Category Archives: Uncategorized

Books added to Publications

An update on my publications. There are now six books in my line-up on’s Kindle e-books. Since the last time I talked about the subject, I’ve added MAMA BEAR and WOLFEHAVEN. I mentioned earlier that I would hold off on publishing WOLFEHAVEN as the third book in the REFUGE OMNIBUS series since it takes place a few years after RAVEN, but it’s a good book and the other two that will take place in the interim just aren’t coming together that well. Hey, George Lucas got away with it. So, check ’em out.

Black lives matter, too

Black lives matter. They do. Absolutely. Same as white lives and brown lives and green lives (hey, there could be some somewhere, and they would matter, too, since all lives matter). So why not just say “black lives matter, too” when the subject is lives mattering? It would take a lot of steam out of any come-back that may come, that (whatever-color) lives matter. That’s like responding to the statement that the sky is blue by declaring that the sea is blue. Well, yes it is. That doesn’t change the truth of the original statement, but it leaves an opening for an argument if the listener is argumentative. Unless the statement that the sky is blue is part of an ongoing discussion of other properties of the sky, why not begin with, “The sky is blue, too”? Then, unless the listener wants to go on listing all the other things that are blue, like robins’ eggs, Irish eyes, and blue-bells, what could he say but, “yep” or something similar? Because what they are saying about lives is that (whatever-color) lives matter, too–unless what they actually mean is that (whatever-color) lives matter more, in which case, an argument (or a race war) is definitely being sought. If the initial declaration is made inclusive by adding “too” right off the bat, what kind of come-back could a person make other than “I agree” or something similar without coming off a blatantly racist?

Shooting and hunting

I’m back. What can I say? Okay, a reason why. Without getting into boring details, I’ll just say I got too many things on my plate, and some had to go because others didn’t. Anyway, here I am, and I’m ready to catch up on some bitching. No, not about the C. virus or the protests and responses, both appropriate and otherwise, that are tearing our country apart–they each get a whole series of bitch sessions. No, this is about something I came across while browsing through an ad that came with my newspaper.

The ad was from a sporting goods store, which I will not name, in which I saw an ad for hunting rifles and equipment, including a really neat looking crossbow mounted with a scope. With over 240 foot-pounds of pull, plus the scope, it would be like using a rifle.  It just doesn’t have the knock-down power of a rifle.

If you are a hunter, now might be the time to shut me off or tune me out or whatever suits you. But I hope you don’t. At least consider some of the things I say.

I am not a hunter, although I do enjoy shooting. I really enjoy the challenge of hitting that tiny target, or of hitting that big target from a distance, or that fast-moving target before it’s too late. I’ve been in shooting competitions since high school. My school had a team that competed with .22 caliber target rifles against other high schools. I was pretty good, too.

I didn’t do any shooting in the Air Force except in basic training where I fired .30 caliber M1 carbines and .45 caliber pistols for qualification. Pretty good there, too. I qualified Expert with carbines and almost qualified with the .45. I think I hit that target twice. I’ve heard since then that the military’s .45 cal. pistols are not very accurate. I’ve never fired one since, but I’ve fired other pistols and revolvers, and I did all right. Anyway, that was the first time I had ever even handled a pistol, or a rifle bigger than a .22, and it was fun.

After I was discharged and hired as a police officer, I got on the department’s pistol team after about a year. I swapped my department-issued, .38 caliber revolver with a four-inch barrel for one with a six-inch barrel. Made a hell of a difference on the range. I got pretty good there, too, always qualifying as Expert except for twice when I made Master. That was fun as hell. Target shooting, especially the type the police department do, or did back then, which included time firing, moving targets, moving positions, and stuff that was supposed to simulate situations we might find ourselves in on duty. Plus, just as an officer, I had to qualify in the use of shotguns, including firing slugs and skeet shooting. Shotguns are fun, too. I’ve fired various hunting rifles, AR-15s, M-16s, a Thompson submachine gun, a revolver that fired 30 cal. carbine cartridges, even a flintlock, black powder rifle one time.

