Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Soft White Underbellies

Several years ago on a Friday night my best friend Bart and myself were sitting in his kitchen trying to decide what to do. We were both in a slump in dating so we had plenty of free time. It was a typical conversation for both of us in our early twenties...
Bart: What do you want to do?
Me: I dunno, what do you want to do?
Bart: I dunno, what do you want to do?
Me: I dunno, what do you want to do?
This basically went on for about an hour before we just decided to head to Leneghan's as usual.
But not this night. Bart tossed me the Philadelphia Daily News and I started to look through the entertainment section and immediately and ad jumped out and grabbed me by the throat...
One Night Only!
The Soft White Underbellies
Kenwood Tavern
Levittown, PA
9PM until Close!
Holy shit! The Soft White Underbellies at the goddamn Kenwood!
Me: Bart, you aint gonna believe this...
Bart: What?
Me: Guess who's playing at the Kenwood tonight!
Bart: You're shitting me!
Me: I shit you not! Here, look at the ad yourself!
He looked at the ad, threw down the paper, grabbed his jacket and keys. With that we were out the door and soon on I-95 heading north to the Kenwood Tavern... When we got there the lot was almost empty. This can't be right... The ad was big enough... Surely the place should be packed by now!
It wasn't though and we easily found seats at the bar after glady paying the $15 cover charge at the door and ordered up a few frosty adult beverages. We were a half hour early for the first show and a few more people began to shuffle into the place. By the time the act got underway, there were maybe fifty people in the place, max, the whole night. We stayed until closing, watching in awe each set and even talked to a few of the band members during the breaks.
That has got to be one of my fondest memories of early adulthood. I got to see The Soft White Underbellies, up close and personal... Rubbing shoulders and hobnobbing with them like old friends.
I know you're all asking yourselves this... Why the fuck is Tommy so damn excited about seeing some band in a local suburban Philadelphia bar?
I'll tell you why...
"The Soft White Underbellies" just happen to be the pseudonym the rock band Blue Oyster Cult used all over the country when they'd tour small local clubs just like the Kenwood Tavern... The Rolling Stones do the same thing from time to time, but for the life of me I can't remember what name they use when they do it.
I've been to a lot of concerts in my days... Genesis, The Stones, The Who, Van Halen... Big arenas, open-air venues...
But nothing beats seeing one of your favorite bands from your school years in a small club out in the middle of nowhere with the place half full.
It's like they were playing only for us!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, January 30, 2006


First it was Godzilla, then Rodan... Followed by Mothra and a slew of other creature mutants attacking Japan because of radiation from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki...

Now Japan is being assaulted by giant jellyfish... Go here:


The Japanese, being quite resilient, will most likely make it into another multi-billion dollar franchise fad like manga comics or pokemon, put high-tech electronics, a Hi-Def plasma screen and surround-sound speakers and create a whole new 'must have' for next Christmas...

Or sushi chefs will make it into some gourmet meal and charge 50,000 Yen a plate in Tokyo restaurants.

I don't know about you, but I like sea food, but I prefer mine cooked. Where I come from I call what they serve bait.
But it's really George Bush's fault for not signing onto the Kyoto Treaty.

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A loss for words

I know it might come as a shock to some of you, but I'm totally at a loss for words this morning.

The main reason for the new shift I'm on I found out last night when I got to work. Apparently the company I work for lost a contract down in Virginia and so as not to lay off one of the guys who's been employed with the company for several years they juggled my patrol around to give him forty hours.
I'm not complaining in the least about that because not only is it giving me weekends off, it's also gives me eight hours overtime in a two week pay period built in, guaranteed.
I got into work last night and found I'm now working with the dumbest person ever to reach adulthood. I could go on ad nauseum right now but I wont. I spent two hours with this guy on Thursday night giving him the rundown on the Athens Patrol. I'm here to tell you it's definitely not rocket science by a long shot and I really think a monkey could do my job.
But apparently monkeys are smarter than this fucking moron. I think he was born in the stupid tree, fell out and hit every branch on the way down.
I'm speechless.
When I get my wits about me again, probably tomorrow I'll write about it... Right now I just want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head.
The worst thing is he's procreated... More than once. The one thing he does that's already got me going is he writes and speaks in third person... All the time...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A few changes

My boss went and made some changes to my schedule that actually have me smiling. I'll actually be getting eight hours overtime a pay period and get the weekends off.

What he did was hire on a second guy to work opposite me, because on my days off the Town of Athens was left uncovered, and change the shifts from 10 PM to 6AM to a twelve hour, 8 PM to 8AM shift. So this means I'll be working Sunday through Wednesday.
This means I actually get weekends off steadily for the first time in I cant remember and get overtime pay on a regular basis even if it does mean I'll be back on twelve hours shifts, which I hate.
About fucking time.
Anyway, with the new schedule my posts won't be as early in the morning anymore. I'll be posting around 8:05 AM instead of 6:05 AM, Eastern Standard Time.
Now onto something completely different...
Thursday nights are my volunteer fire department's meeting/training night and this past Thursday was another first for me. We did a realistic search & rescue/ SCBA scenario using an old apartment building the the department owns that's been condemned, shitloads of smoke and full gear.
First thing I realized is that the SCBA is much lighter and a lot less restrictive than I would have thought. I was able to function normally with it on and had no problems... Well, one problem. As soon as I had the mask on, my nomex hood up and helmet on my nose began to run... WTF.
Second thing I realized was that even a small fire in an enclosed space emits copious amounts of thick smoke. That building Was so full of smoke I could barely see three feet in front of me, and I was crawling on the floor.
Pictures of that exercise forthcoming, as soon as a buddy emails them to me.
Have a great day!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, January 27, 2006

Goin' back to school!

It's always been my firm belief that one never stops learning... So I've decided to go back to school to further my education...
Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hawaiian Orchid

