All posts by Rebecca Fegan

About Rebecca Fegan

I have an eclectic set of interests--everything from Leadership to Religion/Philosophy to Knitting to Music. I'm a mom and a grandma and a teacher and a speaker and a published author.

CW: Life

The Scream, 1893 by Edvard Munch

It’s late in the day

The reds, reminiscent of fire and heat

The cool blues of contrast

The total shock on the face of the main figure

He’s almost home

He’s left his phone.

Hmmm. no that isn’t it. I have to dig a little deeper into this.  Why would he be screaming, eyes open and mouth agape? When people scream with frustration, their faces scrunch up in pain. They grit their teeth before they scream. Their eyes close. They grab their heads or their clothes, or they beat their chests or railings or steering wheels. Whatever caused this scream was something sudden. It was something that the retreating figures might have seen but were not affected. It was something that meant a great deal to the main figure. I see Shock in the face. He has come to a realization that is oblivious to all those around him. Was this a sudden perception of something in his life, in his own mind? Was this the juxtaposition of seeming normality in an abnormal circumstance? Is he crossing a bridge or walking near a fence? I get the impression that it’s a long drop from where he’s walking. Based on my thoughts here, this is my poem:

There it is!

Don’t you see it?!

I see it, whether my eyes are open or closed!

It’s so obvious!


Ah…wait…I understand.

Only an insane person would notice.

Does insanity run in families?

My sister was insane. Maybe just sick?

No, insane.

Am I?

Things that should not be together are side by side.

Things that make no sense together tell a story.

This doesn’t fit here!

It surprises me!

All I can think is “NO!”

I cannot show you what it is…it has to be obvious to you.

If it isn’t obvious, then…


you are sane.

I would not wish this insanity on you.

If you could see what I see, you’d scream in surprise too.

If you cannot see what I see, you are fortunate.

The sight is with me always.

I scream but you cannot hear me.

I smile and you see me, but you note that there is no smile in my eyes.

They are furtive,

questioning, maybe?


So I scream and you cannot help me

I scream and you cannot hear me

I scream and you cannot see.

I scream.




So THAT happened…

I have a tension headache. I don’t usually get headaches. This is going on a week long. If I have a headache, it usually over in a couple of hours. Must be lots of tension huh…

  1. I am trying to clean out my garage and was looking to hire a pro. He asked for pictures so he could get me an estimate. I sent the pictures. Haven’t heard from him since.
  2. The reason I’m trying to clean out my garage is that the owner sold the building out from under our office. I found out June 1. The office was locked and my key didn’t fit the deadbolt so I can’t get my furniture out. I contacted the owner’s wife and she found out about it at the same time I did. My manager had not made contingency plans, or if he did, he only told a handful of people. The day the owner was available to unlock the building, we left to go to the company convention in Atlanta. So we couldn’t get it done that week.
  3. My manager moved the office to another state. I have to get relicensed in that state for my Managed Account Investments. I have to change my office address to the new state and send a caveat stating that since I do not hold an insurance license in that state, I cannot sell insurance to people in that state. Seems like it would be a foregone conclusion that if you’re not licensed in that state you cannot sell insurance to residents there.
  4. It seemed like a hassle, so I contacted other coworkers out of that office to find out how they were reacting to this situation. Some weren’t bothered by it. Some were livid. I was bothered, but the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Still, I didn’t express this in my communications. I was frustrated by the short (read no) notice.
  5. Word leaked out that I was looking for options, and then my manager posted on Facebook that I was spreading misinformation. That’s lying, isn’t it? I got a cryptic message telling me not to spread rumors to his team. Rumors? what rumors? I was asking questions and looking at options.
  6. Why oh why didn’t I go directly to my manager and get all these questions answered personally?  Could it be that we were informed via Facebook? Not individually, not an email to all the people in the office, not a call, not face to face, no emergency meeting (with at least 1 day’s notice…not hours), no discussing options, just an announcement that we have moved the office to a different state. Reminded me of that movie where Robin Williams gets fired by a parrot.
  7. Went all the way to company convention and spent 4 days there and no contact with the manager. No meet-ups, no group pictures, no contact. The building owner is also at the convention. No meet-ups, no group pictures, no contact. I made no attempt to contact them either. It’s obvious to me that I should make the first move, and you know what? I think they should.
  8. Hired a U-Haul to get my furniture out of the office today.
  9. The cherry tree has cherries that need picking.
  10. Garden is completely overgrown.
  11. Kitchen sink and counters completely full of dirty dishes.
  12. I’m such a Debby Downer that people are avoiding me.
  13. Added $1500 to our credit card for the trip to Atlanta, and now have $1350 in registration fees for the Toastmaster convention in Denver in August. Took 2 weeks off in June to make the trip, so reduced lesson income (1/2!) in June. Nearly all income from July will be used to pay off the card, then we travel to Denver in August and charge it up again. the $1300 doesn’t cover travel, food, parking or hotel costs. We’re reimbursed by the District for part of the cost since my hubby is a District officer. The key is reimbursed. It means we carry the balance and pay the interest on the debt until they pay up.
  14. Cooked up cherries in the juice extractor and set my stove on fire. Put about 1/2 a cup of soda on it to put it out…The butter was on the stove, and it melted and ran into the burner and then caught fire. Cleaned up the mess, then, when moving the sugar to the counter, set it down wrong-side up and spilled a pound of sugar on the same stove.
  15. I still have no place to put my furniture. Though I found a storage facility for the time being.
  16. Since I involved multiple people from different teams, I am charged with dismantling a chain of command and could possibly be brought up on charges.
  17. It also seems that the people that want to bring charges have had access to any of the emails that went (privately) between my friends and me. The only way this could have happened is if one of those on the list showed the emails to these people. Reading through these messages, I find no prosecutable conversations, but they obviously think they have. These people in charge also believe they can win should it come to adjudication, and I have no doubt they are familiar enough with the inner workings of the company that I would have a very slim chance of judgment being in my favor.
  18. I have a very great deal to lose if I leave the company. I believe in the concepts and their administration of principles. I love their approach to building up their company, and I respect my manager’s right to do his department his way. I just don’t agree with it is all, and I guess that makes me a jerk.

