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Dream On: When Punctuation Visits Your Nightmares

Dreams and even nightmares are often great fodder for a story or scene. Sometimes, though, those nocturnal fantasies are absolutely bizarre and offer no help whatsoever. Not even a tiny twist for an ending.

The image above—a questionable murder, to say the least—is a perfect example of the gaggle of “punctual” characters who, for some reason, show up in my mind from time to time. However, these guys come to me while my eyes are open and I’m wide-freakin-awake. Yep, my brain is a weird one. So are the things found inside, such as …

The renowned 100-yard Em Dash

The em dash is perhaps the most versatile of all punctuation marks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatcha’ gonna do ’bout the puppies?

Colon owners consider semi-colons as mixed breeds, therefore they prefer to keep the two apart. This is to prevent an unfortunate encounter that could result in large litters of periods and commas.

Unfortunate encounters produce large litters of periods and commas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have your ellipses glasses?

Punctuation marks have been known (in my mind) to join together to wreak havoc on the weather.

Periods, in teams of three, attack the sun.

 
 
 
 

Braces for Junior

Braces are also known as curly brackets “{ }”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotation Marks have places to go!

Commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks in American English; dashes, colons, and semicolons almost always go outside the quotation marks; question marks and exclamation marks sometimes go inside, sometimes stay outside. ~ Grammerly

 

Stop Shouting

In my mind, everyone gets to speak, and to ask questions, without being shouted down. Everyone …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too many questions …

 

Secrets of the Graveyard Shift: The Experts Behind Our Scenes

Today I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes of this blog. Yes, this site has tons of moving parts that require many creative minds and many hands to turn the dials, push the buttons, and flip the switches. So without further ado …

Cap’n Rufus “Peanut” Jenkins is in charge of our patrol division. It is he who offers details of traffic stops, responses to various types of calls, training information, etc. His teams also provide security in and around our property.

Cap’n Rufus “Peanut” Jenkins

Our two sharp-dressed cops provide backup during all dangerous situations that may occur during the writing of blog articles.

Sharp-dressed cops

Our in-the-field reporter, Frank “Fake News” Robertson.

Frank “Fake News” Robertson

Animal Control Officer Chuck “The Chicken” Davis handles all calls involving runaway animals, cases of animal abuse, chicken theft, and more.

Animal Control Officer Chuck “The Chicken Choker” Davis

Third Shift Watch Commander, Lt. L. Arge Rat.

Lt. L. Arge Rat

Larry “The Knife” Johnson, a master of disguise, plays the parts of a few bad guys on the site.

Larry “The Knife” Johnson

Paulie “The Painter” appeared as himself.

Paul the Painter

Bad Breath Bill played himself during an article about edged weapons. Larry “The Knife” Johnson joined him in the post.

Bad Breath Bill

Major Mechanical serves as Chief Deputy.

Major Mechanical

O-R3 and Running Bad Guy, a regular on the site, teamed up to teach us about crime-fighting robots.

O-R3 and Running Bad Guy

We were also thrilled when Rosie stopped by to offer her thoughts and ideas.

Rosie the Maid

The Man in the Moon supervises the entire Graveyard Shift.

Man in the Moon

For some reason, and we don’t know why, this weasel pops in from time to time.

Weasel popping

Today, nothing and no one are safe from scandal. These two, for example, have been at it for quite a while now. We’ve threatened to fire them but they cannot seem to control their emotions.

The “pucker factor” sometimes causes strange reactions.

Harry “Hot Sauce” McGee is our resident expert on non-lethal weapons.

Delivering the “Hot Sauce.”

“The Hand” appears throughout the site. Here we see him demonstrating the proper procedure for “drawing” a gun.

“Drawing” a service weapon

As a precaution, we routinely sweep the site for things that go boom, and other hazards. Here we see Beauregard the Bomb Dog doing what he does best.

Beauregard the Bomb Dog

To teach us about Rigor and Livor, the Mortis Twins, we brought in world-renowned death expert Frank N. Stein.

Frank N. Stein

Our aquatics experts, Dewey D. Duck and Ronnie Raft.

Dewey D. Duck (upper right) and Ronnie Raft (lower left, bottom, sides, and rear).

Dewey’s 1st cousin, “Three-Eye” is our resident surveillance expert.

Three-Eye

Guarding us around the clock is Police K-9 Sha-Key. Never felt safer in my life.

K-9 Sha-Key

Tommy Turtle and Tiny Tom are on-hand to detail the effects of bioterrorism.

Tommy Turtle and Tiny Tom

Skeeter teaches us about bloodstain patterns.

World-renowned bloodstain pattern expert, Skeeter Simpson.

Of course, to maintain the buildings and grounds of the Graveyard Shift compound, we employ top professionals that include horticulture expert Gilly Goat and master carpenter Harry “The Frown” Hammer.

Gilly Goat

Harry “The Frown” Hammer

Crime Scene Expert, Grant Greenfly, knows the finest details. He’s like a, well, fly on the wall.

