Tag Archives: security

America’s Pasttime

“Vince, it’s a beautiful day for America’s Pastime here at Money Bank Ballpark, and we have two teams struggling to stay above .500, dealing with the decimation of their respective rosters.”

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This photo doesn’t have anything to do with the story. We were at a game and took a few shots…I mean, photos.

“That’s right, Robin, a beautiful day. Of course, flags are flying at half-mast, this time for the recent shootings in Seattle, Albuquerque, Waltham, Haverford, and Kansas City.”

“That would be the Kansas City in Kansas, not Missouri.”

“Correct as always, Vince. Kansas City, Missouri was last spring if memory serves.”

“Right, and a particularly difficult time that was for the country.”

“But we move on, and on we move.”

“OK, the lineups have been handed in, and the boys choir of Carterdale is out to sing the anthem. And symbolically, there is a single gap in the first row of singers for the boy who was tragically  and senselessly gunned down while he walked to school yesterday morning, just a few blocks from the stadium.”

“Very moving scene here on the field. A reminder, the national anthem is brought to you by Hartford Ammunition and Arms Supply Company of Hartford, Connecticut.”

“And, Vince, the hometown Whackadoos have a couple of new faces – recent callups – as they take the field. In left, Jimmy Marksman, who hit an impressive .330 in single A ball, and at first, Walt Pellet, who was the player to be named later in the Snark deal.

“Robin, on the mound, we see the return of Randy Cartridge, the fireballer who last saw action at the end of last year before going on injured reserve.”

“Yeah, he’s got a dangerous sidearm delivery – no pun intended – and it’ll be interesting to see what his command will be like and if he has that famous temper of his under control.

“First batter he’ll face for the visiting Comanchos is Frank Glick, the shortstop.”

“All right. Here’s the pitch, and it’s high and tight and Glick doesn’t like it. He takes a step toward the mound, but changes his mind.”

“Yeah, good idea on his part. Cartridge is packing and he’s really quick on the draw. You don’t want to challenge him.”

“And Glick isn’t carrying, though he’s quite the shot. To me, that’s a real head scratcher.”

“You know, a growing handful of players don’t arm themselves  while batting saying that the gun and holster interfere with the swing. Anyway, no need for him to pack heat. First base coach Tommy Flintlock has him well-covered.”

“I’ll say, that’s looks like a semi-automatic rifle of some kind from here…and it’s trained right on Cartridge. Don’t think that isn’t in the back of the pitcher’s mind as he rears back and fires a pitch. Oh no! He’s plunked Glick right on the knee and Glick is hot. He’s tossed his bat and he’s running out to the mound. Cartridge has drawn his pistol though and you can see the laser dot aimed right at the Comancho logo on Glick’s kevlar lined batting helmet.”

“Even with the laser sighting, You wouldn’t want to make a mistake here and hit your own catcher.”

“No one  wants a repeat of what happened in Milwaukee !”

“Whoa! Someone’s taken a shot and it isn’t the pitcher. Is it Flintlock?”

“No, the first base coach throws up his arms and shrugs as if to say, ‘not me.‘ Everyone’s looking around and, Cartridge has gone down. The pitcher’s been hit, but who’s taken the shot?”

“Well, this is an open carry stadium. Could be a fan…judging by the bloodstain blooming on the downed pitcher’s back, it looks like it came from the Whackadoo bullpen, which is in the outfield behind the right field wall.”

“Now that doesn’t make any sense. Why would one of his own teammates shoot him? The Whacks are desperately short on pitchers and they really needed to get innings out of Cartridge.”

“All right. The trainers are out on the field now, covered by a security detail…”

“And I have to say those guys at Trank security do a marvelous job!”

“That they do, Vince. Indeed. OK, they’re taking Cartridge off the field and as soon as we know what’s going on, we’ll report back to you.”

“We’re going to break for commercial while the Whacks warm up a new pitcher. This pitching change brought to you by Guns on Wheels, dedicated to keeping elderly and shut-in Americans locked and loaded. An armed America is a safe America. Not affiliated with Meals on Wheels.

“–All right, folks, we’re back. Trank Security has the Whackadoo bullpen surrounded. Though a few shots have been fired, it’s been quiet for the last minute.”

“Vince, for folks in the stands listening to the game… As you know stadium policy limits gun sales to the third through sixth innings, but the Whacks have announced that sales will start in the bottom of the first as a safety precaution.”

“And there is a special on now, for every HappyTime gun and clip you buy, you get a free 24-ounce Schlitzerman Beer.”

“Now that’s convenience.”

“It sure is, Vince. It sure is. Nothing goes better together than HappyTime and Schlitzerman, the best gun/beer combo you’ll find at any ballpark.”

“Oh, Robin, the fans have started doing the wave and chanting, ‘drone strike, drone strike!'”

“And here they come Vince, a pair of quad copters with automatics mounted and the Jumbotron is showing the drones eye view. They’re swooping down now on the bullpen, and folks are scattering.”

“Robin, just listen to this crowd – they’re going nuts. It gives you goosebumps. This has been one heck of a first inning and we haven’t even had the first out. It promises to be one heck of a game.”

“Reminder, this drone strike brought to you by our friends at SkyBullets.com, meeting all your personal aerial defense needs. Remember, with a drone, you’re never alone.”

The first shots fired in a long war

Today, we’re on a break from the detective story. That doesn’t mean that the writing team has no idea where the story is going. Just that something urgent popped into the inbox this morning. See below for details:

A few years ago I purchased a DropCam mostly so the family could observe our then new dog when she was home alone, and scare the bejeezus out of her through the remote mic whenever she got into something she shouldn’t.

