Wednesday, November 30, 2005


9:27 a.m. Well, I woke up this morning to an email from a new investigator in Nebraska who bailed on his first case, which was supposed to start at 6am.

I get LHM off to the airport and come home about an hour later. It's quiet. Too quiet. I put on my trusty Time-Life Christmas collection CDs and plug in the tree. Gene Autry starts singing, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. There. Festive. Happy.

I walk into the kitchen and find a mug of tea that LHM made for me this morning while I was in my office cursing in several languages at the investigator that bailed on me. I go to the cupboard, swallow a handful of vitamins and put water on the stove for some oatmeal. Sigh. I open the fridge. Ha! The blueberry cheesecake pie that I made for Thanksgiving. (Hey...I never said I couldn't cook. I just exercise the right not to.) Perfect! I dump a half can of whipped cream on top and take the whole thing into my office. I'll be feeling better in no time.

So, 30 minutes later I'm sitting in front of the computer polishing the pie tin with my tongue when suddenly I smell something burning. I sniff the air. Huh. I take one more lick and then head into the kitchen. Where I find my sauce pan just catching fire on the burner.

I rush over to the sink and turn on the water. Damn! I cup my hands and manage to get a ladelful of water in them. I run back to the stove and toss the water on the handle. It goes out. But it's still smoking. I grab the handle but quickly let go as I practically burn the skin off of my left hand. Curse words! All of them! I take a dishtowel off the rack, wrap it around the handle, and bring the pan to the sink where I douse it in cold water until it stops smoking.

I lean back against counter...breathing heavily. My hands are shaking from the adrenaline rush. Yikes. I almost set my house on fire and me with it. And I'm on call at the ME's office today, too. I smile to myself. How funny would that be if I ended up a shish-kabob and then the cops would page the ME and my beeper would go off? Wouldn't they be confused...

Well, I thought it was funny.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


8:44 a.m. Sorry I've been neglecting you, bloglit. I am finding that having a visitor from out of town for nearly a month can be somewhat distracting. But LHM is going home tomorrow and I can return to my virtual life.

A couple of things I'll be blogging about in the next few days...

LHM stood outside the Walmart for 14 hours in 21 degree weather to buy some random kids a new X-Box 360, a new television, and a few new video games. He is insane. Random kids think he's a god.

I got six ME cases two nights ago when I was on call. Didn't sleep. That sucked.

I hired Pippie, one of the other deputies at the MEO, to work for me part-time as PI. She starts Wednesday.

I ate a whole jar of Nutella the day after I got the six ME cases. I had to explain to LHM the correlation between chocolatey goodness and a woman's sense of well-being. Pretty sure he just thinks I'm a pig.

Being a regional supervisor sucks. I can feel myself turning into a corporate lackey... Suddenly I have this irrational belief that my supervisors and their investigators are all a bunch of idiots. Or maybe they really are.

I got feedback on my proposal. I need a plot. A case. Some common thread that my book can be based on. The problem is my life is plotless... It's just a random series of weird stories. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

More later...

Friday, November 18, 2005


3:00 a.m. I'm not sure why I'm awake so early in the morning when I don't have to be. Maybe I miss going out on surveillances. Maybe I miss my morning tea and the cozy seat warmers in my truck and ranchero breakfast wraps from the BP station.


I must be insane. I'm thinking of saving up a few cases and going on a roadtrip one of these weekends.

On the other hand, maybe I'll wait until spring so that I won't be freezing my moneymaker off in the back of my truck...

Several nights ago I had to pick up a police report off the fax and inspect a body at the morgue. It was late...almost midnight. Generally, I would wait until daytime, but I needed that information for my report that was due in the morning.

Now, I've told you before that the MEO is a rather foreboding place but I didn't actually describe it to you. You see, this office is a temporary facility. It used to be a nursing home.

