Ollie the Old Man

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting an interesting fellow, a man I’ll call Ollie.

Ollie is short and stout and wears his pants with the waistband pulled to just above his portly belly where he cinches them tightly with an old and well-worn brown belt. He wears white socks, and black dress shoes shined to a glossy finish.

Most of my new friend’s hair left him some time ago, with the remainder circling the lower portion of his head like a wooly, gray inflatable pool float. Three or four rebellious sprigs of delicate hair, however, clung to the top of his slick sunburned scalp much as we’d expect palm trees on a tiny deserted island would appear to passing sea birds—sprouting up willy-nilly to sway in the breezes.

Ollie’s hands are liver-spotted and his achy and arthritic joints bring about groans and moans when he stands, sits, walks, or does anything that requires a moving body part. His knees pop and creak and a few of his teeth aren’t original equipment. His eyes are weak and rheumy and their lids droop a bit. Dark bags beneath his eyes hang there like pieces of overripe fruit.

He’s an educated man who’s well-spoken and enjoys spirited conversation and tale-telling.

He has a persistent phlegmy cough. There’s an open pack of non-filtered cigarettes in his shirt pocket.

With our howdy-do’s and a glad-to-meet-you behind us, we sat for a while discussing current events. But Ollie tended to drift back to earlier times, the days that seemed to bring him extreme joy and peace.

I listened with great interest as Ollie talked about the good old days, when his family used rotary telephones and watched television when thirteen channels were on the dial but the set only picked up five or six, and maybe seven, and that’s if the night was clear and the roof-mounted antennae was pointed just so. If not, he told me, you’d turn the dial on “the box” and watch and listen as it clicked the antennae into a new, better-suited position. Of course, the antennae almost always went past the optimal spot so you had to “click it’ back a few degrees in the opposite direction to bring Steamboat Willy or Walt Disney into focus.

Ollie told me about earning less than three-dollars an hour, and gas prices were under fifty-cents. Hot dogs at the drug store cost a quarter, fully loaded—coleslaw, mustard, and chili—and ice cream cones were ten cents per scoop. Comic books were also ten cents but rose to twelve, and when they did DC Comics posted a notice explaining to kids that the cost of everything had increased, including the price of soft drinks and those delicious hot dogs.

He reminisced about the days when JFK, MLK, John Lennon, and Elvis died. Jimi and Janis, too. He took me back to Sammy, Frank, and Dean. Martin and Lewis. The Stooges. Streisand and The Supremes. Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Manson. When FM radio stations first arrived. Buddy Rich and John Bonham. The Cowsills, The Mamas and Papas, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Beatles, The Stones, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Blueberry Hill. His first car, using the outhouse, the time before computers and cell phones and “White Only” waiting rooms in the doctor’s office.

Finally, after many minutes had passed, with me not saying a single word, Ollie said, “Man, this really took me back, and I didn’t let you get a word in. Not one.”

“That’s all right, Ollie. I enjoyed listening,” I said.

Ollie stood to leave and as he did his knees popped. Then his brow creased into a deep “V” and he clinched his jaw. He placed a hand over his beachball-size gut and used the other to cover his mouth, stifling a burp that inflated both cheeks. “Sorry about that,” he said. “My doctor says I have acid reflux. Can’t eat a thing without belching for the next couple of hours. I’m lactose intolerant too. So don’t get me started on what dairy does to me. I’ll just say this…be glad I had the burritos without cheese. I passed on the sour cream as well.”

He groaned and moaned and grimaced and winced when he reached for his hat, and then more of the same when he straightened his back to once again stand upright.

Ollie placed the old porkpie on his head and after griping a bit about his sciatica, he said, “And then there’s the gout, a past-due hip replacement, two blown knees, rheumatoid arthritis, a hernia, high blood pressure, joint degeneration, I’m allergic to gluten, pet dander, dust, pollen, strawberries, and nuts. My eyesight is in the toilet and I wear a hearing aid when I remember to do so. I’ve had several cancerous moles removed and my sugar’s through the roof. My last colonoscopy showed “something” and I’m supposed to walk at least a mile each day because the old ticker’s been acting up.”

