Friday, October 12, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 4 – Part 1

Hello dear Readers,
How has your week been? Mine has been good. It's been rather fun to not have so much going on. I actually got somethings done that have been waiting for months! Our weather has been a bit strange, but that's nothing unusual here in Missouri. It was warm and humid at the beginning of the week and we had the AC on. Yesterday it only reached a high of 64ยบ and today it's supposed to be in the low 50s. We're supposed to get a frost in the next few days! Maybe then the leaves will start turning. Right now they are still green. I'm ready for fall colors, long sleeves, sweaters, hot drinks, soups, . . . You get the picture.

The other evening I actually worked on writing one of my novels! Since I have all my monthly short stories written, and I was caught up on the HP reports, I got to return to Hymns in the Hills. It was rather fun. But now I have one final short HP report from last night. Last night was our "graduation" dinner. It was quite nice and–well, I'll tell you about it later.

I had to break this report up into 3 parts. It was long! This first part is the first class. And boy, was it something more people need to know about. Feel free to send others to read it. Or tell them about it. The next instructor for that evening will have two parts since it was really long. I hope you enjoy this and learn something! It's kind of scary.

Highway Patrol
Week 4 – Part 1

September 27, 2018
    Arriving at the classroom, we found some of our classmates already there, but most of the rest showed up soon afterwards. One gentleman had a meeting, so he would be late, and another girl thought that class started at 6:30 for some reason.
    Sgt. Lueckenhoff apologized that the crash team wasn’t able to make it and then introduced us to Lieutenant Brad Bearden.
    Lieutenant Bearden has worked in the Internet Crimes unit for many years. He told us that Joplin has the most successful internet crimes teams in the state. They were also the first to really get a unit together to focus on this aspect of crime. Now the Highway Patrol has some Digital Forensic investigators stationed in Jefferson City. Most of what they deal with is child pornography and related crimes.
    If someone is charged as a child predator, they get charged in the federal court, and they can’t get out on bond.
    It is safe to say that 99% of child predators are male. In Lt. Bearden’s 8 years of working in this division, there were only two females who were charged and only one since he left the unit.
    Most people don’t become a child predator overnight. It’s a cycle. It starts with child pornography, then gets more involved as pictures no longer satisfy.
    When Lieutenant Bearden goes to schools, he starts educating the students about what constitutes child pornography because most don’t know. Child pornography is not just pictures of kids without clothes. It includes any person under the age of 18 in the act of any sexual activity. It may be meant as a goofy picture in the school hallway, but it’s serious. “If you have any pictures like that on your phone, your iPad, tablet, or computer, you can be charged with possession of child pornography.” At that point the students usually start pulling out their phones and deleting pictures. Sometimes the teacher or principal asks Lt. Bearden then if he isn’t going to take their phones. “No, this is education. This is not enforcement right now.”
    Right now, in the state of Missouri, a 17-year-old can be charged as an adult.
    If two 15-year-olds take pictures they shouldn’t and send them to each other, each of them could be charged with creating, possessing, and promoting child pornography.
    Lt. Bearden said that one thing he stresses to students and teachers is that if someone sends you a wrong picture, don’t just delete it. Tell someone. The authorities need to know about it as soon as possible so they can stop as many pictures as they can. And whatever you do, never share it on Facebook! Lt. Bearden always asks the students, “Do you know every single friend on every one of your friends’ accounts?” The answer is obviously no. One of those people might be a predator.
    Good rule about online friends: If you don’t know the person, delete them. Or don’t be friends with them to begin with.
    Did you know that 28 thousand people are looking at pornography every second? It makes me cringe to think of it. But, did you know that all child pornography goes to the National Center for Missing Children? It does. All your search engines–google, aol, bing–all have filters to check for child pornography. It also checks emails. Any photo with a certain percentage of skin showing gets checked. If it is what it shouldn’t be, the authorities can follow the trail of where it came from, who had it last, and eventually find the source of the picture. Then comes the knock on the door. The government doesn’t look kindly on people exploiting our children!
    We are in charge of the internet! And if we are in charge of it, we need to keep it clean!
    Lt. Bearden gave us a list of apps to beware of. Most of these are ones that child predators use to chat with children. Some because they don’t have filters, some because, while they will have a record of who talked when and where, they don’t have a record of what was said.
Yik Yak– This is a big one predators use to chat. They’ll “meet” the kids elsewhere and then suggest they chat on this app.
Tinder– It has a red flame on it, and some lady told Lt. Bearden, when he found it on her daughter’s phone, that it was a Red Cross app for giving blood. Hardly!– Don’t go there.
Omegle– One of these last four is a Latvian app. Stay away from it.
Snapchat– I know, you probably never thought this was going to come up, did you? After all, you should be able to share a picture and then it will go away in a certain number of seconds. But does it? Not always. And what if someone takes a screen shot of it?
Yubo (used to be Yellow)–
Hot or Not– This doesn’t even sound like a good app!
Burn Book– What on earth? Yeah, not what it sounds like.
Tango– Just for your information, this is NOT a dance app!
There are also Jailbreak apps that can override a parent’s security on a child’s phone. And we haven’t even mentioned the hidden apps that usually appear as a calculator. Note: There should only be ONE calculator on a device! If you find another one, you know there’s at least one hidden app. Go to the Android or Apple app store and search for “hidden apps.” If any say “update” or “open” you know it is on that device. Why do kids even need their own phone or electronic device? If you say for school, then please note that all the filters used on school iPads and such, don’t work when the student takes the device home. Yeah, that means anything is available.
    Yes, it was a lot to take in and rather sobering.

    We took a break after that and got snacks and visited for a bit.

Have you ever used one of those apps?
Did you learn anything new here?
Are you experiencing fall weather yet?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 3

This is going to be short. Well, the first part is. I have a party to get back to. :) Have you all joined the Five Fall Favorites party over at Read Another Page? (And all the other lovely blogs.) It's been a busy week with lots and lots of books recommended. Today is the final day to enter the giveaway so don't forget! And tell all your friends and family too.
I haven't done a whole lot this week besides party stuff. I did get my Nov. story sent out to beta-readers. I've read some, taught writing classes, and designed a mock cover for my collection of monthly stories. Tonight we get to babysit my nieces and nephews. They haven't all been over for a normal evening of babysitting for a long time! Last night was the final Highway Patrol class. You'll get a report on that later. Since we covered so much stuff in these classes, several reports are going to have to be broken up. But not this week's. It is a bit long, but not long enough to break into two parts.

Enjoy it!

Highway Patrol
Week 3

September 20, 2018
Dad and I managed to arrive a little earlier than last week and found Sgt. Leuckenhoff, his wife, and three other classmates outside. The sergeant was talking to one of the SWAT men about something. Soon we headed inside to our classroom.
    Once everyone was there, we were divided into two groups. Dad and I went with the first group to the shooting range in the basement after we picked up our two boxes of bullets. There were eight of us in this group, but one of the ladies didn’t want to shoot.
    At the door which led downstairs we had to stop and wait a bit until someone came and unlocked the door. It was a familiar place to me as I had been down there for both the Citizens Police Academy and the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy. We took seats, and Sgt. Lueckenhoff briefly introduced our three instructors. Not only are they Highway Patrol officers, but they are the firearms instructors for the HP. We were given a crash course on handling the guns, and then we were given cases to load with 17 bullets (that’s all that will fit). We all had earplugs and clear glasses to wear. Then four of us went up to shoot first. I was one of the first group.
    It was really nice this time as there were more instructors, so you got one-on-one coaching if you needed it. I did. Our first target was a paper with 12 large black dots. Once I was able to relax some, I hit the middle dot. After I finished my first 17 rounds, the instructor reloaded the case for me. (I had managed to get 15 bullets in the first time, but Dad had to get the last two in. My fingers just aren’t strong enough, I guess.) I shot my first 50 bullets and didn’t do too badly. I was still too tense and anticipating the recoil of the trigger when I pulled it. And, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hit anything higher than the middle dots.
    It was interesting to sit at the tables and watch others shoot. There were a couple guys who were really good. I think they might shoot on their own.
    Later I went up again to shoot the second half of my rounds. This time I was with a different instructor and got a new target. This target was an image of a man with a gun. My first shot wasn’t too good. I shot him in the stomach. Then I was shooting all around his gun. The instructor asked if I was aiming for the gun. No. I was just anticipating that slight recoil. He got me to relax a little more and said to hit him center of mass.
    I did. Dead center. After a few more shots in the middle, he said to shoot right between the eyes. That was easier said than done. I got his neck. I got the guy’s ear and the side of his head, but mostly I hit around his mouth and chin. I think I did manage to hit the nose or the eye once. Again my instructor was kind enough to reload for me.
    “I saw you struggling to load those first ones,” he told me.
    By the time my final round was shot, I almost had a blister on my hand, and my arms were rather tired. But it was fun. I’d do it again if I had the chance.