Light Haired Man is still visiting and drives me over since I am still on drugs from my kidney infection/stone and operating heavy machinery (or even light machinery such as a television remote or a microwave oven, for that matter) is not a good idea yet. He's never been to a morgue before and I try to prepare him because I'm going to have to go to the autopsy suite and get a wallet off my Dead Guy's body.

I pass my keycard through the security pad at the front entrance and the red light on the monitor turns green. I open the door and we walk into the dark vestibule.

"Did you notice that the van is gone?" My voice echoes off the marble walls and floor as I walk toward the locked double doors that lead to the offices. "Whoever is on call tonight is bringing in a body."

I turn my key in the lock and enter the office area with LHM close behind me. I flip on the light and look around. There is a stack of papers in Joy's inbox that has got to be a foot high with autopsy reports, faxes, and bureaucratic BS memos from the county government. I reach into the candy dish that is always full on her desk and grab a handful of M & M's before I turn the corner toward the fax machine. I note the inch thick stack of papers in the tray. Excellent. My police report. I take several minutes to leaf through it while LHM noses around a bit.

After I finish skimming the paperwork, I walk down the hall to find LHM in the process of photocopying his face on the office copy machine. I smile.

"Hey!", I scold, "That's government property you're tampering with!"

LHM looks up at me. "Oh...yeah. Well, I was just walking by and I fell and... Luckily I closed my eyes just in time or I could have gone blind!"

I laugh. "Well, at least I got here before you started getting too creative. Come on. Let's go to the autopsy suite so I can note this guy's ID info and we can get out of here."

We walk past Nancy and Dr. Frank's offices and through another set of locked doors. We head down a long corridor, a couple hundred feet in length. I hit the light and a series of fluorescent bulbs buzz on in the ceiling.

LHM looks around as we walk. This portion of the building has been gutted. You can tell there used to be resident rooms on either side of the hallway, but the doors and non-load-bearing walls have been demolished. Stacks of drywall and bricks on wooden palates fill dark corners to the left.

"This kind of reminds me of a horror flick," LHM says as we continue walking. We pass a side corridor on the right that T's off at the end. I look down it. A faint light is glowing from the left and I can hear the loud hissing of steam moving through pipes.

"That's the boiler room down there," I point. Is it my imagination or is the big, burly LHM trying not to freak out? I smile smugly to myself.

Yes...the MEO has its very own boiler room. As if being in the presence of dead people isn't creepy enough.

"Great," LHM mumbles softly. "You get to be the mighty heroine that defeats the evil devil spawn zombies and I'll end up playing the roll of the loyal side-kick guy that gets knocked off within the first 20 minutes of the movie. I hate that."

I giggle as I pass my keycard over another security pad and push through a final set of doors.

Suddenly, I hear a high-pitched scream and jump. LHM grabs my shoulders and pulls me with him out of range of...whatever evil might be occupying the autopsy suite.

"Oh, holy mother effing eff!" I know that voice. It's Pippy. She's another deputy ME. "You @$%#!"

I peek around the doorway and see a tall, 35-yr-old red-head with brown freckles peppering her face and hands. She is currently holding her heart like an old man with chest pains.

"Hi, Pip!" I wave and LHM and I come out from behind the door. "I'm just going to ignore the fact that you called me a nasty name and chalk that up to your angina. What's going on?"

Pip ignores my question. "What the hell are you doing here this late? You almost gave me a heart attack!"

"I can see that." I look behind her and note the body on the tray. The bag is open and a set of fingerprint cards is balanced on the Dead Guy's chest. It appears Pip was in the process of checking him in when we so rudely interrupted her.

I introduce LHM to my coworker and we chat for a few minutes as Pip finishes up the prints. As she talks, she is absentmindedly trying to shove Dead Guy's foot into the bag. The zipper keeps getting caught on his big toe, however, so she shoves again, harder, and bends the toe down as she continues to talk. I glance at LHM. He is watching with a somewhat bemused look on his face as Pippy struggles with the toe, bending it this way and that...contorting it in a manner that would make a living man cry out in pain.