This pitiful and obviously unhealthy man, my brand new friend, took a deep breath and let it back out in the form of sad sigh accompanied by a slow side-to-side head shake. “And I can’t remember the last time when the wife and I…well, you know. The plumbing is out of order more times than not, so we stopped trying.”

He used one hand to adjust the position of his hat and the other to shake my hand. I again told him how much I enjoyed our conversation and listening to his tales of way back when.

Ollie placed a hand on my shoulder as we walked to his car. Then he stopped and turned to face me. “Someday you’ll understand, and you’ll do the same—tell the story of your own good old days. But you have a ways to go before you reach my age, so enjoy life while you can and while you’re able to,” he said.  His lips split into a toothy (some his and some store-bought) grin. “Yep, one day you’ll be as old as I am and you’ll experience the same troubles.”

I looked on as Ollie groaned and moaned and grunted while sliding and pushing his way into the car seat. Finally, he switched on the ignition, gave the horn two quick toots, and drove away.

I smiled a smile of my own as he headed off toward the sunset. After all, I was already in elementary school the year Ollie was born. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him.

*This is a true story. The name was changed to protect the “youngster” who was merely ten-years-old when I was driving my very own car and working a steady job after school and on weekends. My job paid $1.68 per hour and the price of a gallon of gas was $.35. By the way, while Ollie was busy watching cartoons on TV, my after school job back then included installing rooftop TV antennas and those “clicking” boxes used to change their positions.

 

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The Future of Policing: Fuzzy Bunnies and Hashtags

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My name is Officer I.C. Nothing. The year is 2025 and I work patrol in Scaredtown, Ca. I was sworn in back in the fall of 2020 and attended the police academy soon thereafter. Part of our academy studies included a brief history of policing, and let me tell you the things we learned were eye-opening to say the least. The biggest shocker was that officers actually carried real guns back in earlier times. They were also required to exercise, learn defensive tactics and handcuffing techniques, and how to drive during something called a pursuit. I ask you, how cavemanish was that?

Our academy training is much different. We spend the majority of our time learning about things that offend people and how to avoid doing those things. After all, they pay our salaries, play golf with our bosses, and they definitely know their rights and the laws far better than we do. I understand that’s been the case for a long, long time.

We trained to avoid high crime areas and placing ourselves in situations where criminals are typically located. Sensitivity training and safe space development are also part of our studies. We learned effective and delicate letter writing (more on this below) and how to use our happy voices when answering the phone. Here a list of other required academy courses.

  1. How to Make Celebrities and Politicians Hate You More Than They already Do
  2. Looking the Other Way 101
  3. Absorbing Punches and Kicks
  4. Smiling While Bleeding
  5. Rock Dodging
  6. You’re on Your Own
  7. The Law According to Facebook
  8. Method Acting – Improving Your On-Camera Persona
  9. History of Hashtags
  10. Target Shooting – Poses and Stances to Improve a Criminal’s Chances of Hitting You

Today, the only people who carry firearms are criminals. In fact, we abandoned all weapons and uses of force many years ago. Actually, I can’t remember the last time any of us put our hands on anyone for any reason. The Supreme Court put a stop to that nonsense, ruling it unconstitutional for law enforcement officers to touch or intimidate private citizens (we’re called law suggestion officers now, by the way). That ruling stemmed from a case involving a group of college students who filed a lawsuit against a department in California after a campus police officer approached and attempted to shake the hand of the president of the Association of Student Safe Spaces. The highly controversial incident took place following a meeting where it was decided that students would no longer be required to attend classes, study, or gain knowledge of any type to receive diplomas. It was deemed that learning new things and information about the present and past are highly offensive.

According to witnesses, the student president recoiled in horror after seeing the officer’s outstretched hand. His attorneys, Stickem, Gougem, and Sue’em, convinced the court that their client, Mr. I. Wanna Trophy, Jr., was the victim of an atrocious and violent act and that the officer’s inappropriate attempt to use his right hand to contact the hand of Mr. Trophy caused immediate and lifelong mental anguish to each of the students present at the meeting. In short, they each honestly believed they were going to die right then and there.