Crime Scene Expert Grant Greenfly

Sergeant Sam Stinkfeet is a real pro at evidence collection and preservation.

Sergent Sam Stinkfeet

Hematology expert O. Positive, along with a rare visit by renowned scientist B. Negative, provided much-needed information about blood evidence.

Hematology experts

Officer survival expert Fred Fish taught us of the dangers associated with tunnel vision.

Fred Fish

The “Yelling Woman,” played by Laura Largelungs, is featured throughout the site as the person/witness who’s screaming nonstop … at crime scenes, he-said/she-saids, domestic calls, at, well, everywhere. She/he is the person who “loses it” no matter the situation. And they never fail to get in the way at every step.

Laura Largelungs screams, “Help, poleeeece!”

Larry Lipzipper – Miranda expert.

You have the right to remain silent. Use it!

The part of the villain is played by actor Carl Cockroach.

The Villain, played by Carl Cockroach

Prison information provided by Calvin Convict.

Calvin Convict

Weak Walter often describes the thought processes and actions of criminal suspects who enjoy fighting the police, but aren’t very good at it.

Weak Walter says, “They sometimes decide to fight wearing nothing but …”

Our staff of law experts led by by Judge I. Have Notorso, are always on standby to weed through legal issues.

Judge I. Have Notorso

Howard Hacker, our cyber crimes expert, is on standby to answer all questions.

Cyber crimes expert Howard Hacker

As you can see, The Graveyard Shift is well-staffed by a slew of top experts. Without them we’d be just another blog.

Of course there are many other experts who walk our hallways and occupy the offices of our elaborate compound. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time or space to showcase each of them today. And, there are many more characters experts on the way, and you’ll soon them and some of our regulars in places other than this blog. As they say … STAY TUNED!


By the way, space is available to attend the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of this thrilling hands-on event. You don’t want to miss this one!!

www.writerspoliceacademy.com

#2018WPA

Two Drunks and a Writer Enter a Bar … and More Eye-Rollers

 

  1. Being a writer is like being a politician. You get to make up @#$! and your fans love it.
  2. Being a writer is like being a plumber. Somewhere around the middle of the job you find yourself elbow deep in @#$!
  3. Writers are like prostitutes. They do it for money but the income arrives in small amounts at random times.
  4. Agents are like pimps without the purple suede leisure suits and feathers in their hats. Oh, wait …
  5. A good book is like a side effect of “the little blue pill.” It keeps you up all night.
  6. Sitting at a keyboard while clacking away at random characters is something an illiterate chimp can do. Much of today’s media is proof that chimps are better at it.

    Wandering Eyes

  7. Spellcheck is great, except when it isn’t.
  8. A great book is a like a fine statue. Their creators started with an idea and then carved away everything that didn’t help tell the story.
  9. Writers are like cops. They like coffee and whiskey and telling tall tales … and whiskey.
  10. A bad story is like a snow skier. They’re both start at out on a slow upward climb toward the summit. Then it’s all downhill from there until they reach the end, which is totally uneventful.
  11. The words of a good book remain forever. The words of a politician remain only until the next big donation comes along.
  12. If real-life bad guys would simply take the time to read a mystery book they’d know the good guys always win in the end.
  13. Good books are like the bed in a by-the-hour motel. Lots of action between the covers.
  14. Great ideas make great books, except when they don’t.
  15. Social media can be like a cancer. No punch line. It truly can be like a cancer.
  16. The bravest men and women in the world today are currently sitting at home, ranting and raving away on Facebook, telling people just how brave they are. Then they get up and go to their day jobs, greeting customers at Weirdmart, or selling fries at Booger Joe’s Burger Emporium.
  17. Lone literary agents at writers conferences are like the innocent fawns that tiptoe through the forest—they both know the attack could come at moment. This is why experienced agents travel in packs.
  18. A firefighter and a police officer enter a bar at a mystery writers conference. They’ll know better next time.

Finally …

Two drunks and a writer enter a bar during a writers conference. Three drunks come out.

*Have you got a zinger you’d like to share? If so, please do. (no foul language, racism, cop-bashing, politics, etc., please.).

A Loud Crack and She Was Dead: Could’ve Been My Daughter

RILEY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A 73-year-old woman was in her kitchen doing what everyone does in their kitchen—cooking, cleaning, eating, washing dishes, hanging out, having coffee, etc. You know, “kitchen things.” Her husband was nearby.

The woman’s husband says he heard a loud “crack” and suddenly his wonderful wife of many years collapsed to the floor. She was dead.

The sharp sound was gunfire. The woman had been shot to death by a neighbor who was target practicing on his property, firing at a dirt berm.

Apparently, at least one of the shooter’s rounds missed its mark and traveled through the air, across his property and then across his neighbor’s land, through their walls, into their kitchen, where it came to rest inside the body of an elderly woman who was doing nothing more than enjoying a day at home with her husband. Now she’s gone, forever.

