A Weekend Hike In The Pacific Northwest

A little over an hour drive north of Seattle lands you in some pretty nice scenery. Actually, anywhere in that area is spectacular. The countryside is simply beautiful, and full of surprises at ever turn. You’ll see our biggest surprise of the day in the last photo. It was during the drive home through the mountains.

After hiking upward on narrow, twisting and winding trails, we wound up miles deep in the thick woods. When we hit this clearing I wondered how someone got the materials there to build the bridge. Helicopter?

What a surprise it was to run into this on the way home.

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the family of this brave officer.

Trooper Javier Arana, Jr., 32

Texas Highway Patrol

March 24, 2012 – Trooper Javier Arana was killed in an automobile accident while responding to a vehicle pursuit. He is survived by his wife and five children.

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11 Legendary College Pranks to Applaud on April Fool’s Day

Every year on the first of April you’ll see coffee cups glued to car roofs and Facebook statuses claiming surprise marriages. But don’t we deserve a better class of jokester? Is it too much to ask for a little thought and effort? Consider these legendary pranks by college kids as inspiration, and be like them. It doesn’t matter that you’re not drunk, responsibility-free, and reckless. If you want it badly enough, you can make fools of us all.

  1. George P. Burdell

    When your prank becomes a running joke at the school for nearly 100 years, you know it’s legendary. In 1927, when precocious student Ed Smith received two enrollment forms for Georgia Tech, he decided to enroll the imaginary George P. Burdell at the same time. Amazingly, Smith then proceeded to enter Burdell in all his classes and do all his homework and tests twice, changing them slightly, to serve as Burdell’s “work.” Thus began the legend of the “man” who has since received every undergraduate degree at Tech, served in World War II, worked at Mad Magazine, and had a Tech school store named after him.

  2. Bonsai kittens

    Beware when MIT students get bored. In 2000, a website appeared claiming to sell kittens sealed into glass jars in order to permanently make them the shape of the container. The site featured outrageous photos of a person supposedly using a shoehorn to stuff one of the cats in the “insertion process,” and an uncomfortable looking kitty pressed up against the glass. Gullible folks at the Humane Society bit, and bit hard, hard enough that the feds got involved and exposed the hoax.

  3. Car on the roof

    Nothing is better than pulling off a prank that makes people say, “How the heck did they do that?” For half a century that’s what people in Cambridge were saying after someone parked an Austin Seven on the roof of Cambridge University’s Senate House in 1958. Police and firemen had to disassemble it to get it off the roof. Fifty years later, a group of engineering students came forward and explained how they did it with three groups using winches, ropes, and pulleys.

  4. Great Rose Bowl Hoax

    It’s a little tame by today’s standards, but this one’s in the pantheon of legendary college pranks. At the 1961 Rose Bowl game, Minnesota squared off against Washington in front of 100,000 stadium fans and millions more watching NBC’s broadcast of the game. At halftime, they were treated to the surprise of a carefully choreographed flip-card show that concluded with Washington students unwittingly displaying signs that formed the word “CALTECH.” Angered over their continued exclusion from the Rose Bowl proceedings, Caltech students had spent weeks creating 2,232 replacement flip cards.

  5. Hugo N. Frye

    When students at Cornell’s campus paper needed an angle for their second annual banquet, they landed on the idea of embarrassing gullible politicians for a few laughs. So they created Hugo N. Frye out of thin air as “the father of the Republican party” and invited prominent GOPers to attend the banquet for his 150th birthday. None could attend, but their glowing remarks were read aloud at the banquet by gleeful students. “It is a pleasure to testify to the career of that sturdy patriot who first planted the ideals of our party in this region of the country,” the Secretary of Labor wrote. Even the vice president at the time congratulated them. The New York Times got ahold of it and the prank swept the country.

  6. Veterans of Future Wars

    Ah, political humor. In 1936, some prophetic Princeton guys, disgusted by bonuses being granted to veterans of World War I, reasoned that the odds were quite strong that sooner or later they too would be called to war. Thus, as future veterans, they deserved their bonuses up front while they were still able to enjoy them. Overnight, Veterans of Future Wars parties sprang up on campuses all over the country. They even had their own salute: an outstretched arm similar to the Nazi Party, except with the palm turned up, ready for a handout. Real veterans were outraged and the group was denounced by Congress. In other words, mission accomplished.