Well, this was the snowball that started the avalanche of similar lawsuits all across the country. As a result of Trophy v. Everybody Passes University (EPU) of California, law enforcement officers were immediately stripped of all weapons, patches, guns, pepper sprays, handcuffs, and any other objects that could be seen as offensive or harmful to the feelings of citizens. Aggressive police K-9’s were taken out of service and were replaced by adorable puppies and kittens. Some agencies opted for fuzzy bunnies and Silkie guinea pigs.

Patrol cars were replaced with passenger vans to allow members of police review boards to ride along at all times. It’s mandatory that members of those boards be from the groups #ihatecops, #policearescum, and #Fthepo-po.

Our main function is to stand outside of meeting places (we’re not allowed to go inside) and say, “There, there. It’ll be okay,” when people file out after listening to speakers talk about the latest things that should deeply offend them. I saw a brochure at my last assignment that listed a few of the recent things that offend.

  1. Foot race. It’s hurtful to hear someone address the race of your feet.
  2. College orientation. You do not have to listen to rules and regulations. Besides, it’s your choice as to whether or not you want to be oriented.
  3. Happy Meals. No one has the right to tell you that your meal is happy. If you want a sad meal, then so be it.
  4. The month of May. Yes, you MAY do whatever you want. Calendars should never be in a position to tell you when to do anything.
  5. Lines painted on the highway. They’re too divisive. People should be allowed to drive on whichever side of the road they choose.
  6. Air. People should keep their own air in their own personal space. It’s scary when your air comes into my space.
  7. People who are offended by offended people. Yes, they are offensive.

In addition to “There, There” duty we are sometimes required to interact with dangerous criminals. However, the law states that we must conduct all business of this nature by email, and the first step is to send a nice, friendly message such as this one I sent to a man who used a can of peas to bludgeon his wife and three neighbors.

Dear Mr. Brainbasher,

The Scaredtown Police Department humbly and respectfully sends this message to advise you that we recently learned of the beating death of your loving wife of 25 years, and your good friends the Cuposugar family. We sincerely hope this letter does not offend you, but we are required by law to ask that you not kill anyone in the future. You’ve exceeded your limit with this one incident; therefore, should a second murder occur we will have no choice but to send you another letter, which may be slightly more strongly-worded, depending upon the circumstances. In the meantime, please watch for a package from us that should arrive within the next five business days. It’s a new puppy. We hope you enjoy your new buddy. His name is Didntdoit. Like you, he’s a good boy.

Sincerely, 

Your friend, Officer I. C. Nothing

So, that about sums up policing in the year 2025. Please stay safe, and I apologize if this article offended you. I’m also sorry if my apology was offensive.

Have a good day, if you want to. If not, we could send you an official puppy, kitten, bunny, or guinea pig. By the way, they’re trained to be neutral so as to not hurt your feelings.

Finally, here’s a song we adopted as our official training academy theme song. I think these guys were on to something…

 

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The Secret Meeting That Just Changed Your Life

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Earlier today, at approximately 2 a.m. EST, in a top secret meeting attended by judges, politicians, police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country, it was decided that…