Police say the shooter is cooperating with authorities.

I bring up this tragedy because, first, it’s horrible, and next it reminds me of an incident that occurred just last year in the state of North Carolina. Onslow County, North Carolina, to be exact, and it involves my daughter, her family, their home, their neighbors, and me, in a roundabout way.

Our daughter’s home was struck by gunfire.

The initial round broke a window and penetrated an interior wall of a laundry room.

Thinking it may have been a freak accident, the window was replaced and all was well … for a short while. Then more sounds of gunfire were heard in the area, and those gunshots sounded extremely close with additional rounds striking the house. One lodged in the wood trim next to the front door.

The front door. The door most often used by my daughter, her husband, and our grandson, Tyler. The round hit less than a foot to the right of where a person would stand when unlocking the door, turning the knob to go inside, or to stand watching as Tyler’s school bus arrived, something Ellen liked to do until cancer arrived and made it too difficult for her to enjoy many of the things she enjoyed.

Ellen, our daughter, called the sheriff’s office to report that someone was shooting at her house. In the meantime, she contacted a next-door neighbor who also discovered rounds lodged in the exterior of their home. Also near the front door.

Here’s how the sheriff’s office responded to someone firing live rounds into the homes of human beings.

Day One

  • Ellen called the sheriff’s office the first day/time at 1552 (if nothing else, the daughter of a police detective knows to keep record of everything). The call lasted 1 minute and 12 seconds. She called back at 1606 because the shooting was still going on in the neighborhood. The second call lasted 2 minutes and 26 seconds.
  • No one responded and the sheriff’s office denied she’d called, in spite of her having the records stored in her phone.

Day Two 

  • No response – shooting continues. More contact with the sheriff’s office. Nothing.

Day Three

  • No response – shooting continues

Day Four

  • Ellen tells me about the incident and the lack of response and concern by the sheriff’s office. I bypassed the folks on the front lines and contacted the county sheriff directly and “politely” urged him to do something about the situation. Last year was election year, by the way. A major contacted me immediately. He said he’d follow up.

This is the point where I totally and absolutely lost it

One official wrote me to say, “Not sure why you think we did not respond…..?”

Well, maybe it’s because NO ONE RESPONDED!!

In fairness, I feel sort of confident the official was relying on the “word” of the deputy who reported that he’d handled the incident. But …

Finally, it comes out, sort of …

The deputy who was assigned the original call, four days earlier, told his boss that he’d been too busy that day to actually show up. Instead, he claimed he’d tried several times to call Ellen on the phone, using his cell phone, and that he left messages on her voicemail. There are no such records. They do not exist. No one called.

Next, I was told that the sheriff’s office has records of all calls made by the deputy. However, they could not produce them when I requested them (I knew they didn’t exist).

Sheriff’s officials again claimed Ellen did not call, asking me, “What is the address? Is your daughter a minor? Who are you calling when you call?”

Keep in mind, the person who asked these questions was the same person I’d spoken with about the issue. The same person who took the information from me—name, address, phone number, nature of complaint— after the sheriff had him contact me. AFTER the deputy said he’d been too busy to respond to the call made by Ellen. After Ellen called several times. After neighbors called.

It was within the same written message to me, the official made the “Not sure why you think we did not respond…..?” statement. Just seconds earlier, remember, he/she claimed Ellen had not called. Why would someone respond to a call that hadn’t happened? Curious, I know. 🙂

But … if there was a record of Ellen calling, why did they not know her name, address, age, the number she called? Puhleeze. I made up better excuses when I didn’t do my homework in elementary school. Anyway …

Convoluted, huh? But wait, it gets better!

Okay, back to the deputy. The major sent him out to speak with the shooters (by this time, everyone knew who was pulling the trigger) but he opted to merely drive by—he didn’t stop—reporting that the activity had ceased—he didn’t hear gunfire as he drove through the area (like people shoot nonstop, without eating, drinking, tending to needs, and /or sleeping, 24/7).

Four days later, the posse arrives

Anyway, the deputy finally showed up at Ellen’s house four days after her initial call to the sheriff’s office. While there, like in a Perry Mason episode, he used a knife to dig the rounds from the house.

He also finally paid a visit to the shooter. I was told that as long as the shooter was 500 feet from the nearest house there was nothing the sheriff’s office could do. They actually said it was okay to fire guns toward an occupied dwelling as long as the shooters were outside of the 500-feet-range.

Fortunately, this shooter used common sense and realized the danger and agreed to not shoot until he erected a dirt berm. Now, after hearing the tragic details from the Michigan shooting, we all know just how safe/unsafe a dirt berm can be. There’s a dead woman and her grieving husband who are proof that these berms are sometimes not safe, especially in a residential area.

I recall a well-known author posting about a similar experience in her super-nice neighborhood, and that guy was firing a fully-automatic weapon.