Several years ago I went to a house to take a stolen auto report. That was when the department still sent uniformed cops to the location to take the report in person. Things got so bad after a while they stopped doing that... You got your car stolen? You'd call the police and they'd take your number where you could be reached and maybe a detective would call you that day. You think we were just a little busy? Stolen autos were way down on the prority list by about 1994...
Anyway, before things got really out of hand we used to take the reports in person. So I go to this woman's house and write down all the info for my report. Everything was going smoothly up until It was time to find out what color the vehicle was...
"Ok, ma'am, what color was your car?"
"Hawaiian Orchid."
"No ma'am, I need a primary color. Was it blue?"
"No! It was Hawaiian Orchid! That's what the dealer said the color was!"
"Red? Green?"
"No! It was Hawaiian Orchid!!!!!"
I blogged about primary colors before, and how men only see them...
Anyway, this verbal sparring with the victim went on for about thirty minutes. I never found out what Hawaiian Orchid was and I left the residence with the space for vehicle color marked "Unknown"... She wouldn't even let me get a color that was close to what Hawaiian Orchid was...
Sometimes dealing with the general public was just as difficult as dealing with criminals. At least those I could tell to shut the fuck up.
And also, this is my 300th post... Was it as good for you as it was for me?
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Schleprock was a guy who was another regular at Leneghan's and things always seemed to happen to him. The best part was after these things would occur, he'd come in and tell everyone about them. Some, if they happened to me I'd have never told a soul... He got the nickname from the character in the "Flintstones" cartoon, the guy who always had the black cloud over his head.
Sometimes these thing would happen to him, other times it was stupid shit he would do and freak out other people.
For instance, one night he got home from a particularly heavy night of drinking. He had to urinate so bad by the time he got into the basement door of his house he was doing the 'p-jig' and couldn't hold it anymore. He let it hang out and let loose into the closest available container... The cat's litterbox by the back door. It was one of those "will this piss ever end' voids of his bladder...
So he finishes up and staggers upstairs to pass out next to his wife.
The next morning he shaken awake by his wife, who is holding the cat wrapped in a towel and fear in her eyes...
"____ get up! We have to take the cat to the vet!"
"Because it's just pissed half it's weight and over flowed the litterbox!"
What makes this all the more hilarious is the fact that he never told his wife it was he who filled the litterbox, and shelled out $300 to the vet on tests on the cat just so he could hide the indiscretion to his wife...
Another time he was at the pub and had a few too many... He ordered a pizza to take home and took it out to his car and sits the box on the passenger side. He decides to eat a slice driving home so he pops the lid open on the box...
Next thing he remembers is he's laying across the front seat of his car and his head is pounding. He sits up and can't see out of his right eye. He puts his hand up to his face and feels this warm, sticky stuff and pulls his hand away to see what it was. He looked at his hand and it was covered in red.
Blood! Someone beat the shit out of me! He thinks and rushed in the house and calls 911...
When the police and Fire Rescue arrive it was soon discovered what had happened to him. I'd have loved to have been the cop who showed up. From what I understand they're still laughing about that at the 8th District.
Apparently he passed out and fell into the pizza after he parked in front of his house, and the pizza cheese and sauce plastered itself to his face... When he woke up his eye was glued shut by mozzarella...
Like I said, if any of these things ever happened to me I'd never tell a soul... Well, the cat box one was pretty funny so I guess I'd have fessed up to that one.
There was another time when he got the living shit beat out of him by a few New Jersey State Troopers... That included a few references to East German border guards and UFO's... It's hysterical but far to visual of a story to relate here and it was just so damn funny coming from him...
And alcohol was a key factor in all of them... And the police were usually involved at some point... One time he got thrown out of a bank when he tried to cash his check using an expired PA driver's license as ID...
"I'm sorry sir, I can't accept this as ID, it's expired..."
"But it's still me!"
Escalation to the point of having the police called, stick therapy and another night in central lockup... He was a really nice guy, but never realized that 99% of the shit that did happen to him he brought on himself. We loved his stories though and would wait in anticipation for the next episode of his antics...
Not that I or my friends would ever derived pleasure or entertainment from someone else's misfortune... Not us.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canada to the rescue, again!

Listening to the radio last night I heard a story that grabbed my full and undivided attention.

Apparently, oil has been discovered in northern Alberta, Canada... 175 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, and possibly up to 2 trillion barrels of oil.

Go here for the story:

Not only will this make our slightly frozen neighbors to the north very rich, but it could very well solve North America's oil shortage crisis for the next hundred or so years, and leave the Middle East high and dry...

2 TRILLION barrels of crude oil...

Somebody better let Bob and Doug Mackenzie know that'll buy a shitload of La Batt's.

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, January 23, 2006

The passing of an era

I was talking to one of the guys at the deli-mart last night about the old TV show "Cheers"... He had asked me if there could ever really be a place like that because all the bars he's ever been too were just dance clubs disguised as bars. Never any local color...
Well, I know of one. At least it was like that for a while.
My "Cheers" was Leneghan's Tavern on the corner of Frankford Avenue and Arendell Street in Northeast Philadelphia.
It was one of the few places in my early adulthood where I felt totally at ease. It was like coming home walking through that kelly-green door with the stained glass Irish flag as a window. It wasn't just a neighborhood bar, it was a place where you could actually take your wife and kids to... Had a full menu with about the best hand-carved roast beef sandwiches in the world, aside from pizzas, cheese fries, cheesesteaks... It was more than beer, it was a place to go when you've seen too much and wanted to escape for a while. Where the people you were with knew exactly why you were there.
It was a cop hangout too... How I started going there. My brother was a regular there for years and when I got on the job I started to frequent it too. Any time of the day you could find fifteen or twenty off-duty cops, firefighters and nurses there... It was also called for a time "Homicide Detective Division, North" because a lot of the Homicide Squad would show up and stake there claim to a section of the bar...
It was also a place that sports were on the TV's all the time, except at 6 PM, when the local news would come on... WPVI Channel 6 only, then the whole bar would watch Jeopardy! Then sports would go back on... I walked in one slow night and sat down and ordered up a beer. I looked at the TV and asked the bartender, Jimmy what was on...
"Checkoslovakian Women's hammer throwing..."
"Women's hammer throwing? That's a woman? Who's winning?"
"I don't know, but I got a 'C' Note riding on the redhead with the mustache and five O'clock shadow..."
It was that kind of place. The 76er's, Flyers, Eagles, Phillies... Always on. A dart game or shuffleboard game was always in progress and I was a pretty good dart thrower... Made the league three years running.
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays were special there, they always had one good local band or another playing, and Sunday nights, Jerry the DJ would spin the oldies until 2 AM. On special occasions, the huge one being St. Patrick's Day, bands would come from as far as Ireland to play all day.
And everyone knew everyone else. They were real friends who would drop anything to help you in the blink of an eye.
And like Cheer's, there was plenty of local color... Always something to laugh about. And everyone had a nickname. Some not all that imaginative, like my brother and I collectively were called the Wolf Brothers. Myself alone was "Tommy the Cop", we had K-9 Joe, another cop, Homicide Tommy, Newfie Sandy (who had a very thick Newfoundland accent, stuttered horribly and got worse when he was drinking) Rotten Ronnie (Who got that moniker from having the lay off his whole roofing crew on Christmas Eve one year) Earl the Girl, Rhino, Mike the Chinaman ( lost a testicle to cancer and became 'Won hung Lo') Mike the Mick... Mikey 'heh?' because he was deaf as a post and would say 'heh?' all the time, 'Brand em' and strand em' for getting women to get a tattoo with his name on it, and as soon as they did he'd dump them and last but no least was Schleprock. (who deserves a post all to himself, and I'll do one later this week... He was a scream!)
It also was used in the filming of a ill-fated TV show about Philly firefighters called "Philly Heat" that never got past the pilot.
When I left Philadelphia to move to Arizona it was in the process of being sold...
I went back last year and had to stop in. I'm sorry I did because I was saddened by what I saw. The place looked the same, but somehow there was a thin veneer of dirt over everything. The new owner and time hadn't been very kind to my old haunt. Seems like all the old faces were gone too... Newer, seedier faces were replaced by the familiar smiling ones from my past. I didn't recognize anyone. I had one drink and left with a tear in my eye. It was saddening to see another part of my past gone like that. It was truely a passing of an era in my life. But I'll always remember those days fondly.
I do understand that the owner's son opened up another one and I plan on going when I get back to Philly next time. If you're in Philly, check it out of me and let me know how it is...
Leneghan's Tavern
704 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do?
Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we chooseWe'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days
~Mary Hopkins
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Would you?

