Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009

Its New Years Eve and my partner and I will be ringing in 2009 working the night shift. It feels like its sixty below outside and the wind is blowing hard enough to turn me in to a fat, middle aged kite.

Nonetheless, I wish for all of you a safe and blessed New Year. And as the old saying goes, may your best day of last year be the worst of the new.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Jersey Abbott District funding paying huge dividends

Got this one in the email last night. It is alleged that it was sighted hanging in the window of a Burger King in Newark, NJ.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Traditional Latin Mass......Help Wanted

While checking my email this evening I received a note from the Maestro that he received from Father Bob Gorman at Saint Ambrose in Old Bridge, NJ. The Traditional Latin Mass is being offered at Saint Ambrose on Saturday mornings at 9:30 am. Sadly, after a hiatus the attendance has dropped substantially and it appears that this opportunity will not last if numbers are not boosted. So, if you or anyone you know is interested in this very beautiful liturgy.....see you there.

Port of call

Every once in a while I witness a behavior that in of itself isn't all that offensive. However, when I then remember the eight or nine previous times I have seen the same scenario I feel I must pause to comment. So, as I was in the midst of an inter facility transport today we were delayed by our elderly patient who was upset that her "adult" son would not be able to accompany her in the ambulance for her ride to the new hospital. Despite our assurances that we would be happy to accommodate this very reasonable request she was inconsolable until "sonny" came back from having a coke and a smoke somewhere else in the hospital building. As I watched the interplay between "momma" and "sonny" several things became abundantly clear and I again realized that advice my father had given me many years ago was right on target.

Sonny was my age (mid forties) and did not drive. He seemed to be of reasonably normal intelligence, had no obvious physical limitations, spoke clearly and from what I could tell should probably be a contributing member of society. However, on closer listening to the interplay between the two characters in our little vignette it became clear to me that sonny was a leach who not only still lived with mom but was totally dependent on her for every need.

Now there is nothing wrong with being dependent on someone, particularly in the case of this old lady. Clearly sick and old, at this stage of the game she should have someone to depend on for her needs. Married people with children depend upon each other to meet all the responsibilities of parenting, most times both spouses work to provide sufficient income so her in the Peoples Republic of New Jersey your family does not wind up living in some sad little shed because the state government needs more of your money to fund failing Abbott District schools. Sadly, "sonny" will not be filling this type of role. Because he, like too many other over dependent "adult" children never learned how to fend for themselves and remain in this artificial child like state waiting for "mommy" to take care of his needs.

I remember my Dad explaining to me that raising children is kind of like a ride in a boat. When the kids are small you have to do all of the rowing and make sure they have their life jacket on. As they get a bit older you try to coax them over the side in order that they can learn how to swim on their own. At some point however if they are going to be stubborn you might be called upon to toss them over the side so they can learn to save themselves. That's not to say that you row away and leave them to drown. On some level no matter how old you and your parents get it seems they are always near by in the boat ready to throw you a life line if you need one. But not "sonny". He and so many like him got booked in to a first class cabin and have no plans on setting foot on the dock.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Taming the Beast

So, what to do when you find out that you have nine coming for Sunday dinner and everyone is tired of pork. Well, first off to the local wholesaler for a suitable piece of meat. Thus, the beast.

This is an 11.25 pound piece of unfortunate bovine that was destined to be the center piece of our family dinner for ten. While I am not sure of the cut it is probably the next to the last part of the cow that made it over the fence. After some careful research yesterday on my new favorite cooking website I found that slow roasting at around 250* F would take the tough out of this massive fellow. So the day before I covererd it in some liquified garlic/onion paste that I augmented with some fresh ground sea salt, cracked black pepper and a bit of paprika. But what to do for gravy. Having the palate of a cleft lipped sommolier I reached for a recent vintage that was a favor from the nuptials of H. Carl Farvman.