By the way, on the day the deputy finally spoke with Ellen and then visited the shooter, someone else from the sheriff’s office contacted me to say the matter had been resolved (case closed) several days earlier to everyone’s satisfaction. The message was extremely defensive, taking the side of a deputy without knowing the circumstances at all. No clue, but was quick to discount me, Ellen, and the shooting—case closed. This person was in no way involved in this mess, but she/he saw the correspondence and felt the need to chime in, without knowing a single detail. Not one. Four days after the fact while the situation was still fully in play.

Today, the shooting continues, with a dirt berm in place.

In the midst of all the buck-passing and possible fibbing and defensiveness of a deputy who was possibly a bit less than honest, I wrote this to the sheriff’s office command – “I know it’s none of my business how you conduct the business of your office, but this, trying to cover up after-the-fact, is part of the reason the public distrusts the police. I’ve devoted the past ten years of my life educating the public about police and that we really are the good guys and that they can trust us, and then all it takes is a few words to tear down the little progress we make. My blog alone has reached appr. 4 million people worldwide and it’s a battle each day to present positive information that’ll help build that bridge between the public and the police.”


Note – It’s a crying shame it took so long and to have so many people involved to stop a life-threatening situation. I sincerely appreciate that the top brass within the sheriff’s office handled this for me, but three or four days of someone shooting at your house before a patrol deputy could find time in his schedule to stop a potential death by shooting is, well, it’s beyond me. And why did I have to pull the “I was a cop card” before anything at all was done? Would they have eventually shown up had I not contacted the sheriff to mention I was a former detective who’s investigated more shootings into occupied dwellings than I could possibly begin to count? It’s illegal to do so, by the way.

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that 500 feet is not ample distance to completely prevent injury or death from a high-powered rifle round. Nor is it possible for improperly constructed dirt berms to stop rounds if the berms are too short, too narrow, or too thin. Even rocks or pieces of metal on dirt berms can cause ricochets, or lead to break apart sending shrapnel off in various directions. By the way, shrapnel is a fancy name for smaller projectiles that could also be as deadly as an intact round.

The rounds above each struck a hard surface before coming to rest. The item at the top is ejected brass from a .45.

Commonsense. Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a life. That, and not shooting toward homes.

#proactivepolicingsaveslives

#respondtocalls

#behonest

#shootresponsibly

#irresposibleshootersgiveallothersabadname

#baddeputy

#alwaysknowthepathofyourrounds


Finally, please continue to pray for our daughter, my little girl. She’s very ill.

Again, if you can help, please do. Contact me at lofland32@msn.com for contribution details. Thank you so much!

​Stephen William Hawking: Unshackled

In 1963, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live. Hawking, regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein, passed away this week at the age of 76. He’d been confined to a wheelchair since 1969.

Today, I imagine him soaring through the cosmos, no longer shackled by illness and manmade devises, on a journey to finally locate the beginning of the universe and the true meaning of being human. After all, it was he who once said, “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.”

Stephen William Hawking, scientist and physicist (1942–2018)

No longer confined, Stephen Hawking sets out on a quest to locate the beginning of the universe.

To read more about this legend of science, visit the website of Stephen Hawking by clicking here.

 

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Oakland Mayor: Snitchin’ Could Be Deadly … Doesn’t She Care?

The list is long. You know the the one. The list of laws we don’t like and don’t want to follow. They anger us. They seem foolish and often unfair. But is it okay to cherry-pick which rules we obey and which we don’t, simply because they’re not our cup of tea?

Seriously, which laws should we thumb our noses at and go about our business doing as we please—laws, police, courts, judges, and society be damned? Which laws are okay to shun as if they don’t exist? And, what are the consequences (excluding arrest and incarceration) should someone blatantly decide to disobey?

Snitchin’ Could Be Deadly!

Please allow me to slip back in time a bit to help put this situation into perspective. I was in charge of major narcotics investigations and one particular crack cocaine dealer seemed elude arrest no matter how hard I tried to nab him. So I organized an elaborate undercover operation complete with high-tech surveillance and monitoring equipment, phone taps, undercover drug buys from his residence, etc. A lot of time and effort and money went into the investigation. Finally, the day came when I had everything in order and I had a search warrant in hand. It was time to assemble a raid team and bring the guy down.

I called in an entry team and conducted a pre-search briefing—who would go where, when, do what, etc. I knew there were several known bad guys inside so I warned everyone about the danger involved and I made certain everyone on the team was wearing full protective gear. Then, just as we were about to head to our vehicles for the procession to the target home I noticed one of our team members was missing. I called him on the phone and he said he’d forgotten he had a quick errand he needed to attend to. Thought he’d be back before we were ready to go but time slipped away. He told me he’d meet us halfway there.

My heart sank. He’d left the meeting before I’d told anyone where we were going. The names of the suspects. Nothing. I always kept those details close to my chest, and for very good reason, and that reason was quite possibly coming to the surface. Somehow he knew where we were going without hearing it from me.