So where’s my case of Excedrin?

CW: No one is safe

“Write a story about how eight murders have taken place in your character’s town in the past 8 weeks. Once a week, on the same day, at the same time. When your character gets abducted after being out past the town’s new curfew, they have only 48 hours to discover why this is happening and how to get free…all while being tortured by the murderer.”

 a prompt for this week’s CW piece.

There she was. Head lolling off to one side. Eyes wide open. Blood covering her shirt. She was still tied to the chair, but it looked as if the chair had been moved. Bet was giving her attention to the chair and the restraints, Rico was checking the wound to her neck. I was taking notes like crazy while Elliot was taking pictures from every possible angle.

“Looks like she put up a struggle after being restrained. We’ll have to do a tox screen to see if she was drugged first because if he injected her in the neck, he cut right through the mark,” said Rico.

“So Bet? Would the drugs still be in her system after 48 hours of torture?”

“Point. We may have to look for other evidence of drugs. Get a hair sample.”

“Process the scene… Rico, Elliot, Walk the grid. Bet, you and I will canvas the area.”

I whispered, “Elliot, make sure you get pictures of the Looky-Lous, I bet our killer is here.”

“Will do chief…”

“We’ll meet back at the station at 2300 hours. We may have a long night.”

Later, my squad–Rico, Elliot, Bet, and I sat at the table in the conference room in the station. The pictures of the crime scene were up on the plasma screen. The whiteboard looked like a flow-chart. The pictures of the victims, 3 boys and 5 girls between the ages of 17 and 38 were taped up with the location and condition of the body.

Elliot looked at the pictures and commented, “This makes no sense. They’re all different ages, races, sexes. One librarian, one football star, one babysitter? They have nothing in common except they were taken on a Monday, no defensive marks, obviously restrained, tortured and then throats cut.”

“How do you determine the victimology if there doesn’t appear to BE and victimology?” said Rico and threw up his hands.

“The dump sites are just as crazy…one in the woods, one in a parking lot, one in a woodpile behind a lumberyard, a landfill, a school, a park, a car.”

Bet looked thoughtful and said, “What if it isn’t one killer?”

“What? All the victims were slashed across the throat by the same weapon. We even got DNA from the other murders mixed in with the victims.” I was confused. “How could it be more than one killer?”

Bet was quiet for a moment then looked up and said, “What if it’s a template they’re following?”

I considered this. “Well, the victims were taken from all over the community. They were all restrained with zip ties to a wooden chair. They were dumped, still attached to the chair. Were the means of torture the same?”

Elliot leaped up and went to the file with the autopsies. “OMG, they were!”

Rico went over to Elliot to stare at the diagrams. “So?”

Elliot said, “If you have the same killer doing the torture, it escalates if he’s murdering this often. The wounds get more severe, more varied, more numerous. If you look at these diagrams you can see that the injuries match exactly!”

I went to the diagrams and Bet joined us. “They do. In number, in placement, in kind…”

Bet said, “I got to wondering when I noticed that the means of torture were things that didn’t require any force.  Acid drops, cigarette-like burns, repeated smothering…”

“He used a plastic bag didn’t he?”

“Ya, put that over the victim’s head until she passes out and then take it off.”

“Did the killer use CPR to bring them back? Remember the cracked ribs?”

“OH CRAP! Tell the ME to check for saliva on the lips of the victims for the DNA of the murderer, then we’ve got him!”

Rico dialed the ME’s office and left a message. “Everyone’s gone home, we can’t get a foothold until tomorrow.”

“Call it a night guys, we’ll see you in the morning.”

The next day, Elliot read the report from the ME’s office. Then he read it again. And again. “Chief? This is not good.”


“After they take the trace from the victim…brushing the hair, checking for sexual assault, cleaning under the fingernails, they wash the body. If there was any saliva around the mouth it’s gone. None of the drug-testing revealed injection points or any drugs left in the victims.”