    Sgt. Lueckenhoff came down and, after the final shots were taken, he sent us all outside to see the “bear cat” before it got dark.
    No, a “bear cat” is not some half breed creature from some fantasy book. It’s the SWAT team’s armored vehicle. The small one. There’s another one that is large enough for the men to stand up in which is called a “bear,” but this one they have to sit in. We got to climb up inside it and look around. There are no seatbelts, but when they have 8-14 guys fully dressed with all their gear, they’re packed in that thing. We were also told that Sgt. Lueckenhoff was the best “bear cat” driver the SWAT team has ever had.
    Before we went inside, we got to see and hear a “flash-bang.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. You pull the pin, toss it in the house or room, and it makes a big flash and a loud bang. Sort of like a very loud firecracker. They won’t use them, though, if there are children or elderly people in the house. And they always have to check first before they toss it in just to make sure no one is directly in the way.
    “It works really well on mean dogs,” one of the men said. “After it went off in one house, a large, mean dog ran out of the house as soon as we opened the door, and we never saw him again.”
    We all headed back inside and settled in our classroom while the second half of the class went to the shooting range. (They were supposed to already be down there, but no one had caught that part of their instructions.)
    Four members of the Highway Patrol SWAT team talked to us. There are twenty men–entry team and snipers–on each HP SWAT team, though I can’t remember how many teams the Missouri HP has. Also on the team are a few negotiators and three paramedics. The team trains two days a months and one full week in the fall. They go shoot one day a month.
    Corporal Mike Adams, who is one of the negotiators as well as a road officer, talked a little about what negotiators do. Basically they try to talk the person into giving up. The negotiators will often fill a whiteboard, and more sometimes, with information they learn while talking to the wanted person. They will analyze everything. If there are certain words that set him off, they won’t use them as they are trying to calm him down so he’ll give up. Sometimes everything goes quickly, and other times it takes days.
    Corporal David Brown is a sniper and used to be in the Marines. He talked a bit about what snipers do. Often they will go in hours or a day or so before the entry team. They give a lot of information to the entry team about who they see go in or come out. If the entry team had been informed that there were no children at the house, but a sniper sees some children enter, he’ll let the other know so they can change their plans.
    One of the SWAT vests was passed around. That thing is heavy. I can’t imagine having to wear it for hours. We were told that the plates in the vest have to be replaced every five years. They also have a first-aid pouch on the right side of the vest. If a team member gets hurt, they will use that person’s first-aid kit to treat them so that their own kit stays intact for themselves.
    Since the SWAT team isn’t part of a certain county, they help out in places where they don’t have a SWAT team. But they never go out without being asked. Sometimes they might go out a dozen times in one year, the next year it might only be eight.
    There was some talk about different things, but then we were allowed to look at the stuff if we wanted. Some did, others just talked for a bit. We left a little before nine.
Come back next week as we learn about Crash Scenes, Internet crimes, and the K-9 Unit.

Have you ever shot a gun before?
Have you come to the party?
Are you enjoying these reports?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 2 – Part 2

Hello FFFs,
Have you ever started a week feeling like you had a mountain of things to accomplish and didn't know if you'd be able to get even a quarter of them done? That's how my week started. I had a project that really needed to be finished, but I also had a dozen or so other projects all wanting or needing to be worked on. After spending most of the day working on adding pictures to the collection of letters my grandparents wrote each other (in the 1940s) in high school and then some in college (my big project) and only getting half of the six years done, I was rather discouraged. I had hoped to get the proof copy of this book ordered last week. Now I probably wouldn't get it uploaded until Wednesday since all Tuesday morning is spent teaching. And did I mention the other projects were nudging me and begging to get worked on too?
I spent the morning teaching like I had planned. Then in the afternoon I got to work on the project. To my excitement I got the rest of the pictures added! Then, I finished the formatting and uploaded it! I got the cover done and submitted the project. I was thrilled! But the day wasn't over. I received my proof copy of my new Christmas story!
And I finished writing my November short story, finished reading a book for a reading challenge, and got a Read Another Page newsletter sent out! Talk about exciting.
While not quite as exciting as Tuesday, it was still great! I edited, formatted, and uploaded the October story for publication. (It's available for pre-order.) My sister and I finished listening to an audio book, I worked on blog posts for the Five Fall Favorites, re-read and edited my November story, and ordered my proof copy of the book I finished Tuesday.
I love it when so many projects get completed all at once. Now I have a few more to finish. The big one is of course making sure everything is ready for the Five Fall Favorites party. :) But I need to write the next Highway Patrol report from last night's class, and find get some other things done.

How was your week? If you need something to laugh about, just read the 2nd half of this report. I share some stories that still crack us up. :)

HP Report Week 2
Part 2

    We had a break after that and got snacks and drinks, and moved around and chatted some.
    Our next instructor was a good friend of Sergeant Leuckenhoff’s, Sergeant Steve Jones. He gave us a crash course on Impaired Driving Enforcement. They said they used to have some off duty troopers come in and actually get drunk, so we could see what happens, but I was glad Sgt. Lueckenhoff decided not to do that.
    Did you know that drunk driving is the #1 cause of death in the United States? Every 2 minutes someone is injured because of it, and every 51 minutes someone is killed.
    There are four lines of defense against drunk or impaired driving.
    1st line: Education and Prevention. This one is kind of obvious. If you can educate people about the dangers, you will lessen the likelihood of them being one of those drivers.
    2nd line: Close friends or family. If you see a family member or close friend who is not fit to drive, do everything you can to keep them from getting behind that wheel. Offer to take them home (unless you are somewhat impaired too), offer to call a cab or someone else.
    3rd line: Citizens. If someone stops for gas, and you can tell he shouldn’t be driving, call 911 and let them know. If you work at a gas station and just sold someone a 6-pack because you thought he was a passenger, but then you see him get in the driver’s seat and there’s a child in the back, call the police.
    4th line: Law Enforcement.
    If you ever see a vehicle being driven erratically (braking suddenly, swerving, slowing down and then speeding up), call 911, or *55 if you are on the highway. Let the dispatcher know what you see, what the car looks like, and which direction it is heading. You may feel like it might not be an emergency but you can tell them you don’t know if the person is just sleepy or if something else is going on. They can send someone to check it out. It could save a life.
    And no, just because someone swerves across the line once doesn’t mean they are drunk. There are all sorts of reasons that could happen (missing a turtle in the road, checking your phone, turning on the AC, looking at something out the side window, sneezing . . .). A State Trooper is not going to pull over everyone he sees that does something erratic once or twice. He has to have a reasonable suspicion that they are under some sort of influence.
    Two of our classmates put on the “drunk glasses” and attempted to walk a straight line. One of them kept taking them off when she was just standing still because she felt like she was going to fall over. Sgt. Lueckenhoff, who was assisting Sgt. Jones at this point, had to hold on to her arm to keep her steady.

    We really didn’t get a break before our next instructor, Sergeant Travis Hitchcock. He works in the Criminal Investigation Department. There are different types of investigations needed for different kinds of crimes. There are the usual things that people think of such as break-ins, thefts, or other things of a criminal nature. Then there are drugs, and there are also rural or agricultural crimes. I never think of rustling cattle as something that happens much these days, but it does. Or stealing such things as a combine!
    Sgt. Travis told us many stories of his years working on the Highway Patrol force. Here are a few that he told.
Story #1
    Sgt. Travis was a young trooper, and it was one of his first times out alone. It had been an easy day and his shift was almost over. Only about ten more minutes, so he decided to turn around and head back. He had to wait for a car to drive past before doing a U-turn and heading back in the same direction the other car was going.
    Suddenly the car that had just driven past him pulled over to the side of the road and the driver’s door opened.
    At this point, Trooper Travis wasn’t sure what was going on, so he pulled over too, at a safe distance, and cautiously got out.
    The driver in front of him climbed out of his car, threw up his hands and exclaimed, “I knew you’d catch me! I just knew it! I knew you’d get me!”
    Wondering what the man had done, Trooper Travis called back, “You shouldn’t have done it.”
    “I know!” the other man admitted. “I shouldn’t have. I knew you’d catch me.”
    Now Travis was really wondering who the man was and what he had done. He had to keep the man talking until he could figure it out. Somehow during the lengthy conversation Travis discovered that the man had a few warrants out and was driving on a suspended license. After placing the man under arrest and handcuffing him, Travis put him in the patrol car and they drove off.
    The man was still agitated and asked, “How did you know it was me in that car?”
    Glancing over at him, Travis replied, “I didn’t. I was just going home.”
    “Oh, man!”
    “Yeah, if you hadn’t stopped, I would never have known. And now you’ve made me late getting off my shift.”
    The man apologized.
Story #2
    One day when Sgt. Travis was working, he got word that a case of fireworks had been stolen. Now a “case” is a tent-load of fireworks. They were stolen by two employees who knew if they took some from this case and some from that, it would be discovered. So they just took an entire case instead of shipping it. It was pretty easy to find the fireworks because the thief had listed them on Craig’s List.
    Posing as a buyer, Sgt. Travis contacted the man, and they agreed to meet in a Wal-Mart parking lot to exchange money for the fireworks.
    When the day arrived, Sgt. Travis waited in the parking lot knowing that all around were other members of his team watching. Then he sees the man coming. The thief was driving a suburban loaded down so much that bottle rockets are sticking out the windows. Sgt. Travis said it looked like some cartoon. “Oh, great!” Travis thought, seeing the man approaching, “he’s going to know something’s up since there is no way all those things are going to fit in my small truck.”
    But he hadn’t reckoned on the fact that the thief who was dumb enough to list stolen items on Craig’s List, might not be smart enough to think of other things either.
    The thief arrived and eagerly started to help load the fireworks into the truck. The other officers moved up, but Sgt. Travis said it took the thief a while to realize that he was being arrested. Not a very smart thief. Oh, and the fireworks were all being stored in his grandma’s barn, so the officers went out there and recovered the entire lot.