Looking for something a bit more full bodied (good bourbon and cheap cigars have taken their toll over the years) I added some dried mushrooms I got on the cheap at the grocery store some weeks ago. At the time I didn't know what I would use them for but then it became abundantly clear.
And so it began. I popped the wretched creature in the oven at around ten thirty after lettting it reach room temperature. Then it was on for the six hour tan. Complimented by a nice pasta salad compliments of my blushing bride, some
nice semolina, green salad and a roasted potato side dish we coaxed ole Bessy from the oven and were greeted by the fruit of my labor.
Then only six chose to attend. Seven if you count the carefully disguised interloper trying to mooch a free meal.....

How can you say no to a face like that?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Old friends rediscovered

Since I was very young I have loved to read. The joy in finding a good book or talented author is tremendous. I think the only thing that rivals the feeling is to rediscover a book or author that you had forgotten about over the years and enjoying their work all the more the second time around.

Over the years my tastes in books has remained relatively constant. I don't go much for the pulp of the day and often find myself reading satire. One of my favorites is PJ O'Rourke. I just finished rediscovering his "Republican Party Reptile", a collection of essays from various magazines that have employed him over the years. Following is his definition of a Republican Party Reptile...

"I think our agenda is clear. We are opposed to: government spending, Kennedy kids, seat-belt laws, busing our children anywhere other than Yale, trailer courts near our vacation homes, all tiny Third World countries that don't have banking secrecy laws, aerobics, the UN, taxation without tax loopholes, and jewelry on men.

We are in favor of: guns, drugs, fast cars, free love (if our wives don't find out), a sound dollar, and a strong military with spiffy uniforms. There are thousands of people in America who feel this way, especially after three or four drinks."

If you need a few laughs and some intellectual stimulation any of his stuff is great. Parliament of Whores or Eat the Rich are two good choices. And he's still readable after three or four bourbons.

Katie's revenge

I am a dyed in the wool dog person. I make no apologies. And until I met my wife I will confess that I never met a cat person that I really liked. So as fortune would have it for the first twelve years of our married life I have cohabited with a minimum of two felines at any given time.
Its not that I have any particular disdain for the specie, but what the hell is the point. They are aloof, sneaky and if you have the good sense of de-clawing them to preserve your furniture they are useless in occasional service as agent of death for the occasional household pest.

But I always knew deep in her heart my wife was a dog person and during a grinding war of attrition I finally convinced her that our home needed a good canine companion. In my own larger than life "go big or stay home" manner of living it was preordained that I would have a large dog. Thus, Inkey the Newfoundland came to be and all was well, or so I thought.

As I mentioned, there are two cats in our humble menagerie. The first is a rather large Maine Coon that from square one lay down the law and now peacefully coexists with the Newf. Katie on the other hand is our neurotic cat and since the arrival of the dog she is rarely seen. Banished to the parallel universe of the "upstairs" where the dog rarely travels she has been reasonably content at night time interaction with the family and has not been too much trouble. Peace in our time. Well, maybe not.

Christmas Eve afternoon while getting ready to get in the shower before church I went to fetch my towel which usually is draped over the side of the claw foot tub. For some reason the towel had fallen into the tub and I reached in and yanked it out only to be greeted by the sight of a huge parcel of feline feces which apparently Katie deposited in thanks for her exile. My wife thought this was funny, until she discovered a similar if more liquid present in the gift bag containing her sisters Angora sweater.
Cat people......they don't know what they are missing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Silent Night

Everyone is finally all tucked in dreaming of the goodies under the tree tomorrow. It was my 47th Christmas Eve at my Mother's house and incredible as it seems, it gets better every year.

I have a great many things to be thankful for.

May the choicest blessings of Almighty God descend upon your homes and family.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Blessings in disguise

I received this via email this morning. The author is unknown.

In 1974 when I first joined the police department, I knew there would be special occasions my family would spend without me; knowing that fact didn’t make the task any easier. The celebrations I missed those first years depressed me and sometimes made me feel bitter. Working on Christmas Eve was always the worst.