Any kind of target shooting is fun. And it doesn’t even have to be a firearm. It can involve just about any sort of weapon that sends a projectile with any level of controllable accuracy. That could include slingshots, slings, spears, arrows, throwing knives, throwing hatchets, baseballs, nerf balls, beanbags…you get the idea. If its something that you can hit a target with, it can be fun, because it’s a challenge, just like the lead milk bottles you try to knock over with a ball at the carnival. But, when the chosen target is a living creature, and your weapon propels anything more lethal than a nerf ball, and the purpose of hitting it is to kill it, just for the fun and challenge, then I have an issue with that. 

Like I said, I am not a hunter, not since one day back when I was nine or ten-years-old. I’ll never forget that day or the hard lesson I learned. I can still picture it–if I’m not careful. I was in my backyard with my trusty Red Rider BB gun. If you’re not familiar with that old toy most kids wanted back in the early and middle years of the 20th century, a Red Rider BB gun was not an air rifle, which was what we called pellet guns back then. Air rifles were powered by either compressed air from a handpump that was an integral part of the rifle, or a CO-2 cartridge. They shot .17 caliber lead pellets, and they were a dangerous weapon, not a toy for a kid, although, back then it wasn’t unusual for a ten or twelve-year-old to have even a .22 rifle. I had one. A Red Rider was spring powered. It looked like an old 30-30 carbine like cowboys used in the movies, and you cocked it with the pull-down lever by pulling it down once. You couldn’t increase its power by double or triple cocking. When it was cocked, it depressed and locked a spring behind a plunger. When you pulled the trigger, the plunger propelled the BB out the barrel. Simple. It would shoot a BB fifty or sixty feet before it was spent. I’ve been hit by BBs a few times, and they can sting, but they wouldn’t penetrate a person’s hide unless it was point-blank and no clothing in the way. But, even then, it wouldn’t go deeper than just beneath the skin where it could be popped out. I know. Been there, done that. The main danger was a hit in the eye. That could be serious.

Anyway, with my Red Rider, I was in my back yard drawing a bead on whatever my eyes lit on, leaves, twigs, dirt clods, a piece of bark on a tree, pieces of paper, and then I noticed the birds. They were always there, but I usually ignored them like I did clouds or the breeze. They were in a big, towering eucalyptus on the property line with the neighbor’s back yard, mostly way up in the upper branches, although a few would come lower for brief periods. Sparrows, lots and lots of sparrows chirping and fluttering about. I guess they were sparrows. That’s what we called all birds that size. One would land on a branch and take off again after two or three seconds to land on another branch higher or lower. The lowest branches were thirty to forty feet up.

I saw a challenge. I bet they’d be really hard to hit. So I tried. I put a lot of BBs into those branches, concentrating on my aiming, thinking about the deflection due to gravity and wind (there was a slight breeze), and, sure enough, I hit one. Wow! That little tiny target way up there, moving all about, and I hit it. I was really proud of myself…until the sparrow hit the ground just a few feet from where I was standing. It wasn’t dead. Not yet. But I had really hurt it. I stood over it, just peering down at that little bit of seriously ruffled feathers with what I realized was probably a drop or two of blood smearing some of them. It tried to move away from me because it was terrified. I mean, there it was just flittering about with its buddies, and WHAM!, out of nowhere something slammed into it hard enough to do some serious damage. It would be like you or me having something the size of a golf ball hitting hard enough to penetrate far enough to draw blood. Then, after falling to the ground, this giant comes over to stand over it with who knows what on his mind. That poor bird had no idea I had done the deed, but I was there. Maybe it was even trying to come to me, hoping maybe I could make it better, but it couldn’t even get to its feet. It just sorta flopped about, but not even much of that. It chirped a few times, or more like pitifully peeped, maybe asking for help, and it sounded really weak. I knelt down and gingerly picked it up. I could feel it quivering, and we made eye contact. Not for long, but long enough. In those few seconds, I felt judged. Then its eyes closed, not like a blink but slowly. I waited for it to re-open, but it didn’t. I wanted to tell it I was sorry. I wanted to promise it I would never shoot a bird, or anything else, again. But it wouldn’t come back to listen to me, to forgive me. It just left me all alone with my Red Rider there in my back yard beneath the tree full of chirping birds. They just continued going on about their business of being birds. They probably didn’t even notice what had happened to their buddy, but I noticed. 