“So we have nothing.”

“Pretty much. But it does appear that there were bruises on the sternum and in a couple of places broken or cracked ribs from CPR.”

“We might have something though,” said Rico. “We got the trace from the clothes and it appears that the murders took place in a ‘clean room’ like where you paint cars or do biological research.”

“Could it be in a hospital or examination room?” asked Bet.

I answered, “That wouldn’t seem to be a leap. But if that stuff was going on, wouldn’t people get suspicious?”

“Could be an abandoned facility? Maybe a veterinary office?”

“Naw, cause we’d have some animal DNA on the victim or their clothes.”

I got a call from the Director. He was telling me I had a press conference in an hour to let the public know we’re making progress. He said in that sneering voice that suggested he shouldn’t have let a woman lead an investigative team, “You HAVE made progress haven’t you?” I hated that guy.

“Guys, what happens if we tell the killer we know he’s not working alone and that someone in his group made a mistake that we’re using to track them down?”

“What kind of evidence? Trace? a footprint?”

Elliot grinned, “an errant drop of saliva on the shirt?”

Bet added, “and some sweat stains on the clothes?”

Rico said, “How about a tiny drop of blood from a sliver in the chair…”

“YES! All I have to say is this… ‘Wooden chairs have splinters.'”

“BRILLIANT!” they all said together

“Which brings this up: They’ve used up 8 chairs.  Are they done? Do all the chairs match? Where are they getting them? Why do they have to be wooden?”

Bet volunteered to check on the chairs. Elliot and Rico looked for more trace on the clothes. I wrote my press release.

About 8:00 that night, Rico rushed into my office. “There WAS a drop of spit on the shirt! and a little bit of sweat on the sleeve. But it didn’t come from the same person!”

“What?! Did you get an ID?”

“Whoever they are, they’re not in the system.”

Bet came in and said she’d checked on all the abandoned doctor’s offices (there were none) and the insane asylum (there was none which is good because that’s just too creepy) and veterinary offices (2 but accounted for, one burned, one torn down). She checked the hospital records of people coming in with unexplained injuries, and no reports yet.

We decided to start fresh in the morning.

I went down to see the ME and talk to him about the victims.  Maybe there was something he saw that he didn’t know he saw. Something out of place. 8 murders in 8 weeks? There was bound to be a mistake. Something that would indicate the who and the why. If anyone would know, he would. He was a strange duck, but brilliant and often the difference between a solved case and a mystery.

“Hey, Ed.”

“Hey, Becca. What brings you down to my little lab?”

“Well, did you see my press conference?”

He patted me on the shoulder. I patted him on the back. “Yes, yes I did. So you have a line on this killer then?”

“Yup, and I think there’s more than just the one.”


“Have you anything you want to tell me? Something odd, something out of the ordinary?”

He gave me a curious look. It was the kind of look he used when he found something that might break the case. “Well, there was this thing I found.  Come over to the microscope and tell me what you see.”

It’s dark. I feel a bit claustrophobic. My hands are bound…looks like my feet are too. I try to call out, but my throat is hoarse. I have a metallic taste in my mouth. I  feel a tube in my nose. I can’t pull it out. How long have I been here? I hear an argument. 

“Why now? It’s early!”

“The plan remains. She was getting too close.”

“How do you know?”

“I have my ways.”

“You said they could never track this. Our friends did not know what was happening to their experiments after they were done with their part.”

“How many are left on the list?”

“Just 7 more.”

“We need to be consistent or they will determine what we’ve been doing.”

“I know, but you just ran off-book. You’re endangering the whole operation.”

“You know what happens to us if we don’t finish…”

“Yes. You also know what happens to us when we DO finish…”

“Yes, they won’t need us anymore. I have passage booked, new IDs, etc.”

“We won’t display this one, just continue as if it never happened.”

“I’ll leave it to you to calm our friends’ fear when they hear the police reports.”

“They don’t watch American Television anyway…”

“You’d better be right!”

I heard him close the door.  Where was I?  Who was talking? Time stretched, and I dozed off and on. Suddenly I heard something at my head. The door was opening, but it was still pretty dark in the room my bed (?) slid out and I was lifted off the metal and into a chair and tied to the chair. It felt like zip ties. It wasn’t Monday, it was Thursday? None of this felt right. Did we have the profile wrong? I was dragged into the middle of the room with a bright light. Someone shined a bright flashlight into my eyes. I couldn’t see his face. I smelled bleach and formaldehyde. The floor was tile and cold to my feet. Ah, my feet were bare. This was new.

Someone started talking in what sounded like an Eastern European language. The voice sounded familiar. Someone came up behind me and pulled my hair back and fastened it with a rubber band. Another person came up and held a lighter to a piece of metal until it glowed. He measured from my left collar bone, pulled away my shirt, and branded me there!  I screamed…well I screamed in my head. The tube was still in.

The voice continued and someone different heated up the metal and measured from my shoulder to my right collar bone, pulled away the shirt and branded me right on top of the bone. The tears started to flow.  I strained against my zip ties.