Story #3
    Sgt. Travis told us that he likes to pull people over and just give them a warning. “You’d be surprised at how many criminals you can catch just from pulling them over for a tail light that’s out, or for driving too fast, or whatever.”
    This time he pulled over a car for a tail light that was out. Before he had time to get out of his car, the driver gets out of his car and starts walking toward him. Not a good sign. “Stop!” he tells the man.
    The man is acting really nervous and keeps asking, “What’s wrong, officer? What’s going on?”
    Sgt. Travis noticed a strange bulge in the pocket of the man’s pants. When the driver stuck his hand in the pocket, Sgt. Travis quickly grabbed his arm. He didn’t know what was in the pocket. It could be a gun. Quickly he felt it with his other hand and discovered it wasn’t hard. “What’s in your pocket?” he asked.
    The driver’s eyes widened and he looked down in shock. “I don’t know! Someone borrowed my pants!”
    (The room erupts into laughter at this point.)
    Sgt. Travis acted surprised. “You don’t know? Don’t you think we should find out?”
    “Maybe you should pull it out slowly.”
    “Yeah, okay.” Gingerly, as though expecting a frog to jump out or something equally startling, the man began to feel around in his pocket. He felt and felt.
    “Can’t you find it? It’s right there.”
    Slowly the driver pulled his hand out and opened his eyes in astonishment as he holds a bag of “weed” in his hand. “How did that get there?”
    (Probably from the guy who borrowed his pants.) Needless to say, the driver was arrested for possession of drugs. If he had stayed sitting in his car and acted normal, Sgt. Travis might not have even noticed.

Story #4 (I told you he had a lot of stories.)
    Sgt. Travis was doing a traffic stop on a car and had the driver out talking to him. He could tell there was something in his pocket, so he told the man to take it out. The man took a really long time but finally pulled his hand out with the object tucked under his thumb trying to palm it. Quickly he dropped it on the ground between their feet and then jumped back in shock.
    “What’s that?” he exclaimed.
    Sgt. Travis is a great actor. For a moment he stared down at the object, then slowly he looked up into the sky before looking with wide eyes at the man. “I think God just framed you,” he said slowly.
    The man stared, not quite sure what to do next.

    All these stories made Sgt. Steve Jones, who was still there, want to tell one of his “war stories”.
    “I was a young rookie,” he began. “I was driving down the highway late one evening and ended up pulling over a car that was driving too fast. Before I had a chance to get out and approach the car, this lady jumps from her car and runs back to me. Now my first thought was, ‘Oh no, she wants to kill me,’ since that’s what’s been drilled into our heads at the academy. But thankfully she didn’t.
    “She starts talking about how she was late for work that day and had to clock in late, and that meant she lost two points and if she lost three than she’d lose her job. And these other problems had come up at work, and her son was having problems, and her water heater had broken. Then she starts going on about these UFO lights she had seen coming down low over the highway and about aliens. She just kept talking and talking and getting more excited.
    “I really didn’t want to deal with her, so I said, ‘Lady, the county line is about five miles that way,’ and I pointed. ‘I think you need to get in your car and get there.’
    She agreed, jumped back in her car and left.”

    Sgt. Travis asked, “When was this? About 20-25 years ago?”
    “Yeah,” Sgt. Jones agreed.
    “Then,” Sgt. Travis said, “for the last 20-25 years this lady has been telling all her friends about how she got out of a speeding ticket by talking about aliens.”
    (I wouldn’t suggest you try it because the trooper who pulls you over might be a seasoned trooper instead of a rookie.)
    There was a little talk after that about next week’s class. We get to shoot their guns, and Sgt. Lueckenhoff told us he has 100 rounds for each of us! We also get the SWAT guys next week, so I hope you’ll come back for the next report. See you next week!

Do you lend your pants to anyone?
Have you ever accomplished more than you thought possible?
Are you coming to the FFF party next week?

Friday, September 21, 2018

Highway Patrol Report – Week 2 – Part 1

Good morning FFFs,
It was raining when I woke up this morning, but things are quiet now. I think there's a chance for more rain, but we'll see.
This has been a good week. Rather exciting in some ways, even if I didn't quite get everything done I wanted to.
  • I got my proof copy of "His Law Is Love" ordered!! *squeals* I've only been waiting since January to get it put together and ordered. Now I just have to wait until it arrives. I know it's been shipped, so  . . .
  • I've been making steady progress on the last things for the Five Fall Favorites party. It's hard to believe it's coming up so quickly! I hope you all are ready for new stacks of books to add to your To-Read shelf.
  • I finally got to start writing my short story for November. I'm not very far into it, but it's started. That should count for something, right?
  • Writing classes were taught.
  • I posted the first "letter" from Priscilla de Silvosa yesterday from Tennessee. Not sure anyone's going to read it, but I posted it. If you read it, leave me a comment and let me know.
  • Last night my Dad and I attended our 3rd class with the Missouri State Highway Patrol Community Alliance. We got to shoot their guns and climb inside their SWAT vehicle. But you'll get more on that another time.
  • The one thing I didn't get finished that I really wanted to, was the book of letters between my grandparents from the 1940s. I did get the pictures all cropped, and know which pages of their scrapbooks need scanned. Then I have to add everything. We'll see how it goes.
And that's pretty much my week. How was your week?
This report was LONG. As in over 3k words long. So I decided to divide it into two weeks. Today you get the first half of our class, and next week the 2nd half. I hope you enjoy it.