  7. Harvard sucks

    Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. In a 2004 homage to Caltech, Yale students donned red t-shirts and hit the Harvard-Yale game as the “Harvard Pep Squad.” Not content to simply trick Harvard fans into holding up a “Yale” sign, the pranksters handed out red and white signs that formed a giant “We Suck” over the Crimson faithful. In the hilarious video, a Harvard guy nearly blows their cover, and a sweet old Harvard mom asks, “It’s not going to say something like ‘Yale sucks’ is it?”

  8. Maryland half-court shot

    Collegehumor staffers Amir Blumenfeld and Streeter Seidell authored a string of hilarious back-and-forth pranks on each other from 2006 to 2009. Streeter kicked things off by tricking Amir into listening to the audio of Streeter getting down with his girlfriend. One of the best moments came a few rounds later, when Streeter publicly humiliated Amir at a Maryland basketball game by enlisting the crowd to make Amir briefly think he’d made a half-court shot for $500,000. The poor fool celebrated like an idiot — then he saw Streeter.

  9. Theft of the Sacred Cod

    Sometimes the simplest pranks get the best reactions. In 1933, Harvard Lampoon staffers quietly absconded with “the sacred cod,” a five-foot wooden fish that hung over the entrance to the Massachusetts House of Representatives chamber. You’d have thought they’d kidnapped the Lindberg baby. State police were called in. The Charles River was dragged. A Lampoon writer was detained by police at an airport and questioned for hours. After three days of hysteria, the Harvard chief of police was led into the woods and there two saddle-shoed young men returned the cod.

  10. Greasing the railroad tracks

    This prank from Auburn’s past has the smell of tall tale to it, but it’s so cool and such a Tiger tradition that we’re going to give it the benefit of the doubt. Legend has it, the night before the 1896 Auburn-Georgia Tech football game, Auburn students crept down to the railroad station under cover of night and greased a quarter-mile of track with pig fat. When the train carrying the Yellow Jackets rolled in come morning, the train slid five miles past its stop and the players had to walk back to town, tiring them out and paving the way to an Auburn victory.

  11. “Clap if you think he’s guilty”

    The NoZe Brotherhood is an underground society at Baylor University, whose members wear Groucho glasses to disguise their identities. One of their funniest moments came in 1973 at the yearly Homecoming Parade. The Grand Marshall was Baylor alum Leon Jaworski, who only days before had been made the prosecutor in the investigation of President Nixon and Watergate. As Jaworski rolled down the street waving to hundreds of applauding spectators, a NoZe brother followed behind him in trademark wig, glasses, and trench coat with a sign that read (referring to Nixon), “Clap if you think he’s guilty.”

 *Today’s article brought to you by www.bestcollegesonline.com

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Castle: 47 Minutes – A “Good Cop/Bad Cop” Review and Recap

Another episode has come and gone, and guess who’re still exchanges goofy glances and innuendos…and nothing more. Yep, our dynamic duds. Honestly, I’ve gotten so desperate to see something happen—hell, anything—that I’ve resorted to watching old Moonlighting reruns. Seriously, what normal adults behave like these two characters? Yep…priests, nuns, monks, and dead folks.

As far as the police stuff and Lanie go, well, grrr… And to make matters even worse for me, I pegged the killer in the first few minutes of the show.

Oh, and that crazy red-dot-moving-cell phone-user-map? Well, we brought in the big gun, Lt. Josh Moulin, to address that issue. Lt. Moulin is a nationally recognized expert in cyber crime and digital forensics, who just happens to be assigned full-time to the FBI as the commander of the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force / FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force. Many of you will remember him as an instructor at the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy. We’ll see what Lt. Moulin has to say about the “red dots” in a minute.

First, let’s get Melanie’s take on the show.

Melanie Atkins

Episode 19, or rather, 47 Seconds, began with a bombing at a protest rally, a seemingly senseless event that killed at least five and left many others injured. Random victims who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their whole lives changed in a brilliant flash.

The fallout had a big impact on our dynamic duo. Kate tells Rick, “Makes you think of all the things you don’t want to put off anymore.” And the way she looks at him… as if she wants to tell him how she feels. Before she can, however, they’re interrupted.

Alexis, who is still interning in the morgue with Lanie, is also greatly affected by the carnage. She has to take a break while cataloging the victims’ personal effects. Rick takes her home and ends up talking about the bombing with Martha.

