9/29/2007

Lessons from the barrel of a gun

So, at least I can now say that I know what it's like to be at the end of a loaded firearm.

Last night I fell asleep at at about nine, something I've done not in a while. I didn't mean to. I just put my head down and crashed. But, I usually only get about five to six hours of sleep a night, so I popped right back up at around 2:30 or so, and could not go back under.

After an hour of laying there I decided to get up, and went downstairs into my basement office. I decided to watch Chuck, which I missed last Monday. More on that later. I goofed off for a while, hoping I'd get tired again.

At about 4:30 or so, my dog started barking in the space above my head. He was very agitated. This annoyed me an awful lot, as I'm sure it was bothering my wife. He usually growls anytime there's a cat outside, which is a lot. Sometimes a dog or some other critter will get into our mud room. Billy was upset, and Amy opened the door to the basement and cried down for me.

"There's someone on the back deck with a flashlight," she said.

I didn't believe her at first. But, my neighborhood has been having a rash of burglaries, loud parties, and a lot more people wandering around then there used to be. Three weeks ago, a drunk guy broke into our across-the-street neighbor's house to sleep. So, I went upstairs, in only my boxers, quickly trying to assimilate what she had said. I tried to think if it was real, partially thinking she was dreaming.

But, why would she make something like that up? My heart was thumping. I knew that something was happening, and in the next few seconds, life was going to change. I grabbed a walking stick that belonged to Amy's father. I could hear rustling noises outside the door leading to our mudroom, which leads to our back deck.

"Open the door!" someone shouted from the other side.

"No! Who are you? Go away!"

"Open the door immediately!"

"No way! Not until I know who you are!"

"Charlottesville Police Department! Open the door!"

"I don't believe you! I'm not opening this door!"

Would you? People will say anything. It was my back door. Why would there be police officers in my back door, in my mud room? What was going on?

"Open the door immediately sir!" the man shouted. I could see powerful lights coming from the cracks of the door, and so I decided to take a risk and open the door, clutching the walking stick in my right hand, ready to use it, somehow, if I had to protect my wife and daughter.

So, I opened the door, and was staring at a man in black with a rifle pointed at my face. I could only see the man's silhouette, as there was a bright powerful flash light, but I could make out his weapon.

"Let me see your hands!" shouted the officer. I was still clutching the stick in my right hand. I immediately dropped the stick and opened the door all the way to show that I wasn't armed. The police officer had been ready to shoot, but he lowered his gun. He didn't take both hands off of it, though. Right behind him were two other men, possibly more.

"What's going on?"

This is the part where I'm not quite sure what I heard. He either said that there was a report of a break-in in the house behind ours, or there was a report of a suspicious person trying to break in. I was a little unclear, and still trying to figure out what was going on. The officer explained they had seen that the door to our mudroom was open, and assumed that their suspect had forced their way into my house. They told me I should keep my doors shut. We usually do, but it's an easy thing to do when you live in a place you assume is safe.

And now? I don't believe it's very safe at all. I don't know what to think about the police, who left a few minutes later without saying they were sorry for disturbing me and my wife. I don't know how to feel. On the one hand, I feel protected that the police are trying to catch a potential criminal. On the other, I now know what it's like to have a gun drawn on me, in my own home, in the middle of the night.

After they left, my wife wouldn't stop shaking. I was fairly calm about it, though it took a while for my heart to return to normal.

I should have asked for their names and badge numbers, just to get it on record. Just to have someone to follow up to know exactly what kind of a call they are on.

I am glad I was awake, because I don't know what the outcome would have been if I were asleep, still in the throes of dream logic. I can imagine myself being more belligerent. I can imagine myself not really thinking straight, groggy, less inclined to cooperate.

And what if I had been armed, as is my constitutional right? Would the presence of a gun have escalated things more, me very quickly the victim of mistaken identity? You hear about it happening fairly often, no-knock raids on the wrong house. I'm very sure that kind of thing can happen here.