Yeah, I know. It was just a bird, one of thousands, millions even, no, billions. But, that’s what it was, “a” bird. Singular. It was an individual. One among all those billions, it was a unique creature, and, as such, it was irreplaceable. Sure, there are uncounted other birds, many just like it, to take its place, but none can ever replace it. And I had destroyed it. For kicks. Because I felt a challenge, and it was nothing to me but a moving target that I could hit if I was clever enough and skillful enough to catch it when it was still, to catch nature in one of its myriad, minuscule pauses.

And that is what sport hunting is all about. I’m not talking about subsistence hunting, which is hunting to put food on the table because that may be the only way a person might have to do it. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian. I eat meat, and I understand that animals are killed to provide that meat, but that is closer to subsistence. No, I don’t believe I’m a hypocrite. Yes, I know I could just eat veggies, but I like meat. I know there are meat producers and slaughterhouses that are horribly operated, and I hope they are put out of business. Animals can be humanely killed for food. It is commanded and accomplished in many cultures and belief systems. Isn’t that what kosher is all about? I understand Islam also teaches something similar. And that is getting away from the issue of sport hunting.

To hunt for sport is to kill for the fun. If it’s not fun, why do it? To get out away from the rat race and enjoy nature? What, by destroying a little piece of it? Oh, it’s for the challenge? Give me a break. If you want to shoot something that is a challenge, you and your hunting partners could hunt each other. That would be a challenge worth trekking through the wilderness for. If you want a survivable challenge, bet with yourself that you can hit X number of targets (the non-breathing type) at X distance in X time, and if you lose, you donate something of actual value to a worthy cause. There has to be some threat of loss or cost to make it an actual challenge, and wearing blisters on your feet from walking through the woods or on your ass from sitting on a platform in a tree waiting for your prey to come to you doesn’t count.

But, at least the deer and duck hunters justify their sport by eating what they kill, if they can find and recover it after they shoot it. But, how many deer slayers drop their deer with one shot. I don’t know, maybe that’s part of the sport, tracking the thing through the forest by following the trail of blood until you catch up with it where it finally bled to death, or bled out, as it’s called. At least there is a chance of dropping the prey in its track with a well-placed rifle shot.

But, with bowhunters, that is part of the process, isn’t it? An arrow, even one shot from a powerful hunting bow or crossbow, does not have the shock power of dropping the animal when it’s hit. Unless the hit is in an organ vital enough to kill it right away, like the heart–call it a lucky shot for the hunter and the prey–the animal takes off, and the hunter tracks it down, eventually, maybe, if he doesn’t lose the trail. Hunting arrows are designed to slice into the body, ensuring heavy bleeding. So, if the hunter is a good shot, he won’t have to follow the dying animal more than a hundred yards, or a thousand yards, or a mile or two, depending on where it was hit. Imagine running for your life through the woods with an arrow in your guts, lungs, or kidney. Imagine being hit with an arrow that has a head with three or four half-inch wide blades, so it slices you open as it penetrates. Lots of pain, and then you are bleeding, plus whatever organs the thing ripped through when it struck are shutting down. A lung doesn’t work well with an arrow lodge in it. On top of that, the hunter that shot you ain’t done, yet. He still wants to chase you down and cut your throat if you’re still breathing when he catches you. And all you were doing was munching on some greens or maybe trying to catch the eye of that lovely doe across the meadow. Tough, cookie. You were selected to elevate the hunter’s ego, and so, you must die.