  1. All police officers will be provided designated safe spaces where they may go when things get tough on the streets. Criminals, rock- and bottle-throwers, protestors, politicians, and other cop-haters may not enter these safe areas. It was also ordered that no crimes may be committed while officers are in their safe spaces. This is a lawful “timeout.”
  2. Since bad guys are no longer intimidated by an officer’s sidearm, starting today all police officers will replace the firearms in their holsters with boxes of chalk. Then, when facing deadly encounters with violent people the officer will quickly unholster a stick of chalk and quickly write #Trump2016 on the pavement. It is believed that since the phrase causes college students to fear for their lives the tactic should easily work on armed crooks as well.
  3. An early morning protest outside the official meeting place quickly turned violent when members of the ME,ME,ME Lives Matter group began arguing amongst themselves over which member should toss the first rock at police guarding the perimeter.
  4. Starting in 2017, police will no longer have the authority to arrest humans. Instead, they will be required to stand still while receiving punches, kicks, and incoming rounds from mostly illegal firearms. To make it easier for citizens to land a strike, each officer’s uniform will be outfitted with a bright red bulls eye (removable for easy cleanup). Patrol cars are also required to feature a bulls eye on each car door.
  5. Beginning immediately, it is mandatory that officers be shot at least 18 times before they’re allowed to draw their weapons. Even then, they may not return fire until first determining that suspects are at least 21 years of age, they are not in the process of “turning their lives around,” and that they are not suffering from “I hate all cops syndrome.” If either of these conditions exists the officer must stand perfectly still to provide a better target for the shooter. A late-added addendum to the new rule also states that officers may not return fire if a family member says the shooter is a “good person.”
  6. A new law going into effect July 1st replaces criminal trials and parole and police review boards with Facebook comments. In lieu of jury proceedings, Facebook commenters will then decide the fates of all accused criminals. Therefore, the list of people who no longer have to worry about going to prison includes, attractive people, people who’ve posed for photos while wearing a cap and gown, anyone who shoots a cop, and anyone and everyone who posts puppy photos on Facebook. People who will go to prison by default—cops, politicians, and people who don’t agree with someone’s posts.
  7. Traffic tickets and arrest warrants will totally disappear in the fall of 2016. Social media has declared them as “unfair” because people simply don’t like to be bothered with obeying stupid laws, such as reckless driving and murder. Texting while driving will then become mandatory for all drivers, especially teens. Everyone is required to text at least twice while driving on the freeway at 80mph.
  8. It was decided that police may no longer patrol high crime areas so as to not hurt the feelings of criminals who rape, rob, steal, and kill in those sections of towns. Gang members have been called on to enforce the laws those neighborhoods and business districts.
  9. All CVS pharmacies are required to self-destruct every three years to prevent protestors from scalding their hands when attempting to burn those businesses to the ground.
  10. Each major city is now required to pass out fresh rocks and bottles during active protests. Official rock and bottle forepersons are to inspect and certify each projectile for “ease of toss.” The federal government has established a new 12,000 person department to oversee city rock and bottle deployments. The new Rock and Bottle Czar says their agents will be available to assist municipalities, if needed. There’s also a federal grant available to aid in the purchase of additional handouts, such as bandanas, ski masks, pawn shop guns, and forklifts to make overturning police cars a bit easier. They even have government-trained protestors on standby should a group’s attendance be low at any given time. Trophies will be handed out to all participants.
  11. Police officers are to receive mandatory “Stand Down” training where they’ll learn to suck in their emotions when they’re not allowed to do their jobs while people break the law. Included in this law is the termination of TASER and pepper spray use by police (because they sting and they offend Facebook people), frowns, loud voices, humming the COPS theme song, and looking at people when driving by in a patrol car.
  12. A shocking ruling takes effect on September 1, 2017, requiring that prisons release all inmates back into society. Then, all law abiding citizens are to immediately take up residence in the newly vacated prisons. This will free up a ton of space in the prisons because there are fewer people in the U.S. who’ve never broken a law than those who have. Yet, many of these people (those who’ve broken a law or two but were not caught) are quick to judge those who were caught. You know who you are, you stealers of paper clips and ink pens, and joint smokers. Released prisoners will then be free to destroy the country at will while the new prison residents enjoy the delicious food and comfortable accommodations they’ve bitched about inmates having for so many years. I think there’ll be quite a few minds changed within the first week, or less.

So there you have it. Are you ready for the changes? By the way, this post is entirely tongue-in-cheek. Please don’t turn it into a forum for cop-bashing, politics, gun control, race, or religion, etc. Please… I merely used a few actual news stories as a basis for the post.

~

Later this afternoon, right here on this very blog, I plan to reveal something that’s absolutely cool. The timing is perfect, too, because sometime today, if things continue as they are, this site will have reached a whopping 4 million visitors from all across the world!