I suddenly feel a sense of shame. LHM isn't part of this club of death workers and having him here is making me acutely aware of how irreverent our lot can sometimes be. It's like inviting your minister over for dinner and then having him stumble across your porn collection. Only instead of a minister it's my boyfriend and instead of a porn collection it's a dead guy with a rebellious toe... Umm... Yeah.

Anyway, I am coming to the disturbing realization that no matter how much I didn't want it to happen, I've lost a small piece of my humanity being exposed to death as much as I have. I've become numb to it. What is wrong with me that I can laugh when a body falls off a tray or gets put through the window at the bottom of the ramp?

I come out of my brief reverie and remember that I have a reason for being here in the middle of the night on a weekend. I walk into the cooler and find the body I'm looking for. The decedent's personal belongings are stacked on the tray with him in a paper sack. I reach inside and find the wallet, then turn back toward the doorway. LHM is standing just inside the entrance.

We've got a full house...a couple of fire victims...some decomposed traffic. There are so many bodies, in fact, that we ran out of trays and have had to start stacking them on the floor. LHM is taking it all in. I try to remember what it was like seeing this for the first time and I suddenly become distinctly aware of the stale smell of cold death that is nearly identical in all ME coolers...the smell that I've become so accustomed to that it rarely even registers in my conscious mind anymore.

"Come on," I say as I reach the door. LHM follows me back into the light and I close the cooler behind me.

Out in the check in area, I open the wallet. I leaf through it, noting about $400 in cash and several credit cards before I finally find the victim's ID. He was a 28-year-old white male. Motorcycle accident. I study the photograph. He was a nice looking guy, I think sadly. Now his head is crushed to the point that I don't think the casket will be open.

The really tragic part of this accident is that the victim probably would have lived had he been wearing his helmet. From witness accounts, he saw the van pull in front of him and hit the breaks. When he knew he couldn't stop in time he laid the bike down on it's side. As the bike continued to skid toward the van, he jumped and hit the pavement...hard...before rolling several feet into the middle of the intersection. That's when he sustained the fatal head trauma.

I finish documenting the info and several minutes later, LHM and I are back in my truck on our way home. It's quiet and I'm looking out the window. "All that money," he says, "It's nothing." I am not sure what he means at first. He goes on. "The credit cards. The cash. They seem to be our goal in life but when it comes down to it they mean nothing when you're dead at 28 and laid out in the morgue. None of that is really important at all."

Hmmm. Philosophical LHM. This should be interesting. I sit back and listen as he talks it out...trying to make sense of things in his mind. He's grasping for the greater meaning that might underlie a tragedy such as this. As I look out the window I wonder if he'll come to the same conclusion that I did. That sometimes there is no reason. Sometimes things just happen.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


9:31 a.m. Oh, I'm feeling SOOOOOOOO much better since I layed an egg! (Okay, maybe it wasn't that big...) Just getting over the infection part now. Which is a gastro-intestinal delight considering I got the Agent Orange of antibiotics.

But enough about my bowels.

I'm so getting fired. Again. I'll update you on that later.

LHM and I are having fun. He's fixing and organizing everything around my apartment. What an exercise in futility...

I have an ME story for you but I have to get back to my "real job" for now.

More later...

Sunday, November 06, 2005


5:48 a.m.

Still waiting.

Still very, very sick.

Antibiotics don't seem to be working.

If this doesn't get better in the next 12 hours I'll head back to the hospital tonight when Light-Haired Man flies in from California.

Isn't that sweet? He's coming to take care of me.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


5:06 a.m. I'm going to hurry up and write this before I have to take anymore Lortab. I actually tried to write it last night but instead ended up spending three of the best hours of my life staring at a screen that was empty but for the word "The".

Any yet never have I felt so content being unproductive.