This got praise from the voice. A smattering of applause. The next torturer was female. Long slender fingers, delicate bones.  She got me on the breast bone. It was only bearable because I knew from the other cases that there would only be 6 brands. The last one was to the right of my belly button. It seemed strange that they didn’t remove my clothes before the torture began. I guessed that one wrong. Wait…another brand? Had I miscounted? My eyes went wide and the voice started to laugh. He made a comment and the rest started to laugh as well. Someone was cutting my shirt up the back and, yup, cut through my bra. That brand went on my shoulder blade. The next on the ribs on my side. The next was at the top of my spine. I passed out.

I woke up in what I had come to recognize as a drawer. The pain was unbelievable. I started to cry. Then, true to form, I started to get mad. Then I realized that I really had to pee. I had lost any track of time. I heard voices outside of my metal coffin and new that the next round of torture was about to begin. I heard the door unlatch and my slab was pulled out of the dark and into the less dark. I don’t know why anyone would think that the tortured would deserve any dignity of going to the bathroom. I had to try though.

I mouthed, “I have to PEE!”  with a pleading look on my face. That brought laughter. Then there was a groan from the group. The man with the voice said something and someone brought me a 5-gallon bucket. I was horrified…and desperate. My feet were still bound and my hands were behind my back. Someone roughly pulled down my pants and shoved me onto the bucket. I had lost feeling in my arms, so when they straightened me up removing the pressure, I felt fire all the way down from my shoulders to my fingertips as the circulation resumed. I did my business, and then the thought occurred to me that there was no toilet paper. I staggered into a standing position, and there was some discussion among the group. I heard a machine turn on that I couldn’t identify. Two guys grabbed me by the elbows and bent me over a table. I was hit unexpectedly by a cold blast of water. This got a reaction from the group. The voice said something else and apparently, the person running the water supply changed the flow to “high.” It now felt like a power wash and I could tell I was getting bruised by its force. I’d seen the result of a high-pressure wash on this one perp at a mechanic’s shop. It had taken the skin off the back of his hand. He’d thought it funny to aim it at one of my crew, and I’d thought it funny when he dropped it and it sprayed himself instead. I knew that there was a good chance that I’d lose some skin off my butt and legs. Finally, it stopped. It hurt like nothing I’d ever felt before.

A rather large hand was placed on the side of my head so I couldn’t move.  My clothes were then cut off of me. There it was. Complete humiliation. I was no longer a person, I was a body–a thing, an object to be manipulated. I was no longer Becca the detective, I was the experiment in the petri dish. This was a radical departure from the other victims I had investigated. As far as we could tell, none had been power-washed, none had been stripped.  I could not assume that the wounds that would be inflicted would be the same in number and placement as the “template” we’d discovered. Would my team miss me? Where would they look? Do I only have one day to live?

I was stood up, dried off, and shoved into the chair and secured. The pain from my butt and legs against that wooden chair was excruciating, though bit by bit, it faded. It was cold in the room and I started to shiver. Someone from the group said something and got boos and some nervous laughter. It must have been a crude remark. The voice silenced them with a single word then bent over me and checked my eyes again. Then he patted my shoulder. Ed? Ed the ME? We’d been friends for years…no at least a decade! He had never had a hint of an accent in all the time I’d known him. What the hell was he up to? Was I in the ME lab? That would explain the drawer. My team wouldn’t even look inside the station house for me. It would be last on the list if it even made the list.

The group noted the change in my behavior. How could I distract them? I started to cry. The wooden chair was uncomfortable and I focused on that so I wouldn’t give away that I’d made the leap and discovered the identity of one of my torturers. Not that it made a damn bit of difference. I doubt I would make it through the night. Then the first of the group stepped up to me with an eye-dropper and a vial. This would be the acid, I guessed. He filled the eye-dropper and squirted it on my thigh. It burned where it landed and then rolled down the inside of my leg to the chair…burning a trail of red blisters. I tried to scream. Nothing. The woman was next and she put the acid on my breast. The stream split in two leaving red trails and more blisters. Then two more torturers came up and one got me on the cheek and one on the palm of my hand. Another tried to place his application in my navel but he was so shaky it splattered all over my belly. The spray was thinner so it didn’t run but I got what felt like the rash from hell. There was the comment from the group and then everyone was trying to spray me. I managed to keep my eyes closed but one got the acid on my eyelid and it felt as if it was going to burn right through to my eye. I don’t know how long I endured this. Because my eyes were closed, I could only sense when the next person or persons were getting close enough to me to spray me with this stuff. I felt like my whole body was burning. Not one of our previous victims had injuries like this.