I again told everyone to use caution. There suspects were heavily armed and, well, it was going to be dangerous, and the sinking feeling in my gut made things seem even worse.

We rolled out, parked down the street from the target house, and that’s when I saw our missing team member walking toward us from my right. I asked where he’d come from and he told me he’d followed us but elected to park in a different spot.

As we talked I smelled alcohol on his breath. He confessed that he’d been drinking and didn’t think he was in any sort of condition to assist with a raid. I agreed and ordered him to leave the area but to be available after we were done. I had a few things we needed to discuss. First things first, though. *He’d consumed beer so he wouldn’t be allowed to join us.

Our boozed-up team member departed and we proceeded to the house.

Needless to say, the bad guys were waiting for us. They knew we were coming and they were ready for a fight. Fortunately, they realized they were outgunned and their numbers were far short of ours. We’d come in deep, as they say.

They fired a few rounds at us as they ran away into several directions. We caught a couple of the runners but they were clean—no weapons and no drugs. In fact, there was not a single speck of cocaine inside the residence. The place was cleaner than a hospital operating room before surgery.

Long story short, our partner gave the drug dealers advance notice that were on the way. I still don’t believe he knew where we were heading that night, but I later learned that he was paid by this gang to keep them informed. Therefore, when he saw the size and scope of what was about to take place he hurried out to warn his “employer” that the police just might be preparing to kick in their door.

This is serious. Many officers have been murdered in ambush situations over the course of the past couple of years. A bit of advance warning sets up the officers for a blindsided, deadly attack. And, to have someone turn against the police and to issue an advance warning that they might be on the way is, well, nothing short of extremely dangerous, irresponsible, inexcusable, and … criminal.

How would that official feel if someone were to die because of their belief that a law shouldn’t be followed because they don’t like it? Would it bother them if a suspect gunned down an officer as he approached a building or person during the course of their sworn duty?

What should happen to government employees who warn potential criminals and/or violent gang members and drug dealers and human smugglers that police may be on the way? What should happen to the official if an officer is hurt or killed because of that warning?

I know the feeling I had that night, knowing someone in an official capacity tipped off the bad guys and placed our entire team in harm’s way. It was not good. Luckily, we remained safe and sound (scary for a while when the rounds started coming our way) and we eventually busted the group of drug dealers.

The snitching officer was relieved of his police powers soon afterward (that’s a polite way of saying he was fired).

Anyway, this type of situation (different players and scenario, but the same danger level, or higher) is playing out right now in Oakland, Ca., where the mayor there just issued a public warning that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could be conducting a raid in the area.

I get it. She doesn’t like the fact that federal agents are doing their jobs in the city where she works as mayor. However, as I offered above, announcing the arrival of police who’re conducting surprise raids makes the situation extremely dangerous/life-threatening for those agents/officers. This mayor is playing with real fire. Obviously, she feels nothing about the lives of the federal agents. Or, she hasn’t realized the consequences of her actions. Or … she just doesn’t care.

Again, I get it. Some people don’t like some laws and they’d prefer that police weren’t around (well, only when it’s convenient). Unfortunately, we are a country of laws and the police are in place to enforce those laws. Anyone outside of those parameters is breaking the law, including Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland. The mayor also contacted businesses in the area to remind them that a new California state law “prohibits business owners from assisting ICE agents in immigration enforcement and bars federal agents from accessing employee-only areas.”

Again, no matter the reason, this practice makes it extremely dangerous for law enforcement officers. They’re humans. They have families. They’re out there to protect us. They’re doing their jobs. They want to live, too, just like the rest of us.

You don’t like the law, don’t want ICE in your area … fine. Don’t help them. But do not place those agents in harm’s way merely to prove your point. Instead, let the agents fend for themselves and stay out of their way.

Like Ducks in a Shooting Gallery

Perhaps the Oakland mayor doesn’t care if she lives to see tomorrow. But I’m sure that each and every day those federal agents are more than happy to safely return home to their families. Sadly, they’ll have to do the best they can because not only do they have to worry about the daily dangers associated with the job, now they have people like the Oakland mayor who doesn’t seem to mind that she’s setting up these agents like ducks in a shooting gallery.

Again, you don’t like a law, change it, but don’t risk the lives of hard-working men and women simply because a rule rubs you the wrong way. Believe me, police officers don’t care if a law disappears from the books. It’s one less they’d have to worry over. And, they’d certainly prefer to not conduct dangerous raids where they could be injured or killed.

So please, Mayor Schaaf, consider the consequences of snitching when doing so could cost someone their life. And, by the way, your action was illegal …

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Kratom, the Legal Opium?

Kratom, a tree native to southeast Asia—Thailand and Malaysia—can reach towering heights of 50 feet, or more. Its trunk, when fully grown, is an impressive 15 feet in diameter. Its leaves, well, the chemical compounds in kratom leaves behave like those found in opioids including morphine. This is not your average shade tree.

