The music is strange

Why am I hearing “Death of a Marionette”? For those old enough to remember it, it was the theme song for the old Alfred Hitchcock TV show. Sometimes these things come out of nowhere. Earlier it was a song we practiced at choir last night, which at least made SENSE.

The soundtrack never ends.

A G clef of musical notes

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Aine Update

My little girl is 19.5 years old now. I recently took her to see the surgeon who removed her right front leg to save her from a fast-growing osteosarcoma (cancer). It’s been 11 years since the surgery. The fact that she’s not only still cancer free, but still alive was a delight to Dr. Caplan.

Dr. Caplan cares deeply for her patients and gives them absolutely the best care. She did a beautiful job on Aine in 2003. It was such a good job that after she’d healed and the hair had regrown, her regular vet, Dr. Neans exclaimed, “You’d never know she’d been born with a leg there it looks so good!”

Aine getting her neck scratched.
Aine is the light of my life. She getting older and slower, but so am I. I am thankful for every day we have.

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I’m back…maybe?

My body let me down and I wasn’t in the mood for being on the computer when I wasn’t at work. I’m better now and I’ll try to get posting again, though I’m out of the habit.

Since I last checked in I got a raise and a new nephew. I’ve made new friends and lost others to the old man with the sickle. I’m pretty much loving my life except for the standard cry of state employees (not enough money) and my back (still has room for improvement, but much better). Also there’s not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do and the stuff I need to do. Pretty much everyone’s problem on that last one.

Take care. God/Goddess/Allah/Krishna/the Universe (or whatever deity you follow) bless you and keep you healthy and safe.

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Wireless proof of motor vehicle financial responsibility now legal in Texas

Thanks to someone’s rush of good sense, all those apps that the insurance companies have been offering for smart phones and tablets is now of use in traffic stops in Texas.  Senate Bill 181 was signed into law on May 24, effective immediately, making it legal for law enforcement to accept viewing an insurance card on a smart phone or a tablet.  It specifically states that it “does not constitute effective consent for a law enforcement officer, or any other person, to access the contents of the wireless communication device except to view the financial responsibility information.”

In a trial, or other legal proceeding, a paper copy may still be required in discovery, etc.  The wireless provider cannot be held liable if the motor vehicle operator can’t get the financial responsibility information to download.  [In other words, if possible, it’s still probably better to carry your paper insurance card.]

Here’s the link to the bill text.

I am unclear whether this law would allow you to use your app for proof of insurance when getting license plates or state inspection tags. That may be up to the jurisdiction involved.

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Drive safely for the holiday!

May 21, 2013                                                                                                 NEWS RELEASE

DPS Increases Patrols for Memorial Day Weekend

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will significantly increase trooper patrols this Memorial Day weekend to help keep Texas roadways safe. During the increased patrols Friday, May 24, through Monday, May 27, troopers will be looking for drunk drivers, speeders, seat belt violators and other traffic violators statewide.

“Memorial Day is a time of reverence and remembrance for all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “DPS encourages Texans to mark the holiday responsibly by adhering to safe driving practices and by not drinking and driving. Troopers will be out in force, and are prepared to issue tickets to drivers disobeying traffic laws in an effort to keep our roadways safe.”

Last year during the Memorial Day weekend, DPS troopers arrested 609 drunk drivers and issued more than 6,000 speeding citations, nearly 1,400 seat belt and child safety restraint tickets, and cited 825 drivers for driving without insurance. Additionally, troopers arrested 264 wanted fugitives and 219 suspects with felony warrants. The increased traffic enforcement also resulted in 10 drug cases and 16 stolen vehicles recovered.

Drivers can take a variety of measures to help ensure safe travel during the Memorial Day weekend, including:

  • Slow down – especially in bad weather, construction areas, heavy traffic and unfamiliar areas.
  • Eliminate distractions while driving, including the usage of mobile devices.
  • Buckle up everyone in the vehicle – it’s the law.
  • Don’t drive fatigued, and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before your trip begins.
  • Slow down* or move over for tow trucks and police, fire and EMS vehicles stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated – it’s the law.