September 13, 2018
Our second class of the Missouri Highway Patrol Community Alliance began at six with Sgt. Lueckenhoff saying a few things, checking on who would do what if there was an emergency, and then introducing our first instructor.
    Trooper Tony Sandoval began by a bit about himself. He was raised in New York City, but moved to Missouri since his wife’s family lives in Oklahoma, and the Missouri HP would mean the family would be close. After this introduction he began on the history of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
    In the 1920s and 30s citizens began asking for more law enforcement on the new roads that were being built because there were more cars being driven. Pennsylvania was the first state to start a highway patrol, but others began soon after. The biggest supporters of the new law enforcement agency in Missouri were the Missouri Bankers Association, the MO Auto Club, and Governor Caulfield. Those who strongly opposed the idea were the Labor groups, the bootleggers, and the sheriffs. The sheriffs were afraid a highway patrol would encroach on their job and undermine their authority. Finally, on April 24th, 1931, the Missouri State Highway Patrol was begun. The force started with only fifty-five men–49 Troopers, and 6 Captains. The pay was $125 per month. From the beginning the Missouri Highway Patrol worked under two guiding thoughts:
    “Gentlemen who enforce the law”
    “When in doubt, don’t.”
These two guidelines are still a part of the patrol to this day. All officers and troopers are expected to act like gentlemen as they carry out their duties. And if they are ever in doubt about something, be it making an arrest or stopping a car when they are the only trooper at work, they don’t.
    Trooper Tony told us that there have been times when he’s decided not to do something because he couldn’t get backup should he need it.
    The general Headquarters for the Highway Patrol started out in the state capitol building.
    At the beginning, in 1931, the troopers had no radios. Instead they used a “point of contact” such as a certain gas station or store. Every hour they were expected to go to that place and call up HQ to see if they had any calls they needed to take care of.
    Here is a look at some of the important dates in the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
    1933- The HP started using the public AM radio station. If a call came through for a trooper, it was announced on a certain station that the troopers had on all the time in their car. There was no way to make sure the message was received. A trooper might be out of his car at the time it came through. Later that same year the HP began using a state-owned radio station-WOS. But there was still no way to tell if a trooper had received the message.
    1936- The Police Radio began operating 24 hours a day for the first time. A crime lab was also created in two rooms of the Broadway Building in Jefferson City.
    1937- A Drivers License was first required and cost twenty-five cents. There was no test to prove you could drive, you just paid your money and got your license.
    1940- The Safety Squadron was started. This squadron, with its all white cars, motorcycles, and trailer, traveled to different cities and educated people about road safety.
    1942- The Missouri State Patrol created its first car door emblem. Also in this year, the Highway Patrol began Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, making sure that those vehicles complied with specific laws and regulations.
    During WWII the speed limit was 35 mph across the nation. No traveling 70 or above down the highway. This was done partly to conserve gas as it was a rationed commodity. With so many men off serving in the war, the HP began using women in communications.
    1946- The police FM and Repeater system was created. (This system was used until around 2007.) The hand-held radios the patrol officers carried were only 5 watts. This was not strong enough to be able to send a signal very far. However, their cars were equipped with a repeater system and 45 watts of power. This meant that if an officer used his radio away from his car, the message went to the car and then was repeated over the higher powered radio to HQ. During this year the first patrol aircraft was used.
    1947- School Bus Inspections started.
    1948- Car to Car communication became available. There was also a change of the emblem on the patrol cars to what it is today. (It was designed by a trooper who used to be an artist.)
    1952- They started having examinations to get a driver’s license. (I guess they decided people should know how to drive if they have a license.)
    1954- A riot broke out in the prison in Jefferson City, and a call went out at 7 p.m. to ALL Highway Patrol cars in the state. By 11:30 a.m. 265 State Troopers had arrived on scene. They had driven at maximum speed to reach the capital stopping only long enough to fill up their tanks with gas. As they neared the city the orange glow of the fire could be seen in the night sky. One leader in the riot refused to do as he was ordered and told the HP Lieutenant he wouldn’t comply. He was given one more chance, but when he again refused, the lieutenant shot and killed him on the spot. That act sobered the rest of the prisoners and the rioting stopped. As the inmates of the prison were marched to another building, the State Troopers were lined up along the street with their rifles in their hands just in case something started again. Nothing did. The prisoners realized that these men meant business.
    This year was also the beginning of the unmarked patrol cars.
    1959- The first helicopter came into use.
    1960- The first portable scale trucks were brought into use.
    1963- Headquarters moved from the state capitol building to it current location.
    1960-66- The Underwater Recovery Unit was formed.
    1965- Breathalyzer Training and Implied Consent law was enacted. This was also the year that the first black Trooper joined the force.
    1967- Motor Vehicle Inspections began.
    1970- Undercover Narcotics Units began operating, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol Academy Building was opened.
    1971- The Bomb and Arson Squad was formed.
    1974-75 brought the national speed limit up to 55 mph. It also saw the introduction of the moving radar (which is used to tell how fast a moving vehicle is going) and allowed left-handed troopers to be left-landed. Up until then, there were no left-handed holsters issued, and no one was allowed to wear their gun on their left side. Everything had to be done and worn just like a right-handed person would do and wear it.
    1975- This was the year the first two female state troopers joined.
    1982- Marijuana Eradication Program started. They said it was easier to spot the hidden fields where it was growing from the air, though Trooper Tony said everything looked the same to him from the air. It was all green.
    1983- DWI Checkpoints started to be used.
    1986- Drug Interdiction Program started.
    1988- K-9 Program began.
    1991- They changed the weapon the troopers carried.
    1997- The Major Crash Teams were formed. There are 16 teams state-wide, and these teams focus only on major crash scenes.
    2007- CVET Program (Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Team) started.
    2008- Motorcycle Program started again. These are only used in larger cities where there is heavy traffic, and the need for smaller, more maneuverable vehicles is greater.
    January 2011- This saw the merge of the Water Patrol with the Highway Patrol to become what is now known as Marine Operations.
    From the start of the Missouri Highway Patrol in 1931 until now (2018), 32 State Troopers have given the ultimate sacrifice.

    Here are a few fun facts about the MO HP: Their uniforms were patterned after the New Jersey State Police with the Sam Brown belt that crosses over their chest. They don’t wear badges, but they have them and carry them with them.

Will you be back next week?
What do you know about Your Highway Patrol?
Are you eager for the Five Fall Favorites party?

Friday, September 14, 2018

HIghway Patrol Report – Week 1

Hello, FFFs,
I don't have fiction for you today, but I do have something new. But before we get to that, let me tell you a bit about my week.
It was an average week. Nothing too exciting, or different. Writing classes went well. And, for those of you might have read the Travels of Priscilla blog, it's about to start up again. You see, the students in one of my writing classes are going to put what they've learned into practice by "joining" Priscilla on her travels. I hope to get the first letter up sometime soon. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's a virtual tour that a fictional character, "Miss Priscilla de Silvosa," is taking across the United States, spending 7 days in each state. You can learn some fun things about the states if you read the blog.

Today starts a busy weekend. Later this afternoon my grandpa is supposed to arrived on his bicycle having ridden the last stretch of his bike ride down from KC. We're also babysitting my 7 nieces and nephews this evening.
But tomorrow!
Tomorrow is the Big Bike Ride! The reason my grandpa came down, is to do this ride. And tomorrow my aunt and grandma are driving down from KC so my aunt can ride too. There's a trail near our house that used to be a railroad. It's a 3 1/2 mile stretch now of walking/biking path. We are going to have a 4 generation bike ride on Saturday. Grandpa (generation 1), my aunt, and dad (generation 2 even if my dad is an in-law), my brother and I (generation 3), and 5 of my nieces and nephews (generation 4). The ages will range from "Buddy" my 5 1/2 y-o nephew, to my 89 1/2-y-o Grandpa. At the end of the trail we'll head to Culver's for lunch and to celebrate my oldest niece's 12th birthday.
Whew! Like I said, busy.

Last night my dad and I attended the 2nd class of the Highway Patrol Community Alliance. Hopefully I'll be able to get my report for that written for next week. This week you can start off with a short news clip about the program. (Yes, you might be able to find my dad and I. Dad has a white beard.) And then you can read the report for the first week. Enjoy!

September 6, 2018
This was the start of the Missouri Highway Patrol Community Alliance program my dad and I had signed up for. The five-week class was designed to educate the local citizens about the aspects of the Highway Patrol that most never think or hear about. Since I had already attended the Citizens Police Academy and the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy, I was eager to see and hear about the Highway Patrol.
    It was a beautiful evening when Dad and I arrived. After finding the room where the class would be held, we found seats and waited for the final people to arrive. All together there are fifteen in the class.
    Once everyone arrived Sergeant Lueckenhoff introduced himself. (He is the one in charge of the program.) After a few quick remarks, he turned the class over to Captain David Hall who told us he was going to give us “the wow factor” with his presentation on MIAC. He then proceeded to do just that.
    MIAC stands for Missouri Information Analysis Center. To put it briefly, MIAC is the main hub for intelligence for the cities, counties, and State of Missouri. It also serves as the designated center for contact with federal agencies such as the FBI and the CIA across the United States, as well as INTERPOL. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Captain Hall said that someone is always there, but he couldn’t promise they were always awake.
    However, MIAC doesn’t just provide access to all that data, they add to it. They also have to put information from different sources together, much like trying to work a thousand puzzles without boxes that you got at garage sales, and you don’t know if all the pieces are there. That put things more in perspective. That’s a lot of brain work going on.
    Sgt. Lueckenhoff told us that if he were working a crash scene where a single car crashed into something and the driver fled on food leaving his passenger for dead, twenty or more years ago they wouldn’t be able to do much. Now, however, the sergeant said he would call up MIAC, tell them the car VIN, the license plate number, and the identity of the passenger. Within thirty minutes or so, MIAC would be able to tell him if the plates were stolen or not and who they belonged to, who the vehicle that crashed belonged to, and tell who the probable driver was, his parents’ names, where they lived, where the driver worked, lived, and his potential associates, and where the suspect was known to hang out. Talk about mind blowing! If someone saw the driver, MIAC could even do a photo line-up with other similar faces.
    Captain Hall did assure us that, while many people think that the government and law enforcement agencies are monitoring their every call, and know all about them, they don’t. “Wal-Mart knows more about you than we do!” he said. Now if you’ve been involved in criminal activities, that might be a bit different. They only collect information on suspects that hold a reasonable suspicion of being criminal.
    MIAC also receives tips and complaints from citizens in regard to criminal investigations, public health emergencies, homeland security issues, and natural disasters. That’s a lot of information from a lot of different places! MIAC is all about making connections because when you make the right connections, you can find that criminal, help that child, or even prevent a terrorist attack.
    We were encouraged to send in concerns or suspicious activity to our local law enforcement officials or to MIAC. There is an app called “see-send” that allows you to do that from your phone. There is a website with more information where Captain Hall told us they have pictures of wanted people on the side. “We’ve gotten many of these people just from putting their picture up here,” he said. “Someone sees the face and realizes they know where that person is, and call the police.”
    Do you know what the top two crimes are in the United States? The first is drug trafficking, and the second is human trafficking. There are people working at restaurants, hotels, and other jobs who are slaves. Someone else paid for them to come over, and the person is now working as an indentured servant, only they don’t know how much they have to pay, and they don’t know when they will be free.