“Nobody’s tomorrow is guaranteed,” he says. Martha urges him to tell Kate how he feels before it’s too late. Why is he still waiting? Rick, however, is worried she’s not ready, yet finally decides to take Martha’s advice.

The next day, he approaches Kate with their customary coffee (coffee = love to our Caskett duo) and tries to tell Kate that he loves her — remember that at this point, he thinks she doesn’t remember him saying that after she was shot — only, they’re interrupted again. Of course! Grrr…

The case gets in the way, and they don’t get to talk again before they finally run down a prime suspect the next day. Rick drops off another coffee on Kate’s desk, then enters the observation room just in time to see her question the guy, who claims he doesn’t remember what happened because he was traumatized by the bombing — yet she refused to allow him to use that excuse. “I was shot in the chest, and I remember every second of it,” Kate says. “And so do you.”

So… she remembers the shooting and Rick’s I-Love-You, and yet she’s denied it for ten long months. Rick is devastated. He feels like a fool. A school boy hanging around the pretty girl at school who merely tolerates him. He has to get some air, so he leaves and goes to see him mom. Martha is sympathetic.

He goes back to the precinct in spite of his mother’s protests, trying to do some good, and walls of his feelings for Kate. He snarks at her, throwing out little comments that she just doesn’t get. She’s puzzled by what he’s saying and how he’s pulling away. The case, of course, requires her attention, so she can’t question him about it.

Finally, they get the man and his newswoman accomplice actually responsible for planting the bomb. At one point during the interrogation, Rick uses the term “sinning by silence” to describe the accomplice’s role in the bombing. He says, “It’s not smart. It’s not brave. It’s just cowardly.” And he looks at Kate. She’s obviously confused… yet surely those words have hit home in some way. I mean, really. She doesn’t get it, though.

Kate invites Rick and the boys out for a drink to celebrate solving the case. Ryan and Esposito decline because they’re really tired. Once they leave, Kate tells Rick, “I guess it’s just us. You know, now that the case is done, what did you want to talk about?” And he says, “Nothing. Nothing important, anyway.” No way will he reveal his feelings now.

She’s puzzled, to say the least. My heart broke for both of them. So much miscommunication — or rather, a lack of communication. Next week, the countdown is on to the finale… only four more episodes to go. And all of them are supposed to highly emotional, with Kate and Rick’s relationship taking center stage. Tonight, of course, a major secret came to light. A secret that crushed Rick’s heart and caused him to back away from Kate.

Will we get that much needed resolution in The Limey? I can’t wait to find out!

Lee Lofland

I’m not going to beat around the bush. I didn’t like this episode. Not at all. First of all, the investigation and police procedure were silly and unrealistic. More importantly, though, the relationship (or, lack of) between Castle and Beckett is downright dumb. Dumb, I say. No living and breathing species on earth acts this way…not for four or five years. Sure, a giggly mating ritual at the onset, but this? Come on. And now…well, I’ll leave it alone. Because it’s dumb, dumb, dumb.

Okay, the cop stuff (and Lanie).

– Gates. She’s horrible in this role and I cringe every time she marches on screen. I say we resurrect Montgomery. Please, please, please let him be alive, working in some undercover capacity. Perfect way to bring him back. Then he could shoot Gates and put us out of our misery (“Here’s a bullet just for you, ‘Sir.’).

– I did like it when they questioned the homeless guy, which is always a good thing to do since they’re out there, in the background, and see everything. However, why bring him to the office? They drove all the way down there, picked him up and brought him in, just to hear him say three or four sentences? Those interviews are normally conducted in the street, or inside a police car. BUT, cops tend to avoid placing unwashed street people inside their cars. It takes a long, long time to get rid of the odor. Seriously.

– Lanie. Any other time, Lanie can’t stop herself from spewing all sorts of nonsensical information. Not last night, though. She’d recovered bits of explosive-coated canvas from one of the victims, A HUGE PIECE OF INFORMATION, yet, didn’t bother to call anyone. Of course, in the real world, it would have been the folks in the lab who’d discovered the explosives, and they would have have kept the material in the lab, nicely packaged and sealed.

By the way, did you guys happen to notice all the dead bodies simply hanging out in Lanie’s little shop of horrors? They’d been there for hours too. Doesn’t she have a cooler? I ask, because that’s where they’re kept until autopsy time, not on gurneys placed willy-nilly throughout the morgue (in the corners, the middle of the room, etc.).