### (HQ 2013-062)

* The Texas’ “Move Over Act” was passed by the 78th Texas Legislature, took effect September 1, 2003, and can be found in Texas Transportation Code 545.157 and was amended later to add tow trucks. The law says to move over one lane or slow down 20 mph for emergency vehicles or tow trucks with their lights flashing. If going slower than 25 mph, the law requires a speed of 5 mph. I’ve seen videos of the awful crashes from DPS Highway Patrol dashboard cams from drivers who did not move over or slow down. Cars have been destroyed and people injured and killed. Please, please, obey this law.

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To Protect and To Serve

May 14, 2013                                                                                                 NEWS RELEASE

DPS Memorializes Fallen Texas Peace Officers

 AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) today honored 10 Texas law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty during the last year. The lives of these officers, including DPS Sgt. Paul Hernandez, who died while on duty October 4, 2012, were recognized at the DPS Peace Officer Memorial Service in Austin. Texas Sen. John Whitmire, the keynote speaker, and various other law enforcement officials and family members of fallen officers attended the service.

“Today’s ceremony underscores the reality that law enforcement is a dangerous line of work – full of great responsibilities and risks,” said Sen. Whitmire. “We are grateful to the men and women who take the oath to protect and serve our communities at all costs. We have a duty as citizens to honor these courageous officers, and we are forever grateful to those heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.”

Ralph Boyd, father of Trooper Russell Boyd, who was shot and killed in 1983 in Waller County, placed a wreath at the DPS Memorial Wall during the ceremony.

“It takes a special kind of person to take an oath to protect and serve their community, and to constantly place the safety of others above their own,” said Texas Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon. “The fallen heroes, families and loved ones we honor today have given so much, and we can never thank them enough for their bravery and selflessness.”

The DPS Peace Officer Memorial Service is one of many ceremonies scheduled across the nation to honor fallen law enforcement officers during National Police Week.

“We gather here today to honor our own fallen officers as well as our law enforcement partners who have died in the line of duty. There is no greater devotion to duty than to serve and protect others at any and all costs, and when any Texas peace officer dies in the line of duty, we all feel a great loss,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “We also recognize the tremendous sacrifice of the families of our fallen officers, and pledge that the bravery, dedication and sacrifice of those officers will never be forgotten.”

Last year’s service honored Texas officers who died in the line of duty from May 14, 2011, to May 14, 2012. The following Texas officers, who have died since then, were honored at today’s memorial service:

Officers killed feloniously in 2012:

  • Officer Joshua Williams, Waxahachie Police Department, was killed when his patrol car was struck by a drunk driver on July 28, 2012.
  • Deputy Sheriff Joshua Mitchell, Reagan County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed by a suicidal suspect on August 1, 2012.
  • Constable Brian Bachman, Brazos County Constable’s Office, was shot and killed while serving an eviction notice on August 13, 2012.
  • Patrolman Jonathan Molina, El Paso Police Department, died on October 5, 2012, after an assault on September 25, 2012.
  • Corporal Jimmie Norman, Bellaire Police Department, was shot and killed during a traffic stop on December 24, 2012.

Officers who died while performing their duties in 2012:

  • Deputy Sheriff Michael Smith, Upton County Sheriff’s Office, died in a traffic accident while responding to a fire on June 8, 2012.
  • Sergeant Paul Hernandez, Texas Department of Public Safety, suffered a fatal heart attack while on duty in San Antonio on October 4, 2012.
  • Patrolman Angel Garcia, El Paso Police Department, died after being struck by an automobile while clearing a road hazard on December 16, 2012.
  • Officer Edrees Mukhtar, San Antonio Police Department, died on December 29, 2012, after suffering injuries from a traffic accident while responding to a call on December 10, 2012.

Officer killed feloniously in 2013:

  • Deputy Sheriff Chad Key, Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, was struck and killed by a drunk driver while directing traffic on April 20, 2013.

 ### (HQ 2013-058)

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Don’t pass the stopped schoolbus. It’s the law.

We recently had another criminal idiot pass a stopped school bus, this one doing it on the shoulder.  The mom pushed her child out of the way and got hit instead.  I’ve included the article on it below.  I was particularly taken by the last sentence, “It was not immediately clear what charges the driver will be facing.”  At minimum, there will be a ticket for passing a stopped school bus.  Were you aware that was the moving violation with the highest fine?  It can be up to $1000. [Source]  There are additional penalties possible.