On Christmas Eve in 1977, I learned that blessing can come disguised as misfortune, and honor is more than just a word. I was riding a one man patrol on the 4 to 12 shift. The night was cold. Everywhere I looked I saw reminders of the holiday: families packing their cars with presents, beautifully decorated trees in living room windows and roofs adorned with tiny sleighs. It all added to my holiday loneliness. The evening had been relatively quiet; there were the usual calls for barking dogs and a residential false burglar alarm. There was nothing to make the night pass any quicker. I thought of my own family and it saddened me further.

Shortly after 2200 hours, I got a radio call to the home of an elderly, terminally ill man. I parked my patrol car in front of a simple Cape Cod style home. First aid kit in hand, I walked up the short path to the front door. As I approached, a woman who seemed to be about 80 years old opened the door.

“He's in here,” she said, leading me to a back bedroom. We passed through a living room that was furnished in a style I had come to associate with older people. The sofa has an afghan blanket draped over its back and a dark solid Queen Anne chair sat next to an unused fireplace. The mantle was cluttered with an eccentric mix of several photos, som e ceramic figurines and an antique clock. A floor lamp provided soft lighting.

We entered a small bedroom where a frail looking man lay in bed with a blanket pulled up to his chin. He wore a blank stare on his ashen, skeletal face. His breathing was shallow and labored. He was barely alive. The trappings of illness were all around his bed. The nightstand was littered with a large number of pill vials. An oxygen bottle stood nearby. Its plastic hose, with facemask attached rested on the blanket. I asked the old woman why she called the police. She simply shrugged and nodded sadly toward her husband, indicating it was his request.

I looked at him and he stared intently into my eyes. He seemed relaxed now. I didn’t understand the suddenly calm expression on his face. I looked around the room again. A dresser stood along the wall to the left of the bed. On it was the usual memorabilia: ornate perfume bottles, white porcelain pin case, and a wooden jewelry case. There were also several photos in simple frames. One caught my eye and I walked closer to the dresser for a closer look. The picture showed a young man dressed in a police uniform. It was unmistakably a photo of the man in bed. I knew then why I was there. I looked at the old man and he motioned with his hand toward the side of the bed. I walked over and stood beside him. He slid a thin arm from under the covers and took my hand. Soon I felt his hand go limp, I looked at his face. The re was no fear there. I saw only peace. He knew he was dying; he was aware his time was very near. I know now that he was afraid of what was about to happen and he wanted the protection of a fellow cop on his journey. A caring God had seen to it that his child would be delivered safely to him. The honor of being his escort fell to me.

When I left at the end of my tour that night, the temperature had seemed to rise considerably, and all the holiday displays I saw on the way home made me smile. I no longer feel sorry for myself for having to work on Christmas Eve. I have chosen an honorable profession. I pray that when it's my turn to leave this world here will be a cop there to hold my hand and remind me that I have nothing to fear.

I wish all my brother's and sister's who have to work this Christmas Eve all the Joy and Warmth of the Season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two turtle doves and an 18 foot Boston Whaler

Okay, so the title wouldn't have made much sense to me either if I hadn't been there. Last Saturday or so on a day shift my intrepid partner Baccala and I were sent to an ALS call for trouble breathing. It took us a bit longer to get their than usual as the truck that normally covers that part of our area was elsewhere and we had to be a bit more careful than normal. After all, the weather has not been the greatest and while suburbia is all ablaze with Winter splendor it seems that people are focused on everything aside from avoiding the urge to pull or walk out in front of the Medicaid taxi. But I digress.

As we entered the complex we were initially delighted to hear the local volunteer BLS already on scene. A miracle in itself as they are showing up less frequently these days. Expecting to see an ambulance (which as it turned out would have been useful, imagine that) as we turned the corner we spied a large rescue truck and a pickup truck towing an 18 foot Boston Whaler festooned with cheap strings of lights carrying a dirty Santa. As we alighted from the bus and collected our wares his alleged BLS companions just stood by the vehicles and stared, slack jawed at our presence. Not an unusual occurrence but you would have thought one of the elves would be making some attempt at getting an ambulance to the scene. When Baccala unsheathed his acerbic wit to ask if someone had drowned, they didn't get it. Well, at least it made me laugh.