For the past few days I have been in labor. I'm about to give birth to a bouncing baby kidney stone, you see. Anybody have some cigars?

I sat in the ER waiting room yesterday afternoon for about an hour before I was finally seen. Actually, I was in my jammies and brought my fuzzy blanket with me so I ended up sprawling across three chairs and napping as best I could between phone calls from my supervisors.

Blah blah blah blah! (That's what the ringer on my phone says. It's very annoying and discourages me from just ignoring incoming calls.)

"Hey, boss. Que paso?" It's Jose. He's covers most of the southwest.

"I paso fine, dude. What's up?"

"Well, I am still waiting to hear back from my investigator that went out on the Jones case. Everyone else is accounted for and I tol' them to get their updates in by 5pm so I can start drinkin' sooner."

I had to have a talk with Jose yesterday about laying off the sauce until he's done reviewing cases for the night. There's nothing more frustrating than sending cases back to somebody who is drunk off his arse. "Jose! I sent this back to you three times! Sign the damn expense sheet!" I can hear him opening a can over the telephone. "Polly, you din't seem so mean back when we were in Boston and we were hangin' with Fish. Fish was a cool boss, man."

I sigh. Yes. Fish was cool and I'm mean. Fish called me a couple of days ago and told me that Jose is desparate for the good ol' days when he wasn't expected to do, well, much of anything more than answer the phone when an investigator called.

"Okay, Jose. Just make sure that girl does a neighborhood canvass if she doesn't ID the Subject. I'll talk to you later."

"Aye, Aye, Cap'n."

I hang up and snuggle back under the covers and pretty quick my phone rings again. It's Max. He's my supervisor for the southeast and has a lovely South Carolina accent. He proceeds to tell me how his investigator (a former cop) was trying to strong-arm a Subject into setting up an interview to sign some papers. Apparently, the Subject answered the phone the first time the investigator called and was "uncooperative..." Whatever that means.

So the guy proceeds to call him four or five more times thoughout the day like we're the freakin' Mafia. And all with Max's blessing. I tell him to back off and close the case immediately. If the guy doesn't want to be interviewed, who cares? It's not like we won't get paid of the effort.

Max is eager, but he is seriously lacking in common sense and calls me almost as much as Mouse did back when I lorded over Ohio.

"Okay, boss. One of my investigators got some video today."

"Hi, boss. Just thought I'd run something past you."

"Well, hey, there, Polly! I just thought I'd let you know that I'm about to use a public toilet and don't plan on washing my hands when I'm finished!"

Anyway, I finally get called from the waiting room and am asked to pee in a cup. I'm given instruction on the proper procedure for urine collection with the minimal amount of unpleasant spillage. Bah! Amateurs. That's like somebody instructing Houdini on how to pick a lock.

Anyway, after that excitement I lay there, pale and shivering in the fetal position on a highly uncomfortable bed for...oh... another hour or so, dozing in and out of sleep.

Finally the doc rolls in all bouncy and happy like a well-fed toddler. He was probably out eating lunch with a drug rep while I was freezing my tooshy off in the sub-arctic conditions of the ER for two hours. I lay shaking uncontrolledly as he cheerfully asks me how I'm doing today. I don't feel like being smart, so I say, "Never better! And you?" (Okay, maybe I am feeling smart.)

He asks me what the problem is and I tell him my right kidney hurts. He is dubious. Apparently, most people who complain of kidney pain don't realize the little buggers are jammed up high just under the ribcage on your back. "Well," he says, "Most of the time when somebody tells me their kidneys hurt it's because they're actually suffering from lower back pain or ovulation.

I narrow my eyes. Bastard. I should barf on him.

He asks me to lay on my stomach. I comply. "Oh...sorry. I mean your back." Too many mai-tais at the luncheon, doc? I wince and flip like a struggling fish onto my back. He lifts my shirt and feels around my abdomen, then asks me to sit up. He uses his middle and forefinger to thump lightly on the lower ribs of my left side. Nothing. Then he does the same on the right side and I recoil from his hand as red-hot pain shoots through my body. "Thaaat hurt like a son of a bitch." I say.