They all stepped back and I squinted into the light. My eyes were swollen and wouldn’t open all the way. The voice approached and started pouring something into the tube that went into my throat. I thought he was putting acid in the line and I panicked. I shook the chair until someone held it steady and I squirmed and shook my head hoping to dislodge the tube from my nose. I could see the liquid approaching me and said a quick prayer just as it was entering my nose. I felt no burning. I did feel something cool in my belly. The woman from the group said in broken English, “It is only, um, vater und vitamins.” The voice shushed her. I got the impression he was explaining that mental torture was more important than physical and that constant fear will be far more effective than pain. OH OF COURSE!  Ed had said those very words in English to me when he was describing the torture of the previous victims. “Well, whoever they are, they are not experienced. If they were trying to get information from this victim, they were going about it the wrong way.  These marks, they’re only pain. People can put up with pain, but not isolation, not fear.” They cut me loose from the chair and I thought, “This is it. This is when I get my throat slashed.” I started to cry again.

Someone wrapped me in a sheet and they put me back on my slab and rolled me back into the drawer. There were only a couple of reasons for this. Either they had decided to extend the torture period, or the voice–Ed–would kill me after they left.

I dozed a bit, then noticed something. The burning of the acid had stopped, but I felt a loosening of the restraints on my hands. Maybe the acid had weakened the zip ties. They were flinging acid at me with careless abandon and some of it could have gotten on the ties.  I know it had gotten on my wrists. I tried to pull my hands apart and felt a little give. The worst thing you can do as a torturer is to allow your victim some hope. I pulled again and though it hurt like hell, I was used to pain. One more. I strained, lifting my back off the slab and pulling with all my might and my hands popped free! I didn’t have much time. I had to have a plan.

I listened for the noise of people coming into the lab and heard none. I then realized I had to have two plans: One for if there was only Ed, and one for if it was the whole group. It occurred to me that the victims were carried out in the middle of the night in the hearse that Ed drove. The back windows were curtained so there was no view of the victim. There was all that blood on the victims’ clothes, but we never found the kill site. It was because they were slashed right there in the ME’s lab and all the blood was washed down the drain.  I pulled the tubing from my nose almost all the way out so they wouldn’t be suspicious when they pulled me from the drawer. My voice would still not work. I rehearsed my moves in my head, just as I had done for all those self-defense classes.

I heard voices!  It sounded like the first two I’d heard in English.

“You get the car started and back’er up to the door. I’ll redress her and get her to the exit.”

“Shift change in 10 min…”

“Yes, we should have time.”

“Yes, it’s Sunday, there won’t be too much going on now. All those SOB’s have to work on Monday so they won’t be going out and robbing liquor stores tonight.”

I heard the door close. Hmmmm. I’d lost a day. Taken on Thursday, tortured Friday and Saturday?  Taken on Thursday, tortured Thursday and Friday, and slept for 24 hours? Or technically Sunday morning? It would be a short crew.

I heard the door latch on my drawer.  I tensed. I would either be successful or dead. I feigned sleep, gripping the hose under the sheet. The lights were on! I was blinded. I grasped my right wrist with my left hand so I wouldn’t flinch as he lifted me. He was going to zip-tie me to the chair so he could dress me. He’d just gotten me clear of the drawer and was turning to put me in the chair when I struck out. I elbowed him in the chest and rolled out of his arms, pulled the tube the rest of the way out of my nose and tripped him with a leg sweep. I put the tube around his throat and pulled it tight. He struggled and squirmed and I just tightened my grip. He was grasping at the tube around his neck and hitting me and trying to head-butt me in the nose, but I could tell he was starting to weaken. His face was starting to turn blue. He was making choking sounds.

It took every ounce of control I had to restrain myself from killing him. I adjusted my grip and got his head into the crook of my elbow, then pressed on his carotid artery. He stopped moving. I zip-tied his hands behind his back and blocked the back door so that it appeared that he just hadn’t unlocked it yet. I grabbed a lab coat and took the stairs up to the second floor where my team would have been. Checking the window to the stairwell, I turned the latch. Well, I tried to turn the latch. I’d forgotten I needed my ID badge to unlock the door! I couldn’t go back to the lab for the same reason. I was trapped! I started to laugh although my throat was in agony. I began beating on the door hoping SOMEBODY was working. The secretary from downstairs arrived on the elevator and I pounded on the door and she saw me. I didn’t look like myself. I had acid burns on my face, some of my hair was missing and was definitely out of uniform! She almost dropped the files and the large cup of coffee. Instead of opening the door, her eyes got wide and she ran into the squad room yelling, “Zombie Apocalypse! Zombie Apocalypse!”

She finally got one of the detectives from Robbery (Denny? Danny? Delbert?) to come and let me in. I couldn’t talk. I pushed him over to a desk and wrote, “Elliot! Rico! Bet! Homicide!” He gave me the once-over and picked up his phone, “I need a medic and a bus on 2nd floor here. NOW!” His badge said “Robert.” Hmmm. I was way off. Robert from Robbery. I snorted. It hurt.

Bet rushed in.

“Becca? Is that you?! Oh my GOD!”

“Becca? As in Detective Doyle? That Becca?” asked Robert.

I wrote, “Perp is ED! zipped tied in Lab. Get some unis down there!”

Bet was confused. “Our Ed?”


I looked up at Robert and mouthed “Thank you!” Then I wrote, “driver in hearse by ME door. Go!”