It's yet another sad day for West Virginia this morning. The two miners who were trapped in the mine were found dead yesterday.

The entire state, and nation I hope is mourning your passing today.

I posted these pictures today to give those of you who have never been to or have seen a coal mine an idea what they're like. These are photos of the mine I worked at over last summer in Nicholas County. It's of a closed section... The pics are of the entrance, and remember, this is the average height of this coal mine, some are higher... But not a lot. I stand 6' 2 1/2" tall, and the roof of this adit comes up to my hip.

I've got to hand it to the coal miners of West Virginia, and the rest of the country. My Great Grandfather was a coal miner in Pennsylvania. I've done a lot of dangerous jobs in my life, been in combat, jumped out of perfectly good airplanes and helicopters, was a cop for ten years in one of the worst sections of Philadelphia, worked on a track gang for the railroad.
But I'll tell you this.

You couldn't pay me enough to go two miles underground like these guys do every day. My hat's off to them, because without coal, we'd lose 50% of our electricity overnight.

These guys keep the country going.

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, January 21, 2006

More bad news

In just under three weeks it appears that we have another coal mining tragedy in the making...

As of this time, two men are still missing after a fire started on a conveyor belt deep within the The Alma 1 mine in Melville WV, about 60 miles southwest of Charleston. The governor, Joe Manchin said the "odds are getting a bit long" but hope still holds out for the two missing men.

Let's say a small prayer for these two men to be returned safely to their loved ones.

Now for a little bizarre news...

The body of Eugene Reilly, 64, was discovered shortly after 7 AM Thursday in the last car of the Q subway train in the 14th Street-Union Square station. There were no signs of foul play or injuries, and an autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause and time of death.

Reilly, a Postal Service employee, typically worked a 4 PM to 12:30 AM shift as a mail handler in midtown Manhattan. If Reilly left work at the usual time and died during the 35-minute trip home to Brooklyn, then his body could have been on the train for more than six hours before being noticed.

Talk about being invisible... I sure as shit would hope that someone notices if I died on a subway... But with my luck it would be someone mugging me... Truth is definitely stranger than fiction.

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, January 20, 2006

One helluva party!

It brought the house down, literally! (And looking really close at the photo, I noticed it was in my hometown of Philadelphia... Very distinctive street signs!)

Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ring Tones

I'm wondering if I'm the only one in the entire world that finds this enormously annoying.
These fucking ring-tones on cell phones. You can have what ever sound you want on your cell phone, different sounds, like a jet taking off, a helicopter, your wedding song... A yak farting.
There's a guy I know who has a goddamn fire engine siren as his ringtone. The last thing I want to hear is a goddamn siren. I hate sirens. They give me a headache. I do not want to hear one when someone calls me. I don't want my phone to sound like anything but a damn phone ringing.
"excuse me, but did a yak just fart?"
"No, that was my phone..."
Quit it with these annoying fucking ringtones already! I'm warning you! I've got my rifle cleaned, oiled and loaded...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A question

How many of you are more than offended by this...
"We ask black people It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans! This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."
This also...
"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country."
~Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans
Now my question is this. Just what do you suppose would happen if this had been a white mayor in a predominately white city, say Frostbite Falls, Minnesota proclaiming that his city would again be "All White"?
I just want to know where the outcry is for this obvious racist statement? Please do not insult my intelligence by telling me he was taken out of context. His meaning was very clear to me.
But you say there is no double standard in this country...
Now for something completely different.
Q: What's white with a blue & gold stripe and sleeps four?
A: A WVDoH truck.
All last night at work in rained pretty good. Temperature was in the mid 40's but the weather service was calling for plummeting temps and the rain changing to snow overnight into this morning. Around 4 AM the rain did indeed change over to snow, and walking home this morning is was really slick. So slick I fell on my ass in the parking lot.
Do you think I saw one DoH salt truck? Christmas Day was the last time I saw one, and they laid down so much salt it looked like it had snowed, but there wasn't snowflake to be seen and the temperature hovered around 55 all night.
I know why they were out that night. Triple overtime.
Anyway, it iced up pretty good this morning and no salt on the roads. The Turnpike isn't much better. Last winter when I was still driving to Bastian, VA for work, I had to travel the pike. The several snowstorms we had last year, coupled with the DoH's lackluster performance in removing snow made the 22 mile drive into a three hour white-knuckle ordeal. Especially when the salt trucks and plows would turn around at the I-77/ Rt-460 overpass, leaving the last twelve miles in West Virginia untouched. The most treacherous twelve miles to be more specific. I had a semi jackknife right in front of me last February it was that bad.
One would think that a state in the middle of the Appalachians, with hundreds of miles of mountainous roads would take better care of them in inclement weather. Growing up in Pennsylvania it was only marginally better, and the city of Philadelphia was absolutely clueless on removing snow. I guess that's because it was left up to the garbage men... One year they actually did this. They were dumping all the snow removed from the streets into the Schukill River, and within hours there was a huge ice-dam built up along the Market St. Bridge. Water from the river was flowing over the city streets and it took an Army Corps of Engineers detatchment to blast the dam away with TNT to avert coating most of Center City Philly with ice.
It's not rocket-science.
The worst part of this is the one state I lived it, Arizona, who'd you would think would have no clue on snow removal, actually had their shit together when it came to the white stuff. It didn't snow that often, but when it did, we'd get feet of snow, not inches... And ADoT would be out and have the major roads cleared within hours of the snowstorm passing.
And they didn't use salt there either.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I should have known!

Leave it to a corpulent cartoon cat to tell me the truth after all these years...

Cartoon pinched from Yesterday's Register~Herald, Beckley, WV I saw this yesterday and just couldn't resist!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mating in the workplace...

I've been sitting on this story for a few months now because the two people that were involved were still employed at the rescue squad... Small towns and news travels fast!

They're both gone now, so fuck em'!

I think I've said before that the apartment that's right next to mine is used by the local rescue squad as a substation. Overnights and weekends ambulance crews stage out of there to handle the northern half of the county.

Like mine, it's a fully furnished apartment... Including beds. And the bedroom is on the opposite side of the wall from my kitchen. Aside from these apartments being extremely small, the walls are paper-thin.

One night a few months ago I was awakened by what I thought was the ambulance crew watching a porn movie, only without the cheesy music, and it was very loud. Extremely loud... I realized right away I was listening to one of the rescue squad's crews rutting like rabbits. The woman was, shall I say very vocally appreciative... I've never been accused of being a "Minute Man" but I was thoroughly impressed with the stamina of both of them... When they finally finished I had to get a cold shower myself... I was worn out just listening to them.

What really gets me is that people do this at all. I've never been one to subscribe to what a good friend calls "fishing off the company pier". It just breeds animosity... And bad blood between your work mates if and when you break up. Not only that, it turns where you work into a giant soap opera, and I've always hated drama.

It's not good.

I only made that mistake once, quite a few years ago. I was still on the police department and started dating a woman cop on my squad.

