slow down out of fear of being caught.  Or—in the case of black-marketing—the government won't lose as much, in luxury taxes, if soldiers fear being caught.

So.   Put yourself in my 1989 shoes.   How do you catch someone who is legitimately allowed to purchase items but is not permitted to sell them to Koreans?

Go to the store and follow every person who buys an item that is wanted on the black-market until they either:  carry it into their house/barracks, or deliver it to a Korean?

— or —

Conduct research to determine what type of person is normally targeted by the Korean black-marketeers.  And then identify a "profile" of the typical person who becomes involved with black-marketeers.

As you may suspect, it was waaay beyond futile to attempt to follow every purchaser of every item found on the black-market. matter what...conducting month upon month of daily surveillance in stores is chrysanthemum-on-a-pogostick-amazingly-boring.  The solution was (yes, you guessed it) profiling.

I learned:

Black-marketeers, logically, targeted young risk-taker-type soldiers who wanted more money than they earned.  That turned out to be: (84% of the time) 18-25 year old male Privates, Corporals, and Sergeants; (14% of the time) Korean wives; and (2% of the time) someone who did not fit the profile.

$500 (in late-1980s dollars) was almost a full months pay for a Private; about half months pay for a Corporal; but less than a weeks pay for an Lieutenant or a Captain.

Many officers could afford (and were permitted to own) their own car.  Privates and Sergeants took taxis.

It became possible for me to identify a persons pay-grade...even when they were not in uniform...just by looking at their demeanor, their tattoos, their clothing, (especially shoes and shirts) their haircut, and their friends.   It normally took less than ten seconds.

I could watch a person purchasing an item (say a Korean-made, Samsung VCR, because it wasn't just Trinitrons) and, in under a minute, I could identify if he was going to become a black-marketer.

Some of the indicators I watched for were:

Purchase speed - A black-marketer, sent to purchase a specific item, didn't "shop".  He just went to the counter and said he wanted to buy a model 1099SD Samsung VCR.

Reference material - Since a black-marketer was sent to buy a specific item, he may have written it down or refer to a piece of paper in a Korean's handwriting...very distinct.

Payment type - Black-marketing soldiers were, many times, fronted the cash to make the purchases by the Korean black-marketeers, and - if so - that cash was, normally, all twenties.  However, most soldiers made routine "honest" purchases with a check or credit card.

I still ended up following the occasional person who "fit the profile," but didn't sell the item to a Black-marketeer.  But, mostly, the people I chose to follow would attempt to sell the item to a Korean.  Once they attempted to sell (or sold) the item(s), I'd arrest the soldier, and seize the item, and identify the Korean(s), if possible.

THE RUB:  When asked by a defense attorney, "Mister Glines, when and how did you identify my client as a person engaged in the illegal transfer of duty free goods to a foreign national?"  I had to lie.  Always.

"Sir, I was conducting surveillance on Saturday, the 13th of November, at 1930 hours, on a known Korean black-marketeer, whom I only know by a nickname:  "Donkey."  I noticed your client arrive near Donkey's location with a delivery truck containing an eight point four cubic foot refrigerator.   The refrigerator box bore only words in English.  Your client was obviously an American soldier.  I identified myself as a Military Police officer and asked your client if he lived here.  At which time, he admitted that he did not. I, then, detained him and seized the refrigerator."

If I told the truth:   "Sir, I watched a 19 year old man, dressed in ripped jeans, a Def Leppard T-shirt, and $10 Converse sneakerswhich means he was a Private or, at best, a Corporalwalk directly to the appliance counter of the PX, refer to a scrap of paper, and tell the clerk he wanted a GE Frigidaire model number 8.4ED.  He then pulled a wad of over forty twenty dollar bills out of his front pocket to pay for it, which I knew was over a month-and-a-half pay, for him.  So, I followed him to the PX warehouse where he loaded it on a delivery truck.   Then I followed him to an off-post location in Seoul where I arrested him before he could unload the truck."