Suddenly every cop on the floor ran by me and headed down the elevators and the stairs. Elliot ran by barking orders, “You head for the ME door and stop that hearse! You guys are with me. The dispatcher is alerting all the units to block the exit. DAMN Becca! You look like hell!”

“Yup,” I nodded. I’m sure he couldn’t have heard me.

Then he turned and ran down the stairs. Rico wasn’t far behind and just ran past. He hadn’t recognized me.

Bet said, “I’ll stay with you until the medics get here. You got some clothes you can change into?”

“Evidence,” I wrote.

“Of course. OK, well come over here and sit. We thought we’d lost you for good!”

The adrenaline wore off and I started to shake and got very cold and clammy. Bet had me lie on the floor and she got a cushion from the couch in the break area to put under my feet. I drifted off and didn’t even notice when the medics moved me to the gurney and then into the ambulance. I woke up briefly on the ride and felt that oxygen mask on my face and the safety straps and felt I was back in the drawer again. I panicked and tried to escape, but they shot me with some sort of sedative and I drifted off again.

47 days, 10 hours and 13 minutes. I was in and out of consciousness for the burn treatments. I had vague visions of a woman with a cold cloth to my face. There was a man that came and examined my burnt hand where the acid was dropped on my palm. I got glimpses of Rico and Elliot. Bet told me later they had kept my room in flowers the entire stay. The nurse said it had been touch and go and Bet never left the room during that first two weeks. The physical therapist would come in and bend and twist things in my hand so it would open and close, but it felt like a claw. I passed out at the end of all those initial sessions. The skin grafts were the worst. I didn’t want any mirrors in the room.

Elliot came in and said, “Pop the champagne!  We got them all!” Then he told me how they wrapped up the case. Rico and Bet came in later and filled in some of the details. The doctor says I will never have full use of my left hand again, and he recommended a couple of plastic surgeons to do some reconstructive surgery. Frankly, I don’t care anymore. I’ll get some disability from the PD, but if I can’t go into the field, I don’t want to stay in the department. 47days, 9 hours, 37 minutes until my retirement party. I think I’m going to just sleep for a month, go camping, walk the Pacific Rim Trail, jump off a mountain. I sleep with a light on. I have no wooden chairs in my apartment. I’ll be fine.

I’ll be fine.





The Dichotomy of Choice

Puppettron's Blog

I had something entirely different slated for this month’s blog, about things going on in my own life, but they’ve been fully overshadowed by the renewed fervorous arguments surrounding abortion, due to the number of states that all decided to push forward increasingly harsh anti-abortion legislation with the full intent to challenge existing federal law about abortion. It’s kind of an icky topic, I know, but it’s one of those things we have to keep talking about forever because, well, to put it bluntly, there’s a growing population of people in the US who won’t rest until their version of morality is fully-enshrined in law and everyone conforms to their ideals by force or death.

And we’ve seen the maelstrom of debate on the issue, with new and more in-depth argumentative points arising every day, new testimonials, and more and more reasons for abortions to be legal facing off against……

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Oooh New Project!

Measurable Progress. Moving forward. Learning new things, and becoming a different person are lofty goals. Wait, becoming a different person? Why would you want to be a different person? Shouldn’t you like the person you are?

Let’s rephrase the question. Isn’t the person you currently are based on choices you’ve made and changes that resulted from those choices? If you had chosen to have a fruit smoothie for breakfast instead of an ultimate skillet, would that have affected the way you look and feel today? Well, of course. Would you be a different person?

What makes you you? Looking from the outside, the changes are microscopic, and we know from experience that microscopic changes become permanent and more noticeable when repeated every day. Looking from the heart, do you feel differently about yourself today than you did yesterday? Looking from the brain, how has your perspective of the world around you changed since yesterday? The real question, the one that makes you more like your ideal self, what did you put into your brain yesterday? When you were ordering your breakfast, how far ahead were you looking?

“Wow, I’m hungry!  That looks delicious!  I will have (make) that!” or

“Wow, I’m hungry! I’m hungry now because I ate late last night. It shouldn’t take much to fill me up now, so I’ll have just enough–something to tide me over to lunch.” or

“Wow, I’m hungry! What would be the healthiest thing to eat this morning? This will make me feel full, but won’t shoot all that sugar in, and that will be better than the caffeine that will make me hungry again before lunch. I will have (make) this.”

What did you read yesterday? What did you set out to learn yesterday? What ideas did you expose yourself to? What ideas were sparked from your conversations? What concepts did you explore? Do you think you built onto the self you were yesterday or did you add a branch? The only way you aren’t a different person today than you were yesterday is if you didn’t get up and do anything new. No, that’s not right. That would have been a choice and would have changed you the other way–made you less than you were the day before. In choosing not to expand, you shut down something in your head that looks for opportunities to grow. Your brain, desperate for something new, developed a slightly different perspective on the world, and because it was a microscopic change, you didn’t see it. I guess that regardless of what you do, you cannot be the same person you were yesterday. To put it bluntly, the only way you don’t change the person you were yesterday is if you freeze that moment when you are the person you choose to be and die in that precise moment.