We kept it undercover for a time, but the news got out and it was just one big headache. Not only that, since she was a woman in a traditionally male career, everything between us she turned into a competition. She had (like a lot of women who work in traditionally male fields) a colossal chip on her shoulder and had to continually prove things to me, that she was just as good as a man... It got tiring, because I wasn't in any competition with her... She was a damn good cop, and in a lot of ways she was a better cop than me. But she never believed it and would only keep on with the game until one day I finally got sick of the "I can do it better than a man" bullshit and broke up with her. She even went so far as to prove to me she could not only piss standing up, but her stream would go further than mine. (Don't ask, you're all adults and should be able to figure out how she did it) To tell you the truth, I really don't think I'll ever date another woman who is in a traditionally 'male' field again. Cop, firefighter, paramedic... It seems they all have that giant chip on their shoulder, and no matter how many times I tell them I respect them for what they do, I get the attitude anyway.

But getting back to what I was saying in the first place, this couple who were making the beast with two backs next door to me on company time... Well, they finally broke up and from what I hear that they made each other's remaining time on the squad a living hell. Oh, the fucking drama of it all!

I got out of high school years ago. Grow the fuck up! What the fuck were these two thinking?

I don't know about you, but I'm really glad I work by myself! And I can sleep in peace at night now without hearing the mating ritual of the Central Appalachian Prancing Paramedic...

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, January 15, 2006

One more reason

I'm glad I'm not in law enforcement anymore.

Christopher Penley, of Winter Springs, Florida was accused of pulling what was later discovered to be a pellet gun in a classroom Friday and pointing it at other students. When he later raised the weapon at a deputy, a SWAT team member shot him.

This is a kid, who repeatedly stated he wanted to kill himself... And just last month said he was going to blow up a school bus.

This kid was deeply disturbed, and now that he's brain dead and they're harvesting his organs, the lawyers are crawling out from under the rocks like the bottom feeders they are looking to sue everyone.

"Well Tom, it was only a BB gun!"

It sure as shit looked like a real Berretta 9mm to me. If was was in the same position as the deputy, I'd have drilled the kid too.

Do we need another Columbine to jar us to the fact that we're over medicating our kids into catatonia and ignoring all the warning signs that something is dreadfully wrong with your kids... "Not my kid! It's only a phase!"

Phase my ass.

Disliking some of your teachers and fellow students is a phase. Talking about suicide and blowing up school buses is not.

You want to know who I blame? That parents and school faculty for not noticing the signs of a severely disturbed individual.

I do not blame the cop. He was just doing his job. So many people are willing to go out and be Monday Morning Quarterbacks on a job they have no clue about.
I'm sick of being second guessed.

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I normally don't do these things, but I was tagged by Okie, so here it goes...


1) Apprentice fireman on a steam locomotive for a tourist railroad in New Hope, PA
2) Police officer
3) Shoulder Ballast Cleaner operator
4) Courthouse security/bailiff


1) Casablanca
2) Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
3) Back To The Future
4) Monty Python And The Holy Grail


1) Pennsylvania
2) Georgia
3) Arizona
4) Central America/Panama


1) CSI
2) Cold Case
3) Criminal Minds
4) Rescue Me


1) Las Vegas
2) New Foundland and Labrador, Canada
3) Europe (Germany, Austria, Belgium & the UK)
4) Belize


1) Chinese
2) Pepperoni pizza
3) Sirloin steak, medium rare and a baked potato cooked over mesquite charcoal...
4) Italian


1) On the beach of a tiny island in the South Pacific with an ice-cold frosty adult beverage in my hand, preferably one in a coconut with a tiny paper umbrella and in the company of a very special lady
2) At the controls of a GE Dash-9 locomotive
3) A log cabin out in the wilderness miles from anywhere... Roaring fire in the fireplace and in the company of a very special lady
4) At the state lottery office picking up the Powerball 77 million dollar jackpot

There. I did it...

I'm not going to tag anyone. If you want to do it, go for it!

As an aside, yesterday was Friday the 13th and a full moon and nothing otherworldly, eerie, bizarre or generally fucked up happened to me... Well, almost nothing... But that's par for the course anymore!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Funny Foto Friday

Is cancelled this week but will return at it's regularly scheduled time on this station...

Sorry folks, going to a funeral kind of sucks all the humor out of me. Funny Foto Friday will be back next week.

But good news is I have the first chapter of my novel up and ready for your perusal... It's not going to be an every day post. I'm only going to publish one chapter a month in serial series and see how it goes from there.

Go here for the story:


I've run it through spell check but in the cut & paste from MS Word to Blogger some goofy things happened to it. I've repaired most of it but there's still some mistakes I might have missed, but I hope you enjoy...

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I've been working on the railroad...

Ever since I started getting a regular readership here, I've been asked on several occasions what I did for the railroad. I started working for a company out of Hamil, Minnesota in May of 2004 who contracts maintenance of way with major railroads in the US, Canada, Mexico & Australia. I was on a crew operating the machine pictured here, a Shoulder Ballast Cleaner. These pictures are of the very machine I worked on, Ballast Cleaner #15. It was hard and dirty work, but I job I really enjoyed.
What a ballast cleaner does is digs up the stone ballast that is in between the crossties (sleepers to those of you in the UK & Oz) which runs it through a huge screening plant, spits out the dirt (usually coal dust around here) and redeposits the cleaned ballast down a regulates it along the shoulder of the tracks.
For full specifications on the machine, go here:

It's a truly massive machine and a sight to behold as is works it's way down the tracks. It was here, in the spring and summer of 2004, my love of trains and desire to get on full time with a railroad as an engineer was rekindled.
Nothing is going to stop me from my dream... I may never do this kind of work again for a railroad, I will be an engineer...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The plight of Melvin's Bassett...