He'd have said:  "What was your probable cause to begin surveillance and subsequently stop and question my client?"

And I'd have had to reply:  "He looked too young and too poor to afford a refrigerator that shits ice cubes and pisses ice water out the front."

The judge would have ruled that I had no probable cause and thrown that case (and every case) out, because appearing too young and too poor are prejudicial words.

The number one reason I left law enforcement, as soon as I was eligible to retire, was:  I was tired of being forced to constantly lie to make my living.

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations.  They presented him the words:  'And this, too, shall pass away.'  How much it expresses!  How chastening in the hour of pride!  How consoling in the depths of affliction! — Abraham Lincoln

Trailers For Sale or Rent

Being a phrequent-pheckin-philm-o-phile, it will come as no surprise that I want the power to determine (accurately and 100% of the time) whether a philm is going to be good, bad, or ugly—just from viewing its trailer. Please take note, dear all-powerful-genie, and grant me this straightforwardly (with no bizarre side-effects, which habitually befall those who've oft been granted greed-based desires*) thank you.

Too many of the philms I watched this summer (because their trailers successfully accomplished what they were designed for) were phalures. I bemoan the money I spent to see: 9, which is the phirst to mind, because the animation was wonderful, but it was the only good; the script was bad and the plot ugly. Cold Souls was a miserable pile of shite (Paul Giamatti was his usual good, everything else was mambo-ugly). Adam was phorgettably bland with a heaping side of unmemorable. 500 Days of Summer was unphortunately mediocre (since I, usually, love both Joseph G.-L. and Zooey D.). And X-Men Origins: Wolverine was jam-pack phull of banality.

Of course there were those I knew ahead of time were going to only deliver phair-to-middling entertainment, and they lived up to those expectations: Adventureland; Drag Me To Hell; Observe and Report; Land of the Lost and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Although I don't regret spending the money to see them, I feel slightly guilty recalling my pre-awareness of their empty calories.

Some philms, which may have attracted my phunds (directed-by/acted-in by someone I like, or contained a story/plot-type I normally enjoy) but—because their trailers made me suspect bad-to-ugly—I did not see were: The Time Travelers Wife; BrĂ¼no; The Brothers Bloom; Terminator Salvation; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; Angels & Demons; and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. I still don't regret not seeing these.

There were a few I chose not to see, but suspect were good—alas, their trailers phailed to hook me: Thirst; In the Loop; Tetro; Ponyo; Battle for Terra; and Rudo y Cursi. I will put these on my see-on-dvd list.

And then there were the good few: Inglorious Basterds; Departures; Moon; Is Anybody There?; The Hurt Locker; and the four I mentioned here.

*As In: Mirror mirror on the door, make my dick touch the floor ... and his legs fell off.

These capitalists generally act harmoniously, and in concert, to fleece the people. — Abraham Lincoln (Not referring to the makers of film-trailers, only because films were, as yet, uninvented.)

The World Is Supposed To End Anyway

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. — Abraham Lincoln

Certifiably Orbital

There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite. — Abraham Lincoln

That 1 Guy - Mustaches

I'm a slow walker, but I never walk back. — Abraham Lincoln

Hiking Housecats Batman!

Last week, a couple bikers and compatriots-on-the-path complimented me on my hiking cat.  They asked: How do you keep him with you? - and - What does he do when he meets dogs on the trail?

So, here's a brief "how-to" about hiking house-cats.

I've hiked with a cat for seven-and-a-half years.  My first hiking cat, a fox-point Siamese named Gus, hiked for six years—through forest, desert, meadow, and trail—in both Arizona and Utah.  I, briefly, hiked with a black-on-white kitten named Powell before he died of FIP.  And now, Cecil O. Zonkey, a lynx-point Siamese, hikes with me.  We have another cat in my household, an all-gray female named Aggie; she also hikes, (but is reluctant to cover much terrain).