I am sweating and shaking like I've got a nerve disorder. The doctor looks impressed. "Wow. That test hardly ever comes up positive." Lucky me.

Just then a nurse walks in with a piece of paper. He takes it.

"Well, you sure have an infection, alright." He explains to me how I'm likely passing a kidney stone that hasn't yet travelled down into the ureter. Then he spends twenty minutes giving me an anatomy lesson which I don't have the strength to thwart by telling him I am already quite familiar with human innards.

He proceeds to cheerfully tells me how he had an accident while parachuting out of an airplane which resulted in a broken pelvis and several other broken things. "But that was nothing compared to the three kidney stones I passed last year. I just hope I die before I have to endure that again."

My eyes are as big as saucers. I am given a prescription for a months supply of Lortab, a killer antibiotic that promises to kill all flora and fauna present in my body...good or bad, and some anti-nausea medication. Apparently, they would like me to spend a few days waiting to pass the little guy before doing something drastic like admitting me and shooting my kidney with ultrasound to break up the stone.

I'm all for that. Just give me the drugs and I'll be on my way.

I go to the pharmacy and am just paying the cashier when a call comes in from the MEO. It's Nancy. "Polly! You answered!" I smile. Nancy sounds frazzled.

"Can you go out on a traffic in the county? I got slammed today...five cases and I can't be in two places at once."

Oh, fudge. I look at my bottle of drugs longingly.

"Sure. I don't have a pen to write down any info right now. Let me call you back in a few minutes. Will you be at the office when I get back? I might need help moving the body." I might need help moving myself...

Nancy promises she'll still be there. I tell her I need to go home and get my equipment (and change out of my bunny slippers).

A half hour later I call dispatch and ask for the officer in charge at the scene. "You mean a phone number?" Duh. Apparently, the ME hardly ever calls for a preliminary update here. After several minutes she gives me Lt. Hardy's number. I call him and identify myself. I ask a few questions. Apparently, this was a van vs a motorcycle. The motorcycle lost.

Lt. Hardy says that there was slight electrical activity when the EMTs arrived so they moved him out of the road and into the wagon. Huh. That means that I have no scene to investigate. "By the time I get out there the sun will be down and I won't be able to take any photographs," I say. "Can you send copies of what you have and your report to the MEO in the morning?" He is very cooperative and I hang up.

But then as I reach the outskirts of town, he calls back. "Hey. Rescue 24 wants to know if there's someplace you'd like them to transport. They've been here since 1430...that's three hours and we'd all like to go home."

I make a unilateral decision. "Hell yes! Ask them to bring him into the MEO. I'll meet you there." I thank him profusely and tell him I'm passing a kidney stone. He winces and tells me how his brother had one of those. "I never saw him cry before that and I haven't seen him cry since. Good luck with that." I can hear the respect in his voice.

I feel almost proud to join this small, rebelious band of kidney stone survivors. It's like going through a right of passage. A vision quest. Hell week with the Marines.

I get back to the office and Nancy lets me in.

"What the hell's wrong with you?" Nancy asks as I hobble into the office. I tell her and she relays to me the story of her mother's kindey stone...that made childbirth look like a walk in the park. Then, she starts telling me about the double homicide this morning that was staged to look like a housefire. "Yeah. The screwdriver in the guy's neck and the gunshot wound to the woman's head sort of tipped me off," she says.

Several minutes later, the body arrives accompanied by a police cruiser. The officer walks in as Nancy and the EMTs struggle with the body. She is a young lady and is pretty green, but i give her points for remaining professional through what must have been one of her first death scenes. She holds it together through my questioning. Only when I lightly touch her arm and ask her how she's doing does she almost lose it. She tells me how the man still had a pulse when she arrived on scene and that she'd hoped he'd make it. Her eyes get glassy and I quickly get back to business because I know how sucky it is to almost break down in the company of your peers.