I was still living in my apartment of Vista St. in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia, so it happened before 1992...
My landlord at the time had taken a rowhome and converted it into two apartments, first floor and second floor. I had the second floor and Melvin had the first. Melvin was a really nice guy, kept to himself mostly and was a pleasant neighbor. He was some egghead for the Department of the Navy at the shipyard but he never really talked about his work. He also had a really sweet dog, a slightly overweight basset hound named Chuck.
One summer afternoon I came home from work to find Melvin on the front steps in a panic. All I wanted to do is get that goddamn Kevlar vest off, open an ice-cold, frosty adult beverage and watch Jeopardy! I was not ready for this...
"Oh Tom! I'm so glad you're home! Something is wrong with Chuck!"
"What's up with him?"
"He seems to be glued to the floor!"
"Glued to the floor?"
"Yes! Oh please help me!"
This I had to see. I followed Mel into his neatly appointed apartment to see Chuck sitting in the middle of the tiny livingroom's floor. He saw us and began to wag his tail but didn't come over to us. It looked like he tried to stand but yelped once and continued his sit.
I walked over and knelt down and petted Chuck, and looked behind him... It was soon very apparent what had happened. I stifled a laugh and motioned Mel over to see. All the while Chuck is licking my face and trying to move... But he was indeed firmly "glued" to the floor. Mel looked at me and asked what I could do...
I had to think about this for a minute. This would have to be extremely delicate...
What I neglected to tell you about the apartment was this. The owner of the place decided to keep the hardwood floors bare and not put cheap carpet down, and in this was Chuck's dilemma. The original builders of the house, probably in the mid 1930's, decided to save some money somewhere and didn't use the best grade oak for the flooring so the floors in both apartments had some blemishes. These blemishes included some knots in the wood. Over the years the wood aged, and from neglect some of the knots fell out, leaving some holes in the floor. I had a few in my place but never in a million years would I ever dream of this happening.
Well, the knothole in the floor was just big enough for one of Chuck's testicles to fall through as he sat on the floor... And apparently one did... Followed right behind by the second one. So the hole was big enough for one at a time to go through... It was nowhere near big enough for both to come back out...
So he was very much stuck by his balls to the floor. All the times my father said he'd nail my nuts to the floor came rushing back at that moment. This is what it'd be like.
Poor guy.
I stood and told Mel to stay with him and try to keep Chuck calm while I went to my place to get some tools. I turned and looked back as I left and Chuck was looking at me with those big watery, sad eyes that bassetts have, almost pleading with me to save his jewels...
"Tommy! Please save my nuts! I've never had a chance to use them!!!! Oh please oh please oh pleeeeeze!!!!!"
Up to my place I go, and dropping my gun belt and vest I grabbed my Dremel tool and put the rotary saw blade on it and made a quick call to a buddy on the PA Game Commission. After his laughter calmed down a bit, he promised to be at my place as soon as he could with a dose of tranquilizer strong enough to knock a sixty pound dog out for a while.
So back downstairs I go and explain the plan to Mel... He agreed with my decision about the tranquilizer... I'm pretty sure Chuck would freak at the sound of the Dremel tool and rip his nuts off in the process...
About an hour later my buddy shows up and though fits of giggles he administered the shot. Soon Chuck was off to the Land of Nod... And I got to work. It was slow going as it took both Mel and my friend holding Chuck up and positioning him just right... It took about twenty minutes and I had no close calls but I did get a little worried at the end because the battery was starting to die on me.
Finally Chuck was free of his trap and we all breathed a sigh of relief. My buddy from the Game Commission cursed and said he forgot his camera... And for Chuck and Mel's sake I'm glad he didn't have it.
If a dog could be mortified, Chuck was definitely so...
I'm a damn renaissance Man!
I can cook, clean house, do laundry, sew, write, be a soldier, cop, firefigher...
And can remove your dog's nuts from a hardwood floor!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More tragedy

2006 isn't starting out to be a very good year. I really wish I could find something funny to write about.

Last night I got news of one more thing that is shaking apart the tenuous foundation of what little faith I have left.

After getting to work last night and checking out my vehicle I started my first patrol. I noticed right away that everyone was at the firehouse... My pager didn't go off, so I kind of figured there wasn't a call... And no one told me of any parties.

I made my first checks and made a loop back to see what was going on. I walked in and everyone was there, but everyone was in a very somber mood. It didn't take me long to find out what had everyone down.

Around 7:30 last night, our Assistant Chief's 14 year old step daughter was walking home with two friends along Rt. 20 and was struck and killed by a car. The driver never slowed or stopped. As of this morning the Mercer County Sheriff's office still has yet to make an arrest.

What made it all the more horrifying was that both the parents of the girl are paramedics with the Princeton Rescue Squad along with being volunteers here in Athens.

Can you imagine being a paramedic and finding it was your child at the scene? That must have been horrible and I'm not sure how I would have handled it.

In the past twenty three or so years I've seen and had to deal with some really hard things. Back in the 80's I held my best friend in my arms on the deck of a Blackhawk helicopter, heard him breathe his last words to me while he slowly bled to death, pleading with me to take the pain away and I couldn't do a thing for him... I was the one who gave his 19 year old wife the neatly folded American flag at the funeral two days before she gave birth to a little girl...

In 92' I helped the undertaker put my father, the man who was never supposed to die and leave me, into a body bag and carried him to the hearse...

Picked up body parts of a woman who was pushed in front of a subway car at rush hour...

I've seen countless other little tragedies, shootings, stabbings, rapes, suicides, drug OD's. Every day for ten years.
My mother, the kindest, sweetest woman you'd ever meet... Taken by breast cancer seven weeks after she was diagnosed...

I've seen some really good people taken for no reason... Some innocent... Like the children. Kids still tear me up the worst because they still have yet to make an impact on the world. Their life is torn away from them without one lousy chance to make the world a better place.

But how in the world could you handle getting to the scene and finding your own child laying there bleeding? I'll probably never become a father... Closest I ever came was last year... But after all I've seen and done, I couldn't handle that. No ma'am.

Some of the folks I grew up with, my family, would say it's all in God's plans. I don't believe it for one minute anymore. If there really is a God... An "All loving, all caring God" What great scheme, what fantastic plan of his would include the taking of an innocent 14 year old when there's so much bad still going on? People like that taken in such a horrid way when people like Bin Laden and Kin Il Sung still sucking air? If there really is a God like that, he's got one hell of a lot of explaining to do.

I'm not buying into it anymore. Not one small iota.

I have no faith in any of it anymore. It's all more bullshit that we as a species have made up just to make us feel more important than everyone. Because without that little bit of faith in God & heaven, we're all no better than animals.

Good people get shit on, the bad and evil continue and thrive. The book of Job was recommended to me a few weeks ago, and I appreciate the suggestion. I've read it before though, and all I've got to say on that subject is even Job only had to deal with the bullshit for a finite period of time.

There is no heaven, no hell...

But I still believe in ghosts. I'm firm in that belief. I see them daily, when I lay down to sleep... And now I've just added one more to the legions marching through my memories.
Update: Finally made the news. Go here for story:
Also, if you'd like to leave Jimmy & Helen Poff a message of condolence, please go here:
And click on the link "In Loving Memory of Ashley"

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, January 09, 2006

The twilight zone

Note: If you are easily freaked out, don't read any further... And I am NOT making any of this up. I'm just as creeped out about it as you will be after you read it. If you do chose to read further, I must quantify some things. I do not claim to be a UFO abductee or claim to be implanted with some alien device in my brain, I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories, believe in black helicopters, a "Shadow Government" or even believe we are in the "End Times" as a lot of mainstream Christians believe. I'm just a normal, run of the mill guy, who isn't seeking notoriety or riches. All I want to do is drive trains, meet a nice woman and maybe be a father at some point and die of old age in obscurity... I am in no way mentally disturbed... But sometimes shit happens to me and I feel I'm in an old episode of the X Files or the Twilight Zone...

Yesterday morning I got home from work, posted here as usual, chatted with a friend on YIM for a while and did a little writing. Around 11 AM I went to bed... But I was having a really weird dream. I'm prone to them, and sometimes I have this one recurring dream which I believe I blogged about before.

Anyway, I digress...

In this dream, I'm sitting in the patrol vehicle... Of course it's night and I look out over the company property. I'm sitting atop a hill where I usually sit and do paperwork (crosswords) and watch the stars. In the dream I notice a bright streak falling out of the sky... White, to red then orange it glows... It falls beyond the eastern horizon and moments after there is a blinding white flash over the mountains to the east, followed moments later by a shockwave that knocks me down...

I guess in my dream I forget those "Duck & Cover" drills...

This wakes me up...

I get up and look at the clock. It's 6 PM... I have my alarm set for 9 PM, so I go to the bathroom, boot up my computer, check emails and my comments and leave a few and decide it's way to early. I lay back down to get at least another hour or two of sleep. I'm back asleep almost in an instant. I don't remember my head hitting the pillow it was that fast.