And then, there are the trophy hunters. They don’t even go after something they can eat, or not always, anyway. They might take home some steaks to share with their fellow Neanderthals, but, mainly, they want a head to hang on their wall, something to show the world how proficient they are at the task of protecting the tribe from all the hungry predators out there. Or maybe they have the entire hide mounted on a frame to capture the life-like ferocity of the grizzly bear standing upright, with fangs and five-inch claws displayed to greet visitors. Of course, the mighty hunter made the kill with a weapon so powerful and accurate, the grizzly was hit while munching berries or scarfing salmon and had no idea the killer was even there and was targeting it from clear over on the other side of the canyon. Or how about the lion hunters in Texas that pay to have one of the big cats set loose from a cage into the arranged targeted area. Just so he can claim to have killed one of the most ferocious appearing animals our culture recognizes, justified or not. 

Don’t agree with me? Okay.


I’ll listen to your justifications.

Thoughts on the 2nd Amendment

I like guns.  I really do.  I understand their fascination.  Back in 1956 and 1957 I was on the small-bore competition rifle team in high school.  I was pretty good, too.  Some years later, I competed on my police department’s pistol team, qualifying expert most of the time, and master twice.  But, except for target shooting to maintain my proficiency for the possibility that one day I might have to, God forbid, shoot someone in my duty to serve and protect, there was really no compelling reason for me to have a gun.

The primary purpose of a gun is to kill; target shooting is just practice for that ultimate use.  A peace officer may legitimately kill only in self defense or in defense of another.  The military, which includes the militia, which these days is the National Guard, legitimately kills only in national defense.  A hunter legitimately kills only for needed food or if he is attacked by a vicious animal while traipsing through the wilds.  A citizen may legitimately kill only in self-defense or in defense of another.

Any gun that is not used for killing, legitimately or otherwise, regardless of its size and firepower, is a toy.  A privately owned P-51 Mustang with three fifty caliber machine-guns in each wing, if such a thing were allowed to be owned and used by a private citizen, would be a toy.  But to believers that the 2nd Amendment allows no limits on what arms a citizen may keep and bear, even that should be allowed.  Target shooting and sport hunting is playing with toys.  Target competition is playing, even in the Olympics; it merely illustrates the proficiency with which the competitors would be able to kill in other circumstances.  Many other “sports” are the same.  The original purpose of javelins, which are spears, was to kill hunted prey for food, competing or attacking predators, or enemies in battle.  Shot-put probably evolved from throwing stones at animals and enemies.  Archery is basically the same as target shooting but with weapons that don’t go boom.  Tradition is a fine sentiment, but going into the woods to kill an animal for the trophy or unneeded meat, is play.  The play is to pretend to be an essential protector or provider for the tribe huddling back at the cave, or some variation of that.  Killing for play, even animals, has long been losing its legitimacy, which Merriam-Webster Reference Library defines as conforming to recognized principles or accepted rules or standards.  It’s pretty much going out of favor the same way as pit-bull fighting, cock-fighting, bullfighting, and throwing Christians to the lions.

When the founding fathers wrote the U. S. Constitution there were no police in the colonies, only the federal military, the state militias, which, at that time, were all able-bodies men that could be called upon to aid the small military in repelling invaders, and the citizenry.  The larger cities might have sheriffs and their staffs to maintain order, but in the towns and villages, a homeowner, farmer, or shopkeeper had to rely on himself and his neighbors to keep safe in the course of daily living.  Without a trusty musket over his mantle, things could get dicey.