What if they had seen my wife peeking through the windows, and trained the gun on her? What if she reacted poorly to that, and they assumed she was their suspect? She's pregnant, and freaks easily.

I want to repeat that I don't know if the police officers were right or wrong. In my head, I don't see why they wouldn't have gone to the front door first. Is it a crime to have an open door? The door sometimes sticks, and re-opens. What was their thought process? Did they also look into my outdoor shed, which also has an open door? If so, was that a violation of my constitutional rights?

I really don't know. But, I'm curious to know what you think.

9/27/2007

Recent lack of activity

I've found it hard to write anything in here for a while. I have a lot of drafts that I save when I realize I can't really send it out to the public. It's so easy sometimes to be absolutely candid, way too much so. I have to watch that as do we all. I think sometimes I cut back way too much, maybe too fearful. After all, it's not like there's an incredibly large audience.

These days it seems everyone announces their life on the Internet. This is fantastically grand. We live on here, and our lives are influenced by here. Where is here for you? For me at the moment, it's being on the kitchen table that's in our living room. We recently moved everything around in order to sit in the window, able to look out over our cul-de-sac with its majestic views.

So, that's one observation. One thing that happened and can be pointed out.

I did not mention to anyone on here that the recent appearance of Bolivian President Evo Morales on the Daily Show was absolutely stunning. I wrote something up on this, but stopped.

I did not mention anything about my daughter being dressing up like a dog. She's about to turn two, and she can say this, and she's approaching the terrible part, as I'm sure all children do. Amy and I are trying to get through it.

I've not talked about the shows I've watched this week. NBC got five hours of my week, by putting on shows I'm interested in trying out. I've been working while they're on, which is a lot of fun, though I did not do that with Heroes.

I've been posting a lot of comments on Charlottesville Blogs. I'm doing this because I'm trying to avoid a discussion forum that I frequent. I'm growing increasingly disturbed by the content, and it's better to just walk away.

I'm considering opening up a Facebook account. I have a myspace and a linkedin account, but I don't have a Facebook account. I am weary of joining another social network. I don't meet enough people in real life. It turns out I don't really see much of anyone anymore. I mostly go to work and then come home to do more work.

I'm considering more experimental things on the Charlottesville Podcasting Network, or at least, connecting people with one of my other podcasts that I never publicize. But, I'm not quite that brave. I'm sure there are many people who create things, but never actually let them see the light of day. Perhaps this is for the best.

9/10/2007

TV Squad honors fallen writer

Adam Finley, a writer for TV Squad, died last week after being hit by a bus while riding his bike. All day, the site has posted reprints of his posts in lieu of their normal output.

9/09/2007

Ronald Jenkees is why I think the Internet works

I read all of BoingBoing's post from this week, and came across a link to Ronald Jenkees, a guy from Kentucky (I think) who is an incredible keyboardist/beatmaker. I don't usually click on video links, but something about the guy's image made me need to check it out. I don't listen to a lot of hip-hop, but I saw in the post that he uses FL Studio - formerly known as Fruity Loops.

I used to use Fruity Loops to make wacky sound concoctions, including the former intro music to the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. In all, I made over 500 compositions using the program, which gradually got more complex with each upgrade. I believe Fruity Loops was the first program I ever purchased over the Internet. I don't use it much anymore for some reason.

But that may change after tonight, after watching Ronald Jenkees in action. Check this guy's studio out. He's loaded to the max with equipment, and he knows how to play. Watching him is so joyful, because you're observing someone take such pleasure in creating music.



Anyway, back to the title of this post. Sitting at my computer, I learned all about something new that I like. So much so, that I purchased the guy's CD on iTunes. I'm not sure if I'll like it, but I think I'm happy to pay for it to support his efforts to keep creating things.

And yes, I acknowledge that he's kind of weird-looking. But, check out his YouTube channel and watch him play a couple of tracks. He's pretty amazing to watch.

Update: I went and downloaded the demo for FL Studio. I really miss making music.

