Monday, July 07, 2008

Post Weekend Regrouping

What I'm reading: finished Name Withheld, by J.A. Jance; reading Size 12 isn't Fat by Meg Cabot and Breach of Duty by J.A. Jance.

What I'm writing - Chapter 6, scene 2

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday weekend. Statistically, the 4th is the most dangerous night to be on the road, followed by the 5th, mostly because there's no 'official' time for the holiday. People are out all weekend, celebrating and leaving a good number of gray cells at home.

I finished my contest entry judging. I hope my comments come across as constructive. I also have my preliminary notes for this Saturday's workshop on short stories.

Thursday night we went to the FHP offices to provide food for the "Wolf Pack" DUI saturation. Rather than a massive checkpoint where they stop every car passing through a specific point, they had 70 officers from a broad range of agencies out on the roads. Since I'd already done a ride along on a 'normal' patrol, I let others take the spots in cars and stuck around the center, watching the variety of folks they arrested.

Local election campaigning has gotten into full swing. The city police chief showed up along with her husband who is running for County Sheriff. A city commissioner candidate arrived in full campaign mode, in full camera-ready war paint, striding across the parking lot, shoving her hand with all the bling and the inch-long claws out for handshakes, thanking every one for coming. Of course, nobody had the slightest clue who the heck she was, and I know the volunteer standing next to me didn't appreciate having her arthritic hand grasped. However, unlike the checkpoints, the media didn't pay this event any particular attention. I'm sure she was disappointed.

I also got to see inside the mobile breath analysis van with the two breathalysers. For the evidence to stand up in court, there are strict protocols that must be followed. They even have special 'inversion' electrical outlets to make sure there aren't any fluctuations in the current that might give an unreliable reading. It's not mandatory for someone to take the test, but if they refuse, it's an automatic 12 month suspension of their license.

The arrestees ranged from the happy-go-lucky to the belligerent. One could barely walk and three officers had to supervise a trip to the men's room for him. Later, he was carted away in an ambulance when he complained of chest pains. Opinion was, anything to avoid a night in jail, although they'd do a blood test at the hospital and get his blood alcohol level anyway.

We also got a tour of the command center where they monitor a kazillion cameras pointed out along the highways. The entire back wall was nothing but tv monitors (although I'm sure tv isn't the right term anymore). All but one were focused on traffic; a center screen was tuned to an Indy Car race. The other half of the room was the phone center where the dispatchers take calls and assign troopers. If I could figure out how to get my new cell phone to talk to my computer, I'd be able to see if the picture I took was worth posting here.

(It took hours, but I finally got the picture off my phone and onto my computer!)

Friday night, since we'd had hardly any sleep the 'night' before, we had a quiet evening, watching the next Harry Potter movie and drinking one of the celebratory bottles of champagne.

I'm also happy to report that Saturday afternoon we schlepped the cartons of paperwork from my job to the storage unit, so I am DONE. I'm canceling the email I used for that part of my life, and have changed the business phone number as well.

Sunday, pretty much the entire day was spent watching Nadal and Federer. We finally got around to the obligatory grilling (salmon) and watermelon to make sure we weren't struck down by lightning for not observing the holiday in a proper fashion.

Today -- getting back to routine, and trying to put the 'writing' office files in order. Time to start thinking about RWA Nationals at the end of the month.


Nicole said...

Sounds like an 'entertaining' evening at the checkpoint! I've had the opportunity to help cops in training with the DUI tests (in a controlled, training-specific environment) so I wonder how "real life drunks" on the road compare to us test-subject drunks in a hotel ballroom! I suppose we didn't have our license or any jail time on the line...

Terry Odell said...

The checkpoint was more 'entertaining' than this saturation night, but there are always interesting things going on. At the checkpoint, I did get to see an officer doing a field sobriety test, and I thought of your training experiences.

I think there's probably as much variety in the 'real life drunks' as in the test-subject drunks, but at least you're not going to kill someone. It's scary to think that for every impaired driver they stop, there are 99 more out there who could be causing accidents.