Dr. Frank is still there finishing laying out the clothes that need to dry from the fire. "You should have told Nancy to go eff herself (only she didn't say "eff") when she asked you to come in." I smile. "Yeah. Probably." I am leaning on the cabinet and am currently having a hard time concentrating on anything but the pills that are stashed in my truck.

Later, after I've taken some pictures, documented injuries, and moved the body into the cooler, I am sitting with Nancy in the office, chatting. Suddenly I hear a scratching sound in the bushes outside the window. Nancy and I look at each other. There's a knock. What the hell? Nancy stands up and goes to the window where a perfectly arranged woman with blond hair, a suit, and a microphone in hand motions for Nancy to go to the entrance. Nancy chuckles and shakes her head, "No". We hear the woman yell from outside, "This is Tamara from channel 5 news. Are the results of the homicide autopsies in yet?"

Nancy has no patience for the media. "No. Go away!" She turns back to me. "I've been answering calls from those vultures all day."

Okay. I should go, bloglit.

I am way overdue for my happy pills.

I'll let you know if it's a boy or a girl.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


12:12 p.m. I got a call in to the ME's office the other day. I was just heading back from a surveillance in Madison, WI.

"Polly, it's Nancy. Boy, do I have a case for you!"

"Yeah? What's up?"

"Well, we just got a call out on a bone case. Apparently, there's a dumpster behind the country club and when the garbage man came to dump it, he noticed a bone. So he dug around a bit and found two bags full of decomposing skeletal remains."

Oh, dear. "Any idea whether they're human or not?"

"I don't know yet. I just got the call. Can you come along on this one?

I look at my watch, then back at the road. "I'm about an hour out yet."

"Okay. Well, I'll go on out to the scene and I'll give you a call once I've done my scene investigation."

Nancy and I hang up and a little while later she calls me to say that she doesn't think they are human but that she's bringing a few back to the MEO so that I can drop by and tell her what I think they are.

I meet her at the office 20 minutes later. I walk in wearing my slippers and workout pants. "Well, you didn't have to go and get all dressed up on my account," Nancy says.

I look down at myself. "Yeah. I should probably apologize for the way I look...and smell. I usually don't get gussied up for surveillance."

"That's okay," Nancy says as she leads me down the hallway toward the autopsy suite, "These bones are so ripe that even YOU can't overpower them."

I smile. She's getting better at the sarcastic banter thing.

As we pass through the security doors Nancy stops and turns to me. "Notice anything different? Missing maybe?"

I look around, puzzled. "No. Not really. Everything looks the..." I stop as my eyes land on the window. You know... That window I told you about that is at the end of the poorly planned ramp? The one that I said somebody was going to put a body through one of these days?

I start to laugh. "You did it!!!! You sent a body through the window, didn't you?" Nancy is laughing, too, now. She nods her head and we both double over.

After several minutes of this, Nancy can finally speak again. "Yeah. I thought you'd get a kick out of that."

She tells me the story of how a funeral home was coming to pick up a body and she was pulling it up the ramp behind her. Her fingers slipped, though, and she accidentally let go.


"Well, I hope it wasn't going to be an open casket!" I say as I wipe the tears from my eyes.

"Fortunately, he went feet first. We'd be up a shit creek without a paddle, otherwise. That glass was not tempered and it left some nasty marks."

After discussing for a few minutes if it would even be worth replacing the glass in the window (I vote for no...This will happen again, so why waste the money?) we move on to the bones.

"I brought in a pelvis and some other bones. They were the cleanest ones there. Really, the rest was a goopy mess. I found no cut marks. I counted four rib cages there, so suspect there were four specimens. No heads." Nancy says as she pushes the tray out of the cooler.