I'm awaken later, precisely at 9 PM, not by my alarm clock... But by my phone. Now those of you who have been reading me for a while remember that back in the beginning of October I had my phone shut off... The phone company didn't do it, I had it done because it was costing me more money that it was worth... I hardly used the thing so I was saving myself $75 a month.

I had it shut off, but left it sitting on my nightstand... Don't ask why, I just did. It wasn't in the way I guess so I just didn't bother putting it away.

So now I'm full awake, sitting there looking at the phone ringing, staring at it... I'm definitely NOT dreaming this time. I turn on the light, look at the clock... It's now winking 9:01... The phone keeps ringing well past where my voice mail would have picked up. I take the handset and look at the display on the caller ID:

Unknown Exchange

Exchange? No one uses the phrase "exchange" anymore... The curious part of me answers...


A far away, tinny voice replies...


"Yes, who is this?"

"One hundred, forty-nine days." The callers says in a flat metallic monotone.

"Who is this?"

"One hundred, forty-nine days." He replies again, then the line goes dead.

I'm freaked at this point and try to use the phone... Maybe *69 him... Of course I don't have a dial tone. The phone's been shut off for almost four months.

I'm wide awake at this point. No sense going back to sleep now. I'm a little rattled, but I try to stay normal. Odd shit like this has been happening to me all my life. Ghosts in the house where I grew up... Vivid recurring dreams, lights turning themselves on and off, along with my computer rebooting by itself...

Never a fucked-up call from I haven't a clue where or whom...

So I get to work and my night is pretty normal, meaning nothing really going on... That is until around 1 AM and I'm sitting in my usual spot. The night is clear, although a little windy. Temperature is in the low 50's so it's not cold at all... And just then I see a orange-red streak, traveling out of the western sky heading to the eastern horizon... Followed by two more in rapid succession, burning out before the hit the ground...

But they were in the very same place as the big one in my dream...

I'm still really freaked over this. If my math is correct, 149 days from yesterday in June 6th... What significance does that hold for me, and that dream? Or the meteor? All I know at this point I didn't dream this and I am definitely not making any of this up. I can explain away the dream of the meteor as my overactive imagination, but the phone call was very real.

Help I'm steppin' into the twilight zone
The place is a madhouse
Feels like being cloned
My beacon's been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go
Now that I've gone too far?

~Golden Earring

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bad dates...

A fellow blogger bud Jen Jen http://tavernwench.blogspot.com/ suggested right before Christmas I write about some bad dates and my luck, or lack thereof, with internet dating... And why I've totally given up on that avenue. I've been reading my other blogger bud's posts lately and a great many of them have been describing bad dates with guys and guy bashing in general...
As a guy, I'd like to show the other side of the coin. Fair is fair.

At first, right after my separation and divorce, it looked promising. I had been off the market for almost ten years, and to be frank, I was clueless on the dating scene. With the hours I worked, I was (and still am) never going to meet anyone the conventional ways. So I gave it a shot.

I did meet one very nice woman... But it was very early on in my separation... Very early on... Way before I moved to West Virginia. And we both were the wrong people for each other. We were just perfect for each other for that time, but we both realized early on that it just wouldn't last and parted very good friends. We still keep in touch and I've just learned she's started attending church again and I'm happy that she's happy. I have a lot of respect for her, but I could never join the Mormon Church or ever bring myself to move back to Arizona...

Anyway, fast forward to this past year. I'm not going to discuss one person because it's far to painful... Except that although they said they cared... Never thought enough about me to ever really get to know me. I'm not saying I'm perfect, far from it, you don't get to be 40 and divorced without some baggage... But don't fault mine when in the same breath deny your own baggage. A few real assholes really did a number on her and she never took the time to look beyond her own past and see how much I really cared for her, that I wasn't those other guys. The only thing I ever asked of her when we were dating was that she and I would date exclusively. I took my ad down, but she never took hers down nor would give me a definitive answer. Always hemmed and hawed or changed the subject. But now that's truly and completely over.

So after that, began my second try at internet dating, sometime around March of 2005.

First attempt... Meet a woman through Yahoo personals... Talk a few times on the phone and decide to meet at the Omelet Shoppe in Princeton. We meet up, and suprisingly, she looks just like the picture she posted. So we sit and order coffee. Start to talk about things we both like. Flea Markets are big with me in the summer. I love going to them. So I ask if she'd like to go to a pretty big one outside of Hinton... Reply:

"I'm not allowed out of the county for a while..."


The she goes on to tell me she's on probation... For prescription fraud. Fan-fucking-tastic. That's all I need... It was somewhere in this conversation that I began to take notice of her behavior... I won't go into it in detail, but it was the classic signs of chronic meth use.

See ya!

Second one was a very nice, well educated woman with two bachelor's degrees... Finally someone I could actually have a conversation with. We went out on several occasions until something happened... All I can say is I was stunned. I blogged about that one but it's too precious not to give it a second look. Go here:


Needless to say, we stopped seeing eachother.

Then there was another well educated woman... We dated a few times but she was still very hung up on her ex... That's all she would talk about and it got to the point where I was being mentally compared to him in everything... And I mean everything. It was later I discovered she was taking some very serious and heavy-duty, industrial strength antidepressants... And would have these massive mood swings and bouts of deep depression. She didn't need me, she needed a rubber room and an army of headshrinkers.

Then there was the very pretty woman from Wytheville, VA... Who over-analyzed everything... Example:

Laying out in the park on a really pretty spring afternoon... My head in her lap and I'm just enjoying the day looking up at the clouds. Just enjoying her company.

Her: "What are you thinking?"

Me: "Nothing."

Her: "Oh, you've got to be thinking something!"

Me: "Actually, I was thinking that cloud kind of looks like a frog..."

Her: "Don't patronize me! You're thinking about her, aren't you!"

Me: "Who the hall are you talking about?"

Her: "Your ex! That's who!"

Me: "No, that cloud really looks like a frog..."

Her: "You're going to leave me, aren't you! Go back to her!"

Me: "Oh, yeah, that's going to happen..."

Her: "See I knew it!!!"

Everytime we were together. What the fuck...

It was that and her inability to cut the umbilical cord from her four kids... Couldn't go anywhere without them. We never had a "date" alone. The were 10, 12, 14 & 16... Not like they couldn't be left alone for a few hours. Don't get me wrong here, I like kids... I like spending time with someone's kids, you have to when you're dating them. I even took the whole clan down to North Carolina one weekend to ride a tourist steam train that one of her sons was dying to see... But when you're trying to get to know someone... You need some alone time. She would show up at my place with the whole clan in tow... And my apartment, well to say it's tiny is an understatement. The two of us and four kids made it claustrophobic. What should have been a huge red flad in the very beginning was that all four of her kids were from four separate husbands...

There are a few others... One, right after the first date decided I needed a mother... Came to my place and saw I had laundry folded on my bed and not put away yet... She decided I had it "folded wrong" and took it upon herself to start refolding my clean stuff, tighty whities and all...

Then there's the ones who were just full of shit from the start, married women out playing... Ones who looked nothing like their photograph... (Quasimodo comes to mind...) Or the picture was their highschool graduation pic and they were 39 or 40...