Users of “Biak-Biak,” as kratom is called in Malaysia, introduce the drug into the body by smoking, chewing, or brewing the leaves into a tea. Interestingly, chewing the leaves produces a milder effect than other means of consumption. And, the effects achieved when chewing the raw leaves is that of a mild stimulant.

Kratom tree

However, when ingesting kratom in higher dosages (extracts, powders, etc) it produces an effect quite similar to that of opium-like narcotic analgesics.

Kratom is a listed as a controlled substance in Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar (Burma). And, it is listed in Schedule 9, the most highest level, of the Australian National Drugs and Poisons Schedule. It is not, however, illegal in the U.S.

Kratom is legal in the U.S.

The DEA, the same DEA that lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, took a look at kratom and decided to not include it in either of the five drug schedule categories. Shoot, even Robitussin AC, a peach-mint or grape/menthol cough syrup, is on the list of “dangerous” drugs, but not kratom, a substitute for opium.


Schedule I

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:

Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are:

Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are:

Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, Tramadol

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are:

cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin


 The DEA briefly considered placing kratom in the Schedule 1 category but opted not to due to public outcry from people who claim the drug helps as a treatment for pain, anxiety and drug dependence.

Others say it’s safer than opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.

Yeah, well, so is Lyrica, a drug prescribed for fibromyalgia and epilepsy. Lyrica warning labels list minor side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, difficulty concentrating, swollen arms/legs, and weight gain.

Kratom leaf

Possible side effects from using kratom include vomiting, sweating, itching, psychotic episodes, delusions and respiratory depression. The FDA has identified 44 reports of death involving kratom since 2011.

There are a large number of Kratom vendors in the United States. The drug typically enters the U.S. in shipments from Asia and from western European countries. These deliveries slip past U.S. Customs, an agency that confiscates all kratom it locates.

Kratom is sold in various forms, including raw leaves, and extracts, capsules, and powders. Vendors include convenience stores, gas stations, and even delis.

Will the DEA eventually add Kratom to the drug schedule? Will the drug be made illegal? Who knows? In the meantime, though, we can all rest easier knowing our nation’s supply of cough syrup and constipation-inducing Lyrica is kept safely under lock and key.

Madam Zelda’s Top Predictions for 2018

Each year on the last day of December I travel to a secret location where I meet with my friend Madam Zelda to learn her predictions for the coming year. The mysterious clairvoyant is so good at what she does that she’s rarely, if ever, wrong. The woman is uncanny.

So, in keeping with year-end tradition, Madam Zelda did a reading for us this morning and she’s confident 2018 will be fantastic. Here’s a list of her top twenty predictions which, by the way, contains a few from last year since they also pertain to 2018. Believe me, she’s always right … sometimes.

Here goes …

  1. Someone accidentally plays a Kayne West song in reverse and hears the star say admit, “I can’t sing. Not a word. Not a note. Nope, can’t carry a tune, not even in a bucket.”
  2. Universities rush to create safe spaces for students traumatized by what they’ve seen and heard in other safe spaces (yes, coloring books, Play Dough, and tiny ponies can be extremely scary).
  3. The Dictionary Police meet and officially ban the words, Bigly, Electoral College, Candidate, Fake News, Swamp, Email, Russia, Comey, Hacking, Polling, Weiner, Trump, Hillary, and “War On …” (War on Drugs, War on Christmas, etc.).
  4. The U.S. wisely eliminates all elections. Future spots are to be filled by the winners of Rock, Paper, Scissors competitions. All decisions will be final. No recounts, lawsuits, or hacking attempts allowed. NO campaigning!!
  5. The Electoral College closes its doors and the entire campus is razed to make room for a trendy new Filibuster hamburger joint.
  6. California will do something stupid.
  7. The news media is shocked to learn that news is something that actually happens, not the fantasy or agenda that lives inside the minds of some “reporters.”
  8. Doctors discover a cure for social media.
  9. Rumor has it that someone could/might actually perform a country song at the 2017 Country Music Awards. This one is a stretch and probably will not happen.
  10. Amazon’s Alexa is set to become the first all-electronic mayor of a major U.S. city. She’s definitely qualified because her standard answer to tough questions is, “Hmm, I can’t seem to find the answer to your question.”
  11. A criminal will break the law and someone will be shocked that he did, and that someone will start a movement to ban whatever it was the criminal did even though there are 2 Tatrilliongazillion laws already on the books that … here it comes … already forbid the act.
  12. The Oscars will present an award to someone no one in the entire world has ever heard of.
  13. Airlines will develop a means to tow utility trailers for those who prefer to travel with with even less frills than those afforded to passengers in coach (think hogs in the rear of semi trucks/trailers on their way to market).
  14. Congress debuts a TV comedy show titled “Deaf” Comedy Jam.
  15. Statues across the country begin to shout back at the folks who yell at them.
  16. For the first time ever the Postal Service delivers an un-crushed package.
  17. The North Koreans sweep gold at the 2018 Olympics.
  18. The winner of the Super Bowl depends entirely upon which team has enough standing members to play (It’s difficult to run while on your knees).
  19. HGTV launches series of new shows featuring more people doing the same things as the people who already do those things.
  20. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Writers’ Police Academy. Expect the largest and most thrilling event we’ve ever produced. And, the 2018 Guest of Honor is … well, a secret for now. 🙂 Details coming soon. Very soon!

