Texas City follow-up

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:00 AM

This post was originally published on Leave the lights on.

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This is in reference to the story I wrote about here, in which a Texas City police officer was involved in a fatal crash while off-duty.

"Leave the Lights On" means that in this space, I will always present information as accurately and unambiguously as I can. Deliberately or negligently presenting misinformation is dishonorable.

In that spirit, I am reporting that Captain Groetschius of the Texas City Police Department returned my phone call (after I additionally sent him an e-mail) clarifying what happened with Officer White after the crash.

Captain Groetschius said that due to injuries he sustained in the crash, Officer White never returned to duty, although he was not removed from the duty roster. He also stated that per department policy, their internal investigation won't begin until the criminal investigation is completed. He also mentioned that Officer White is a civil service employee.

My own conclusion, reading between the lines, is that the department found it unnecessary to place its officer on administrative leave until the charges were brought. Departments have to tread carefully in these situations because civil service employees have their own set of rights.

The bottom line is that according to the captain, his words were misrepresented by the Houston Chronicle. Funny that a stay-at-home mom with a phone and an e-mail account can find out more than they can.

A Texas City officer and his DUI manslaughter

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:00 AM

This post was originally published on Leave the lights on.

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Texas City is a largely industrial town southeast of Houston, best known for several severe industrial accidents. More recently, one of its police officers, John L. White, was charged with intoxication manslaughter in the death of a woman whose car he rear-ended while off duty. His blood alcohol level was 0.17, over twice the legal limit.

This is an isolated incident with an officer with no reported prior history. It does not necessarily reflect poorly on the Texas City Police Department as a whole. Right?

Wrong.

Here's what was reported yesterday:

"Texas City Police Capt. Brian Goetschius said White suffered a 'few bumps and bruises' and will remain on duty during the investigation." (my emphasis)


In most police departments, standard procedure places officers involved in any type of critical incident on administrative leave. There are myriad reasons for this, not the least of which is that to maintain public trust, it is imperative not to have on-duty officers who are suspected of criminal misdoing.

The Texas City Police Department's website lists one of its goals as "maintain(ing) high standards to ensure quality customer services is provided". Do their high standards include looking the other way when officers are suspected of DUI resulting in death?

I called the police department to make sure this was reported correctly. I was directed to the voice mail of a captain and am still waiting for a response. I will update here if and when I receive one.

WFMW: Taming the wild litter box

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:00 AM

This post was originally published on Leave the lights on.

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This is not a commercial and I have no stake in this product. But it really does work for me, so I feature it this Wednesday. If you have a cat, read on.

We have two cats. When our first child arrived, we no longer had room for the second litter box. And since we are lazy, we knew we would never change a single litter box often enough.

So we went to the big-box pet store and sprung for one of those gimmicky products that the pet-supply world is full of. This one lived up to the hype!

We've had our Litter Maid box for three years. When we brought it home and plugged it in, the cats thought it was the coolest thing ever and would run to watch every time it scooped the box. It requires no care from us except to dump the poop-tray once a week and refill the litter (and occasionally clean it like any litter box).

The cons are that the box itself is expensive (about $150 for the extra-large model we got) and so are the refill trays (almost a dollar each, and we go through one a week with two cats). You could dump them out and re-use them, but that would defeat the purpose of not having to mess around with dirty cat litter. You also have to buy good clumping litter (Tidy Cat Multi-Cat has always worked for us) which costs a little more, but that works out to be even because you waste less of it.

Now if only I could find self-changing diapers, I would be all set!

Works For Me Wednesday is hosted by Rocks In My Dryer.

Confessions of the attentionally deficit

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:00 AM

This post was originally published on Leave the lights on.

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I have been trying to get a handle on the clutter and visual commotion in my home. Well, I have been doing that for years, but here I am writing about my most recent efforts.