Since this is MY blog, let me tell you what I did.

I wrote about the Rat Race concept because I’d been thinking of it all night. I went to have an adjustment to help me walk without a limp. I went to breakfast and worked on some puzzles so I don’t lose my marbles. I came home and started to learn French! (That’s a rant by the way.) I went to meet a friend of mine who’s collaborating with me on a manual that helps people plan conferences. I had Soul Food! (An Italian sausage with mustard and fried onions on a toasted bun, and some coleslaw.) I started sifting through ideas for an international speech to give for the Toastmasters Contest next spring. I gave a French Horn lesson. Then I watched some TV.

I am following “Criminal Minds” and the geek on the show has been thrown in prison pending his trial. Due to the machinations of the villain, instead of being put into protective custody (as an FBI agent, he’d be in mortal danger) he’s been put in General Population, and he’s not emotionally or physically equipped to handle this situation. So as I’m watching the episodes, I am noting the changes in his character. He has pitted his mind against so many clever serial killers; he has been exposed to many techniques that allow him to go undiscovered as a criminal; he has the IQ of over 150. I have noted his change in stance and the look in his eyes. He’s been bullied all his life, and his mother’s schizophrenic and has developed Alzheimer’s. Had he made one choice in his youth, he might have been one of the serial killers instead of the FBI agent that has caught them. He was tortured and drugged in one episode by a criminal who had a disassociative personality disorder, so he has some lingering PTSD. Will he become the killer he has chased? Will he defeat the villain that has put him into this situation, or will he kill him?

What fascinates me is how well the profilers read the people around them.  They’d be like wizards to normal people. They read micro-expressions, they are hyper-aware of their surroundings when confronting a criminal and can interpret unconscious behavioral traits like how the subjects arrange the pictures of their children or what clothes they like to wear. And yet…the members of this team are constantly flummoxed by newer and scarier criminals. They MUST grow and become different people in order to capture the bad guy.

The top people in industry and education and any other field you wish to examine are becoming, not static. Put something new into your brain every day, then ruminate on it and create some new idea, new thought, new action that will enhance what you put into your brain. It may change the way you feel about yourself and/or how you perceive the people and the world around you. Then you can choose to keep the information or discard it.

But you cannot remain the same person you were yesterday. You will be different tomorrow. The good news is that you are in complete control of who you choose to be.

Why FIX that?

We’ve had some accidents lately.  Don’t judge.

  1. Our mailbox was placed when we moved in and bought our house about 1998. (We rented it for a year.) It has rusted out at the ground level and is now totally supported by the bricks we’ve stacked around it.
  2. Our couch broke. One of the welds broke when Mark sat on it. In order to fix what is broken, we have to remove the covering either directly under the cushion, or turn it over and remove it from the bottom. Then we have to fix the weld, then recover the section. OR we could remove the springs entirely and replace it with plywood with a padded cover.

Which one do we fix?

Let’s look at the cost considerations:

Replace the mailbox…costs for new mailboxes go from $40-$400. Remove old mailbox, put in a new one. Fix mailbox, bolster it with a metal rod assembly and attach current support structure with wire. Which would look better?

Replace couch…costs for new couch go from $250-$2500. Finance the new couch and have the broken one picked up and disposed of. Fix couch, get plywood cut to correct dimensions, cover with batting and upholstery material, attach to couch, cover with cushions. Takes hours of time and care, costs for plywood, upholstery materials. Fixed couch shows no sign of being fixed to the casual looker.

Which one do you think we want to replace? Yup, the couch.

Why would we do that? It makes no financial sense. Because fixing something requires time and care and a place to work on large pieces of wood, we look at it as an impossibly long and complicated process. We’d RATHER NOT. We can slap-dash fix the mailbox, and it would take little time or effort, might last a little while longer, but regardless, it will look like crap. So effort, time and care are higher opportunity costs.  We do not want to pay for that cost. Fix it quickly–buy new or slap-dash. We are now sure of our priorities…minimum effort.

Hopelessly Devoted?

That hit me oddly.

You’re devoted to a person or a cause or whatever and with no hope to ever attain it? Well, that doesn’t make sense. Can you choose what you are devoted to? You’d think so. You can devote yourself to your work, to your significant other, to your family, to your beliefs. You can devote yourself to yourself! But isn’t that devotion something that is supposed to GIVE you hope?

Hope is to Desire with the expectation of attainment or fulfillment.

Hope is to Expect with confidence.

Devotion is the Fact or state of being dedicated and loyal.

Therefore Hopelessly devoted means you are being dedicated and loyal without any chance of attainment or fulfillment. It is a contradiction of terms. Why would anyone choose to do that? Ahhhhh. A Stalker!

It may be just my opinion, but I think anyone that is Hopelessly Devoted to anything is creepy.

Unwilling Learners

Ever taught an unwilling learner? They are the ones that question the validity of the subject matter, question the expertise of the teacher, and/or refuse to do the homework because of priorities in their lives. I was a band director. I required practice from my band students. I got calls from parents accusing me of being unreasonable to require 20 minutes of practice EVERY NIGHT for band students.