*This post is ENTIRELY a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor. Please do not try to read between the lines because there’s absolutely nothing there. Also, please … no comments about race, politics, cops, religion, etc. Let’s end the year with a smile. Goodness knows, I need one.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Jimmy Bob “Peanut” Lawson: Button-Zinging At The Piggly Wiggly

You’ve had a long night answering call after call—he-saids, she-saids, chasing a Peeping Tom through back yards and alleys, a couple of drunks arguing over a near-empty bottle of Ripple, kids spray-painting stop signs, and the guy who insisted he was Jesus and attempted to prove it by damning you to hell a few dozen times after you refused to give him ten dollars.

Yep, a looonnnggg night and it was only half over when Jimmy Bob “Peanut” Lawson, Jr. decided to join forces with his good friend Jack Daniels to blacken both his wife’s eyes. Well, Erlene, the wife, wasn’t about to stand for that so she poked ‘ol Peanut in the gut a couple of times with a dull kitchen knife. Didn’t break the skin, mind you, but the act was just enough to send Peanut off the deep end. Oh, he was plenty mad about it, yellin’ and screamin’ and stompin’ his Doc Martens across the linoleum, and kicking at Porkchop, the family’s three-legged dog. But Porkchop, having been to this freak show one too many times in the past, knew to stay six or seven dog-dish-lengths away from his master’s size twelves.

After about ten minutes of plate, bowl, and pot-and-pan-throwing, one of the kids, a snot-nosed, freckle-faced boy of around ten or so, picked up the cordless and punched the speed dial button for 911.

And that’s where you, Officer Save M. All, show up. And Peanut, a Friday night regular, meets you in the driveway, huffing and puffing like an old-time, coal-fired locomotive engine.

Now here’s where things could get a little dicey so it’s best to run down the checklist before diving right in. You know, size him up. Is Peanut armed this time? Is he really going to attack? Or, is all that chest-thumping and Tarzan-yelling just a show for the neighbors? Well, you’d better find out in a hurry because he’s starting to spin like the Tasmanian Devil.

So how can you tell if this guy means business, or not?  Well, there are a few telltale signs that could help you evaluate the situation, and, since weapons and other items that are capable of puncturing your flesh, bones, and organs should be your first concern, here are some common indicators that Peanut is carrying a hidden gun or knife.

1. It’s 97 degrees outside and Peanut, standing smack-dab in the center of the intersection at 9th and Main, is wearing his heavily-insulated, knee-length, blood-stained orange hunting coat. Yes, Einstein, he’s probably wearing it to hide a sawed-off shotgun, the one Daddy gave him for Christmas when he was three.

2. The tail of his flannel shirt is out, but one side is riding higher than the other. A great sign that he’s wearing a weapon on the “high side.”

3. Even wearing a shirt tail on the outside is a sign that he might be carrying a weapon. Unfortunately, it’s also a sign known to bad guys, which means they might recognize you as an undercover officer.

Now, for the signs that Peanut is about to attempt to stomp your butt into the mud …

1. For some unknown reason, many offenders/would-be attackers seem to feel the need to rip off their shirts prior to delivering the first blow. So, when a drunk starts ripping cloth and zinging buttons across the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, well, that might be a good time to reach for the pepper spray because he’s subtly announced his intentions. The standard shirt-ripping ritual is usually accompanied by lots of top-of-the-lung screaming and yelling, especially nasty comments about your wife and mother. Nasty comments about the family dog are optional.

2. Another clue that Peanut is about “go for it” is when he starts glancing at a particular spot on your body, like your throat, stomach, or even a knee. Instantly, you should go on alert for a possible strike to that area. Peanut is announcing his intentions and he’s ready to pounce.

New Picture

3. Peanut constantly glances to a spot behind you, or to a place off to your right just out of your line of sight. Watch out, because his partner may be approaching for a rear ambush. And, his partner just might be Mrs. Peanut. Yes, even though her “loving husband” had just moments ago beat the ever-loving snot out of her she’ll often defend her man until the bitter end. Unfortunately, the end sometimes results in a funeral … hers.

These quick glances are also good indicators that Peanut has a hidden weapon nearby. For example, you’ve stopped Peanut for drunk driving and he’s constantly glancing toward the glove compartment. Well, there’s a good chance that a weapon or other illegal items are concealed there.

4. The Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home – You arrive on scene and you approach Peanut, who is standing still, staring off into space. His jaw is clenched and he’s sweating profusely, even though you’re both standing in two feet of freshly-fallen New England snow (New England snow, to me, is the coldest snow on the planet). He doesn’t respond to you in any way, but you see the anger rising. Face is growing redder by the second. Veins poking out on his forehead. Eyes bulging. Yeah, you get the idea. Believe me, it is time to take a step back and start pulling every tool you’ve got on your duty belt because this guy’s getting ready to blow. Silence is definitely not golden in this case.

