I support law enforcement, but maybe not the way you do

A friend of mine, a fellow Navy veteran, shared this black-and-blue image the other day from a Facebook page called Police Lives Matter. 2016-10-03_1757

I didn’t share it.

Does that mean I’m afraid to share those four words? Does it mean I don’t believe police lives matter?

Not at all. I might actually share something akin to “I support law enforcement” under certain conditions:

  1. If I knew exactly what it meant.
  2. If the message didn’t insinuate that neglecting to share it marked me and other non-sharers as anti-cop America-haters.
  3. If it didn’t come from a page whose existence is so obviously in-your-face backlash against #BlackLivesMatter, as if police being held accountable were in some way equivalent to the oppression experienced by descendants of slaves.

“I support law enforcement” is so vague as to be meaningless unless you recognize it as shorthand for “the cops are always right.” If that’s not what you mean, you have to clarify and qualify before I will share it.

Here are some statements that  I will share:

I support law enforcement by paying my taxes.

I support the enforcement of just laws by honorable, competent public servants.

I respect individual law enforcement officers who treat me and other people with respect.

I’m sorry that took more than four words.

Feel free to share.

So you think you’re a patriot?

You say you love your country, that you are devoted to it. My dictionary says that’s patriotism, so maybe you are a patriot.
How do you demonstrate your love and devotion?

You fly the flag, at least on certain holidays?

You celebrate Independence Day, maybe with some sparklers for the kids?

You stand for the national anthem? Take off your hat? Place your hand over your heart? That’s cool if you really mean it. I do those things myself.

What else?

Maybe you’ve served in the military, or as an honest elected official, or you’re active somehow in bettering your local community. Those can be authentic ways to show your true colors, that you care about this big place.

How about this? Do you savagely criticize anyone who sits or kneels in protest at anthem time? Do you question their motives? Wish them harm?

That doesn’t make you a patriot. It doesn’t do anything for your country, but it’s your right. I readily acknowledge that it is your right even though I disapprove of how you choose to exercise it.

As much as I disapprove, I won’t suggest that you leave the country, or call for you to lose your job, or hope that you suffer some terrible misfortune. What I will do is suggest that you take stock of what it is that makes you think you are a patriot.

What have you really done for your country?

What are you are willing to do to prove your love and devotion?

The United States needs more from you than a willingness to stand with the crowd during the national anthem and a knee-jerk condemnation of those who protest.

What else will you do, my fellow American?


Cyclists as targets, as humans

A few days ago I met a man who within minutes referred to cyclists as “targets.” He was driving down a Boulder County hill that is very popular with cyclists, runners, walkers and occasional daredevils on skateboards.

As politely as I could, I let him know that his comment was not funny even though (I hoped) it was intended as a joke.

I didn’t see him again until this morning. The first thing he did was apologize and shake my hand. I thanked him for that. I told him there are people who really do treat us as targets. He didn’t seem to know that.

Judging solely by their actions, some motorists do think of us that way. They target cyclists for verbal abuse, spit, bottles and cans, black smoke and worse. Some drivers buzz by within a foot or even inches in order to intimidate, and I imagine some of those drivers have hit their targets and left the scene.

I didn’t expect an apology from my new acquaintance. Apologies, especially real ones, are rare these days. I hoped simply that he would remember our brief exchange when encountering people on bicycles and think of them as fellow human beings.

The apology was a nice bonus.


An open text from out there


We see you.

You are what your Anglos call “humans.”
We can tell by the way you move about
and the noises that you make.

You build machines that fly
to nearby planets and machines
that kill your own species.

Your home teems with sustenance,
yet many wither and die
as other humans thrive.

You seek other life
yet don’t know
how to live your own.

We wait to see you open your eyes,
then maybe you will see us.

First launched on Medium, August 13, 2016

The stories readers leave behind

books-1481403_1920Some used books, even non-mysteries, present mysteries of their own.

This summer I’ve read several. I bought two when I visited a local used book store that now carries new, unused copies of my crime novel. Several others were gifts, a nice little stack that will keep me busy for some time.

A used (pre-owned? pre-experienced?) book of fiction delivers two stories. The one that everyone reads appears in type, the same story in every bound copy. 

The readers who first consume those words create other stories and leave them behind, each one unique, in flashes and fragments of non-fiction.



A fly crushed between pages 89 and 90.

Blood on a credit card receipt.

An author’s autograph, once treasured then given away or sold for pennies on the dollar.

A phone number on the back of an envelope.

Then there are the notes. In some I see my son’s cryptic hand, in the secret language of academia. Ideas for the new syllabus, a paper, or next week’s class now months or years gone by?

Another reader checkmarks paragraphs here and there, wraps seemingly random sentences in parentheses. Yet another underlines words and phrases.

Why those words, that sentence, this paragraph? What did she mean by that? Why was that important to him?

Each reader changes the story, preparing a new experience for whoever comes next.


I shot the piper

Out for a sunny Sunday morning bicycle ride, in search of good coffee and wildlife, I heard the reedy chant of the elusive Boulder County piper as I rolled into the little town of Lyons. I stopped at the corner, looked to my right, my left, ahead and behind, but could not find the source before it fell silent.

Thinking to press on to the Stone Cup and hoping to spot the wily creature on the way back home, I clicked into a pedal and pushed off only to stop again as the mournful drone and melody came right back to life.

Up. I looked up, and there it was.

God help me, I shot it. I bagged my first piper.

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