I put on a pair of gloves and turn to the table. Oh boy. They ARE ripe. They are coated with a greenish brown layer of slippery decomp. Ick. There are two sets of several articulated bones...meaning that the joints are all still attached.

Right away I note that there is a scapula, or shoulder blade. It is long and fan shaped, not broad and triangular, like for a human. The scapula is attached to a squat humerus, which leads to a fused ulna/radius. The end of the radius was sawed off with what appears to have been an electric blade of some sort. The other set was a femur, a tibia/fibula, and a talus that was also cut off at the distal end.

"Well, it's not a human, anyway, so you can rest your pretty little head about that." I look up at Nancy and she's scowling at me. "What?"

"Nothing. Go ahead."

"Okay," I say. "The fused forelimbs and the shape of the scapula point to an ungulate, or a hooved mammal. And you see on the hindlimb? That long bone attached to the tibia/fibula is actually a modified foot bone that has elongated to create a third joint. That is also evidence that we're looking at an ungulate. It's a smaller animal...definitely not cow or horse-sized, but bigger than a goat. The bones are fused, so it's an adult. If I had a skull I could tell you for sure, but I'm 80% certain these are deer that were butchered and then tossed."

Nancy is writing down every word I'm saying. "I have to go change my report," she says. "Are you sure there's no pelvis in there?"

I smirk. "Yeah. No pelvis. And the feet were cut off, by the way. So much for your 'no butchery' theory, there, boss-lady."

"Oh, shut up. Smartass." (That was a quote, Mom.)


9:28 a.m. Okay.. let's see. I'll start with Boston. I had to go last week for training to become a Regional Supervisor. The meetings were predictably boring. I was drifting in and out of sleep and couldn't remain inconspicuous because...well...there are only four of us.


I twitch.


I jump and find myself sitting at a conference table. I look around. There are several sets of eyes on me. Fish, one of the other regionals, is smiling.

"Jet lag," I say, "Sorry about that."

The CEO of the company raises an eyebrow. "You live one time zone west of here."

"Yeah...ah...I'm sensitive that way. And I'm getting sick, I think." I fake sneeze. I hear giggling. Phew. "Can I...ah...have the text of this Power Point presentation emailed to me? Just for future reference..." I sit up and take a Diet Coke from the cooler in the middle of the table. Caffiene will get me through this trial.

The weather is crappy. A Noreaster has blown in and it's been cold and rainy since my plane landed this morning. What I wouldn't do for a cup of tea to warm me up right now. Instead, Fish notices me shivering and lets me use his jacket as a blanket.

Fish is a big, scary-looking Scottish guy with red hair, a beard, and lots of tattoos. He looks like a lumberjack. Or a Highlander. He just needs a kilt. Fish has got a great sense of humor and when we get together we frequently mock..well...everyone and everything. It's fun.

And then there's Dennis. I'm calling him Dennis because he looks EXACTLY like Dennis Miller. He even SOUNDS like him and has similar mannerisms. Bizzare.

Anyway, Dennis and Fish have been with this company for about 10 years a piece. They are not pleased with the new directive that Regional Supervisors will no longer work cases. After our meeting is over, the three of us ride back to the hotel together. Along the way, I am practically peeing myself listening to them tell me stories of how they fudged videos over the years before sending them into Corp.

"Once I was supposed to be in North Dakota but didn't quite get there," Fish says. "I took my mastershot and then I looked it over and I realized, 'Hey! There aren't palm trees in North Dakota!'"

Dennis laughs and adds, "Yeah. I once had to make it look like it was raining, so I turned on my windshield wipers and had two of my kids get up on top of my truck with spray bottles while I took video from inside." He gives a melancholy sigh and looks off in the distance. "I guess those days are over now. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to handle being around my wife and kids all day."

Ah, well. The winds of change blow no matter what we want.

(Thank you, that'll be $20 bucks. Now get off my mountain.)

More later....