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Anyway, Nest acquired DropCam awhile ago… and while that isn’t too much of a big deal, every now and then they try some shenanigans like this here email which arrived today:

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I was almost lulled into inaction by the cheerful, apologetic, chatty tone of the email. “What a nice note,” I thought. “They’ve given me the option of ignoring it. How thoughtful. I love ignoring things…”

Then the caffeine kicked in and the sense that I was being wronged by a faceless entity started rising up from deep within. Error or no error, I want my free Video History. I paid for it and it’s mine. Right is right.

Essentially, they were telling me that they “accidentally” provided a free service and now that service was no longer free. Well… I sent the following email response:

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That should clear things up! Questions for you, the above average* reader: Is this an overreaction? An underreaction? A just right reaction? I don’t know, but justice must be served.

Continue reading The first shots fired in a long war

Jen’s crusade

Susannah Fontaine-Williams orders a martini, extra olives, and in a moment, the flight attendant brings it. SFW intercepts it as the flight attendant, a too tall man with a hard to place Scandanavian accent tries to place it on the tray table. She takes a big swallow, licks her lips, and says, “Oh, that’s good.” She downs the remainder in one gulp and pulls the olives out by their toothpick skewer. “Another, please,” she says, tucking the empty toothpick in the little square napkin.

“To Leibowitz,” she says, yesterday’s headline fresh in her mind. New Jersey Pharmacist may have had Connections with French Crime Family. In smaller print, Six, Including Alleged Mob Boss Freddie de Saveur, Die in Car Explosion at Beach Resort. A man she’d known less than 48 hours first saves her life and then sacrifices his for her sake? It makes no sense.

The flight attendant, Lars or Swen or something like that, has to stoop as he carries her drink down the aisle. He hands it to her and this time she places it on the side table. She twirls the glass by its stem and some spills over. She licks her hand and the outside of the glass.

“I’ll have one of those too, if it’s not too much trouble Jens,” a woman’s voice says. She pronounces it “Yens.” Susannah turns her gaze from the window and the jets lined up at their gates. The woman next to her, separated by the wide side tables of business first, smiles. SFW, her hair dyed black, hopes the woman does not recognize her. She turns to watch the idling jets belching black haze from their engines and listens for the thud of the door closing and the subtle slow movement of a very large airplane rolling back from the gate. She misses Bob.

Jen, energetic, passionate, persistent, had worn down SFW. SFW had recorded Jen herself far from the studio. On the show, a garbage special, Jen’s pixelated face and disguised voice describing the scene unfolding on the screen. A phone secured to a battery tucked into a plastic laundry bottle left in a household recycling bin. A pickup, a dropoff, then trucks filled with recycling going to a landfill. A camera on a cheap drone flying over a mountain of garbage. At night, illuminated by green night vision, the clomping of footfalls homing in on a strengthening phone signal. Then shovels and thickly gloved hands digging and pulling at the mixture of plastic, bottles and food waste, bagged dog poop, until zeroing in on the phone. The audience gasps, applauds, and then a commercial for laundry detergent.

“Funny coincidence,” Susannah says.

“What was?” the woman says. Susannah Fontaine-Williams looks at the woman with the copycat martini wearing a dark blue suit, a corporate get up. She thinks maybe she recognizes her and reflexively tucks her extra-dimensional bag under the arm farthest from the woman.

“It’s nothing. I must have been thinking out loud.”

The hyphen backstory

 No one asked Susannah Fontaine-Williams about her hyphenation. She didn't avoid talking about Bob Williams, it just didn't seem to come up. They'd married on the Greek island of Phraxos when she was just 20 or 23, depending on whose story you believed, produced an adorable set of triplets, then went their separate ways. Still deeply in love they recoupled several times yearly usually with the changing of the seasons. For those brief, blissful periods, mostly spent somewhere in the Mediterranean, they seemed to be nothing more than a passionate young couple traveling with overachieving triplets (more about them later).

She always brought something exotic for Bob and their threesome so most times, she'd check an enormous bag and despite her frequent traveler status, have to pay for the extra weight. But not this time. She whistled as she breezed by curbside check-in at JFK and straight to the TSA pre-screened line with nothing but a carry-on suitcase and a stylish handbag created by a mostly unknown designer.

Macallan finds nothing in SFW’s stylish, yet functional bag

The head of security at Neiman’s, Macallan, saw what he saw in the monitor and radio’d the doormen to stop the blond talk show host as she left the building. The man everyone called  Single Malt very much liked Susannah Fontaine-Williams. They’d met a few times in the massive department store and she chatted with him as if they were old grade school buddies who’d somehow lost track of each other over the years. She remembered his wife’s name and how old his kids were. He made a point to DVR her show though he seldom had a chance to watch it, what with the crazy hours and the side jobs.

So when Darrel’s voice came over the radio, “She’s here boss,” he felt more than a tinge of sadness as he made his way to the 52nd Street entrance. He found Susannah Fontaine-Williams and Darell talking  basketball. “If I was the NBA comissioner, Miss Fontaine-Williams…” “Please, Darrel, just call me Susannah already.”

Darrel continued, “…first thing we do is get rid of at least six, maybe eight teams. Talent’s too diluted.” She nodded appreciatively. “Then, I order the refs to start calling ‘traveling’ again. Anyone can make Top Ten if you can take four steps to the basket!”

“Mac!” SFW squealed. Macallan watched her face and body language and thought, wow, for someone caught shoplifting on camera she is one cool customer.

“Miss Fontaine-WIlliams,” he started. “I mean, Susannah, I hate to ask you this, but I need to have a look inside your bag.”