Undaunted we waddled in to the house where the Cop was administering oxygen to the afflicted person while yet another volunteer stood in the corner rakishly sporting a Santa hat. It sure put the Hindu woman in congestive heart failure in the Christmas spirit. Though the timely arrival of transportation might have slowed her visit with Vishnu.

Okay, who pulled the emergency brake?

This one was forwarded to me via email by my brother. A good sentiment to remind us to end the madness and get in to the true spirit.

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through the land
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand
Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas, no one could say
The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things
It might hurt peoples feelings the teachers would say
December 25th is just a "Holiday"
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it
CDs from Madonna, an X Box and I Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd.
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowes the word Christmas was no where to be found
At Kmart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas, it won't touch your ears
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are the words that were used to intimidate me
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzer
On Boxer, on Rather, on Boxer and Clinton
At the top of the Senate there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus in all public manner
And we spoke not a word as they took away our Faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season stopped before it started
So as you celebrate winter break under your pine tree
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not happy holiday

Monday, December 8, 2008

Going Green and the Death of Rocky Racoon

It should not have been ignored but to my detriment I denied the obvious. For the last three nights I toiled at the medic job, and yes, it was not good. Throughout the three shifts I perceived of a tickle of the instinct I like to call, The Crapometer.

Usually the Crapometer is an accurate way to determine the eventual outcome of a call. For instance, pull up on a home for a cardiac call and see handicap ramps or a Dodge Dart in the driveway, its going to be a work up. Unconscious person call at a tavern, the crapometer goes off the scale. Cancelled by the BLS. While it is a useful tool in the public safety workplace the Crapometer can sometimes be a first line of defense in detecting a disturbance in the status of your domestic tranquility. Unfortunatley, I had ignored the signs.

Due to a pretty bad night shift and busy morning I elected to nap this afternoon and let my wife go to Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by herself while I planned to go in the evening. The arrangements having been made I continued to finish a few things around the house in preparation for a few hours of much needed sleep. But for some reason my Newfoundland was highly agitated and barking like a maniac both in and outside of the house. After a cursory look around the yard and finding nothing amiss I brought her in and yelled at her to be quiet and settled down for my nap.
About an hour later I was awakened by my wife's panicked calling of my name. (married guys will know the tone of voice well, its not a scream but it will raise the hairs on your neck when you hear it) So as I rapidly dislodged myself from the couch my wife related that there was a sick or rabid racoon in our side yard. She verified the veracity of this information as the alarm had been initially raised by our across the street neighbor, we'll call her Mrs. Kravitz.

So, I grabbed my Glock 17 off duty pistol and responded to the side yard where indeed I found Rocky, the apparently rabid racoon who had drawn his line in the sand near my stockade fence by the garbage cans. After doing some mental calculus I took aim at his pointy little head and fired one 9mm round at him. Bad luck for me, he ducked at the last minute and it hit him in the shoulder. Great, now I have a rabid, wounded and highly pissed racoon who then effected a hasty retreat in to my open garage door. Holstering my sidearm and employing a rake I managed to herd him back in to the driveway. Concrete!! No place to be firing rounds. He gradually made his way across the street to a neighbors yard where finding myself in a relatively safe place I fired again. Nothing! Then two more rounds!! Still he lived. I began to feel like Virgil Salazzo in The Godfather. Then two more.....well at least by now I wasn't shooting at a moving target. What the hell was this racoon wearing, a kevlar coat? Finally the coup de grace and he was off to Racoon Valhalla.

Seven rounds for a racoon. I could not have missed, or could I. Post mortem exam by the Animal warden showed 7 holes more than he was born with. My marksmanship vindicated I retired. Perhaps a Remington 870 from Santa.