But, did those great men intend that the 2nd Amendment they added should limit this country’s ability to control criminal violence for all time?  Or was it to allow citizens to protect themselves and their new homeland in a culture that had no other local protection until such time that the evolving nation developed a better system?  Could they have envisioned gangs and cartels over two hundred years later with open-market access to assault weapons?  Could they have envisioned assault weapons?  Could they have envisioned a future with access to guns so common that a deranged person could go down to the corner, buy a gun, and then walk into a theater or shopping mall or airport and shoot people at random?  Or how about a school child who could bring his father’s unsecured gun to class to show off to his peers, or to threaten them—or to shoot them?  Might they have envisioned their progeny developing trained agencies to police the towns and counties of their new nation?

I believe they did, and they built on their faith in us.  With wisdom seldom demonstrated since, this country’s founders included Article 5 in the United States Constitution as a method to amend the amazing document they created, the Constitution that was to be the supreme law of the land.  Even the admonition that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed is an amendment, an addition, to the original, none of which, by the way, was carved in stone.

How did such deadly toys become so sacred that they can only be pried from cold, dead hands?  Could our founders have envisioned a society so enraptured with guns that we refuse to use the tools they gave us to adjust our Constitution as needed?  Probably not.

So, why all the guns?  Are they really to prevent a president from using the military to make himself a dictator?  Does anyone actually believe that the United States military, or any part of it large enough to make any difference, could be blindly led into supporting or even allowing a president to become a dictator?  Does anyone really believe that if such a thing did occur, an armed citizenry could prevail against them?  Does such paranoia really exist, or is it merely a ploy that, shouted loud and often, is intended to deter saner minds from denying them toys that have become too abundant and too dangerous to amass in the toy box?

It has taken a long time to get here, so we should not expect a quick fix.  There are so many guns in this country that it is said we can never be rid of them.  Perhaps.  But, even if it takes longer to get rid of them than it took to amass them, it will never end if it never begins.  With an amended 2nd Amendment, perhaps one that spells out what a well-regulated American militia means in the 21st century, we can begin to move away from such violence that too often resembles the chaos of the Middle East.

Coming release of latest book

I’m happy to announce I am getting closer to finishing Wolfehaven, the third book in the Refuge Omnibus series. I’m not sure just how close, but close enough for me to see it on the horizon. More to come.

Use of choke-holds by police

Since I saw the headlines about Eric Garner dying during a confrontation with a police officer in New York, especially when he called out more than once that he couldn’t breath, I’ve been wondering what went wrong. Something did. It shouldn’t have happened. I don’t mean Mr. Garner being arrested. That is a completely different issue, which I will not get into at this time. What I will get into, though, is the use of a choke-hold.

I’ll start out by saying a choke-hold can be a good, effective and safe method of controlling a combative prisoner or someone about to become a prisoner. That’s right–safe. But only if it is done correctly. I know because I’ve used them on combative persons a few times in my eighteen years on a police department, and not one of them died or suffered lasting ill effects, or even filed a brutality complaint against me.

I’m afraid the problem is that there are officers out there that don’t know how to properly apply a choke-hold. If there are police academies that skip over that little item in their arrest procedures classes, it goes right back on them, and there is no excuse for it. In any police department that allows or encourages its officers to use choke-holds, it is the department’s responsibility to ensure that every officer is trained in the proper method for its use. If an officer serves in a position, either on the street or in a jail environment, that he might need to use a choke hold for his safety as well as that of the person he is trying to subdue, there is no defense the department can use to justify him not being properly trained. Yes, it also falls, ultimately, on the officer not to use a choke-hold, or anything else, if he is not trained to use it. Unless the situation is so dire that he would be justified to bash the person over the head with a baseball bat rather than let him escape, if he doesn’t know how to use a choke-hold, he shouldn’t even try. And I don’t mean it’s okay if he thinks he knows how; I mean unless he has been trained and demonstrated after his training that he knows how. It is simply too easy to kill a person. Better to let him get away and catch him another time.