    After Captain Hall had finished, my brain was full. That was a lot to take in. Sgt. Lueckenhoff then had each person introduce themselves and tell a little about why they came to the class. He was going to do this at the beginning, but he forgot. That was okay as it was a good break. It was fun to see just how many of the class had participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy and the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy. There was also another father/daughter duo, and a father/son. The sergeant’s wife is also taking the class.
    After a fifteen minute break where we got to visit, have some snacks and such, Sgt. Lueckenhoff introduced us to a trooper who talked a little about what he does. He’s a special member of the Highway Patrol, and his job is to check the big trucks. He told us he likes to leave  the inspections of trucks on the highways to the weight stations and travel on the less used roads as that’s where most of the trucks that are trying to avoid such checks travel. It can take a good two hours for him to completely check a truck. He has special scales that he can put in front of each wheel and have the truck drive up on. That way he can check to make sure it’s not too loaded or too heavy on one side. If he stops a truck and is going to do a full check on it, he’ll call a regular trooper to help him as he doesn’t have the authority to make an arrest if need be, but also just to keep an eye on the driver. I mean, if the trooper checking the truck is in the back of the semi looking for narcotics or something, what’s to stop the driver from shutting the doors and driving off with him?
    This officer also carries all sorts of tools in his truck. We were taken outside and got to see the truck and scales.
    Outside we were also introduced to other members of the Highway Patrol. One did road work, doing the things we normally think of Highway Patrol officers doing. He’s also a member of the HP SWAT team. Yes, the Highway Patrol has its own SWAT team. I didn’t know that. We got to take a look at his vehicle, hold his big gun, and feel or even try on his SWAT vest.
    The other officer was a member of the HP Marine division. Did you know that the HP patrolled the rivers and lakes? Well, they do. This officer and another one patrol the Elk River here in the state, and he said it’s pretty bad. The river has gotten a reputation for the place to drink, do drugs, and party. We got to see one of the boats the HP offers use on the river or during times of floods.
    Class ended early as we were just looking at the vehicles and asking questions or talking. It was a beautiful evening to be out.
    I hope you will join us next week as we learn even more about the Missouri Highway Patrol. Until then!

Friday, September 7, 2018

What's Up?

Good morning FFFs,
Sorry, I don't have a fiction story for you today. I have one ready to post, but I decided to wait since I'm hoping that next week I can share the report from the first night of the Highway Patrol Community Alliance class my Dad and I are taking. Our first class was last night. It's already been interesting, informative, and educational. I learned about aspects of the HP that I had no idea they did! Another thing, besides learning all sorts of new stuff, that will be great, will be seeing how the HP operates as compared to the Police or the Sheriff's deputies. I look forward to sharing more about it next week.

This week has disappeared in a stack of projects! It's been crazy! I'm trying to stay focused but then comes the question of what do I focus on? And let me tell you, it is hard to know sometimes especially when it feels like everything needs done Right Now.
For example:
I need to get the rest of my monthly stories written so I don't have to try to do them when I'm working on Christmas stories, or things like that. But I also need to write a "letter of Priscilla de Silvosa" for the writing classes I'm teaching.
The blog posts for the Five Fall Favorites (invitation on this post) need done, but I need to get a few blog posts ready for the rest of this month.
I need to design covers for the month stories, but I haven't written them all yet, so I can only do a couple.
I need to correct a story, format it, and get it ready to publish, but I have another story, a Christmas book, that needs corrected, formatted, and uploaded so I can get a proof copy, so I can get it published by Christmas.
I need to work on the formatting of the book of letters my grandparents wrote in the 1940s, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it uploaded to CreateSpace with their move to KDP.
I need to prepare for next week's writing classes, but we may be changing things with one student, so I can't fully finish getting ready. And I need to print and format some "letters" from the "Travels of Priscilla" blog. But I have the 40s book that needs formatted. And other things that need edited, and I need to write the letter, but I need to write stories, but I need to write the report from the class I just took last night, and . . .
Yeah, now you know what my brain is doing! Spinning in circles trying to figure out what is the important, and what is urgent.

But that's that.
Here's the exciting thing coming up! The annual Five Fall Favorites blog party! Kate and I had fun picking this year's genres. And we have new bloggers who will be sharing their Top 5 books. So be sure to mark your calendar, and tell all your friends, relatives, acquaintances, book store employees–you get the picture. This invitation is meant to be copied and shared. So enjoy! We'll look forward to seeing you at the Literary Lodge!

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Mysterious Solution - Part 2

Good morning FFFs!
It rained almost all day and was as dark as early morning or late evening almost all day. This morning the sun is coming up in a sky washed clear of storm clouds. the earth is wet from the showers, but the air is cool. We have the windows open now. I can hear a few cicadas and early birds. It looks like a beautiful morning. It's supposed to be hot later today so we'll enjoy the cool weather while we can.

How was your week? Mine was one of those weeks where you play "catch-up" all week. At least that's what it's felt like. I did teach on Tuesday, but 4 of my students weren't here, so that made the day a little shorter in the teaching realm. I've been trying to work on the FFF party, another book of family letters, prepare for more writing classes, write, get my September cover ready for the story, and get settled into this computer. I still don't have all my files on here, but I'm getting them added slowly as I need them. And I'm not putting on files that I don't use or need right now.

A few changes are taking place. One is the change of CreateSpace to KDP. I'm still unsure about this move. Part of the trouble right now for me is that I am planning on getting a few new things published soon, but I don't want to have proof copies on CS when the move comes. So I'm waiting to hear back from them. If the change isn't going to be until almost the new year, then I'm fine. If it's going to be in a few weeks, I'll wait. I'm just afraid it'll be happening right when I don't want it to. :P

The other change is going to be fun, exciting, and quite interesting, I'm sure. If you've been reading this blog for long, you'll know that my dad and I have participated in the Citizens' Police Academy, the Citizens' METZ Academy, and the Sheriff's Citizens' Academy. All three times were very interesting, and I learned a lot. Well, not too long ago my dad learned about a new program. It's kind of the same thing as the others, only this is the Highway Patrol! We just found out yesterday that we were in. Classes start next Thursday and last for 5 weeks. I'm hoping to get reports written after each class, but we'll see how things go. Would you be interested in reading my reports for the classes?

Well, here's the second half of this story. I hope you enjoy it. Perhaps it will even make you cry. :)

The Mysterious Solution
Part 2

Last week . . .

It wasn’t until late the next night that the professor again opened the door to his laboratory and entered. This time he wore no glasses.
Some time later, with tears streaming down his cheeks, he descended the stairs. “It works!” he cried. “Now to become famous! And then--” He was so excited that, even though it was nearly the middle of the night, he flung wide his front door and shouted, “Hear all you good people! I, Professor Stovkewetsky, your fellow townsman am about to be known all over the world! And you, my fine friends and neighbors shall all share in my glory!”
Before he had finished this joyful burst of news, windows had been flung wide up and down the street. There were murmuring voices heard, but the professor couldn’t tell what was being said. He naturally assumed it was congratulations and good wishes, so with a final shout he returned to his own house.

Very busy were the next few days for Professor Stovkewetsky. He carefully prepared the last of his new novel and dipped dozens and dozens of sheets of paper in his new mysterious solution and hung them up to dry.
At last the day came when Prof Stovkey loaded his old truck with boxes and drove off to the printer leaving the townsfolk shaking their heads.
“Oh, the poor man,” said one woman to her neighbor, “he is gone insane.”
“He has indeed. Imagine waking the whole town up in the middle of the night to say that he would be famous.”
“Yes,” added a third person with a shake of the head, “and now driving off with that load in his truck. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never made it back.”
“It is a pity,” yet another woman put in, “and he used to teach in the university too.”
“I suspect too much learning has driven him crazy.”