I guess Alexis, now a college dropout, I guess, will bypass medical school altogether and begin conducting autopsies and magically discovering and testifying to causes of death.

Mother Castle to Boy Castle – “Did you ever wonder why I never visited you at the precinct the first year you were there?” Why would she visit someone who was also visiting? He doesn’t work there. Never has, and he’s still a visitor. He’s a writer, not a cop. No training, remember? And that brings up another point. Gates handed Castle a pile of official documents/folders—witness statements—and told him to go through them. So what does he do? Yep, he takes them home. Think a defense attorney wouldn’t be all over that? “Your honor, the “writer” took the files home and did who knows what to them. We all know he’s in love with the lead detective, right. And he’d do anything to help her “solve” this case. He does write fiction, you know.”

– So Castle decides to be a big boy and tell Beckett how he feels about her, but Ryan walks up and interrupts. Now how boilerplate-scricpt-predictable was that? Just like the red herring suspects. I yawned through those interviews because you know it’s never #1 or #2. Besides, I picked the bomber within the first few seconds of the show.

Okay, let’s bring in Lt. Josh Moulin (the cyber crime/computer/cell phone expert) to talk about the red dot map.

Lt. Josh Moulin at the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy

While it is possible for us to do what we call a “tower dump” and find out every cell phone that communicated with a specific tower in a given time, we can’t show movement of cell phones like they showed in this episode.  Also, with the amount of towers around these days, we would have to send a search warrant for a tower dump for every cell phone provider that owns a tower which would cover the geographic location of the crime scene.

There are no maps available that show red dots where each phone is in proximity to another phone, especially showing just a foot or less difference.  How nice would that be, especially replaying movements as little as a few feet!  We can show movements of cell phones as they move in large movements and between cell towers, but not that close.”
Lt. Moulin also brought up a couple of other great points about the show. Remember when Beckett and crew surrounded Bobby the backpack guy? Well, the detectives each had their weapons pointed at the guy which placed them in a crossfire situation. If Bobby’d ducked at the moment they started firing he’d have been the only person left alive, because the four cops would’ve filled each other full of NYPD-ammunition-induced holes. And what about the civilians in the background?

Also, Ryan grabbed the backpack and ripped open the top. Had it been a bomb it could’ve gone BOOM!. Step away from the suspected bombs, people.

– Beckett tells the news reporter/bomber that she found the garage remote detonator and it had her prints all over it. How’d she know they were her prints? Had the reporter ever been arrested? If not, why were her prints in the system?

And that brings me to the point where I tell Castle to grow up. Ask Beckett out a date. Have her over to play Monopoly. Something. Just do something.

Hell, even Niles Crane finally stopped smelling Daphne’s hair and married her. And to say that Niles Crane “manned-up” quicker than Rick Castle…well, that’s just plain sad.

That’s right, Alexis. Scare some sense into your Dad. Someone needs to.

*By the way, what’s up with the shiny thing on Alexis’ ring finger?

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A Hike Overlooking The San Juan Islands


Our Weekend Road Trip this week takes us to Washington state in the mountains overlooking the San Juan Islands. Take a deep breath. The hike up and over to the water is not for the weak.  Enjoy the view.

* No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, this is a repeat post. I’m painting our house this week and today I’m trying to beat a long line of thunderstorms before they move in. I’ll do better next weekend, I promise. In the meantime, enjoy the view…and sign up for the Writers’ Police Academy. The remaining few spots are waiting for you!


I was exhausted by the time we reached this point. The scenery, however, made me forget all about my aching calf muscles. Breathtaking!


A climb down led us to this deserted stretch of beach and remnants of long-forgotten civilization.


Orcas often frolic and feed just offshore.


*     *     *

* Coming soon…an exciting interview with Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys! Did you know the Elvira crooner is a successful author? Joe is also a supporter and fan of our Writers’ Police Academy. As usual, he and his fellow “Oaks” have generously donated several autographed items for the WPA raffle.

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the family of this brave officer.

Sergeant Ruben Thomas, 24

Florida Department of Corrections

March 18, 2012 – Sergeant Ruben Thomas was stabbed to death by at inmate in the prison dorm.

Sergeant Thomas is survived by his daughter and fiancee.



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