I know it can be frustrating to be behind the school bus.  The one near where I lived with my former roommate literally took 5 minutes to load or unload.  Each parent took their kid on separately and came back off again.  It felt like it took forever.  I used to just turn my car off.  The good news is that there was only one stop as it was filling up at an apartment complex.  I always wondered why they couldn’t actually pull into the complex to load and unload so as to not block traffic.

But the law says wait and every year we have people who think they are above that law.  Children and their parents are injured and killed because there are people who think their lives are more important than those of the children getting on or off the bus.  Please be a good example to others and stop when the bus lights are flashing red and the stop sign is extended (if the bus has a sign).

Texas News
Mom jumps in front of car to save child at bus stop
by Jenny Suniga & KENS
Posted on February 1, 2013 at 4:38 PM

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas — A mother was taken to the hospital after pushing her child out of the way of a speeding vehicle at a bus stop in southeast Bexar County.

Bexar County sheriff’s deputies said the school bus was stopped and had its flashers activated in the 12700 block of Highway 181 on Friday morning.

The woman was helping her child onto the bus, deputies said, and saw the vehicle barreling down the road.

The vehicle tried to pass the bus on the right shoulder, deputies said, and would have hit the woman’s child if she hadn’t shoved the child out of the way.

The woman hit the vehicle’s windshield and was taken to San Antonio Military Medical Center with a broken arm and possible head injuries, deputies said.

It was not immediately clear what charges the driver will be facing.

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“apology to the native peoples of the united states”

In 2009, the Congress of the United States passed a bill in which was included an official apology to the native peoples of the United States. It was buried on page 45 of the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010” (H.R.3326). I will post the full text at the bottom.

The passage of this apology was not well publicized, either to the general public, and especially not to the “native peoples of the united states.” I came across an article on CNN describing a member of the Navajo nation, Mark Charles, discovering the apology from comments to his blog when he posted regarding former Governor Romney’s declaration that “he would never apologize for America.” Mr. Charles had mentioned some specific incidents for which he thought an apology should be given and one of his readers “responded that such an apology had already been issued.”

Many thought he’d already known of the apology since he’d made the post on the second anniversary of the passage of the bill. No. But on the third anniversary of the bill, three days ago, on space reserved at the Capitol grounds, he and others read the bill aloud, broadcasting it online, recording it for YouTube. Here’s his blog, Reflections from the hogan, where he describes what happens in the 93 minute video.

The video has a few brief breaks in it since it appears to be recorded remotely instead of being recorded and then uploaded. Or perhaps that is the way with a podcast? But the words are clear, the prayers are beautiful, the flute playing is lovely, and the messages are heartfelt. It is also read in a Ojibway and Navajo, not just English (he didn’t have the resources to translate it to every tongue).  Whether you just read it on his blog, or actually listen to the broadcast, I believe you will be moved. Knowing human nature, I’m sure not everyone will be moved positively, but I don’t think anyone will be neutral on this one.

Personally, I was appalled that this hadn’t already been done. I was saddened that it could only pass if buried in an appropriations bill, despite several years’ effort on the part of Governor Brownback when he was in the Senate. The words of this bill were never read publicly by Congress or the President, according to Mr. Charles, which leads him to believe our country wasn’t ready to make the apology and that it shouldn’t be accepted.

My opinion is that it is the politicians who aren’t ready to make the apology. In my heart, my apology was made when I was still a child and started reading. Even though we wrote the histories, it was apparent that we were unkind and unfair. When I read about blankets that had been used during a smallpox epidemic being shipped to a reservation, on purpose, to make the population ill and kill as many as possible, I was horrified. Any reasonable human being would be. I was quite pleased years later when popular TV publicized this by using it in an episode of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” Hopefully it opened a few conversations in households who didn’t know these facts and hadn’t been taught them in school.

Consider sharing the links to the blog for Mark Charles and his video from Wednesday. Let’s open some eyes and start a dialogue. We don’t all have to agree, but we should at least have the conversation.