So after a crappy day involving a doctor's appointment, off duty shooting, a wake and Mass where I am reasonably certain the Priest was Scat Singing during the liturgy, I returned to my humble abode where I lit a nice fire....and decided to go green.

RIP Uncle Maran

In a family as large as mine and with the occasional tendency toward Jerry Springer worthy sagas its not always possible to get to know all of the extended clan well. In fact just this summer I met a second and third cousin I never knew I had. Thats the case with Great Uncles too to some respect. I knew of Uncle Maran since I was a grade school kid. But I never really got to know all that much about him until he was nearing the end of his life's journey and I was mired in the hectic pace in the middle of mine.

Uncle Maran was married to my Ciocci (Polish for Aunt) Julie for 67 years. They were a weekly regular at the 10:30 Mass at our Parish and I can still envision them sitting in the same spot. I would run in to them from time to time around town and they were always ready with a warm and loving hello, even if they weren't particularly sure at that moment which of her sister's sons I belonged to.

He never split the atom or brokered any major diplomatic solutions to the world's problems but he led the life of a good man. He worked hard to provide for his family, raised three kids, served his country with the rest of the Greatest Generation and practiced his faith. And to his dying day in that wretched nursing home he was my Ciocci Julie's sweetheart.

May the Lord be merciful in his judgement of this good man and grant him eternal rest.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Soccer Moms and Sunday Mass

The eminent Father Jay over at Young Fogeys has a good post about skewed priorities. He says in part....

A significant amount (but not all) of Catholic parents don't see the connection between their child(ren)'s religious education classes and Sunday Mass. Some think it is sufficient to send their child(ren) to the classes, but not attend Mass regularly. Religious education is a service they pay for and expect to be done for them but not by them (like getting the car tuned up). Can you imagine signing little Johnny or Judy up for soccer, taking them to the practices during the week, and then not taking them to the actual games?

He makes a great many good points in his piece which can be found here.

We chanted.....We Rocked!

I purposely waited a few days before posting on the first public performance of our schola. Its really easy to be overly enthusiastic on an early assesment. At about 9:30 we met in the church basement with the main choir for a bit of warm up. I think we were all a bit nervous, even the well experienced Maestro. Undaunted we cruised up to the choir loft and before you knew it, Introit! Wow. I will admit that our timing might have been a bit tighter but all things being equal, it sounded great. The church is an acousticly graceful space and by the time we reached Deus, Meus the sound had round its way back up to the loft and it was just AWESOME!

Per the Maestro we fully hit our stride for the Communio. It made for a most peaceful, prayerful atmosphere. The twenty or so regular choir members (very experienced group) just kind of sat back and gave that "way to go rookie!" nod of the head. Can't wait for Sunday.

Christmas party kick off

I'm off to the first Christmas party of the year. Thus, thirty or so coppers, tons of Portuguese food and open bar. Alas, day shift tomorrow so I must behave.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cop Hurt in Crash with Robbery Suspect

On Monday night I met an officer from a neighboring county who was in town to serve an arrest warrant. I just read on the news that Officer Chris Coon was seriously injured in a high speed crash and is extremely critical condition. I really didn't get to talk to him much but he seemed like a really nice guy. Please keep him in your prayers. You can read about the crash here!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

They're back !!

It took almost two years but the day has finally arrived. The locally famous Burger Express has made their glorious return. Central New Jersey's answer to Geno's in Philadelphia is once again serving their signature Locomotive Burger from their location in Carteret, NJ.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Latin Mass in Old Bridge

Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at Saint Ambrose Parish 96 Throckmorton Lane in Old Bridge, NJ at 10:00 am.

Update. I called the rectory and there will be no missals available so you will have to supply your own. This is apparently their first attempt at the Extraordinary Form and they hope to make this at least a monthly event. Mass will be said by the Pastor Father Gorman.