The first step in determining if you can successfully hike with your house-cat is to quantify the amount of attached-to-you he has in him.  A way to measure this (without going on a preliminary hike) is ask, does your cat:
  • come when called?
  • display interest in what you are doing, especially when it's something new?
  • follow you when you walk around the house?
  • enjoy human proximity (sleep at your feet / in your chair / your lap)?
The ASPCA has a survey, to place your cat within a nine-category personality matrix, which they call Feline-ality.  This test ranks cat's socialization and energy levels.  I think the top five "most social/most energy" felines may have what it takes to become good hikers.   On the other paw: aloof cats, very lazy cats, or those who are overly timid or easily frightened will become poor-to-terrible hikers.

I think indoor-only, neutered, males who have strongly imprinted on—and are possessive of—their owners, make the best hikers.  Outdoor cats may follow you for a walk, but they are not only dis-inclined to leave "their territory" but will quickly rely on instinctual survival skills, rather than you, in a crisis (which means they will run far away when a dog shows up to your hiking party).

Once you've determined your house-cat has enough attached-to-you in him, you'll need to [1] obtain and compile some specialized hiking gear and [2] find a good location to take your first test-hike (which may mean scouting it out, without your cat, ahead of time).  Obtain these items:
  • pet backpack
  • bottle of water
  • small container of cat food
  • hiking staff or walking stick
  • brightly colored cat-collar
  • large towel
  • training "clicker" or whistle
  • small flashlight
  • optional safety items (map, compass, cellphone, first aid pack, etc.)
Place the towel at the bottom of the backpack. Put the water and food in a pocket of the pack or under the towel.  Insure the cat collar has a break-away snap and your phone number written inside; put it on when you start each hike and take it off when finished—your cat will learn to associate this collar with hiking and know when you're finished by its removal.

The reason you need a hiking staff is not about: balancing on uneven terrain, removing spiderwebs from your path, poking into hollows (for snakes) before your cat does, or having something to waive over your head if you need to appear larger to a predator (all valuable, sound, reasons to have a walking-staff between shoulder and head high).  It's more about appearance.  Walking with a staff signals: hiker.  Your cat will associate your use of it with "hiking-time" and he will quickly learn that a hike—different from a rambling walk or stroll—is reasonably-paced, mostly trail-based, and that navigation is decided by you.

For your first house-cat hike, locate a place with as many of the following as possible:
  • dirt or sand trails (cats will naturally stick to a trail, but gravel can hurt paws)
  • mostly shady (or pick an overcast day)
  • nothing man-made nearby (no cars, tents, campfire pits, etc.)
  • no roads with vehicle-traffic within 200 meters (carry your pet in the pack until then)
  • a low pedestrian-traffic area (the less other hikers and dogs the better)
  • moderate temperature and weather (not raining, not too hot or cold)
  • a long, clear, distance of visibility is best (to see other hikers coming)
Plan on your first hike being a slow one, of no more than 1/2 mile to 1 mile (but he may surprise you with the energy to hike longer).  Your cat will need to get used to the new smells and sounds, and will need to be corrected (when he heads the wrong direction) by carrying him until he sees the direction you want to walk.

Be attentive to what your cat hears or smells; pick him up and/or put him in the backpack if you: suspect another animal is close, get too near to dwellings or roads, or your cat begins to display a belligerent I-don't-want-to-walk-in-that-direction streak.

Occasionally use the 'clicker' or whistle to get, and maintain, his attention (not to get him to come to you) there may come a time when you lose sight of each other (more-so as trust builds) and then a loud, familiar, noise will tell him where to find you.

The flashlight may never be needed, but it's better to be prepared.  At least once a hike: lay out the towel and teach him that when the towel is down and you're sitting he is not to explore beyond a comfortable distance (25 feet/8 meters or closer, depending on terrain and visibility).  As with anything, the more hikes you take together, the more comfortable/familiar you will become with communicating with each other, and the more challenges you can attempt together.

The answers to the questions from the beginning of this article: He stays with me because he's been trained to follow me on the path.  When dogs approach I pick him up.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing. — Abraham Lincoln (President of America 1861-1865)