So I'm done with internet dating. In fact, I'm done with dating all together right now. I'm sick of the bullshit, the lies and untruths. The ADHD, OCD and PTSD... I don't have a degree in psychology or family counseling so I guess I'll just have to be alone. This may sound really selfish but I've got my own problems I'm dealing with, I don't need anyone else's. Being alone really sucks sometimes, waking up by myself... But I'm not going to sacrifice my own mental stability to have someone to hold at night.

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Karoke, the ultimate revenge weapon

I now know why the Japanese invented Karoke... It's revenge for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We get to the bar last night just as the place begins to fill... Another guy and myself play several games of darts in the back room and then move back out to the bar to see what's going on. I had no idea it was Karoke night... What is it about those damn machines, that coupled with liberal amounts of alcohol, makes seemingly normal people think they can actually sing?

And the choices of songs they sing... Look. With the exception of Eminem, white people can't rap. So please save my eardrums and lets not drive every dog in a five mile radius of the bar crazy?

In spite of that I did have a good time. There was quite a lot of women in the place, but they all had little gold bands on the ring finger of their left hand... An I won't play that game. So I just sat with my buddies, talked about useless shit and drank Caronas all night.

I did see something that didn't help in my opinion of the human species on little bit...

Before we went to the bar, myself and one of the other guys walked over to the diner to get supper. While we sat there noshing and drinking coffee, a family came in and sat down at one of the tables. They looked very cute... The perfect family... Father, mother and two of the cutest little kids you had ever seen... And there was no doubt who the parents were.

I didn't think a second thought about that cute little family... Until around 11:30... The "Dad" came in to the bar alone... And immediately sidled up to a little cutie... That was definitely not his wife... I was thinking of those two cute kids...

What an asshole. But apparently that's what the women around here are going for. Oh well. I can't be like that no matter what I wrote on New Year's Day... That was just sarcasm anyway and I didn't mean that...

But this shit still pisses me off.

Well, I've got to go... I need to take several ibuprofen tablets, shave my tongue and put my liver back... That is when it's done with the cup of coffee it's drinking...

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ms. Wrong...


I really don't see a problem with this. In fact, it's just what the Doctor ordered!

Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

No Rats!

When you work in law enforcement or security for as long as I have, going on eighteen years now, you get use to living in a fishbowl. I call it that because that's exactly what it's like. You are under a microscope from the time you start your shift until you end it. You are out in public and not only are you exposed like that, you are wearing a uniform and driving a vehicle that draws attention to you.
You are far from being inconspicuous.
That being the case, I've come to be used to being accused of screwing off... One time I was sitting in my RPC doing the reams of paperwork and a elderly woman actually walked up and began to berate me for goofing off and reading the newspaper... "Why wasn't I out keeping the city safe?"
I should be used to it but it still pisses me off to this day. Those who haven't a clue what we do still have something negative to say when they see a cop just sitting in his car. Or seemingly standing in a convenience store "goofing off". Maybe he's not goofing off. Maybe he's there for a reason...
Maybe the store was robbed at gunpoint the night before and the owners requested a little police presence?
The thing that annoys me more than someone making assumptions about what I'm doing is those who, after making those assumptions, act on them, feeling they've done something good.
I've got a suggestion for those of you who feel it necessary to report the "goofing off".
Mind you own fucking business.
Case in point.
Tuesday night I walk over to work and see my boss' vehicle parked in the parking lot. Not a good sign. I see him and he says he needs to talk to me... Again, not good to hear. And he gives me an ear full.
Apparently, I've been seen "goofing off" at the Deli Mart drinking coffee and joking with the guy who works the counter. Eh, no shit. It's my job to hang there until they've made the night deposit. So what if I help myself to the coffee and talk to the kid? I'm not going to stand there like a dime store Indian for an hour and say nothing.
The second thing, and this got my blood boiling... I've been hanging out for hours at the firehouse... Which is pure bullshit. I may stop in for a few minutes if I see someone is there... And only for a few minutes. It is in my patrol area for Christ's sake. When I'm at work my main responsibility is my JOB and the things I have to check and protect. I won't even answer the fire page if I'm at work... I did that only once because the Chief was stuck with no one else. I do my job when I'm at work... And think I do a pretty decent job too, for the money I'm paid. If the person who had the patrol I'm doing now was still working it, the diner would have burnt to the ground back in November.
God, I was hot...
I hate rats.
So, if you ever think you see a cop or guard "goofing off" he or she may not be... Mind your own fucking business because you just MAY cause that person to lose their job.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

When news breaks, We FIX It!

There are some very valid reasons I have had absolutely no friends in the media until just very recently, and that one friend I have, I can say is my friend because she has the qualities that all of her colleagues in the business should aspire to have... Things like integrity, morals, ethics and honesty, and the ability to get a story right before running off and publishing or reporting it.
Some mistakes will be made, that happens because no one is perfect. But this morning's reporting by the nation's media is inexcusable.
As a cop, I held reporters just slightly above lawyers... But both basically beneath contempt. Because I had always been taught to make sure my facts were straight before filing a report. All the 't's crossed and the 'i's dotted. If I filed a report as half-assed as they rushed off and did this morning and causing the heartbreak they did, I'd have been fired from the police department.
Cops use the same formula as reporters when getting the facts. The Five W's; Who, What, When, Where and Why... Or at least they're supposed to.
Apparently, around midnight, word was leaked that twelve of the thirteen miners were found safe and alive. And this news was immediately passed on the the families of the said miners...
So some reporter, in an effort to make the big scoop and get his or her story on the air first and get the ratings added one more "W" to the list...
And the others followed like lemmings off a cliff, never bothering to check the report and verify.
Only one was found alive, the others perished long before...
Go here:
All night on the radio I heard the same reports... "The 12 WV coal miners found alive!" it wasn't until around 2 AM that Fox News Radio had the real story... But they ran with the story at first also...
ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox... Even this morning's editions of USA Today, The Bluefield Daily Telegraph & the Beckley Register Herald blared the headline, front page, above the fold... "12 Miners Rescued!"
Only one local paper got it right, the Charleston (WV) Gazette...
My heart goes out to the families of those who perished, but it especially goes out to the one man who was found alive... Who was originally reported killed. They even sent officials to his home to report his death.
From what I can gather from various reports, someone overheard mine officials talking to rescue personnel, misunderstood what was being said and ran with it...
Why verify?
What the fuck...
Dewey Beats Truman, The complete clusterfuck of reporting during hurricane Katrina, now this colossal dogfuck.
I'm all for the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, but can we please get a little integrity and ethics back?
Edward R. Murrow, where are you when your country desperately needs you?
Copyright 2006 Thomas J. Wolfenden

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Triumph & Tragedy

The early morning 38 ~ 35 victory of the WVU Mountaineers over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl was tempered by the fact that 13 coal miners are trapped 260 feet below the surface as I write this. The miners were trapped after a methane gas explosion caused by what is thought to have been a lightning strike.
While many West Virginians were celebrating the win, others wait in hope that they'll get to see their loved ones again...
Go here for the mine story:
And here for the Sugar Bowl story:
Let us all say a silent prayer for the safe return of all thirteen... And let's have at least one more happy story for West Virginia tomorrow.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, January 02, 2006

What do you need a liver for anyway?