Another thing to be aware of is that even a properly applied choke-hold may not work on obese persons due to the amount of tissue in the neck.  If there is so much stuff there that the carotid arteries cannot be closed off with applied pressure, it shouldn’t even be attempted. Enough pressure to accomplish that job may break his neck first. From what I remember of the video of Eric Garner, he was pretty hefty. Maybe the officer’s arm around his neck was meant only as a restraining hold and not intended to put him out. But, if that was the case, it appears he wasn’t trained in the proper way to apply a restraining choke-hold (which is not really supposed to choke him). Alas, in a bad situation that is getting worse, panic is probably never far away, and panic has a way of increasing the amount of energy expended in whatever is attempted. But, that is straying away from the use of a choke-hold and into issues I don’t want to tackle right now.

So, back to using a choke-hold safely, and I am not just blowing air. If a choke-hold is done the right way, the person being choked has no problem breathing. I know; that sounds like an oxymoron. But that is because it isn’t really a choke-hold. It is just called that because it probably evolved over time from a real choke-hold in which a person was deprived of the ability to breathe until he passed out–or died.

What a properly applied choke-hold does is cut off the flow of blood to his brain. Now, doing that is just as dangerous as stopping his breathing, so knowing when to release the pressure is at least as important as knowing where and how to apply the pressure. Held too long, depriving the brain of oxygen for too long, which can be mere seconds, and serious damage occurs causing anything from permanent impairment to death. I’m talking seconds, here. You can’t hold a conversation with someone else while you’re waiting for the guy to stop fighting. You can’t hold him for a bit longer after he stops struggling just to be sure he’s not bluffing. As soon as he goes limp you have to release him. No waiting. No finishing your phone call to your girlfriend. You release him immediately. But that’s not the end of it. If you and he are on your feet, you have to hang onto him and ease him down so he doesn’t fall and break his head. Remember, he is unconscious, and you are the one who put him that way. You then have to check him for life signs to be sure you didn’t hold him for too long. Make sure he has a pulse and is breathing. If he isn’t, start CPR immediately. Make sure he is lying in a position that his breathing isn’t impaired. Make sure the surrounding mob doesn’t take turns kicking him. Make sure he isn’t lying across the tracks with a train coming. You put him out, and he is your responsibility. Put the cuffs on him, but, otherwise, let him come around. It won’t take long.

One of the occasions in which I used a choke-hold was in the booking room. The guy I had arrested was young, healthy, and just a bit drunk, although not falling down; just enough to be belligerent and uncooperative. As soon as I got him into the booking room and before I could close and lock the door, he decided he had had enough of that nonsense and was going to leave. I grabbed him before he got to the door, and the fight was on, although no one actually got hit. I got around to his back side with both of us sitting on the floor and put a choke-hold on him. In less than ten seconds he went limp and I released him. After checking him for life signs, I elected to postpone the rest of booking until he had sobered up. I dragged him through the doorway into the cell block and into the first empty cell where I left him lying on the floor. Before I could turn to leave the cell, he stirred, looked up at me with wide eyes and, in a wonderous voice, said, “Wow! What a trip!”

I’m not going to describe the technique for using choke-holds for the same reason I’m not going to describe how to make a Molotov cocktail or pipe bomb. Insisting that this should not be attempted at home merely prods some folks to try it. And, like I said, choke-holds can, indeed, be lethal if not done correctly, and that can be learned only through training.

I won’t say a part of the training has to involve having a choke-hold placed on each trainee, but it’s not a bad idea. We did it in the academy I attended many years ago. I remember the pressure on both sides of my neck, but I also remember being able to breath with no problem. I remember it started with a ringing in my ears, then a diminishing of daylight starting at the edges of my vision and moving inward fairly quickly. I remember everything going black, and then waking up lying on my back. There was no pain, either before or afterwards. It was an experience I have never forgotten. And I don’t doubt it was something that has prevented me from having other experiences that I wish I could forget.