“How DARE you require daily practice! Kids have sports, homework, and chores to do every night!”

“Oh? They never take their books home with them. I know, I watch them as they leave. They’re in 6th grade, how often and how long are their football practices? Oh? They’re not in football yet? Oh, they ARE in football but it’s club football, not school football, so practices once or twice a week for an hour? So you mean to tell me that on the nights they don’t have practice, they’re doing homework for two hours and chores for three to four hours and going to bed at 9:00? Too bad they won’t get to play Football in High school. How will they EVER squeeze in time for the mandatory two-hour practices for football every night? High School homework is what, two to three hours a night? And they’ll have part-time jobs as well in High School.  So unless they work only on weekends, they get home after football practice at about 6:00 PM, do three to four hours of chores, homework for two to three hours, puts them in bed at 1:00 AM.”

“What? You’re going to keep them out of Football because they won’t practice for your stupid band?”

This is a conversation I had many, many times. They refused to give their kids any sense of responsibility.  Of COURSE, they weren’t doing chores around the house. Of COURSE, they weren’t doing two hours of homework every night. They were watching TV, playing video games, hanging out. It was amazing that the students ever learned enough music to fill out a concert.

There was one 6th grade band that did so badly (because I had 0 support from the parents) that I made them play the concert anyway. They got 1/2 way through their third song and just basically quit because they were all lost. I explained to the parents (and the children that were upset behind me) that with band practice once a week, we only got together for 14 lessons. 14 lessons should give them at least 14 notes they could play, plus the ability to play in two different time signatures, and the ability to follow a director. But for the days between lessons, without practice, the students lost about 20% per day of what they had been taught, lost the endurance and strength in the muscles that allowed them to play more than five minutes on their instruments, did not improve or maintain the eye-hand coordination necessary to process the information on the page and could not improve their listening skills so they could be in tune and play together. That’s why practice between band lessons is important and it’s important that these kids learn this concept and that you, the parents, learn this. Ya, I got fired.

“Why don’t we teach tax preparation and finance in school?” We do.  Do you think that the tax laws remain the same from year to year? Do you think your kids will completely reject your advice about money and ignore the advice from banks and other financial institutions that profit from people’s ignorance when it comes to money management? Or do you think you have all the money issues figured out because of what your Insurance Agent told you was a good investment?

“When will I ever need algebra and geometry? I have my iPhone.” Which bag of flour is the better value? Which car is the best for my money? How long does it take to get to work? Why does my shed keep falling down? Where do I put the jack on my car when I have a flat? Show me on your iPhone how you would input that information to get the answers to those questions.

“Why do I have to learn this Olde English Shakespeare stuff?” Ever watch Game of Thrones? Where do you expand your vocabulary? Can you communicate in phrases that are longer than 140 characters? Can you make a point? Can you win a debate? Can you logically defend a choice?

“What do YOU know about math? (English, Statistics, Computer Science…fill in a subject)” I know more than you. I know where to look to get the information I need to fill in your gaps. Do you?

The culture has changed. Kids don’t HAVE chores. They can’t have fun unless it is regulated by parents. Playdates? Really? Organized sports for 5-year-olds? Video games and educational programs on a tablet for kids under 4? What is WRONG with us?!!! If we want to immerse kids into a love of learning, they have to be surrounded by people that love learning. Because we denigrate learning to something that only happens during the first 12 years in school, and we abhor reading or going to concerts or seminars, what have we taught the children? Learning is a CHORE to be endured. Maybe we should establish mandatory boarding schools!

Welcome to the House of Husker.  There are 4 teams: Crimson, Cream, Black, and Runza. Their respective Beasts are the Crimson Pegasus, the Cream Cow, the Black Spectre, and the Runza Dragon. Each team will be responsible for learning basic life skills such as Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Geography, Physical and Biological Sciences, American and World History, Civics, and Visual and Fine Arts. Each team will be responsible for a farm consisting of garden and farm animals including pigs, goats, chickens, and cattle. Each team will be responsible for the finances and business management of their farms and other related ventures. There will be related businesses such as cottage industries that specialize in industrial technology such as carpentry, metal work, small and large engine repair, information technology, and animal husbandry, etc. Each class in each team will be responsible for cooking for the whole team one weekend of every month. (7th graders–Breakfast, 8th graders–Lunch, 9th graders–supper on Saturdays, 10th graders–Breakfast, 12th graders–Dinner, and 11th graders–Supper on Sundays.) Homework will include a mandatory hour for every class taken and an hour’s practice in the Arts course in which the student has enrolled. The heads of teams will be two faculty members per team, a senior student leader, a vice-leader, a business manager, a project manager, and representatives from all the classes in that team. Each team will wear student robes with the team uniform during class time. Intramural competitions will be encouraged.

Applications accepted on a first come, first served basis.


Update: I have had NO applications up to now, 5/10/19. I thought I’d have at least a dozen!

Update: I STILL have no applications as of 7/17/2019. What is WRONG with people!