In spite of the dire predictions, Professor Stovkewetsky did make it back to the village two days later with a beaming face; he appeared in the market place the following day with a box of books.
“Come and buy my newest book,” he urged. “I guarantee it will make you cry. If it does not, your money will be given back to you. Now wouldn’t you like to try the story? It will be the most touching thing you have ever read.”
Many were the skeptical looks the professor and his books received, but a few persons, more out of pity than a desire to read what the professor had written, bought some books and the professor was satisfied. For several days Prof Stovkey sold his books in the village market, eagerly asking those who had purchased the book earlier if they had read it yet. No one had.
It wasn’t until fully two weeks and three days after he sold his first book that a villager came up to him in the market.
“I don’t know how you did it, Professor Stovkewetsky,” the man said shaking his head in wonder, “I never cry when I read books, but yours certainly made me cry. Why, I could hardly see the words for my tears.”
“Ah, I’m delighted you enjoyed it,” replied the professor in great satisfaction, rubbing his hands together. “I knew it would be a success.” He added as the reader of his book turned away, “Soon I’ll be able to hire a cook!” and he laughed gleefully in delight.
A crowd gathered around the village man who had read the book. “What was it like?”
“Did you really cry as he said you would?”
The man nodded. “I did cry, but why I don’t know. It is perplexing. When I think back on the story, I remember nothing that would make me cry, yet when I read the book, I couldn’t keep the tears away.”
“Ah, mysterious!”
“I must get one and try it.”
It wasn’t long before word of his touching novel spread throughout the village, and even those of the surrounding towns and cities began to come to buy this much talked of book. Soon the fame of it reached beyond Russia and Professor Stovkewetsky was kept busy preparing his special mixture, dipping and drying his papers, and taking truck load after truck load to the printer.
It was a joyful day for him when at last a cook was established in his kitchen. Many were the delightful meals that cook stirred up which were neither raw nor burned, and for many years Professor Stovkewetsky lived in great comfort from the sales of his last novel. Many a newsman came to interview the now famous author about his success, but Professor Stovkewetsky never would reveal his secret to them.
And the folks in the village marveled at the professor’s success and puzzled over the strange books, for when it was read aloud only the reader would cry while the others just looked on with dry eyes. It was certainly very mysterious.
It was only many years later that he told his cook what he had done. “You see,” he began, “I created this odorless mixture with which I saturate my pages. When those pages are before you, the undetected essence in them creates the need fro tears. Then the moving places in my book are printed on the special paper and my readers cry whether they want to or not. It has proved very effective.” He smiled. “And it has given me enough money to have a cook.” He sighed deeply and raised a large forkful of pie to his lips.
And so, Professor Stovkewetsky lived the remainder of his life eating food that was neither raw nor burnt and spending his days mixing his tear-jerking invention, dipping his papers and printing his novel. He never wrote another story. And people still puzzle over their tears, but only Professor Stovkewetsky and his cook know the mysterious solution.

Did you cry?
Have you ever attended a Citizens' Academy?
Are you ready for September to come?

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Mysterious Solution - Part 1

Did any of you even notice that today's post is not coming around 7:30 in the morning? You probably didn't even think about the fact that this is later than usual. Well, it is.

I'm on Vacation!!!!

This week I'm at my grandparents and all those projects I brought along to work on? Yeah, the ones that are still sitting in my bag. I haven't touched them. I wasn't planning to be this much on vacation, but when I was just exhausted and feeling emotional Sunday night, I knew I needed a break. There's been a lot of stress, craziness, and busyness the past few months. So on Monday I didn't do anything productive! I did check my emails a few times. It was wonderful! I did it again on Tuesday, and Wednesday, and . . . Well, you get the idea. It's amazing what a few days of vacation can do. I highly recommend it.

But, lest you think all I've been doing is sitting around doing nothing, here's a quick look at some of the things I've done. And they are not in order by days.
  • Worked Sudoku puzzles- Both the Regular and the Extreme
  • Bike riding to breakfast with my grandpa. We came home in the rain. :)
  • Walking almost every morning with my sister
  • Bringing up an old chair from the basement that my grandparents are getting rid of
  • Watching Little League World Series games
  • Finishing a "Sticker-by-Number" calendar for my aunt
  • Working jigsaw puzzles
  • Seeing an owl and a fox (Hey, this is the city folks, we don't see those things usually.)
What have you all been up to this week? Has school started in your neck of the woods?
This story is one I wrote a number of years ago. A friend told me she wanted a story that made her cry but not because of the usual things. This was my story.

The Mysterious Solution
Part 1
Rebekah M.

In a little town in Russia, there lived an odd, and if the reports are to be credited, rather eccentric man. For many years he had been a professor in a nearby university and had written and published many a novel, none of which had sold more than a hundred copies. However, it was not his writing which caused the whispers among the village folks, it was the strange rumors going around about his experiments.
Some people said he locked himself in his house for days at a time and wouldn’t answer the door. Others reported lights on in an upper room late into the night. In the market place the women talked together in low tones.
“Have you seen Prof Stovkewetsky?” asked one woman selling vegetables.
“Not for several days,” replied another behind her stand of potatoes.
“He came to my stand last week and bought all my red flowers. He would only take red,” chimed in a third mysteriously.
“And I heard,” a fourth spoke up as she joined the group with her market basket on her arm, “that several large packages have arrived for him from America.”
“You don’t say!”
“I wonder what he is about.”
“Is he writing another novel?” A sixth person, drawn by the low toned conversation had drawn near and added her question.
The second woman replied, “If he is, then why such secrecy and why did he buy all my red flowers?”
“My house is just across the road from his and things have been very mysterious.” And the speaker looked as though she could tell things of great interest if she so chose.

By himself, away from gossiping, wondering, speculating tongues, Professor Stovkewetsky was very busy in his laboratory on the second floor of his house. He was muttering half aloud as he carefully strained a strange looking mixture into a pan and began to heat it on his little stove. “Heat over low temperatures. Add Q plus ten spoonfuls of X. Stir the onions in cold water while the Q and X amalgamates. Cover R3G with . . .” So, muttering and murmuring, he shuffled here and there mixing, heating, stirring.
He had been at work for weeks, months even, trying to find the special formula which would make him world famous. With no one did he share his idea for fear they would find the correct mixture before he did, and if they did, well, his dreams would perish. The very thought of such a thing happening caused Professor Stovkewetsky to sigh and place a hand over his stomach while a look of dejection crept across his usually placid face.
Having retired from teaching, Professor Stovkewetsky or Prof Stofkey as his students called him behind his back, was now able to devote his entire time to his work. Days passed as the professor labored tirelessly day after day and often far into the nights. At last he was ready for the experiment.
Nearly giddy with excitement, Professor Stovkewetsky cleared a place on a table where he placed a large, square, glass dish. Stringing up some twine across the room, and getting a dozen sheets of plain paper out, he was ready. After donning glasses, a clean white frock, a face mask and gloves, he ever so carefully poured a clear mixture into the glass pan. It was only enough to cover the bottom of the dish about a quarter of an inch, but the professor smiled behind his mask. Then, with fingers which shook with excitement, he placed one sheet of paper into the liquid.
Watching the paper as it absorbed the moisture was a fascinating process which required all of Prof Stovkey’s attention. At just the right moment, with extreme care, the paper was removed, held dripping over the pan for exactly thirty seconds and then hung from the twine to dry while another paper was placed in the mixture. Each of the twelve pieces of paper received the same careful attention and treatment.
Taking off his gloves and face mask, though he left his glasses on, Professor Stovkewetsky sniffed.
“I don’t smell a thing. Maybe I have hit on it at last! But I must wait until the paper is dry before I can really test it.” So saying, he left the room, carefully shutting and locking the door behind him, and went downstairs to eat whatever he could find in the house.
He had not been a successful cook in his younger years, so now he ate everything raw or burned. “When I am rich and famous,” he would say to himself, “I’ll hire some good cook to work for me.” And he would sigh and place his hand over his stomach again.
It wasn’t until late the next night that the professor again opened the door to his laboratory and entered. This time he wore no glasses.

Have you read this story before?
What do you think the Professor is up to?
Did you notice that this post was later than usual?

Friday, August 17, 2018

It's Friday?

Good morning FFFs!
It's a rumbling, rainy morning here. It sounds like the perfect weather to curl up with a good book, or just go back to bed. :) But I have things to do. I always seem to have things to do.

This week has been a jumble of trying to get things done and other things.
Writing classes started this week, and I have 9 students in 4 different classes all on Tuesday morning. It was a bit crazy, but things went well.
I also got a new computer! I'm really liking it, except that the CD player won't pull in the disc all the way and play it. I may end up having to send the computer back because I use that player regularly. But I wanted to keep trying it a little longer and see if there is anything else that is a problem. That's one reason I haven't moved all my files over.

The rest of the week have been such a mixture of this and that, writing, editing, getting ready for writing classes, practicing the violin, and being distracted by Little League. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed by everything. I wanted to run away to a cabin and hide. Other times I wanted to get the entire list of things done. I was planning on getting a longer story for you this week, but with everything going on, that didn't happen. So I just picked one. It was one I thought of posting a few weeks ago, but never did.

But if you want something else, my August story, The Way to Go is Free today and tomorrow.