DAY 1: Dirty dishes have reached critical mass, so I clean the kitchen. Load and run the dishwasher. Scrub and sanitize the sink with Soft Scrub (using my trusty washable dish rag, of course). Make a token effort to get the crud off the flat-top stove. Fill the dish rack with clean pots and pans.

It's quite a feat to do all this without getting distracted, but alas it is not to be. The counter on the other side of the kitchen catches my eye. It's a clutter of unsorted mail, food wrappers, dirty drinking glasses, and odds and ends. Definitely a candidate for an Organization Project.

Step One: Sort everything into Keep and Toss piles. I need a box for each, so I go searching. In the laundry room I see the dirty "delicates" I meant to wash, so I load them in and put the washer on the "Gentle" cycle.

Satisfied, I walk back into the kitchen and see the counter. Oh yeah! I was in the middle of organizing it! I find a second box under the table (the first one was actually one the counter already amid the clutter) and get to work.

Quickly I see that the "Keep" pile will be bigger than the "Toss" pile. Optimistically, I had planned for the opposite. I switch box contents.

When I am done, the "Keep" box has a lot of papers that need to be assessed for importance. I rescue those, stack them up, and put them neatly on the counter, right next to the "Keep" box. I conscientiously recycle what I can out of the "Toss" box and bag up the rest. The box itself ends up on the kitchen table for want of another home.

I decide I have been very productive and save the sorting of the "Keep" box for later.

DAY 2: I hear the bird chirping plaintively and realize I forgot to feed him today. Going into his room, I decide it needs a cleaning. I start to lock the cat out of the room, but remember I need a broom and dustpan. I go to the laundry room to arm myself and go back to the bird room. Then I go back to the laundry room to get a trash bag, which I forgot. I change his paper, and and as I start to sweep up feathers and seeds from the floor, I gaze out the window and realize the mail has probably come. I vaguely think I'm expecting something important so I really want to check it, even though I can't remember exactly what it is I'm waiting for.

By extraordinary conscious effort I resist going to check the mail until I finish sweeping. The mail turns out to be all junk, which I put on the table (next to the empty box) because I cleared the counter yesterday, and I don't want to mix the circulars and credit card offers with the pile of important but still-unassessed papers I made yesterday.

I put the broom in the laundry room and suddenly remember the load of "delicates" that's still in the washer. A quick check reveals they haven't gone sour. I tromp upstairs to lay them out to dry. (What? Your laundry never goes sour while languishing in the washer? We know all about that phenomenon around here!) I walk right past the items accumulated on the bottom landing that need to be carried up, not even noticing them.

It goes on like this. But they haven't condemned the house yet!

WFMW: Kitchen tips

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:00 AM

This post was originally published on Leave the lights on.

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Works For Me Wednesday is a feature hosted at Rocks in my Dryer. Click the link to see what works for other bloggers.

Since this is my first WFMW, I am writing about something that works for me in one of the "top four" places where I spend my time at home: the kitchen.

The average kitchen sponge ranks right up with gelatin and agar agar as a bacterial growth medium. It has a high surface area, is perpetually damp, and is supplied with nutrients every time it's used to wipe a dirty dish. I try to keep the level of pathogenic bacteria in my kitchen to a dull roar, and sponges are absolutely verboten. Instead I use dish rags, which I change out at least daily. As a side benefit, I don't have to suffer hand-stink from a nasty sponge long past its prime. It's impossible to wash that smell off, kind of like formaldehyde.

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About this blog

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 11:14 AM

Road to Black is a personal blog by Ginkgo100, author of the faith and science blog Leave the lights on. The Road to Black was created to document my journey to personal financial freedom. It also includes non-finance related personal posts and posts that are off-topic for Leave the lights on.

All advertising and sponsorship is present as such. I do not write "Pay-per-posts" and disguise them as regular content. Occasionally I may mention a product. Unless I explicitly state that it is a sponsorship or paid post (rarely if ever done here), it's an entirely free post done because I genuinely want to talk (for free) about the product.