H.R.3326 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] – ENR)


apology to native peoples of the united states

    Sec. 8113. (a) Acknowledgment and Apology- The United States, acting through Congress–
      (1) recognizes the special legal and political relationship Indian tribes have with the United States and the solemn covenant with the land we share;
      (2) commends and honors Native Peoples for the thousands of years that they have stewarded and protected this land;
      (3) recognizes that there have been years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes;
      (4) apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States;
      (5) expresses its regret for the ramifications of former wrongs and its commitment to build on the positive relationships of the past and present to move toward a brighter future where all the people of this land live reconciled as brothers and sisters, and harmoniously steward and protect this land together;
      (6) urges the President to acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land; and
      (7) commends the State governments that have begun reconciliation efforts with recognized Indian tribes located in their boundaries and encourages all State governments similarly to work toward reconciling relationships with Indian tribes within their boundaries.
    (b) Disclaimer- Nothing in this section–
      (1) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or
      (2) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.
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Driving while impaired may not mean driving while intoxicated

As always during our holiday seasons, law enforcement at all levels will be out trying to keep the highways safe for travellers. Below I will be copying the press release from my agency.

There was an interesting article on KVUE News on Wednesday, which I could not find a link to. It was discussing that the trend lately has been for two of three Driving While Impaired stops to be for prescription drugs, not alcohol. They said that sobriety tests are likely going to be given to people who haven’t been drinking and seem lucid because of this trend if their driving reflected a problem. Many of the prescription medications make people sleepy or impair the concentration needed for driving, especially if the driver is taking multiple medications. Among those listed were

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Decongestants
  • Muscle relaxers

This is by no means a complete list.

Read the fine print on your medications. Know what you are taking. If you have questions about them, ask your pharmacist. Pharmacists are also likely to know about drug interactions. When a doctor prescribes a new medication for you, ask about possible side effects and interactions with your other medications.

Please be safe.

December 14, 2012                                                                              NEWS RELEASE

DPS Increases Holiday DWI Enforcement

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will increase DWI patrols from December 21 – January 1, which includes both the Christmas and New Year holidays. DPS troopers will focus DWI patrols in high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent. The enhanced patrols that target intoxicated drivers are funded through a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Drinking and driving are always a concern during holidays, and there is no doubt that increased enforcement by DPS and other law enforcement will help save lives,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “But the public must also do their part to help make sure all travelers on our roads have a safe and happy holiday season. Plan ahead. Designate a non-drinking driver or find alternative transportation if you plan to drink, and never get in a car with an intoxicated driver.”

During the Christmas/New Year holiday enforcement effort last year, DPS troopers made more than 1,100 DWI arrests, and approximately 350 were the direct result of the increased patrols. DPS enforcement also resulted in more than 15,000 speeding citations, 2,000 seat belt/child safety seat citations and 18,000 other citations. In addition, troopers made 1,020 fugitive arrests and 623 felony arrests during routine patrol operations.

DPS offers the following additional tips for safe travel during the holidays:

  • Slow down – especially in bad weather, construction areas, heavy traffic and unfamiliar areas.
  • Eliminate distractions, and don’t text while driving.
  • Buckle up everyone in the vehicle – it’s the law.
  • Don’t drive fatigued, and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before your trip begins.
  • Slow down or move over for tow trucks and police, fire and EMS vehicles stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated – it’s the law.

### (HQ 2012-140)

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Text-to-911 to be available nationwide soon

The FCC held hearings on the possibility of a Text-to-911. The four major wireless carriers made an agreement among them to implement Text-to-911 as quickly as possible, but no later than May 15, 2014. The carriers also agreed to implement a “bounce back” messaging that would inform anyone trying to send a text to the 911 system that the technology hadn’t been implemented yet.

A few local areas have already started using the system. Read the article for more on this technological advance.

I find stuff like this totally cool. It’s sensible. It will be of assistance to law enforcement and other emergency officials. Not only can the person sending the message also send pictures of the incident, persons who are deaf or have speech impediments would find it of use.

I have a friend of friend who had a tonsillectomy day surgery as a grownup. The next night, she was home alone when she started to hemorrhage. Having no land line, she tried to call 911 on her cell phone, but couldn’t be understood. On her way to try to find a neighbor to help her, she bled to death. A service like Text-to-911 might possibly have saved her life.

I’m sorry we didn’t think of this sooner, but now that we have, I am so happy they are moving expeditiously to get it online.

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