It was quite chilly when I crawled out of my sleeping bag and, unzipping my tent door, stepped out into the crisp morning. Everything was quiet and still. The brown grass at my feet crunched with each
footstep. Stately, old pine trees stood guard on the bit of land which juts out into the aqua and teal lake where scarcely a ripple disturbs its placid face. Across from my camping site, on the other side of the lake, march row upon row of trees, up the mountainside, until the snow-covered cliffs halt most of them.
     I gave a sigh of contentment. This was the first time I had gotten to be alone for more than fifteen minutes since the whirl of things began. I don’t know when the whirl started exactly, it just seemed to creep up and then I was in the midst of it all. Now at last maybe I can get some much needed rest, to try to sort things out, to understand, to consider, to decide. Out here alone I hope to be able to find the peace and joy I had. Alone? No, not really. My Heavenly Father is here and that is all I need. It was His hand that guided through all: weddings and funerals, births and deaths, over-work and no work at all, excitement of courtships and heartache of breakups, tornadoes and earthquakes, political unrest and political victories; all combined to frazzle a mind already bewildered with the many decisions of everyday life.
     I think I’ll just sit here today by my campfire and let the quietude of the mountains and water calm my feelings as I read the dearest book in the world. How can I help but grow refreshed when the Author of each word and thought is my Lover and Friend, my Father, my Savior, my Jesus? If I knew Him not, I would surely be the most miserable of all persons. Some people thought my coming away into this wilderness alone was just a way of trying to escape from everything and hide. They were somewhat right. I am hiding from everything. But not as they think. My Hiding Place is the Rock in a weary land, the Shelter in storms, a Tower, a Shield, a Refuge. No, I don’t expect everything to be perfect when I return, but it will be okay. The sun on those snow covered peaks is glorious!
     The birds are singing above me, and I hear a squirrel chattering somewhere. Maybe I’ll go sit on that rock in the sun. No worries, no cares, no thought for tomorrow. Isn’t that how life is supposed to be? I can echo the psalmist when he penned the words, “Oh that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest.” But it wouldn’t be the same rest which the Shepherd gives to His sheep. On the whole, I am glad, thankful even, that I have a heart which can feel pain and joy, love and sorrow, and my Savior’s matchless, boundless, endless mercy, grace and love!

My days alone here are ended. I’m going back to be ”in the world but not of it.” Peace and rest fill me as I go with my All-In-All.
Have you ever felt like you needed to get away from everything?
Have you ever actually gotten away?
What sort of story do you want next week?

Friday, August 10, 2018

What Am I?

Hello, FFFs,
How are you doing? I'm doing well. It's been a busy first part of the week, and then I've been trying to catch up on things, including sleep. ;)

Saturday– My dad, Sis, and I went out to help knock doors all Saturday morning with my brother, his family, and 7 others. It wasn't bad in the morning as there was a nice breeze, but it sure got hot later! We got a lot of doors knocked.

Sunday–A much needed day of rest! Usually I read all afternoon, but I was so tired that I had to take a few cat naps in the middle of my reading.

Monday–I spent the morning and afternoon working on projects. Then after supper I headed out to join my brother in knocking more doors. We worked until after 8:30. Then we met up with some others who were also knocking doors. Then it was time to put up some "Vote Today" signs. I put some up on the way home, but decided to get my dad before I went and put up the last signs at a polling place in a not so nice neighborhood.

Tuesday–Election Day! We started out by sign waving! Finally! A family joined us who had never done it before. The kids loved it! Even when it started raining. We just held umbrellas and our signs and kept on shouting. :D I went with my BF to vote. That was strange since I don't remember the last time when I actually voted on election day. Next my brother dropped two nephews off and the three of us headed to a polling place to hold signs. It rained off and on that morning. Then, after lunch, the sun came out. I now have a nice sunburn. We stayed there until 4:45. That evening we headed to my brother's watch party. It was late before the final results came in. He had lost by 46 votes. It was a bit of a shock at first, but then it really felt like the hand of God. He may have lost, but, as our sheriff told him, "You made a difference in the county. You and your family even if you didn't win." And it's okay. God has something different in store for him.

Wednesday–Trying to catch up on sleep, and different things. That night the church's puppet team (my oldest niece and nephew were a part this time) did their final performance for church, so we all went and watched. They did great!

Thursday–Trying to get more done, things worked on. I actually wrote last evening! I haven't written since the 2nd! You know what? It's rather fun to write. ;)

And that's a look at my week. How was your week?
I was looking through old stories trying to decide what to post when I came across this poem. I decided to share it today instead of a story. Leave a comment to tell me what you think the answer is.

What Am I?
Rebekah Morris

I have no wings, but I can fly,
Just close your eyes and I’ll slip by.
I use no fuel and eat no food,
I’m never late for that would be rude.
I never sleep yet am not awake,
And I’m sorry, you can’t toss me in the lake.
For love or money I can’t be bought,
Though more of me many have sought.
I race and I creep, I’m slow and I’m fast,
But I’m always the same as I’ve been in the past.
I’m certain to continue as when I began,
For though I am young, I’m older than man.
I’m tossed aside by the careless, looked down on with contempt,
Yet from my relentlessness no one is exempt.
I have no fear of danger,
To love I am a stranger,
You’ll use me every day until you die,
So tell me please, what am I?

Friday, August 3, 2018


Good morning FFFs,
Sorry, I don't have a story for you this time. After finishing the last story, I haven't had time to write a new one, and I haven't gone through my old ones and picked one to republish. But, since it seems that most of you have been busy with other things anyway this summer, you can just catch up on this last story.๐Ÿ˜ƒ

What have I done this week?

Sunday – It was a wonderful day to relax. It was rainy and cooler. After church we visited some and then came home and ate lunch. I spent my afternoon reading.

Monday–Thursday – It was a stay-at-home week which was wonderful! I didn't have any writing students. (Regular classes will start on the 14th of this month.) We didn't babysit (though we will this evening), and the temperatures have been in the 60s in the mornings so Sis and I have gotten to get out and walk! Lovely! I did work nursery at church Wednesday night, only there were no little ones and the other worker and I ended up sitting in the nursery talking the whole time. And then I practiced music.

But there are other things I've been working on during the days. I finally finished listening to the audio of my book Finding Joy. And Dylan's Story is almost ready for me to proof listen to as well. I'm trying to get my August short story finished so I can publish it. I've finished two chapters of Hymns in the Hills, gotten ideas for some of the other month stories, worked on some Five Fall Favorites planning, scanned pictures of my grandparents in the 1940s, worked on blog posts, and a host of other things. I actually feel like I've been making progress on getting some things done instead of just treading water, or doing enough to keep me going but not really getting anywhere.

Tomorrow is the last Saturday before the elections, so I'll be heading out to knock doors and do some sign waving for my brother. It's supposed to be hot, but maybe the morning will start out nice.

And that's it. I'm hoping to get a lot done today, though I never feel like doing much after I clean the house. Does anyone else ever feel that way? Probably not. Oh, well. Hopefully next week I'll have a story for you all to read. If anyone wants to read one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Friday, July 27, 2018

Missing: One Junior Ranger - Part 6

Good morning FFFs!
I protest! It can't be the last Friday in July! It just can't be! I know I already reached my 20k word goal for Camp NaNo, and I know that there is only a little over a week of campaigning before the August elections (we'll see if my brother wins!), and I know that I start teaching writing classes again two weeks, but still!

Let's see, we did have a busy week. Not a crazy as other times. This week we had an ice cream social to attend on Monday. (It was a political event and we got to hear many of the people running for office.) It was quite fun and informative. I reached my 20k goal on Wednesday. Yesterday my aunt came down for the day, and all 7 nieces and nephews came over for several hours so their parents could have a real date. That was fun.
Today is just usual stuff like cleaning the house and then trying to feel like I should be productive. For some reason, though I may feel like getting a whole lot done on Friday mornings, by the time the house is clean, I seem to have lost all desire to do anything, and only want to sit and read, or something like that.
Tomorrow I may be out knocking doors again, but there is a chance of rain, so we'll see. And tomorrow evening I'm supposed to join some others from church to play and sing at an assisted living home. That's always fun.

But I have other things I need to do. And I'm sure you came to read the story and not my ramblings. So enjoy this last and final part of:

Missing: One Junior Ranger

    On and on the group moved, over uneven ground, through brush and briars. For a while the trail was lost in a carpet of pine needles, but it was found again and the rescue party continued on. At last Mike stopped and looked.
    “She spent the night in that tree.” He pointed to a large one.
    “She couldn’t have,” Timmy protested. “I couldn’t even get to those branches.”
    Stepping close to the tree, Sam looked up. “How did she get up there, Mike?”
    Mike pointed to a branch lying on the ground nearby. “I think she used that as a ladder. But she didn’t come down that way. She dropped here. I think she is heading in the direction of the river.”
    A gasp came from the girls. The bank near the river in this part of the forest was steep, and the water was rapid, sweeping everything in it toward one of the falls which, though not high, was dangerous because of its many rocks at the bottom.
    “Stay behind me, but let’s go,” Mike said, starting forward at a rapid pace.
    Nearing the river, they began to call, but no answer came back. Were they too late? Had she fallen into the river? Or was she just too far away?