9/07/2007

Attention erstwhile Doctor Who fans

Okay, so I know I'm not the only Doctor Who fan around here, but I'm not aware of anyone who has watched the new series on the Sci-Fi network. However, I'm aware that it's not exactly cool to talk about such geeky things. But, I've got a message to anyone who has enjoyed the show on PBS, but hasn't watched in years.

Tune in tonight.

Seriously.

It's one of the best episodes of the series to date. It begins with a cold open, with our intrepid time traveler and his companion Martha Jones on the run from someone, but we have no clue who. The next scene is very confusing indeed, as the Doctor wakes up in bed, with Martha serving him breakfast before he begins his day as a school teacher in a prep school circa 1913, one year before the Great War. He doesn't know who he is, and believes himself to be human. Over the next two episodes, a really fantastic episode emerges, and one that has several key details that lead into the rest of the season.

Non-fans as well as erstwhile fans could tune in tonight and enjoy a really good show, as they unravel the mystery and learn what it really means to be a Time Lord.

The preview that I'm linking to in this post is not really one that does this episode justice. But, if you were ever to begin the show in the middle, this is the chance. I've been told by many American fans of the show that they find the new series cheesy, but, seeing as the show is now run by the creator as Queer as Folk, you should certainly expect a bit of camp.



Trivia question: The woman who plays Joan Redfern, the school nurse, was part of the duo on the show SPACED, which I will blog about sometime in the near future.

Seriously, if you've ever wanted to give this show a chance, this is the one to watch. Ask any questions in the comments below if you do watch and want to get up to speed.

9/03/2007

Labor Day Weekend

Well, not quite the Labor Day Weekend we had anticipated. It disappeared in an instant. Our 22-month-old daughter got pretty sick and is only now beginning to get better. So, we spent the weekend huddled around the couch, watching her to make our girl was okay. This kind of crowded out everything else, though I'm currently on my sixth load of laundry. I acknowledge that's a lot, but at least one of those loads is because of the aforementioned illness.

It was nice to have a day off. I am still in many ways adjusting to having a regular job, and so today was a nice day, though I find it hard to relax now. I was able to tweak a little things here and there. People who click-through to the actual blog will see what I think is a pretty impressive widget which will allow you to easily scroll through the past 10 shows on the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. I put the widget on a few other places, including the waste of bandwidth that is my Myspace account.

I didn't really do anything in my community, except on Saturday. We went out to Bluegrass Grill for breakfast, walked around the Discovery Museum, I did some work, and then watched the Virginia Tech game at Court Square Tavern, which, really was kind of sad and pathetic, considering I was the only customer. I do hope the place can do better, but they've not done understanding, and this blog is hardly a marketing tool.

Barring illness, I will be in England on my next day off, in mid-November. I got an e-mail from my college roommate Kevin, who has quit his job to take a six month break. He's touring the world for the first time and is writing about it. I'm incredibly jealous. I'll have nine days in November, and then that's it for another year.

I had hoped to get a lot more done this weekend, but it didn't happen. Oh well. I looked after my little girl and got to watch a few more episodes of Spaced, as well as the latest issue of the IT Crowd. We also watched a ton of stuff on Joost and I also listened to some great things on my iPod, now that I've found it again. It freaked me out at first to listen to BBC's coverage of the English Premier League in Mandarin, but it was pretty interesting, all the same.

And now, time to get to sleep, I guess.

9/01/2007

Watching the Virginia Tech match at Court Square Tavern

So, I was going to sit at home to watch Virginia Tech's first match of the year. Instead, I thought I would come to Court Square Tavern to watch it. I'm the only customer. Cutting out smoking caused a lot of regulars to not come back out of protest. And so far, there are no replacements to pick up the Saturday traffic.

So, here I am in the seat where the cash register used to be. I'm also working on a story for work while I watch Virginia Tech attempt to get something going here in the first quarter. The interception Glennon threw on the first play didn't really do much to get things going.

Now that I don't work here, I think I'm going to try to come in and watch football here on the weekends.