~

Today is Friday, the day when I typically honor the officers who died in the line of duty during the week. However, since today is April Fools Day I didn’t think the jovial nature of the day would be an appropriate atmosphere for such a solemn post. Until tomorrow, please keep the families of the fallen officers in your minds and hearts.

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The Internet of Things: Who’s in Your Bed…or Toaster?

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This is an article about your toasters, toothbrushes and TV’s, and your refrigerators and the locks on your front doors. Your new cars and baby monitors and your wrist-worn exercise trackers. And let’s not forget watches and even your mattress covers. Yes, I said mattress covers.

I’m talking about the “Internet of Things” and how our homes are ripe for anyone and everyone to use our gadgety-things as listening devices. That’s right, the tinfoil-hat-wearing-folks were absolutely and undeniably correct. Our toothbrushes are indeed capable of spying on us.

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The Internet of Things is basically a system of sorts that’s built on cloud computing, where sensors built into our gadgets—FitBit, TV, appliances, etc.—send and store collected data. Information received from those sensors is what allows the above-mentioned mattress cover to learn your sleeping habits and then adjust the temperature of your bed to one that’s comfortable to you. It even monitors your sleep through the night and makes whatever changes that may be needed as the night goes on.

The mattress cover also learns your normal bedtime and prepares the bed for you in advance of your pajama-wearing arrival. And…it checks the door locks to be sure they’re secure, switches off lights, sets the home thermostat, sets the alarm clock, switches off the stereo should you have forgotten to do so, and it’s even capable of turning on the coffee pot as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning.

The smart-mattress cover connects wirelessly to your other gadgets to gather intelligence about your daily activities, such as the amount of exercise you had and what you ate. It uses the data to create the perfect bedtime rest environment. This thing even wakes you when you’ve reached the precise moment of light sleep that’s optimal for starting your day.

Sure, all of this sounds wonderful, however, hackers can use current information to see when you’re in deep sleep and then use your very own mattress cover to switch off your alarm system, unlock your front door to gain access to and steal your other smart stuff, including the doorknob, if so desired. There’s even a built-in microphone and who knows what that’ll detect…

Next, your car with it’s fancy GPS, emergency response systems, and back-up cameras. Yes, those systems are easily hacked and easily used by both the government and bad guys, with the latter desiring to steal your car or to possibly kidnap the occupants. Hackers can listen to conversations, use the GPS to locate the car, and activate the camera to view its surroundings.

Of course, you’ve all heard about criminals activating baby monitors and other household cameras, and the WiFi enabled toys for the purpose of locating children. The same is so for wearers of exercise and activity monitoring devices whose wearers can be quickly and easily located.

Smart sensors are being installed in concrete bridge decks that will enable your car to know in advance if icy conditions exist, or if the bridge is damaged and in danger of structure failure. Your car will soon be able to communicate with bridges and roadways and then tell its driver to select an alternate route when problems exist.

Police body cams and dash cam video recording devices are all susceptible to hacking. I suppose it’s not necessary to detail how harmful it could be for a hacker to destroy official evidence footage.

Anyway, the Internet of Things is now freakishly huge and freakishly spooky. There’s even a search engine devoting to allowing subscribers view live streams of non password-protected webcams, such as those in baby monitors, security cameras, computers, and televisions. This particular search site also features back rooms of banks, marijuana grow operations, school classrooms, private residences, and more. Any camera that’s not protected could be sending its live feed to this site, among many others all over the world, including to your neighborhood robber-rapist-pedophile-killer’s computer.

Remember, some devices, especially newer ones, have the option of password protection and opting out of cloud storage and communication, but many users skip the “opt out” function during device set-up. 

Who knows, your car could soon talk to my car and tell it to stop tailgating. And, of course, my car could respond to yours with a flip of a middle mirror.

Seriously, secure your devices and encrypt the communication between them. Instruction manuals should provide all the necessary information. If you do nothing, the device may be set to send it’s data to a cloud thats accessible by the manufacturer which is likely in another country. And, by doing nothing you’re leaving your entire home open to cyber-snooping. Otherwise, set an extra place at the table and add another pillow to the bed, because you just might have unexpected company.

Sleep well tonight, my friends. Sleep well…

 

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