    Moaning, Sharon clutched her ankle. Why, oh why, did she have to trip on that vine and fall? Her face and hands smarted from the scrapes they had received sliding down the river bank. The roar of the waterfall was the only sound she could hear. Rocking back and forth with her injured ankle clasped in her torn hands, she looked around. Her fall had sent her sliding down to a small level bank near the river. Both upstream and down the banks were mere drop-offs. Only this section had eroded, washed down by rains.
    “I don’t know how I’m ever going to get up that slide again,” she thought. The earth and rocks were loose, offering no good foothold even if one of her legs wasn’t injured. “A fine mess I’ve made of things. I’m no good as a ranger. I tried to mark my trail with my knife this morning, but if I had done that yesterday I might not be stuck here right now.” She sighed. Her ankle throbbed, and her face and hands hurt. And she was hungry. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she blinked them back. She had to figure out a way to let someone know where she was.
    Looking up to the grassy bank above her, she gave a gasp. “Mike!”
    “Are you okay, Sharon?” he shouted down.
    It was hard to hear over the roar of the waterfall, but Sharon caught his words. “My ankle,” she called back, her voice cracking.
    Mike’s face disappeared, and then a moment later Sam’s face appeared with Mike’s. “Mike’s coming down for you, Sharon,” he said, cupping his hands around his mouth.
    Sharon nodded. She was about to be rescued.
    In moments Mike had half slid, half scrambled, down the steep slope to her. “Your ankle is only sprained, I think” he told her after running his hands over it carefully. “Now, if you can get on my back, I’ll carry you up to the top.” This was soon done, and Sharon clung tightly to Mike as he scrambled up the loose soil to the top.
    There, to her great surprise, she found the rest of the Junior Rangers as well as Sam Oleson. Tessie and Angie washed her scratches while Mike and Sam splinted and bound up her ankle.
    “Just in case it is broken instead of sprained,” Sam told her. “Though I’ve never known Mike to make an error like that.”


    “What happened to make you leave the path?”
    The Junior Rangers were sitting in the Ranger office with Mike Big Eagle and Sam. Sharon, her injured ankle bandaged and resting on a chair, was the center of attention. Quickly she recounted the story of the little fawn. “Everyone said you shouldn’t let an animal suffer, and the fawn couldn’t get the fishing line off his leg himself. I didn’t dream he would take me so far away. But I did get it off him at last.”
    “What did you do with the line?” Mike asked.
    “I put it all in my pocket.” Shifting in her chair, she shoved her hand into her pocket and pulled out the line, the cause of all the trouble. “I tried to follow my tracks back to the trail, but I’m afraid I’m not very good at that yet.”
    Leaning forward in his chair, Sam asked, “Why didn’t you stay in the tree until you were found?”
    “I was going to, until the sun came up. Then I could see a large clearing, and I thought that might be an easier place to find me since I would be out in the open. I just didn’t know the river was in between.”
    “Weren’t you frightened out there at night without a fire or anything?” Tessie asked, her eyes wide.
    Sharon nodded. “Yes, until I remembered the verses Uncle Ken read that morning about not being afraid for the Lord was with me. But I did scream when I heard something move beneath the tree I was in,” she confessed.
    A smile twitched the corners of Mike’s mouth. “It was a deer.”
    Sharon’s hands flew to her mouth, and she gasped. “Oh!” She gave a faint laugh. “I probably frightened it more than it did me.” Then her face grew thoughtful. “You know,” she said slowly, “Uncle Ken read some other verses yesterday morning, and one of them said something about no lion or hungry beast walking there. I thought the noise I heard was a beast out to eat me, but it was only a deer. I think God kept those other animals away last night. And,” she added, smiling as she looked around, “I don’t think I’m ever going to think the Bible is dull again.”

What did you think?
Did you enjoy this story?
Are you ready for July to be over?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Missing: One Junior Ranger - Part 5

Good morning, Friday Fiction Fans,
I don't know about where you live, but here it's hot. And humid. Yesterday it reached 107ยบ. Ugh. Thankfully storm clouds blew in late afternoon and the temperature dropped to the 80s for a while. We didn't get any rain, though there were a few rumbles of thunder.

This has been a good writing week. I decided I wanted to spend one day doing more writing than normal. So, since I usually only write later afternoon and evening, I started in the morning and got over 1k written. In the afternoon I wrote more, and in the evening I wrote again. My total word count for the day was 4,284 words. That bumped me up on my Camp NaNo goal quite a bit. I also wrote on Monday, Wednesday, and yesterday. I think I'll be able to reach my 20k goal and even surpass it.

I've been doing a lot of planning and trying to figure out what I need to work on of all my many different projects. Sometimes I feel rather overwhelmed, but when I break each project into smaller ones, then it's easier. The sad note this week is that I've hardly read anything! I read two shorter stories on Sunday, and a shorter one last night, and that is it. No wonder I want to read!

Anyway, that's that. I don't know if many of you are even reading this since it's summer and most likely you are all busy. Oh, well. I did contemplate just leaving you hanging on this story, but I decided to be nice.

Missing: One Junior Ranger
Part 5

    “She doesn’t know much about the radio. But let’s get out to the fort and check on her. She’s probably waiting for us to return.” Don’s words sent the others hurrying toward the door.
    Turning back, Don paused behind the others at the door and looked back at his brother’s serious face. “Let me know as soon as you find out if she’s there.”
    With a quick nod and a “Sure thing, Sam,” Don was out the door and running after the Junior Rangers.

    Puffing up to the gate of the fort, the six Junior Rangers paused a moment to catch their breath. The large wooden gate was shut just as they had left it, but that wasn’t unusual. Don was the first to reach the gate, unlatch and swing it wide open. “Sharon?” he shouted.
    There was no answer.
    “All right, everyone split up,” Don ordered. “Look for any sign that she might have been here.” As the others scattered across the yard, Don raced for the stairs that led to their club room in one of the block houses. Pushing the door open he looked around quickly. There was no sign of anyone having been there. “Hey, guys!” he turned to shout. “Sharon’s pack is still here.” Not waiting to see what the others would do, Don hurried to the radio set and turned it on.
    “XNV-451 to XNR-457. Come in. XNV-451 to XNR-457.”
    “XNR-457 to XNV-451. What’s the story Don?”
    “She hasn’t been here, Sam. Her pack’s still in the club house, and there’s no sign of her.”
    Sam didn’t hesitate. “You kids head back over the trail to her house. I’ll get Mike, and we’ll take the truck over the road. If you find any sign of her on the trail, radio us.”
    “Okay, Sam. Over and out.” Flipping off the switch, Don turned around to find the other Junior Rangers crowding around behind him. “You all heard Sam?” They nodded. “Then let’s go find Sharon.”

    The trial was quiet. Each person was intent on looking for signs. Finally, after they had covered quite a bit of ground, Bob spoke. “The way I figure it, if she’d left the trail on this side over here,” and he motioned with his hand, “then she would have found the road.”
    “But she might have gone off on the other side of the trail,” Tessie said.
    “Look!” Don pointed. “Footprints.”
    “Oh, Don, they lead off the trail into the woods.” And Angie crouched down to get a better look.
    For a moment the children stood. “We can follow the trail as far as we can, but we might need Mike.” Don paused. “I wonder if he and Sam are still in the truck.”
    “Want me to radio and find out?” Grant asked, patting the portable set he had been carrying.
    “Yeah. Sam said to let them know.”
    This was done, and Sam promised that he and Mike would be there soon. “Start following the trail, but be careful,” Sam instructed before ending the call.
    Eagerly the Junior Rangers started off into the woods. Since Don was the most experienced tracker, he led the way, and the others followed in silence. Minutes ticked by slowly. Where was Sharon, and why had she left the trail?
    “Don,” Tessie asked at last,” why do you suppose Sharon didn’t stay on the path?”
    “I don’t know. If Mike were here, he could probably tell us.”
    “Here he comes,” Bob said, glancing over his shoulder. Everyone stopped and waited as the Indian and the chief forest ranger reached the group. Mike stepped ahead of Don and crouched down to look at the faint tracks in the ground.
    At last he stood up. “I think she was following something.” Mike started off. Soon he halted. “She has returned but lost the trail and goes off slightly.”
    “She returned from where, Mike?”
    Mike shook his dark head. “That I don’t know. But these tracks are newer.”
    Angie leaned down to look. “How do you know?”
    “They are on top of the other ones.”
    Sam spoke up for the first time. “How new are they?”
    “Some time yesterday, I think.”

Have you ever had to find someone?
How long do you think it'll take them to find Sharon?
Has your summer been really hot?