5. Peanut might be a “I’m not going to look at you” kind of personality. This is another indicator that an assault may be on the way. If he’s staring at place on the ground, refusing to listen and obey your verbal commands, then be prepared for an attack. At the very least, be prepared for a battle when the time comes to snap on the cuffs.

I guess a good rule of thumb is to always assume the worst, hope for the best.

On a Red Eye, Because I Can’t Fix Cancer

It’s just after 1 a.m. and I’m sitting on a plane heading to North Carolina where I, as a father, will be forced to hand over the safety and well-being of my daughter, Ellen, to a surgeon I’ve never met. I understand a robot will also have a “hand” in this operation.

All her life, I’ve tried my best to handle the woes, small and large, that came her way. From bee stings, scrapes and scratches, to sports injuries and dumb luck and more. I’ve tried to be there. Fix things. That’s my job.

This time, I’ve failed her when she needs me the most. I can’t fix cancer. I would if I could. I would also, without reservation or hesitation, change places with her. Can’t do that, either.

Again, I’m stuck and at the mercy of a surgeon and her robot, neither of whom I have yet to meet.


Ellen and I touch base at least once each day, by phone, Skype, and sometimes via social media. Our chats last anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. There’s typically no rhyme or reason or purpose for our conversations other than to share a bit of dad/daughter time.


As I mentioned, I’m on a red eye flight to the East Coast and the plane is graveyard quiet, and dark. Not a single light other than the glow emitting from my laptop. The constant buzz of the engines has worked its magic on most of the passengers, Denene included, who are snoozing away while my mind is darting in a zillion directions.

One of those side avenues leads me down a path where a ton of thank-yous are in order. Many of you sent gifts and cards and messages to Ellen and she was surprised and thrilled to see so many wonderful things show up on her doorstep and in her mailbox. I can’t begin to express how much this has meant to her, and me.

At a time in your life when you sort of feel as if you’re facing “it” alone, well, it’s heartwarming to have so many good friends show so much kindness and generosity.


Okay, the captain has just turned on the fasten seat belt sign, and rightfully so because I feel as if I’m attempting to type while inside a child’s bounce house at a birthday party for 100 youngsters.


The bumpy ride, though, reminds me of a time long ago when Ellen was still a teen. She I decided to go for a bit of off-road 4-wheel-drive adventure where we hit a super deep muddy hole and nearly overturned my vehicle. Of course, we giggled like two little kids and even thought about making a repeat trip through the bottomless pit but decided to leave well enough alone.


Monday’s coming fast, the time when I’ll have to turn Ellen over to the surgeon. They’ll wheel her down a hallway and back again several hours later. It will not be me who fixes her. Instead, I’ll remain behind with Denene, Tyler (our grandson), and our son-in-law John.

I know, I’ve already handed off my little girl to her husband. Did so many years ago, and he’s a good husband. A good man. And a good father. He, too, would trade places, and he, too, must trust my little girl/his wife, to a stranger.


We, as a family, are fortunate. We have each other, and we have Ellen who, by the way, is one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. She’s a wonderful daughter, mother to Tyler, and wife to John.

She’s the glue of their family.

And she’s still my little girl. Always will be.


Not so long ago, Denene’s mother was diagnosed with a serious cancer and had major surgery as a result. She started chemo a few days ago.

For days you guys prayed and sent kind words, gifts, books, and messages. Since her surgery and while going through chemo, my mother-in-law has been back to church and even out to dinner with a ladies group. She’s not well, but she’s living life. Thank you all for sticking with us.


And now, we have Ellen who underwent emergency surgery a few days ago and will be back in the surgical unit again on Monday.

If you have any left at all, a couple more prayers would be very much appreciated. And, thank you for understanding that for the next several days, at least, my online activity (blogging, etc.) will be limited. I’ll keep you posted about the surgery, though (on Facebook).

And, I’ll keep you posted on the progress of my little girl. She is, you know … my little girl.


By the way, Ellen and I recreated our off-road adventure the last time I was there for a visit. Denene was at her mother’s tending to her health issues and I was at Ellen’s to take her to begin the first of her cancer tests. Obviously, with Denene two-hours away, there was not an adult present in our vehicle when Ellen and I made the decision to stomp the pedal to the floor and hope we came out on the other side of the mud and deep ruts. An adult would never, not in a million years, approve of what we’d done.

Yes, we still giggled like little kids, even decades later. Of course, driving off-road in a pit of mud while driving a rental vehicle seemed a bit less insane.

Ah, nothing like a bit of quality dad/daughter time … But it was a memory we shared and doggone it, we did it again simply because we could and because, for some reason, it felt like the right thing to do … at the time.

And she’s still my little girl.