So in keeping with my New Year's resolution, myself and a few of my buddies at the fire department have decided to go to a local night spot between Athens and Princeton next Friday to see how long it will take to destroy our livers. These guys are in their twenties... And it's been well over two years since I've done any serious drinking... The last six-pack I bought for myself lasted me three months... But I'm game!
The last time I was seriously drunk was about four years ago... I had a army buddy at my house for the weekend when I still lived in Arizona...
Word of advice: Never try to drink an Australian under the table. It won't happen.
Anyway, we decided to head down to It's Five O'Clock Somewhere and see what trouble we can get into. It'll be fun. I do have the feeling though it's going to be one of those nights where the next day I'll wake up with my liver laying next to me smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of coffee...
I also have a comp from the MGM in Las Vegas good for three days, two nights, all inclusive except the airfare good until June so a bunch of us talked about heading out west for a few days to party. One of the guys on the FD is 22 and going through the paramedic course... He's never been out of West Virginia...
And a virgin...
I'm going to have some real fun in Vegas!
So what's a little bit of degenerative liver disease when you're having such a good time?
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A New Year's resolution

A long time ago my father taught me some very important lessons in life, one of the main ones being how to treat women. Be a gentleman and treat them like a lady. Treat them as your equal...
Remember birthdays and anniversaries, send cards and flowers for no reason at all but to let them know you're thinking of them... Hold the door for them, hold the chair when they sit down, get the umbrella if it's raining... Always pay for the meals when on a date... Be concerned about their day to day lives, ask how their day went (and mean it) listen to all their hopes, fears & desires, stand by them no matter what... Be there for them during the tough times, even if it's just to hold their hand or offer an arm and a shoulder to cry on... Make them feel special and wanted. Never lie or cheat on them... Share your own feelings, hopes and dreams with them and never hide your emotions... Tell them that they're beautiful, and mean it, especially when they really need to hear it. Be emotionally and physically available always...
If they've had a rough day at work, have a hot bath ready for them when they get home, maybe a glass of wine waiting... Give them a foot massage or a back rub. Cook dinner for them, have the house clean if it's your day off and they've had to work... Share in the household chores, don't be afraid to use the vacuum, washer and dryer... If it needs to be done around the house, do it... Don't wait on them to do it because you think it's "woman's work" and think it's an affront to your masculinity to do the dishes or make the bed.
Never, EVER belittle them, put them down, or God forbid hit them. Any problems that the two of you have, talk about them. Communicate. Work things out. No relationship is always smooth sailing all the time but never give up communicating. Defend them with everything you've got...
When you get home from work, help with the kid's homework if there are any kids, take them places like the park or the mall, fun places they'd like to go...
That and more... In essence, be a 'nice guy' and Dad, I've tried to do all those things for the past thirty five or so years... Ever since I was able to understand the concept.
But you know what Dad? That's a little too altruistic and wrong.
Here's what I've discovered, the hard way.
You see Dad, you do that and you get shit on. A giant pile of blowfly-infested elephant shit will drop out of the heavens right on top of your head and leave you standing alone looking like the fool you are.
Women say that's what they want in a man... I've heard it too many times. "You're such a good catch...Tom better watch out..he's liable to be snatched up before he knows what hit him..." Blah, blah, blah. But they really don't want a nice guy. They really want a "Bad boy"...
So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to remake myself for the New Year. A new and improved Ranger Tom for 2006.
First thing I'm going to do is put up a shallow facade of a 'Nice Guy" and all the while I'm going out to bars and strip clubs, chasing other women around... Because all men think of bedding a woman is just a conquest, right? That's all we think about... Getting laid. And we don't care who or what we jump into bed with. Long gone are the days when I was really picky about who I slept with. Never more will I really care about who I make love to. The next door neighbor, my best friend's wife, all your friends? Fair game. Hell, I'll even hit on your mom if she's young enough. I'll be spreading my DNA all over southern West Virginia when you're at work...
And once I have you thinking I'm a 'nice guy', I'll talk you into letting me move in with you... And soon as I'm in and settled, I'm going to quit my job and go on welfare. You'll have to get a second and third job probably to support both of us. When you come home, dead-tired from a sixteen hour shift at the Quik-E Mart, you best get dinner ready soon! I'm fucking hungry! Sitting in front of the TV watching the WWF and drinking Budweiser all day is tiring! I don't care how you feel or care about your opinion on anything, because you're just a dumb broad who should just shut up and be in the damn kitchen cooking me my supper. Oh, and before I pass out from the three cases of Bud I consumed today, how about a blowjob? After that, the garbage needs to be taken out too.
Pouring rain and you've got a flat tire? Tough shit. You've got a jack and a spare in your car and you should know how to use them. Still raining and you've got about a hundred bags of groceries to carry in? Better hurry, because if those paper bags get wet you'll have shit all over the driveway and porch and it'll take you twice as long to bring them in. Think I'm going to help? Ha! I'm not missing one minute of Monday Night Football, besides, that's women's work. Get me another beer while you're at it.
I noticed the lawn needs mowing too, by the way, better get it tomorrow between jobs. You've got what, forty five minutes between them, right?
This place is a mess too! After you get the groceries put away, you had better start cleaning this place up! Where's your paycheck, by the way? I want to get a new tattoo. I'm heading out now with Jake to go to Southern Xposure... And to get some real food! Your cooking sucks! How anyone could eat this shit and live is beyond me! I may or may not be home tonight so don't wait up. But this place better be spotless when I get home, I'm going to have a few dozen buddies over tomorrow for a NASCAR party. I'm also out of clean underwear too. Better throw a few loads in.
Oh, another thing. If I call from jail at 3 AM, you had best better come an bail me out. Not to worry though, it's only my eighth DUI this year, and since I don't have my license anymore you can run me all over town to different bars... Oh, and that girl I was with at Smokies, well, she's just a 'friend' and I was comforting her because her pet iguana died...
One day you might find yourself in trouble yourself, but tough! It's not my problem! It's all your fault anyway and I don't want to deal with it! I'm splitting with a girl younger and prettier that you... I just don't want to deal with your problems! You got yourself into this, now it's your problem to get out of. I'm leaving! I was sick of your damn nagging anyway.
I'll be a Bad Boy... Sounds exiting and inviting, doesn't it?
Sound absolutely ridiculous?
Well, of course it is, but that's exactly the kind of guys the women I'm meeting seem to gravitate towards. I try to be everything that my father said to be, everything over an above what I hear every woman say they want but as soon as I'm that guy to a woman, I'm dropped like a hot potato for someone more "Exotic & Exciting"...
No, of course I'm not really going to do this, just making a point.
But I'm soooooo Goddamn sick of being shit on when I'm being a nice guy. But to tell you the honest truth, next time I hear a woman say she's looking for a "Nice Guy", I'm not going to believe it for a minute.
Nice guys always finish last, Dad. I'm sorry, but you were wrong. You and mom were an anomaly.
So, if you guys will excuse me, I have to take my TV and DVD player to the pawn shop so I can buy a few cases of Budweiser, and on the way back dig through the garbage at the Deli Mart to see if I can find that married woman's phone number from the Deli Mart the other day...
Just another conquest, another notch on my bedpost don't you know...
Have a great, healthy and happy New Year!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden