Citizen Police Academy class forming

Author: natalie  //  Category: Baytown, Texas

From time to time you hear from me regarding the Baytown Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy. Usually it’s along the lines of officers trying to train me to do what they do, sort of a “walk in my shoes” demonstration. I always have loads of fun and it provides plenty of fodder for folks to laugh at my expense. 

I’m happy to announce a new session is starting and you’re invited to have some fun, learn about the inner workings of the Baytown Police Department and get to know the men and women behind Baytown’s badges.

On March 7, the ten-week course begins running each week with a different law-enforcement topic from 6:30-9 p.m.

The program, guided by Academy Coordinator Officer Stewart Beasley, is designed to give citizens a better understanding of the operations and mission of the department.

The course begins with an introduction to the police department and an overview of police terminology. Remaining weeks bring officers sharing specialized areas of expertise and equipment. Topics typically cover crime prevention, K-9 units, terrorism, crime-scene investigation, use of force, gangs, hostage negotiations, building search, narcotics, traffic stops, and a tour of the city jail. Classes vary some due to instructor availability.

I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite because they’re all interesting.

Everyone enjoys the K-9 units for obvious reasons, but you’ll be amazed watching the dogs perform what they’re trained to do while learning how they acquire and maintain those skills.

Terrorism: It’s perpetrated on many different fronts and for a variety of reasons; law enforcement must remain vigilant and keep track of many tentacles. 

Building search tests my mental fortitude—basically I have none when it comes to looking for bad guys in dark places.

Crime scene investigation has a few grisly moments, but nothing any modern member of TV-viewing society couldn’t handle. 

And the tour of the jail: I suppose it’s a nice facility as far as jails go, but I’ll do what’s necessary to remain on the outside.

After the fifth week of instruction, students are eligible for an eye-opening ride-along in a patrol car. If you’ve ever called and requested an officer for a non-life-threatening reason and wondered what took them so long . . . this is for you. The “action” is non-stop.  This portion of the program is voluntary and not a requirement for graduation.

Upon completion of the academy, there will be a graduation ceremony and banquet. Students are also invited to join the Baytown Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association, which brings together graduates to enhance relations between the community and the police force and to improve the efficiency of law enforcement in neighborhoods through shared responsibilities and resources.

With additional training, graduates also have the opportunity to become involved in Citizens on Patrol. This program focuses on handicap parking enforcement and assisting patrol officers by being extra eyes and ears watching for suspicious activity.

If you would like to attend, the cost is $25 and applications can be obtained at http://www.baytown.org/public/police/programs/cpa.htm  or at BPD’s Community Services office located at 220 W. Defee. Applicants are screened for criminal history to maintain the integrity of the class.  For additional information contact Academy Coordinator, Stewart Beasley, at [email protected] or 281-420-6662.  

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Maybe current’s not so bad

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you

On this date 134 years ago, Thomas Edison was awarded U.S. Patent No. 200,521 for the first device to both record sound and play it back, otherwise known as the phonograph. This invention came about as a spin-off from his ongoing work in telephony and telegraphy.

While trying to repeat transmission of a single telegraph message, he devised a method that captured a passage of Morse code as a sequence of indentations on a spool of paper. Thinking something similar would work for a telephone Edison then devised a system that transferred sound to an embossing point and then mechanically onto an impressionable medium—paraffin paper first, and then a spinning, tin-foil wrapped cylinder.

The rest is history, and what became the modern music business was born.

I know you’re all wondering why in the world I’m telling you this and furthermore why it grabbed my attention.

For the most part, I go through life feeling as if I was born into the wrong era. Rapidly changing technology continually forcing me closer to living every moment faster than the speed of light makes it worse. 

Defiantly, I push back, holding much of it at bay (I still prefer a real book in my hands and much to almost everyone’s chagrin I’m still sporting a flip phone), but I also know I risk being whisked out of existence by the current if I don’t at least tread water.  I’d even wager I’m approaching sink or swim.

That said, last Sunday in a rare-for-me couple of hours I glued myself to the television and watched a full two thirds of the 54th Grammy Awards.  Yes, I pretty much avoid television as well. My hundreds of channels at my fingertips via satellite are akin to “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”.

 As a huge fan of all sorts of music (imagine me playing the bassoon) I dislike all the hoopla surrounding such award shows, but like apparently millions of others I wanted to see Adele perform. This won’t be about her, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this amazing artist who indeed “swept” the awards. Deservedly so, but I digress.

The Grammy, originally known as the Gramophone Award, is an accolade given by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences recognizing outstanding achievement in the music industry.

The gilded gramophone, also known as the phonograph record player, on the statuettes given to recipients is none other than a replica of the invention that first gained Edison real notice—one that was so unexpected by 1877’s public that it was described as “magical”. The patent was unprecedented as it was the first device to record and reproduce sounds.

But besides that phonograph, he also originated the concept and implementation of electric power generation and its distribution to homes and businesses. Bless him. That was a crucial development in the modern industrialized world in which I thoroughly enjoy lighting and air conditioning. (He is often mistaken as the inventor of the first electric light bulb. That’s actually not true, but a story for a different day.)

He was one of several who set in motion the current I so fight. But where would be without things constantly evolving?  Standing still I suppose, and that’s no fun, either.

I can’t see it now, but the rapid technological current will likely bring us some pretty great things.

Carpe diem. Seize the day. Live in today’s moment. Embrace swimming in the electrical current. I bet we’ll be transmitted to some really interesting places. And guess what? It’s all being recorded.

 © 2012 Natalie Whatley

That’s fowl

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you

This may be old news for some of you, but I’ve been digesting it for a couple of weeks now and trying to decide if I believe it or not.

Across the pond in Great Britain, 17-year-old factory worker Stacey Irvine collapsed having difficulties breathing. Hospital workers hoping to get to the bottom of her “illness” and severe anemia heard claims from the young woman that she had never in her life eaten a fruit or vegetable and had been on a steady, 15-year diet of nothing but chicken nuggets with the occasional side of fries.

By chicken nuggets I do mean the processed kind that have been accused of being made from mechanically separated poultry and “binders” which are then formed into a meat paste, breaded and fried as opposed to real bona-fide deboned chicken breast coated and cooked the same way.

Miss Irvine claims her mother introduced her to what many consider pseudo-food when she was a mere two-year-old tot.  She and her mother say that from that point forward chicken nuggets took the lead role in her dietary pecking order.  

As you can imagine Stacey’s mother has been blasted by comments from thousands.

Having dealt with my own picky eaters as I traversed motherhood with toddlers I somewhat understand desiring the path of least resistance, but not for that many years and definitely not knowing the dire health consequences.

 I hesitate to judge, but surely her backbone must have been stronger than a young child’s food preference.

The advice I always heard —they will eat what they’re offered when they get hungry enough—always worked for me and my young-mother friends.  I didn’t see anywhere that Stacey’s mom ever tried the old-fashioned starve ‘em route. And I realize to some near starvation may sound cruel, but look where not intervening landed them.

Of course Stacey has now been interviewed ad nauseum, and I’m a tiny bit embarrassed to admit I think I’ve read them all. Some included pictures of the young woman. Surprisingly, she is not overweight. However, she has dark circles around her eyes and her skin is devoid of that rosy 17-year-old youthful glow.

I’m not even sure I entirely believe her or her mother’s accounts that nary a piece of produce has ever touched her lips. Is it really possible to subsist on a beige, colorless diet for that long and only have anemia and breathing difficulties to show for it?

I’m very curious as to her long-term prognosis as doctors said her body was devoid of all the vitamins and minerals it’s believed humans need to survive.

And I thought the whole collapsing thing would be a wake-up call for Stacey, but she doesn’t really have plans to make her diet any more varied as suggested by doctors. Seems like very slow suicide, but the voyeuristic side of me sort of wants to see how it will play out for her long term.

I forgot to mention Stacey is also suffering from inflamed veins in her tongue. Maybe her taste buds are just plain angry because having virtually nothing but fast-food chicken nuggets for 15 years . . . that’s fowl.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Sick and tired

Author: admin  //  Category: Life with children

I say this all the time and people chuckle, but it’s true: I don’t have time to be sick.

I constantly scan my surroundings looking for sickly behaviors and perform sharp 180-degree turns away from those who display any. I’m almost to the point of donning surgical masks in public as technology has allowed me to see cough and sneeze particulates in slow motion. 

Yet another case of ignorance was bliss. I wish I could “unknow” how far and fast that stuff can travel. 

Imagine the tizzy I experienced this past week as it became apparent Streptococcus bacteria was an unwanted visitor causing strep throat and misery at the Whatley Estate.

Wearing a Tyvek suit and flanked by Clorox and Lysol, I’ve been waging a ferocious battle against the known but invisible intruder. Only time will tell whether or not I was victorious.

Please note that for your safety and even though my hands are raw from washing them roughly 2.7 billion times in the past week, I am wearing rubber gloves to type this. Can’t be too careful.

This ne’er-do-well hitched a ride into our home via youngest cherub, Erin.  As an aside this is the same young lady who rolls her pretty little brown eyes when I lovingly persuade her to wash her hands as soon as she comes in from anywhere and before eating. 

If I had a snippier disposition, an “I told you so” would be in order.  I figure a nasty sore throat will be a far better teacher.

It’s my understanding this sneaky little piece of contagion is pretty much everywhere.  I can also report directly from Texas Children’s Pediatrics that they are seeing case after case of strep throat in this area.

But anyway, while Erin was on the mend and penicillin was putting up the good fight, mean old Streptococcus found its next host: Jeremy.

After the requisite teasing about kissing his sister we got on to the business of fighting in his arena. 

His case was more time-sensitive as he was to escort the lovely Miss Melanie Butler to Ross S. Sterling’s Star Ball this weekend.

I never saw a young man more excited to get all fancied up formal-like, and he was none too happy over having fallen ill. With his southern drawl he made it quite clear, “Gotta get this taken care of now. I cannot be sick this weekend!”

 I’m curious to see if his enthusiasm wanes after being in a tuxedo and what I imagine will be uncomfy shoes for hours.  Probably not. He’s a trooper for his Star.

Happily, he cleared the contagious phase and will be in tip-top form for the big event.

As for me, I think I may be in the clear as I have surpassed the time period whereby I should have succumbed. And that’s a good thing because I’m exhausted from being a short-order cook, nurse, quarantine-enforcement officer, medical chauffeur, and decontamination specialist.

But wait. There is an opportunity here for a few lazy days in bed minus the yucky symptoms. My acting skills may just be up to pulling off Streptococcus Poppycockus.

Picture Scarlet O’Hara (big, fluffy southern-belle dress and all) dramatically throwing her head back and resting the back of her hand on her forehead, “I do declare I’m feeling a tad feverish.”

I don’t want to see any eye rolling.

Wash your hands, folks!   

© 2012 Natalie Whatley